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The S.E.L.F. Method® and Polykinetics®

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Polykinetics and The S.E.L.F. Method  -Founder:  Michelle L Vargas CPI

information published on this website is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice and you should not take any action before consulting with a healthcare professional.

PolykineticsA multidisciplinary and systematic approach to converting mental stress and past trauma into a self-sustaining physical strength.

               The effects of how and why physical fitness and exercise improves our overall mental health and mood has been the focus of COUNTLESS studies over the course of decades, and the evidence is indisputable. However, even with all the medical studies and evidence produced, there's never been a physical fitness method exclusively designed to help cope and combat symptoms associated with various mental illnesses and disorders like: depression, anxiety, PTSD, SAD, mood imbalances and maladaptive behaviors, until now.

 

Polykinetics, at first visual glance, looks to be too "easy" to be effective enough for most to benefit from, but as many quickly learn, the kinetic sequences become progressively challenging every moment and the effects of your physical effort penetrate far beneath the surface---targeting neuropsychological pains and unnecessary mental anguish that can cause major disruptions and health-related hardships in your life and duress in the lives around you.

 

Remember, this is not a "lose weight, feel great" gimmick or a "just get over it" attempt to minimize or forget past memories that cause pain.  This is a technique that actively and strategically converts intense emotional energy into physical energy in an adaptive and beneficial way. It's combining the well-known physiology basics of the past with the cutting-edge neuroscience advancements of today.

How does Polykinetics work?

Polykinetics consists of three main components that are strategically interrelated: moves (physiology), music (neurology) and mentality/mindset (psychology);---And these three elements are harmoniously synchronized in such a way that it allows you to reap maximum benefits, physically and mentally, at the same time, in HALF the time. Sessions can be done completely in private on your own or in a group setting. It's all up to you and how you are feeling at the beginning of the session. 

Sessions are composed of five (5) individual kinetics sequences called, sets. Each kinetic sequence averages between 3-5 minutes, and sets lasting no longer than 25 minutes. It is recommended to do at least one (1) set each day for beginners, and adjust accordingly as your endurance and strength increase.  Kinetic sequences don't have to be done all at once.  Sequences can be split up to accommodate hectic schedules, and give bursts of energy throughout the day.  Sequences and sets are designed to generate energy, not exhaust it.  Most self-reporting participants report feeling energizes and alert after a single kinetic sequence---fully able to carry on with their daily responsibilities and other activities without feeling worn out or drained.

 

When practiced properly, some experience what is known as, kinetic meditation---This is a meditative state you would expect to experience when doing conventional meditation (sitting still with legs crossed), however, kinetic meditation is achieved while the body is in a constant and rhythmic motion. Nothing new, just not well known to most people.  By doing this, you're adding all the health-related benefits of traditional meditation, only performed with a modern day twist.  

After experiencing the very FIRST sequence (3-5 minutes), you'll never look at distressing memories or exercising in the same way; and with proper training and practice, you'll progressively build up a self-sustaining physical strength and and mental resilience that will help protect against future daily stresses we all face as humans. 

Moves: The physiology of Polykinetics

When it comes to physical fitness, there are four main areas of focus: aerobic (cardio/endurance), anaerobic (muscle strengthening), flexibility and balance.  Only a few activities cater to all four areas, and Polykinetics is one of them. Each workout infuses all four fitness areas into every single session; which saves a massive amount time, energy and frustration. This is a method that combines the tried and true proven physiological techniques of the past in perfect partnership with the cutting-edge neuroscience of today.

 

The "moves" utilized within Polykinetics are a mixed combination of multi-intensity intervals of coordinated and controlled body-weight exercise segments known as "kinetic sequences". Most of the exercises I know and trust stem from my martial arts background---Only no martial arts moves being taught here, simply the fundamental basics of those exercises are taught in Polykinetics.

 

The moves are then utilized in a technique called "repetitive micropulsation", A form of deep internal motion oscillation that allows the vibrations of the body to be synchronized to the beat and tempo of the music being used---ultimately, resulting in an increase of neurological activity, as well as, bringing balance to the circadian rhythm of the brain.

 

These rhythmic micro-pulsation maneuvers also allows the muscles to "warm up" quickly and safely without wasting limited energy or time doing a separate 10-minute warm-up workout.  In Polykinetics, these elements are intertwined directly into each and every workout since a lack of energy is usually the predominate physical symptom people experience with the onset of a mental illness or disorder. This way, Polykinetics utilizes exercises performed in a specific way so that your body actually generates energy instead of exhausting it.  Most participants reported feeling "energized" after a single 5-minute sequence.

An additional special feature of this method, there's no physical counting of repetitions.  That element has been removed completely in order allow the brain to focus on more vital tasks at hand, such as maintaining synchronized coordination, maintaining balance and all over form.

The Polykinetics vertical core crunch and bilateral forward punch exercises.

