Outdoor class to teach Finnish mindfulness practice Asahi


courtesy of Margaret Vainio

Margaret Vainio advertises her Asahi classes and lessons at NMU’s 2021 Fall Fest. Vainio has been practicing Asahi for over 10 years and leads Asahi classes all over the Marquette area.

Katarina Rothhorn, Features Editor

Margaret Vainio first discovered Asahi on her choir trip to Finland in an attempt to bring Finnish music to the United States. Although Vainio did succeed in learning Finnish music, she also brought back with her the knowledge of Asahi that she started incorporating into her choirs’ warmups.

“I saw somebody doing [Asahi], demonstrating it, and I thought, ‘since I’m the choir director, that would be a perfect thing to do with my choirs … just get them physically warmed up and get them mentally tuned in, get them concentrating,’” Vainio said. “And it turned out to be even better than I expected it to be. It worked so well.

Asahi is an exercise and mindfulness practice developed in Finland that is designed to be accessible to people of all ages and stages of health, said Vainio. According to their official website, asahiworld.com, Asahi was created in 2004 by a group of health experts as an alternative to older mind-body traditions, such as tai chi and only includes movements that are as simple as possible. 

“I found out that it’s not only good for my choirs, but it’s good for me too,” Vainio said. “I noticed that if I have a group that I’m teaching, then that’s a good way to keep practicing myself and keep my own physical health in shape … I can not only benefit myself but I can share that with other people. That’s become my reason for existence right now. It is like a mental fixation, I can’t seem to stop.”

Now Vainio has been a certified Asahi instructor and is looking to bring Asahi to NMU, her alma mater. She was planning on teaching Asahi classes this fall, but the classes were canceled due to a lack of registered students. Vainio is looking to offer the classes again in fall 2022 and hopes to spread the word to more students. 

She is sharing Asahi with students this Wednesday, Sept. 22 at 5 p.m. in the Academic Mall or in Jamrich 2319 if it rains. Her free class will teach a basic Asahi routine and introduce students to the benefits that can come from the practice. To register for the event ahead of time, visit the Hub

“It’s always good to do a whole 15 or 20 minute routine of it, but it works also in five-minute segments,” Vainio said. 

One of the ways Vainio encourages people to include Asahi into their lives is through short five-minute breaks while they are working. 

“I saw that [Northern] started handing out laptops to every student that came in, but they didn’t have a brochure attached to that about how to use your laptop the right way. The right way to use it is only 45 minutes at a time,” Vainio said. You should always get up, stretch out, shake out … maybe do a little Asahi and then sit back down again … just to break that sedentary lifestyle.”

Practicing Asahi also helps recenter your thoughts and relieve stress, said Vainio. The exercises are done with very minimal outside stimulation and are normally done outside in the fresh air. 

“We go through it one time so you can learn the technique but then the second time through, we do it in silence and so you can really feel how it can reduce the brain chatter that you have got going on all the time,” Vainio said. “All that verbal harassment that goes on inside, you can calm that right down, just by moving, it is such a simple solution.”