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Yoga and fear – how regular practice may empower and make you more stress-resilient

The other day whilst going through some old files on my computer I found a text that I wrote exactly five years ago in March 2014. Somehow  it ended up unpublished and forgotten. But rereading it I realise its content is still very valid and that’s why I decided to share.

Having devoted much of the past eight years of my own yoga practice and my teaching to study end explore how yoga affects our nervous system and the state of our mental health, this post gives a small testimony how yoga with its different components of posture, breath, sound and behavioural practices can help us increase our resistance stress-resilience (fear is also stress). Yoga teaches us how to self-regulate and this helps us be more in control of emotions and stressful situations which in turn may lead us to feel more empowered  in our daily lives. In the end it is not about the postures but about what goes on when we learn them, when we breathe and practice to stay present in the moment however difficult that may be. Please continue reading below and keep checking this page for upcoming posts on the theme.

March 14th 2014

I used to be afraid of everything. When I was a kid I refused to participate in gymnastics during PE lessons – even a back roll (chakrasana to us Ashtanga yogis) was out of the question. Let’s not even talk about hand stand… The first time in my life I ever kicked up against a wall I was 33 years old. I had been convinced that my shoulders would never support me or that I would crash down on my head.  Of course that was just my imagination.

Despite being very anxious when younger – fearing I would damage my clothes if climbing a tree or fall when running and thereby make my mother angry with me – I was always very active, as long as I felt that I was in control. I played a lot of sports such as basked ball, did martial arts, got involved in fitness training, eventually became a spinning instructor and did a lot of long distance running. I travelled overseas, often alone, and never reflected much upon the dangers of doing this on my own.

Fear is often irrational and what makes one person freak out doesn’t even bother another one. Practicing Ashtanga yoga has been the key for me to face many of my fears. By going through challenges on the yoga mat my practice empowers me daily and teaches me many important lessons about how my mind works.

Moving and breathing in and out of asanas on the mat has not only made me stronger physically or allowed me to understand/be closer to my body. It also continuously teaches me to go a little further out of my comfort zone every day. Because it is only on the edge of the comfort zone where change and development happens. Step by step the practice tricks me into learning more and more difficult things, slowly adapting the body and mind progressively. With repetition and dedication, the posture that seemed absolutely impossible a few weeks, months or years before suddenly is accessible.  Like this the boundaries for what is possible are pushed a little further every day.

In my yoga practice I’ve had to (and still do) face my fears every day. And I do it because I’ve learnt that every small victory on the yoga mat shows me that I am much stronger than my mind tells me. The phrase “Yes, I can” – although it feels like a cliché – becomes a mantra that grows stronger with every hurdle passed. In the end it’s not about mastering the postures, but the result that comes with achieving something that used to be “impossible”.  If I can do the “impossible” on the mat the same should be possible off the mat – in daily life. And that’s where the real empowerment of yoga practice lies.

Teaching Ashtanga yoga as rehabilitation from PTSD, stress and depression in Rwanda 2011

NEWSLETTER SPRING 2019

Photo: Justyna Jaworska

Winter is coming to an end, the light is returning and we hope for some warmer weather soon. With spring comes new energy and we start new foundation courses in both Malmö and Lund. A new addition to the schedule this year are guest teachers visiting on two occasions. Keep reading to find out what happens at the shala before summer.

THE SPRING SCHEDULE is available in detail on our schedule page. All temporary changes for public holidays are listed separately here. ONE Sunday a month we have guided class of the full Primary series (instead of Mysore class). It varies which Sunday of the month it is so please check all the dates on our overview schedule. The next occasion is on 3 March at 08.45 in Malmö. After class we gather for tea&talk and Isabella will give a briefing on the latest from V-Care and Odanadi, the two charities we support in Mysore.

COURSES / Special classes
Chanting on Sundays is replaced by a monthly Chanting and Philosophy course. This enables us to deepen our practice, get better continuity and understand more of the texts we chant. The course runs as Friday-fun on Fridays in Malmö. The next class is on 15/3. Read more here

New foundation courses in Lund and Malmö start in March. The course in Lund is full, but spaces are still available in Malmö. More about that here. As always we appreciate when/if you recommend us to your friends and families. More yoga practitioners make society both healthier and more peaceful.