Polykinetics also utilizes two rarely known exercises that are particularly...unique. These two exercise moves are known as the "vertical core crunch" (VCC) and the "bilateral forward punch" (BFP); and when these two unique moves are coordinated together, it allows you to incorporate all three major areas of the body: upper body (diaphragm to the top of your head), core (diaphragm to the hips) and lower body (hips to your feet) at the same time.

 

The VCC is also frequently called the "base" move since it is the most frequently used exercise movement within the entire Polykinetics method; simply due to the belief that the most important area of the physical body (not including the brain) is in fact the core---therefore---the core area of the body is continuously used within each and every kinetic sequence.  This is by far one of my favorite exercises personally for the sake that I am able to work the entire core from a standing position and without tugging and pulling on the back of my neck in unnatural ways; an unfortunate commonality and redundant risk to take with conventional on-the-floor core crunch exercises.

 

Remember: work smarter, not harder!

 

How do you do a VCC exercise?   

The VCC is executed from a standing position with feet typically at shoulder-width apart. By turning the dynamics of the crunch exercise from horizontal to vertical you're now getting a 360-degree range of potential motion which allows for several different sub-variations (VCC 1, VCC 2, etc) to the original in order to target certain areas or to increase the overall intensity of the core workout. 

The base VCC (VCC 1) is as simple to do as breathing in and out.  Participants lift up on the upper body (similar to taking in a deep breath of air), pulling the shoulder blades together, and then while exhaling, drops the upper body down onto the upper core muscles closest to the diaphragm.  ---Since this is also where your stomach organ is, the VCC will cause building muscles to push back inward gently against the stomach, creating an all natural appetite suppressor.

 

Furthermore, when the VCC is done properly over time, it will also act as a natural decongestant due to the force of air being pushed out of the lungs when doing the VCC.  Many participants (especially those who smoke) reported a decrease of phlegm in their chest and improvement in overall breathing within weeks of continuous use of the VCC exercise.

Other variations of the VCC exercise include either leaning slightly backwards or forwards, side to side contractions, and various positions of the arms which can greatly alter the intensity or focus point of the workout. For example, if  you extend your arms out in front of you, placing one hand flat on top of the other (think of your arms making a letter "V") and reach forward as you do the VCC exercise, it will GREATLY increase the difficulty of that exercise. Same if you place your arms straight out to your sides (like a big letter "T"), hold them above your head, or in any other position, it will intensify the effects of the vertical core crunch, all without ever missing a single beat!

How do you do a BFP exercise?

The bilateral forward punch is much more basic, yet just as vital as the VCC. It has the ability to work the arms, shoulders, upper and middle back, neck, and chest simultaneously in a simple back and forth (oscillating) motion. Just like the VCC, the BFP is typically done from a standing position (although you absolutely can do this from a sitting position too!) with arms bent at a 90-degree angle while the hands are tightly together in a fist (think of holding onto a cup by a handle) By doing this, instructors are able to gauge the "strength" of your bilateral coordination between the left and right cerebral hemispheres of your brain and insure they are communicating effectively.

 

Variations of this exercise all depends whether you're keeping your fists parallel to the ground or punching at an upward angle, or downward angle---both of which intensifies the effects of the vertical core crunch when used in tandem.

Other fundamental body-weight exercises used within Polykinetics:

  • Forward-facing right angle leg lifts

  • Side to side leg lifts.

  • Mid-stance squats

  • Static/tension holds

  • Various arm exercises with or without the use of dumbbells (completely optional)

  • And additionally,  several change up variation exercise moves to keep the body in a continuous state of muscle confusion, theoretically, preventing fitness plateaus.

Polykinetics also utilizes a self-regulating intensity scale (J1-J3) during sessions to allow for the freedom to quickly increase or decrease the overall intensity of a particular sequence whenever you need or want to. That control is completely yours.

  • J1 - minimal intensity - This is used mostly to help "warm up" or "cool down" the body during sequences in order to prevent hyperventilation or risk of injury.

  • J2 - moderate intensity 

  • J3 - max intensity - Full effort, give it all you've got within reason -Remember: This is a fitness method where if you overestimate your physical threshold it could straining or even an injury. So never get so lost in the mental effort that you can forget to pay attention to the applied action and responses from your body.

 

The intensity indicators will normally follow the flow of which ever song is being used, but at others, instructors can use these to throw in some surprise twists into a workout to keep both bodies and brains continuously engaged and challenged throughout the entire workout. This also helps to prevent the common problem of plateauing.  Due to no two songs being identical, 

The best part about Polykinetics is that you can infuse this technique into ANY physical exercise of your choice, not just the exercise moves used in kinetic sequences. They key is to ditch the repetition counting and let the flow of the music and its intensities lead your efforts. All you have to do is keep your movements consistent with the beat of which ever music (song) you're using and in less than one minute, you'll feel a very different kind of workout.

Music: The neurology of Polykinetics

Melodic effects on brain activation

The use of music within Polykinetics does much more than simply providing entertaining and a source of enjoyment during workouts.  Here, it is so much more. Music in Polykinetics is additionally responsible for provoking emotional responses, regulating exercise various neurological and psychological aspects within Polykinetics sessions.

