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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!

Morning Routine: How to get good at Systema FAST

12 Sep

All of us want to improve our Systema as fast as possible, the ways to do this are covered in another post .

I want to tell you about the most important thing to learn Systema fast and how you can implement it in your daily life;

The most important way to get better at Systema is: commitment/hard work/time.

This is one of the oldest secrets to achieving anything, yet many people want things right here, right now without the work, which obviously – doesn’t work.

The best way to implement this into your life, is by having a morning or daily training routine. So for example; as soon as you get out of bed, you start training. As soon as you get home from work, while the dinner is cooking, you train for 20-25 mins. Find a time in your day that is usually squandered on TV, internet surfing or some other meaningless past time, and train, even for 20-30 mins. The important thing is that training becomes a thing you do every day, whether you feel like it or not.

That is the secret to getting good at Systema fast.

For more information on specific exercises you can do, check out:

http://thomashogarth.com/2013/07/27/how-to-create-a-systema-workout/

http://thomashogarth.com/2013/07/12/russia-classes-2013-with-vladimir-zaikovsky/

http://thomashogarth.com/2013/03/24/how-to-create-the-warrior-feeling/

How To Get Better at Systema By Training Smart

31 Jul

A common question about training in general is; should i train everyday?

The answer for most things and Systema is, yes. The more you train, the better you get – you should of course listen to your body, but as Systema practitioners we should know this.

10,000 hours – An interesting idea

Think about this if you train 2 times a week for 3 hours in total that’s 156 hours per year. You may, if you’re lucky become a “master” in 40/50 years. But if you train 1 hour per day, 365 hours per year you can cut it down to 10-20 years.

A strange thing also takes effect- in that the more you train, the better you train. For instance if you watch Michael do some breathing, one short cycle is enough to relax his body and psyche and he’s ready to work. You start to train smarter, become more aware and develop balance in daily life.

Intensive training – What makes a difference

There are a few exceptions to improving skill and the best way to improve your skill rapidly is to; Train with the Russian Instructors, especially Michael. They can see things you can’t and correct mistakes you don’t know about. They accelerate your training, through 1: giving you the correct feeling of good work and 2: changing your psyche, removing fear, so you become more calm and confident and learn to just do it.

Lesson from Daniel

If you ask Daniel how do i become good at Systema, he laughs and says “time”. He goes on to say many people want to get good and they come to training 1 or 2 times per month or leave and come back. Commitment. Continual daily action, as with learning other things, is the most important.

Something that Michael and the other russian instructors teach is, breath, relax and enjoy 🙂

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.