The Creative Truth and Yoga
They say you never forget your first yoga practice. Tell us more about how you started it, the healing process and the art of doing yoga.
I was 21, fresh out of college, and studying for my nursing board exams. I locked myself daily in my room, with books scattered around my bed, morning till evening, with my meals just brought up to me. My mother, who was already practicing and teaching yoga at that time, kept asking me to join a class or just get out and walk around. One day, as I was studying, there was a note in my nursing book that said 30 minutes of exercise a day will improve your memory. I was determined to ace my exam, so I took my mom up on her offer and she booked me 20 classes with her Ashtanga yoga teacher. My first class, the instructor let the class practice on their own while he taught me the ujjayi breath and sun salutations. He told me to repeat those throughout the class and gave me a sequence card to follow for when I'd forget the movements. I really appreciated the personal attention given to me as a beginner, but what captivated me most of all, was what happened during the last pose, savasana. I had been so anxious about my exam, and for the first time I wasn’t thinking about it. The class was physically exhausting, yet I came out of it with so much mental clarity and peace. I had never experienced anything like it. It was a moment of just being; away from expectations, away from anxiety and disappointment. Time stood still in that moment. My body and my mind didn’t need to be anywhere else but there. That, for me, was liberating. That, for me, is the art of yoga. And I hope to recreate that experience every time.
What makes your yoga practice different from the rest? Did you make your own?
Each person gives off a certain energy when they enter the room. Whether it’s from something they said to me before the class, or just their way of being, their posture in those first 5 minutes into the class will tell me a lot about how the practice will be or how it needs to be. So, I adapt each sequence to the signals I receive. I will also ask the students how they’re feeling for the day and if they’re looking for something specific from their practice, and I will incorporate those requests into the practice.
How do you embrace the creative truth and religious practice? How do we master that discipline without leaving the life we built for ourselves within our routines?
Two things, choice and intention. Everything we do is a choice. Many can argue that there are certain things we are forced into, most especially when we are living by other people’s standards. But ultimately, we choose. We weigh our options and then we decide. Yoga felt like the right choice for me. And so, all the changes I made at integrating yoga into my life, felt necessary. At the beginning of every class, I tell my students to think about their intentions for being there, to evaluate their reasons, and to recognize what value their practice has to them. Your intentions will affect how you approach what is ahead of you. It will change your attitude and it will determine your level of commitment to the choices you’ve made.
What made you move to Helsinki and be a yoga instructor who practices the creative truth?
You can probably say I had a quarter life crisis. I looked at my life and I felt stagnant. I was living in a bubble. I was comfortable, but what I had was not sustainable. I knew there was so much in this world I could experience. I started thinking of different countries I could move to. Then one day, someone suggested Finland, and immediately I knew that’s where I wanted to go. I didn’t know anything about it which made it the perfect place to make a fresh start. And it was.
Here are Nicole Betita’s Top Picks When in Helsinski, Finland:
To experience Helsinki is to experience its nature. So skip the “sites” and plan a picnic and take a leisurely walk around Töölönlahti, Kaivopuisto and/or Suomenlinna. Finnish cuisine in and of itself is nothing spectacular (especially for someone used to Asian spices and flavors). However, it is city that has really exploded with delicious vegan options. My favorites would be the vegan tasting menu in Farang, angel hair cashew avocado pasta in Holiday, and the lunch buffet in Sandro. Then for evening drinks: Enjoy a city view from Clarion Hotel’s sky bar; enjoy a lake view from Le Blon/Merikerho; and best of all, enjoy the sea view from Löyly terrace.
Lastly, if you could have lunch with anyone else, who would it be? And what would you ask him/her?
In my process of moving to Finland, some people got hurt. One most of all. I never did apologize properly for what happened. I would like to have that chance to.
Follow her on Instagram: Helsinki_yogagirl