Interview with Anastasia Tsekoura : Artist & Dance, Yoga and Asahi teacher, who sees Asahi Nordic as a whole family activity.
How long have you lived in Finland, Natassa?
My husband and I came to Helsinki from Greece almost 10 years ago. I first got a job in the “Tanssikoulu Uusikuu” where I was teaching in three towns in Northern Ostrobothnia. Four years ago our twin girls were born and we moved to Laukaa, near Jyväskylä in Central Finland where I teach in the Laukaa Community Education program.
Have you adjusted to the winter weather?
Nope, I’m 100% a summer person. I can survive, of course, walking from home to the car, from the car to gym or dance school, and after work back to the car and straight back home. 😄 Or taking the kids to the park when its - 5°, but for 25 minutes at the most 🥶!
What Finnish customs seem strange to you?:
Men and women going to the sauna together - naked😲
What customs do you like?
I’m not familiar with many of the Finnish customs, but I love Friendship Day. In Greece we call that day Valentine's Day, but here all my students celebrate by giving cards to each other. Even I get lots of friendship cards from them every year & that is definitely awesome! 😄
Is it hard to get to know people here in Finland?
The truth is, I haven't got close friends here. I find it somehow hard for me now as a working mother of twins to create that bond or connect easily, but I do have a lot of students and co - athletes that I train with and we have a lot of fun at lessons. I realize I’m so busy with my kids here because all my relatives and family are in Greece... And you know Greek people say, “It takes a small village to raise a kid,” so, try to imagine my husband and I as Greeks and parents of twins raising our kids alone here in Finland in shifts 😢😢🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣. It’s kind of sad and funny at the same time.
Do you agree with the UN survey that says Finnish people are the happiest people in the world?
I’m not sure about that! I come from a country where happiness is expressed differently. In Greece we are loud: talking, laughing, dancing… We want to make every moment loud enough so that feelings can be transmitted to each other. Everyone wants to be happy and join in. So, I make each of my lessons into a small party 😄. Have you ever been in a place when someone starts laughing out loud and in the end you find yourself laughing just from hearing him, even if you had a bad day at work or had rough morning at home with kids... 😄😁 ? (and I don't mean laughing in a mocking way.)
How did you hear about Asahi?
At the end of each of my dance classes we spend the last 15 minutes doing yoga slow flow and breathing techniques as a restorative practice. One of my students told me about Asahi, the Finnish mind/body method and the benefits this student had received from practicing Asahi. I started looking for information about Asahi and was sold on it immediately. Last March I trained in Saarijärvi, Finland, to become an Asahi teacher.
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What is it about Asahi that sparked your interest?
When my students first meet me, they think I am a restless spirit, but they come to know that a calm spirit also lives in me. Asahi is a gentle, calm, but at the same time a powerful way to approach a different level of workout or to recover from a strenuous practice in a way my students understand.
One of the first things that drew me to Asahi was the fact that anyone can do it, regardless of age or physical condition. 😄 Also, it works so well as a calming restorative practice after a hard acrobatic dance session or the 50 minutes non-stop Dance-mix or aerobic workouts. Asahi really helps dancers to calm down and get their mind, breath, and body back together again.
How else do you use Asahi with your students?
The variety of moves and the technique of Asahi makes it a super way to warm up before my dance lesson, or in the middle of the session. My children groups have fun doing Asahi-duo in pairs. It’s a great way to connect and work out at the same time.
Ending with restorative practice is a must for all my groups, so we use exercises from the relaxation and the balance modules to slow down and “flow” down.
What kind of feedback have you gotten from your students about the Asahi movements?
The first reaction came from my youngest students as smiles and giggles. I had them do Asahi-Duo so that they had to concentrate and follow each other’s speed and posture making shapes and connecting hands. That was a fun and interesting lesson for them judging from the smiles and happy faces! 😄
One student from my women’s group came up to me at the end of the lesson and said, “Please give us more of those moves you do at the end of the class. They make me feel so good that I try to do the same exercises at home.”
What benefits have you noticed in your personal Asahi practice?
Because of the injuries and strain I get from acrobatic dancing, weight-lifting or calisthenic workouts, I use Asahi as a restorative practice to relieve my back and shoulders and to loosen cramps in my neck muscles. Some days I am so sore from hard workouts 😵💫 that I use the Asahi technique and flow to unlock my body and lower my stress level.
Do you think it would be beneficial to teach Asahi to children in school?
Teaching the Asahi method to young children at school would be a good idea. It’s a way for them to give their body a workout and to calm their mind at the same time. They will benefit from the breathing technique that give the mind time to slow down the endless thought process and be calm.
Any other comments you want to add?
If we could get Asahi in every Nordic home or, even better, if we could get it to all countries, not just the Nordic ones, and teach the method everywhere so that families would have a way to work out together and bond. I think that would be a great solution to reduce daily stress in their lives. It would benefit their body and their mind, because we know Asahi is good for all.
One good idea might be to get Asahi on morning TV, or, even better, create “A Family Workout Time” - channel on social media so everyone can have access to it! 😉
(One way to read the new Asahi Guide... order your copy here
Efharisto, Natassa! It is a party just talking with you! Let's make Asahi a whole family activity!