Iselina Amanda is one of those incredibly inspiring people who make you want to take better care of yourself and the planet through cooking amazing plant-based food and doing more yoga. She tells us her story, about how she became a yogi and gives us her best advice for living more environmentally friendly life with lots of joy, passion, and happiness.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I grew up on a little Island south in Norway and lived there for most of my life. When I graduated high school at 19, I booked a one-way ticket to Australia and spent well over a year there, living, studying and breathing yoga. I completed my teacher training in Byron Bay at Byron Yoga Centre during a twelve-month training (800-hours) and on the side, I worked part-time as a raw food chef at a beautiful café in the heart of town. After Australia, I moved back to Europe and lived in London for a while. Life in England was a huge contrast to the beachy hippie vibes I had grown so used to in Byron, but it was a wonderful experience. It’s easy to get lost in a big city, but I was fortunate to meet real and abundance of wonderful and inspiring people I deeply connected with, and who really helped me grow as a person and continue on my spiritual journey.
I came back from England only a few months ago, and am now back to living in Arendal in Norway, at least for a little while. These days I’m teaching yoga four days a week, and absolutely love it. It’s been an experience in itself to be back home after not having lived here for so long. Life here is much quieter than what I’ve been used to, and so I spend a lot of time on my own reading, writing, being out in nature and on my creative projects. As for the time being I am really enjoying it, though I can see some drastic and exciting changes happening in the not too far away future.
How did you get into yoga?
I started practicing yoga when I was 16. I’d love to say that I felt a huge call or that I had an epiphany, but really it began as a way to develop strength and flexibility. After a few months, however, I started to witness small changes within me. It felt as though there was more to this practice, something much deeper and more profound, than a series of physical postures. My mother and I pretty much started on this journey at the same time, but on slightly different paths. As I become more dedicated to my yoga practice, she began introducing me to books like “A New Earth” and Maya Fiennes’ Kundalini books. From there, it’s been a such a transformative and beautiful journey.
Today, my yoga practice is a very holistic practice, a lifestyle to say the least. The physical asanas are a small aspect of a much much broader picture. Yoga is perhaps more than anything a way of life and a method of deepening my understanding of life. I believe that a regular practice of yoga has the ability to strengthen the mind as much as the body; creating space and raising our awareness towards the point of physical liberation and enlightenment; which is eventually what I am striving towards.
What does your morning routine look like?
I don’t have a very organized morning routine, but I try to start each day with a few deep breaths and I love looking out at the trees outside my bedroom window first thing. I spend little time getting ready for the day, and usually just put on a pair of yoga pants when I roll out of bed. I always make sure to do oil-pulling (an amazing ayurvedic ritual for healthy gums and teeth) before brushing my teeth, and usually, I’ll put some oils on my skin and in my hair too (I am slightly obsessed with essential oils and carry a decent collection of them with me at all times). Most days I’ll spend a good hour and a half on my yoga mat at some point, either before, or after, a large soy cappuccino or a chai with fresh ginger and adaptogenic herbs. Then I’ll catch up on emails and messages, plan my classes, work on my blog, get creative in the kitchen or dedicate some time to the one thing I love more than yoga; writing and poetry (see The Flower Chronicles for a collection of my poems).
What is your favorite meal?
That is a tough call to make, but I think more than anything I prefer a homecooked Indian daal or stew, preferably with fresh Peshwari naan and mint yogurt. Also, I have to mention that I always end my day with a few squares of organic dark chocolate. I believe it’s important to feed your soul too 😉
Can you share your top 5 tips for living more environmentally friendly?
There are many things we can do to live more environmentally friendly, yet I believe a few things we do or change that really makes for a difference. Eating a (mainly) plant-based diet is my number one, as the meat- and dairy industries are such huge contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, rainforest deforestation and uneven distribution of resources. I believe in using what we have and to use less, and move away from the mentality of buying and throwing away “stuff” the way many of us do. I try to buy sustainably sourced clothes, and all my makeup and skincare products are organic and ethically made. I like to buy in bulk and reduce my plastic consumption as much as I can. Bringing my own reusable bags and containers when shopping for food was a given when I lived in Australia and is something I’m trying to implement into my Norwegian lifestyle. Lastly, to walk or choose public transportation instead of driving is something we should all be doing more.