A beginners level 2 course/guided half primary series class starts early March in Lund (there’s one already running in Malmö). Please keep in mind that everyone has to pre-register whether you attend the full course or if you just drop-in occasionally with klipp/monthly cards (you’ll only be debited for the classes you attend). The course runs only if there are enough people registered. Pre-registration is done via Medborgarskolan. Read more about the level 2 class here

Guided Intermediate series will be held twice later this spring in preparation for Sharath Jois’ visit to Stockholm and Copenhagen in July. It is strictly regulated who can participate so please read the description carefully and talk to Isabella before you sign up.

YOGA STOPS TRAFFICK 21/3
Every year, we do 108 sun salutations to raise awareness and funds for the organization Odanadi’s fight against human trafficking in southern India. This year the event takes place on Thursday 21/3 at 5pm.The class is donation-based (cash payment) but please register in advance. All are welcome to participate and you do not have to complete all the 108 sun salutations. Read more about the event on the event’s page.

GUEST TEACHERS
In addition to the ongoing schedule, we are honoured to welcome senior Ashtanga Yoga teacher Stefan Engström from Kadermo Conscious Living. Stefan will teach a guest workshop on 5-8 April in Malmö called “Yoga of Presence and Wholeness – A unique approach to Bio-Mechanics. Practice will be physical with Mysore style/led classes as well as theoretical afternoon classes. Find more info about Stefan’s workshop and how to register on our here. NB! Early bird price until March 1st!

On 1-2 June, Swedish born Gabriel and his Australian wife Nadia teach two afternoon Ashtanga yoga master-classes in Malmö with the theme “Create effortless fluidity and control in your yoga practice”. Learn how to create fluidity through the application of bandha and breath. Find strength in the transitions and flexibility in the asanas. Gabriel and Nadia introduce you to techniques that make your practice easier. Not to miss! Read more about their classes here.

SUMMER RETREAT – on July 7-12 we return to Kadermo Conscious Living in Finland. The island of Kadermo is an idyllic setting away from modern society and stress where one really gets a chance to wind down. Isabella leads a week long Ashtanga yoga retreat there with morning and afternoon class and our vegetarian chef Anu from Mysore, India, and spoils us with the most delicious food. Last year was a success and it was full so don’t wait to book your spot! More info can be found here.

That’s it for this newsletter. In between letters I hope you stay updated by checking our Facebook page and the group Ashtanga Yoga Malmö / Lund practitioners we started in connection with the page (apply to become a member). We are of course also on Instagram. All other news is published here on our news page/blog.

See you on the yoga mat!

TEMPORARY SCHEDULE CHANGES FEBRUARY/MARCH/APRIL 2019

Please note that there are some temporary schedule changes coming up in February/March/April 2019

February

Tuesday 5/2 Mysore 16.15-18.45, Malmö, Sara (cover for Miho)

Sunday 17/2 Mysore 08.45-11, Malmö, Sara (cover for Isabella)

Monday 18/2 Mysore 06.15-8.45, Malmö, Miho (cover for Isabella)

Monday 18/2 Beginners’ level2 class at 17.15 cancelled due to winter holidays

Wednesday 20/2 Mysore 06.15-8.45, Malmö, Miho (cover for Isabella)

Thursday 21/2 Mysore 06.15-8.45, Malmö, Miho (cover for Isabella)

Tuesday 26/2 Mysore 16.15 Malmö, Sara (cover for Miho)

Thursday 28/2 Mysore 16.15 Malmö, Miho (cover for Sara)

March

Monday 4/3 Beginners level 2, 17.15, Malmö  Miho (cover for Sara)

Thursday 7/3 Mysore 16.15, Malmö Miho (cover for Sara)

Tuesday 12/3 Mysore 16.15 Malmö, Sara (cover for Miho)

Monday 25/3 Beginners course 17.15, Lund Sofia (cover for Isabella)

April

Friday 5/4- Monday 8/4 Stefan Engström Workshop: Please note that regular Mysore classes are cancelled during Stefan’s workshop.

