My out-breath hold length varies depending on whether I am in the shower or lying down. Lying down I can hold my out-breath after the 3 x 40 structured breathing for around 1.5 minutes – standing up for around 1 minute. The addin is on the in-breath hold.
When breathing in, I keep my abdomen flat (i.e. I don’t let my abdomen expand). Then when I have taken the in-breath, I hold it and distribute the air around my body. The way I do this is, what I call, a 5 star mind-model. Imagine that your body is a star shape with it’s centre around your abdomen (dantien) and each part of the star pointing into your feet, your hands and your head. When I distribute the air in my body I push it along the points of the star, going around the star 2 times slowly (i.e. to a long count of ten). This gives a wonderful feeling of moving energy along your limbs and up your torso into your head and a mindful sensation of inflating the fascia around your body.
I think the Wim Hof Method (WHM) is a great new way of spreading the word about some very old principles that had faded into relative obscurity. Personally, I really like the newfound discipline of combining structured breathing and better oxygenation with the system shock management of cold water showers. Many people get it and can just apply Wim’s approach, but others can’t or they want to try different nuances on his method. Here I will share a couple of ‘addins’ from the work I do on moving energy and explain why.
I’ve read a number of discussion posts from people that find the breathing exercises difficult to master. I’ve outlined this before but here’s a more comprehensive description of, what I call, structured breathing: think of your body as having three ‘organic’ balloons centered 1) in your lower abdomen 2) in your chest (mid sternum level) and 3) in the middle of your head (mid-way between your ears).
When you breathe in, 1) tip the top of your pelvis forward and allow air to ‘inflate’ your lower abdomen, and as this fills-up, 2) allow the next batch of air to inflate your chest ‘balloon’ in 3 dimensions – not just raising your rib-cage. Then, even though you may have taken in most of the air you can, continue to feel that your body is expanding, but this time, 3) focused on your head, allow the sensation of expanding to give you the feeling or air going into and inflating your head. As you do this, let your head tip slightly backwards. Together with the pelvis tilt, this will give you a noticeable arched back and neck – try and keep your eyes horizontal as you do this.
Now, the breathing-out is essentially the opposite of the breathing-in pattern. Sigh and relax slowly, then let the balloon in your head contract and your head tip slightly forwards (eyes level). Let the air in the top of your lungs start to come out , followed by the mid-chest balloon contracting and releasing air, and then contract your abdomen as you let the pelvis top tilt backwards. You can practice the pelvis and head movement as being big movements, but after time even small movement will help trigger the movement pattern.
How many times have you been training, listened to a podcast, watched a video or read an article and the material is interesting but it’s not about you. It’s about the author or the trainer. The purpose of the the article or the training session seems to be more about enhancing their feel good factor, kudos or something else, for them, but not you! That may well be because of the way in which the material is communicated. If the material is all about how the move should look – then it tends to dictate that you need to follow visually and prescriptively what is being demonstrated and articulated.
Beauty and Flow
Very often the way something looks when it is demonstrated belies what is, or should be, going on underneath the surface. Some training videos I’ve seen recently epitomise this. When something is demonstrated well – it looks beautiful, it flows and has that feel about it that says, “that’s good”. When it doesn’t look beautiful and doesn’t flow it can look false, jittery and impractical.
So what is the “secret” to making it all about you, and at the same time making the training relevant and the videos look good?
The answer is – feeling. If it feels good, it probably is, with one big caveat – the feelings must be based of meaningful reference levels for how the move should feel. Now that may sound a little like gobbledygook, but the reality is we have all the parts we need to benefit from feeling and feelings based reference levels.
Our bodies are actually very well organised and have developed from simple biological patterns. These patterns repeat themselves throughout our bodies.
Once you understand the way one segment of your body feels and works, and how it makes use of reference levels, you can apply the same, or at least very similar, methods to all the other segments of your body. Sound far fetched? Well there is plenty of documented evidence – ranging from how your body is structured (Anatomy Trains), through how your body detects whats going on with biosensors (proprioception), to how your body and mind are intimately linked through neuroplasticity.
Apart from looking better and more beautiful, what are the advantages of feelings based training:
I have taught professional instructors with decades of practise and witnessed some lovely “eureka” moments when the penny drops for them, and I have taught lay people that have literally jumped for joy when they have discovered what they are truly capable of.
If you want to seriously up your game physically, mentally or spiritually, or if you have any questions, do contact me mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
I can do one-on-one sessions or group workshops to suit what you need. Instructors and non-instructors welcome.
We hold regular workshops focusing on the principles behind flowing, structured powerful movement. The principles are useful for any form of exercise or self development but are particularly relevant to the flow and power in Systema. We make a distinction between training (drilling), application and flow, with flow incorporating the principles from both the training … Continue reading Mindful Energy, Connection, Flow and Systema – A Reflective View→
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