Monday, June 18, 2018

Humanitarian and Spiritual Leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on Meditation and Love

Tonight I had the pleasure to listen to and meditate with Humanitarian and Spiritual Leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar started the evening by talking about us as vibrational beings. How we know how to eat when we are hungry or sleep when we are tired, but we do not learn what to do when we feel frustrated, angry or sad. We do not learn how to change our negative vibration toward a more positive one. We just sit with all these emotions and don't know how to get away from it.

When it comes to changing your vibration Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says that Meditation is the way.

"It helps us come out from all the negative into the positive." 

Here are Sri Sri Ravi Shankars 7 reasons to why everyone should meditate:
  1. It makes our vibration positive and everyone wants a positive vibration.
  2. Meditation brings clarity to our vision. We don't want to walk around with a confused mind. The more challenging times the more clarity we need.
  3. It enhances our intuition. Every business man needs intuition. 
  4. It enhances creativity.
  5. Meditation improves our perception and our communication. All conflicts in the world are because of a lack in communcations. 
  6. It helps the balance of the mind. In both bad and good times it helps you keep the equilibrium of the mind.
  7. It brings forth your skills. Everyone has skills and meditation helps bring them forth.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar also talked about love and how important it is to give and contribute to each other in a relationship. He also reminded that we should not demand love because when we demand love we also destroy love. We should not question if someone loves us: 

"Do not demand love. Take it for granted that everyone loves you."

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Riding in Spain, Ranch Siesta los Rubios

Whenever I travel abroad I usually go riding at least once during the trip. I love riding in different countries and with different cultures and some of my best memories are definitely from cantering down the streets and beaches in Bayahibe (The Dominican Republic) or heading out in the desert of Dubai

Finding a good place to ride always requires a bit of googling and might also include some luck.
The best way to find your way around in a new country however is usually through someone local and this time we were very lucky because one of our friends who studied at the RYT 200 yoga teacher training with us happens to live in Marbella. So when Janina Tainio asked us to join her to Ranch Siesta Los Rubios for a few hours hack (that in a very Spanish way ended up taking more than three hours) we were of course more than excited to head to the ranch situated between Estepona and San Pedro de Alcantara (I mean just listen to these names. Who would say no to riding in places like this). 

On a Tuesday afternoon we headed off with Janina, Auli, and Aulis two daughters. My daughter Ella went to stay with her friends for the day and night since she is not at all as into riding as the rest of us. When we were hacking in the amazing Spanish countryside Ella was enjoying her time out in the sea and in the swimming pool on a Unicorn floatie instead. 

The drive to Ranch Siesta Los Rubios took only around 30 minutes from where we were situated in Marbella. The Ranch is run by an English woman named Caroline Grahm, her fantastic mother and amazing children. The Ranch is small but extremely cozy and as soon as you enter the area you can feel the good energy surrounding you. Caroline welcomed us warmly to her yard and after watching a jumping lesson together with Caroline we headed of to get our horses (most of them were already tacked up and ready outside the barn.

All the girls. Peppi. Auli, Janina and Wilma. 

The yoga teachers / horse enthusiasts getting together.

Normally during the summer time the horses are ridden early mornings and late afternoon / evenings. Due to the unusually cold summer this year however we were able to head out for the hack at 2 pm already. The weather was perfect for horseback riding. The sun was shining slightly but the air was very fresh and the wind kept all the flies away from the horses. This was a very important thing especially for the little 4-year old mare that I was riding since her tail had been cut off almost completely in her previous home and she used her hind legs to kick off the flies from under her belly. 

We took of through some beautiful landscape and after walking a few miles on a road with a little traffic we came to the most amazing place where hills met water and citrus trees bloomed followed by the prettiest roses. When Caroline told us that the horses are used to traffic and even big trucks but her horse (that had only been ridden for 2 months) and mine (that had only been ridden for 4 months) could still react to the trucks swishing by I could already see myself heading off full speed in another direction or jumping straight off the road or under the truck. Her horses reactions were however quite different from what I am used to with Thor. This cutest little mare took a few small spurts in the beginning of the hack but after that she had really no reaction to anything other than the flies that irritated her if we stopped for a while. Her concentration was mostly on trying to find some bush to eat on the way and keeping herself close to the other horses. Even when cantering she was completely relaxed, lifted the canter nicely and stayed very kindly as the last one of the group. Caroline said that she had even had beginners on this 4-year old horse. 

