Asahi Nordic Certified Instructor – A Health Exercise from Finland

Finnish Roots

In July 2023, I had the privilege to attended FinnFest 2023, and complete my Asahi Nordic Level-C Asahi certification. What is Asahi? It’s a health exercise method that was developed in Finland in 2004, and I came upon it online one day and my interest was immediately peaked. You see, my mother’s parents, Elmer and Maj-lis, immigrated to the United States from Finland in 1959. My mother, 100% Finnish along with both of them, and myself 50%. Growing up, I felt deep ties to my Finnish heritage and Scandinavian roots, but hadn’t spent too much time exploring on my own. In my grandparents home I was surrounded by beautiful wall hangings, rag rugs, Finnish foods, and prayers and phrases that we would say when spending time with them.

Movement throughout my life

I’ve been in the movement space my whole life, dancing since age three, playing soccer since age nine, working out since age twelve, taking Pilates since age thirteen, and exploring so many various movement modalities with great curiosity. I started teaching dance at age fifteen, and started my Pilates teaching journey at age twenty. My favorite thing about movement is my belief that movement is for everyone! Finding ways to make movement accessible to the largest amount of people feels like a noble calling for me. This is one of the main reasons I got drawn into the world of Pilates. It’s ability to help so many populations with its equipment to safely move and build strength in their bodies. To regain confidence in their identities as movers.

In over a decade of Pilates instruction I’ve worked with students ages six through late eighties, all with different goals and strengths. I’ve served students with neurological conditions, joint replacements, arthritis of all kinds, mental disorders, cancer, pre-operative, post-operative, pregnancy, spinal conditions, athletes, dancers, low self-esteem, caretakers, doctors, business owners, parents, grieving, soon-to-be-wed, and everything between. I always would make the joke that I’ve certainly heard of every single health condition and diagnosis at this point, but then the next week I’d have a new student with a new condition walk in the doors.

Asahi is for All!

When I first read up about Asahi I was most excited at its accessiblity for all. No equipment is required, its ease of learning with no experience needed to pick it up, its focus on breath as central, the mind-body connection it promotes, and the ability to perform it outside. Being able to workout and move outside has become a high value in my life, and I believe provides a deeper connection of self to the world around us. The word Asahi is actually a Japanese word that means “morning sun,” and this practice was named as such to signify the energy we can get through both exercise and spending time outdoors. The book Asahi – The Nordic Health Practice shares “the movements of Asahi are basically relaxing and are designed to gently increase muscle stamina, balance, coordination and concentration.”

More Movement, Varied Movement, Daily.

-Courtney Anne Holcomb, CaH

One of my mottos and charges is to encourage more movement, varied movement, daily. Asahi fit the bill perfectly for this. From beginning to end, you can easily practice the sequence daily in 10-15 minutes depending on how many repetitions of each exercise you perform. I learned two Asahi series: Asahi #1 and Asahi #2. Each series has the same four sections: relaxation, neck and shoulders, back, and balance. Each section is comprised of three total exercises. So all in all, a single series has 12 exercises that are performed in sequence, with a breathing exercise to start and end each section. Though all can benefit from doing Asahi, the number one population that I believe this benefits is the aging population. The exercises were developed by exercise and geriatic specialists to ensure that risk of injury is super low and the outcome of benefits of performing the exercises is extremely high.

Sharing Asahi with others

At the workshop we led at the conclusion of our training, we had close to 100 participants join us for Asahi (see photos below). Everyone was able to do it. We had participants in wheel chairs, with walkers, people in their 90s, children of elementary age, and everything between. Staring out at the crowd of people all gathered to move together made my eyes glisten. This is what movement can do, it literally can move people.

I’m excited to see what doors having my Asahi Nordic certification will open. I am currently one of around thirty instructors certified in the United States. Being at the forefront of this training is an exciting way for me to connect to modern Finnish heritage and carry my roots along with me. For more information on Asahi, visit their website. If you’d like to host me to teach a class or know of places and spaces that Asahi might be a good fit, I’d love to hear from you:

-Courtney Anne Holcomb, Asahi Nordic Certified Instructor, C-licence, Sheboygan, WI

Feeling Disconnected? Lean into Discipline

When I arrive at seasons of my life that I feel disconnected from myself, I have to take a step back to reassess. The aimless, directionless existence can be exhausting and make the days feel lacking true purpose. I find in moments like this, leaning into discipline helps get me back on track.

