A year ago today it was Friday and I was getting nervous about opening my first yoga studio in Helsinki. How could I make it happen, I had no previous experience of running a business. I'm an artist, I do creative work so how could I ever manage to run a business? Nevertheless I knew it was something I had to do. One year ago today I thought that within a year I would know if my decision was right!
I have been teaching Kundalini Yoga for over 15 years. One month after beginning to do Kundalini Yoga in San Francisco I was already sending personalised yoga programs to my friends in Finland. They had never heard of Kundalini Yoga. In 2001 yoga wasn't such an important part of many lives in Finland as it is now. There were only 1-2 Kundalini Yoga teachers in this country. My training to become a yoga teacher was nothing but conventional. Me and my partner in those days, Kuldip Singh, were pretty much hippies. Going with the flow was the only way to live. And thank God for that!
After two years practising Kundalini Yoga by ourselves in 2003 we had an opportunity to open our first Yoga Studio in Glen Cove, Long Island. By then we spent all the spare time in Sikh Gurdwara, we had been baptised in Sikhism, and given our new names from Siri Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of Sikhs. Although we were wearing white turbans, Indian clothing and teaching Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan we had never been in any real connection to the community we so much wanted to belong. We just couldn't figure out how!
The risk to open the yoga studio was not high. The space was given to our use by an Indian Sikh family who we had met in the temple. We just brought in our lamb skins and decorations and began teaching. This all happened before we had met our teacher, Dyal Singh Khalsa. He also lived in Long Island, and he had heard about us running a Kundalini Yoga studio in the area. At that time it happened to be the only Kundalini Yoga school in Long Island! We were teaching without any education or certification to be teachers. We just knew that this was all we wanted to do!
The day when we were invited to meet Dyal Singh Khalsa, a student and personal healer of Yogi Bhajan, was the day we had longed for. We wanted him to be our teacher. But that was easier said than done. First we sat down with him and he made us Yogi Tea. He was curious to know how we became sikhs without having any connection to 3HO, the Kundalini Yoga community. We told him about our eagerness to teach, and we'd like to have him as our teacher. There were no teacher trainings the same way there now is. It wasn't a business. If you wanted to know teachings of Yogi Bhajan you went to learn from him in New Mexico. We were in New York and eager to learn from Dyal Singh. He didn't say yes or no. We had to show him that we were worth of his time, and he had to ask permission from his master.
In our second visit at his house I found myself with a rag and a bottle of Windex as we cleaned his mediation room from the ceiling down to the smallest statues and souvenirs on his altar from holy places (and there were tons of those!). In the second visit we found a mountain of clothes and sheets waiting to be ironed on the top of his bed. Without a word of questioning we began to work. And this dedication payed us an honour of being his students. Third time meeting with him we were invited to take his yoga class three hours drive out in Sagaponack, Long Island. It all started from that one hour class and took us on a journey that lasted for five years. Dyal Singh was our personal teacher for those years. Eventually Yogi Bhajan gave us a written permission to run our little yoga school without certification but only as long as we were under guidance of Dyal Singh. I still have that email from Yogi Bhajan as a personal treasure. Yogiji passed away within a year after we received his email.
In the Spring of 2004 Dyal Singh said that if we ever wanted to learn from Yogi Bhajan it was now or never. He was very sick and getting worse. So we maxed out our credit cards and signed in to the Master's Touch course up in the mountains in Espanola, New Mexico. It was three weeks intense training waking up every morning 3:30AM and studying and practicing until 10PM. And we made it through. We already had the knowledge from all possible Kundalini Yoga books we had read, but to be there at the feet of these great teachers such as Yogi Bhajan's first student and a beautiful lady Shakti Parwha Kaur Khalsa, and doing a meditation under Yogi Bhajan's window while he held the space for us from his sickbed was something that I can't put in words. Very powerful and worth the wait!
