Seek With Your Heart – An Interview w/ Certified Ashtanga Yoga Teacher Pia Lehtinen

If you have ever stepped on a yoga mat, may it be just recently or years ago, you have probably experienced that sweet flow of energy and happiness after a sweaty struggle with asanas.

There are days when you feel you are tapping into something bigger and greater than even life itself during the practice and then comes those ugly, sticky mornings when the whole body feels stiff and sore and you have an urgent desire to quit and stop the whole madness altogether!

Self- and life-transforming yoga practice seems to ask a lot of dedication and courage from its student, but everyone who has ever tasted the sweetness of yoga knows it is definitely worth it.

I got a wonderful opportunity to ask few questions about a balanced yoga practice from the certified ashtanga yoga teacher Pia Lehtinen. The first certified lady – and person – among the ashtanga yoga teachers in Finland!

Pia Lehtinen

You have been practicing ashtanga yoga for over a decade now. What gets you wake up 5 o’clock in the morning and roll out your mat every day?

Almost a decade, not over yet. It’s not so easy to explain, I just have to do it. Just like I have to wake up, brush my teeth, have a breakfast and so on. It’s not super fun all the time. It’s not like a good friend with whom you go to the party, it is more like a relative who is a bit annoying some times, but you still love him or her very very much.

What do you think are the most important key factors in building a consistent and safe yoga practice?

Time. Give yourself time. Don’t hurry with asanas or series. Your body and mind need time. Time to strength up. Balance is everything.

Many ashtanga yoga students are traveling to Mysore to experience the authentic Indian way of teaching yoga and passing on the tradition from teacher to student. How important role does traveling to Mysore regulary play in your yoga practice?

I just love Mysore. My teacher Sharath Jois is there and India itself is one hell of a teacher also. In my opinion everyone should travel to India. It changes you and your yoga practice forever.

Nowadays so many different types of yoga being out there, what would be your advice to someone who desires to begin practicing yoga but is confused by the variety of choices. How do you recognize a good yoga teacher?

Listen to your heart and if it doesn’t tell you whether your teacher is good or bad, then ask your friends or fellow yoga practitioners. If you seek, you will find just the right style and teacher for you. And if you want to skip that seeking part, just book your trip to Mysore!

Amethyst for Focus and Success

amethyst japa mala with moonstone markers and howlite guru bead
amethyst japa mala with moonstone markers and howlite guru bead

amethyst japa mala with moonstone markers

Amethyst is a stone of spirituality and contentment, known for its metaphysical abilities to still the mind and inspire an enhanced meditative state. Its high frequency purifies the aura of negative energy or attachments.

Amethyst is also said to initiate wisdom, greater understanding and psychic ability. It helps in the assimilation and digestion of new ideas, in a way that one can put thought into action.

Surely, when the mind is clear about which direction and path to take and the heart joins the decision, inspired action follows easily!

Amethyst is a talisman of focus and success! And without continual focus, how can we get any success with our actions?

How to Pick Colors Matching with Your Dosha?

As soon as the summer turns into fall, all my clothes changes their color into black. It is so easy to pick the matching pieces when they are all the same color, haha! Hands up, if you have come to the same conclusion! But the flip-side of my camouflage-friendly wardrobe is that black is NOT a good choice for my ayurvedic dosha type.

In fact is the opposite what is recommend for a vata person. So if you happen to be a serious black-lover, this video has something for you to reconsider when you’re next time shopping around!

 To summarize the content:

Vata person’s best choices are soft pastels, sunny yellow and warm red and orange.

Pitta should wear cooling colors like, blues, purple and green along with silver.

Kapha can use bright and stimulating colors, such as red, yellow, orange and gold.

Have a colofur day and leave a comment below if you have made the right – or not so wise – choices with colors!

xox Eeva

Blessed by Puja in NYC

I’m so thrilled and happy to announce that all Heart of Joy‘s japa malas are being blessed by a puja which was done at Broome Street Ganesha Temple in NYC! Puja has an idea of making an offering or gift to a deity, or important person, and receiving their blessing in return.

My sincerest intention for making japa malas is that they will inspire and bless the wearer on her spiritual path and remind of the connection with the inner self. Of course you will set your own intentions, sacred or mundane, for the mala and that is what matters most!

An ancient Arabic saying goes:

“The purpose of life is to clean the mirror of the soul.”

