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Happy summer holidays to everyone! Hope you’re all having a great summer! I write this news flash during a one-day break after three weeks of intensive work in Stockholm, Finland and Copenhagen. I, Isabella, have spent two of the weeks weeks practicing and helping out at the Sharath Jois European tour and have also taught a retreat in Finland in between. Although it’s been a working month it’s also been full of learning opportunities, time for self-reflection and chances for small breaks and recovery. Now a week’s real holiday (!) is waiting before I resume teaching in August in Malmö.

I hope you also get a chance to recharge your batteries. The weather is about to become really warm  (according to the forecast) and we continue to have a self-practice schedule in place for a couple of week. A heartfelt thanks to Caroline, Sara and Kerstin who open and close during this time and also thanks to Karolina Z who covered classes in the first half of July! On 4 August the regular schedule resumes as Isabella is back to teach (NB. Don’t forget that our classes are as from July taught only in Malmö). Scroll down for a sneak peak at the autumn schedule or download your own copy here Autumn schedule 2019. In August we have a number of fun and important events coming up too!

FRIDAY-FUN: our special after work class is back on 23 August with asana-based exploration classes once a month. In the first session we focus on getting a better understanding of the hip-region and how to keep our hips and knees healthy in practice. Read more and register here

OPEN-HOUSE: on Sunday 25 August – we open the doors to family, friends and the public to come and enjoy free classes, lectures and to mingle with us to ask questions, have tea and socialize. There will be special offers for new members on the day. Existing members who recruit new members receive a discount on their next class pass (so make sure your friend mentions you name when he/she registers). Doors open at 11.30. Read more here

GUIDED PRIMARY: before the Open House on 25 August we have our monthly guided primary series class at 9am followed by tea and talk. Our existing members are invited to bring a friend who already practices and is familiar with Ashtanga Yoga (not necessary to have completed the whole primary series ) for FREE. The tea and talk will focus on this summer’s events in the Ashtanga Community and those of us who took part on the Sharath European Tour will share our experience.

NEW BEGINNER’S COURSES: start in Malmö in September. We have a regular beginner’s course on Mondays starting on 2/9 (read more here) and a special course for men on Wednesdays starting on 11/9 (read more here).

SPECIAL EVENTS: there are many more events coming up throughout the autumn such as a very special retreat with Isabella at Purple Valley Yoga Centre 26 October-8 November. Focus will be on how yoga can be used to self regulate and hep gain mental balance. This is a unique opportunity not to miss. Read more and book in advance here

For all other events check our events page  – there are already several events for 2020 up on the site. Information about temporary schedule changes can be found here on our news page or on our social media accounts on Instagram  or Facebook

See you soon in the shala again!

AUTUMN SCHEDULE 4/8 to 31/12 – 2019


Photo: Sophie Håkansson Photography

Dear Yogis,

We’re in the month of June with graduations, school holidays and vacations on the door step. There’s still hope that the summer will be as wonderful as last year, but even if it doesn’t turn out that way, we’ll still enjoy the extra light and continue our yoga practice as usual. The spring schedule runs until 30th June after which a summer schedule will be in place for a month (1 July-3 August). The first two weeks in July we have the pleasure of welcoming Karolina Zakrzewska from Goa/Helsingborg as a cover teacher. The second half of July doors are open for self-practice without assistance. The shala is then open (free of charge) to all our existing students who wish to use the studio to practice. Read more about Karolina here and download your own copy of the SUMMER SCHEDULE 2019.

Summer also brings with it a number of changes for our yoga school. After having gone back and forth between Lund and Malmö for 6 years with classes spread out over several different locations, I (Isabella) have decided that it is time to gather everything in one place. As of 1st July, all classes move to the shala at Värnhem in Malmö. We will then officially be known as “Ashtanga Yoga Malmö” with classes running 6 days a week there. On the summer schedule, the evening classes are cancelled but they will return again in August.

I’d like to take the opportunity to thank all students who have come to both the Lund and Malmö shalas throughout the years – without you none of what we’ve built would have been possible. It is because of you that the shala has grown and continues to flourish. When I returned to Sweden 7 years ago it was with the dream of esablishing a shala in Malmö. Although we’ve been stationed here since 2013 it is not until now that the dream of one place becomes real. I’m deeply grateful to you all and humbled that you choose to come and practice in our space. I of course hope that students from Lund will make the short journey to Malmö and not give up their practice for a 15 minute commute. Please know that you are all always very welcome. With the shala being in one single place I hope to create an even more welcoming and grounding atmosphere, with less confusion about our whereabouts and less stress from being scattered all over the place.

