Tag Archives: Breathing

Back in the Game: Foundation of Systema

26 Jun

I have a confession to make.. for a number of months I have not been training in a Systema group, and actually have only been training solo.

My job means I travel around the world to a different country every week, which can be challenging to start a regular training class and means I have to make do with when and how, I am able to train.

Honestly, I really need a trip to Moscow, to get me back in the Systema mode, get a massage, go for a banja, do some lessons with Michael, Alexander, Vladimir Zaikovsky and the team.

 

Until then, I have designed a training program to get me back in the game, to relax and strengthen my body and psyche.

The first question that came to my mind is – What is the core of Systema? What is the Foundation?

The answer came as quick as the question and in fact was always their – Breathing.

Breathing is the beginning and end of everything we do, it can relax us, make us more powerful, stronger, healthier and can almost always be called upon, as an unlimited resource.

Therefore, I decided to get back to the root of Systema using breath training.

Most importantly, it had to be simple, so my first week, morning routine looks like this:

1-Tension-Relaxation exercise (From Let Every Breath) (20 mins)

2-Walking, with arms raised and different variations (20 mins)

3-Rolling – forward and backward, slow and fast and different variations (20 mins)

Try this simple routine, it will make you feel energised, calm and powerful. Most importantly it will get you into the Systema “state” pretty quickly.

PS – I will start posting more often, as I have a lot of past seminars and conversations with the masters to write up. As well as a few upcoming training sessions.

Feel free to request a specific post or video, or if you have any questions at all.

Until next time, Train Hard.

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New to Systema? Read This..

15 Feb

The last couple of weeks some new people have been along to the regular classes at Systema Scheveningen, and I’ve had a good opportunity to watch the different emotions they experience: frustration trying to understand something, wonder when something works, physical pain which they are not used to and fun when they are in a flow state with another person.

All of these myriad of emotions combined with a huge amount of new sensory data, is a lot to take in on the first lesson. We’ve all been there.

When I train with Michael I still feel the same, as a beginner taking his first class again. I like to feel that, because it means I still have a lot to learn and with that challenge comes fun.

Advice to new Systema-ists – Breath, enjoy and smile!

How to Develop Systema-Style Softness

30 Dec

A common question people ask in Systema is; how do i become soft?

First it is good to understand, what is softness? At a basic level it is relaxation combined with sensitivity.

How do we develop this?

The answer again is time. Although i’ve found that daily practice of the following Systema exercises speeds up the process:

Walking: Systema-style, so with breathing patterns and full body relaxation, for a full  and in depth description see: Let Every Breath… Secrets of the Russian Breath Masters

Rolling: With breathing, relaxes your body and psyche. Most importantly rolling is extremely good for relaxing the spine, which determines how you will move.

Pushups, Leg Raises, Squats – These exercises work on the main core muscle groups, and with repeated practice you learn to relax the unnecessary muscles and use only the needed. This strengthen’s the right groups of muscles in a balanced and even way. With breathing you also learn how to move without tension, in the main planes of movement.

Getting this feeling of relaxation and softness is key and maintaining it is also important!

Let me know in the comments how you keep yourself relaxed and soft.

Happy New Year to you all!

Systema Health Practices – Part 1

15 Aug

There are a couple of books that have been written on Systema health practices. Here i’m going to share what i consider the most important or core practices to keep your body healthy, mobile and free of tension.

Massage

Commonly called the “walking on the back” massage, the Russians have a whole series, that massages every muscle in your body in an intense way and that provides the best conditions to relax and remove large and small tensions from your body.

You can get a full description of this here: https://thomashogarth.com/2012/04/27/day-1-part-2-moscow-class-alexander-sasha/

Or if you prefer a seeing it yourself: https://thomashogarth.com/2013/05/28/ryabko-systema-massage-video-lesson-alexander-moscow-2013/

This massage is absolutely key and all of the Russian masters stress that this should be done after every class or as often as possible.

For your relaxation , health and body form, nothing beats this massage.

Breathing

Breathing is not only essential when training, but all throughout our lives, especially when we become stressed or scared. Breathing is something we can rely on, something we can go back to, when everything else is out of control. Breathing can be done by feeling, for example if you need energy you breath faster or if you want to calm your psyche you breath slower and deeper.

The main point is control. Understand and feel the power of your breath and you will have a never-ending hidden resource.

Walking

In this day and age we sit a lot more than is necessary or healthy. Sitting ruins the body’s natural form and increases tension levels in our spine and legs. Standing on the other hand is natural and walking is even better. Our bodies were made to walk, stretch and move. In this modern world we work at computers all day, sitting on a chair and when we get home, our first instinct is to sit down. If you look at places like India and China where they sit cross legged or kneel down, they have much less instance of back pain and physical body issues, even as they grow older.

Check out this interesting article on sitting: http://lifehacker.com/5879536/how-sitting-all-day-is-damaging-your-body-and-how-you-can-counteract-it

So what can you do? as the article suggests standing can often help combat the negative effects of sitting. The best thing you can do is to take a walk, Systema style, so combining breathing with your steps and consciously relaxing your body. This will work wonders for your body and your psyche. 

Read this for more tips on adding walking to your training: https://thomashogarth.com/2013/07/27/how-to-create-a-systema-workout/

Part 2 – Banja, Stomach massage, the stick and whip

How to Create a Systema Workout

27 Jul

People often ask; Can i train Systema alone? What exercises should i do? How many reps, etc

This post is an answer to that question.

The number one most important thing is breathing. Number two is focus.

Breathing should be consistent, ongoing, and shouldn’t stop unless you are consciously holding your breath.

Your focus can be internal (inside you) or external (outside you) you can change what or where you focus on, for example in a pushup, consciously focusing on relaxing your shoulders or in a difficult part of a pushup (plank) hold, you focus only on your breathing.

The number of reps is not important, sometimes you do more, sometimes you do less, just don’t feel sorry for yourself. Let your feeling and mental state determine how far you go, sometimes go over what you think you can do and add in variety if you feel yourself getting bored.

One exercise i recommend you add in to your training, is one which many people overlook and that is walking. Walking and breathing; beginning 1 step inhaling through your nose, 1 step exhaling through your mouth, then to 2 steps inhaling, 2 steps exhaling and so on. This is a fundamental exercises, and if you think about it, one of our most common activities in life is just that – walking.

Walking and breathing makes us aware of our tensions, psychological and physical. We need to constantly relax our body in this exercise. After 20-30 minutes of this, your psyche will be calm and your body whole and full of energy.

So try this; design your own workout, be creative, watch some Systema videos on youtube and try to do those exercises. Blend them together and make up your own. The goal is a calm psyche, a powerful, relaxed body, and a strong spirit.