Story and words by Yana Papaya
Edited by Rina Patel
Photo by Katherine Brook
Moscow is a wonderful city, a centre of attraction of extraordinary creative beings, including ambitious and driven entrepreneurs who believe in the Russian spirit, naîve and kind CIS migrants who are trying to fight for a place under the sun to get their piece of the cake. Moscow is an indicator city that basically reveals and shows every person’s true colours by feeding their ego through introducing him/herself to the world of celebrities, top businessmen, luxury living as well as the bohemian lifestyle. Some people stay true to their heart and values, they stay intelligent and compassionate no matter what connections they build up, others get blown out of proportion to the point of forming a kingdom of fake reality.
Moscow likes to test and see what blood runs through you as well as giving you a lot. Big city life provides you with big opportunities that you can only dream of. However, not every opportunity you come across deserves your attention. While some opportunities might lift your spirit up, others might drain you, pushing you away from your dream-life. That’s when you feel Moscow is taking things from you, piece-by-piece… But, suddenly it gives you back a new sparkly piece that turns Moscow life into a dreamland propping you back up into the centre of life events and encounters with people you were dreaming to meet one day…
This is how I once found myself at the birthday celebration of my favourite Russian radio host; Alex Dubas, which turned into a night to remember. Moments like these allow you to feel that everything is possible, it unfolds at the right time and place naturally and eventually. These are the moments when you feel yourself as the cherry-on-top of the cake. These are the moments I love Moscow for.
My life in Moscow is a kaleidoscope of feelings and stories inspired by people I’ve met, friendships I’ve built, love stories and lessons that have filled me with wisdom and faith, professional growth, great achievements and disappointments. My Moscow moments come with memories of the mulled-wine taste and the feel of winter nights, ice-skating under the big stars on the rinks hidden away from the public eye. My Moscow comes with memories of endless dancing summer nights and long walks along the Sadovoe Ring, driving the empty streets after midnight having “Zemfira” or Prodigy songs playing in the background. My Moscow is about sitting on top of the hill and watching the sunrise reflected in the Moscow river together with your friends, a bottle of buttermilk and fresh bakery treats; or it’s an endless adventure shared together with your bike, longboard or surf-friends that Bali island set your hearts together up with a while ago.
For these and many more other moments, I am forever yours, dear Moscow.
Every desire, every crazy idea, every image or style can be found or re-created here. However, no matter what, Moscow for some reason has somehow always left a weird after-taste in my being. While diving into a new relationship, hobby or project -that very feeling, has either grown progressively or become dulled-down with the passage of time. While diving into the world of yoga I started to realise that it’s OK to have that Moscow after-taste. There are days when you love Moscow and trust its rhythm so much that you are ready to get lost and be forgotten. But there are other days when you feel like you are drowning and no one is able to pull you up from the bottom of the sea. So you take this after-taste as a given and try to embrace it.
However, as my passion towards yoga was growing so did the realisation about my feelings towards Moscow. I got to the understanding that the Moscow lifestyle was not offering what my heart was seeking. I found that the vibrations of that city were indeed different to mine. And that at the time, it was this very difference that not only brought us closer together, but truly set us apart. Introducing myself to the world of yoga in Moscow awoke my internal compass, setting a new destination that was meant to take me to the dreamy lifestyle of New Zealand.
The heroine of today’s story; Tanya Retunsky will understand me as no-one else because yoga has become that shining beacon for her and has helped her to discover her place and purpose in Moscow. She read the signs, listened to herself and accepted the new challenge. Tanya herself created that slice of yoga heaven, called; Retunsky Yoga Studio – which has become a trademark of real Zen in the big city life. I immediately admired the studio straight away when I first walked in, in September 2014. I fell in love with every detail, corner and element of the studio. I fell in love with the energy of the space and people who were a part of it too. I was amazed by the level of professionalism and wisdom of the yoga teachers but also by how much love and effort was put in by the founders while creating that beautiful life inside that can be felt with the first gaze, inhalation, or your first yoga class.
The studio is located in a cozy loft of one of the buildings in the central part of Moscow, it’s very close to the Tsvetnoy Boulevard that is famous for its traditional Circus arena. It’s incredible how it’s easy to set yourself free from judgements, daily duties and worries by stepping into the Retunsky Yoga Studio. You literally feel like you transform yourself into a new space that will allow you to reset, restore and reload yourself by doing some yoga practice, meditations or taking part in one of the seminars or talks. Retunsky Yoga Studio is the perfect place to salute the sun and welcome the new day, practice a warrior state of mind during the lunch break or simply indulge yourself with deep relaxation during a sunset session. Beautiful yoga practices are guided by the best teachers then accompanied by an after-class party and a cup of green tea, dry fruits and soulful conversations that are similar to the ones you had with your friends sitting on the bank of the Moscow river -if you know what I mean.
