Practicing Asahi to Clear the Body of Accommodations to Injuries

Carol Curtis has been a body worker for years. Through Asahi she has been able to heal accommodations from injuries she has sustained.

Practicing Asahi to Clear the Body of Accommodations to Injuries

by Carol Curtis

Over its 78 years of life, my body has sustained many injuries, mostly from falls. I have sprained both ankles, broken the left kneecap and the right wrist, and suffered a traumatized disc between L4 and L5. Though I have received excellent physical therapy and bodywork to help heal those injuries, it wasn’t until I began practicing Asahi seriously and then began teaching Asahi to others that I noticed the ghosts in the closet.

My body is still accommodating those injuries—even though they have healed. Add to that oversights, misunderstandings, and wrong use and, in my case, the result is very painful knees. So painful that I have become an expert at finding elevators and ramps. And I’ve gotten pretty good at backing down stairs when I must use them.

At the 2017 FinnFestUSA* in Minneapolis, I took the first Asahi teacher training offered in the United States. Though I didn’t start teaching Asahi until January 2023, I did practice some. That was when I noticed Asahi helped my knees. After 10 days of regular practice, I could go up and down stairs normally and without pain.

However, a rapid, unexplained decline in my physical and cognitive health interrupted my continuing a serious Asahi practice. In 2019, a birth defect in my circulatory system was identified. A skilled cardiologist repaired it using the most up to date angioplasty techniques. And recovery began.

The condition left me with some lung damage and slowed cognition—I couldn’t read with understanding. Standard cardiac rehabilitation helped me physically, but just that amount of exercise three times a week, left me exhausted the next day. Then came the Covid pandemic. I didn’t continue the next level of rehab, but added walking in nature to my day—mostly for mental health.

In late 2021, I joined my sister Margaret Vainio on what I call her Great Lakes Asahi Tour. Though still not feeling physically strong, I went to as many Asahi practices as I could—2 or 3 a week. I began feeling stronger and after several practices my brain fog cleared and I could understand what I read again.

Another Covid year later, I went with Margaret on the more sweeping 2022 Great Lakes Asahi Tour. During that trip I completed the B-level Asahi teacher training. I came home dedicated to developing a true Asahi practice. After experiencing great benefit myself—people close to me remarked how much stronger and more present I had become—and seeing how much other people benefit from Asahi, I wanted to teach it.

Beginning in October 2022, I practiced daily. I knew I needed a better physical and mental understanding of Asahi before I could feel comfortable teaching it. In December I had an annual physical exam with my doctor and the usual blood work wasdone. He was surprised and pleased to see that my cholesterol numbers had changed places—“good for bad.” And my blood glucose level was lower. I was happy to see my weight had held steady without constant fretting about diet. That settled it.

In January this year, I began teaching Asahi to a small group of retired friends and their friends, plus two younger women. And for me, the deeper learning began.

(Carol with one of her students, Loba, an Alexander Technique teacher, who has since trained to become a beginning level teacher.)

In 2023, teaching classes locally, plus traveling and teaching with Margaret opened me to three life-changing insights. At first I thought they were just about care of knees. Having healthy, pain-free knees is and will be life-changing for me. But then I realized something deeper is at work: as I apply what I’m learning about good knee care, I am unwinding the accommodations that developed because of my accumulated injuries.

As I began teaching my first class, I was emphasizing the importance of proper alignment, beginning with the feet. I looked down and saw that my right foot splayed out to the right. I realigned it, remembering that the habitual turning out of the right foot was a result of the back injury in 1989. The bulging disc between L4 and L5 impinged on my sciatic nerve such that at first my right foot didn’t reach the ground. The back healed, but the splayed foot became a leftover effect. I wondered how many times I had practiced Asahi with that foot angled to the right. I began being more mindful of its alignment during practice and throughout the day. Now, with the regular leg pumping of Asahi practice, I am retraining my knee so that I don’t keep re-injuring it with a bad habit.

That isn’t my worst bad habit in relation to my knees. While participating in one of Don Bode’s classes for seniors recently in Marquette, Michigan, I noticed that I wasn’t fully extending my knees during leg pumping. I focused on that the whole practice. I couldn’t believe how happy that made my knees. The muscles behind and around them were being gently stretched for the first time in years. I had adopted a knees-bent posture when I became a bodyworker, mistaking bent knees for soft knees. I practiced bodywork with that posture for 30 years. I even believed it eased the pain in my back. That also became my stance when I did other tasks that required standing. No wonder my knees hurt.

The last life-changing insight I want to discuss is the matter of moving from one’s center. The discovery of my physical center while practicing Asahi was one of the most profound things that ever happened to me. I had become vaguely aware of my center early on, but it wasn’t until I began teaching that I started to move from there with some consistency. While observing the class one day, I could see how much effort they were putting into the arm swings and realized the importance and the efficiency of moving from the center. That became our day’s lesson.

In my current Asahi practice, I focus more and more on my center. I also have started focusing there when I walk. To be able to allow the movement to come from my center while practicing Asahi or walking, I must overcome another old accommodation: using muscles in my low back and lower abdomen to brace my formerly injured, now healed back. 

Just this morning, practicing Asahi, I realized that, during the back exercise, when I bend over to pick something up, I compromise my knees by bracing my back. When I let go of the brace, my knees bend more freely and without pain. But the best thing is when I walk from my center I no longer favor my right leg. I don’t limp!

Practicing Asahi releases me from the trap of accommodations.

Train to become an Asahi teacher like Carol did at FinnFest in July 2024. Find out more here.

Categories: : Asahi keeps you young, Asahi Nordic for a lifetime, Asahi teachers' close-ups, Asahi as Physical Rehab