Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Sofia Kesela, Founder of Azana Yoga, located in Helsinki, Finland.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Azana Yoga is an Ed-tech company based in Helsinki, Finland. Our mission is to advocate and educate people about the authentic Indian yoga practice, as well as help them gain holistic well-being through the practice. Our core is to reform the current perception of yoga in the West as merely a fitness regime and create social inclusion by including indigenous teachers of the practice in the markets. The company is female-founded and led, with a strong emphasis on social justice, BIPOC representation, and building a sustainable company of the future.

Tell us about yourself

"Why yoga?" - I hear this question weekly from people who see yoga as a fitness performance, like everyone in the west, asking what my start-up is about. Since a very young age, I have had a keen interest in social justice and holistic well-being, hence my studies and early professional career in social sciences. I have always been driven to see us, humans, as active subjects rather than passive objects, and believe that each one can unlock our truest potential and live life happy with the right guidance. As we all know, in our modern societies, access to health care and therapy isn't so straightforward; it relies a lot on individuals' socioeconomic status. In 2016 my life changed when I traveled to Mumbai, India, to study authentic Yoga practice. I found the ancient practice to be very beautiful, filled with methods, philosophies, and tools to take care of us as a whole, our minds, bodies, and spirits holistically. The most compelling part of the authentic practice is that it teaches you to take responsibility for your health, magnifying individuals' self-reliance and empowerment. The only requirement to start the practice is an open heart and some self-discipline. As a social counselor, my job has always been to make myself unemployed, but our modern societies' methods and resources will never be enough to aid every citizen; that's why I felt so compelled to share the wisdom I learned in India and their intangible cultural heritage to others as well. To share that we all have what it takes to find balance, peace, and happiness, despite our environment.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

My biggest accomplishment as a business owner has been the ability to inspire and motivate people around me to see themselves as strong, emancipated, and empowered individuals. Also, getting the authorities of the Indian government to endorse our start-up has been a huge privilege.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

Probably in the early days, it's the self-assurance when resources are scarce and things are not moving along as swiftly as you anticipated. Also, you need to be able to wear many hats and adapt to things fast.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

Firstly, the consistency to keep yourself aligned with your mission and lovingly reminding yourself that you are enough and you are always exactly where you are supposed to be.

Secondly, relentlessly moving forward, acknowledging that every rejection is a redirection; if you want it, you will make it.

Thirdly, your business is only a business at the end of the day; try to remember that you are also so much more in life. Stay connected with your friends, have those vacations, and attend those parties; life is happening NOW, not only after our businesses bloom.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Don't be afraid to fail; the most important thing is that you tried. And always when a door closes, another one opens. Even if your first attempt fails, as mine did, you still gained so much insight about yourself that it made it all worthwhile. We don't grow in comfort, and that's what we are here for, to grow. Thank you for this opportunity to share about my journey!

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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