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Morgan Lee — the Ashtanga Nurse

Updated: Jul 24

Encouraging you to be active in a body you love.

INDIGO X  Morgan is a Licensed Acupuncturist, Registered Nurse, and Level II Authorized Ashtanga Teacher. He helps busy professionals stay pain free and active through complementary medicine and movement therapy.
credit: Morgan Lee at SoCal Life Center

Morgan is a Licensed Acupuncturist, Registered Nurse, and Level II Authorized Ashtanga Yoga Teacher. He helps busy professionals stay pain free and active through complementary medicine and movement therapy.

At the SOCAL Life Center he combines his background as a registered nurse and acupuncture, Chinese medicine and ashtanga yoga as well as personalized health consultation.

His philosophy revolves around inviting you to include movement in your day, however it looks like. Whether it is doing some squats while taking your kid to the swings or a two hour Astanga practice.


You don’t have to go gentle into that good night - on movement and longevity:

Q: For someone in their late 20’s or 30’s, how to begin preparing our joints for older age?

"When you're in your 20s and 30s, just move. Enjoy your body as it is young, and your joints are supple and begin programming your body for functional movement. If you haven’t programmed functional movement by the time you’re 40, you might get injured and be more likely to blame the yoga practice or that basketball for something that is more related to faulty joints. We’re the ones who get to inhabit this body, we rent it for life and it’s our job to take care of it as best as we can.

For example, my dad injured his foot about 2 months ago and wasn’t able to walk for about a month and as a result of that, he also started developing back pain. I went to visit him for about a week and every day, 3 times a day we did simple exercises of just moving every joint in his body, just to get him moving again.

He then called me saying that he was able to walk around the block shortly after and it was like the first time he's been able to do that in two months and it's simply because he was just concentrating on easy movement.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re surfing, running or playing tennis, just move the body and that is going to prevent injuries long term."


Exploring Movement

"When you observe a little kid learn how to stand and start moving around, they’re learning how to develop within the body through movement. So the first movement that develops within the body is the sensation of pulling. After that, the movement of pushing is developed, kids might push you away or press against you. Those two are the foundational movements. Then we move into twisting, this is when a baby would start rolling over to their side whenever they’re on their backs. Once they learn how to stand, squatting becomes a natural next step and so now we’re activating the quadriceps. After that, the ability to walk is sort of when you’re falling forward so you have to transfer all of your weight onto one foot as there's this period where there's less weight moving forward. So all walking is, is this ability to fall forward and catch yourself by stopping yourself with the other foot. Maintaining these foundational movements is important for maintaining joint health."


Movement and pain

Q: How can we avoid and/or treat back pain while engaging in movement?

"When it comes to such a broad topic like back pain, it is important to understand that some of us have anterior pelvic tilt and some of us have a posterior pelvic tilt, and because of this, not everyone's back pain is the same.

An anterior pelvic tilt means that the front of the hips are turned forward and turned down so you have more of this like sway in the back. For these people, positions like wheel pose and back bends are much easier because of the normal curvature of their spine. On the other hand, you have people with a posterior pelvic tilt which turns their hips back and so their lumbar spine is more straight. Each of these positions produces a different kind of pain as well as location. For the anterior pelvic tilt type, back pain shows up in the lower back and for the posterior pelvic tilt, back pain shows up mostly in their upper back. A way to reprogram this and bring some balance is for those with an anterior pelvic tilt to practice more forward folds rather than backbends and vice versa."

Q: Apart from that, what are some other causes for rigidity?

"Well for starters, we were conditioned in school to sit for 8 hours a day and then you go home, now you have 2 hours of homework and so now you've sat for about 10 hours of your day. These habits turn into a lifelong program that continues when a person gets a job where they spend most of their time sitting in front of a computer with little to no movement. Since we’ve become conditioned to spend most of our time sitting, obesity factors continue to be more present and prevalent in young adults and kids.

Even social media has played a big role in this; social media platforms provide children with these fast-paced videos and content that not only are cutting their attention span, but are also promoting more time spent indoors rather than playing outdoors. Continuing to engage in movement, however it is that it looks like, is crucial to maintaining joint mobility and getting rid of that muscle rigidity in later years."


The role of supplementation

"There's enough scientific studies that I've come across that do show that there are benefits to taking supplements. I'm only basing that off the scientific evidence that I've seen in favor of it so I can only give that my recommendation based off of that. For example, type 2 collagen is better for joints, whereas regular collagen (think vital proteins) is good for muscle development.

There are definitely so many fascinating new supplements now, like NMN and all the research associated with it. I believe it is beautiful and definitely worth doing more research on new supplements. However I don't know enough to give out specific advice. If you’re thinking about starting supplementation after surgery or for joint or muscle recovery, I advice you talk to your surgeon, your PT or physical therapist/occupational therapist who's doing the rehab for you, also talk to your acupuncturist or your functional medicine doctor and have them create a more personalized supplementation regime that is apt for your needs."


Question from our audience - can we be hurt by an obsessive desire for symmetry in a posture?

"Yes, 100% we can be hurt. Our bodies aren't symmetrical, so when practicing ashtanga and you hold one posture on one side for 5 breaths and then go to the other side and do the same thing, you’re now aiming for symmetry in the practice, but not for symmetry in your body. So for example, if you have more tightness on your left side, spend seven breaths in this posture in order to strive to find deeper balance within your body.

I think there's been a shift within the yoga practice where before there was an emphasis on mostly stretching and now there’s more of a shift towards strengthening to get to the posture. Moreover, if you're feeling pain, chances are you’re probably stretching too much, but if you're feeling sore, you’re probably strengthening."


Get in touch with Morgan

"In person I teach classes in Santa Monica, California at the SoCal Life Center. For my health consultations, I see patients 3 days a week right now, both in person and online. I also have a membership area set up on my website where I take a more personalized approach and explain more in detail the root cause behind their pain and provide them with solutions to improve their overall health. So there's programs set up for shoulder injuries, for low back injuries, knee injuries, etc."

Morgan is a Licensed Acupuncturist, Registered Nurse, and Level II Authorized Ashtanga Teacher. He helps busy professionals stay pain free and active through complementary medicine and movement therapy.
credit: Morgan Lee at SoCal Life center

With a background as a registered nurse, and a practitioner of acupuncture, Chinese medicine and ashtanga, Morgan is able to take a an extremely wholesome and personalized approach to movement and health. On his website, he has a membership called the DAILY mission, it his signature program and consists of a comprehensive online curriculum paired with nutrition education based on the 5 elements of Traditional Chinese Medicine, designed to evaluate and improve functional movement patterns. It includes a 90 day DAILY mission Journal, 5 Element nutrition evaluation, a personal element nutrition plan and food list as well as access to a video hub with all the program resources including; video tutorials, trainings and worksheets.

You can find the link to his website here and the link to his socials here.


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