Types of Disciplines

We may have experienced various types of corrective disciplines growing up from our parents, teachers, mentors, coaches, and from ourselves. These punishments to correct disobedience may have worked to some extent, but likely left a sour taste in our mouth. But this does not mean that discipline has to be associated with a negative experience. Corrective discipline is just one of three main types of disciplines. Though often we need corrective measures to form disciplines, there are also two other types of discipline: supportive and preventative

Supportive disciplines help us build our own ability to self-regulate and have self-control. Things like the ability to recognize when we get off tasks and when we are feeling weaker and tempted to abandon our healthy disciplines and habits. Supportive disciplines involved building our self-awareness to take notice of what places, spaces, people, environments, attitudes, and exposures do not support the way we would like to experience ourselves in the world. 

Preventative disciplines serve to keep us engaged and help circumvent the need for corrective discipline measures. When we are experiencing joy and engaging in our world with purpose, we feel empowered to be our best selves. So creating an environment that we want to be in and living in a way that brings us life can help curtail the need for any type of corrective actions. We are simply living in harmony, flow, and know how live out habits and disciplines to create the circumstances that will keep us in this state.

We often have to work from corrective first, and go backwards. After having corrective disciplines in place, we build supportive disciplines, and then when at our highest level of functioning we can maintain by living out our preventative disciplines.

Discipline does not have to be viewed as just a corrective slap on the wrist, or a consequence to our poor actions. It doesn’t not have to be seen as failure or rejection when we implement it. But discipline can be a gentle and loving hand, especially when we serve it to ourselves. It is the quiet whisper accessing in each moment “does doing this bring peace and harmony to my life?” “Does doing this bring vitality to my experience of living?” 

How do we know what disciplines we want to have?

Self-discipline is different than just creating habits or abstaining from things that feel misaligned. It’s defined in Oxford dictionary as “the ability to control one’s feelings and overcome one’s weaknesses; the ability to pursue what one thinks is right despite temptations to abandon it.” And in a world where so much feels out of our control, self-discipline is an incredibly empowering tool.

So how do we know what disciplines to start or practice? You can start by asking yourself these questions:

  1. What are you currently doing that doesn’t bring harmony?
  2. What habits and behaviors do you engage in that no longer serve you?
  3. What things bring you the most peace?
  4. Where are you when you feel most connected to yourself?
  5. What activities make you feel alive?

Only you can know your purest and truest answers to these questions…and you have to be honest with yourself. Dig in deep and get real. The overarching question above all of these is What bring you back to connection? Connection to self, others, and your spirituality.

There is something incredibly empowering about being able to overcome one’s feelings and pursue what feels right in my heart even when surrounded by temptations. For me, self-discipline is the ultimate self-efficacy. “I am capable and in control.” When I behave from my discipline instead of reactively or impulsively, I align to myself. The reward of the discipline is alignment or re-alignment. It’s reconnection to myself. And mostly, it’s the feeling that life isn’t just happening to me, but that I have the power to manage certain outcomes.

Losing versus letting go

When we think of the idea of abstinence or abstaining from something we often correlate this with the idea of missing out or losing out. We perceive the lack as something that produced a void within us. Loss is something that happens to us, letting go is something we actively do. Letting go provides us with the power and control. Letting go involves willingness. It’s a choice, not a happening. Distinguishing the between losing something and letting go of something provides a deep power to support disciplines. I have lost my grandfathers, I let go of my Pilates studio. Neither was easy, but only one was a choice.

When you think of a behavior or something in your life that is no longer serving you do you still view giving it up as losing? If so, change will be harder to come by. Instead of focusing on what you think you’re losing, think about what you gain by letting it go. Also, what parts of yourself are you losing by continuing that habit or behavior? Are losing those parts of yourself greater than the actual loss of that habit or behavior? We need to channel the willingness to let it go, and this starts with developing disciplines. Think of the empowerment that comes from making the choice to let it go in order to serve your higher self. 

What areas in your life could you use some discipline?

Think or write on this question “what area of my life do I feel most disconnected?” This can serve as a great launching point. Some areas for developing self-disciplines may include: physical, mental, spiritual, interpersonal/relational, greater self or purpose. 

