Tag Archives: Walking

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!

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.


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 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.


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.

How to Create the Warrior Feeling

24 Mar

Or Special Methods Of Russian Relaxation

When you work with the Russian masters, they give you a certain feeling, of ease, of relaxation, of softness and of confidence, which if you hold and remember that feeling, your work for some time after is changed, and you do things you couldn’t do before.

Many of us go to seminars and camps and Canada and Russia for Systema. When we get home that feeling of relaxation and power lasts for a while, but after that while has past – we usually lose some of it.

Part of the Systema knowledge is learning how to first create that feeling for yourself and secondly to pass it on to others. Of course when our skill improves- any exercise we do gives us that special combination of relaxation and power.

Here are some exercises which easily allow you to create that warrior feeling:

– Walking – starting with 1 step inhaling and 1 step exhaling and moving to to 20 plus then back down to 1, clears your mind, fills your body with power,awareness and heaviness.

– Wall Walking – you start with your legs on the wall your hands on the floor, holding yourself above the ground, then you rotate your body and climb over with your legs so your stomach is now facing upwards, continue turning like this along the wall, then go the other way, repeat for 15 mins. Afterwards, feel how your shoulder blades have dropped into place, and now you feel connected with your hands and feet.

– Rolling – 1 roll inhale, 1 roll exhale, throughout the whole movement, work up to 2, 3+ then back down to 1 roll inhale, 1 roll exhale, relaxing your whole body as much as possible, this will make your whole body full (give you awareness of your whole body as you move)

– Filling up your hands for punching – a simple exercise is walking up and down the wall with your fists, relax your body, and feel the blood go into your hands. Another simple but powerful exercise is standing facing the wall, putting your fists on the wall, the same way as you would do a pushup on the floor. In this position slightly bend your arms. Now lean off the wall, fall against it with your fists and bounce off just by tensing your hand, it should feel and look like you are bouncing back and forth away and against the wall, just by using the tension in your hand.

– Lastly of course is the famous Systema Massage . The importance of this is mentioned by Michael and the other Russian trainers. During my last visit to Russia, one of the old students of Michael said that in the old classes with Michael they would do the walking on the body massage after every class. For your continued health, relaxation and power I recommend finding a partner you can do this with.

Martin Wheeler – Movement and Striking Seminar – London April 21/22

30 Apr

I recently went to a seminar with Martin Wheeler in London. I found it extremly interesting and eye opening, it was a fairly small group so i got to work with him in a few demonstrations and be hit by him. I was blown away by his depth of skill in Systema, and his ability to show and demonstrate ideas. It was very different watching him and working with him, and things that looked visible on the outside, were invisible when you were working. His strikes seemed to come from nowhere and the power and fullness was incredible to feel. His ability to control, feel and change mine and others psches was immense. Some details and drills:

– Recomendation for the knees, if you have had an injury, how to heal them quickly – Walking on a carpeted floor on your knees forwards, backwards, sideways etc for a short time, breaks up grissle and old tissue, to allow new tissue to grow.

– Walking is very important, the most fundamental exercise, we can do it everywhere, feel where we are tense. An exercise to become aware of where we place are weight in our feet = Walk stepping on the toes pulling yourself forward and allowing the foot to place on the floor. Looks kind of like skating.

– Walking tips – weight on whole foot, relax hips, knees, don’t bob or sway.

– Exercise 5 mins – 1) AT AN EVEN PACE: Pushups, when tired situps,when tired leg raises, when tired squats, and repeat for 5 mins. 2)Then same thing but AS SLOWLY AS POSSIBLE for 5 mins – BREATH. 3) Then AS FAST AS POSSIBLE for 5 mins- breathing matches the movement.

– Recovering: when restoring yourself the burst breathing, should not tense you, but should relax you.  Learn to clean yourself with the breathing.

– An exercise to feel the heaviness of your arm and to feel your way into the person. Lay/drop your whole arm on the person- on their body somewhere, and feel the way through in one motion, think of the persons muscles as rocks and in between is the water, you need to find the path of no tension where the water is.

– Flow is not fighting, flow is designed for learning, learn how to break the flow.

– Touch the person with the fist on a deep level, of his body, his psche.

– Own the space, where your body is, Own The Space.

– Don’t find the other people, Find yourself, don’t lose yourself.

– Balance between tension and relaxation, control to go both ways, but your neutral state is a balance.

– Squats on person laying down keeping weight the same and relaxing body.

– Pushups on the person, keeping the weight the same on the partner in every point in the pushups not letting the weight come into your hips or legs, but keeping all the weight in the arms/fists.

– Massage: Very important in systema.

Person 1 lays down on front, P2 then kneels on P1s muscles starting with the lower leg, P2 use bone/shin of knee to apply pressure, make the other person work/breath. Work up their upper leg, then onto their back, use both knees at the same time, kneeling on person, working up the muscles alongside of their spine, .

P1 then turns around and lays on back, P2 walks along legs then along, stomach and on chest.

P2 then pushes into P1s stomach in different places, letting P1 work and relax the area before moving on, interesting how much people hold/tense the stomach muscles and don’t realize it.

Martin demo’d by having someone push their fist into his stomach, and you could see it went right in almost to the floor, very inspiring to see.

Deep Massage:

Learning how to clean the spaces between the joints, working on the collar bone. Partner 1 pushes their thumb under the collar bone from P2, and rubs it along the length of the bone and feels the grissle and roughness, try to smooth it out relax the connective tissue between the bone and muscle. This can be done with any muscle and bone join. Make it intense for the partner. Make them work.

Overall an amazing seminar, with a very real and interesting feel. I look forward to more seminars with Martin.