Labor Land

Hello lovely readers!

I’m so inconsistent with writing this blog that every time I do make it here, I feel I have to address the issue. But whatever, you know, I mean, this is my hobby blog and writing is a hobby, an activity I enjoy doing, so at this point, it’s best to remove the pressure of this platform to be anything more than what it is. And anyway, I’m so grateful for all you 1,466 readers who are currently signed up here, yes I am, believe!

Now that I’ve worked that out for myself, I just want to say, “Hiiiiieeee!” I hope you are all well and enjoying yourselves. Spring time in Finland decided not to come this year, so I’ve been feeling a bit cheated, what to say of all those who soldiered through the full Finnish winter. Due to the timing of my pregnancy, we didn’t go to Mysore this past March since I would’ve been too far along in my final trimester for non-emergency air travel on the return flight. So, you know, one month less in Asia, yes, I guess on some level, the struggle has been real for me as well, lol…

Last fall I ambitiously set out to write a blog post a week and by October or so, that fell by the wayside, like a lone, abandoned mitten. At the start of the new year, I sat down with myself and did some serious reflection on what constitutes as a realistic amount of posts I can write for the upcoming year. I mulled over a monthly post and it pinched too tightly. I tried on once every three months for size and there was a bit more breathing room, but even then, the March month came and went and I was already behind on my lenient deadline. Still, I figure four blog posts in one calendar year, heck, even I can manage that.

But then…

I wondered if turning my blog into a vlog would mean a more consistent presence on my part? I’m not sure, but I’m willing to give it a try. And since I’ve been receiving some feedback and requests about yoga/pregnancy/motherhood from you good yoginis and yogis, well, mostly yoginis in this case, over the months, I figured I’d start by turning it over to you:

Comment below, send a message on my Ai Mami facebook page or email me with your questions/comments on what you’d like me to speak about when it comes to yoga, travelling as a yogi family, pregnancy, birth, motherhood, juicing, yoga pants, body image, self-care, mental well-being, entrepreneurship, life in Finland, race and identity, parenting, black women in comedy, food and diet, podcasts…you know all the subjects near and dear to my heart, with as much or as little levity and/or gravitas as the subject requires. The idea here is to have warm, supportive, real talk about life.

It might take some time to pull up a decent enough video, but it’ll be more motivating to have a specific task to work towards, especially when the social pressure is on a bit.

So lovelies, in case you didn’t know, I’m due to give birth in about ten days. Thank you to everyone who has been reaching out and sending messages of love and care. I haven’t had a chance to respond to all of them yet, as my mind, body and soul have already set sail to Labor Land, or the place where women go to retrieve the souls of their babies and bring them down to earth, but I just want you to know that I appreciate each and every one of you.

I can’t wait to here from you with your questions, comments and requests.

Om and so much ❤


One bad-ass mami

Hi friends,

Another late and short post on this Monday evening. Lots of workshop wrap-up yesterday and travel back to the base today, but I’m still determined to get this one out as a response to last week’s post.

Thank you so much for everyone who posted comments on the blog and on Facebook in response to my mother’s post. It seems like it resonated with a lot of people, which is way cool.

My mother is one bad-ass woman. Seriously, she’s such an inspiration, the way she’s delved into this yogic lifestyle, started not in the first flush of youth. And yet, she approaches her asana practice with such consistency and diligence, not for the glory of advancing into more glamorous, eye-catching postures, but for the value of keeping the body healthy and in well-functioning order. I think her mental drive is one her main strengths. She doesn’t make excuses for herself, she never has and most likely won’t start now. She doesn’t use her age against herself as a reason not to give things a go. I mean, she’s not taking mad crazy risks either and injuring herself, but that spark of curiosity that has been blazing throughout her life is very much present.

I think that’s what it is. That spark.

Makes you want to be around her.

May we all practice with enthusiasm and sparkle, no matter the series or posture (or age!).

images om    and  2000px-Heart_corazón

Reflections of an ageing Ashtangi

The following post was written by my mother, Celia Nyamweru. Enjoy!