Refreshing as well as transforming your personal energy levels and streams, you become more open to the world, you breathe in new feelings and see new colours in the life of the big city. You are feeling yourself renewed, enlightened, balanced and determined, having a strong sense of belonging and belief that everything is going to be the way you want it to be. How so? Because now after having this reconnecting yoga experience you truly believe in your strength, skills and abilities, you know that every day gives you as much as you can take. Everyday’s a new opportunity. And now you are willing to take only those ones that make you feel like the cherry-on-top of the cake.
Please welcome thoughts and quotes inspired by Tanya Retunsky -founder of Retunsky Yoga Studio, a charming delicate young lady with iron will-power, structured vision, never-ending passion for life, knowledge and desire to learn about the world, 24/7. Tanya Retunsky – a modern life hero who has created an astonishing yoga-oasis in the heart of Moscow that has made me rethink my current location on the map.
After I graduated from university I followed my professional qualification and worked as a brand-manager for creative advertising agencies and private companies. Then, I somehow gravitated towards the ceramics industry and introduced myself to an American project called ‘Paint Your Own Pottery,’ that specialised in providing ceramicware painting. Together with one american professor, my dad and a few financial professionals, we purchased a franchise and opened 15 ceramics studios in Moscow within a year. It turned out to be a massive business venture. I ended up right in the epicentre of everything. I dealt with organising, shipping (for 40 containers from China), managing a team of 30 employees and retailers, running marketing campaigns for B2B and B2C as well as being an accountant.
There was a moment when I realised that my current job would eventually lead me to the end of my business chapter. Some things worked out well, while others did not work at all. Eventually I lost the meaning behind all of this. I was getting no satisfaction in life, which was very draining. My desires for “I Want this” or “I Want that” finished. All I was left with was chaos in front of me and a deeper understanding that I needed to start all over again. But this time, I knew I would take my actions responsibly.
I quit my job and took unlimited leave. For about a year I meditated, questioned myself; who am I? what I shall do in life? and looked for the right signs. During the same time I started to commit myself to a daily consistent yoga practice and readdressed the same question to the Universe. Then I found an Ashram, met beautiful humans, encountered epiphanies and incredible experiences. My journey towards yoga is similar to other people’s in that I came to yoga because of the overwhelming stress.
You have to meditate a lot to set yourself free from all the shit that stops you from living life to the fullest!
For some people yoga is a sort of escape from the reality. I am talking about situations when unstable and unbalanced individuals who are going through serious stresses in their lives try to escape their reality and find some peace in a yoga practice. Using some channels (similar to alcohol or drugs) that yoga practice allows those people to sublimate their insecure frightened personality so that they may reveal a tiny bit of their inner potential. Yoga is a strong tool that affects your psycho-emotional as well as endocrine systems in your body. However it’s up to every individual to find out what yoga means to them.
There are so many negative stereotypes about yoga in Russia. Lots of people have weird beliefs about it, for example, that some studios are run by people who live by esoteric judgements and simply try to run away from everyday life duties and challenges. It seems as though there is not enough foundation built up on a positive social context about yoga as a practice that simply helps to reconnect with yourself and serves as a necessary therapeutic step in every human’s daily practice.
Yoga is an ancient, sacred and very intellectual serious practice for great warriors and thinkers. Its priceless therapeutic impact on humanity’s well-being has been proven by many civilised countries, scientists, children and possibly already, you.
I don’t like that weight-loss type of yoga. It’s bad for your health and after all, it’s not about yoga at all. The good yoga practice takes an individual down to his/her natural weight level that he/she has genetically coded in their self and it’s OK to be different and not put up with the conditioned standards of beauty.
Yoga teaches you to gain and grow self-discipline within. It also indicates a destructive power of having abundant amounts of desire. When you learn to see and notice these, you will never go backwards.
I tried Vipassanā for the first time when I was 14 years old. I remember that I had to fake the documents to show that my actual age was 18 so I could go to the classes without my parents. I ran away from my parent’s house and went to explore yoga. I went outside of Moscow to experience a 10-day meditation course that was taught by a German teacher. That was my first encounter with yoga.
I would never have thought that my own spiritual pursuit would become a part of my adult social life.
