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RinaS

How to get the most out of ABSS

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I'm not new to the stretch therapy and have been doing various programs for quite some time. I decided to go through the ABSS program for two reasons.
1. I felt I needed a better understanding of the principles and foundation.
2. I am super inflexible. I do not have any pain from doing the exercises, probably because I am used to them. But, many of them are not easy for me.
Sometimes I do two or more in a day and I feel fine, but like I've given myself a good workout. What I'm trying to figure out is how to use this program most efficiently. Are they meant to be done just once and then I move on because  consecutive programs build on what I've done? Or should I keep re-practicing the exercises that are hard for me?

Thanks, Rina

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@RinaS: Good question, and you are not alone in this dilemma! The short answer is that the exercises/positions you find the most difficult will turn out to be the most important, but how do you progress these?

Work your way through all the programs, making notes of the half-dozen or dozen that are the most difficult. Try to have a relaxed approach here! As well, there will be on or two programs that simply feel easy to do and leave you feeling excellent—sessions can be fun/easy, or difficult. The goal is grace and ease in the body, after all.

Aim for two sessions a week, but be prepared to adapt depending on how you feel. A "session" can be one, two, or three programs, depending on time and energy. Progress from 1 through to 21, and once you get there, go back to program 1. Your progress will be obvious in doing this; program 1 will feel much easier than program 21—in this way, your progress will be self-assessing, and self-calibrating. Don't be in a rush.

If you really get stuck on something, post here—good advice will be forthcoming, and there are many stronger versions of any exercise that can get you over a sticking point. Images of you in the positions you find hard are alway helpful.

The last point is that we decided to make all the ABSS programs solo exercises. The reality is that partner exercises are a core of our system (and there are many on the YouTube channel). Using another person's assistance is an instant fast-track to removing a restriction. For example, if your hip flexors are tight (and whose are not?), then only a partner exercise provides enough resistance to work against, to effect an instant partial release, at the minimum. These need only be done occasionally.

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Sleep and relax, keys things to good practice.

The relaxation scripts that have been released to compliment ABSS, have proved very useful before commencing any program. To begin with a relaxed mind and attitude has brought forth more enjoyment in the practice for me and my clients. 

I have been taking notes as I do each segment. I ask myself lots of questions and comments/ideas. How can I make this exercise easier or harder? Would I use different props? Hey that’s a new blockage in my body! That vector leads to other possibilities...and so on. 

Diving in deeply into what I’m not good at in the repeated viewings has been gold. 

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Thanks Kit and Cherie for responding.

This is opening a whole new perspective for me. I have not tuned into the relaxation section. That is my next goal. I like the idea of starting my morning with that and some stretches. I can never seem to get that flexibility and suppleness. This might be a good direction.

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I have now tried the first of the relaxations. I loved it. But, if I thought I could move on to doing a stretch session afterwards - forget it. It took so much out of me that I need to take it slow for a little while. I've had this before from meditative/relaxing techniques. If anyone can shed light on this, I'd appreciate it.

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23 hours ago, RinaS said:

It took so much out of me that I need to take it slow for a little while. I've had this before from meditative/relaxing techniques. If anyone can shed light on this, I'd appreciate it.

It probably means that you are exhausted—very common these days, we are finding on workshops. May I suggest you do the lying practises at roughly the same time every day at a time/place that's most convenient and the stretches at another time; and have the long view in mind. You will be living in a different body in six months, if you can do this. The fact that in your opening post you mentioned that you are "super inflexible" simply means that there is massive embodied resistance (tension is embodied resistance). Think about slowly whittling this away, with a smile.

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Thanks so much for the comprehensive reply. I feel like I learned so much from just a few sentences. I will do the relaxing first thing in the morning. Should the stretches be done every day? In my mind, that makes sense if each day we do different muscles and give others a rest. (But, I could be mistaken.) The problem is that I like ABSS and feel that starting from the ground up could be very good for me. I also get a lot out of the other programs that you have: squat, shoulders, whole body, slow flow etc.  Then there is what I will call regular exercise aerobics, ,gym, etc.  How does one organize it all effectively. (I hope I'm not asking too many questions.)
A search for "embodied resistance" only came up with a sociological definition. Is there any place you can point me to understand this better. 
But the best of it all was your advice to"
"slowly whittling this away, with a smile".

