Draga in Old Norse means ‘to draw’, ‘drag’, ‘pull’ and ‘win’. It is the name Odd Svendsen gave to slowly performing movements that are found in Glima, Glima warming up exercises, or natural movements that enhance the understanding of Glima.
Glíma in Old Norse means glimpse or flash because of the speed in which the techniques are employed. Though some draga movements may be the same movements as found in Glima, when doing these movements incredibly slowly, they cannot be called Glíma (glimpse / flash).
DRAGA MOVEMENT and BALANCE
Movement is all important, in the physical, mental and spiritual. Through Draga, we are able to create balance in movement and grow.
Some movements in Draga are Viking wrestling dynamic resistance excercises, but when done as Draga, the way of moving in between these exercises connects them an a fluid way, making them part of a larger and greater whole.
Draga is a great way of expanding the consciousness and healing the spirit. It is a great way of generating energy and channeling energy. It is a great way of finding personal balance.
The ultimate goal of Draga is liberation and freedom, physically, mentally and spiritually. As we do not live in a vacuum, there is constant change and movement. Through Draga excercises we can connect with our core self and positive energy and find or create balance within and without.
Draga is used to motivate and to "draw out" a balance and understanding within a person. An understanding of a movement comes from within. Understanding has to be drawn out, rather than pressed in. Understanding without doing is just theory, which is why draga is so fundamental to understanding.
Draga motivates a practitioner. It motivates on many levels of the physical, mental and spiritual. A motivated person is more productive in life. A person who practices Draga is often dramatically motivated to a fresher physicality, mentality and spirituality. A practitioner of draga is energized, making them friendlier, happier and healthier people.
Spirituality was an integral part of the Norse people. It was a part of everything they were. For the Scandinavian people of the Viking Age, everything in nature had a spirit. For these people, it was important to communicate with spirits and cultivate their own strong spirit. Through draga we are able to cultivate a strong spirit.
ODD SVENDSEN - MASTER of BALANCE
Balance in movement
Odd Svendsen traveled around Norway performing feats of balance and balance in movement. In theaters all over Norway, Odd executed amazing strength and balance movements on his own, and with a partner. These movements were all done very slowly. Each movement was a series of smaller adjustments in balance. He was a master of balance in movement.
As an older man, Odd used draga as a way of keeping in shape and staying strong and flexible. Long after retirement, Odd was muscular and could perform impressive feats of strength and balance.
Odd was very interested in keeping alive Viking and Norse culture, and his Norwegian male name comes from the Old Norse Oddr, which means sharp end of an arrow or edge of blade.
Odd introduced Tyr Neilsen to Glima, and showed him how to understand draga as a physical, mental and spiritual exercise. When showing Tyr a glima movement, Odd did so slowly, adjusting each movement and balance, so that Tyr understood this art at a very deep level.
When Tyr said that draga reminded him of Yoga and Thai Chi, Odd told him of the origins of modern Yoga lay in Scandinavia. In later years Tyr found other sources that confirmed this, such as his work with Lars Magnar Enoksen and through the writings of Yoga historian and Yoga teacher Mark Singleton.
SCANDINAVIAN ROOTS OF MODERN YOGA
The roots of modern yoga are not just Indian, they are also Scandinavian. What we now call yoga goes back a little over 100 years, and is a mix of Indian yoga and Scandinavian gymnastics / physical training techniques that were employed as British military exercise drills.
The original Scandinavian source for modern yoga exercises come from Per Henrik Ling (1776-1839), founder of the Swedish gymnastic system. Following on from Ling's work, Niels Bukh (1880–1950) from Denmark, developed a system called Primitive Gymnastics, which “emphasized continuity of movement, rhythmic exercise, and intensive stretching to seek elasticity, flexibility, and freedom”. Bukh’s system became part of the official British army training program in 1906, and via the British Army, found it's way to India, where it came to occupy a central position in the Indian physical education scene in the early 1900s.
Until the late 1800s, yoga in India was primarily a philosophical and spiritual discipline, which emphasized meditation, breathing exercises and purification methods. Apart from sitting meditation positions, there is no evidence that body positions we currently associate with Indian yoga were key elements of Indian yoga tradition.
During the Hindu cultural renaissance in the late 1800s, Swami Vivekandanda (1863-1902), included physical yoga in his philosophy. The innovative yoga teacher Tirumalai Krishnamacharya (1888-1989) and his successors were influential in integrating Scandinavian / British- gymnastics exercises into Indian yoga. A few decades later, this new form of Indian/Scandinavian/British yoga won a foothold in the West.
As Løse-tak Glima was part of the Swedish/Norwegian military, and part of the basis for the Indian/Scandinavian/British yoga, now practiced in Europe and America, the similarities to Draga are not so unusual.