THE JOURNEY TO MY DHARMA

We all want to become something but before we can successfully become anything we need to become ourselves.

Nothing has changed my life so profoundly as studying to become a yoga teacher. Back in 2017 I immersed in a deep journey of finding my Dharma. One of the tasks given to us at the Purna Yoga 200-hour teacher training was to read a book called ‘The Fire of Love” by one of the greatest yoga teacher’s of the world, Aadil Palkhivala.

Before I read it, I never expected that I would be so profoundly impacted by it. Writing a report on the whats and the hows of it sounds very appropriate now.

As you might have guessed, the book has affected me deeply, and I think it truly magnificent. You can usually say that when, at times, a book feels like it was written for you personally. I have identified myself in many chapters, and the thing as a whole felt as wearing a broken-in pair of pants. Just right.

“The Fire of Love” gave me the tools to apply small yet significant changes to my life, towards to goal of making it more balanced, joyful, and purposeful.

Thanks to its exposition of the core elements of dharma, wisdom, truth, integrity, feeling, respect, balance, bliss, peace, and love, “Fire and Love” allowed me to cement my desire to find and express my true self, and live my dharma. This is something I had wanted to do for a very long time, but I was lacking the confidence and strenght.

The most impacting feature, for me, has been a simple realisation: being more self-conscious and present will lead to a better quality of life. In the past, I have wasted opportunities by living my life as “I am supposed to”. That was the result of poor self-confidence and a lack of trust in my inner voice. I have been so wrapped up into living my life as it was expected of me, that I did not spend any time focusing on what I really wanted. I was not self-conscious, and not present.

The book “Fire and Love” solidified my wish to embark into the journey of meeting my dharma. I have known what my dharma is for a long time, since the age of sixteen or so, despite my ignorance of the word itself. I have always been interested in sports and welfare, but being too immature and inexperienced, I chose what turned out to be the
wrong path. Luckily, even mistakes are a coin with two sides, and one can turn them to one’s own advantage, to learn from them and make better choices in the future.

I focused on business studies, as I thought that would me give better chances to a successful and rewarding career. I completed the studies, graduated, and worked in business administration and related fields for many years.

Unfortunately, that quickly spiraled down into unhappiness, as I felt out of place, something amiss. Never truly enjoying what I was doing, I often felt exhausted, angry, and frustrated.

I lost respect for myself, and found myself in a maze, unable to get out. Sleep was a commodity that was hard to come by, at night, as I feared that I had let my formative years go by and it was now too late to start over. That made me claustrophobic, it smothered me, and I was in sever distraught.

Deep inside me I knew I needed to act on these feelings, but desperation seldom leads to good decisions. Like in a classic textbook example of the sunk cost fallacy, I went as far as signing up for a bookkeeping course, thinking it would made me more employable after my maternity leave. I thought it was the mature, reasonable, adult thing to do.
That was a very impulsive decision, and I realized quickly I had made a mistake.

Before my second maternity leave, the company I was working for faced bankruptcy. That released a spring that had been too long forced coiled, and with time to reflect I came to the conclusion that it was time to follow my intuition and take a risk for once.

Taking the Yoga Teacher Training course was the first step in new chosen path towards finding my dharma. For many years, as a student of yoga, I thought that this was something I really wanted to pursue, but as I finally did it, reading “The Fire of Love” mashed the seed of doubt in my mind down to fine powder.

Thanks to “The Fire of Love”, I have found the courage to get out of my comfort zone, take risks, and jump into the unknown.

Get yourself the book ‘The Fire of Love” from Amazon.

Want to become a yoga teacher or to just simply deepen your knowledge in yoga and plunge into an exiting journey of becoming YOU? The next 200-hour Purna Yoga teacher training starting in October in Purna Yoga Helsinki

If you would like to bring more yoga into your life then check out my new schedule! Yoga classes starting on the 17th of August.

MAKING YOGA PART OF YOUR DAILY LIFE WITH ARDHA UTTANASANA

The best and most useful asanas for your overall wellbeing are the ones you can easily integrate into your daily life, and into every stage of your life. That’s how you can truly make the physical practice of yoga a part of your day-to-day life and reap the fruits of a daily practice.

