Meet the gorgeous model of Heart of Joy’s japa mala Lookbook 2013 Wambui Njuguna!
As you probably noticed from the pictures on the lookbook, Wambui masters the art of channelling her inner and outer beauty in front of the camera. Not only does she have a talent for modeling, but also an innate ability to connect with people in a heartfelt and genuine way that crosses cultural, and all the other delusional barriers too!
Dive into the the world of yoga, teaching, and mala beads with Wambui and find out about Chavutti Thirumal and how you can benefit from it!
How did you find yoga?
I first came across yoga when I was studying modern dance at a performing arts high school in North Carolina. I was injured at the time and was immediately drawn to a different way of moving and connecting with myself through the breath and moment-to-moment awareness; observing how emotions express themselves in the physical body and learning how to release and transform them. I found yoga to be a great solace from the beginning. The yoga class wasn’t offered on a continual basis so I remember doing Ali McGraw’s hatha yoga video tape in my dorm room, waking up early on Saturday mornings, doing the sequences and feeling a deeply quiet and joyful peace rise up from within. It felt like a secret treasure I had stumbled upon.
How about Ashtanga yoga in particular?
Ashtanga yoga came later on, when I was working as an English language instructor in the Middle East. In 2008, I took a workshop with Jeff and Harmony Lichty in Dubai and started practicing on my own in my living room. Shortly after, in early 2009, I attended both Nancy Gilgoff and Petri Räisänen’s workshops at Purple Valley Yoga Center in Goa, India. Later on that summer, I studied with Saraswathi for a month in Mysore and then came to Helsinki for Sharath’s 2009 workshop. It seems as though destiny had it that I would meet Petri again and, well, here I am still in Helsinki!
What inspires you both on and off the mat?
On and off the mat? It’s pretty much one and the same, but I get on my mat so I can live my life off the mat in a clear and peaceful way. Getting on the mat helps me navigate what I encounter off the mat. It gives me the chance to continually reach within myself and reclaim that spacious feeling of peace and wellbeing. We can often get thrown off center with the challenges and responsibilities of daily life, but that benevolent space within is our birthright. It is always there, ready to present itself when we still ourselves enough to listen.
You travel a lot around the world teaching Ashtanga yoga with Petri. How do you connect with students coming from so many cultural backgrounds?
I observe, ask questions, listen. It’s helpful to have a sense of humor and also to have fun learning basic phrases in different languages. I was brought up in various cultural backgrounds from the beginning. My mum is English-Danish and my dad is Kenyan. I was born in Kenya and moved to America when I was ten. I lived and worked in South America and the United Arab Emirates before moving to Finland, so it seems like my background has been good training for living in this globalized world.
You are the first one to bring Chavutti Thirumal, the ancient art of Indian massage by foot press to Finland. Can you say a little bit more about that?
Actually I think there is one other woman who brought Chavutti Thirumal to Finland right around the same time I did. Funny coincidence! It all started when I read about an English woman named Helen Noakes in an issue of Ananda magazine. She has visited Finland a few times teaching Scaravelli yoga workshops. I researched her a bit more and decided to take her course in Goa this past February. It was intense! We met at her house by Mandrem Beach every morning, studied anatomy, did some movement and foot opening exercises and then we hit the ropes. It was practical from day one! Chavutti Thirumal is a traditional massage from Kerala, South India and is part of the Indian martial art system known as Kalari. It was done to keep the martial artists in good physical condition. When I first got a CT treatment, I was blown away by how effective massage by foot press can be. How it works is the person giving the massage balances on a rope and uses her body weight to maneuver her feet along the recipient’s body, using long continuous strokes. The overall effect is one of deep relaxation, and it does wonders for blood circulation. I started giving treatments this past summer at the Astanga Jooga Helsinki retreat in Houstkar and my plan is to continue giving treatments at the retreats and workshops that Petri and I do together. I also gave treatments at Frantsila Herb and Wellbeing Center and at our Midsummer retreat in Swedish Lapland. It works well with yoga. There are lots of happy yogis and yoginis around willing to give something new a try!
What is your relationship with malas?
I went to Catholic school in Nairobi when I was a school girl, so I would say my first relationship with malas was praying with my rosary, going around and around until I had reached a certain number. Lately, I have been collecting malas from different parts of India, such as redwood malas from Mysore, lotus seed and tulsi malas from Puri, Orissa and rudrakshas from Varanasi. These days I feel malas represent for me the intention associated with the materials from which they are made, and chanting with them or wearing them can help one remember these intentions. I am excited to receive my moonstone and rose quartz mala from Eeva. Before moving to Finland, I bought a small black moonstone gem in Goa to represent my intention to keep trusting my intuition, which led me to create a new life here in Finland. So the moonstone-rose quartz mala feels as though I am coming full circle. It’s a small symbolic way to renew my intention and to celebrate being in Finland!
Find more info about Petri and Wambui’s ashtanga yoga teaching schedule here!