The hack was fantastic and I felt so at home just smelling the horses and being around likeminded people. What I however liked the most about the place was definitely the way that the horses were treated and trained. Carolines manner with the young horses was so beautiful and you could really feel that every situation was a training situation for her. And as this once again proved there really are no difficult horses. Only difficult situations or wrongly trained foundations. 

I also absolutely fell in love with this little mare. An absolutely adorable horse with a great temperament and so kind and gentle. So totally different from the handsome Swede that was waiting for me at home. 

Time for a sip of the purest water. 

Luckily I was travelling when Thor had an accident- My best friend Tiina took care of the wounds in his legs and seeing them now they still look pretty bad but I think I would have been devastated if I would have been around seeing them fresh and open. I am just so very very grateful that nothing worse happened to either one of them and so happy that the wounds have healed very well. You never know what the next moment in life brings in front of you and I am just so thankful that I get to spend my life around all these fantastic people and the majestic animal called a horse. Tomorrow morning I will head out with Thor for a long hack and just give him all the time he needs. 

The 4 year old mare that I was riding. 

And the little pony that was saved from the slaughterhouse because he ran off to the stable next door where Caroline was visiting the veterinarian and decided to take him home with here. 

Do you have any favourite destination where you have been riding? Any place that you would recommend visiting. 

Ok, hello Carpet? How cute am I. Maybe a bit hot with this coat.:) 

If you are interested in riding holidays in Spain, Janina Tainio is more than happy to help you. You can find her contact information here. More about Ranch Siesta los Rubios can be found here. 

Janina and Ranch owner Caroline. 

PS. Unfortunately I do not have many pictures from the hack. I really had nowhere to put my phone this time and I took Janina's advice and enjoyed the ride from the horseback rather than through the lens of my camera. So all the pictures that are taken from the hack are taken by Caroline.

PSS. Many horses in Spain are rescue horses. That is also why many of Caroline's horses are mares because there are more mares going to slaughter and being saved by amazing people such as Caroline. Wish I could have my own yard with Ella, Jack and Thor someday. We would take every horse possible to that yard. It would be such a dream come true. 

Friday, May 25, 2018

"I am too stiff to do yoga"

I hear that a lot. "I would love to try but I am too stiff to do yoga".

The picture is not of me before and after (unfortunately, ha ha.:) It is of me now and one of my best friends Anna Elfving in the present moment.

I am stiff. I am extremely stiff and have always been. I have a very long back and my hips are super narrow. I find some poses very hard to do and I think it really is a physical thing. Combine that with horse back riding and a job where I sit (and stress) a lot, and you can almost just sit down and laugh about it all.

I am however very proud. Proud of my stiffness and proud of my body. My stiffness shows me my limits and makes me very much aware of what I should be working on. It shows my emotional blockages and makes me want to go that little bit further.

Then again. Yoga really has nothing to do with being supple or not being supple. It really has everything to do with so much more. It is all about how it makes you feel and how it teaches you about yourself and the parts that you might just have forgotten about. It teaches you to detach and stay in the present moment and it teaches you to let things flow through you rather than getting stuck on you.

My yoga practice and learning to control my breathing has completely changed my life. I do think that we should not let any stiffness or other factors influence us in not trying out something new. Yoga is for everyone and it is only in our mind that we think we can not do one thing or another. My oldest student in one of my beginner riding classes was by the time 60 years old. She was the fastest learner, the bravest student ever and the one that now rides every day and owns her own horse. The limits and beliefs that we put are not really there. They might be something we think are there or society has given us the perception of being there.

I suggest that we all try it out at some point and even if the heals don't touch the ground or the standing splits are unsteady just be proud and be present. Enjoy the flow!