The move to Malmö also involves some practical changes. We don’t just change our name, but the website will also move to a new domain during the summer; our accounts/pages on FB and IG change their name, our logo is slightly altered AND we get a new email address. We aim to make the transition as smooth as possible but ask for your understanding and patience in case there are some technical glitches on the way. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

Aside from our relocation there’s a lot of other exciting stuff happening this summer (don’t forget to check the news-page for temporary schedule changes):

GUIDED INTERMEDIATE – on 16th June, Isabella teaches a special guided class where we explore the traditional vinyasa count of the second series in Ashtanga yoga. Read more about the class here and what is required to participate.

SUMMER-RETREAT – from 7-12 July, we return to Kadermo Conscious Living in Finland where Isabella also taught a retreat last summer. The island of Kadermo is an idyllic place where one can really relax and disconnect from civilization. We practice yoga morning and evening, enjoying the sauna, swimming, nature and good vegetarian food. Don’t hesitate to book, you won’t regret it!

SHARATH JOIS EUROPEAN TOUR – In July, our teacher Sharathji visits Europe again and comes to Stockholm and Copenhagen to teach one week in each city. To practice with him on tour is usually a great opportunity to get an insight into the Ashtanga yoga tradition and to meet yogis from all over the world. Read more about how to book in each city here.

OPEN HOUSE – on the 25th of August we open the shala doors to the public, family and friends. Everyone is invited to come to visit, try free classes, learn more about yoga, ask questions and mingle with us at the yoga school. There will be snacks and special offers for both new and existing members. The event is already published on our website, check it out there! More info will also come with the next newsletter.

A SNEAK PEAK AT AUTUMN – our autumn schedule starts on the 4th of August, new beginner’s courses are planned for September, “Friday-fun” classes (asana-based) will return, chanting on Sundays is back etc. and Isabella teaches a yoga retreat at Purple Valley in Goa, India. The autumn schedule will be online sometime in July so keep your eyes open. Come September, Isabella will also teach a special immersion of the Ashtanga Yoga Primary series; a course where participants learn how to adjust yoga asana, to deepen their understanding of the function of the individual postures as well as the purpose of the sequence. Read more about the course and requirements for registration here.

The next newsletter will be published in July. It’ll contain more info about the autumn and everything that happens then. In the meantime, we hope that stay up to date by visiting our news site/blog and that you follow us on social media

Have a great summer!

See you on the yoga mat!

Isabella and the team of teachers at Ashtanga Yoga Malmö (Lund)

Photo: Sophie Håkansson Photography


From1-14 July, we are pleased to welcome Karolina Zakrzewska as a guest teacher. On two previous occasions, Karolina has covered classes at our shala and we look forward to seeing and learning from her this summer as well.

You can read more about Karolina and see nice pictures on her website

Throughout July 2019, we run a special summer schedule that you can  download here SUMMER SCHEDULE 2019  or you may also consult our schedule page. There will be daily morning Mysore class from  Sunday-Friday. In July, all evening classes are cancelled and we make use of the extra light and the early mornings instead.

After 14/7 we have two weeks of self-practice three days a week. From the 17th to 22nd July Sharath R. Jois visits Copenhagen for a week-long workshop. We encourage all our students to come and experience a bit of Mysore on home ground. Read more and register here .

Our autumn schedule resumes on 4/8 with full teaching (morning and evening).


In May and June several public holidays affect the teaching schedule. Please consult the listed time changes below:

Tuesday April 30 Valpurgis – morning Mysore Lund 06.15-8.45, evening Mysore in Malmö cancelled

Wednesday May 1 – morning Mysore Malmö 08.45-11.15

Thursday May 30 Ascension – morning Mysore Malmö 08.45-11.15. Evening Mysore in Malmö cancelled

Friday 31 May Morning Mysore in Lund 08.45-11.15

Sunday 2 June – Guided Primary series class in Malmö at 08.45am (instead of Mysore class) followed by Tea&Talk

Saturday 1 June and Sunday 2 June we have visiting teacher’s Gabriel and Nadia from Australia teaching two afternoon Master classes from 3-5pm. Read more here

Monday 3 June New moon – Mysore and beginner’s class cancelled

Thursday June 6 National Day – Morning Mysore Malmö 08.45-11.15.  Evening Mysore in Malmö cancelled

Friday 7 June Morning Mysore in Lund 06.15-08.45 (normal hours)

Monday 17 June, Full moon – Mysore and beginner’s class cancelled

Friday June 21 Midsummer’s Eve – all Mysore cancelled

Yoga changes your life. Are you ready?

Photo: Sophie Håkansson photography

”Yoga ruins your life” is a catch phrase often used as a joke or an attempt to, as I see it, draw attention to the practice. But it doesn’t really ruin your life – does it? A regular practice will bring change, that’s for sure. And since we in general are scared of or reluctant to change, it may feel as if yoga then ruins things when the results of our practice don’t live up to our expectations that yoga is supposed to make us feel better, happier and more balanced in life.  The image that yoga will suddenly make us see life through rose tinted glasses is just as much a cliché as the phrase that yoga ruins your life.

