When I was young I had many physical hobbies, from gymnastics to basketball. I loved the actual sports but I never enjoyed the group stretching involved in the training sessions. I also tended to worry and get stressed out about all kinds of issues. As time went on, the pressure I experienced and my efforts to control the world around me made my body grow tense and wiped the smile off my face. This decreased the pleasure of the performance-oriented stretches that were aimed at reaching extreme positions even further.
The health care system at the university introduced me to a therapist with whom it was safe and pleasant to explore the inner landscapes of my mind. I still have warm memories of her and I greatly admire her expertise and professionality. One summer I attended a training event where I met a woman who told me about Shindo over a cup of coffee. I was instantly hooked, and a whole new world of doing things in a more relaxed manner opened up to me on the elementary course. I had never been very fond of stretching before, but now I had found a completely new approach to it. I had discovered a peaceful and tranquil workout that was based on listening to your own body that despite – or perhaps because of – its serenity had a major impact on me.
My first experience was a delighted bewilderment caused by the effectiveness of simple, relaxed and unforced stretching, and by finding out how helpful my partner’s presses felt in intensifying the effect of the stretches. I also went to Shindo treatment regularly, which further helped me to relieve the tensions in my body and gave me new energy instead. It was a wonderful experience to combine psychotherapy with bodywork and physical relaxation. My thoughts flowed more freely, my mood changed completely and as a result, my body also longed for a new kind of freedom of being and movement.
Shindo also enabled me to relax when necessary, be more present, and to better connect with my own strength and creativity, whether I was writing my thesis or experiencing one of the biggest changes in my life. It is incredible how easy it is! All that it takes is a little movement, taking a comfortable stretching position and a few long exhalations. And maybe a few gentle presses on a particularly tense spot. Sometimes it is enough to just focus your thoughts on the physiology of your centre line.
The strong impact Shindo had on me made me want to share it and make it available for others as well. After the elementary course, I immediately decided to study further, and in 1997 I became a Shindo practitioner and instructor. After that, I had my own practice in central Helsinki and I worked for Helsinki DaySpa for 10 years, then I moved to Tampere and subsequently further north to Oulu. I have led different kinds of group exercises, all levels of Shindo courses, and I have worked as one of the lead instructors and as a board member of the Shindo ry association for many years. I have also met the founder of Shindo, sensei Kazuko Kuratomi, several times in Finland, and I have participated on five study trips to Japan. My latest trip was in April 2017, when the cherry trees were in full bloom.