Tag Archives: Moscow

Slow Exercises: Leg Raises and Extensions

17 May

We finished with Leg Raises, that is rasing the legs from a flat-out, laying down position to over your head as far as you can go.

Sasha emphasized:

– Keeping your body, shoulders, and neck relaxed through the whole movement

– Using the breath to pump your legs up and not engaging the stomach muscles as much as possible.

– Stretching your legs at the end of the movement over your head

– Go as slow as possible

Repeat for 10-15 mins

Then the stretch for the stomach muscles;

This was laying on your left side, with your arm stretched under your head, knees curled up to a 90 degree angle, and right arm laying over your back, relaxing the shoulder muscle. In this position relaxing you body as much as possible with your breathing. Do for 5-10 minutes then switch sides and reverse directions.

Then we laid down on our stomachs, and then using our breath, pumped/breathed ourself up so our head and legs were raised off the floor, and our stomach was the only part touching, then slowly burst breathed ourselves down.

This is a full contraction of the spine followed by a slow relaxation of the spinal muscles.

Repeat 5-10 minutes

That was all the slow exercises, sometimes this included systema situps (with a straight back). This series of slow exercises and stretches was followed by the Systema body walking massage.

Sasha told stories about how these slow exercises make you very strong, without muscle, and how they heal past injuries in a short time. I experienced this first hand, with an old injury, a severely torn MCL ligament – after the classes i was able to do things that i havn’t done for a long time, with increased freedom, mobility and strength. These exercises are extremely powerful.

Slow Exercises: Pushups

9 May

After we had finished the squats, we went on to push ups. In these push ups Sasha pointed out that the focus was on relaxation and not to keep the back straight, but to relax it, and let it dip.

We began in push up position back, body and neck completely relaxed, the arms shoulder width apart in a comfortable position. Let the whole body weight rest on the arms. (note the arms should be on the level you punch)

Then to understand how to relax your shoulders, rotate your shoulders both backwards, forwards, and just get a feeling for the relaxation in your shoulders, you are still in upright push up position. do this for about 5 minutes, feel the blood going to your hands, and remember to continually relax your body, neck etc.

When you have the relaxed feeling in your shoulders and body, begin to puff/burst breath, and as you exhale allow the breath to pump you down, incrementally. When you get to the floor, relax your arms to the sides, and burst breath to recover. Then put your arms either side of you, push up way, keeping you back and spine relaxed, and then puff/pump breath yourself up incrementally. Repeat this for 10-15 minutes. Focus on relaxing yourself, your neck, spine, upper and lower arm muscles and try to keep the feeling of relaxation in your shoulders, as in the first part.

After repeating this for a while, you may feel some soreness. Sasha said “in this exercise we have accumulated tension in the bicep muscle and the joint connection, so now we do a stretch for it”

You lay face down on the floor, touch your hands to the front part of your collar-bone and put your body weight on them, so your forearms are under your body, your elbows are bent, and also mainly under your body. Relax your shoulders, back and arms in this position, try the burst breathing, then a long exhale for relaxation. Turn your head and repeat. Do this for 5-10 minutes, then slowly get up and stretch your arms out. Feel the relaxation and strength.

I found this slow exercise, then stretch combination awesome.

Next: The Stomach: Sit ups, Leg raises, Back Raise



Moscow HQ training – Slow Exercises: Squats

5 May

Slow exercises: Squats

Every evening class with sasha included this progression of slow exercises, followed by the massage in the previous post.

Squats – Feet shoulder width, weight on whole of foot, not only on heel or toe, wide enough minimal tension in hips, not too wide. Using burst/pump/puff breathing going down. Exhale through mouth, keep mouth closed and just push the air out let your lips open and as the exhale escapes so does the tension in your body let that pump you down, slowly. A tip : focus on the exhale, the inhale through the nose takes care of itself, very interesting..
Keep head and back straight trying to relax all of the muscles of your spine, hips and shoulders.
Repeat for 10-15 mins pumping yourself up and down with the breathing.

