Maybe not yet. But I switched my oh so familiar kite-board with my not so familiar yoga-mat for a week...
It is mind-blowing how enormous yoga has grown to become the hottest body-trend and Indias biggest export to the West. Like a sci-fi octopus, it´s sprawling tentacles has invaded popular culture with celeb-teachers and sixpackasanas that promises you abs by summer. Madonna and Sting practices it. Even Putin has added yoga to his repertoire of strictly macho sports.
And even though it is a trendy form of exercise that gives you increased flexibility, yoga is so much more than that. It has been around the block a few years before millions of Westerners out there got their eyes open to it. The 5,000-year-old spiritual practices´ main philosophy is that mind, body and spirit are all one and cannot be clearly separated.
Btw: This is clearly not me on the photo. This is fantastic Ellen Johannesen, the first teacher of Ashtanga yoga in Norway and one of the amazing instructors at Nøsen. She lives in Kathmandu and also runs her own retreats in Sri Lanka and Nepal.
My yoga experiment
I too jumped on the yoga bandwagon and joined a week-long yoga retreat at Nøsen, an old hotel in the mountains of Norway. The hotel is surrounded by snowcapped mountains, a glasslike lake and the greenest of hills (which looks like they come straight out from Hobbit-land). And yes, when the fog dances along the mountaintops it gives the place an almost troll-ish-like mystical flair. The perfect setting to blend the East and the West. The yogaretreat is run by Alexander Medin (one of the 33 worldwide who were taught by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois in 2002). He had gathered a fantastic group of instructors and scholars to the mountains.
Besides all the physical activities (yoga, hiking, swimiming, volleyball, paddle-board etc.) we also got our minds trained with daily meditation and by learning about yoga-philosophy and Buddhism. There were two Indian Vedic Pandits there and one Nepalese Lama. The Lama, Dolpo Tulku Rinponche, became a dear friend and also part of our «Young Happy Minds» - support network! We are very thankful for that. But this man and his life deserves a post on his own (to be continued).
How did I feel about doing yoga twice a day?
I also get peace of mind from walking in the mountains or surfing, kiting or snowboarding. But in a different way. When I had done yoga for 1 1/2 - 2 hours my mind was completely immersed in what I was doing, and sometimes I even got an emotional reaction towards the end of the session. I don´t really know why. Well, we did have the absolute best yoga-instructors there are, so I was lucky to learn from the best. But besides that, there is something about the feeling that at the same time as I am doing my sun-salutations, someone else are doing the exact same pose in another part of the world - and so it has been practiced for thousands of years...
The types of yoga I tried:
Also known as power yoga, you’ll be kept on the move with Ashtanga, flowing through one pose to the next in a constant cycle throughout your practice time. Ashtanga is about the journey to each pose rather than keeping a pose. Not recommended for the beginner (hmrff, as in - me...).
My experience: This was really though for me, and my body felt quite beaten after a few days. But since it is so physical you feel like you really do train your body, and I´m sure one can see results if you keep up with it.
This style of yoga is meant to be a yoga-practice for its traditional purpose: with a more spiritual goal and not merely as a physical exercise. Jivamukti is very diverse and can also involve music, scripture reading, and chanting.
My experience: If you think that Yoga in itself can have too much of an OM-factor, than this might not be for you. But I truly enjoyed the diversity of this yoga-class, and also that it contained music. It made the class flow easier.
This is a physical practice which combines yoga and acrobatics. It is playful and fun.
My experience: I loved this! And I can´t wait to do it with any of my little Godchildren or with my «someone special».
SUP-yoga is a variation of stand up paddle surfing (SUP), combined with yoga.
My experience: Fun, fun, fun in the sun! But you better keep your balance out there, unless you don´t bother to fall off. Which I did! :)
I´m a bit sore after a week of yoga, but I´m feeling oh so good. I intend to do yoga for about 3 times a week for a while, just to keep up this experiment for a little longer. I must say that the feeling of doing yoga kind of got me hooked. And who knows, maybe this will become a life long affair?
At least I had magical days at Nøsen. This will be my annual refuge and highlight.
Namasté, ho hey!
Most photos by: Omar Sejnæs