We all know the importance of finding balance — whether that’s balance in our diets, the balance between work and life, and balance in our fitness regimens. However, something we might not always think about is how our bodies can become imbalanced just from living our daily lives. Check in with yourself at this very moment: Are you hunching you back over your desk as you’re scrolling through the Internet? Are your tense shoulders way up near your ears? Is your jaw clenched? Most of us don’t pay much attention to these habits that are causing our bodies to become misaligned. And, it’s becoming a bigger problem the longer we stay hunkered down at home: People who are relying more and more on self-guided workouts with the closure of gyms and workout studios. This can perpetuate imbalances even further with improper form due to lack of guidance from real-life instructors.
All these little dysfunctions probably feel normal to you over time, but according to Lauren Roxburgh, body alignment expert, certified personal trainer, wellness educator and founder of the Aligned Life Studio, misalignment is prohibiting you from truly reaching your full potential — and not just physically. According to Roxburgh (who’s been dubbed “The Body Whisperer” and has trained athletes and celebs alike), a holistic approach to finding your true well-being involves a focus on improving alignment, emotional health, mindfulness, and structural integrity, which is a concept she reinforces in her book, The Power Source. It’s less about obsessing over calories or punishing your body with overzealous workouts, and more about feeling more connected to yourself.
Roxburgh studied everything from Pilates to Reiki to Thai yoga massage until she discovered structural integration. “Essentially, it’s looking at how the body relates to gravity and how when we have these blockages in our system or congestion,” she says. After studying the practice for two years, she came up with her alignment method, which she coins as “movement medicine.” “The way we move helps us get into our emotional body. I have a saying that ‘trauma lives in the tissues.’ That trauma can be anything. It could be [your mindset after] getting stuck in traffic, or it could be a history of sexual abuse. Trauma gets stuck and we have to move that energy through [and out of] our bodies. There’s a lot more research coming out about how we hold emotions not just in our mind and our brain, but actually in our tissues as well,” she says.
In an effort to give my mind and body a reset, work through any “stuck” stress in my tissues, and, yes, fix my terrible posture, I tried out Roxburgh’s new program called Elevate. It’s an introductory online program to the Aligned Life Studio that’s free for members (a monthly membership is $29.00/month for unlimited classes), and over 11 weeks you follow a curated program that takes you through a full variety of “movement medicine.” Each week is organized with a physical and emotional theme — a refreshing break from workouts that typically focus on body parts. Instead of ab day and arm day, you immediately get an understanding that Roxburgh’s wellness is a holistic experience with themes like “step into a renewed body, life, and spirit” or “radiate a glow from the inside out.”
Roxburgh’s approach is based on four pillars:
This is the “movement medicine” part, which feels like a mix of yoga and Pilates. Many of the workouts just require a mat, but you get the full experience with a few simple tools like a foam roller. I hadn’t worked out since the pandemic started, so I worried about the intensity, but each week builds upon the skills you’ve learned in the week prior, so you never feel pushed to your limit. “The medicinal part is from looking at the actual structural imbalances and working on ways to align ourselves in your structural bone tissues, ligaments, and muscles. It’s so much more about quality over quantity. I’m so not a fan of doing 50 reps. Let’s do eight to 10 — that’s Joseph Pilates way,” she says. Each week, you get a calendar of three to four workouts from the studio via email or you can simply log onto the site.
Being a working mom during a pandemic, I was struggling to find time in my schedule, but the best thing about a virtual class is that you can shape it to your needs: Treat your workout like you would any other meeting and put your me-time on your Google calendar, says Roxburgh. “Even if you do a workout for just five minutes a day before sitting down in front of the computer, your energy will be better. Your chi will be better. Your metabolism will be better. You’ll be able to breathe deeper. You’ll be able to deal with stress more efficiently and flush it out. I refer to it as ‘stress hygiene’ or ‘emotional hygiene.’ Essentially, it’s like brushing our teeth. We need to be responsible for that. So, in the morning or evening, set yourself up for the day for five minutes with a class to feel a hell of a difference,” says Roxburgh.
