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A safe haven through Yin yoga

Katja Kokko | 6.12.2016

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My African adventure proved to be so much more than a dream come true in seeing and experiencing the amazing African nature, safari, wild animals and the best yoga retreat of my life. The trip was even more precious to me through a meeting of minds and soul with a wonderful woman at the retreat, a soul sister I could say. I believe we meet many people throughout our lives who touch us on a deeper level, who have a special meaning on our journey.

Magdalena Mecweld might be a familiar name to some of you, but for me she was a complete stranger until the retreat. Magdalena is a well known yin yoga teacher from Sweden and she has written a wonderful, interesting and down to earth book on yin yoga. The book has been published in Swedish and in English and is a best seller in Sweden. Magdalena has also created a totally genious  yin yoga app (available as well in Swedish and English) which you can use at home to do your practice led by Magdalena. Currently she is writing a book on restorative yoga.

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On one of the evenings of our retreat Magdalena taught a yin yoga class for us. I have never experienced such a feeling of safety through practice (I have done yin yoga at home, gone to a couple of classes and taught a couple of very soft yin classes to my ashtanga students to give them tools for opening their bodies, but I have never experienced anything quite like this). The practice made a very strong impression on me. I am a very physical person, I feel and learn through my body, and through this practice I felt a kind of safe haven in me which I have been searching for a long time. Through Yin yoga it was natural to go into meditation, it just happened. I finally found a way of meditation that works for me. Simply being in peace.

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We had intriguing conversations with Magdalena about yoga in general, ashtanga yoga, yin yoga, diet, life, writing books and so many other things. We shared a lot of similar experiences. It was astounding to meet an older and wiser person who feels like a soul sister, like I had been looking at an older version of me in the mirror. Even before we had even spoken together I noticed how much I recognized me in her, similar features and energy. Both of our body types is pitta, so no wonder our energies connected. Even though not always having the same constitution will guarantee that you will have an authentic connection with a person. Magdalena verbalised the idea of my next book to me so clearly that I was able to see it in detail gazing at the endless savannah through the roof top window of our safari truck on our way to Mombasa. Now I´m feeling out the right timing to begin this new project.

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Yin yoga has stayed with me as a daily practice, on some days even twice a day. After having a couple of moles removed I couldn´t do my regular practice for a month and I felt how my energies were stagnating because I could not move my body enough. My gluteus have been totally stiff pretty much throughout the fall (my new work chair has contributed to this stiffness and now is the time to change it to a good saddle chair) and finally the pain became so acute that my low back cramped up completely. Luckily I had the tools to rehabilitate my back from previous experience and I did not fall to desperation, but through yin yoga and Magdalena´s app I found an absolutely new perspective to healing my back pain. Divine, enjoyable, letting go, opening of meridian lines, relaxation, meditation. I know this will lead me to something completely new. Practicing in the morning today I felt no trace of pain anymore. And tomorrow I´m taking part in Petri Räisänen´s and Juha Javanainen´s weekend intensive, so the timing could not be better.  I´m excited to see what this adventure to my own body brings along. A deeper knowledge of myself and into my teaching.

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Meeting Magdalena seems to have a many fold meaning for me, as if she has shined a light on my spiritual growth and me getting to know myself on a deeper level, on the other hand us meeting reflects on my work. I am sure to bring the yin yoga practice to be a part of my ashtanga courses. It´s a perfect balance for the ashtanga practice, through it my students are bound to find tools to open up their bodies. I want to help my students find a safe place and peace within them selves, that´s what many of us are searching for, but still too many of us are looking for it outside of ourselves. Later on I am planning to add a Yin yoga practice to my weekly teaching schedule. I want to bring Magdalena to Finland to teach an open workshop and a Yin yoga teacher training. Right now she is so fully booked that these courses will probably not happen even next year.

I warmly recommend ordering Magdalena´s book and downloading her app, if you are looking for tools to open up your body, for relaxation and for a gateway to meditation. For a yin yoga practice you need no equipment, but a bolster, yoga belt and a meditation cushion make it even more blissful. I ordered mine, due to Magdalena´s recommendation, from the Swedish Nyttadesign who use ethical organic material in their products.

Ps. The minute I was pressing the publish button on this article Magdalena sent me a message asking for the picture of us for her news letter which I was just about to send her. That´s what I call being in sync!

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Photos Katja Kokko

The book is a gift from Magdalena

Translated by Mariko Pajalahti

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