Ancient Russian Systema Practices – 4 Ways to Achieve Optimum Health

There are many different health and fitness trends and gadgets that appear on the market every season with the promise of giving tight abs or slim waist. Along with new year resolutions come memberships for the gyms or fitness clubs. Some will plug into yoga or Pilates others will decide to take up running or walking. And many will go on a diet. It is a frenzy, a craze.But feeling good and healthy is simple. No membership required. No gimmicks. No gadgets. Achieving and maintaining health should not be an activity. It should be part of your every move, every decision and every action. Then it feels good…all the time.Here are 4 Ancient ways to become and stay healthy. They are free, require no gadgets, and on top of that will save you money.Interact with Cold WaterOne of the best ways to fully engage your circulatory system and to get rid of viruses and bacteria is by interacting with cold water. The ideal way to perform this water dousing is to be naked in your yard (or tub), bare feet, with a large bucket of as-cold-as-possible-water. As you inhale through the nose, lift the bucket above your head, and on the exhale you slowly, very slowly empty the water on your head, face and neck. It is important to allow the water to reach the arm pits and groin areas. Do not hold your breath at any point as you perform this. Avoid freaking out, stay calm and move slowly. Do not rush to dry up. Take a moment to breath and enjoy what beauty is offered to you. Maintain healthy, positive thoughts throughout the whole process.If you find the dousing difficult for whatever reason, at least find one way or another of interacting with cold water. You can finish your hot shower with a cold blast, or go for a dip in a snowy creek.There are many folds to this ritual.On a purely physical level, when done right, the shock of the impact of cold water on your body will create a “mini internal explosion”, somewhat of a short term fever, where the body increases its temperature rapidly to counteract the cold. This sudden change of temperature kills many viruses and unwanted bacteria. It also eliminates sick and dying cells.On a more internal level, this practice is a battle between our internal voices. One devil on a shoulder whispering to forget about this “cold water stuff”… “just stay in bed, it is nice and warm…”, while the voice of reason, of health, calmly reminds you that it is good for you.The choice is yours.Cold water will teach you to listen to your better Self. It will also toughen you in many different ways.FastFasting is an ancient practice. Once a week, take a break from eating and drinking for 24-48 hours. All animals do it occasionally, either by choice or by circumstance. Again, on a physical level, it is very good for the internal system to get a break. Weak and dying cells get eliminated and organs get to purge. On an internal level, again it becomes a battle of will. Ideally, you should retain your daily routine, work, sit at the table with your family, play with the kids, dance or train. But seek no medal nor praise. Don’t brag about it, or complain- in fact, avoid bringing it up. A bit of hunger will teach humility. Overcoming it will bring strength and willpower, failing it… calories and a bruised ego.If going without food for 24 hours is too difficult (in fact, the first 24 hours are the most challenging), then try 18, or 12 hours. If you find that too hard, then try do remove an ingredient out of your diet, typically meat, or dairy.Push upsThe push up has been around forever. And this simple approach takes all the guessing out of it. Ideally you want to perform your push ups with a good form. The back should be straight, the body planked. Depending on whether you do them on your fist or the palms of your hand, your chest should get within inches of the ground. Try to do as many push ups as you can in 3 minutes. Take breaks as needed. Do not sacrifice quality for quantity. If you cannot do anymore push ups, but time is not up yet, at least hold the push up position until the end. As a guideline, 70-80 well executed push ups in 3 minutes is very good. Make sure you breath- in the nose, out the mouth.There are many benefits to the push up. Remember that we are not trying to build muscle mass. Instead, we want to maintain healthy, connective tissues. If you find your back slouching, you may need to work on your core strength. There are many physiological changes that happen to the body when you are on your fours for an extended period of time. The internal pressure on organs, along with heightened neurological functions are partially responsible for this. The push up, or any variations of it, remains a rather obscure field of research and needs more attention.PrayYou do not need to be religious to pray. This practice recognizes that we can seek inspiration, strength and guidance outside ourselves. Prayer allows us to free ourselves in many ways by recognizing forces and powers beyond us. All 3 previous practices may require you to pray. But ideally, one should not wait until “the boat is sinking” to start praying. It is a great practice to take the time to pray. This can be done in the morning, as you wake up, or in the evening, before sleep. However, many maintain prayer throughout the day to much benefit. To a large extent, not unlike fasting, prayer teaches humility and fosters community, both being integral to our health.These practices come from traditional Russian martial art known as Systema.Seek a doctor’s advice prior trying any of these practices.

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