Tag Archives: Exercises

Eliminating Tension – 3 Elements of Freedom

21 Feb

In daily life, we gather tensions, injuries, and fear’s. These are all stored in our body and psyche, and usually are interlinked. When we have/ or hold our physical tension, it typically means we are also holding some kind of psychological tension. In fact,  the root of many forms of tension is when we start to hold our breath. This activates our various hormones, raises our blood pressure, basically our body thinks this event is important, and so for a number of reasons your body believe’s subconsciously that this tension will protect it, that it will serves you. However, the opposite is actually true.

Over time your body starts to become stiffer, more inflexible, less responsive and less free.

Systema is about freedom and the ability to release these past tensions and learn how to move without tension is paramount.

So how do we unwind these tensions and release them?

The answer, unfortunately, is time and pain.

It takes time to remove what took years to accumulate.. (or alternatively you could go for a Systema Massage:  https://thomashogarth.com/2013/04/20/systema-in-moscow-stick-massage-video-session/which works directly on this deep tension.)

However if you want to work on these tensions at home, here are a the basic steps:

  • Awareness – If you don’t feel it at all, or have trouble identifying where you are tense, then you can’t do anything about it.

Thus the first step is to become more aware of yourself, your body and your internal state.

The most basic way to begin feeling your tensions, is in a position where your muscles are not under strain. The best way to get started is by laying down on your back. Then doing breathing, and tension/relaxation exercises. Simply, breathing in tensing a body part, then breathing out and relaxing it. You can then progress into sitting, kneeling, standing and then walking while tensing and relaxing different body parts. For more information on this, check out: Let Every Breath by Vladimir Vasiliev

  • Understanding– after you’ve identified some tensions and still feel them persistently, or when you find a way to relax them, they come back soon after, it could mean a few things:

The tension could be structural, i.e the wrong muscles are tight and strong and the right muscles are relaxed and weak. This could be a result of your daily activities or environment, i.e you sit a lot, you mattress is two soft/too hard, you exercise with bad form etc. In general, your body needs to have the right muscular balance to be free of tension, and to feel light and mobile. The best way to attain a strong, relaxed body is; the core exercises with breathing; Pushup, Squat, Leg Raise and Situp, then adding in other bodyweight exercises.

The tension could be more deeply psychological, Why not spend a training session working with one tense part of your body, i.e shoulders, legs, hips etc.. this session could be a combination of stretching, breathing, bodyweight exercises, use of a stick, weapon etc. The goal being to free up and to understand that tension, why it is there and to release it. This is a deep process, but will be extremely valuable, to becoming more free, relaxed and soft.

-The tension could be a medical issue; digestion, hormonal imbalance etc.  If you find some areas are consistently tense or in pain, I’d recommend seeking the advice of a medical professional.

  • Removing – Lastly, there are some tensions where massage, and use of sticks/whip/other weapons is required/or speeds up the process with releasing tension.

Since this is a larger topic, I’ll talk about this in another post. However , just to re-emphasize the first point, hands down the best way to become aware, to understand and learn to work with your tension, is by having a Systema massage. So, go find a certified Systema massage practitioner in your area!

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!

How to Acquire Deep Relaxation

8 Dec

Relaxation is something that must be consistently trained in order to form a natural reaction to stay calm and relaxed both in stressful and normal situations.

Relaxation does not mean mentally sloppy or physically floppy.

It means to have a calm, stable, adaptable psyche, free from tension and a powerful, strong body also free of tension.

A common question is how do i acquire this state?

A more general answer is time and practice.

This is true, you cannot gain this state overnight, it will take training, though there are many drills which will speed up the process:

– Walking and breathing – an important exercise which fosters awareness of your own body and psyche. This can help remove excessive, unconscious tension both physical and psychological.

– Tensing up and relaxing the body – This can be done as separate body parts and as a whole.

– Pushups, Leg-Raises and Squats – this will give your body a form and after a long time doing these, you will understand what being full, relaxed and calm means.

– Body walking massage – this is key, as many people take relaxation to mean floppy, as in; overly flexible joints. True relaxation is uncovering deeper tension in your in your back, neck, legs and arms and learning how to relax those parts. For more info see: https://thomashogarth.com/2013/08/15/systema-health-practices-part-1/

For all of these exercises and more i recommend getting a copy of Let Every Breath… Secrets of the Russian Breath Masters

Any ideas you’ve found for deeper relaxation? Let us know in the comments!

How to Shake up Your Systema Training

26 Nov

Sometimes in our training, we get into fixed patterns of doing things where we are comfortable and not pushing ourselves to further levels of skill.

Here are a few ideas to add some excitement into your training:

– Add objects: Even a simple object such as a chair or stick can change your entire outlook and mindset when training. For example; sit on a chair and defend yourself while others attack you.

– Change the environment: Every environment gives you a different feeling and provides your psyche with different stimulus’s. Some places tense us up, other’s relax us. Learn to make your psyche adaptable, malleable and strong. Train regularly in unfamiliar surroundings; for example; outside in the forest, in a bar, in your living room, in a shopping centre.

– Work your weaknesses: All of us have things we are not good at, this can be something general like fighting on the ground, or something more specific like getting out of a certain lock. Regularly train the things you cannot do well and you will become better at them, in turn this will make you more free and whole.

Any ideas? Tell us in the comments.

Becoming Truly Relaxed

28 Sep

In Systema one of main aims is to become more relaxed, calm and free. In the beginning most people take this as “become floppy”, which is ok, this is a period of learning and after a while most people swing back to being too tense, then too floppy continuously until they come to a mid point where they are relaxed, strong and whole.

Some exercises to help with becoming whole:

– Push-ups, leg raises and squats with Breathing – These exercises will give your body a correct form.

Walk on the back massage – This will keep you relaxed and make you feel more “full” and whole

Wall walking – This will connect your arms and your legs together

– Getting hit – This will make you full and relaxed, as you learn how to collect your body together

Walking – a fundamental part of your training. Try some of the exercises on this link – this is from a seminar with Alexander Andreychenkov.

 

Let me know if you have any thoughts or questions on this.