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An interview with Sayulita based yoga teacher, Eva Estlander with Eva Estlander Yoga. Eva now calls Sayulita her home, but is originally from Finland. How has living this dream-like life come about for Eva? And what does she hope to manifest for her future in the community of Sayulita?
Eva, you grew up in Finland. Will you describe what your life looked like living in Finland?
Finland is the complete opposite of Sayulita in every way imaginable; culturally and climate wise. I grew up in Helsinki, which is the capital of Finland. Helsinki is a very modern, clean, and beautiful city. Finnish people are, generally speaking, very efficient, timely, honest, timid, and like to keep to themselves. To paint a picture, not saying hello to your neighbor is considered normal. However, when you get on a Finns good side, you’re basically considered family. That being said, there are always pros and cons with each culture and country, and I have a deep love for both Finland and Mexico. In yogic terms, I’d say Finland is my yin energy (calm and cold), and Mexico is my yang energy (hot and fierce). When I lived in Helsinki, I studied marketing and worked for Red Bull while finishing my thesis about wellness tourism.
I had always loved traveling and exploring and I’ve always had a thirst for learning about new cultures. While studying, I spent one semester in Bali, Indonesia as an exchange student. Finally, after graduating with a Master's Degree in Economics, I decided to change my life completely. I packed my bags, left my marketing job, and moved to the other side of the world.
What are some unique aspects of Sayulita that you don't think you could find in other places?
I love the community of Sayulita and the fact that we are surrounded by nature, as we are sandwiched between the lush jungle and the ocean. I also love that there’s an interesting mix of locals and foreigners from all over the world, and that Sayulita is a melting pot with its diversity. Sayulita is, energetically speaking, also a very interesting place. The Huichol people say that living in Sayulita is like being in ceremony 24/7, and they consider this town to be one of the two most sacred places in the entire state of Nayarit (the other one being Alta Vista). The energy attracts a lot of light, but where there is light, there will also be darkness (again the yin and yang energy). The brighter the light, the bigger the shadow. This town attracts many energy workers within various fields of alternative medicine, such as acupuncturists, body workers, and healers. There’s also a big yoga community in town and many on a spiritual path. On the flip side, there’s also a big party scene, which can be considered the shadow side of Sayulita.
From where did the idea of organizing yoga retreats and teaching privately come?
I currently teach mostly privately and work together with several vacation rentals, hotels, and villas in both Sayulita and Punta De Mita. I also guest teach at various retreats, and the last retreat I taught at was this summer on the stunning Amalfi coast in Italy. I feel very blessed and fortunate to be able to share what I love in all these beautiful spaces and places. Another thing I love about teaching privately is meeting people from all over. Currently, I only have one weekly Yin Yoga class at Hotelito los Sueños for my local yoga community. I am very grateful for my amazing group of dedicated Yin yogis I’ve practiced with for years.
Your classes are influenced by a number of yoga styles, but you lean mainly towards Vinyasa Flow and Yin. What are some of the key benefits to Vinyasa over other styles?
My path with yoga started through Ashtanga, but slowly, through an ankle injury, I started feeling more drawn to calmer and less vigorous practices, such as Yin Yoga, which is now the closest to my heart.
As Mexico and Sayulita are yang energy, I feel like this town needs more Yin energy. Yin Yoga is a slow-paced, meditative practice with mostly floor based or seated poses that are held for a longer period of time (2-10 minutes). Instead of activating the muscles, we are aiming to relax into each pose and bring our awareness to our breath cycle. Most of the poses target the dense connective (fascia) tissues of the body - often in the hips, pelvis, and lower back.
But again, everything needs to be counter balanced, which is where Vinyasa Yoga comes in. Vinyasa increases flexibility, endurance, and strength by linking each asana into a flowing sequence. Vinyasa Yoga is a faster paced and diverse style since the sequence always changes. I also love teaching Vinyasa, as fun playlists are always an important part of my classes.
Yoga is obviously massive all over the world. What do you think are some of the advantages to training and practicing in a location like Sayulita?
We do not need to heat our studios! Plus, there are benefits of practicing outdoors, as we are less prone to injuries as our bodies are already warm. I also love the fact that we are in such close proximity to nature. What a gift to be able to create awareness within yourself in our natural surrounding, the nature!
What does your daily life now look like, and have you established a balance between working, living a sustainable life, and free time?
I start my days by reading my gratitude list, a list of things in which I am grateful. After this, I practice yoga, go for a walk on the beach or have breakfast with my friends. During high season, I have yoga privates booked pretty much every single morning and will have to do my own practice in the evenings. In the afternoons, I’ll be glued to my computer planning and coordinating weddings for Amor Boutique Hotel, my other job (my yang job). In the evenings, I’ll maybe paddle out for a surf session or watch the sunset on the beach.
I feel like I have a good combo of work and free time, the only thing I’d possibly change is to add a few more trips (*swinging my magic wand*).
‘Eva Estlander Yoga’ is more than teaching yoga. Could you tell us what you’d like to manifest for your own future, and the future of Sayulita?
Sayulita is a vortex of energy and the manifestation power here is very rapid. “Thoughts become things” works faster here than anywhere else I’ve ever been. I’ve been very fortunate to be able to expand my career even into other areas than yoga. I’ve always loved and appreciated beauty in every area, and I feel like this energy somehow transformed itself into me planning and coordinating weddings for Amor Boutique Hotel. In addition to the yoga privates and weddings, I’ve also gotten a lot of modeling gigs.
As for my future, I’d love to deepen my studies and complete another Yoga Teacher training and dive deeper into my yogic path, both physically and spiritually. I’d also love to be as mobile as possible and be able to teach everywhere over the world. In Sayulita, I’d love to see more locals (Mexicans) get excited about yoga and join my classes.
As for what I’d like to manifest for the future of Sayulita, I’d love to have more conscious tourism and that the town would keep up with the continuous growth infrastructure wise. I also would love for Sayulita to be as safe as possible, so we can all enjoy the beauty Sayulita has to offer.