Week five was when it started to click for me. Studies say it takes about 30 days to create a habit (which is often why you see 30-day workout plans) and I finally started to get into a rhythm. The theme of week five was to “flush toxins and heal your mind and tissues.” It’s about cleansing stress, physical congestions, and toxins from your body. She introduced the Gua Sha tool to smooth out the fascia in your facial skin, to smooth out lines, circulate blood, and boost collagen. Much of her practice is about finding that glow from the inside out, and I was starting to feel like my skin looked healthier and younger, though I wasn’t changing anything about my skincare routine.
Once you finish your 11-week Elevate guided journey, you can feel more confident about progressing to the rest of her Aligned Life programs, which are organized by the predominant workout tool used (e.g. roller workouts or rebounder workouts) and range anywhere from about five to 40 minute depending on what you have time for. “What really sets us apart from all the wellness programs that are online is that we have this way of holding space for people in a very guided, step-by-step way, but we’re also not telling you what to do in a regimented way. It’s more about people having this guide, but then they can make it their own,” says Roxburgh.
While Roxburgh offers meal plans through her program (they’re downloadable recipes that focus on gut health and improving your metabolism), she stresses that nourishment for your mind and soul is just as important as what you eat. “It’s about how we can find our true path and really step into our power and our grace. I believe everyone is given a gift on the planet and if everyone could awaken that gift, then we would live in a more peaceful place. I think when people are constantly fighting who they are and trying to fit into the puzzle piece, that’s when that disconnection happens. So isn’t just about food. It’s about getting nourished by the sun and getting vitamin D. Or, having relationships, connections, and helping the world be a better place. Doing the work within so that we can create the shift on the outer world as well and on the consciousness of the planet,” says Roxburgh.
What resonated with me with the program is that Roxburgh purposely doesn’t make weight loss a huge focus: “To me, weight loss is a side effect, the weight will naturally fall off when you are more joyful and you’re more connected with intuitive eating,” she says. It helped take the pressure off working out to lose weight and view any weight loss as more of a pleasant “surprise.” But if you want to get into specifics about diet, Roxburgh believes that the structural integrity of our bodies depends on a diet filled with “fascia foods” that feed the thin layer of skin that wraps around your muscles. “Fascia foods” like beans, avocados, kefir, eggs, nuts, bone broth, citrus, peppers, lean animal proteins, fish, and leafy greens contribute to collagen production and improving gut health, according to Roxburgh. I loved the idea of free reign over a variety of healthy and tasty foods and not feeling like you had to practice a ton of self-restraint. The more I incorporated “fascia foods” into my diet, I felt like I craved sweets and carbs less because I felt fuller, longer.
This pillar is about clearing the toxins from your mind as well as the physical toxins from your body. “Bruce Lipton is a scientist and he wrote a book called The Biology of Belief, which studied the way trauma, thoughts, and toxins have an impact on your body that can lead to sickness. That’s the reason why our vibration is lower. So cleansing our system, whether that’s through meditation, using the rollers during your workouts, emptying the ‘trash’ of our minds, cleansing our lymphatic system, performing self-massage, and practicing breathwork. Cleansing your mentality gives you space and energy for other things in your life. Then, obviously, there’s consuming things that help cleanse your body [as outlined in the nourishment pillar] as well to get rid of those physical toxins,” she says.
Cleansing negative thoughts proved to be the biggest challenge of the program for me, but Roxburgh reminded me that self-care isn’t about quick fixes. “This is a longevity course,” she says. “Over time, people can really understand and start diving in deeper and into their own version of what living their aligned life is all about.”
Roxburgh says that the lack of connection in a post-pandemic world has been a strong motivator in people seeking an online community like hers. “Connection is super important right now, especially with being in lockdown for so long. In our Aligned Tribe, we come together during live streaming workouts and I do coaching calls for the community of people. It’s amazing to connect to others that can support the growth, the transformation, and the journey of where we’re all going. Like in this sort of new world that we’re all birthing together collectively. I also emphasize taking the time to connect within — and that can look like journaling, daily affirmations, or visualizations,” she says.
I quickly learned that Roxburgh’s method wasn’t just about physical alignment, but finding alignment in all other aspects of your life, too. And in a post-pandemic world where we all feel disconnected from so many things, it felt refreshing to slowly piece together all these parts of myself that I’ve long forgotten about.
We only recommend products we have independently researched, tested, and loved. If you purchase a product found through our links, Sunday Edit may earn an affiliate commission.