Tell us about yourself?
I am Jani Jaatinen, yoga instructor and I run a yoga school (gokulyoga.com) in Borneo and Bali too.
What are your hobbies and what kind of lifestyle plus working life did you have before the current yoga lifestyle?
I studied graphic design at the Lahti Design and Fine Art University of Applied Sciences and worked in the field for a couple of years before shifting full time to yoga. I skateboarded and did a bit of Greek-Roman wrestling too but in the end yoga took centre stage.
I did dabble in graffiti in my teenage years but nowadays I mostly sketch safely only on paper ;) I also did a bit of drum and base software mostly for my own amusement.
Baddha Padma Niralamba Sirsasana
Ardha Padma Vrschikasana
How did you end up doing yoga?
And in Borneo, Malaysia?
I met Janne Kontala in the year 2000, who had a yoga group in Helsinki. Janne asked if I wanted to give it a try and I got hooked immediately.
My wife is from Malaysia. We lived in Finland at first for a year before deciding to try running our own studio in Malaysia. It's been three years now since we've been here.
So you have a yoga studio / school there? Can you tell us about that?
We have a big house and we live upstairs while the downstairs has been remodelled into a yoga studio. It's worked pretty well (at least I have a short commute to work ;))
We get a pretty regular set of people training daily, mostly Chinese Malaysians, a couple of Australians and some tourists now and then.
What kind of yoga have you practiced and what was it that got you hooked on it? How quickly did you develop? Can you be naturally gifted with yoga?
I've done Hathaa, Ashtangaa and Iyengar. In the beginning practicing different asanas was really fascinating, plus how it worked hand in hand with the functioning and control of the human body. Yoga philosophy too was really practical and in its own way, simple.
In a few years I developed, but I had no rush to acrobatics in my practice. It was more about technique and the form.
Yes natural flexibility, coordination and strength help you progress but myself I believe that the bigger factor is systematic and balanced practice of yoga that helps you develop.
Can you describe life in Malaysia and your daily routine in Borneo?
I wake up at 4 am, train and meditate. At 8am we have our first session with students and after that I go swim in the ocean. More training follows and I play with my kids. In the evenings I have a couple more classes. My days are pretty much the same.
You mentioned that you study - what do you study?
The Bhagavad Gita philosophy and the Yoga Sutras.
Is your lifestyle more of a lonely wolf deal or are there other instructors that you can share and enjoy good vibes with?
Its more or less a road less travelled (at least it is for me. With Janne Kontala maybe we talk about some practices.
Has the yoga lifestyle maybe changed your values or spirituality Does spirituality go hand in hand with yoga?
Yeah yoga has changed my lifestyle pretty radically, for a the better that is. Classical yoga is in itself a path of self discovery and thats a pretty natural thing.
Do you want to give some concrete examples?
At least my life rhythm has become more settled, and maybe with that more insight into how the mind works, and how much our own attitudes and thoughts affect the way things progress.
Ekahasta Bhuja Dandasana
Sirsa Dwipada Dandasana
You also do retreats around the world What sort of retreats have you taken part in?
During the past few years I have travelled a bit. I've explored Europe, Australia and Asia. In every retreat there's its own catch and in every culture the approach to yoga practice is a bit different, which is interesting.
When you are in Finland, what kind of feelings do you have about the life here? Do you miss it?
Sure Finland is a pretty nice place, in summer. The sleet in November I haven't missed to be honest. For now I'm liking the life here in South-east Asia.
Lifestyle sports focus on give and take a lot. Has your position on yoga changed during all these years? Would you do something differently if you could turn back time?
Yeah its true - sure the attitude to doing yoga and my own personal practice has changed during the years. The field of yoga and my own practice is a living breathing thing. Maybe the only thing thats chanced is this inner ignorance, that's disappeared through the years ;)
Yoga I could have started earlier, but whats the point in digging up the past. The best thing is to live in the moment.
But what do you mean by ignorance?
That even in yoga people are just people. Even here there are many different types of people, on different journeys. In the beginning I maybe had this picture that everyone goes to yoga with the same underlying reason or level. With the passing years I've maybe become more realistic.
How do you get kicks from what you do?
Different breathing practices (Pranayama) and at the moment through focus exercises.
What motivates you to keep going?
People that see how yoga works (on a practical level) motivates me.
Can you explain how yoga affects people?
For many they become more patient, others find direction in their lives and some achieve a more realistic picture of themselves. Its pretty unique. And for some it causes the ego to grow, hee hee ;)
When you said that yoga has made you more aware, did it open up your mind to possibilities, a more positive attitude maybe?
Sure through yoga I've become more confident, but its almost brought me a more realistic view to what the body and mind can do as in what are natural limitations.
One of the most timeless quotes that comes to me is from Bhakti-yoga instructure Satsvarupa Goswam - 'Do service to others and mind your own business.' That its better to concentrate on our strengthening our own weaknesses than seeking them in others.
So are you quite active in the social media (instagram: @gokulacandra)? I notice you update your photos pretty often.
I only post these asana photos to make others happy and to inspire them. Whats left in the social media differentiates from what I do in real life :;) I did try to stop posting them but people started asking me to continue.
Creativity - for me creativity (in yoga) means bringing traditions to today's world and circumstances without changing the systems core values.
Endurance - Endurance is reaching one's depths through repetition
Ambition - To seek for glory in old school yoga is what prevents you from progressing. Sure that kind of healthy ambition is a different thing. The desire to do things better than you did yesterday helps you move forward
Competition - Is to compete against yourself. Your own battle with the inner self. Healthy competition with others is also ok, if done in the right context. But ego based competition, or putting others down, just doesn't work.
Winning - Beating your inner negativities and being set free from limiting conditions is the real victory
Enjoyment - You can experience enjoyment in many different levels. A yogi tries to find the inner satisfaction and balance.
Pain - You cannot avoid pain completely but it is good to try to avoid in nonetheless.
Check more his amazing yoga at his youtube channel:
Thanks also to Silja Nuotio for the bodypaint help and my brother Karri for the assistance during the shoot.
This interview was translated from Finnish to English by Tania Nathan.