Here’s one of those kinds of asanas and my all time favourite:
A R D H A  U T T A N A S A N A

About four years ago I was practicing Ardha Uttanasana / The forward fold at the airport in Münich while waiting our flight to Venice.

One of the greatest benefits of this asana is beautifully explained in my Purna Yoga teacher training manual:”

After doing Ardha Uttanasana you will feel relief from the stresses of day-to-day life that build up in the heart and lungs.” 

I can so feel that every time I practice this in the middle of a busy day. It gives me this AAAAAHHHHHH feeling when after doing the dishes, cooking, lifting and carrying kids or heavy groceries, I place my body in this position and stretch out all the tensions I feel in the body. It’s not only a physical relief but a mental one as well. This is a great position to exhale the business out of your system. Afterwards, you really feel realigned both physically and mentally.


With few small modifications Ardha Uttanasana is accessible to pregnant women and women who have recently given birth as well. This is a pose that every woman should include in her daily self-care repertoire because when done regularly it can prevent menstrual cramps.  And to all the mother’s of small babies out there: this is THE pose to practice between feeding and taking care of your baby because it opens all those parts of the body that easily get tight from all the lifting, carrying, and hustling.

You don’t need any specific props; just a little bit of empty wall space, bench, table, or a big branch at the right hight where to place your hands on.

Going for walks in the nature with my kids is one of my favourite things to do. We often got ho this place in the nearby forest where there are many good places to do stretching and other body workouts. This spot right here is perfect for Ardha Uttanasana.

After doing most of my asana practice either lying down or sitting for three weeks due to my ankle injury, this was the first standing pose that was accessible to me. My ankle doesn’t yet allow putting all my body weight on it or moving it laterally. In ardha Uttanasana the weight of my body is equally supported by both of my legs. In this pose I can ground through the both of my feet, strengthen the quadriceps, and safely stretch the back of my legs.


I still limp when walking which creates a lot of tension in the hips and lower back and negatively affects on my posture. In Ardha Uttanasana I can free the lower back through the traction and stretching of the hamstrings.

Almost not a day go by without me practicing this asana. I do it pretty much every time after spending a lot of time in the kitchen, when traveling, during walks in the nature, at the end of a run or a whenever I feel like my body and mind are in the need of a good stretch & release.

Here are the main actions of the pose:

Ardha Uttanasana is the best thing one can do after spending a lot of time in the kitchen. Cooking and doing the dishes can easily make your upper back, neck, and shoulders achy and create tension in the chest. Ardha Uttanasana brings freedom to all those parts making it an essential part of my daily life.

If your hands are against a wall, then push the hands forward like you would try to make the wall fall down and at the same time move the sitting bones away from the hands.

If you are pregnant, make sure your legs are wide enough so that here is no pressure on the belly. In the postnatal period keep the feet hip width apart.

Ardha uttanasana opens the hamstrings, stretches the sides of your waist and rib cage, opens the armpits, chest, and shoulders, and reduces heart rate. It can prevent stomach pain and cramps during menstruation. I would say that’s a pretty impressive list of benefits for such a simple and accessible yoga asana. Go ahead and try this out. I can guarantee you will love it!

This picture is part of the many beautiful pictures Susanna Iovene
took of me in Sardinia last summer. Exactly seven years ago today she started to take her firsts shots and now she is well known and extremely talented, fully self learned photographer in Italy. I am so proud of my sister-in-law! She is a true living example of what you can accomplish when following your dreams and doing what you love.

MAKE YOUR DREAMS BIGGER THAN YOUR OBSTACLES

Supported backbend with egg yoga props

Every evening I set my alarm at 5:30-6:00 am so that I could enjoy the peace and calm of the early morning and do my yoga practice.

Every evening I prepare my yoga clothes ready on the dresser so that I would find them easily without having to wake up the rest of the family and brake the calmness of the dawn.

Every evening I set my yoga mat and props on the livingroom floor so that I could easily start my practice.