Building a discipline can involve actively doing something or actively abstaining from something that misaligns. Start right there. Pick one area that you feel most disconnected. What is one thing you could actively do in order to bring more connection in that area of your life? Establish how frequently you’d like to do that thing. Then, what is one thing that you could abstain from doing that would support you feeling more connected? Work to build supportive disciplines to help you abstain from that. With time and practice before you know it you’ll be in a place of alignment that preventatives disciplines will support your newfound self-discipline in that area of you life. And a deeper connection to self awaits you around the corner, when you are willing to let go. 

Be encouraged

Discipline is difficult. Do not be discouraged. Discipline is not a one-and-done doing. Discipline is the strength to continually choose the habits that support your highest connection to self. It’s an active choice of letting go of that which no longer serves you, and engaging in world in a way that enlivens you most. It makes deep connection possible and invites us to be the purest version of our unique selves. And when you live your life in this deep connection, let me tell you…there’s no amount of losing that I’m afraid of…I’m ready to let it go. 

-Courtney Anne Holcomb

“Discipline is the strength to continually choose the habits that support your highest connection to self.”

Courtney Anne Holcomb (CaH)

Move and Yield Community

It all started with an RV trip…

Now, I realize that this is a very millennial thing to say, but I cannot deny the truth of it. And if I’m being transparent, before the RV trip it started with the pandemic, panic attacks, and having pursued and fulfilled a childhood dream of opening a Pilates studio. After graduating college with a degree in Dance and Spanish, and simultaneously pursuing my Pilates education, I moved back to my hometown of Neenah, WI where I swore I’d never live again…I made an original business plan for a Pilates studio in entrepreneurship class back in high school. I saw the need in my hometown local community and felt I would be remiss to not use my skillset to meet the need in my community. Spring of 2016 I opened Waveforms Pilates, specializing in highly-specific one-on-one training with bodies of all abilities. We owned a beautiful 1941 mid-century modern house, I spent years creating beautiful gardens, expanding my business, and building a movement culture throughout the Fox Cities area. On paper everything was amazing, a thriving business, sharing my passion for movement, building community, and a lovely home. But looming in the background, anxiety and panic began to consume larger portions of my days. 

Starting around August of 2020, I began having a series of small panic attacks. The chaos and uncertainty of the pandemic, balancing the needs of myself, my students, and my family, and my growing anxiety started to make life more debilitating. On top of that, my husband had just received a pretty big diagnosis that gave him more insight into why over the past 2-3 years his health and physicality was deteriorating. I have managed minor anxiety throughout my whole life, but the panic attacks were new territory. Intellectually I could talk myself out of the anxiety, but it was always background noise even in the environments I felt most safe and in control (the Pilates studio and my home). The sensations of a panic attack coming on I felt no control over. This was terrifying for me. I lost weight, I lost sleep, I started to avoid making plans, and I began to feel like a shell of myself. Stress had taken over and my body and mind were fighting a constant state of fight-or-flight, with no sign of thriving even though from the outside view everything looked amazing. Rationally the business had never been busier, our finances were incredible, my husband super supportive, and I had great relationships with friends and family, where was the dissonance? 

Fast-forward to January of 2021, my husband and I both came home from work with the same thing in mind. Is this what we want the rest of our lives to look like? A successful business, beautiful home, comfortable life, but our mental and physical health suffering? Sometimes in life we are called to say goodbye to things, even when they are good. Just like the lyrics from The Fray’s song “All at Once”, “sometimes the hardest things and the right thing are the same.” There are seasons to life and a boldness often required. A braveness to look within and continue to ask questions what might be best for oneself? Even if it’s not easy. We didn’t want to be people who stuck with something that was good, even though it no longer felt right. We wanted to step into a life design that could include prioritizing our personal health and wellbeing. We felt confident that there was a new place, a new chapter, and a next iteration of what our future could look like to be explored. My family and I entered into the great unknown with a lot a bit of blind faith and a whole lot of trust.

After our conversations together and a few months of getting some affairs in order, May 2022 we sold our home and most of our possessions, and June 2021 we sold our successful brick-and-mortar Pilates studio to our dear friend who had been an instructor at the studio for over two years. We wanted to hit the road on a year-long sabbatical to take time for pause and re-evaluation. Spending part of our thirties to rest and restore our personal health and wellbeing, and look deeper into what we wanted our future life design to not only look like, but feel like. Cherishing time with one another and re-discovered what makes us come alive. We started by living in community with some dear friends, transitioned to the road traveling full time in an RV, and then bought a condo and settled into the beautiful lakefront of Sheboygan, WI. 