Friday 5/4 no Mysore in Lund. Resting time!

Sunday 7/4 Mysore Malmö cancelled

Monday 8/4 Mysore Malmö cancelled

Only the beginners course on Sunday 7/4 runs as scheduled. The guided Primary series and Tea&Talk scheduled for Sunday 7/4 will take place the following week on 14/4.

Easter 19-22/4:

  • Good Friday19/4 is full moon = no Mysore class. Rest!
  • Easter Sunday 21/4 Mysore as usual at 08.45-11am in Malmö
  • Easter Sunday 21/4 No beginners’ course in Malmö – Easter break
  • Easter Monday 22/4 Mysore at 08.45-11am in Malmö
  • Easter Monday 22/4 No beginners’ course in Lund – Easter break

Valpurgis 30/4 no evening Mysore in Malmö (morning class i Lund as usual)

1:st of May Mysore 08.45-11am in Malmö

New and Full moon

We don’t teach at new or full moon. Mysore classes are cancelled then. Only beginners level 1 and 2 courses run as scheduled on “moon days”. See the list of upcoming moon days here

INTERVIEW with ISABELLA in PARAMPARA MAGAZINE

In 2018 Isabella was approached for an interview by the reknown Parampara Magazine. This is the result of many months of reflection and writing. Click the link to read.

Photo by Alessia Campostrini

NEWSLETTER JANUARY 2019

Happy new year to you all! Warm greetings from Mysore, India where I (Isabella) currently am for my annual trip to the KPJAYI for studies with Sharath. Here I get to be a student again and fill up on new knowledge and good energy. But this year I’m only here for one month and I’ll return home in early February. The shala is full as usual, with many familiar but also new faces. Sara who assists me in Malmö is also here. Some good news are that I again have the honor to assist Sharath in the Shala, this year during the first shift. This means that I, together with two other assistants help from 4am until 6.30. Only after that I’m allowed to roll out my mat where Sharath tells me to and do my own practice. It means long mornings in the Shala, but I am very grateful because I learn a lot, and it’s all experience that I can bring home for you to benefit from. While I am here I also take private chanting lessons in preparation for a course in chanting and yoga philosophy that I will teach this coming spring. You can read about the course and all other events this spring below.

In January our schedule is slightly reduced. Miho, Sofia and Caroline make sure that classes run smoothly in my absence. We also have the pleasure to welcome Jens Bache from Astanga Yoga Copenhagen. Jens will teach two guided Primary series classes on Sunday 13 and 20 January. Don’t miss the opportunity to practice with Jens who has more than 20 years of Mysore experience. All details and the January schedule are here

The SPRING SCHEDULE starts Sunday the 3rd of February with our monthly guided primary class in Malmö. Afterwards you are invited to tea & talk where I and Sara will share stories from our stay in Mysore. You find the spring schedule on the schedulepage. Please note that there are some changes:

  • Evening Mysore class on Tuesdays and Thursdays in Malmö is henceforth taught by Miho and Sara. From now on I teach only morning Mysore.
  • Chanting on Sundays is replaced by a 4-session Chanting & Philosophy course. It will allow for better continuity and give us a chance to deepen our practice and understanding of the texts we chant. The course runs as Friday-fun in Malmö 17-19hrs. Read more here
  • New beginners courses in Lund and Malmö start in March. The course in Lund will take place in One Hot Spot’s premises at Råbygatan. Read more about all our courses here
  • Beginners level 2/guidedhalf Primary series will be held both in Malmö and Lund. The course/class in Malmö starts on Monday 4th February and in Lund we start in March. Read more about the classes here. You may as usual register for the entire course or drop in with clip/monthly card, provided there’s space.
  • Guided Intermediate series will be held twice later this spring in preparation for Sharath Jois’ visit to Stockholm and Copenhagen in July. It is strictly regulated who can participate so please carefully read the class description hereand talk to me before you register.

I would be grateful if you all took the time to read the schedule page(with links) properly so that you are aware of and respect our Shala guidelines and our opening/closing times.

