There are over 300 million yoga practitioners worldwide according to the International Yoga Federation and its popularity is continuing to grow. It is unstoppable.
Yoga ranks 4th among the fastest growing industries in the US. It reached a 415% growth within only five years in Japan. It is still a female-dominated industry. Nevertheless, our fellows are also catching up on this wellness lifestyle at the speed of light.
I met Sofia in a cozy local café on a drizzly day. There, she revealed most of her personal stories related to the process of bringing Azana to life. It was a long talk. I got a lot of insights from her stories.
Terhi Sofia Kesela is a young entrepreneur who was born and raised in the creative capital city of Helsinki, Finland. She first came to Lisbon, Portugal in 2016 for a local job offer. She suffered really hard after just a few months. Her job was robotic, repetitive and lack creativity. As a result, the idea of making Azana dawned on her. Sofia decided to quit and chase her dream. Azana came to life as a brand – which is eco-friendly and contains the essence of her lifestyle – Yoga. Sofia spent three weeks in Mumbai, India to attend a well-known Yoga institution for an authentic experience. It has inspired her spiritual journey ever since.
Sustainability has become a very essential goal for hundreds of corporations and small businesses as environmental awareness keeps on growing globally. Sofia reckoned that going green is the way. Her responsibility and the love for mother Earth will be seen throughout her entrepreneurship journey. It is not an easy task. With strong commitments, Sofia has successfully created three products made from 100% natural material: Estrela, Rato and Bica – her favorite Portuguese words. Lisbon is where the cork is a no stranger.
These below are the Five reasons why Azana Cork Yoga Mats might change your life as a Yogi (even if you are not):
#1 Azana is all about inspiring the Yogis to spiritually connect with the planet Earth.
These special mats are constructed from cork and natural rubber by being highly pressed and heated without additional chemicals; they will not cause harm to the Yogis wellbeing, and the environment itself. It is completely safe to use. Sofia believes that practicing with natural-based Yoga mats will bring you to a higher level of spiritual connection with planet Earth – from mind to body and soul.
#2 Three keywords to describe Azana: sustainable, unique and soulful.
Sustainable building materials have a low environmental impact during production, placing, and maintenance. Thus Sofia’s business goal in 2020 to bring more awareness to our modern society. Azana is unique as not many Yoga mat products in the market are made from natural materials. It adds great value to the Yogis community. Azana is described as soulful; because Sofia has gone through many upheaval journeys to make her dream come true. Azana is really meaningful in terms of Sofia’s personal connection with passion.
#3 Azana has a message: “To spread positivity, acceptance, and tolerance.”
I did ask Sofia a question out of the blue that; if one day her business could have an international impact, what values would she like to bring on the table? “I want to help developing countries. Period.” – she replied immediately. Her plan is to give back to the community and to make a change. Sofia was born as a lucky star. She wishes to share her fortune with the less fortunate. She does not want to take it for granted. Acceptance is the key to be happy. In this matter, Azana is a result of her self-acceptance, tolerance, and positivism.
#4 Azana was made with good intentions.
These cork yoga products are made to last. Durability, high quality, three unique designs inspired by pattern-plays of Portuguese Azulejo (a form of painted tin-glazed ceramic tilework) and eco-friendly; Azana is somewhat hard to distinguish. It really brings high satisfaction to the Yogis (as many good reviews have been given). It has good intentions towards the planet, to the consumers and Sofia’s love for Yoga.
#5 Azana is on a mission of breaking Yogi’s stereotypes.
“Yoga is only for flexible, skinny and young people”
“She is doing yoga. She must be blonde, Caucasian and vegan.”
“Yoga is not manly enough.”
“Yogis can easily touch their toes and do backbends.”
“Yogis are hippy-like weirdos at worst.”
“Yoga is for non-smokers, non-drinkers and those who believe in God.”
Talking about that he-said-she-said; Sofia wishes to break these stereotypes. She wants to redefine it and boost body positivism. Authenticity is the key to normalize the abnormality.
“Azana is the GPS of my soul.”At the end of our conversation, Sofia came up with that saying, which still gets me thinking.
I would say: How about everyone’s souls?
Azana is not only about a dream come true for Sofia, who came to Portugal without any plans, friends and big capitals. She fell into her darkness, rose up and decided to put skin and blood in the game. There was nothing to lose. This is the quote from Azana website:
“To acknowledge and embrace differences and imperfections. The core of Azana is unity. Without darkness there is no light and without chaos there is no peace, we see diversity as richness. The path towards balance starts from you. We can make the journey together.”
My second part with Sofia was all about her unique upbringing back in Finland. She shared her struggles and start-up advice for young entrepreneurs who want to achieve their dream goals.
Leave a comment below and stay tuned for more of Azana and Sofia’s stories.
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