Every evening I go to bed without knowing whether I get to sleep through the whole night or will my sleep be disturbed one or several times during the night by my kids.

Every evening I do all that without really knowing if I will have the energy to get up early in the morning. But I do it anyway. Why?

Because when I put my intention behind something it will sooner or later manifest in my life. If, on the other hand, I don’t take any action nothing will happen, everything will remain exactly the same.

This applies to everything in life. By making your dreams bigger than the obstacles, being persistent, putting on effort, and cultivating trust you can achieve great things!

My dream to practice yoga in the morning might be small but the desire behind the dream and the positive effects it brings, makes it big for me, and therefore, something worth pursuing.

yoga setup
Being a mom means accepting the fact that many things are out of my control, and sleepless nights are one of those things. The course of the night depends on the position of the moon and stars, air pressure, what was for dinner, how much TV they watched, did they get enough fresh air. Sometimes the night can be ruined just because one of the kids is snoring so loud that the other one wakes up in the darkness of the night and thinks there is a monster in the room. Sometimes it is a nightmare that interrups their, and my, sleep. It could be something as small and harmless as a night butterly gently sweeping their cheek that makes them scream from terror waking up half of the building. I mean, you got the point, anything can happen that is out of my power and control.

It has not been easy to arrive to this level of acceptance. I could’ve just give up after the first few nights of total hassle and a lack of sleep, but I didn’t. Giving up wouldn’t have taken me anywhere, but persistently continuing to work towards something that is important to me, will eventually bring fruit. It’s better to go to sleep every single evening with the mindset that at 6am I will wake up and enjoy a peaceful morning yoga practice even tho the chances are that only a fraction of the mornings I will actually get to do that. One morning yoga practice in a week is more than no morning yoga practice at all.

No mountain is grand enough to give up without trying

Pregnancy Yoga with a Beautiful Feeling

 

Sunny Sunday with a feeling of fall in the air. Kids were out with their dad and I got to enjoy few hours of precious yoga time in total peace and silence. It’s a rare luxury these days to have some hours just for me. But you know what, I appreciate these moments a lot more than I used to when I had more time to work and practice just by myself. I’ve noticed that I’m a lot more efficient nowadays. When you have only few hours in a day to do what you have to do, you become more creative and productive. When I have too much time on my hands, I tend to procrastinate a bit too much wasting time on useless things.

Today I used these two hours by combining work and yoga practice. I planned next week’s prenatal yoga class by doing the practice myself as well. For me, it’s important to feel in my own body all the asanas, meditation and breathing practices that I teach. Only in that way, I can truly transmit the effect the yoga practice has on the student’s body, mind and soul. This is one of the reasons I also do a prenatal yoga practice even though I’m not pregnant myself. Another reason is that since I was introduced to the prenatal yoga for the first time, I’ve simply loved the flowing, breath driven, and delicate Prenatal Yoga. Third reason is my favourite one: It’s the possibility to go back in time and reconnect with my pregnancies and with those little unborn souls. Going thru all the spectrums of feelings I experienced during those times is extremely healing and empowering. It’s like reading and rewriting the story about my journey into motherhood. A story that has changed me more than anything else, and the one that will continue changing and enriching me for the rest of my life.

vrksana with Elisabetta
Practicing Yoga together with my two year old daughter one month before her little brother was born ❤

Even though I don’t have a little baby growing inside me, I just need to use my imagination, and in a fraction of a second, I can recall those beautiful months when I was pregnant myself. It’s like reliving those times all over again. The meditation at the beginning of the practice and the relaxation and breathing exercise done at the end of the practice are emotionally the most powerful ones. During those moments, while sitting or lying with my eyes closed, I can connect with the memories of both my pregnancies and the miracles of birth.

pregnant 2012 ballerina
Me in 2012 at my friend’s bachelorette party. Pregnant with my daughter ❤

During a prenatal class, I ask my students to connect with the baby growing inside them, but in my personal practice, I ask myself to go back in time and really connect with the moments when:

  • The baby was kicking and punching so hard that it felt like he/she was going to break his/hers way out through the belly.
  • The baby was having so strong hiccups that my whole belly was dancing.
  • It felt like the baby was practicing somersaults in my womb.
  • I was sleeping together with a little soul resting together with me.
  • I was caressing my belly just to get a little signal from inside to know that my baby was ok.

gravidanza copy
Me in December 2014 pregnant with my son ❤ Modelling for Susanna Iovene Fotografia.

