Saturday, 26 November 2016

9 things I learned from a 9 day retreat

1. That it is possible to sleep sitting. I was guilty of noticing this the first couple of days, waking up by slightly nodding my head forwards before tipping over. Anyway, even though I did fall asleep at times, that moment of waking up slightly in shock helps you WAKE UP on a deeper level as well. When you close your eyes for meditation nobody really knows how clear or awake your attention is, unless you are snoring of course... It is about coming back to the meditation object over and over again. Drift of, come back. Lost in thought, realize it, come back. Let's not sleep walk through our lives!

2. That there came a day when I wished I had brought winter clothes to Asia. The temple we stayed at was in Cameron Highlands, 1400 meters up in the mountains in Malaysia and apparently that can get pretty damn cold. Malaysians are however terrified of cold weather, as many of them stated themselves, and they had packed huge bags with a lot of clothes to prepare themselves. Luckily for me they were really generous with sharing their scarves and extra pairs of socks...

3. What a relief it would be to be cell phone-less! I did not know it was going to be such a relief to turn of the phone, out of sight, out of mind. There even came a point when I was searching through my bag and accidentally grabbed my phone and caught myself thinking "what is this", which is ironical, because usually I am searching around in my bag thinking "where is it? where is it?" I will definiatly decrease my phone usage after this experience, not carrying it around with me all the time. Why do we feel that we need to be so acceccable all the time? ...Whats the rush?

4. That Malaysians don't do nobel silence very well... The retreat was supposed to be under nobel silence and however much I tried to stay in silence every day, Malaysians are apparently really chatty people. So sometimes I was silent untill lunch, other days until later that evening because people where really curious over how a finn ended up there pretty much in the middle of nowhere. I think the additional challenge of being in silent will have to be on my next retreat, depending on where it is, according to Ajahn Achallo, maintaining the silence isnt happening at a Thai retreat either...

5. How much time there is in one day. Seriously, there is time to meditate in your daily life, maybe not 8 hours a day as we did during the retreat, but there is time. How we spend our time and what we feed our minds with has a huge impact on the quality of our lives. It dosent take time to meditate, as it slows things down it will actually give you more time, hows that for an investment?

"If you have time to breathe, you have time to meditate" 
- Ahjan Chah

6. Mindfulness of pain. Yes, even yoga teachers experience pain in the body from sitting, at least I did! The second day I actually didnt know if I would be able to make it through the retreat. However the teacher, Ajahn Achalo was excellent on giving advice and guidance thought physical pain. That everything is exactly as it should be, otherwise it wouldnt be this way. Pain, both in the body and the mind, is actually one of our greatest teachers and it is not stagnant. It is just an experience that will change. With the help of the breath and by surrounding the area of pain with cooling awareness you can separate yourself from identifying with it, Ajahan Achalo said, that which sees the pain, is not pain itself.

Ajahn Achallo and Ajahn Pavaro

7. That it is possible to over use tiger balm. For the back pain I was experiencing from sitting I needed a daily dose of downward facing dogs and tiger balm. As I noticed that "using a little bit of tiger balm helps a little bit so a lot of it will probably help a lot..." is how I was slapped in the face by the lesson of moderation during one morning meditation sitting. Mindfully I reminded myself to stay with the breath and the sensations even though they where fiery, to not react. Freedom comes from surrendering to the struggle, whether it may be physical and emotional.

8.  Valuable lessons on impermanence. However depressing contemplating endings, suffering and even death itself might seem, once honestly taking a look at it, it is befreing. All is changing all the time and the most valuable teacher for the constant change of life is right in the center of our bodies, in the center of our minds; our breath. To watch the breath as we inhale and as we exhale, without grasping, attaching or clinging to it we can practice applying those qualities to out life as well. All is constantly changing and that is the nature of life which we are apart of.  Similarly as the breathe comes and goes, so do painful sensations in the body, emotional states and thoughts. Rising and falling, arising and descending. The body is just a body and will constantly keep changing as it is made up from the elements, nothing to cling to. The mind is just the mind and by bringing out the "me", "mine" and "I" suffering ceases to exist.

