This was me playing around with some different ways to visualise and enact tension in various parts of my body. These exercises are not meant to be used for strengthening or conditioning but for awareness.
The idea is that by learning to tense parts of my body I can more easily learn what relaxation in those same parts is really like. By developing awareness, I can recognize tension in those parts during my normal day. By becoming more generally aware I'll be able to stay more generally relaxed.
While resting between callisthenics, there are a number of lesser exercises to try. These focus on specific regions and tend to be very tiring for a smaller area. If you've practised pain tolerance, it can be difficult to know when to stop. Don't be a dumbass here, because you can seriously stress joints and ligaments if you're not careful. Do this routine in order.
As you progress in general well being, your awareness of your body will improve enough that you'll get a feel for individual muscle groups and whatnot.. don't worry about paying attention or trying, it will come to you. Pause after you are done and commit some mindfulness to yourself..
Hands together, hands apart ∞
The starting position: Flatten your hands against your abs, keeping your fingers together. Relax your shoulders but keep your back straight. Without extending your arms, bring your palms together. Point your fingers forward. Notice the little tug on your forearms. Splay your hands apart a little. Essentially you are relaxing them. Now, while keeping your hands at that 90 degree angle, pointed away, pull your hands apart.
Be careful not to hold this too long. 10 seconds is probably enough. This is an awareness exercise, not a strengthening exercise.. it can do damage.
The Claw ∞
Ball your hand into a fist, keeping a straight line from your forearm to your hand. Then extend your palm, straightening the back of your hand. Your knuckles will be unfolded. Notice how your fingers are clawed. Pull your folded fingers back and feel the strength in your fingers. Splay your fingers apart a little, keeping them clawed. Now extend your fingers and exert a line of force with them, down across your palm. It is as if you are clawing an intangible object in your palm.
Try rotating your wrist a little while you do this. Keep your wrist and arm mostly relaxed.
Bailing Water ∞
This is an extension of The Claw, where the exertion extends through the arm. Essentially, the idea is to "wake up" a group of muscles. Be careful not to strain your elbow. Try to keep your shoulder quite relaxed. It's easy to aggrivate it by forcing it into a strained position.
Pushing The Pillar ∞
An extension of Bailing Water, this involves using both arms. Instead of fists, open the hands and bring the fingers together. Push out with your arms as if you were pushing against the roundness of a pillar in front of you. Don't straighten your hands as if pushing against a wall. You should feel this in your chest a little.
- Obviously, this has some influence from Taijiquan.
- If you extend your fingers you can bring your hands into a claw and bail water, repeating a motion.
Your wrists and elbows might crack under the strain of some positions.
Pulling The Sapling ∞
Bringing the hands back towards the body, ball them and place one over the other, as if grasping a rod. Tense your hands and arms, but keep your shoulders relaxed. Pull up as if pulling a sapling up out from the earth. Focus on the tension in your back. Tense your abs to keep your back tall.
I've pulled my back out doing this. You've been warned.