Goodbye to Osteoarthritis, Hello to Asahi, the mind-body practice from Finland

How an accidental introduction to Asahi radically improved Don Bode's health & wellbeing. Now Don is the 1st Asahi Activities Director in the USA

(An outdoor practice in Mattson Park, Marquette, MI, Aug.2023)

How did you find out about Asahi?

 I found out about Asahi simply by coincidence. I actually was going on a bike ride with some friends that day and arrived at the starting point in the park early. This allowed me to observe several people practicing what appeared to be a "Tai chi-esque and yoga" type of movement.  

(Don getting training at Asahi headquarters in Turku, Finland, June 2023)

What about Asahi sparked your interest? 

I had experienced the benefits of Tai chi & yoga already, looking for relief with my osteoarthritis. However, this specific practice seemed to involve slow movement synchronized with the breathing. I decided to watch this from afar until my curiosity got the better of me. Then I approached the group, introduced myself and asked what type of method I had observed.

That's when I learned a little bit more about each person teaching it: Margaret Vainio, Marsha Lucas and Deb Wahlberg. Each of these women shared a portion of their life story with me. They all had an abundance of adversity in their life, yet each of them exuded an abundance of resilience. That observation was what happened during my first interaction with Asahi practitioners. I felt these women were operating at a higher frequency than I expected and it piqued my interest to learn more about them and this Asahi practice. 

(An Asahi event at the historical Thunder Bay Inn in Big Bay, MI. Don is holding a framed version of a feature article about Asahi by Kristi Evans, which was in the Marquette Monthly Magazine, Aug. 2023

Were there challenges you had to overcome in order to become a teacher?   

Before Asahi I didn't like to speak before a group of people. I realized that becoming an Asahi instructor would require doing that. Lucky for me, I was provided an opportunity to work beside both Margaret Vainio and Marsha Lucas as I became more than just an Asahi student. When Marsha had to take some time off for a surgical procedure, all of that mentoring helped me to transition from the apprentice to an Adjunct Instructor of Asahi at Northern Michigan University. It took approximately 18 months to get to that point in my Asahi journey. 

(An article in the Marquette Mining Journal by Christie Mastric, Jan. 2022 when the Asahi class on Northern Michigan University's curriculum started.)

Why do you like teaching and preaching about Asahi?

Asahi took away my reluctance to speak before a group and replaced it with confidence. It is a simple practice that provides a huge difference in my overall health and well-being. These changes in my life involved both my body and my mind.

What other life changes have you noticed since you started practicing Asahi?

Practicing Asahi provided me with immediate benefits that I wasn't expecting. My physical discomfort from osteoarthritis disappeared. Then I noticed that when I was facing a stressful situation, I no longer panicked and became upset. I simply found a solution and immediately implemented it. That improved my daily life and my overall well-being. I also noticed an improvement to my stamina and my balance after practicing Asahi.

Through teaching at the Marquette Senior Center, I have met a number of people who are retired health care professionals and educators. These are my kind of people. I am more socially connected with like minded people, many of whom are now my dearest friends. 

What resources have you found helpful?

I found that Asahi allowed me to learn more about the "Breath" and how it effects our autonomic nervous system. I learned from a medical perspective how "Deep Breathing" relaxes the mind and reduces stress. In the process of fulfilling some of the requirements of becoming an A level Asahi Instructor, I wrote a project paper on the "Benefits of deep breathing exercises and how to do them". I used several books as resources in completing this requirement. One book was "Breath" The New Science of a Lost Art" by James Nestor.

 And another excellent resource was "ASAHI: the Nordic Health Practice," written by Ilpo Jalamo & Dr. Yrjö Mähönen of the Asahi Nordic Institute.

How would you promote Asahi to people who have never tried it? 

  I would say that in order to promote anything with all your heart and mind, you must have experienced the actual beneficial changes that have taken place to your own body after practicing Asahi. For me the beneficial physical changes took place within a couple of weeks. There were also longer term cognitive improvements and changes to my well-being that I noticed after practicing Asahi regularly over a 10-12 month period of time. As I am entering my third year of practicing and teaching Asahi regularly, I am quite a bit more confident about presenting Asahi before a large group of practitioners, and I have begun to understand how the body and the mind are transformed from more of a scientific biochemical perspective. 

I learned so much from a profound webinar in Aug 2023 by epidemiologist Dr. Linda Chamberlain, The Stress of Sitting & How the Finnish Health Practice Asahi Nordic Can Help, so I like to recommend that webinar to my students.  Having a deeper level of understanding really helps me present Asahi to those retired health care professionals and educators. They can understand what takes place when practicing Asahi even if they have yet to try it. Knowing your audience is quite important when promoting Asahi.

(Don working at the FinnFest 2023 Marketplace talking with Dr. Eugene Ollila of Minneapolis.)

How will you move into the future with Asahi?

I'm sure that practicing Asahi has played a big part in putting both my head and heart in alignment. The feeling one gets when this takes place is remarkable. I suspect that people around me have noticed this change. Operating at this level has allowed me to be mindful of the many opportunities that present themselves as I meet and greet new people, who are hoping to improve their own life.

(Don receiving his certification from Finland as an A-level instructor & Asahi Area Activities Director. Presenting the diploma is Deb Pearce, also an Asahi teacher in Marquette.)