Ashtanga yoga is a family affair for me – I started practicing after my daughter, Wambui, began to share her life with the highly respected Ashtanga yoga teacher Petri Räisänen. In January 2011 they invited my husband and me to join them at Petri’s retreat on Koh Mak island in southern Thailand. I celebrated my sixty-ninth birthday the following July, when I was at my second retreat, the one run by Petri and his long-time friend and business partner, Juha Javanainen, in Houtskar, south-west Finland. Since then I have attended these retreats every year, usually for two or three weeks.  2016 was the seventh year of my retreats – and incidentally of my seventy-fourth birthday. As I’ve got older and stiffer, I have seen Wambui gain in skill and confidence, both as a practitioner of yoga and as a teacher. She and Petri are now the parents of a 2.5 year old son, Sesam – but I will come back to that later!

The way I have come to understand Ashtanga yoga, your chosen teacher is a very important person in one’s practice, the person to whom one turns for advice and by whom one is given permission to attempt new asanas. I consider Petri to be my instructor, but I only actually practice with him twice a year, during the Koh Mak and Houtskar retreats. During these retreats he makes time available for personal consultations, as well as running group sessions where he addresses people’s questions and demonstrates particular asanas. As his mother-in-law, I feel that I should keep a low profile in these sessions. I try to be very scrupulous about not bothering him with yoga-related questions when we are together at meal times or sharing family time during the retreats. I am a retired university professor and I know how exhausting it can be to run workshops and field trips when one is constantly bombarded with student questions! I am lucky to be able to turn to Wambui for questions about my practice as well – including reminding me of the Sanskrit names of some of the asanas!

During the months between the retreats, I practice at home. I try to practice five or even six times a week, most weeks, and I think this frequent practice is essential as one ages. We are all of us getting older – but obviously there is a difference between ageing from twenty-nine to thirty-four, and ageing from sixty-nine to seventy-four! As I practice, I am constantly aware of my body and how it is changing. I think I have a naturally flexible body, but my upper body strength leaves a lot to be desired. It took me about three to four years to get my legs into full lotus, and I am still working on it! But I find that much easier than Bhujapidasana and Kukkutasana, which remain distant goals.


Balance is said to be a challenge as one gets older, and I look with envy at other people’s perfect Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana, though in fact it is the transitions within this asana that I find most difficult; once my leg is out in front or to the side, I can usually remain fairly steady. And in Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana, I find I can usually bind if I do so once my head is down, though I cannot bend forward with my hand already binding! In the transition from Kurmasana to Suptakurmasana, I find it almost impossible to bring my feet together, however hard I wriggle them. It is much easier for me to get out of Kurmasana and then go into Suptakurmasana as a new asana. I mention these details to show how I am constantly making concessions and taking small short cuts, which I assume will increase as the years pass. Petri and Wambui are very tolerant and understanding about this!

At the same time there has been progress; there are some asanas that I consider as the benchmarks or hurdles that I use to monitor my efforts. Marichyasana D is one of them (I’m sure I am not the only person who feels this!) I cheat a bit with this one, since I am much stiffer on the first side when one is twisting to the right. My first right hand twist I do with my left foot on the floor; twisting left I can put my right foot on my thigh, first time round. Then I turn back to the right hand twist again and this time put my left foot on my thigh – and I can usually bind, however inelegantly! Another benchmark is Sirsana, which I have been working on very incrementally for the whole seven years. I still need the reassurance of the wall in front of me as I go into the pose, and I still need to go up with bent legs rather than straight legs. But most of the time I do not need to actually feel my feet on the wall before I straighten my legs fully, and I am slowly trying to bring my straight legs slowly down to the floor as I come out of the pose.

Last July Petri suddenly gave me a few second series asanas, which came as a surprise and an added challenge. I had no time to read up on them or to watch anyone else doing them – I was on the mat and following his directions before I realized what was happening! Luckily I was able to consult with Wambui later and also refer to his Nadi Sodhana book for a sense of what I should be aiming at. I don’t think my Achilles tendons will ever allow me to proceed very far with Pasasana, but I am excited to be making tiny improvements in my balance in Bakasana. I take the precaution to put two cushions in front of me in case I plop forward onto my nose, as has happened several times.

