Syllabus

Physical Alchemy Syllabus 2016

The syllabus below encompasses what I currently teach at Physical Alchemy both within classes and in a personal one-to-one manner. Tinkering and experimentation is ongoing. The art evolves..  Also,  many other systems under study by myself with the goal of being able to teach them.  An expanded version of techniques and such has been taken down for now whilst I write a book/manual for this work.

 

[*] Re-Patterning Stretching [Physical Re-patterning Work] 

Re-patterning Stretching is the name of my methodology for the use of stretching exercise to re-pattern the physical form.  I have recently developed this syllabus out of the wonderful work of one of my teachers [K] (Kit Laughlin) – under whom I did an apprenticeship of his Deep Well Being and Stretch Therapy methods.   The Re-patterning Stretching exercises are primarily concerned with removal of culturally conditioning movement and tension patterns from various systems of the body. Pain removal is not emphasized.

Stretching in this manner also has the beneficial side effects of improving the soft tissue texture and tone (suppleness) and the acquisition of new range of motion (flexibility) in the muscles and soft tissues.  The Re-patterning Stretching work alone is a massive study and many years work for most people raised in our society.

Re-patterning Stretching occurs when you simultaneously focus upon increasing range of motion and increasing the quality of sensory impressions from the new area – but with a hierarchy towards the sensory impression quality.  The breath, sensations and various protocols and parameters become more important in this sub-syllabus.  The intention is not so much on the maximum range of motion (flexibility) but in the quality of the ‘cooking process’.  We are using stretching here, not primarily for flexibility increase, but as the primary vector in an internal alchemical process – as tissues on stretch ‘light up’ in the awareness more strongly and can be focused on and worked in a number of interesting and specific ways.

This syllabus also makes use of a number of ‘nuclear strength’ stretches and multiple assistance strategies for working on the body (when it has undergone thorough preparation, of course) which are applied in a different way and are for experienced practitioners only.  These Body Tessellation level and other very strong stretches are truly remarkable re-patterning tools. And they are fun, too!

Soft Body Skills of all types are also included here: self-massage and soft tissue work (utilizing both Eastern and Western perspectives), body and spatial awareness practices, suppleness and stretching exercises that are more subtle and deeper than the stronger stretching methods included in the Physical Cultivation section. This also has a soft tissue textual component – what is the palpable quality and health of the tissues, besides their movement capacity. It aims at reducing the amount of unconscious ‘parasitic’ tension in the body and freeing up wasted energy.

Exorcising the Breath (releasing and re-patterning dysfunctional breathing patterns), Freeing the Blood (removing stagnation and blocks to flow) and Deep Physical Relaxation (learning to activate the Relaxation Response in the parasympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system and bring the experience of deep physical relaxation to the body) are essential aspects of this.   These skills (among more contemplative attainments) I view as essential for survival (and “thrival” – if that is a word) in the madness, stress, increased communication and uncertainty of the 21st century.

Syllabus:

• The Basic Syllabus includes new Physical Alchemy stretches, protocols and variants (with ~2-5 being added each week at the moment from the creative forces mobilizing around this work) as well as a fair amount the original syllabus from Stretch Therapy.  Favorites include: the Human Crossbow; Passive Backward Bending [Whale work]; Limbering sequences; soft tissue work from PA and the old RollStretch syllabus; Many, many Hip Flexor stretches (~25 at last count);  Multiple strategies and exercises for attaining The Pancake; a whole sub-syllabus on Hanging Stretching for spine, lats, lateral line mesodermal tissues, arm and some chest muscles; ‘5 neck’ work – and much, much more!

• Body Tessellation Level Stretches, such as:  The Exorcism; The Tarantula; 3-partner Train Conductor stretches (‘nuclear strength’ hamstring work); 2+ partner Pancake and Side Splits work; Spinx-frog and other Advanced Frog patterns for the short adductors; Advanced Hip Flexor work; Back Bridging work – and much more.

More Coming Soon – as a totally new schemata of stretching categorization is in late-stage development.

 

[*]  Physical Cultivation [Physical Re-patterning Work]

Physical Cultivation is the use of physical culture exercise, movement training and martial arts drills within a Physical Re-patterning Work framework (the physical part of the greater ‘Re-patterning’ spectrum). Awareness when practicing is key to Physical Re-patterning work.   Physical Cultivation combines Awareness, sensation clarity cultivation and motion with the hierarchy of importance within Physical Alchemy being:  Awareness –> Sensations (atmospherics) –> Motion (Movement) and Physical Cultivation.  This is in the inverse order to which I learned these skill sets.  Training tries as soon as possible to fuse all three aspects at once – in practice (training) and in daily life.

