How I became an Asahi instructor

A trip to the Arctic Circle and back...

How did I, an American, become the first female head coach of the Finnish health exercise Asahi? 🇫🇮 And the first female member of the board of the new Nordic Health Institute, as I mentioned in my previous blog? Life may take us far away, but somehow always circles back at some point.

When I graduated from Northern Michigan University in 1976 with a degree in music and languages, I went on a concert tour to Finland with NMU’s choir and have lived in Finland pretty much ever since. 

The man I married lived in a rural area. I thought my only possible career would be as a translator, but the village church offered me a job as Minister of Music. I loved directing the choirs of all ages and starting a the preschool music program. The only hitch was learning to play the organ, which I loathed.

When I was a kid I took piano lessons. But trying to play something on my aunt's Hammond organ with all my cousins listening was traumatic. The tremolo sound made me seasick and the lazy touch of the keys made it impossible to get anything to to come out right. 

Even hearing an organ at a sports event used to make the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. Fortunately this Finnish church had a real pipe organ and some of the stops sounded like real instruments. My bad memories of electric organs slowly faded, but new challenges arose.

Piano music only has two scores of notes to follow at once, but organ music has those two plus a third line for the foot pedals. In addition to that, during the services I was expected to sing in Finnish 🤭 while accompanying the hymn on the organ. That was a feat indeed.🤪

During the 32 years in that job, there were rare moments when I felt like I had conquered my fear of the organ, but usually  I was pretty nervous and uptight,  and before long, this started causing pains in my lower back, shoulders and neck. 😫 Playing the organ properly requires  balancing your weight on your buns so that both feet and both arms can move freely. In that teetering and tense position I started hunching over more and more trying to see the music more clearly, until someone suggested I get reading glasses.  The glasses helped my eyesight, but my body was ready to give out on me. That’s when the Finnish health exercise Asahi came to the rescue.

Finland has produced a lot of innovative ideas - Nokia cellphones, Angry Birds, Nordic Walking Sticks - but one of the most revolutionary of these is this health exercise practice called Asahi. It all began in 2004 when four Finnish martial arts experts became concerned about the injuries they and their students were experiencing. They sat down together to develop a completely safe health practice that anyone can do. Since one of the four was a Geriatric specialist and Internist, he made sure the exercise series was based in modern medicine and simple enough for anyone at any age to learn and do without extra equipment. Asahi has the same health benefits as ancient practices, but without any of the religious or cultural implications. Visit the website: www.asahi!

When I first came across Asahi, I realized that it would be the perfect warm-up for my choirs: it combines movement with the breath, improves concentration and it’s done standing up, without working up a sweat. Only later did I realize that it was Asahi that helped correct my posture, lowered my stress levels and made it possible for me to work years past retirement age. Of course, the choirs loved it, too. Especially the kids’ choir!

Since Asahi had helped me so much, I trained to become a teacher, then a teacher trainer and dreamed about making Asahi available to my friends and family in the US. Until recently, all material about Asahi had been in Finnish. So, I spent the last couple years using my translator skills to produce Asahi material. There’s a book coming out soon in English as an introduction to this time-effective health practice. Since the pandemic has forced people into confinement for over a year, my dream has turned into an urgent mission to teach the world Asahi. See our Asahi Around The World FB-page.


Asahi has proven to be a safe health practice even in the midst of this current pandemic, because it can be done outdoors, with masks, and at a safe distance from others. It exercises the muscles, stimulates the mind to fight off depression and stimulates the metabolism, boosting the immune system. In addition, it trains the reflexes, coordination and balance, all which degenerate from too much sitting. If practicing outdoors isn’t possible, people can do it in their homes, (even in wheelchairs or in bed), because it can be done both in groups and as a personal routine.  It’s time to get the world moving again! 

And so, to make the circle complete, I will be returning to my Alma Mater. As a proud alumna I wanted Northern Michigan University to be the first institution in the United States to offer this revolutionary mind and body practice. NMU’s head of the Health and Human Resources Department has taken me up on this offer, so class starts January 10, 2022! More info here on how to sign up

In addition, I will be teaching weekend workshops around the US and Canada. If you are interested in sponsoring a workshop in your area, just send me an email:

Let’s make it happen!

Here’s to your health!


PS: In case you missed the free 3-part Let Asahi Move You video series, check it out here

Categories: : Asahi health exercise