We all come to yoga for different reasons; none is more valid than the other. It is easy though to start blaming yoga when things don’t turn out as we expect or when we start doubting the practice for various reasons. Yoga philosophy therefore talks about the importance of taking action without expectation or attachment to the fruits of ones actions. Also, yoga doesn’t do anything to you, nor does it expect or demand anything from you. The only one doing, demanding or expecting anything in or of your practice is you. Again, according to yoga philosophy any action you take will lead to a reaction (consequence) that will come back to you at some point (in this life or another) – that is the law of karma.

The practice of yoga gives us the tools to begin to see our behavioural and thought patterns that keep us in this karmic wheel of action and reaction. Yoga will sooner or later force us to face the uncomfortable truths we’ve shovelled under the carpet, that can no longer be avoided in order for us to develop and move on. That’s why oftentimes, before something can get better we need to learn to deal with the difficult parts first. Change can therefore be painful to start with and thus we avoid it. Instead we remain caught in the pursuit of finding and reliving what we qualify as pleasurable experiences and avoid those that we experience as painful.

A regular yoga practice has the potential to change things, some immediately for the better and some maybe not as discussed above. When we start practicing, we begin with the third and fourth limbs of Ashtanga yoga: asana (postures) and pranayama (breathing). When we start to move and breathe more consciously it will initiate physical changes. Richard Freeman who made a little video a few years back with the theme “Yoga ruins your life” jokes about how ones feet grow wider and bigger so that all the fancy shoes in ones closet need to be replaced (no more high heels or pointed toes there… what a disaster!!!).  Jokes aside, not only will our feet change over time, but with a regular, mindful practice we’re likely to grow stronger, more flexible, have a better posture and be healthier overall.

After a certain amount of time we might also notice how we gradually become more present, aware and focused. Beginning with the body and the breath we come to the now instead of always being in our head day dreaming of the past or future. Through the physical practice we connect with our inner world and learn to observe the twists and turns of our mind. This heightened presence makes more aware of our thought patterns, behaviours and our choices in life. We might start to behave differently towards ourselves and others, hopefully more in a more kind and thoughtful manner as we start to reflect upon and observe the yamas and niyamas (first and second limbs of Ashtanga yoga).

The changes that come with practice may be welcome but sometimes also frightening. Doing physical asana may be scary when we start opening our bodies or go upside down and see the world from a different perspective.  As we go deeper into the practice and begin to peel off layers of old conditioning, habits and behavioural/thought patterns,  our bodies and minds can react in unexpected ways with pain, tiredness, anger, joy and all kind of emotions. When we let go of things we’ve held on to (consciously or unconsciously) energy is freed within us and we come closer to our true nature beyond all the stories and roles we’ve created and identify us with. But letting go of the identity we’ve created through our storytelling is hard and our nature is to hold on to the known rather than surrendering to the unknown.

Changes may be difficult to handle and letting go is a challenge even if we might be prepared as we have chosen to be on this yoga path. But for people around us – family members, spouses, partners, friends, colleagues etc who have not chosen our path or our change, it may be a surprise that’s not always met with open arms. Suddenly we’re no longer that person they’ve always known us as. Although our lifestyle, behaviour and choices may have taken a turn for the better it may be hard for them to accept. They might think you’re behaving strangely when your priorities change and you start getting up early to do practice (and also going to bed early), maybe changing your diet to include less animal products, drinking less alcohol and thus becoming more focused (all behaviours that may go against the socially accepted ones in society) etc. Because others have not experienced the transformation of the practice themselves they might find it difficult to accept the new you. This can create conflict within in our relationships and within us. We’ll start to question ourselves – Am I doing the right thing? Who am I really? Maybe they are right – the practice isn’t good for me. Maybe I should quit doing these weird shapes on the yoga mat –and so on.

A personal anecdote on this is a story from my second or third trip to Mysore many years ago. There was a group of six or seven girls getting together for a chat ant chai on a roof top one afternoon. We talked about life, yoga of course as one often does in Mysore and relationships. It turned out all of us were single at the time, and more interestingly that we’d all experienced a break up from a long term relationship at about the time we were taught Kapotasana, an intense back bend in the Intermediate series of Ashtanga yoga. Now does that mean that Kapotasana is the “break-up” posture? Of course not – it could all just have been a coincidence. Maybe each of our relationships would have ended anyway as people oftentimes grow apart or develop in different directions. That said, the practice does, as discussed above, further physical and emotional changes within us that may contribute to changes in our overall lives. Kapotasana is a particularly challenging posture that potentially brings up a lot of stored emotions, as does the Intermediate series per se when it stimulates our central nervous system. Furthermore, according to my teacher Sharath Jois, doing too much asana practice (twice a day or too many asanas too quickly) may also cause aggression in an individual (probably because it brings too much yang – that’s my interpretation at least).