9. That mindfulness leads to knowledge. I am truly grateful for having the opportunity for taking part of Ajahn Achallos teachings and guidance on cultivating mindfulness and on seeing things as they are. I know I don't want to sleep walk through life as day becomes night and autumn becomes spring, year after year, on autopilot. I know I don't want to feel like a victim to circumstances and identify with every struggle. I know I don't want to spend my life by running towards pleasure, runnning away from pain and mostly feeling that something is lacking. So after these 9 days I realized I want to commit to a deeper meditation practice. When the alarm goes of, I will not hit the snooze button. It is time to wake up. It is a choice you have to make over and over again and the choice is yours.

"Everybody knows they're going to die, but nobody believes it. If we did, we would do things differently" Morrie said.

"So we kid ourselves about death" I (Mitch) said. 

"Yes, but there's a better approach. To know you're going to die, and to be prepared for it at any time. That's better. That way you can actually be more involved in your life while you're living" 

"How can you ever be prepared to die?"

"Do what the Buddhists do. Every day, have a little bird on your shoulder that asks, 
Is today the day? Am I ready? Am I doing all I need to? Am I being the person I want to be?
The truth is, Mitch, once you learn how to die, you learn how to live."

- Tuesdays with Morrie

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Update from Krabi

One month ago I arrived in Thailand and it did not take many days before I felt like I had found home. A plan for this upcoming year is in progress and I will let you know as soon as I know ;) Finding the balance with going with the flow and planning...

Not having a strong wifi connection makes it easy for digital detoxing, but for more frequent updates, follow me on

Are you on your way to Thailand? Looking for a place that offers Yoga and/or Reiki?
Check out Marina Yoga in Krabi, Ao Nang!

The loving kindness mantra is a slogan for this place and is handwritten on several walls and signs: 

Om Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu
May all beings everywhere, be happy, and free. 


Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Seasonal Yoga: Autumn

This Saturday was spent at Wasa Yoga Center where I held a one day course on how to ease into autumn with yoga. As the energies in nature change it effects our internal energies as well and it is not uncommon that this can raise mixed emotions such as stress, restlessness or anxiety. Here are some of the tips that were shared and practiced during Saturdays course on how to stay grounded, centered and in balance during this season of change;

  • Practice balancing poses to create a stable body and a stable mind. It dosen't matter if you fall, the practice is all about finding balance over and over again even though it might feel windy. Root down through your standing foot and anchor yourself to the earth.

  • Stay grounded by practicing meditation. There are numerous ways to practice meditation, and I recommend you to try walking meditation. Click here for more info on how to practice walking meditation to beat stress. 

  • Take care of your immune system by practicing inversions. Inversions are upside down poses, such as headstand, shoulderstand and legs up the wall. For more info about legs up the wall, (according to Yogi Bhajan, if you are only going to practice one yoga pose, this should be it) click here

  • Turn inwards and focuse on your internal space. As we transition from the carefree months in summer (yang) towards winter (yin), sun to moon energies, we can make this transition feel easier by practicing yin yoga or restorative yoga.

  • Spend time in nature and enjoy the show that nature puts on right now. Autumn really is the season of transition as you might see changes in nature even from day to day.

  • Take advice from the trees and let go. The beautiful trees are now letting go of their leaves and you can take the opportunity to do the same. Ask yourself what thoughts, thought patterns or behaviors you wish to let go of. Twisting poses are detoxifying both on a physical and emotional level and are therefore beneficial in a healing and releasing practice this time of the year. 

  • Do what you enjoy! Last but not least, bring out the sweaters, candles, tea or wine, hot soups or your knitting and enjoy getting cozy :) 

Photo by Saara Oinonen

The wind of change is also exciting, for me this means beginning my yoga and travel journey today!
Next stop: Krabi!!! Stay updated here and on my instagram ;) 

Until then, embrace the inner and outer transition of this season.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Strike a Cobra

Are you stressed out, spending most of your day infront of a computer or experiencing back pain? Click on photo to read full article on about Bhujangasana, one of the most important and foundational backbends in yoga with numerous health benefits from the feet to the head!

GIve your cobra pose some extra love, strike it like you mean it and open your heart to the world and to yourself!
Happy practicing.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Leave your Ego at the Door

Yoga is union between breath, body and soul and connecting to your true self and your true potential. Ego is a constilation of the mind and the opposite of your true self. It is a challenge to let go of ego and unidentify with our thoughts in our daily lives, however we can make yoga a practice of this with these tools on how to leave your ego at the door when you enter a yoga class!


