Tag Archives: Alexander

Systema Health Practices – Part 3

29 Aug

There are many unique health practices in Systema, which are unlike anything i’ve seen elsewhere.

One such is the whip massage, which i get in some form every time i go to Moscow, and i leave feeling refreshed, relaxed and rejuvenated.

The Whip

A whip is not a normal thing to use for massage or fighting in western culture. However in the old times in Russia, whips were used both as a method for fighting and for healing. If you’ve ever been hit by a whip you’ll know why.

A whip “massage” can be standing up, laying down or even while moving. This depends on the person’s skill who is doing the whipping.

Generally a good starting position is laying down, as your whole body can be relaxed and doesn’t have to support itself.

This starts with one person laying down on their stomach, the person with the whip initially starts from the persons head and whips lightly from the head to the upper back, arms, lower back etc down to the feet. A light strong whip, can be made by folding the whip in half. This is a preparation or warm-up for what is to come.

Now you start to whip harder on the large muscle areas, shoulder, both sides of upper, mid and lower back. Then onto bicep muscles going down arms to hands. Now on to buttocks – there is a reason this area must be hit hard, as between the upper and lower body are the hips and the main muscle in the buttock muscle, if this is tense, it means your arms and legs will not be joined, and the blood flow will not be free and smooth. So to create body unity, the area in the middle (the buttock muscle) must be relaxed.

Then onto the upper and lower legs, finishing on the feet. The person can then turn over and the same can be repeated.

One important thing to remember is: if the person begins to get tense or panic, give them a few pats on their head with the whip.

This is an extremely interesting phenomenon, which relaxes the person, probably due to: our attention going to our head, it relaxing the scalp muscles and brain – which would relax our psyche and calm our emotions, and the fact that simply touching someone’s head in a calming way is relaxing, for instance when a mother strokes a babies head and they relax and sleep.

Throughout this the person being whipped should be breathing, fast if they feel pain, and try to keep their body relaxed.

Here is a video of me experiencing this in Russia, go to 16:05 which is the segment with the whip:

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Systema Health Practices – Part 2

24 Aug

One of the most magical experiences for me, from Systema was in the Russian Banya. A whole Systema group of Russians in Moscow go twice a week, and Alexander (Sasha) had invited me to go along. A Russian guy was tasked with giving me a lift from the Systema school in Moscow to the banja. On the way he asked me “have you ever been to banya before?” i said “well i’ve been to a sauna” He laughed “No,no, this is not sauna, this is banya”

What is Banya?

Banya has three main parts:

1 – You go in to a very hot stone sauna and i mean very hot. You sweat it out there for a bit. 10-20 minutes typically

2 – You come out and straight away you go into a freezing cold pool (while breathing well). You dunk your head under and hold your breath on an in or out breath, while you listen to your pulse – heart beat, under water.

3 – You repeat step 1, and while you’re doing the first two rounds, Sasha has been preparing some branches of birch leaves, adding scents and soaking them in warm water. When you ¬†go back in for the second time, you sit down, and he begins to whip you with the birch leaves; on your chest, shoulders, back and legs.

You then repeat this process 7-8 times, not always with the birch leaves, sometimes a massage and sometimes nothing, depending on how Sasha is feeling.

This is one of the best Systema classes i have ever done. If you don’t breath correctly, it is easy to get overheated, tense up and panic.

After a few rounds it gets easier and when you come out you feel extremely relaxed, both your body and mind. Usually they have some hot fruit juice or liquor which also helps!

I highly recommend anyone going to Moscow to do this.