Tag Archives: Internal work

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!

Moscow HQ Seminar – Internal Work (April 2013) – Part 3

18 May

Part 3 – Letting the weapon pull you up from the floor

These exercises are an extension of the last two parts.
Hold a stick in your hand and then keeping your shoulder relaxed, raise your arm straight in the air, relax your whole body, raise the stick and let the weight of the stick carry you around. When you do this correctly it should feel like the weight pulls you forward and up lightly and with power.

Now you have a feeling of the weight and power of the stick or sword. Next comes a drill which i found extremely interesting:

Step 1- Lay down, completely relaxed,
Step 2- Hold the stick at your side, pointed up in the air, again relax your muscles and then slowly lean the weight forward and point the stick into the air, into a trajectory that feels like it is pulling you up.
if you do this correctly you will sit up and continue to a standing position.
Have a look at these videos, you can see when the muscles are heavily involved and when they are minimally involved, it can look effortless:

Now try the same from a cross legged sitting position, with the stick in both hands, sticking it through the air in a trajectory that pulls you up. Then try the stick on one side of you, held in one hand, flow the stick through the air, and again in a trajectory that feels as if it pulls you up – to a standing position.

After quite a bit of this work, Michael told something interesting; he said that in the old times, the knights and warriors would steer their horses using their sword by pointing it forward and turning it different directions,
the horse would feel the weight and would change direction, turn and move according to how the sword was held.

Moscow HQ Seminar – Internal Work (April 2013) – Part 1

5 May

This for me was one of the most interesting seminars I have ever been too. The topic was inner work, and Michael explained and demonstrated a lot, which was very interesting to see. See the video below for clarity.

Part 1 –  How a Blade or Stick can Correct Your Body, Give You Strength and Deepen Your Relaxation

– The first exercise was standing straight and relaxed and holding a stick in your hand pointing straight up, completely relaxing your body. Michael said that if you hold it correctly it will feel weightless and will help you have a straight back and good form. He went to explain that while holding a stick in this way and continually relaxing ourselves – this will heal and straighten our spine, it will help to align us in a correct form.
Change hands – do this for 15/20 mins just to get the feel of it

– Bring the stick in front of your chest, so your hand it about stomach level, find a relaxed comfortable position there. Relax all your body, from spine, to bicep, forearm and wrist, leaving just enough tension to hold the stick, – if you do this right the stick will almost hold itself. Michael explained that when this is done with either a stick or a blade, actually seeing the weapon – the wood or the metal – will give you strength, confidence and power. The effect is much more apparent with a sword.

– Bring the stick into the first position arm held at your side, stick pointing upwards. Relax again your whole body, now this is hard to explain – you just have to feel it; Put all of your body weight onto the end of the stick, transfer your body weight right to the end of the stick. Now lean the stick very slightly forwards and let the weight take you forward, and walk. Bring it back straight and try the same backwards, sideways. Let the weight of the stick shift your body weight, different directions.

– Same exercise as before, tilt the stick slightly forward and let its weight guide you, just walk forwards, keep walking around, relaxing your body as much as possible, feeling the weight of the stick and it’s weight “pulling” you forward.