I see malas as tiny helpers assisting with the dusting process. They are always eager to help you along the way. To get your own blessed and sacred beauty, go to Japa mala Shop and email your order to shantimalas@gmail.com!

Interview with Wambui Njuguna

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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!

Japa Mala Look Book 2013

And here is THE THING which I promised you on the previous post!

 Japa Mala Lookbook 2013!

We had great fun with photo shooting the lookbook and I’m so thankful for ma girls Wambui and Sari for making it all happen!

Thank you Pasi Kokko and the staff at Johan & Nyström for your patience and help! Gracias awesome ladies Laura and Karita at Laboni for the co-operation.

Leave a comment and let me know what you think of the new lookbook and be sure to subscribe to the VIP-list if you aren’t already there!

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Wambui Njuguna

Talented girl behind the camera: Sari Hanski

Gorgeous model: Wambui Njuguna

Setting: Johan & Nyström, Helsinki

Peek Behind the Scenes

Alrighty folks! This is what I have been up to lately! Two lovely yogi friends of mine agreed to make the photo shooting and modeling for my japa mala look book.

We got up early on Saturday morning to make it all happen at Johan & Nyström café before the place was opened for the customers. The sky was gray and it was a bit uncertain if the there would be enough natural light to pull the whole project off. But guess what…it turned out to be p e r f e c t!

I’m so thrilled to intorduce you the brand new look book on the next post! Meanwhile, enjoy the pics below!

Wambui Njuguna modeling for the malas and Sari Hanski catching the moment.
“Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” I must say that these two girls’ talent works really hard!!

Khadi‘s relaxing herbal lavender & ylang ylang massage oil, Kashmiri Kahwa tea and Natural Rose tea. Every India lover’s must haves! All available at Laboni shop.

Johan & Nyström café has a nice variety of organic and raw goodies! Makes me happy!

Agate Mala with FREE Gift

Check out Heart of Joy‘s Facebook site to purchase your unique agate mala with onyx markers and receive an owl pedant as a FREE gift for wee people – or for yourself!

One unique piece only, so First come, First served!

Agate is said to enhance mental function, improve concentration, perception and analytical abilities.  Deepen the concentration during your meditation practice or use the mala as a necklace and let it keep your attention to be focused on the important matters during the day!

Mala: length 79 cm + pedant 4 cm

 

Agate mala with onyx markers
Agate mala with onyx markers
Agate mala with onyx markers
Agate mala with onyx markers

 

Owl pedant
Owl pedant

 

 

Raw Carrot Cake with Cashew Cream

I possibly couldn’t resist posting about the Raw Carrot Cake I tried for the very first time. Absolutely delicious! Actually this was an outcome of my forgetfulness since I had forgotten to buy a present for A Very Important Person and had to compensate the mistake – quickly!

The cake is nicely balanced, dense but not too heavy, sweet but not overly sugary. In fact the recipe suggest to use only maple syrup as a sweetener!

Next time you need to surprise a healthy-vegan-raw-organic-person try this one and your success is guaranteed! And let me know how it went!

Raw Carrot Cake
Raw Carrot Cake

And the recipe:

Cashew frosting:
2 cups cashews, preferably soaked for a couple hours
1-2 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons liquid coconut oil
1/3 cup maple syrup
Water, as needed

Cake:
2 large carrots, peeled
1 1/2 cups oat flour 
1 cup dates
1 cup dried pineapple (or more dates)
1/2 cup dried coconut 
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

note: 1 cup = 128 g

To make the frosting:

Blend all ingredients in your high speed blender until smooth, adding as little water as possible. Put in a bowl and set aside.

To make the cake:

Cut the carrots into small chunks. Then throw all the ingredients (including the carrots) in your food processor and pulse until it’s all in really small pieces and sticks together.

Assembly: Press half the cake mix into the bottom of an adjustable spring-form pan and then spread on about 1/3 of the frosting. Put it in the freezer until the layer of frosting is hard. Then press on the rest of the cake mix. Better to let it set in the fridge overnight, but you can do it right away if you want.

Cover with whatever garnishes you like. Enjoy!

Pearls for the summer

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Pearl – agate mala

During the summer time the pitta element is predominant and can create too much internal heat. The outcome on the emotional level can be anger, aggression, perfectionism, criticism or even obsession. Pearls help to pacify pitta, so I decided to experiment the calming effect of pearls in the mala above. Agate provides also a calming influence and improves perception as well as concentration.