Being retired means that I don’t have to rush anywhere after my practice – but during the retreats I find that family life makes some demands on my practice, especially in Houtskar. Juggling a busy professional schedule with care for their son Sesam is a huge challenge for Petri and Wambui, and over the last three years I have been able to make a modest contribution to this. At Houtskar Petri usually goes for his own practice soon after 4 a.m., and I would start my practice as early as possible (before the first group session that begins at 5 a.m.) so that I can be finished before 7 a.m. This allows me time for a quick shower before I take over watching Sesam from Wambui so that she can teach her class; we still have to make sure that each of us has time for breakfast! Later in the day things are slightly less hectic, but I have spent many hours walking with Sesam; first with him in a baby carrier, later in a stroller and most recently keeping him company while he plays in a sand pit.

As I get older, I worry more about injury. So far I have avoided serious injuries, though at times I notice bruises on my upper thighs, probably due to the pressure from Marichyasana B and D! I am extremely cautious with my legs, in particular my knees, moving very slowly in and out of the standing asanas. And when doing some of the seated asanas like Janu Sirsana, I give my knees a kiss now and then to thank them for being there for me! Yoga has made me extremely aware of my body and how it continues to change. I think that the main challenge over the last seven years is that I now find it harder to practice in the early morning as I wake up stiff and sore after the night’s sleep. I broke my left arm in 1999 and my right pelvis in 2009, and the residual stiffness from those injuries is increasingly making itself felt. By mid-afternoon I am warmer and more flexible, though I still find I practice extremely slowly. One of the challenges of doing Mysore practice in a group is the sight of younger people going through their practice so fast – I know one is supposed to keep one’s dhristi in all the appropriate points, but one can’t help noticing some things!

Being part of a group during the twice-yearly retreats means that other people also notice me! Over the years I have built up a group of ‘yoga friends’ from several European countries whom I meet at retreats, and many of them have given me tremendous encouragement about how my practice has developed. They notice improvements that I may not be aware of, since I feel I am always practicing at the limit of my ability. And last summer I also learned something unexpected from one of them; it seems that Petri has been using me as a source of inspiration for older people with remarks like this: “Celia started doing yoga aged 68 and look where she is now; no reason why you can’t do this at the age of 55.” I was a little surprised to find myself used as a role model in this way, but I have to think of it as a compliment! I am sure yoga will continue to be an important part of my own life, of my family life, and a help to me as I negotiate the challenges of living in an ageing body.


Guess who’s baaaack?!

Hello hello lovelies!

It’s been a minute; almost a year (but not quite) since I last wrote a post and let me tell you that I am super happy to be back! 🙂

Some shifts in daily life – kiddo in daycare and less time on the road, relatively speaking, open up some opportunities to write on a more consistent basis. Yay!

First off, let me start by thanking all you folk who’ve let me know that you, or someone you know, follow(s) my blog and have been asking when I will write some more. It means the world to me that people might find some value here as this is my main goal: to be of service; somehow; in some small way.

In fact, so committed am I to this that I plan to write a blog post weekly. I’ll be publishing new content on Sundays. I can’t promise to be perfect in this but I’m making this a priority of mine this fall, so do follow this blog and be part of the adventure.

Speaking of being part of it all, I’d like to open this blog up to the community, so please get in touch with me if there’s some topic concerning yoga, healthy, mindful living, parenting and all round general awesomeness that you are interested in exploring.

One last thing and don’t mind if I do… shameless plug alert… 🙂 For those of you living in/visiting the Helsinki region: Interested in some private, one-on-one Ashtanga yoga, Yin, and/or Pregnancy Ashtanga yoga classes? How about some massage by foot press? Comment below and I can DM you further information.

Don’t know what massage by foot press is? Never mind, I’ll be writing about it on my next blog post (coming this Sunday!) so stay tuned…

Stay well yogafam…Om ❤

Ashtangi Mami x Purple Valley Yoga Center

Hey now…so I’m fixin’ up a quick blog post here in Glastonbury after a week or so in London town. I assisted Petri in the morning mysore classes during his three-day workshop at The Life Center  in Islington. Those mornings felt very tranquil. In a naturally well-lit and spacious shala there was a gentle, quiet and meditative atmosphere to the room. Almost without trying, the synergy in the space felt effortlessly relaxed. In general, we found big-city London exciting, dynamic, super diverse and multicultural but also a tad (as in, very) draining; especially on the old Underground, what with its long winding stairwells and serious lack of lifts, combined with the baby buggy and all. Yes, Glastonbury, with its one main street and fresh country air is much more to our speed…I feel creativity and life force rushing back en masse…Ahhhh, lovely!

