yoga for nepal june 13th

yoga for nepal june 13th

Nepal is close to my heart. I found solace and inspiration in the Annapurnas and got my yoga teacher training at Ananda Yoga Center. It is a magnificent country full of kind, beautiful people. It has meant – and continues to mean – so much for yoga. It feels incredibly unfair that such a disaster should strike right there in the heart of the Himalayas. Then again, disaster is always unfair, no matter where it strikes. All we can do is extend a hand. This is the time to extend it for Nepal.

On Saturday June 13th at 16.00 I will do another Yoga for Nepal donation class, this time outdoors! In collaboration with Jar Bazar I am having a session outside Jar Kirke, Wedel Jarlsbergs vei 20. All proceeds will go directly to the Hi On Life Rescue Team. This is a team of exceptionally brave trekking guides. They have brought food and aid directly to remote villages in the most heavily affected areas, reaching people where no relief or rescue teams have been before. They are also the people behind the Thade School Project. You can read more about their work here.

The class will be restorative and meditative, and I will add a twist and flavour of Nepalese culture to it that will be unique to this session. There will be a tonglen/compassion meditation and I will step far beyond my comfort zone and chant to you. Take it as a lullaby if you wish …

The next step in order to help Nepal back on its feet is to start getting tourism back on its feet. It might not seem so important right now, when people are in dire need. But it is really essential in order to rebuild the country. If nobody travels to Nepal anymore, what will the Nepalese people live from?

I am teaming up with the Hi On Life team for a Support Nepal yoga trek starting on October 10th. If you’ve ever wanted to explore the awe-inspiring Himalayas, this is the moment to do it. It is actually one of the best ways you can help the Nepalese people! The Annapurna region has not been destroyed by the earthquake, and it is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. The trek will last 17 days with the possibility of flying back after 14 if you’re short on time. Or you can extend it if you have more time on your hands! We will trek through lush rhododendron forests, beautiful terraced villages and see awe-inspiring mountain vistas of the Annapurna mountain range. One of the highlights is to watch the sunrise on Poon Hill. The photo at the top is from my first trip there in 2010.
There will be several rest days where we stay at a lodge, do yoga and meditate, a dip in natural thermal springs and several days to explore both Kathmandu and the lovely town of Pokhara. You can read more here (in Norwegian) or here (in English). Feel free to contact me if this is of interest.

But first, let us do yoga together to help those in need right now!
Hope to see you 16.00 on June 13th at Jar Kirke.

going your own way

going your own way

I am a nomad, a sea gypsy on a sailboat, without a proper address. I’ve spent time in the strangest of places, like a country that doesn’t exist, and a desolate island in the Arctic. But does it always have to be that drastic?

To me following my wanderlust means living a life of deliberate and constant exploration. Both in travelling and, even more importantly, in exploring what lies within. It implies going inside with the same curiosity and joy as I bring with me on the road. The two complement each other, but I don’t think it is for everyone to travel far and wide. It’s not for everyone to sail across the sea or reach the highest summits. Paradoxically enough, I love travelling to faraway places, but I want to share how wanderlust can thrive through embarking on the tiniest of expeditions too. The great adventurer Alastair Humphreys call them microadventures. Just like with the big journeys, it’s all about getting out of the comfort zone and going somewhere completely new.

Some people wonder what travellers are fleeing from. Some people think they are are cowards, trying to escape themselves. My response and personal experience is that travel brings you face to face with yourself in ways you couldn’t even imagine. It brings out things you might feel a lot more comfortable not facing by going through the motions of a regular life, but it also makes you get to know wonderful sides of yourself you might never discover unless you actually step out of the comfort zone and into uncertainty.

morocco headstand

One of the best things I’ve ever done in that respect is to take up surfing – in my mid thirties, no less. Because when you’ve reached thirty you don’t have to worry about being a natural talent and excelling immediately at everything you try. Here’s a secret tip: You don’t actually have to worry about that ever. Joy of living isn’t measured in achievements. Sure, mastering something feels great. That’s not what I’m saying, either. The art lies in exploring and enjoying the process and the practice, not just some imagined end result. The fear of failure is the main culprit that keeps us from living vibrant, full lives. What if you just decided to give zero fucks about what other people think, and go for what you wanted to do anyway? That’s what I did with surfing. I’m still super clumsy and falling off the board all the time and I get super exhausted and beaten up by the waves. These moments are amazing – because they are humbling and allow me to watch the stirrings of the ego while calibrating the balance between ease and effort.