Every yoga journey is different and we all face different challenges depending on our background and current circumstances. Some of us are fully supported by our social networks others not. Important is to be aware of potential obstacles on the path, either generated by the games played by our own minds or by external actors. How do we deal with these factors? How do we stay true to ourselves and our path and how can we avoid losing ourselves in the stories created by our mind (and egos) in reaction to others’ opinions or external situations? How can we maintain an inner and outer balance?

Yoga philosophy gives us the tools of yama and niyama, in particular “ahimsa” – the absence of harm and “satya” – truthfulness which apply both to our behaviour towards ourselves and others. Trying to observe these principles is a process of trial and error that we have to go through in order to learn and grow.  Practice is built on Kriya yoga – yoga of action; Tapas (discipline and patience of a regular practice), Svadhyaya (study and inquiry) and Isvara Pranidhana (surrender, trust in the unknown and the process). On the path of our practice (our sadhana) we may experience pain (physical, emotional, psychological), resistance, doubt, desire aversion and other feelings. By meeting these sensations but with open eyes, curiosity, humility and patience and ideally under the guidance of an experienced teacher we can learn to see beyond them. Without the support of a teacher who has also walked the walk, it might be confusing and difficult to handle the sensations that may arise along your yoga path. Yoga won’t ruin your life; instead it has the potential to enrich, make you stronger, more present, and balanced and free you from being a slave to your impulses, desires, aversions and delusions. Yoga is a journey of continuous learning where “change is the only constant”. Every day is a new beginning, every practice on the mat is a new start every breath is a new birth.


We hope you’ve had a good Easter weekend with a chance to enjoy the sunshine. Finally we’ve defrosted and now the physical side of yoga may be a bit easier. Our regular schedule continues until 30 June and in July there’ll be a special summer schedule. In May and June we have many exciting events and special classes with guest teachers to offer all our practitioners, newer and more experienced. May and June also include some public holidays and we’d like to remind you of some temporary schedule changes then (click here).

Early July, we welcome Karolina Zakrzewska as a summer teacher and the second half of the month Sharath Jois visits Copenhagen (info here) for a week’s workshop. Keep reading and you’ll be on top of all that happens at the  school before summer.

A NEW BEGINNERS’ COURSE starts in Malmö on Monday 29/4 (read more here). It is a 6-week course and we’re always happy when you recommend us to your friends. Right now we’d be extra happy if you could motivate some stiff men to join the course and thus help us even out gender gap in our shala.

FRIDAY FUN our alternative after work – continues on 26/4 and 17/5 in Malmö. The theme this semester is basic yoga philosophy and chanting. No previous experience is required. The upcoming two sessions treat ch2 of Yoga Sutras and we continue to learn simple breathing techniques. Register via the event

GUIDED CLASS of both the first and second series in Ashtanga yoga take place in May/June. The next guided primary series is on Sunday 12/5 at 8.45 (followed by tea & talk). Isabella also teaches led Intermediate series on Sunday 19/5 and 16/6 after the regular Mysore class. Please read the requirements for participation here and talk to Isabella before you sign up.

GUEST TEACHERS on June 1-2, we welcome Swedish Gabriel and his Australian wife Nadia. They’ll teach two Master classes in Ashtanga yoga on the theme “Create effortless fluidity and control in your yoga practice”. Learn how to find flow in your practice through bandhas and breath. Find the strength and flexibility in both transitions and asana. Gabriel and Nadia give you  an insight into techniques that make your practice easier. Classes are open for all. Don’t miss this unique opportunity. Read more here

SUMMER RETREAT in FINLAND 7-12 July we return to the idyll Kadermo Conscious Living in Finland, an island completely unaffected by the stress of modern society. Join Isabella on a week-long Ashtanga yoga retreat with both morning and afternoon classes. Take the opportunity to unwind, relax, and enjoy yoga, beautiful scenery and fantastic vegetarian food by the best Indian chef Anu flown in straight from Mysore. Last year was very much appreciated and fully booked so don’t wait too long to reserve. More info here.

SUMMER TEACHER Karolina Zakrzewska covers classes from 1-14 July while Isabella is away. Karolina is from Helsingborg but lives in Goa, India where she runs the retreat centre Purple Valley. Karolina has taught at our shala at twice previously and we are delighted to welcome her back. More about Karolina and the summer schedule here

Finally, speaking of Purple Valley, we want to flag that Isabella teaches a retreat there later this autumn from 26/10-8/11. More on our eventspage where you also find a link to Purple Valley. Bookings open on their homepage in May. You don’t want to miss this trip!

