Tag Archives: Systema Massage

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!

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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:

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

Alexander Andreychenkov – Warmups and Massage – Berlin May 2013

12 Jun

This is an extended post of the seminar with Alexander to give you an idea of the warm-ups and massage ideas he gives. He is one of Michaels oldest students so he has a lot to teach, i recommend anyone to go to a seminar with him, you will not be disappointed.

– Walking – relaxed breathing 2 steps inhaling, 2 steps exhaling, 4,4 , 6,6 etc up to 20 then turn around to walk backwards and go back from 20 steps inhaling 20 steps exhaling.

– Running – same drill as above but with running, and arms above head palms straight and turned inwards, facing each other.

– Feet together, jumping around facing forward – do 1 circle, then jumping around the circle but this time jumping backwards, then jumping sideways one way, then the other way (this is a fairly simple but interesting exercise as in the beginning many peoples bodys are not whole or collected and their limbs flail around unconnected, but as time goes on they begin to collect their body into one mass)

– Rolling forward do one circle of the room, then rolling backward one circle, then one circle of a forward roll followed by a backward roll and continuing.

– Alexander gave an interesting idea, he said that when the pressure from someone is less than 3kg you move towards the pressure and when more than 3kg you move away from the pressure.

 Massage

One person lays down on stomach, the other person stands above them.

Directions for the massager

– Put one foot on the persons lower leg, and shake the person with the foot, the aim is to create a wave which travels up the person and makes their whole body shake.
– Then move the foot upwards onto the upper leg do the same shaking, then higher, onto the stomach, chest then onto one shoulder, down the arm, to wrist and hand.
– Now go back from the arm to the same leg, then repeat the other side with the other half of the persons body.
– Now using your heel massage the persons backside bu the same shaking method, give more pressure here.
– Start again from standing by the persons feet, then begin walking on the person – as per usual – avoiding the knees.
– When you get to the spine, put one foot on the persons backside and to start one foot on the lower back, shift your weight to the foot on their backside again and move the other foot higher onto spine, keep going up like this to the neck then go back down.

Then the person lays on their back, repeat the above.

– After that hold the persons two arms in your hands lean with your weight back, and stretch them – to lengthen them. Then do the same holding the heels, pulling them to lengthen them.
– Hold persons head, tilt it to one side, then push the head and the shoulder (the shoulder the head is not tilitng towards) in opposite directions – then repeat tilting the head in the other direction
– Put two of your fingers at the lowest part on the persons neck and slowly walk them up either side of the persons neck- giving pressure which will lift their head.

There were many different massage ideas but above are some of the main ones i remember that Alexander showed. Most importantly your aim is to relax the person, so they trust you and feel calm.

 

Ryabko Systema Massage – Video Lesson – Alexander Moscow 2013

28 May

At each Moscow seminar each instructor shows his own interpretation and ideas of an aspect of Systema, with Michael being the main teacher.

At the end of the internal work seminar Alexander or Sasha, showed us the correct method for Systema massage. I was lucky enough to be chosen for the demonstration:

If you have any questions; comment or send me an email: thomas.hogarth@hotmail.co.uk