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Hi Rina,

7 hours ago, RinaS said:

Should the stretches be done every day? In my mind, that makes sense if each day we do different muscles and give others a rest. (But, I could be mistaken.)

You can (and should) do "feel-good" stretching (often called limbering here) every day. Consider that sitting in a chair is a stretch, but no one asks if this may be done daily. Your body needs to rest and recover when you apply a strong stress that requires significant adaptation. If you are not pushing hard and trying to gain new ranges of motion, then you do not need to take a break. Generally, the suggestion is to push hard 1-2 times per week and allow yourself ample time to recover between those sessions. The other stuff can be done as much as you like.

7 hours ago, RinaS said:

How does one organize it all effectively.

That depends on what "all" consists of, and can be made very complicated if you try. But you are not an athlete with complicated fitness goals that need to be balanced properly to make good progress, so I suggest trying to keep it as simple as possible. (Or if you are, I suggest hiring a coach!) Do your relaxation in the mornings, and then do your stretching when you have time later. Same with gym, etc. - fit it in when you have time. As a general note, it would be better to do your stretching session immediately after a gym session as opposed to immediately before, but otherwise I wouldn't worry too much about timing.

8 hours ago, RinaS said:

A search for "embodied resistance" only came up with a sociological definition.

I think he was just using embodied as an adjective, rather than throwing out jargon, i.e. resistance that is expressing itself physically in your body. A related term that you might look into is "character armor." Or have a read through this great thread: Relaxation vs ROM: Interesting Article.

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4 hours ago, Nathan said:

I think he was just using embodied as an adjective, rather than throwing out jargon

Five stars. I will never use jargon when perfectly serviceable/comprehendible ordinary English terms exist. 

Tension is (and is only) resistance to what is. When was is happening is to our liking, no new tension. Most of the time, we all want things to be different to how they are; at many scales, and over various time frames. All this resistance to what is is what instantly/slowly creates tension in the physical body. Resistance is always in the mind—and how do we know this? Because when you are unconscious, or even asleep, you (everyone; not you @RinaS) do not resist what is; no new tension is created. Of course, past resistance is relived in dreams—and one can awaken in sweat/horror to a nightmare—which is simply a series of ideas.

If you are physically "super inflexible" and female, then please consider all this. And take a deep breath, and relax, right now. You have just described the modern dilemma: all truly fundamental needs satisfied (assuming you have shelter, food, and water) yet somehow... 

The relaxation recordings can literally change your experience of this life, if you want to change it. These, and the stretching, work together to change your experiences of the unfolding moment; in time, you can relax into what's happening. This is surrender—not of the political kind, but of the reality kind. Powerful stuff. Thanks for posting your questions/comments!

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Thanks Nathan. You really clarified the idea of limbering for me in a way that I have not grasped before. I expect to go through the thread on relaxation vs ROM soon.

Kit, you raised something which I have been thinking about the last few hours. (Have to admit I never expected that a stretching routine has such whole life implications.) 

Wanting things to be different can mean many things. It can be certainly refer to nonessentials, but it can also mean taking important action to make something happen. Sometimes in order to achieve that, one must stand against the flow i.e. resistance. This is not something I would want to "surrender." How can one integrate all of this? 

 

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Yeah, we do a bit more than stretching over here! :)

12 hours ago, RinaS said:

Sometimes in order to achieve that, one must stand against the flow i.e. resistance.

Most definitely—and that's the critical difference between what we might call "conscious suffering" (discomfort encountered in pursuit of a goal) rather than unconscious suffering, which is far the more common. All this ties in with fundamental Buddhist concepts like "right effort", "right action", and "right livelihood". When I was talking about resistance to what is, I was covering a lot of territory (goes with the necessary generality of forum posts), but the fundamental idea is that the closer you can cleave to your true 'dharma' (what each of us is here to do), the less resistance you'll experience in daily life. Right effort and right action are critical in relationships too, another common source of suffering.

One surrenders to what is, in the sense of all that's happening that you cannot change. Most people's suffering is wanting Reality to be different—good luck with that! There's more, but that's the flavour. And learning how to relax (especially in fraught situations) and becoming physically (and mentally) more supple simply gives you more options in the moment.

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