The next newsletter will be distributed mid-June. It’ll contain more info about some important changes coming up at the school this summer/autumn. In the meantime please stay updated by visiting this news page/blog and follow us on social media (links below). You’re also invited to join the closed group Ashtanga Yoga Malmö / Lund practitioners we started.

See you on the yoga mat!
 P.S Did you know that you can use your healthcare allowance when you buy practice cards with us?

Yoga and Osteoporosis/Osteopenia – the hidden disease

Photo: Barbara Süss

What would you do if you at the age of 34 were diagnosed with a condition that normally women twice your age would get? How would you react if doctors told you that with having this disease at such a young age there was a risk that you could be wheel chair bound in your sixties? It’s not only a difficult message to receive or take on board, but even harder when you can’t see or feel the disease in your daily life. Osteopenia/Osteoporosis – weakened bone density – is invisible to the eye and is mostly only diagnosed once a fracture has actually occurred.

Eight years ago I was diagnosed with severe osteopenia, a pre-stage to osteoporosis, following six months of repeated spontaneous rib fractures. My bone density results were very bad, really on the border to Osteoporosis. At the time I had to make quite a few changes not only to my life but also to my yoga practice.I had to become more sensitive and take certain precautions. But my yoga practice has also been an invaluable factor in the process of healing and improving my bone density. Since my diagnosis in 2010, my bi-yearly bone density scans have gradually shown improved results and at the latest scan one week ago I was given the happy news that I am now no longer osteopenic and have normal bone density for my age.

Five years ago I wrote a blog post about practicing yoga with osteopenia/osteoporosis to share my experience with other women who might be in a similar situation. Because the old website has since been deactivated I’ve decided to re-post the article here . I don’t go into detail of what lies behind my weak bones, I might share some of that in a later post. However, it has come to light that this condition is more common than previously thought with younger women who have been very physically active in young years (athletes for example) and whom have not had a good enough intake of good nutrition or whom have lost their periods for certain amounts of time. It may also follow in the steps of eating disorders and other mental health conditions (depression, anxiety, stress etc), problems of mal-absortion and inflammation in the gut and deficiencies in vitamin-D etc.

March 2014

Three and a half years ago following a series of inexplicable/spontaneous rib fractures suffered in yoga practice I was diagnosed with a severe stage of Osteopenia – a pre-stage to Osteoporosis (bone loss). I was 34 years old and had a condition that women my mother’s age would be more likely to suffer from. The reason I ended up with Osteopenia I will not go into. There were most likely many factors at play and I’ll most likely never know what caused what – like the “chicken and the egg story”.

Osteoporosis happens when there is a loss of calcium and mineral in the bones that weakens them and causes them to break more easily. Although Osteopenia is not as bad as osteoporosis the risk of fracture is the same in both cases. The primary risk areas for fractures are the vertebrae in the spine, the hips and the wrists. Some bone loss is natural with aging. Peak bone density occurs during our 20’s but after the age of 35 bone density starts to decline.

When I got my diagnosis in 2010 the doctors seemed quite surprised to have such a young patient with an “old woman’s condition”, yet they didn’t really seem to take it seriously. Maybe they didn’t know what to do. The advice received from my GP (in a letter…) was that I should quit smoking, do more weight bearing exercise and eat more green vegetables. At the time I had been a vegetarian for 18 years, I was very fit (having been a spinning teacher for 11 years, a long distance runner and had a regular strong yoga practice) and I most certainly didn’t smoke (and I never had)…

Eventually, I was put on medication, alendronic acid a substance that is given to old ladies in their 70’s and 80’s. At the time I didn’t question it since I had many other things going on in my life and not the energy to argue. My GP supported that I continue to practice yoga but cautioned me to be careful. And that was that. The lack of engagement from the medical community led me to also not really take the situation seriously. I did a little bit of research and figured I should probably stop long distance running (the bouncing impact not being very good for the spine) and I took care in yoga practice not to fall (I had already dislocated a disc when falling in headstand a year earlier, broken my little toe twice when jumping through and then there were those fracture ribs that had prompted my seeking help in the first place). Otherwise, I figured yoga must be good since it’s definitely a weight bearing exercise.

Over the past few years my yoga practice has deepened and intensified (on both a physical and other levels). My body has become much stronger and stable as well as more flexible. I have gained quite some weight due to increased muscle build but some of it is also an increase in bone mass. When I had my last bone density scan the results had improved – but I still had Osteopenia. Whether the increased bone density was because of the medication or the yoga practice or a combination I don’t know.

I’m sure that yoga is mostly positive, but there are also things in yoga practice that sometimes cause me concern and with time and experience I’ve come to reflect more and more on the effects of the practice. In the – meager – research I did following the diagnosis I learnt that forward bending might be hazardous for people with Osteopenia or Osteoporosis. The increased pressure on the front of the vertebrae in forward bends could lead to fractures on the spine. I also read that back bending would be more beneficial as such movements would strengthen the muscles around the spine. My body welcomed these “facts” as it really doesn’t like to bend forward and doing back bends is more pleasurable.