Having said that, however, fellow commuters on the Choob were staggeringly polite and desperately helpful (save for rush hour) when it came to strangers lending a hand by helping to carry the baby stroller up and down the stairs. I managed to not shop at all in London which actually wasn’t all that difficult in the end. There were lots of pretty things to appreciate and not buy, of which I have been posting on my instagram page. Head on over to @ashtangimami on tha GRAM and you will find some frightfully rudimentary drawings (man, I really need to take a Sketching Basics class sometime) of all the beautiful things I’ve seen and not bought. Like these awesome Comme des Garçons seeing heart sneakers on display at a boutique in Islington:


Anyway, I am writing for a special reason today…if you check out the Purple Valley Yoga Center you tube channel, you will find two episodes featuring yours truly: an interview on yoga and pregnancy and a modified ‘pregnancy’ primary series practice. I actually have yet to watch them because something about watching oneself gives one the heebie-jeebies but I do hope you find them useful, helpful and informative.

Om ❤ you guys!

(featured image photographer: Jenni Gästgiver)

My first #InstaYoga Challenge

Yes, yes y’all. I took the plunge and participated in a 10-day Instagram yoga challenge. I know, I know, the yoga world is already full of people posting all kinds of yoga poses on social media, do we really need to see another?

I’ll leave you to decide on how you wish to answer that, but truth be told, it was fun to feel like part of a yoga community again! Okay, so it was virtual, but hey, as a full-time mama getting her yoga asana self- practice in at home whenever it works with baby’s nap time, things can feel a bit isolating from time to time. I long to be able to practice in a full shala, Mysore-style, riding the energy wave of several dozen Ashtangis next to me, but that might take awhile. So until then, this challenge was a stand-in, and it was totally fun to feel connected to a wider group of all the folks who participated in this yoga challenge.

As a child, standing on my hands felt like pure, giddy joy. As an adult, I find all sorts of thoughts racing through my head when it comes to inversions. These all stem from fear, self-doubt and self-limiting ideas like,” I am not   ___________ enough” or  ” I am too ____________.” My motivation behind posting these pictures was not primarily to show off and say, ” Oh, look what I can do.” (Having said that though, I wouldn’t necessarily discount a natural and healthy sense of accomplishment either). Anyway, my main reason for posting these pictures is that I wish to cultivate a bit of that wholesome joie de vivre, instill some of it in the midst of all this adult responsibility while challenging myself to engage with stuff which my inner critic forbids me to consider juuuust might be possible. While trying new things with my body (carefully and within reason, always) I hope to create this same sense of adventure and possibility in my mind, if only just for the fun of it. PLUS, I gotta tell ‘ya, nothing gets rid of mama burnout quicker and ‘free-er’ than placing all your weight into your hands and kicking your legs up in the air! Talk about a radical shift in perspective! 🙂

Just in case you aren’t on Instagram, you can check out some of the pictures on my facebook page. (While you’re there, you can go ahead and ‘like’ my page, if you haven’t done so already) 😉 Finally, thanks to my hubby hubs for being the photographer on this project.

And so, my challenge for all you yoga mamas out there: will you join me for the next yoga challenge? If so, follow me on Instagram (@ashtangimami) and I will tag you in the next challenge I join.

