Asahi course stimulates mind-body wellness


Katarina Rothhorn/NW

FOR ALL – Margaret Vainio advertises Asahi at NMU’s 2022 Fall Fest. She had many interested students and is helping spread awareness about this Finnish exercise and mental practice.

Willow Rasch, Features Writer

There are several interesting classes at NMU, but just how many institutes can lay to claim that they are the only university in the country to offer a course based on a unique martial art?

NMU is offering the only university-level one-credit Asahi course in the United States. Asahi is a Finnish exercise designed purposefully so that anyone – such as the bedridden, the disabled, the young and the elderly – can do it. You can do it without any equipment, i.e., yoga mats or exercise clothes that you would need to use for other exercises and you can do it anywhere. 

“Our dean, Elizabeth Wuorinen, deserves a lot of credit,” Marsha Lucas, an Asahi instructor at NMU, said. “She was on board immediately, saw the importance of it and the value of it. Because of her, we had a classroom, got students to come and now she scheduled it for this semester and next semester.”

The benefits of practicing Asahi can extend beyond your body and can help not only your physical health but your mental health as well, according to Lucas.

“One of the principles is balance,” said Krystyna Rickauer, a registered nurse and health resource advocate at Marquette-Alger RESA. She is also an NMU alumna who is currently training for one of the Asahi teaching certificates offered. 

“I look at it as not just physical balance, but mental balance,” Rickauer said. “You’re very much in the moment. You’re not thinking about all the stresses in your life that are going on right now. You’re very focused on yourself, and just improving yourself, whatever way that might be, it’s completely individual. So, on top of being physically beneficial, it’s mindfully beneficial.” 

Teaching certificates in Asahi are currently being offered at NMU, though not for much longer. Margaret Vainio, ’76 alumna of NMU and the Asahi Nordic head coach, brought the Finnish exercise to America from Finland.

She’s the first woman licensed to teach the practice and is training and certifying others to teach the art. She is offering free Asahi training classes to those under the age of 20 and over 80 years old. 

“Our society sits so much and this is a perfect cure. It takes almost no time and it’s one hundred percent effective to just get up and do a few movements and then you can return to your computer,” Vainio said. “Asahi is just like health in a nutshell. Just pop one, two or three exercises like a pill with just moving. You don’t need any caffeine and you don’t need anything else – you just get up and do a little and your brain starts working again.”

The last days to participate in the program are Aug. 9 and Aug. 10. Vainio urges students to reach her by email at [email protected] with any interest in the program.