And here is a little something I picked up from my Instagram post that I really wanted to save on my blog also. Some thoughts on our feet, fire toes pose and movement in general:

Let’s talk about our feet. Last weekend we did the fire toes pose in our yoga class and I love the pose because people always get so surprised how much tension we can hold in our feet. Our feet are one of those places that we don’t pay much attention to. But as Lara Heimann so well puts it in a podcast with Rachel Brathen ”Hold up the bottom of your feet. There should be a denseness and muscularity to it. For a lot of people there is not. It is almost like this deadened looking tissue because it is just not working. When people struggle in yoga in one legged leg balances like airplane or warrior and get cramps in their feet, their feet are just not strong enough. Cramping feet can be a hydration or mineral issue or then too much demand is put on the muscle and it decides to cramp up.” So work on those feet. Get those shoes of, stand on your toes and practice fire toes pose as often as possible. According to Heimann we should move at least 10 minutes every hour in order to keep our bodies supple and our minds focused. Lesson learned! #yoga #toes #feet #firetoespose #laraheimann #lovethosefeet #takeyourshoesoff #move #body #awareness #focus 📷 @myyogalife_anna ✨💕

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Neljäs kilpailu, 3. sija

Eilen kilpailimme Thorin kanssa. Aktiiviratsastajat, ART, järjesti kisat meidän kotitallilla, joten päätimme osallistua ihan vaan huvin vuoksi. En ole pitkään aikaan saanut tuomarilta mitään palautetta tai kehittämisideoita, joten oli todella mahtava kuulla missä mennään jälleen kerran. 

Viimeksi kilpailimme Stall Silverbackassa marraskuussa 2016 ja sitä edellisellä kerralla Peuramaalla keväällä 2015. 

Alva Karlsson auttoi meitä koko aamupäivän ja saimme Thorin oikein upean näköiseksi. Letitin jopa itse Thorin harjan (josta olen kyllä kovin ylpeä) ja lähdimme alas kentälle veryttelemään. 

Thor on ollut todella mukava ratsastaa ja ollaan Tiina Rikkosen kanssa ehditty harjoitella rataa pari kertaa. Perjantaina oli tosin hieman haastavampi harjoitus, kun meidän rakas koira Jack päätti purra itsensä vapaaksi maneesilla kaikista liinoista eikä ratsastuksesta meinannut tulla yhtikäs mitään. Jack kulkee mukavasti ylhäällä tallin luona vapaana ja olen pystynyt hyvin ratsastamaan kentällä. Olen kuitenkin jättänyt Jackin autoon aina kun ratsastan maneesissa, mutta nyt oli sen verran kuuma iltapäivä, joten en uskaltanut sitä tehdä. Eli siellä sitten jahdattiin oikein onnellista ja tyytyväistä koiraa ja just kun tilanne oli jotenkin hallinnassa (Jack treenasi rataa juoksien meidän vieressä) tulivat jo viereisen tallin opettaja ja oppilaat harjoittelemaan estekisoihin. Nå siinä päästiin sitten hetken harjoittelemaan, kun Jackille tuli koirakaveri jonka kanssa hän pääsi leikkimään. Totesin vaan Tiinalle, että jos pystyn tässä mielentilassa tämän radan ratsastamaan, niin mikä tahansa muu tuntuu melko helpolta sen jälkeen. 

Lauantaina veryttelimme kentällä tovin, jonka jälkeen pääsimme melko nopeasti sisään maneesiin veryttelemään. Keskityin enimmäkseen pysähdyksiin ja peruutuksiin, jotta sain Thorin kuulolle ja seurasin samalla toisella silmällä muiden ratoja. Olen kilpaillut niin vähän, joten halusin hieman seurata miten muut menevät. 

Kun tuli meidän vuoro lähteä radalle meni ensimmäiset sekunnit hyvin, mutta sen jälkeen mulla tuli täysblokki ja ratsastin voltin väärään kohtaan. Siitä ratsastin sitten tuomarin luokse ja kysyin, jos voisin mennä radan uudestaan. Luulin, että minut oli heitetty pois kilpailuista, mutta selvisikin, että sain iloksemme jatkaa rataa (hyvin tunnen kouluratsastussäännöt). Hieman tuomari naureskeli meille ja siitä jatkoimme sitten radan ratsastamista. 

Thor tuntui hyvältä koko radan ajan. Peuramaan kilpailuissa Thor meni tasaisemmin, mutta tällä kertaa Thorilla oli super vahva energia, joka tuntui menevän juuri oikeaan tarkoitukseen. Alussa ajattelin jo, että en saa Thoria lähellekään tuomareiden pöytää kun siinä oli liina päällä. Thor teki täysstopin kun tultiin radalle. Hetken päästä Thor kuitenkin unohti pöydän kokonaan ja käyttäytyi erinomaisesti. Olin NIIN ylpeä. Olisin vaan voinut jatkaa radalta toiselle. Nautin todella paljon ja tuli oikein himo päästä kilpailemaan uudestaan. Thor tuntuu myös nauttivan kilpailemisesta ja oikein loistaa aina kun pääsee ihmisten eteen esiintymään. 