Stay blessed lovelies and celebrate life (upside down)! Om ❤


A New Song

Oh blogworld, it feels like a lifetime since I have put words to my thoughts! My last post was over a month ago, which pretty much is a lifetime, in this fast-paced world of social media. What can I say? I find myself having to choose, in these long, busy stretches of unrelenting parenthood, where time and energy are parceled out and one has to carefully negotiate  for that elusive, precious bit of ‘me’ time, should I write or should I practice? And as a yogi first, I must keep fueling the fires of my spiritual practice first, and write about it later…

And so, this past month, I’ve been thinking hard and fast about priorities and how to make time for my top priorities. Having established what these top priorities are (after the topmost priority of all: my kid, it’s yoga and writing), I’ve been gradually coming to terms with scaling down on an enjoyable hobby of mine (reading) in order to make more time. This sounds great in theory, but I fear the time I make for writing is fast going to be replaced with another innocent, wholesome hobby (knitting). However, if knitting is the new yoga, as some might claim, then two birds, one stone and all that, hey? Not really sure I like that saying at all, not terribly shanti after all, but can’t think of an alternative at the moment. Forgive me.

Anyway, on the yoga yoga side of things, I do believe that last time, I promised I would share some of the core strengthening exercises I have been doing postpartum. Once I had healed from the labor and my pelvis felt strong and stable again, which was around the third month post delivery, I began doing a two week program called Strong Core, which I found on the Yoga Journal website. I particularly like the Sphinx Roll-Up found in Day One, which felt really beneficial in straightening out my drooping postural tendencies which come from front-heavy activities like breastfeeding and baby wearing. I also find linking the core work into the up/down dog transition, as explained in Day 2, to be useful and helpful. These are a few of the tools I have incorporated at the moment and I do them whenever I have a few spare minutes (five, ten) in the afternoons or after my morning practice. Just a quick disclaimer: this Strong Core program has not been designed specifically for postpartum purposes, so do proceed carefully. I waited until I felt ‘normal’ again before starting these exercises.

I had been planning to write a post exclusively about my practice postpartum, following the same trajectory with my post on Ashtanga yoga and pregnancy. However, I feel this interview I did with Tanya and Rebelle Society sums things up quite nicely. Besides, I feel I am still discovering just what this practice postpartum really is and so far it’s got more to do letting go of grand expectations, giving more of yourself than you thought possible, and not worrying too much about getting ‘back’ to how the asana practice was. It’s pretty hard to do sometimes, but there you have it. My spiritual path right now is motherhood and nowhere have I heard that either a spiritual path or motherhood come easily and effortlessly.

But, joy is there! When my little son responds and reacts with great giggles and peals of laughter. When I can give in to my inner child and let myself be present and playful. When my baby offers nothing but himself, his soft, warm, doughy skin, his puffy cheeks, dribbly mouth and toothless smile, abundant joy is there. Bless! And when I feel, with every cell in my body, stress and exhaustion and frustration, I turn to Abundant Mama, who offers mothers, women, a most powerful and precious gift: a reminder that we need to be kind to ourselves (and others).

One way I feel kindness towards myself is rediscovering knitting, a much-loved old hobby of mine. I felt so inspired by this company I discovered not long ago, Wool and the Gang, that I decided to become an ambassador for them and help spread their funky, woolly message. I’ve already made a necklace using t-shirt yarn made from the leftover materials from fashion factories. All the stuff that is left behind after a t-shirt has been made gets resourced into yarn. Not bad, huh?


watg necklace


If you are in the Helsinki area on Tuesday, September 16th, you can join me at my second living room, Brooklyn Cafe, for an evening of cupcakes (baked at Brooklyn Bakery) and necklace making. Please note that you must order your knitting kit beforehand (Tuesday, September 9th is the last day to place your order). It’s going to be fun so if you are up for making merry, you know the time and place, good people!

So, dear readers, in the midst of the crazy, stressy goodness that is not just motherhood, but lifehood, once we have mourned the loss of our old selves, the loss of all the time we had ‘before’, instead of allowing the record player of our minds keep scratching over and over the same self-fulfilling groove, getting entrenched in the prophecy of frustration and disappointment of ‘not enough time’ and ‘too tired’, let’s offer ourselves one better. Let’s sing a new song entirely. Let’s use our babies, our families, our circumstances as the instruments.  Let’s compose melodies and arrange harmonies with them. Let’s create, sing and move to new songs in, thank you Stevie Wonder, the key of Life! On this note (ha ha), I’m off to play this very album and dance around the room with mon petit chéri!

Stay blessed and feel it all fully. Om <3!