How to relax more (includes tutorial video)

Everyone wants to know how to be more relaxed. More at ease. Unfortunately like most things this takes some effort. It is a bit of a paradox.

It is useful to educate and train yourself in the art of relaxation.

A good method is to stress yourself under controlled conditions. One way to do this is with a simple breath hold. There are many varieties of these in Systema.

A useful variation is to do a breath hold whilst doing exercise.

What comes next is the crucial part:

You go straight into learning how to properly relax and restore yourself after the breath hold exercise.

This gives your psyche and your body the knowledge, skill and therefore the confidence that you can feel very stressed, and then within seconds bring yourself back to full recovery.

You begin to understand this deeply and intuitively though a gradual progression of the exercise. Done properly it can take over 30 mins, as I explain in the video below. It is a tough exercise, but It will reveal deep lessons and great benefits to you.

Several variations on this theme can be used in Systema:

  • Breath holds.
  • Physical endurance.
  • Pain.
  • Fear.
  • Physical contact and pressure.
  • Exposure to things that scare us.

The result is a deep and rounded understand of your stressors, a sensitivity to the effect that they have on you and the knowledge of how to restore yourself to a relaxed state.

The key is that it is all is done with full consciousness of your psyche and physical state through the connecting thread of your breathing.

In summary the key benefits are that :

  • The level of your relaxed state deepens.
  • Your length of time in which you can maintain the level of relaxation in everyday life expands and;
  • The speed with which you can consciously relax yourself increases.

There is real magic and power in the simplicity and ‘anytime anywhere’ accessibility of these tools.

Below is the video. It is one of 36 sections of the Systema Breathing Course.

Breath Hold Pillars

It is 6 mins long. The first four minutes detail the exercise, and the second part answers a question on overcoming doubts.

I am teaching three upcoming courses over the next few weeks and months. I hope to see you around!

  • May 19th – Marple Systema Course. Contact Chris Wallace for details.
  • June 8-9 Aboyne (Scottish Highlands) Systema Course. Contact Steve Murphy for details.
  • July 3-7 Wiltshire 5 Day Intensive Camp. Click here for details.

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My very best wishes for your training and health as always,


The Worlds Biggest Zoo?

I have an thought for you to ponder…

The following concept makes sense to me and I wonder if it does to you. When the comparison clicked in my head, I was momentarily taken aback.

I was talking with a local forager, and we were comparing behavioural problems affecting animals in zoos such as premature death, pacing, tails drooping (think killer whales), depression, sobbing, hair plucking and weight loss to name a few), and the growing behavioural problems faced by people in urban environments.

In the animals case, they have been forcibly removed from their habitats and put into tiny (in comparison) spaces.

In our case, we have removed ourselves from our natural habitat (or built over the top of it) and I would argue that we are encountering similar behavioural problems:

  • In the UK 1 in 3 young people today suffer from a mental health issue. It takes the average person 10 years to seek help for it. Some don’t make it the 10 years.
  • In the UK 6 out of every 10 women are on medication for anxiety, depression or stress. Men are not far behind.
  • The WHO says that by 2020 depression and anxiety will be the worlds number 1 disability.
  • The Centre for Disease Control states that sleep dysfunction is already at an epidemic level.

These are of course multi causal problems, and I certainly don’t mean to oversimplify. I do think that there is a key factor here though.

Animal Pharmaceutical industries now earn billions from prozac, valium and antipsychotics to keep the animals under control.

The comparison immediately made sense to me. Removed from our natural habitat, neither us nor animals do well.

It is tough to swallow when you are living in a built up area, like nearly all of us. However, upping sticks and moving to the country, isn’t the only way to rectify it.

What does this have to do with Systema?

One of the things that immediately resonated with me in Sysetma was the outdoor training. It just made sense. The outdoors is where Martial Arts and indeed health and exercise are meant to be done. I think that when you practice outdoors you engage both with, and in an outdoor environment. It all comes to life. Your skills, health and sense of wellbeing.

Call to action:

My call to action to you would be this. Try to make sure that just once per month, you take a 3 hour walk and spend time in an expansive natural space. This could be forest, fields, whatever.

Japanese research into forest bathing (I have blogged on this before, click here if you haven’t read it, its fascinating) has proved that just one long walk every 30 days, resets our key markers for health:

  • A 12.4% decrease in the stress hormone cortisol,
  • a 7% decrease in sympathetic nerve activity,
  • a 1.4% decrease in blood pressure and
  • a 5.8% decrease in heart rate.
  • On subjective tests, study participants also report better moods and lower anxiety.

A lot of bang for your buck there or one walk a month in the countryside.

I hope that it made interesting reading. I would be curious to hear your thoughts.

My very best wishes for your training and good health as always,


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