Recently I decided to look a bit more into the research done on yoga and Osteopenia/Osteoporosis (and I really should have done this much earlier to take responsibility for my own situation, but I guess I was still in some kind of denial). Some of what I found out was quite shocking! Basically all that I am doing in my practice is highly dangerous. According to the research available I play on the edge of disaster every morning and it’s a miracle that I haven’t yet fractured a vertebra or hip.

People with Osteopenia/Osteoporosis may experience spontaneous spinal fractures without warning as the body moves out of the posture back to its original position. Forward bending (spine flexion) is – as mentioned previously – particularly dangerous, but also twisting, arm balancing (risk of falling), shoulder and head stand and deep back bending are not recommended. The only safe postures would be standing postures (which are weight bearing on the large bones of the legs and hips); back bends like cobra pose or shalabasana (locust pose) and seated postures that do not include bending forward. Moving in and out of postures should be done with caution so umping is definitely a “no-go” and Ashtanga yoga is completely out of the question according to the articles I found.

While taking the warnings and risks seriously I think that there a few other things one needs to consider. Most of the research available seems to have been done on people of the age 65+. What about younger people who may have a better overall health, a fitter body in general and are already physically active? I don’t have any medical expertise but from my own experience I would definitely also look at the following aspects:

  • Is the person a beginner or already a seasoned yoga practitioner?
  • Is the person fit or unfit (physically active, overall health etc)?
  • What age is the person?
  • What body awareness does the person have?
  • What is the overall lifestyle of the person?

Each body and each individual are different, but yoga practice has definitely been very beneficial to my overall health (and my bone density has improved). There is also research available that supports the fact that a daily yoga practice may be able to slow and even reverse the condition of Osteopenia. Such a yoga practice obviously has to be adapted according to the individual, but it seems like a combination of weight bearing exercise such as yoga, movement and a good diet may help maintain and even improve bone strength. Yoga, unlike some other weight-bearing activities won’t damage cartilage or stress the joints. Instead, it lengthens muscles and holds them there, creating tension on the bone. It also increases softness and agility to the joints and creates stability in the body as a whole.

A healthy diet – and in particular a plant based diet seems to create a good foundation for healthy bones. Some research shows that too much animal based protein (including dairy products) may actually weaken the bone. Protein creates acid in the blood and when the body gets too acidic it pulls calcium, which is alkaline, from bone to neutralize it. I used to eat a lot of dairy products as part of my vegetarian diet since I was always told that one needed milk (or dairy) to build strong bones. Now I have osteopenia – but I’ll never know if my huge dairy consumption contributed to my current condition. Today I’m vegan and I’ve replaced the dairy products with green leafy veg such as kale and spinach, sesame and almonds which are rich in calcium.

Osteopenia/Osteoporosis is an invisible “disease”. This makes it even more dangerous. No one would be able to see the condition I suffer from, and even I forget it from time to time. I take my condition seriously but I refuse to let it limit my life. Today I approach things with greater care and awareness. The prospect of breaking a hip or sitting in a wheel chair at the age of 60 is not on my agenda.  I continue my daily Ashtanga practice although I have become more careful. I deliberately move more consciously and slowly and try to maintain a stable and deep breath which helps me listen to my body’s signals. The tools of breath, bandha and dristhi which help stabilise the body and mind and turn the awareness inwards, become even more important. 

Although my teacher Sharathji has said that people with Osteoporosis should limit their practice to sitting in padmasana and do breathing exercises, he has not he asked me to change anything in my practice. He’s only directed me to some “safer” practice space in the shala in Mysore to protect me from injury should I fall when practising arm balances. It has been very important to me that he’s provided me with a safe space. I trust his guidance and the guidance I’ve received from other experienced Ashtanga Yoga teachers to whom I’ve turned for advice.

Whether one is a beginner or seasoned practitioner I believe it is important to practice yoga safely and correctly under the guidance of an experienced teacher. With the increased risk of fracture that comes with Osteopenia and Osteoporosis attention to correct alignment in yoga postures is in my opinion crucial. It is important to make sure that the spine remains lengthened and that the space between vertebrae is in no way comprised during the practice. Depending on the individuals fitness and body awareness one may have to work at different pace.  A beginner should stick with beginner’s options and be sure to inform the teacher about his/her condition before class. It is also important to cultivate mindfulness and a presence during practice so that one becomes sensitive to the signals of the body.

If you’d like to know more about the research done on Yoga and Osteoporosis, I’ve added a few links here. Please also feel free to share your experience and questions below.

