Jennie Liljefors on the healing powers of yoga
Jennie Liljefors is one of Sweden’s most renowned yoga teachers, she’s owner of Altromondo Yoga, located in the heart of Stockholm. The studio - with heated parquet floors and decorated in light pink – is a space for both beginners and experienced practicers.You can explore all forms of yoga, from the slowest, like Yin, where breathing and calmness is practiced, to more physical challenging forms, like Ashtanga.One of Jennie’s areas of expertise is her classes about trauma and healing. She practices how one can - with help of the power of yoga - get through unwanted negativity in ones' life. With a background in both screenwriting in New York, and running a yoga studio in Italy - we are curious to get to know her. Where did it start for this multitasking power woman?
Where did you grow up?
"I was born in New York. After three years we moved to London, and lived there until I was six. Then, from London to Stockholm, Sweden. After some years in Sweden, the longing to live abroad again made me move to Italy with my family. For seven beautiful years we stayed in Alassio, and I can genuinely say that it was a dream come true. It was in Italy I first opened Altromondo. The name is Italian and means ”Another world”, and I think it describes the atmosphere of the world of yoga as I experience it. I feel like the years and experiences I gained abroad opened both my vision and my heart from a very young age, something I’ve been careful to take with me through time.”
What drives you?
"My parents have been great role models for me. Both my father and my mother have been working as entrepreneurs and I believe their drive has served as great inspiration for me. I have always loved manifesting ideas and explore what really engage me. I work with my greatest passion in life – health, care, energy and power. For both myself and for others. It’s truly amazing, what we can achieve through belief and dedication. We can decide to step out of our own way, we can decide not to be slaves under our own patterns. We can walk the path we want, and create the life we wish for ourself - it’s hard work, but it’s worth it."
What is your view on the connection between yoga and health? Can we really self-heal through yoga and find our inner Happy Place where daily life stress can't reach you?
"For me yoga and health go hand in hand. I believe we can use the power and tools of yoga to clear and clean ourselves every day. The same way weclean our home, our bodies, and brush our teeth, yoga helps us clean our souls. It help our bodies to prevent and release any type of stress, trauma, PTSD or overall negativity. Yoga keeps our bodies strong, both psychically and mentally."
Please tell us tell us about your latest project?
"My latest project has been to write a book. It has been at the top of my wish-to-manifest-list for many years and I’m so proud and grateful that it’s finally published. I wanted to write about prenatal and postnatal yoga, with focus on how to prepare to give birth. To be pregnant, give birth and heal after labor is something that will always be important. I wanted to help people to broaden their knowledge on the subject."
What do you think about Climate Change?
“I think that we all have to take care of mother earth and embalm the damages best we can. We can start with ourselves, to take responsibilityfor how we decide to live our lives, and how the choices we make effect the planet we care for”.
What makes you happy?
"Happiness for me is to be surrounded by my family. My husband, our three daughters, my mother and her boyfriend. I do miss my father, he was a very important part of my life. Sadly, he passed away four years ago. Other than that, I love to spend time in the nature; hiking, skiing, and climbing mountains. To be by the sea; swim, watch the horizon, the stars, and the moon. I also share the love for animals with my family. In our home we have two cats and a dog. When my daughters go to the stables to ride horses, I like to join them. I feel a great gratitude because of what I do. To be in the studio and practice what I love is a great joy for me, every day."
Any morning sequence that would help us stepping into the daily routines feeling joyful and eager to meet the new day?
"I like to save some time in the morning to do a little deep stretching and breathing. Find yourself a nice, cozy spot and try to create an intention for your day. Ask yourself how you want to feel when you go to bed in the evening and how you can serve that wish. Sometimes, canceling something on your schedule can help. Another great tip is a practice I call ”Drops of stillness”. The purpose with this exercise is to connect with your breath at least one minute, every hour throughout the day. At the end of the day you might have collected fifteen minutes of breathwork. Count and see what it adds up to on a week, a month or even a year! Every breath is a gift and when we prolong the breath we prolong our life”.
The Healing Power
We encourage everyone to read Jennie’s beautiful book - The Art Healing Power. The book is for everyone who’s looking to heal all the different layers of the body. It walks you through how to ged rid of: tense muscles, shoulders, necks, backs, tight hips, tired legs and sore feet. The portraited yoga movements also help you to care for the internal organism. It increases the circulation and flow of our organs, which helps grow vitality. It helps both body and soul to heal inside out.
One of our favorite chapters was the one about improving you sleep, where the main takeaway is to focus on your breathing. It’s so easy to forget. We all have those nights, where you can’t stop tossing and turning, and your thoughts can’t stop spinning. It’s not unusual. Consider the high tempo many people try to keep up with in life and in work. Don’t forget to breathe in deep, hold it for a few seconds, and then breathe out through your nose. Jennie is stating how important it is to exhale properly. When you do, you’re leaving space for new energy and you’re pushing away unwanted impurity.
Jennie is, in her book, explaining how much your breathing can say about your well-being. In the philosophy of Yoga, it’s said that everything in life is being maintained by the same energy, in yogi-language called Prana. Prana is being transported along with our breathing and is – just like our spirits – formable. When our mood and stress levels rise, our life energy automatically goes down. By being observant with your breathing, you can much more easily create and maintain mental health and balance.
When Jennie first started practicing yoga and learning the proper breathing method, she got surprised by how light and depthless her usual breathing was. When she started changing her patterns, she noticed how her muscles got sore, especially between her ribs. The usual light breathing her body was used to, didn’t reach that depth. Along with bodily realisations, Jennie noticed an emotional gate open up. Buried feeling suddenly got released. ”It was both painful and liberating, she explains. Deep breathing reduces our cortisol content and has that way, a calming and stress-reducing effect on our bodies. It sets our parasympathetic system in spin, also known as a our calming system. Our brain and muscles get fueled with new blood, rich with oxygen, which helps unknot blockings. A saying in the yoga community is that our life is counted in a certain amounts of breaths. Having that in mind, you can, through deep breathing, extend the length of your life. Jennie is writing beautifully about how you can control your health – both mentally and physically – and transform bad energy back to good.
Thank you Jennie for sharing your experiences and advices for a harmonic, healthy and happy life.
Written by Noomi Malmeström
All images copyright Altromondo Yoga
Find Jennies book here and follow her on Instagram.