Move with Presence

Movement is an experience.

There is great beauty in the recognition of your own movement. Moving is in our innate nature. However to truly enjoy movement – Presence is necessary. Despite the disconnection from nature, our modern cities have an abundance of activities where presence is necessary in movement. Yoga, dance, ancient martial arts such as tai chi  and qigong all bring our awareness to the simple act of moving. In this post I will use systema as an example of how to bring Presence to movement.

In the Cossack derived movement philosophy – systema, movement begins with a chain extension of awareness.

The first extension of awareness is Breathe. In movement, it is important to oxygenate areas of the body that is moving. To bring presence to movement, it is essential to sync it with breathe. There is a difference between syncing your breathe with movement and syncing your movement with breathe. In the later, there is an effortless elegance that coordination cannot match. The former is simply breathe and movement occurring together and requires maintained focus. Let the intelligence of the body guided your movement through breathe rather than thinking how to move and then trying to adjust your breathing to your movement. With Breathe even moderately straining exercise such as free standing hand-stance and push-ups can be free of strength and, effortless. The importance of breathing will become more apparent with the second and third extensions of awareness.

The second extension of awareness is Relaxation.  It is important to relax moving muscles. It is a common practice in fitness and personal training to overexert in order to build strength. However, the lactic acid build up during these exercises brings the immune system to a fragile state. Taking an alkaline diet and buy alkaline water is besides the point when you are undoing it with anaerobic training. Where breath goes, attention follows. Breathing into parts of the body that are moving will naturally relax these areas. Even when working out – relax your body. Relaxation will bring full range of movement, increase the duration of movement, reduce toxic acid buildup and therefore, negate recovery.

The third extension of awareness is Posture. Without proper alignment, movement takes more effort than necessary. Bringing awareness to the body with breathe and relaxation allows the body to auto align itself. Key things to remember is to keep the spine straight and have a balanced weight distribution. Improving posture will immediately heighten your alertness and is fundamental to your presence. Presences is generated within and has nothing to do with the way you get perceived.

Movement becomes fluid, coordinated and effortless when the body is guided by these forgotten but nevertheless rudimentary principles.

In systema training, Presence is paramount under pressure. For example, when receiving a fist strike, if the body is not relaxed through breathing, tension in the body will absorb the hit and become a bruise. With the relaxation techniques described above, the body becomes like jelly and the impact of the hit is distributed evenly over the body.

When the body learns to relax under pressure, stressful situations in daily life trigger the body to relax naturally. Relaxation becomes a natural response to stress.

Bring Presence to movement. To be aware of which muscle groups are active in different movement patterns will greatly accelerate the process of learning new movements.

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