Radan jälkeen läksimme Thorin ja Jackin kanssa tallille. Ajattelin, että en voisi sijoittua kun unohdin radan, mutta saavuttuamme takaisin maneesille oltiinkin tokana vielä pitkän tovin. Vasta viimeisen ratsukon jälkeen sijoituimme 3. sijalle koska he menivät meidän ohi pisteissä. Ihan uskomatonta. Oli niin mahtava tunne ja olin onnesta soikeana. Tuntuu vaan niin mukavalta, kun huomaa, että kehitystä oikeasti tapahtuu ja saa siitä myös osoituksen tuomarilta. Löysin tänään vanhat pisteet meidän ensimmäisestä kilpailusta vuodelta 2011 (en edes muista missä me kilpailtiin) ja kyllä edistystä on selvästi havaittavissa. 

Thor on unelmieni täyttymys ja olen niin super kiitollinen, että saan viettää aikaa hänen seurassa. En ikinä olisi uskonut, että minulle siunautuu näin hieno ja fantastinen hevonen ja pääsen nauttimaan ihan jokaisesta hetkestä. Nyt varsinkin kun on ollut pidempi kausi, kun Thor on pysynyt terveenä ja voi muutenkin niin hyvin. Thor viihtyy edelleen erinomaisesti Inkoossa ja on jo päässyt laitumelle ensimmäisiä kertoja Pojun ja Snuffen kanssa.

Tänään Alva hyppäsi Thorilla 80cm ja 90 cm radat ja ratsukko meni upeasti. 80 cm radalla ei mitään pudotuksia ja toinen sija. 90 cm radalla he olivat ainoita kilpailijoita ja mietin kyllä miten paljon potentiaalia Thorilla olisi esteillä. Sääli, että en itse enää samalla tavalla uskalla hypätä kuten ennen. Onneksi löytyy näitä nuoria ja upeita ratsastajia, jotka voivat välillä hypätä selkään ja näyttää mihin hevonen pystyy.

Nyt lähden hakemaan Ellaa kotiin ja vielä ristiäisiin illaksi. Odotan kovasti, että rakas veljeni tulisi kotiin Filippiineiltä. Kim on mukana selviytyjissä ja on aika pitkä aika, kun ei kuulu mitään moneen viikkoon. Eli paljon tsemppiajatuksia sinne suuntaan.

Koko viikonlopun tallilla viettäneenä Let Your Daughters Grow Up To Be Horse Girls - artikkeli osui ja upposi:

”Parents, let your daughters grow up to be horse girls, because they will learn quickly and repeatedly that life isn’t fair, that hard work is often trumped by Lady Luck, and that every defeat, no matter how terrible, is temporary. Let them dream big and kick on. Let them learn confidence, grace and grit. Let them build big muscles and strong backs, and learn that a little blood and a little sweat are good things, because they show you you’re living.

Let them grow up with horses and with good horse people, because it will teach them to be humble, and to be resilient, and to be brave.”

Friday, May 11, 2018

Everything is possible. Even a wineyard in Italy.

My heart has always beaten for Italy. Deep inside I must be at least 50% Italian and whenever I hit Italian ground or am surrounded by Italian people I instantly feel at home. 

Arriving to this wonderful little restaurant.

This spring I had the opportunity to revisit one of my favourite places in the world: Piedmont and spend a few days in Milan where I used to work and live as a young girl. Piemonte was as beautiful as always. It is one of the prettiest places with the wine valleys reaching below and the mountain ranges opening up so close but yet so far away. It is the region of truffels and great wine. 

The owner puts his whole heart into his Vinoteca Centro Storico

We resided at Hotel Villa Beccaris in Monforte d'Alba. It is a stunning villa with beautiful rooms and the most amazing scenery from the breakfast table (see video above). We visited a lot of beautiful local restaurants and walked around in Alba the second afternoon. We also drank a lot of fantastic wines and laughed so much that our bellies hurt and tears ran down our faces.

