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The other day I went to see the doctor for a simple health check.

The doctor asked me: “How are you” and I paused with confusion. Naturally thinking it had something to do with why I came for a health check, but I then came to the understanding that he just had asked me with no further agenda. He had just asked me with human interest.

It got me thinking.. I was surprised when he asked me “how are you” because I rarely get asked how you are. It is much more normal to get asked how are you doing or how is it hanging and people who are excepting you to tell them that everything is fine.

So then I started to be aware of asking people “How are you” instead of just asking how is it hanging. I thought if there were the slightest chance another person would feel just a fraction of what I felt then it would maybe become a better day for another person.

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I had a wonderful experience with Yin Yoga, in the most amazing surroundings at the top of a wellness facility, with a perfect view calming music and great props.

Nature truly has a healing power and whenever possible I practice Yoga outside. And even though I was not outside, the view calmed my mind.

Yin Yoga is a slow form of Yoga where the Yoga postures are held for 3-5 minutes. Because of its slow pace, it slows down the mind and has a calming effect on the mind and body.

In the Yoga class we used bolsters as props, which I really liked and I have adapted it into my own Yoga practice, and I would like to share it with you.

Every morning I start my Yoga practice laying on a Yoga bolster (you can also use a pillow) – grounding down – feeling the contact to the mat and the bolster, and the stretch, the bolster provides for my back. It helps me to come into a deeper meditation in the start of my yoga practice.

                                                        Savasana with the bolster placed at the center of my back.
                                          Supta Baddha Konasana with the Yoga bolster placed at the center of my back.

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I have been attending two different types of Yoga classes in Norway - Vinayasa and Ying Yoga - more on the Ying Yoga class coming up later. Both Yoga classes were taught in Swedish, and for the first time, when attending a Yoga class in a different country, I understood almost everything she said. The classes were excellent, and I would like to share the best parts with you.

We started out with a breathing technique called sama vritti translated as– same wave/movement. It is a breathing exercise that helps to stimulate concentration and build up energy.

Sit in a seated position and inhale while you count to four, and then exhale counting to four again and repeat. There are a lot of different variations and you can decide youself the duration of your inhalation and exhalation.

The Yoga class was built up with different variations of Sun Salutations with nice and calming music. There was especially a great variation of the Malasana pose and the Ninya pose, both asana (yoga postures).  You will feel a great stretch on the inner thighs, and it helps to involve balance in a great and fun way as you are balancing on your toes.

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The third limb of the Yoga Tree is the asana also known as Yoga postures. Even though the asana are much more than just physical postures.

Pantanjali’s yoga tree is bulid up by 8 limbs. Each limb leads to the next one. The first two limbs Yamas and Niyamas leads to the third limb Asana.

Read about Yamas and Niymas here:  https://nouw.com/themindofmathilde/yamas-niyamas-29790370

The first two limbs of the Yoga tree are incorporated into the practice of the asana. For example Ahimsa – Non violence not being violent towards your body and mind while you are practicing the asana (yoga postures) and Santosa - Satisfaction being satisfied with where you are in the practice.

Your flexibility, balance and strength can vary from day to day. Yoga is not about perfection but it is about creating a union between the mind, body and spirit and to be present.

The asana can also help you to achieve certain effects on your mind.

Generally the seated positions helps you to ground drown and to be calm, and the standing postures helps you to be confident and to be open to the world and life.

Your personal yoga practice can therefore be build up for special purposes. When you start in sukhasana, (a seated position) - it will help you to ground down and to connect to the breath. A standing position where you are drawing the sun with your arms, will help you to be more open and confident.

It would be a shame, only to describe the asana as something physical, because it is bigger than that. It is not only something physical but also a part of a mental practice.

Sukhasana

Standning positiosn - Drawing the sun

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Something I love to do is to take a footbath, whether I feel good or not.

It helps me to be aware of the foundation that is carrying me around each day, and to ground down through the soles of my feet.

The warm water helps me to be attentive of my feet. It helps med to ground down.

Days when I feel good, the footbath is simply a treat to myself, a relaxation.

Days when I am not feeling good it helps me to connect to myself and be with what is troubling me.


It helps me to be present in the moment.


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When I was at Roskilde Festival I had been carrying either a heavy backpack or a rucksack for a week, and I got a terrible pain in my back, shoulders and neck, and I found that these two Yoga postures really helped to ease up the pain.

Uttasana Shoulder stretch

Stand in an upright position.

Place your hands on your lower back and intertwine your fingers.

Bend forward and let your hands fall down toward your head.

Standning Neck Strech 

Stand in and upright position

Intertwine your fingers and place them on the back of your head

Let your chin drop down towards your chest.

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Yoga for beginners

As usually I try out Yoga classes, when I am travelling. This time I travelled to Roskilde Festival.

My first experience with a Yoga class at Roskilde Festival was a Yoga class for beginners.