Ego is what keeps us from being in the present moment – worrying about the future or reliving the past. Ego does not exist in the present moment, therefore the practice of mindfulness becomes essential. During a yoga class, whenever you find yourself thinking about what you did before you stepped on the mat, what you are going to prepare for dinner or how your work presentation might go tomorrow, decide to let go. Observe the mind for wandering without judging yourself and decide to return to the present moment with the help of the sensations in the body and the breath focus. You are not ego and you are not your thoughts, you are the observer and the awareness behind all this.

Compassion instead of competition

Ego always strives forwards and for results in the future. When injuries occur in yoga it is common that they are a cause of ego. When being on the yoga mat, see if you can let go of comparing yourself to what your neighbor is doing or even what the yoga teacher might be doing. You are on your own journey and yoga is neither a competition with anybody else nor yourself. Practice compassion towards yourself instead of competition by being patience with yourself in some poses, sometimes even taking a step back and honoring your body for its openness and strength today, no matter what you did yesterday or the last time you practiced. Accept your "weaknesses" with self-compassion, without them defining you.

Let go of results

How was yoga class today you might be asked? “Oh it went great, I managed to come into handstand for the first time”, or “no it was awful, I felt stiff in every pose and couldn’t even manage to breathe deeply in downward facing”. Okay, so this is clearly ego speaking, judging your practice and judging yourself! For ego there are a bunch of labels, defining things as good or bad, right or wrong. Of course it is fun to be able to jump up into hand stand for the first time and it is completely okay to enjoy that, however that does in no way define your practice. The practice of non-attachment to the outcome is what brings us back to the present moment and our true selves. Acknowledge your strengths and progress without it defining you. 

There is no perfect yogi, perfect pose or perfect practice to aim for, that is ego slipping in through the back door and on your mat. The perfection that excist is your true nature, that does not need to be changed or improved. Yoga is connecting to what already exists, not in the past nor in the future, but right now.

Breathe, be and unite your palms in namaste.
Photo by Saara Oinonen

Friday, 12 August 2016

Strengthen your Chaturanga

What you might not know is that chaturanga dandasana is actually a pose on its own, not just something you do to transition from plank pose to upward facing dog. Chaturanga is one of the most commonly practiced yoga poses, especially in vinyasa or ashtanga yoga, yet it is often practiced incorrectly, for this is in fact a challenging pose! 

Build your chaturanga safely step by step: 

1. Begin in plank pose, already toning and strengthening the arms and engaging the core. In plank pose press the floor away with the palms to lift up the area in between the shoulderblades. 

2. Begin to shift the body forwards from the toes. 

3. Exhale, to lower down the body in a straight line, still pressing up the area in between the shoulderblades.

4. Only lower until you can feel your elbows hugging in towards your ribs. The elbows should form a 90 degree angle, meaning you sometimes have to shift the body forwards in plank pose even more than you think. Aim forwards with the body instead of down. 

5. Keep engaging your core through the entire pose before you dive into upward facing dog in an inhale.

If you are used to going to yoga classes you can ask your teacher to check your alignment in chaturanga dandasana to give you personal tips. If you mostly practice yoga at home I advise you to film your practice to check your own alignment in poses every now and then. 

To strengthen your chaturanga and build upper arm strength you can add chaturanga push ups to your practice. From plank pose, exhale and lower down until your elbows meet your ribs, inhale to press back up into plank. Optional to lower the knees and do "low push-ups" instead. You can do five, or as many repetitions as you want and take the time to build strength instead of rushing your way from plank to upward facing dog.

LOWER THE KNEES if you are unsure or still building strength in the arms, shoulders and/or core. There is no rush or final destination in yoga. Let go of ego, any shame for lowering the knees and keep your practice safe and steady. 

Photo by Saara Oinonen

Build your chatuanga slowly, step by step. 
Practice and all is coming! 

Monday, 8 August 2016


Treat yourself with a day of grounding and nurturing yoga to ease into Autumn at Wasa Yoga Center 3.9! 

Limited space - save your spot today at
Hope to see you there!