In the evening we were picked up by a bus in order to visit Finnish couple Riikka and Jyrki Sukula at the Azienda Agricola Sukula. When we arrived at their place I was utterly stunned. The house had been a stable that had been converted into the most beautiful home for the couple and their children. It resided on top of a hill looking over what seemed a million wineyards with the evening sun still lighting up the porch and our Finnish souls after a long and cold winter.

Riikka and Jyrki Sukula were on their honeymoon when they met an Italian man whom they ended up spending time with. They told him that they would someday like to learn how to make wine and not only hear from others how they make it or how is should be done. 

Jyrki Sukula is known as the crazy cook (The Crazy Cook and his Wife)

When they got home from their honeymoon they got a call that a wineyard in Piedmont is for sale. They jumped on the call and about a week later they were handed the keys to this magnificent place. Soon thereafter they moved to Italy and Riikka began her winemaking techniques studies with Gianpiero Romana and in 2006 produced the estate's first vintage, a Langhe Rosso (Meriame Langhetta)*

The evening that we spent at the Azienda Agricola Sukula was magical. We were not only getting acquainted to the biodynamic way of making wine but Riikka told us stories of the wineyard and how some of the grapewines were very thick and old and some were younger but starting to produce some amazing red wine. Riikka seems to be a real connoiseur and the Sukulas are well known in the Piemontian Region of Italy 

The view from the yard.

Super stylish Riikka and their dog head out to greet us. 

The coujple.

After some aperitivo in the living room we took a seat at the cozy kitchen table. After being served some homemade wine we were served absolutely fantastic food. The food was local and seasonally ripe. There was artichoke, local bird and a lot of other things that I just can't remember right now.

During the dinner both Sukulas entertained us with stories about their lives and at some point Riikkas father also joined the table. Not only have they been living in Italy for a long time, but they have clearly also become accustomed to a more Italian way of living where families spend time together and grandparents are a natural part of the daily family.  

All these perfect little details.

The dinner table.

The masterchef at his essence.

View from the kitchen. 

The evening light! Magical!

Pots and pans. And a lot of spices!
The next day we woke up and had the best breakfast at our hotel. The fried egg was the best egg I have ever eaten in my entire life. You could feel that it had literally just come out from the chicken.

Breakfast view!

After the breakfast Mr. Sukula himself came to send us off to Alba where we walked around for a while and bought home some necessary Italian ingredients such as truffle oil and fresh pasta.

Check out this Espresso machine. 

I am a big lover of coffee and especially good coffee. People always laugh at me but there is no laughing when it comes to coffee and that is something that the Italians are very well aware of. Proper espressos are part of even the smallest places DNA and just look at this machine in a little cafeteria that we passed by. Sure tasted amazing! If I ever open up a coffee shop, this will be the machine that will make all the coffee. 

After Alba we headed off toward Milan and stopped on the way at the nicest little Trattoria. Trattoria i Bologna. When we entered the restaurant, one of the owners of the place was making the pasta that we were going to have for lunch. How fresh is that?

The most amazing pasta. 

Fresh fruits. 

The backyard where they have a few rooms for guests and where all the herbs grow in the summer. 

Carcci is showing some "yoga moves".

And then some more "yoga moves".

Buonasera Milano.

Upon arrival to Milan we almost directly headed out for dinner to wonderful and trendy restaurant called Carlo e Camilla. Carlo and Camilla are very famous for their food and have opened up a restaurant in an industrial area of Milan. The restaurant itself was a lovely experience and the food was also good. Everything was done with such good taste and it was pure pleasure to watch Italian dine with each other. Everyone is so happy and talkative and I couldn't help but follow all those Italian young and joyful people.

After the dinner we still had a drink at a nightclub and I am so happy that I did all that when I was young. It was so nice to just head home pretty early and go to sleep in the hustle and bustle of Milan. 

The next morning we walked around, did some shopping, some dancing and went to get ourselves made up with some make-up at Kiko Milano. After a glass of bubbly in the sun we then had he best saffran risotto and Tiramisu ever at Don Lisander

The trip was short but intensive. It made me miss and love Italy even more and gave me energy for many weeks to come. Italy still feels as much home as always. The people, the scenery, the craziness, the loudness, he food and the wine..... Thank you!

Places that we visited during this trip:
Hotel Villa Beccaris, Monforte
Vinoteca Centro Storico
Trattoria i Bologna
Don Lisander, Milan

*Azienda Agricola Sukula