I received my Master's Touch certification 12 years ago. It took at least nine years as a practicing teacher before I felt I was finally ready to teach. Now I know what I'm teaching. Each and every student teaches me more how to be a better teacher, how to serve all as my teachers were serving me. Tomorrow our yoga studio in Helsinki is turning one year old. Our studio in Long Island lasted only for one year. This is the reason why one year ago I was so nervous. Could I make this studio last for more than a year?
And I did with help of all the students! Tomorrow we can happily begin our second year. I'm ever grateful to all my teachers, and to the students, and also to this very sacred space in a basement of Laivurinkatu 33, Helsinki. This yoga studio was there waiting for us and preparing itself to be ready when we arrived. In love and light we'll move onward!
Here is our new teaser trailer for my upcoming documentary film! We'll continue filming in March 2016.
Picture: Tim Page
Few months ago I opened up a new Kundalini Yoga school in Helsinki, Eira. Since opening I've heard beautiful stories how people have found us although I haven't really have time for advertising the school. Once a gentleman from Ohio passed by the window, got a sense of incense burning and came in just to feel some peace and harmony in the lobby. If you come to Helsinki and need a space to relax and recharge, welcome to step in! We have classes in English every Tuesday at 17:15 and every Friday at 10:00AM. Our address is Laivurinkatu 33, Helsinki. Here is the site for Chakra Pathworking I created: http://www.chakrapathworking.com
Two years ago I came up with the idea of Chakra Pathworking. I had no idea would it really work or no. So, I had to try. I invited 10 yoga students to take the course for eight weeks to see what can happen, and I have to say I was most surprised myself to see the quick changes that occurred. Since the first course I have been studying this method with three other groups. This week I'll start the fifth group in Helsinki.
The most incredible change, that I have seen happening within students is the way they learn to guide their lives. It is a very simple thing to learn, but if you don't know where to look you might live your life thinking that you have no say what course your life will take. But you do. When you learn to stop your thoughts in a right moment just before they're turning to negativity, by thinking of something that makes you joyful, then it happens. Then you start guiding your life toward the direction you wanna take, not where you think your life is taking you. You live your life. Be aware that your life is not living you.
FEEL GOOD! That's the method I'm teaching now. And the side effects are: improved health, happiness, reaching your goals, living joyfully, and enjoying your life while you're moving toward your goals. And what is enlightenment? It's the knowledge that you are worthy, your heart is open for new experiences, you shine love and light, and you're very much alive on this earth plane.
I'm so happy I have created something that can help people to heal themselves, and to truly enjoy every moment of their lives. HAPPY NEW YEAR 2015!
'The more you look for positive aspects of your current life, the more positive aspects will step forward to reveal themselves to you.' - Abraham-Hicks -
Picture by Pauliina Salonen from a book Chakrapolku (Chakra Pathworking), Tammi Publishing 2014.
I'm overwhelmed by kindness of this city! And I was warned before my travels that this is a poor and rough town, that I should look out, not carry my purse certain way, not go anywhere alone, and just mind my business. But here I am experiencing all the goods that life can bring to me right now.
On the airport shuttle this morning I met a beautiful black lady from Maryland. She was on her way to a National Church Convention to figure out how they could get the insurance and health care for those who don't have it yet. We talked the whole trip to the downtown Detroit. She hugged me so motherly as we departed. And I knew her only for 20 minutes.
After shuttle driver dropped everybody else off (about 8 passengers), he said he overheard my conversation with the lady and wanted to save me last, he said it's important for me to see the city. So he gave me a tour in downtown, and also through not so good neighbourhood. I saw worn down, broken buildings, and damaged roads. From the driver I learned that in Detroit they have the best fine art collection in the USA, one of the bests in the world. Detroit used to be a rich city when the motor industry were blooming. Ever since the riot 1967 it has been downhill.