Some resources on Yoga and Osteoporosis/Osteopenia

Yoga for Osteoporosis – An Interview with Loren Fishman, M.D. and Ellen Saltonstall

Yoga for Osteoporosis: A Pilot Study

Yoga Osteopenia Osteoporosis

Good to the Bone

Yoga for the Prevention, Treatment, and Reversal of Osteoporosis and Osteopenia

Yoga Poses to Avoid With Osteoporosis

Yoga and fear – how regular practice may empower and make you more stress-resilient

The other day whilst going through some old files on my computer I found a text that I wrote exactly five years ago in March 2014. Somehow  it ended up unpublished and forgotten. But rereading it I realise its content is still very valid and that’s why I decided to share.

Having devoted much of the past eight years of my own yoga practice and my teaching to study end explore how yoga affects our nervous system and the state of our mental health, this post gives a small testimony how yoga with its different components of posture, breath, sound and behavioural practices can help us increase our resistance stress-resilience (fear is also stress). Yoga teaches us how to self-regulate and this helps us be more in control of emotions and stressful situations which in turn may lead us to feel more empowered  in our daily lives. In the end it is not about the postures but about what goes on when we learn them, when we breathe and practice to stay present in the moment however difficult that may be. Please continue reading below and keep checking this page for upcoming posts on the theme.

March 14th 2014

I used to be afraid of everything. When I was a kid I refused to participate in gymnastics during PE lessons – even a back roll (chakrasana to us Ashtanga yogis) was out of the question. Let’s not even talk about hand stand… The first time in my life I ever kicked up against a wall I was 33 years old. I had been convinced that my shoulders would never support me or that I would crash down on my head.  Of course that was just my imagination.

Despite being very anxious when younger – fearing I would damage my clothes if climbing a tree or fall when running and thereby make my mother angry with me – I was always very active, as long as I felt that I was in control. I played a lot of sports such as basked ball, did martial arts, got involved in fitness training, eventually became a spinning instructor and did a lot of long distance running. I travelled overseas, often alone, and never reflected much upon the dangers of doing this on my own.

Fear is often irrational and what makes one person freak out doesn’t even bother another one. Practicing Ashtanga yoga has been the key for me to face many of my fears. By going through challenges on the yoga mat my practice empowers me daily and teaches me many important lessons about how my mind works.

Moving and breathing in and out of asanas on the mat has not only made me stronger physically or allowed me to understand/be closer to my body. It also continuously teaches me to go a little further out of my comfort zone every day. Because it is only on the edge of the comfort zone where change and development happens. Step by step the practice tricks me into learning more and more difficult things, slowly adapting the body and mind progressively. With repetition and dedication, the posture that seemed absolutely impossible a few weeks, months or years before suddenly is accessible.  Like this the boundaries for what is possible are pushed a little further every day.

In my yoga practice I’ve had to (and still do) face my fears every day. And I do it because I’ve learnt that every small victory on the yoga mat shows me that I am much stronger than my mind tells me. The phrase “Yes, I can” – although it feels like a cliché – becomes a mantra that grows stronger with every hurdle passed. In the end it’s not about mastering the postures, but the result that comes with achieving something that used to be “impossible”.  If I can do the “impossible” on the mat the same should be possible off the mat – in daily life. And that’s where the real empowerment of yoga practice lies.

Teaching Ashtanga yoga as rehabilitation from PTSD, stress and depression in Rwanda 2011


Photo: Justyna Jaworska

Winter is coming to an end, the light is returning and we hope for some warmer weather soon. With spring comes new energy and we start new foundation courses in both Malmö and Lund. A new addition to the schedule this year are guest teachers visiting on two occasions. Keep reading to find out what happens at the shala before summer.

THE SPRING SCHEDULE is available in detail on our schedule page. All temporary changes for public holidays are listed separately here. ONE Sunday a month we have guided class of the full Primary series (instead of Mysore class). It varies which Sunday of the month it is so please check all the dates on our overview schedule. The next occasion is on 3 March at 08.45 in Malmö. After class we gather for tea&talk and Isabella will give a briefing on the latest from V-Care and Odanadi, the two charities we support in Mysore.

COURSES / Special classes
Chanting on Sundays is replaced by a monthly Chanting and Philosophy course. This enables us to deepen our practice, get better continuity and understand more of the texts we chant. The course runs as Friday-fun on Fridays in Malmö. The next class is on 15/3. Read more here

New foundation courses in Lund and Malmö start in March. The course in Lund is full, but spaces are still available in Malmö. More about that here. As always we appreciate when/if you recommend us to your friends and families. More yoga practitioners make society both healthier and more peaceful.