I am passionate about sharing my adventures, both big and tiny, and I’m going sailing along the coast of Norway this summer. I’ll stop on some excellent surf spots, and teach yoga there too …  If you want to get a taste of wanderlust and of meeting yourself all over, I’d love it if you joined me. Or join in for the big adventure this autumn, the Support Nepal Yoga Trek! Just drop me a comment or email me at kari.finstad@gmail.com.

the yoga of sadness

the yoga of sadness

yoginis feel sad too
Sometimes it’s just a tender ache, sometimes heart wrenching, face full of snot, ugly-crying sadness. Because, you know, life. The idea that yoga puts rose coloured glasses on everything is a myth to be debunked here and now. That’s not to say that yoga doesn’t make you feel good or isn’t helpful when life throws a shitstorm in your face. It is in fact immensely helpful. But not by zapping your emotions so that you will never feel pain, grief or hurt ever again. Let me explain.

instagram rage
There are times when my heart swells with joy and love and it spills over into social media. Then again there are times when a voice inside of me rebels against the shiny, happy, “oh, I’m so grateful and blessed” posts by myself and others that dominate my instagram feed. Because life has a lot in store, and it sure isn’t all blessed. Sometimes really horrible things happen, so horrible I’m not going to pull some BS about being grateful for the valuable life lessons they offer. Here’s the deal: Every moment is a valuable life lesson anyway. You don’t have to pretend the things that hurt don’t hurt and mask them behind a perceived obligation to be grateful for the lesson. Sometimes the lesson sucks. You’ll grow from it, sure. But you don’t have to pretend you enjoy it.

welcome to sad central
My mother is severely ill and I just lost two friends, one of them to suicide, the other to a sudden heart attack. I’m not going to  smile and pretend a fibre of my being is grateful for this, no matter how much I will learn and expand and grow down the road. Because right now I’m just really terribly sad.
Yoga teaches us to be with what is, observing what is, without judgement. That means being with the feeling that arises as a response to our circumstances. It doesn’t mean you can’t allow yourself to think that something sucks. It just means observing that thought and the emotions surrounding it without judgement. It means accepting that feeling of sadness or anger or grief or whatever. Actually feeling the feelings as they arise is the key to emotional freedom. Taking time to notice what happens in the body is the deepest honesty you can give yourself. You can play the tape saying “oh, I’m fine” in your head until you’re blue in the face. The lump in your stomach, the shortness of breath, the pain in your chest – those are the real feelings. And they don’t need to be translated  into words. They just need to be noticed and acknowledged. They’re there. Let them be there. Become aquainted with them. This is the practice.

be with it
It can be tempting to stop tuning into an honest awareness when things get rough. Under the pretext of having to care for others or having more important things to deal with, we tune out to avoid feeling the stuff that really hurts. But in moments of grief, I’d suggest that mindful awareness is essential, more than ever. It’s not about digging a hole in the ground and staying there, but about taking a few minutes to just step out of the loop to observe your own emotions with compassion. Sometimes even less than a few minutes, because it hurts so much you have to leave it. Sometimes you do have to let yourself be distracted for a while, to give yourself a bit of distance. But there is a fine balance. If the distractions take the place of true, raw emotion, we lose touch with who we are. We become fragmented. The opposite of yoga, really.

the blaming game
When my friend commited suicide my immediate response was not very useful, to say the least. I started thinking about what I could have done. I blamed myself for not knowing how she had been the last couple of years. I jumped straight into the blaming game, in truth a very egocentric game where there is no way of winning. If you play along, guilt wins every time. Guilt is probably my primal demon. Others have theirs. There was a time when guilt used to haunt me no matter where I turned. That was before I found yoga. Now guilt is more like an old aquaintance that I’ve realised drains my energy and thus choose not to hang out with anymore. Practicing yoga, both in movement and in stillness, is what brought that change about. Because it taught me mindful observation. Mindful observation and the acceptance of things as they are. “… if only” isn’t going to bring my friend back to life or cure my Mother. It is the way it is. I can choose to stay miserable and feel guilty for all the things I cannot change or I can move into a space of acceptance. For anyone struggling I do suggest the latter path. It’s a rough one, without the cushioning of wishful thinking or the pool of misery to wallow over in. But it is the one that brings strength, and down the road, happiness.