I picked my little hotel from internet trusting the reviews, and they were right on. My room wasn't ready when I showed up before lunch. So I had to wait and I was hungry. Receptionist kindly asked me what kind of food I eat. I said 'Vegetarian, vegan'. She ordered me a driver who took me to this vegan restaurant called 'Seva', and driver also picked me up after I had done eating. The food, I must say, was the best vegan food I ever had. Transfer cost me only a tip. It was on house.
After lunch I was ready to work, and I had a prescheduled meeting with an author who actually was the reason for my trip to Detroit. James A. Mitchell is a journalist and an author of a wonderful book 'The Walrus and the Elephants - John Lennon's Years of Revolution'. I saw the book last December in Barnes & Noble in Manhattan, and I intuitively knew that I had to read that book. Immediately after reading the book I contacted James saying that I'd like to have him in my next documentary film. In the book he was talking about the subject that I was working on. We started an email conversation last winter, and today we continued our talk one on one for three hours. What an incredible afternoon! I'm so grateful for trusting my intuition when it comes to my work.
I took a little walk after our conversation and ended up in a small shopping center. I was happily welcomed to a store called the Peacock Room - Apparel and Accessories. These two girls working in the store were so nice. For half an hour they were hosting me in their store. I bought a necklace and earrings, mostly because I really wanted to support them and because they were nice!
After dinner I got back to my hotel. I stopped to admire the history of the buildings, when this young man in his twenties, who works here, approached me and asked if I wanted to see all the other buildings. So, he gave me a tour around the estate and again, we ended up talking about my film. He asked if I knew Grace Lee Boggs, no I didn't, and he said to wait a minute. Soon he came back with a book called The Next American Revolution - Sustainable activism for the twentieth-century written by Grace Lee Boggs. He handed me the book.
I had a wonderful day in Detroit, Michigan, USA. This goes to show that people here are really friendly and nice. The city is poor but it doesn't mean that the city is bad or unsafe. These people are beautiful and real. I don't see anyone on their cellphones, texting or checking out Facebook. All I see is people connecting with one another, having conversations, interacting, teaching and learning from each other. I love this town. I love Detroit, MI.
This weekend I have seen two remarcable movies that made me think about…LIFE. The films were Mr. Nobody and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.
A year ago I stepped into an old books store in Helsinki. I wasn't looking for anything when I accidentally saw an old LIFE Atlantic magazine. I have always been fascinated of the era when I was born especially New York at that time, although I still didn't know anything what had been going on back then. I knew that there were a lot of hippies, but that's about it. The magazine was dated 22 days after I was born in 1970, so I browsed through the pages eager to know more.
I didn't buy the magazine yet, I wanted to know if it was worth of my 2€. But then I saw something that was about to change the direction of my life. I saw pictures of two young woman, and on the next page a Manhattan brownstone building completely collapsed. When I finally realised what had happened on that day, I had to buy the magazine. Of cause the lady in that small store didn't take any kind of cards, only cash that I never carry with me. So, I almost left the magazine on her desk and walked away. But for some reason I asked her to keep the magazine for me while I get the money. I left the store, looked for an ATM, took 20€ bill out, and returned back to the store. After I payed that 2€ she placed the magazine in an extra big plastic bag and off I went.
I couldn't get over the story that I found from the… LIFE Atlantic, and for the past year I have spent all my extra hours investigating, searching, reading, listening, contacting people who were there when that all happened, and getting involved to the incredible story that one day will be a film, a new school propaganda film.
In those two movies that I mentioned above, Mr Nobody and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, LIFE is the big subject. You never know what happens in next hour, minute, second. Do yourself a favour and rejoice every single moment you have. Send love to people through you thoughts, forget the past and search for the fullest and happiest future you can imagine for yourself. Search LIFE. (And I hope you know that I don't mean the magazine…!)
Here are some pictures of that magazine that I told you about, but the pictures of those two girls and the townhouse are not here yet. I will reveal them later when the film is close to finish. Although three of the pictures below are somehow related to my film. And they are not Marlon Brando or Finnish Sauna!!