Systema For Life

Systema For Life

Episode 94: Dr Stephen Porges - Stress, Body States and the Deep Psychology of Systema

November 22, 2019

"The types of exercises you people neural tasks, moving through different physiological states...these are very polyvagal-informed"

This week, a unique discussion with Dr Stephen Porges - distinguished research scientist and global authority on the diagnosis and treatment of traumatic stress.

Among his other accolades, Dr Porges is Professor of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina, Professor Emeritus at the Univeristies of Chicago and Maryland, and the author of over 300 papers in subjects ranging from psychology and neuroscience to space medicine and exercise physiology. He is also the creator of the Polyvagal Theory - a theory that links the evolution of the mammalian nervous system to social behavior and physiological states. For those that understand it, this has huge implications for the way we teach and train Systema - particularly for those that come to training following assault, abuse, and other types of trauma.

Here, Dr Porges and Glenn Murphy go deep on:

  • Beyond Fight-or-Flight: the insights of Polyvagal Theory
  • Safety and social engagement vs shutdown and dissociation
  • The impact of Polyvagal Theory on teaching, security, law enforcement
  • The primacy of breathing, body awareness, and movement in changing threat perception and behaviour

In short, we discover that Systema is - in the words of Dr Porges - seriously "Polyvagal-informed"

Find out more about Dr Stephen Porges and his work at