Move and Yield Emerges

Move and Yield emerged out of this journey and the self-discovery of what I found provides me with the most fulfillment: movement, yielding, nature, creative expression, and community. 

Move and Yield is a community initiative that was born out of my own need to slow down and find joy in all aspects of my life. As an entrepreneur and small business owner I found myself full of purpose, but lacking in fulfillment. The fast-pace of modern society left me feeling worn out, full of anxiety, and with little time and space for listening inward to what my body and mind truly needed. I longed for delight, connection, and expression.

The focus is on encouraging people to move more, connect to the natural world, find creative expression, invest in community, and spend thoughtful time in yield. When we race through life it passes us by, and joy gets lost in the spaces in between. Slowing down the modern pace of life is essential for helping us connect to self, build meaningful relationships, and contribute to the world. Nature provides a perfect backdrop to take us away from the many distractions and stressors of modern life and helps connect us to the vastness of the world. So many of the movement meet-ups and events will exist in outdoor spaces.

Move may seem obvious, in our modern sedentary-laden culture, but what do I mean in terms of yield? In life we must slow and listen in order to know what our bodies and minds truly need. When we stay “busy” we are robbed of the ability to tap into self-awareness and connection. When we are disconnected to self it’s extremely difficult to connect with others, and to sense our connection to the greater world around us. This in turn makes our purpose feel lacking and our lives feeling empty. The feeling of life in a “hamster wheel” is not an enjoyable outcome of our efforts. Yielding is a process of slowing to help us tap into an embodied and full existence, and to help us discover what our true inner desires in life consist of. Slowing down to take notice of all life has to offer. And savoring and prioritizing the experiences that bring us alive.

Move and Yield is a community that provides curated content and classes that balance moving more and yielding to reconnect and slow the modern pace of life. All of these things encompassed and focused on the themes of both moving and yielding more in our day-to-day lives. 

Drawing Inspiration from:

  • Pilates, functional fitness, intuitive movement, dance, and play 
  • Building variety, frequency, and awareness in our movement practice
  • Connecting to nature and spending time in outdoor spaces
  • Teaching compassion, capability, and kindness to ones body
  • Thoughtful introspection and turning inward to discover our inner desires
  • Moving the spine in all directions and exploring movement possibilities
  • Beauty that surrounds us in one another, nature, and within ourselves
  • Simplicity, sustainability, and minimalism
  • Curiosity and creativity about what our artistic expression is in this world
  • Daring to play to access joy and delight in life
  • A holistic approach to wellness that considers mind, body, and spirit
  • Setting intentions in our movement practices and lives

Community Offerings:

  • Online Pilates-informed movement mat classes
  • Bi-monthly book club meetings on themes surrounding Move and Yield 
  • Small group movement series
  • Movement Meet-ups and classes in natural settings
  • Instagram inspirations and content @courtneyannemoves
  • One-on-one sessions, virtual and in-person
  • A newsletter with articles, musings, tips, and upcoming events
  • Adult modern dance/embodied movement classes
  • A combination of virtual experiences and in-person experiences for people to join from near and far

We are being called towards movement and yielding.

Emerging from sabbatical with fresh insight

This is my next iteration of life and I’m certain it will not be a final one as I value the importance of continually looking within and reassessing. Does this no longer serve me? And then the bravest part of it all, being willing to exercise boldness when the answer to that question is “no”, but the road to change looks insurmountable. The big steps that each have a hundred little steps required that feel like they’ll never end…but the risk of staying put feels all the more mountainous. What helped was not looking at the situation as loss, but an act of letting go. Loss is something that happens to us and is not within our control. But the act of letting things go is a process that we exercise purposefully. A willingness that we cultivate within ourselves and do with permission and recognition. I’m letting this go because it no longer serves me, and freeing myself to the future possibilies that await me. Move and yield is full of possibitilies, aligns with my values, and I believe has a lot of value to offer to in these modern times. I cannot wait to share more with you in the months and years to come. Stay tuned. <3

-Courtney Anne Holcomb

Follow the instagram account @courtneyannemoves to join the dialogue and find access to classes and offerings here on and by signing up for our free newsletter here.

To see adventures from the road on our RV trip, check out my page @moveandyield on Instagram.