GUEST TEACHER – In addition to the regular schedule, Stefan Engström will visit us on 5-8 April to hold a guest workshop with the theme “Anatomy of wholeness”. There will be both physical asana practice with mysore and led classes as well as more theoretical afternoon classes. More info about Stefan’s visit will soon be available under upcoming events on the events page.

SUMMERRETREAT –  on July 7-12 we return to Kadermo Conscious Living in Finland. Isabella teaches a week-long retreat there. Last year was full so don’t wait too long to book your spot. More info can be found here.

That’s all for now. If you want to buy cotton mats, yoga mat bags or other yoga stuff from Mysore please order from me no later than 15/1 (email). The price depends on the exchange rate and the shipping cost.

See you in less than a month, but until then please keep up to date through our Facebook page and the group “Ashtanga Yoga Malmö/Lund practitioners” we started in connection with the page. On Instagram you can also follow some of what happens while I am in Mysore. All other news is published here on our newspage.

JANUARY SCHEDULE 2019

In January 2019, Isabella is in Mysore, India, for further education at the KPJAYI. In her absence, Miho, Sofia and Caroline cover classes according to the schedule below. You can read about all our assistant teachers here

Two Sundays in January we also have the honor to welcome Jens Bache from Astanga Yoga Copenhagen who comes to the shala in Malmö to teach guided full primary series class (suitable for all levels of practitioners except complete beginners). Jens has been travelling regularly to Mysore since the early 2000s and is, together with Susanna Finocchi, the founder of Astanga Yoga Copenhagen. In addition, he is  the organizer and host when Sharath visits Copenhagen. Currently, Jens also studies Indology at the University of Copenhagen with a focus on Sanskrit and translation of classic Indian texts. Take this opportunity to practice with Jens who is a very experienced and authorized Ashtanga yoga teacher. Jens teaches on Sunday 13th and 20th of January. Read more about him here 

JANUARY 2019* click on the schedule for a larger image or download your own copy here

NEWSLETTER DECEMBER 2018

December is approaching with all its festivities to light up the darker days. We try to make it as cozy as possible in the shala and continue to practice throughout the holidays. Our regular schedule runs until 21/12. From 23/12 to the end of Jan we reduce classes somewhat. Isabella teaches until 28/12 before she goes to Mysore for a month.

GUIDED CLASS AND PARTY – December starts with a guided Primary series class followed by our annual potluck vegan brunch on 2/12. Class starts at 9am and afterwards we gather for brunch at 11am. The brunch is usually the most popular event of the year and a great opportunity to get to know each other off the yoga mat. If you can’t make it to class, you can of course join the brunch afterwards. Please bring a plant-based contribution to the buffet. Family and friends are also very welcome. Please let us know if you’re coming here

FRIDAY FUN – the last after-work event this year is held on 7/12 in Malmö in the spirit of giving. We do 108 sun salutations in support of V-Care, the organisation in Mysore we sponsor together with Yogashala Stockholm. The class is donation-based and all funds go directly to V-Care. Isabella personally delivers the money in January. Please donate here

HOLIDAY SCHEDULE – during Christmas & New Year we adapt class timings to start a little later. In January, while Isabella is in Mysore, there’ll be cover teachers. You find the winter schedule on our newspage

A SNEAK PEAK AT SPRING – the spring schedule starts on 3 Feb 2019 with a few additions and small changes compared to the current one. Upcoming beginner’s 1 and 2 courses are already online available for registration (click here). Please share with friends who might be interested.
On 5-8 April, Stefan Engström from Kadermo Concious Living visits us for a weekend workshop in “Anatomy of Wholeness” plus Mysore classes. More info to come but save the dates in your calendars already.
In July 2019 (7-12) Isabella returns to Kadermo to teach a week-long Ashtanga retreat. Last summer was completely full so it’s good to book early. More info here

You’ll receive the next newsletter early 2019 with a detailed spring schedule including all that happens until summer. Meanwhile, stay up to date via our Facebook page, and/or the “Ashtanga Yoga Malmö/Lund Practitioner’s group” that we’ve started in connection with the page. There you can ask questions, exchange experiences, give advice and more (click on the link above to join). We are of course also on Instagram and all news are also published here on our news page/blog.