Often, whether I’m teaching prenatal, postnatal, or “normal” yoga class, I ask my students to connect with a beautiful feeling. That gives them a positive mindset for the practice. We all have different methods, memories, and preferences about what it is that gives us beautiful feelings. For me, the most beautiful feeling is the moment right after my babies have been born, and being able to hold them, skin on skin. Holding, hugging, smelling, caressing, and feeding that little and delicate beautiful soul that I have been given the privilege to take care of. It always brings tears to my eyes, tears of true happiness, joy, gratitude, and unconditional love. It opens my heart and flushes away any negative feeling or stress I might have had before that. Simple and small, but yet very affective way of shifting your mood. Focusing on the beautiful feeling is a powerful way of reminding yourself that no matter what the outer circumstances are, you can always find beauty from the inside. So, the next time you feel dark clouds swarming over you, close your eyes and dive deep into the archives of your memory, or use the power of your imagination, and allow beautiful feelings to blow the dark clouds away and give room to the inner beauty we all carry in our hearts.

“Our feelings are our most genuine paths to knowledge.” – Audre Lord

Morning Yoga Bliss

IMG_3293Sometimes a great opportunity represents itself in the form of a fly at 05:00 am. This morning I was woken up by one and couldn’t sleep anymore. Sun started to rise, birds were having a beautiful concert and then this little, loud, and very persistent fly was buzzing around my ears and tickling the tip of my nose. Just like he would have come into my bedroom with a mission: to kick me out of the bed and out into the beautiful spring morning.

The image of waking up into the song of a bird would have been a little more peaceful and harmonious way of waking up but probably not so efficient. You might even imagine yourself falling back into the sweet sleep while birds are singing. Their wake up song just might turn into your lullaby. But the buzzing of a fly tends to be such an annoying distraction that you just give up and jump out of the bed. And this morning Indis exactly that and let me tell you, it was worth it!

I drank my morning lemon water drink, took my daily probiotics, rinsed my face with a cold water, got dressed up, packed my toga mat and props and went out into the crispy morning while the rest of my family was still in sweet sleep (I hope the fly left the room after it managed to get me out of the bed and left my husband continue his sleep).

There is a big sports area at the school very near my home where I’ve been planning to organize yoga lessons during this summer. So, since I was already up, I decided to go and do my morning practice there, under the rising sun that painted everything in gold. I enjoyed my practice there more than I’ve ever enjoyed inside my home. It was just so beautiful and peaceful there. The magic of early morning was more tangible outside than inside. I could still see the morning mist in the grass field, listen to the birds singing, hearing the cow bells and their moos somewhere further away and smell the freshness of the air (luckily no disturbing flys or mosquitos where even near me).

And the first thought that came into my mind after I had laid down my yoga was; WHY have I not thought about this before?! I mean could there be a better place to do my yoga practice! So, sometimes even that annoying little fly can have something very important to tell you if you just listen to it instead of let yourself get annoyed by it. Everything has a meaning and purpose in life, and to me, that fly’s purpose was to make me discover this amazing place so that I could experience the harmony and peace of practicing outside in the nature and to take a step closer to one of my dreams: teaching yoga! Thank you for your persistence mr. or ms. Fly!

It was a perfect practice, a perfect moment. After I had finished my practice I found a comfortable spot where to sit, leaning against a wall with the morning sun shining against me and sipping my herbal tea. The only thing that was missing was a proper breakfast. I could’ve sat there for hours enjoying the sun and silence, so next time I will take breakfast with me and have a little morning picnic. After working the body and feeding the soul & mind the body graves some healthy nutrition as well.