Get it out
Go find the ocean. Swear. Yell. Cry. Sing your heart out.
No ocean? Find a forest or a mountain or even just a piece of paper.
Take a breath. Deep breathing is a bit like coughing up hairballs of pent-up emotion.
Get it out. That’s what I’m doing now, I guess.

Disclaimer. For real:
Please note that this is just a reflection on dealing with the shitstorm of life when you’re in a place where you can actually do so. There are times when things get too heavy. If you are suffering from depression, eating disorders, self-harming, any addictions or have suicidal thoughts, please seek professional help.

web surfing tips – part II

web surfing tips – part II

Great things are afoot (or, rather, afloat) at SV Pyxie (a.k.a. the yogini goes bear headquarters).
Soon a wave of peace and tranquility will be unleashed upon the world. Ok, maybe not that drastic, but plans are brewing of both a sailing yoga tour with gatherings all across Norway (and later abroad) and of online tools for your yoga and meditation practice.
But before I unravel all the mind-blowing videos, guides and programmes I have in the making, I thought I’d pay some respect to the great work people are already doing to inspire and help others grow a practice that serves them. I’m a bit of an internet junkie and have found so many great resources online. I have no problem recommending other sites to help you out. I’m a fan of collaboration and community building rather than competition. So I’m going to share stuff I dig.
In part 1 I gave you some of the best yoga and meditation programmes and youtube channels. This time I’ll sidetrack a bit. Because there is a wealth of inspiration, wit and creativity out there. Nourishing your mind and tummy is just as important as getting the poses right. Seriously.
Online magazines:
I honestly read Elephant Journal more than the old staple Yoga Journal these days. They both have their good, bad and ugly. Take what you will from them. Elephant has a whole range of contributors, and this adds variety and richness to it, even if that means there will be articles you might find ridiculous. That’s ok. Because on the flipside you’ll find people with loads of experience, knowledge or wit. And we can’t all like the same thing or agree on everything.
The same goes for Mind Body Green. The majority of posts here have a number in the title. Like «5 ways to eat more kale» and so on. Not a coincidence. Sometimes all we want in life is a list of tips. And, like in Elephant, if you look closely you’ll eventually find contributors with real depth, inspiring stories or a great sense of humour.
Food:
I love love love Laura Miller and her cooking series Raw.Vegan. Not Gross. on Tastemade. On instagram she’s become iconic with her «froobs» (yes, that’s fruit boobs) and eccentric use of produce as head gear. And I love how she is completely relaxed and unapologetic when it comes to being 100% raw (she’s cooking stuff in her last series) or vegan (she used honey. Once. Get over it.) With her deep voice and goofball attitude, she is the coolest vegan(ish) TV chef out there. Sorry Vegan Black Metal Chef. But you’re cool too. Especially when you did an episode with Laura.

Want more vegan inspiration? The Post Punk Kitchen probably the greatest vegan resource online.
By all means, I’m not saying you have to go vegan to practice yoga. I’m not. I just really love getting plant based inspiration!
Podcasts:
 I’m a big podcast listener, especially after i got myself some amazing wireless headphones.
For inspiration, strong stories and personal growth I recommend Good Life Project.
I also find a lot of inspiration in Unmistakable Creative and The Suitcase Entrepreneur. Talking of entrepreneurship: I dig StartUp. After Serial, when I needed to fill a podcast void, this was the first jewel I found. And, no, it’s not just for people wanting to start a business. Not at all. It’s a great story, and such a clever show. The creators next launched Reply All, a show about the internet. This show frequently causes me to laugh out loud on the morning train. Deal with it, grumpy morning faces.
And, by all means, listen to Radiolab.
the fluidity of balance

the fluidity of balance

A common misconception is that balance is about finding the point between two extremities and staying there. That it is about being rock solid. But the earth spins, and there is always tremors in the ground.
When you draw your strength from the movement itself and instead of being a rock, rock with the tremors – or the boat – that’s when you find balance.

Calibrate. Make yourself fluid. Undulate. That’s where the real strength lies.