A beginners level 2 course/guided half primary series class starts early March in Lund (there’s one already running in Malmö). Please keep in mind that everyone has to pre-register whether you attend the full course or if you just drop-in occasionally with klipp/monthly cards (you’ll only be debited for the classes you attend). The course runs only if there are enough people registered. Pre-registration is done via Medborgarskolan. Read more about the level 2 class here

Guided Intermediate series will be held twice later this spring in preparation for Sharath Jois’ visit to Stockholm and Copenhagen in July. It is strictly regulated who can participate so please read the description carefully and talk to Isabella before you sign up.

Every year, we do 108 sun salutations to raise awareness and funds for the organization Odanadi’s fight against human trafficking in southern India. This year the event takes place on Thursday 21/3 at 5pm.The class is donation-based (cash payment) but please register in advance. All are welcome to participate and you do not have to complete all the 108 sun salutations. Read more about the event on the event’s page.

In addition to the ongoing schedule, we are honoured to welcome senior Ashtanga Yoga teacher Stefan Engström from Kadermo Conscious Living. Stefan will teach a guest workshop on 5-8 April in Malmö called “Yoga of Presence and Wholeness – A unique approach to Bio-Mechanics. Practice will be physical with Mysore style/led classes as well as theoretical afternoon classes. Find more info about Stefan’s workshop and how to register on our here. NB! Early bird price until March 1st!

On 1-2 June, Swedish born Gabriel and his Australian wife Nadia teach two afternoon Ashtanga yoga master-classes in Malmö with the theme “Create effortless fluidity and control in your yoga practice”. Learn how to create fluidity through the application of bandha and breath. Find strength in the transitions and flexibility in the asanas. Gabriel and Nadia introduce you to techniques that make your practice easier. Not to miss! Read more about their classes here.

SUMMER RETREAT – on July 7-12 we return to Kadermo Conscious Living in Finland. The island of Kadermo is an idyllic setting away from modern society and stress where one really gets a chance to wind down. Isabella leads a week long Ashtanga yoga retreat there with morning and afternoon class and our vegetarian chef Anu from Mysore, India, and spoils us with the most delicious food. Last year was a success and it was full so don’t wait to book your spot! More info can be found here.

That’s it for this newsletter. In between letters I hope you stay updated by checking our Facebook page and the group Ashtanga Yoga Malmö / Lund practitioners we started in connection with the page (apply to become a member). We are of course also on Instagram. All other news is published here on our news page/blog.

See you on the yoga mat!


Please note that there are some temporary schedule changes coming up in February/March/April 2019


Tuesday 5/2 Mysore 16.15-18.45, Malmö, Sara (cover for Miho)

Sunday 17/2 Mysore 08.45-11, Malmö, Sara (cover for Isabella)

Monday 18/2 Mysore 06.15-8.45, Malmö, Miho (cover for Isabella)

Monday 18/2 Beginners’ level2 class at 17.15 cancelled due to winter holidays

Wednesday 20/2 Mysore 06.15-8.45, Malmö, Miho (cover for Isabella)

Thursday 21/2 Mysore 06.15-8.45, Malmö, Miho (cover for Isabella)

Tuesday 26/2 Mysore 16.15 Malmö, Sara (cover for Miho)

Thursday 28/2 Mysore 16.15 Malmö, Miho (cover for Sara)


Monday 4/3 Beginners level 2, 17.15, Malmö  Miho (cover for Sara)

Thursday 7/3 Mysore 16.15, Malmö Miho (cover for Sara)

Tuesday 12/3 Mysore 16.15 Malmö, Sara (cover for Miho)

Monday 25/3 Beginners course 17.15, Lund Sofia (cover for Isabella)


Friday 5/4- Monday 8/4 Stefan Engström Workshop: Please note that regular Mysore classes are cancelled during Stefan’s workshop.

Friday 5/4 no Mysore in Lund. Resting time!

Sunday 7/4 Mysore Malmö cancelled

Monday 8/4 Mysore Malmö cancelled – self practice possible in the dance stuidio

Only the beginners course on Sunday 7/4 runs as scheduled. The guided Primary series and Tea&Talk scheduled for Sunday 7/4 will take place the following week on 14/4.

Easter 19-22/4:

  • Good Friday19/4 is full moon = no Mysore class. Rest!
  • Easter Sunday 21/4 Mysore as usual at 08.45-11am in Malmö
  • Easter Sunday 21/4 No beginners’ course in Malmö – Easter break
  • Easter Monday 22/4 Mysore at 08.45-11am in Malmö
  • Easter Monday 22/4 No beginners’ course in Lund – Easter break

Valpurgis 30/4 no evening Mysore in Malmö (morning class i Lund as usual)

1:st of May Mysore 08.45-11am in Malmö

New and Full moon

We don’t teach at new or full moon. Mysore classes are cancelled then. Only beginners level 1 and 2 courses run as scheduled on “moon days”. See the list of upcoming moon days here

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