Model, adventurer and KT ambassador Maiken Wahlstrøm Nilssen has been completely burned-out several times in her 28-year life. Escape from the anxiety and sleepless nights is thanks to yoga, which has given her an entirely new sense of confidence. Now, she wants to inspire others who may still be skeptical to learn the art of finding inner peace and security in their hectic everyday lives.
- I’ve always been fascinated by the free, hippy-mentality. How they strive to live in contact with nature, their body and with a present state of mind. It seems so liberating. The life most of us live today – with its fast pace, overload of technology and the alienating architecture around us – is so far away from nature and we have forgotten that we are only a small part of it.
After the top model's participation in the Norwegian reality program «Farmen», where participants go 100 years back in time and must survive on a farm, Maiken got a big shock when she returned to 2018.
- I got off the bus, just stood there and stared at everything around me. It all went so fast; the people scurrying around me and the cars and trams rushing past. I put my hands to my head in shock. The thousands of impressions were too much for me. I don't think this pace is natural for us humans. That's why it feels so good to do yoga: It gives us pause from all of the impressions and lowers the heart rate back to a level that is healthy for the body.
During her adult life, Maiken has been completely burned-out three times.
- At my worst I was lying in a fetal position with my heart pounding, and I couldn’t calm down. I took an EKG at the doctor in case it was a heart attack, but they didn’t find anything.
Maiken went in search of help online, and ended up finding a yoga voice on YouTube that would become the start of her rescue.
- I’ve always had a high activity level and never thought yoga would be something I could find peace of mind with, but in the YouTube channel yogatx, I found something that appealed to me. There was something about the voice of the instructor, which gave me good vibes and that actually made me listen.
"What suits us is so personal, but certainly, everyone can benefit from yoga in one form or another."
In order for it not to be too overwhelming, in the state that Maiken was in, she started with a 15-second program.
- After one video I was saved. Finally, something happened to my body. By focusing on the breath, I got my heart rate down to a normal level and everything eased up a little mentally as well.
Maiken recommends anyone who wants to start with yoga to begin small by finding an instructor or a video on YouTube that appeals to them.
- What suits us is so personal, but certainly, everyone can benefit from yoga in one form or another.
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According to Maiken yoga is a lot about finding confidence in yourself. No matter what storms wreak havoc on the world or what's happening around you, nothing can get to you if you feel secure on the inside, she explains.
- When you focus only on yourself and your breath, and you can calm yourself down in the chaos, then you can cope with anything. The breathing exercises that yoga has taught me make it easier to take control of situations, and regain a sense of security.
"You can’t get full from just one bite"
With the psyche, just like everything else, you have to work at it and keep it alive, explains Maiken, when we ask how often she does yoga.
- You can’t get full from just one bite. Therefore, I try to do yoga regularly, and not just when the situation is acute.
When she's doing well, Maiken does less yoga.
- But I always carry it with me mentally, and am more confident in times of crisis now because I know how to deal with them. I always try to do some yoga in the morning to "ground" me and help me better cope with new impulses.
At times she’s felt that yoga can be an extra pressure.
- And I think "aahh now I have to do yoga again". Then it is important to remember that just 10 minutes is enough. Yoga shouldn’t be one more thing you have to force yourself to do, as with other activities and obligations in life, but rather be a wonderful break from everything.
Maiken often does yoga when she needs a break from difficult choices or in difficult life situations in general. When life feels hopeless, and you can't see the right path to take, the model recommends taking a step out of the situation.
- Meditate or do yoga. Try to focus only on your breath and not on all that is difficult. Know that you are present in yourself and that you are safe from outside dangers. Afterwards, check and see how you feel in relation to the choice you are going to make.
Last summer, Maiken chose to travel to Costa Rica to become a yoga instructor, but mostly to do something good for herself.
- I was single and had long been struggling with heartbreak. Many people would have taken an expensive vacation to Ibiza and "gone wild". But I wanted to do something that was good for me in the long run and invest in my health.
For a month, the otherwise SoMe-active model lived almost entirely without access to the internet.
“I deleted my SoMe apps on the phone at the airport. It was incredibly liberating, and surprisingly easy!”
According to Maiken, not being disturbed by external influences was essential to taking full advantage of the stay.
- All of the noise from the Internet did not belong there. It allowed me to be one hundred percent present in the jungle, with only the people around me. This way, I also got rid of the fear of missing out on things. It is quite ridiculous to see what everyone else is doing at all times, and to stress about the fact that you are not there. You are not there anyways, so focus on the here and now. We can never be happy in the now when there are thousands of other places that we think we should be.