Physical cultivation work is also concerned with increasing all things body atmospherics, kinesthetic intelligence and the cultivation of a ‘full body map’ of sensory location in the brain.  This involves systematically becoming aware of the interior (and exterior) of the body, of all the asleep and missing sensory information from: muscles and soft tissues, nerves, visceral and digestive organs, lungs and blood systems, other fluid systems. Cultivating a body that has all the subtle motions and pulsations of the organs, glands and other pulsation systems working in harmony.  That has nerves and blood vessels un-adhered within the myofascial matrix.  A body that is unrestrained and functioning in a natural way.  The same, or very similar, concepts are found in Daoist philosophy and body cultivation practices. A great one-line quote that conjures the correct imagery that I collected from one of my teachers [K] that points directly at the essence of this part of the syllabus, is: “Increasing the sensations of being alive

Be strong to be useful’ – a quote from Georges Hebert, is a great principle. Why not expand this to being strong, flexible, agile and have a high degree of embodied Awareness, too?  Training in this integrated way is fun and feels great on a number of levels personally.  Many of the unfortunate hallmarks of this modern culture: depression, un-happiness and lack of contentment, pain and movement dysfunction, ‘stuckness’ of all types, obesity and anorexia (body image-sense disorders) can be linked to this silent epidemic and often healed via movement and awareness training.

Physical re-patterning work can be combined with more rigorous injury-proofing and capacity enhancement work, as well as martial arts and other movement arts (there is no conflict – if anything there is an enhancement).  Physical re-patterning is more a way of using physical cultivation practices and movement exercises to cultivate qualities across a number of superficial and deep levels.

Physical Cultivation when fused with Re-patterning Stretching sub-syllabus involves the training for a virtuous combination of strength, flexibility and agility.  It is the training for a body that wastes little energy in movement and has the ability to relax quickly and fully after moving.   The goal is to attain the proverbial body like a jungle cat.

Syllabus:

Physical Cultivation – The strengthening exercises and  movement patterns I use in combination with the Re-patterning Stretching are largely drawn from martial arts, physical culture, bodywork and stretching and my own explorations. Whereas the re-patterning stretching work works upon the reduction of parasitic tension in the neuro-muscular system – the Physical Cultivation section activates and integrates new movement pathways.  Included are exercises for the development of the meso-dermal tissues.

Vestibular Re-patterning – This syllabus consists in many of the patterns we used to learn to move as babies.  Rolling, Rocking, Creeping, Crawling, many types of spinal undulation patterns – as well as including inversion drills like headstand, handstand and various types of bridge and Wrestler’s bridge exercises and games.  Crawling and Creeping work is highly utilized with basics progressing into harder patterns like the Water Dragon crawl (which I got from Simon Thakur), Leopard Crawl (from Steve Maxwell) and some of the harder lateral undulation patterns.

Deep-Physical-Relaxation- This syllabus begins with learning to activate the Relaxation Response in the parasympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system and bring the experience of deep physical relaxation to the body. Then, moves into deeper layers of physical relaxation and body-mapping sensation practices via a series of ‘Lying Re-Enchantment’ exercises very similar to the practice of yoga nidra or other progressive relaxation exercises in different bodymind systems.

I focus primarily on kinesthetic (physical), breathing and auditory awareness – not including visualizations as many other systems do.  I am not against this, I simply do not use them.  Once the skill of relaxation has been cultivated on the floor, we practice bringing this state into standing, sitting, stretching and eventually into motion.

 

[*] Deeper Re-patterning and ‘Re-Enchantment Process Work’ [Re-enchantment]

Over the last 4 years something very interesting has been occurring within the depths of Physical Alchemy..  The Physical Alchemy Re-enchantment process work started with myself undergoing and observing an evolution as I practiced my methods and those of my Teachers.  A pivotal moment came when aiding and observing Craig Mallet of ARC [https://awarerelaxedconnected.com.au] undergo and attain a certain something that I had also accomplished from this process work.  A few select others are currently working away with these deeper aspects of the Physical Alchemy method and the results are far and away the most exciting part of what I am doing currently with the method.  It is a beautiful thing to behold.

This work is still highly experimental, so little will be divulged at this time.  This process work uses a wider spectrum of the ‘tools’ available within the syllabus of Physical Alchemy.  It is also long and intensive with much one-on-one work (hence me only doing it by interview and my sole discretion).  Re-patterning work is taken much further than in classes until what seems to be a certain fusion occurs from the continued flame of Awareness under the alembic of the body – allowing deeper qualities to come to the fore and new channels of information to appear.  The deeper the patterns that are incinerated, the greater levels of spontaneity the person embodies. Burn the false and you are left with the true (and a big pile of ash).

Syllabus:  This deeper re-patterning work is largely dependent upon the patterns the person presents with it includes much more than is on the surface of Physical Alchemy..

 

[DW]