To do this, some stillness is required, paradoxically enough. But this stillness is not the same as standing still, it is being still – from the inside out. Trying out a balancing pose in a yoga asana class will almost always throw you off balance if your mind is wandering all over the place or if you are forcing yourself to shut it off. Finding balance requires the courage to be with what is there and become the silent, accepting watcher. Rest your eyes on a point and look in. Being still can be immensely courageous. When you are about to fall, your mind freaks out. That’s fine. Falling is more often than not completely fine too. How about that?

I just had one of my biggest breakthroughs in my private practice. I surrendered my fear and can finally do a pincha mayurasana, a standing peacock or forearm stand, in the middle of a room – no wall in sight or soft sand to land on. Sure, it’s a matter of core strength and hip flexibility. I’m not going to bullshit you there. It doesn’t happen over night. But I had practiced and practiced and practiced and built up the physical capability a long time ago. The picture on the beach is a year and a half old. I could do it then, but only because my mind accepted the sand as soft enough to land on. Trying it on a hard floor would make me freeze up and my body turned into a log. Timbeeeer. So I just couldn’t do it.

I have a pretty intense history with severe back pain, and I am sure that memories are stored in the body, telling the brain when to pull back. What it took for me to sever the umbilical cord that tied me to the wall was the act of letting go of the fear, letting go of the negative self-talk for failing and just surrendering to the possibility of falling. I also had to surrender a part of my identity with it, which is that “I am a back sufferer”. I’m not anymore. So I let myself fall. I even made myself fall on purpose. Because it made me not just think, but listen in and truly feel that it’s all ok. This fluidity, this softness was what I needed to be strong, courageous and balanced.

 morocco forearm
Guess what? The same goes for, you know, life.
web surfing tips part I

web surfing tips part I

Great things are afoot (or, rather, afloat) at SV Pyxie (a.k.a. the yogini goes bear headquarters).
Soon a wave of peace and tranquility will be unleashed upon the world. Ok, maybe not that drastic, but plans are brewing of both a sailing yoga tour with gatherings all across Norway (and later abroad) and of online tools for your yoga and meditation practice.
But before I unravel all the mind-blowing videos, guides and programmes I have in the making, I thought I’d pay some respect to the great work people are already doing to inspire and help others grow a practice that serves them. I’m a bit of an internet junkie and have found so many great resources online. I have no problem recommending other sites to help you out. I’m a fan of collaboration and community building rather than competition. So I’m going to share stuff I dig.

 

Yoga programmes and memberships:

My Yoga Online has merged with Gaiam TV, so the site has changed a bit since I posted about it last. But there is still great content from a plethora of teachers, and a ten day free trial. You can also find articles, meditations and pose guides here.

Cody is absolutely physical, with various training plans – and not just yoga. This is a fitness app, more than anything. So this is not the place to go looking for knowledge on traditional yoga. I’ll post more on that later. The yoga section at Cody targets the seasoned practicioner wanting to learn specific asanas, like handstands, or new practices such as acro yoga. But if you look for it, you will also find beginner programs and meditation. I have a girl crush on Meghan Currie, and although I don’t have any ambition to reach her contortionist level of flexibility, I absolutely love her teachings. She’s got a great bundle on Cody.

Free youtube channels:

Bex is crazy amazing. Mother of five, backyard chickens and goats, meditation in the laundry room – Bex shows a level of authenticity where most youtube trainers gloss things over. I consider her my friend and I adore her, even when she does things completely different from me. Maybe especially because she does things her way. She is herself to the core. Hardcore. Don’t get me wrong, we see heart to heart. We just have radically different lives and I find that diversity oh, so refreshing. Check out her website bexlife.com.

Adriene is fun, playful and offers a 30 days of yoga program for free.

Ekhart Yoga is a stayer. Esther brings on other experienced teachers too, and there are a lot of resources on her channel.

 

Guided meditation:
Jon Kabat-Zinn is one of my favourite meditation teachers of all time. He is rooted in mindfulness, has studied under great zen masters and developed a secular program called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) . He has a wonderful voice and infuses his guided meditations with wisdom and eloquence. His series 1 is a great place to start a meditation practice. There are videos on youtube too, but I’d highly recommend getting his full series.
Another great place to start is the Headspace app. I’ve tried out the 10 day free programme, and it’s great if you’re completely new to meditation. It makes it so simple and straightforward.

Stay tuned for part II where I take a detour from yoga and into food, inspiration and … startup podcasts.