Tag Archives: Massage

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!

Systema Health Practices – Part 2

24 Aug

One of the most magical experiences for me, from Systema was in the Russian Banya. A whole Systema group of Russians in Moscow go twice a week, and Alexander (Sasha) had invited me to go along. A Russian guy was tasked with giving me a lift from the Systema school in Moscow to the banja. On the way he asked me “have you ever been to banya before?” i said “well i’ve been to a sauna” He laughed “No,no, this is not sauna, this is banya”

What is Banya?

Banya has three main parts:

1 – You go in to a very hot stone sauna and i mean very hot. You sweat it out there for a bit. 10-20 minutes typically

2 – You come out and straight away you go into a freezing cold pool (while breathing well). You dunk your head under and hold your breath on an in or out breath, while you listen to your pulse – heart beat, under water.

3 – You repeat step 1, and while you’re doing the first two rounds, Sasha has been preparing some branches of birch leaves, adding scents and soaking them in warm water. When you  go back in for the second time, you sit down, and he begins to whip you with the birch leaves; on your chest, shoulders, back and legs.

You then repeat this process 7-8 times, not always with the birch leaves, sometimes a massage and sometimes nothing, depending on how Sasha is feeling.

This is one of the best Systema classes i have ever done. If you don’t breath correctly, it is easy to get overheated, tense up and panic.

After a few rounds it gets easier and when you come out you feel extremely relaxed, both your body and mind. Usually they have some hot fruit juice or liquor which also helps!

I highly recommend anyone going to Moscow to do this.

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: http://thomashogarth.com/2012/04/27/day-1-part-2-moscow-class-alexander-sasha/

Or if you prefer a seeing it yourself: http://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: http://thomashogarth.com/2013/07/27/how-to-create-a-systema-workout/

Part 2 – Banja, Stomach massage, the stick and whip

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

Systema in Moscow: Stick Massage – Video Session

20 Apr

I had an excellent time in Russia, many new things, training ideas and feelings.

Here is a taste of upcoming posts about the seminars and classes i had in Moscow with the Russian instructors:

Footage was recorded by Mitchi from Systema Japan.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uO9Mryur0WY&feature=youtu.be

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_oTeH3BGFgM

 

I recommend anyone to go to Russia and experience the stick massage, it will change your psyche and body in a big way- Guaranteed.

Go and get one or two!