I advocate lots of values that I see in a spider’s net, yet, in our case, we are made up of beautiful energies between personal relations and life events. Having my yoga studio running helps me to share my world perception as well as bringing me closer to wonderful people that feel this world intuitively. While getting to know them I realise that everything we touch, see, consume, eat, each breath and move contains a significant amount of energy that makes a difference to the whole. I see every fraction holds the Universe together and represents the separate small world within -much like a spider’s net I mentioned earlier.
Retunsky Yoga Studio was my way to stay in Moscow and not to run from myself. It became vital for me to do something very important, meaningful that is genuinely nice and beneficial for other people too. My yoga studio is my biggest guru. It has brought me together with amazing people, it taught me how to love. It taught me how to give instead of holding a constant desire of consumerism that is driven by the big city lifestyle. Life in the Retunsky Yoga Studio is similar to the growth of a living organism. Its development is evolving thanks to a bunch of amazing people that happen to be in the right place at the right time. Now, it’s not only a yoga studio, it has become a spiritual creative space for many friends.
I live in this city not because of my project but because of the Love that my yoga studio has taught me.
The studio exists not only as a connecting medium with the Universe but as a business-project as well. Despite the financial crisis, the fact that Moscow is a very complex and expensive city, I can confirm that it is worth setting up your own business and let it grow by believing in it. Everything will work out. Not immediately, but it will work out in the end.
Self-fulfillment is simple, it’s when you feel yourself happy. So if you are lying on the couch and feeling happy, yay for you! If you are doing what is right for your personality, internal world, your inner-being is satisfied -then you are a self-fulfilled person!
I am an individual driven by visuals. For instance, when I’m walking along the Patriarshiye Ponds, I get an aesthetic satisfaction. I like the vibe and crowd that hangs out there, it seems to attract people with a great sense of aesthetic inspiration from inside them. I could feel the birth of a new social class awhile back that is now evident and happening in Moscow.
Walking is my thing. I like to pick up and notice details. It’s almost impossible to notice details if you just drive around. When you walk, you can feel, see, touch and engage with the environment around you. To live and work in such close proximity to everything is a blessing.
Cafe 3205 was the first place in Moscow where you could lie down on the grass, drink prosecco, eat cherries and watch the sky falling down on you to the sound of music. There are not so many places in Moscow now where you can meet a relaxed crowd wanting to have a good time.
Not just eat food, but feel the taste. Inhale a variety of flavours. Activate and play with all your senses. We are so rich in that, and yet, we still need to learn how to play with our senses wisely.
I see myself as a small book, a shabby novel by Gaito Gazdanov.
New motto every day. I haven’t come up with one for today, yet!
I love myself for the fact that I can’t stop learning about the things around me. I love my hunger for knowledge and my endless misunderstanding that I have about the world. I am like a bottomless jar that wants to take in as much truth in itself as possible…but you never get enough of it.
Altai and Japan are the most picturesque places I have ever been to. Altai for its rich and natural diversity, and Japan for its cultural uniqueness.
Travelling is one of my favourite things to do. I dive into a new places I visit. Nothing else exists for me apart from that place. Travelling is one of the most interesting experiences in which to learn about the world and find answers to some of the mysteries of life.
Travelling for me is not about going to Europe but heading to the other side of the planet.
I have visited yoga studios in Tokyo, Paris, Berlin and New York. One of the most remarkable ones was in Paris, called Rasa Yoga Studio which represented the green space around you. Basically, you are placed in a winter garden surrounded by top yoga teachers from all round the world sharing yoga knowledge with you as much as you are able to take.
Japanese learn and conceive the information about the world through their eyes. Their yoga studios are quite unique spaces with elements of minimalism that become more playful with the help of colours and light. There is a two-level studio for example, that is weird and peculiar much like a small marketplace, similar to the type that you would sell fish from, this one was based downstairs in the corner. As you come upstairs through a long spiral staircase you find yourself in an interesting eco-space with curtains in the middle that separate the studio from the dressing rooms. I find it fascinating when people start to play with the space like that -by bringing their cultural thinking and peculiarities into a life of the space.
The Shore Line is a yoga studio in India.
I think that we need to look after people more.
You are not born the way you are. You need to grow and become who you would like to be. The human being is born with a set of certain systems and logic, but in my opinion each of us is a moving and developing environment. And we can only allow our intellect to grow through consistent meditation, consciously shaping our future towards human fulfillment and self-actualisation.
It seems like there is not enough love in me. I would like to have more, so that I may give more.
My life is ruled by intuition and the power of mind. But there are people who live with their heart, soul or pure intellect. And there are those who live by what their stomach says and eating habits. I love people with big hearts. They are the foundation for everything. And I find that they can usually make delicious pancakes!