 

More importantly, music is proven to quickly activate and increase activity within several key areas of the brain, such as; the temporal lobes, the prefrontal cortex, the limbic system  a universal medium between all living things regardless of our individualized styles. To use music to promote neurological activity and functioning has been the focus of top studies, and the findings are proving to being a vital tool and medium when in synergy with synchronized exercise movements.

"Music therapy is a flexible treatment modality, able to promote wellness, facilitate symptom management, and improve the quality of life of those with mental illnesses." Data suggest that music therapy intervention results in clinical improvement in individuals with a range of mental health needs, and these benefits are seen among individuals with varying diagnoses, ages, and ethnicity. The data also suggest that music therapy is cost effective, has little adverse effects, and is well received by those with mental illnesses." 

 

-Lori F. Gooding PhD (2018)

Polykinetics works with virtually any music genre and virtually any song you choose. Songs are organized based on overall affective impact and melodic intensity, duration, speed (measured by BPM), overall composition, lyrical content (if any) and even down to the popularity.  Polykinetics has been tried and tested using the following music styles:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a method that is just as inclusive with the music, as it is with the people who use Polykinetics. Melodic diversity is found all throughout the Polykinetics method---not just this type of music or that type, but ALL TYPES---because in reality, we ALL have our own unique mixed-genre soundtracks that are significant to our lives, and I believe a truly effective fitness method that utilizes music should actively acknowledge and support that. 

 

The most important aspect when choosing music (a song) other than it being enjoyable to you; is that it needs to reflect and equal the intensity of your current emotional state as you start the session. This is a critical component to the overall process.

Example: If you're upset, choose a song that reflects the kind of upset you're experiencing. If you're hyper and overly excited, pick a song that reflects that.  By doing so, it allows your emotions to become validated, and helps you zone in on particular thoughts and memories that are causing duress. Many times sessions will mix different types of affective styles depending on the session goals of the group or individual.

Choosing the music: When it comes to scouting new music to sequence, there are certain elements I look for particularly.

  • Duration: How long the song is. Most sequenced songs are typically between 3-5 mins each. Which is ideal if your biggest struggle with getting fit is a lack of time.  Five (5) kinetic sequences equals one (1) full Polykinetics set/workout.  

  • Speed: How fast/slow the song is---This is also measured using a beats per minute (BPM) counter, which can make picking a sequence easier and quicker depending on how fast or slow you want to go.

 

  • Melodic composition: Bass drops, speed changes, lines that rise, fall, arches, undulates, and/or overall mood.

Song styles: Instrumental and lyrical

Only about 25% of the kinetic sequences I have designed involve songs with lyrics. And there's a key reason as to why that is---sometimes the lyrics are ideal. They can be fun, empowering and match perfectly with a given mental state, however, songs with lyrics may also inhibit certain guided thought processes since lyrics are a profoundly influential element within music. I recommend when choosing songs with lyrics to be aware of the content, and choose responsibly.

 

The biggest benefit of utilizing instrumental-type songs is that it allows your mind and thoughts to wonder freely without being distracted by language. I greatly encourage participants to use both types, lyrical and instrumental, when doing their own sessions due to the unique benefits you experience with each style. 

Sessions by music genre

In the past, it always seemed to be a method built around ONE style of music.  Which was fine, but never succeeded in sustaining interest or motivation for very long because the reality is most have a mixed collection of many different types of music, therefore, Polykinetics offers participants the freedom self-expression and freedom of music choice by being compatible with virtually any song or genre---allowing for instructors and participants to use either specific or mixed genre sequences within sessions.  The key is to ensure the music is reflecting your current emotional state, not your desired state, when starting the sequence.

top 40/pop

hip hop

country

reggae

rock

As most know, how we perceive ourselves and of the world, greatly weighs in on our state-of-mind on a daily basis. This is not your typical, "Go team go! or "just think happy thoughts" kind of lip-service. No, In Polykinetics, the applied strategies are used to identify potential struggles, as well as, promote clarity and wellness in all forms: physically, mentally, and emotionally.  This area is also where you will face some potentially difficult internal feelings and/or thoughts. Various different types of psychology are used within this method to invoke emotional or physical responses during sessions.  Some times they are pleasant and fun, others, not so much.  Just as it is in life.

 

We ALL have a spectrum of mental health as we do physical health and these two areas of health are strongly interrelated, but we often focus so critically on the physical that we neglect our mental, which can have devastating consequences. Therefore, Polykinetics works to align your life to be in a "dualistic balance" between physical and mental, your positives and negatives or strengths and weaknesses. 

 

Our #1 goal with Polykinetics is to educate the importance of mental health, as much as physical health, instill vital life-optimizing strategies, and to inspire a completely new perspective on utilizing fitness as an adaptive personal growth and stress-fighting tool for health related struggles.   Polykinetics instills various principles and disciplines that will help you reach your highest potential by removing fear and doubt and replacing them with determination and empowerment. 

 

Mentality & Mindset: The common sense psychology of Polykinetics