We did not start out connecting to the breath. We just started out standing. The postures where easy, and there was no connection to the breath - Not my cup of tea, but at least we finished with a relaxation and the sun came up.

My personal Yoga practice does not only consists of different types of Yoga postures. The breath are always having the utmost importance in my practice and mediation is also a part of it. I always frame my physical yoga practice with meditation, it can be just two minutes, but it is always there - and then my physical Yoga practice becomes a union of the mind, body and spirit.

Acro Yoga

I had a wonderful experience with Acro Yoga. We started out with closed eyes connecting to the breath and noticed the surroundings - the people around us, the sounds, the wind and the sun.

We sat in a circle, and we put a hand on each others back and leaned back. So everybody helped to hold each other. It gave a nice feeling of us all being united.

At first the exercise was simple, we started out standing in the middle of 5 other people and with closed eyes we let us fall back as someone catched us, and gently pushed us over to another person. It helped to evolve trust to one another, and was useful when the postures got more advanced.

Slowly the practice increased and got more advanced. My understanding was that everybody had a nice experience and felt secure in the different head and arm balances.

Acro Yoga is really a form of Yoga there helps to evolve trust to yourself and to other people, and it helps you to rest in your own skin.

In the end of class we relaxed while laying down with closed eyes, and another person held the feet and moved the legs back and fourth.

So nice that the Acro Yoga was framed by small kinds of meditations.

Acro Yoga is defiantly something I would recommend. It is very good on a lot of different levels.

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There are times in life, where we experience higher levels of stress. It can be in different situations and on different levels. To me, both exam preparations and exams are things that make me feel extreme stress.

I have just had my final exam of this school year, I was under a lot of pressure, and this is how I managed to cope with it.


Making the best out of it – tread yourself nicely

The first thing I did was, to begin appreciating all of the things that was working out great for me. I decided to appreciate all the things that was good, instead of spending my time worrying about the exam. I decided that the exam period, should be a time to enjoy all the great things in life.

I then began to visualize the exam; I would visualize it as a good experience with a great result, instead of imagining, the worst that could happen.

As I was studying, I listened to ambient music, which has effects on the limbic center in the brain that deals with emotions. I surrounded myself with nice smells, I used essential lavender oils that has a calming effect, it helped me to maintain a deep breath, and I would feel more relaxed.

I told myself repeatedly.

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.


Yoga - Asanas

As always, I practiced a lot of yoga. I find that Hatha and Ying Yoga are functioning very well for me when I need a calm mind, because of the slower pass in the yoga practice. It has helped me to settle the mind, and has given me a break so either I could manage to get more work done that day, or it had helped me to let go, so I was able to relax in the evening.

Meditation

As well as my asana practice, my meditation practice has also been good for me, especially when it comes to exam preparation.

It has been a good way to start the day with a mediation, either in a seated mediation or in a meditation as I have been walking to do errands. You can check out different types of meditations here: http://themindofmathilde.com/category/meditation

Meditations have helped me to remember to be right where I currently am.

Ten nice things

When it got really bad and the tensions got too much. I found that it really helped me to ask either my boyfriend, or a dear friend to tell me ten great things they liked about me. It helped me tremendously to get relaxed and let go of the tensions that were building up in my body.

The day of the Exam

I had to be there half an hour before the exam would begin, so I brought my Yoga mat, essential lavender oils and my singing bowl. All to make me stay calm. I both meditated, did Yoga and listened to the calming sound of the singing bowl. Lucky me I had a dear friend that would tell me ten nice things right before I had my examination.

I think that the things I have done in situations that was extremely stressful to me, can be used in other situations as well. Hopefully to your benefit.

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Some days, it can be hard managing to keep the focus on my breath while I meditate. It can be difficult to come back to the breath every time a thought shows up.

And on these days, I find that this is a great meditation that also gives me a calm mind and soul.


Let your mind flow in a seated meditation.

Come into a comfortable seated position.

Notice the way you are feeling and let everything be just as it is in the moment.

Notice your breath and let it be just as it is.

Thoughts will show up eventually. They will come and go. Just notice your thoughts, without getting attached to them. Just let them pass on and acknowledge they are there. Let the thoughts flow let the mind flow.

It is up to you for how long you will do the meditation.

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A meditation you can do almost anywhere.

Essentially it is to walk while you are being aware of every step you take – to be aware of your body and your breath. It is great for grounding down and to be present with your surroundings.

As you begin your mindful walking practice, you can start out with noticing your steps and the sensations in your legs as you walk and feel your breath.

Later you can start to expand your practice and feel everything surrounding you depending on where you are. If you are walking outside you can be aware of the wind, the smells and the temperature etc.

I find that it is a great and easy way to appreciate life right where you are in the moment. And a great way to reduce stress, because you improve your ability to let go of your to do list and other things on your mind.

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