Alexander then said ” after these exercises tension gathers in the muscles, so after this particular exercise we stretch the thigh muscles”
1 – We all got a mat, and sat on our knees, heels under backside, relaxing our legs in that position.
2 – Then bend backwards slowly keeping you backside on your heels, until your head touches the ground or a far as you can go, puff breathing as you go down. in that position relax yourself, try a few seconds of burst breathing then one long exhale. repeat. Relax all your muscles, your thighs, back, shoulders. Stay like that for 3-5 minutes. Then pump yourself up with the breath, help yourself with your hands.
3 – Then bend foward in kneeling position so your head touches the floor, turn it one way, relax your shoulders, back and everything in that position with your breath. Stay for 2-4 mins turn your head and repeat. Then slowly come to a sitting postion stretch and shake out your legs.

– Something interesting Sasha said “The same word for life in Russian is the same word for belly, your stomach and your life are connected. Healthy stomach is important. Belly = Life. The Russian word is живот (zhivot).
i felt this – the russians made a point of eating together everyday, and ate and ate until they were full, this has interesting effects on your stomach, as when you are full your stomach relaxes, your psche relaxes, you become more cheerful and happier.

In many ways there was much more training, when i wasn’t training.

Next Pushups…

Moscow class with Alexander : Systema Body Massage

27 Apr

The second part of this day was massage, and the first few times it was intense but after doing it every day for a week it became more normal. The emphasis on massage to me makes sense, but a few interesting comments by the instructor (Sasha) he said in the old classes with michael, after every class was massage, and that “massage is a large part of systema” 60/70 percent – i think he said. Also that massage is for both partners: the person giving the massage, is learning how to relax their body, hips, spine, feet and transmit relaxation and not tensing the partner up.

Continuous breathing helps.

The massage series:

1 – P1 (receiving the massage) kneels down facing the wall, P2 (giving the massage) starts walking on the persons feet and slowly walks up then down the persons calf muscle, both sides, the person having the massage has to breath, let go and release the tension.

2 – P1 sits back against the wall legs stretched out and P2 walks from feet up the thighs, avoiding knees and back down, repeat.

3 – P1 Kneels down facing the wall and bends back head, shoulders touching the floor, and P2 walks up from the bottom of knees until the top of thighs and back down, repeat.

4 – P1 lays down head facing the wall, P2 walks up from feet to buttocks avoiding knees, turns feet sideways and walks on back, P1 really has to relax themselves deeply, and don’t give resistance or force back, let the pressure go in. P2 also puts one foot and 25% of weight on the persons neck, turn neck and repeat.

5 – P1 lays back down head facing the wall, P2 walks up them from feet, avoiding knees, up to top of thighs, then turns feet sideways, one foot on chest and one on stomach and step and walk along the person. Then P2 turn both feet facing the partners head and put both on his chest and step around a bit on his chest area.

This is the basic set, there are many other ideas, and small things to add or take away depending on you and your partner, feel, watch your partners reaction, relax him/her, relax yourself, breath and smile.



Moscow Systema HQ – Classes

19 Apr

On March 1st 2012 i set out to Moscow for one month, i would be staying in the systema hq and planned to train everyday and experience as much as possible.

I want to post my experiences and notes of the classes there. I think it is interesting to see the difference between teaching in Russia and the rest of the world. Also how different teachers show things differently. There were many drills that i had done before, but they were shown on a different level.

Day 1 – Class 1: Peter Konstantinov

– Walk up person with fists (both from a standing position), the person tenses the muscles being used for support, relax the rest of your body.

– Partner stands with his back to you, you raise arm and just let the fist drop onto the persons, trapezius muscle (runs along both sides of neck onto shoulders) the person having the “punch” had to feel how deep the strike was going. The person letting the fist drop had to feel where he was tense and relax it. True relaxation, i found, is difficult. But every now and then i attained and higher than normal degree and the punch felt effortless, but was very deep, according to my partner.

– same drill as above dropping the arm, but now into the stomach from the front.

These kind of drills were done for the whole of this lesson, in Russia i found that in a class you do fewer drills, but you go deeper into the exercise and do it for longer.