See you on the yoga mat!

CHRISTMAS & NEW YEAR SCHEDULE 2018/19

Between 23 December 2018 and 6 January 2019 we run a slightly reduced holiday schedule . See an overview below or download your own copy here.  Isabella teaches until 28 December after which she travels to Mysore, India 29 Dec- 1 Feb. In her absence there will be other teachers covering classes.  A detailed schedule for the period 7 Jan until 1 Feb can be found by clicking here.

TEMPORARY SCHEDULE CHANGES NOV/DEC 2018

Cover in November:

Sunday 18/11 Mysore, Malmö, 9-11.15am – Miho

Sunday 18/11Beginner’s level2 at 11.30am, Malmö – Sara

Full / New moon closed

Wednesday 7/11, Friday 23/11, Friday 7/12 and Saturday 22/12

Christmas and New Year’s Schedule

The regular schedule runs until 21/12 and between 23/12 and 13/1 we have a slightly reduced Christmas / New Year schedule. This will be published in December. Isabella is in Mysore in January 2019 and a guest teacher from will cover all classes then

NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 2018

Believe it or not, we’re already half way through the autumn semester. The first round of beginners’ courses is about to “graduate” and two groups of new ashtangis are ready to fly. We’d like to welcome all the new students to our Mysore classes and flag our “Ashtanga Yoga Malmö/Lund Practitioner’s group” on FB. There you can ask questions, share experiences, give advice and get internal shala news (click the link above to join). This newsletter contains important info for October+November such as temporary schedule changes, new courses and events as well as some practical things in the shala.

NEW ENTRANCE IN MALMÖ – please note that the shala in Malmö hereafter is accessed via the door at Grangatan 2 (around the corner). The old door code is still valid but needs to be entered twice; first at the main entrance and then at the glass door inside the hallway. You find the [small] keypad on the wall just next to the door.

TEMPORARY SCHEDULE CHANGES – our regular schedule continues until 21/12, after which we’ll have a special Christmas&New Year schedule for a few weeks. Please note that between 11-31 October, Isabella is in India to participate at a Yatra in the Himalayas with R. Sharath Jois and Eddie Stern. In her absence cover teachers will keep the schedule running. A detailed schedule for the period can be found here

GUIDED PRIMARY SERIES – takes place on the first Sunday each month (the Mysore class is cancelled those days). Upcoming dates are 7/10 and 4/11 at 9:00 in Malmö. The class is open to all, but it’s not suitable for beginners. After class, we meet for tea & talk where we discuss a yoga-related theme. On 7/10 we talk about “A Sustainable Yoga Practice” and on 4/11, Isabella shares stories from her trip to the Himalayas.
Those who do not feel ready for full guided primary series are welcome to the Beginner’s level 2 class (guided up to half primary series) that takes place every Sunday at 11:30 in Malmö.

NEW BEGINNERS COURSES – start in Malmö in November shortly after the autumn holidays. Isabella teaches the course on Monday evenings starting 5/11 and Sara teaches the Saturday morning course starting 10/11. All upcoming courses are available here

FRIDAY-FUN – our alternative after-work class returns on 9/11 at 17:00 in Malmö with the theme “Back to Basics: Jump back, jump through”. It will be a challenging class but as always we’ll have great fun! Sign up now to secure your spot!

WORKSHOPS in other cities – in November, Isabella is invited to teach special weekend workshops at USYoga in Borås and Mpiyo in Helsingborg. Why not join or share with friends in the area who might be interested?

SAVE THE DATE – for our annual vegan potluck brunch on Sunday 2nd December. This is one of our favourite events of the year and not to miss! Read more on the events page and mark your calendars!

Our next newsletter will be published at the end of November. It’ll contain more info about social events at the shala in December/January as well as the schedule for Christmas and New Year. In the meantime, stay up to date with daily news by following us on Instagram and Facebook, or visit this news page/blog regularly.

See you on the yoga mat!

(c) Sophie Håkansson Photography

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On Thursday 21/3 we take rest due to the full moon. All Mysore classes are cancelled. In the evening at 5pm we do 108 sun salutations to support Yoga Stops Traffick!  Welcome!