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Interview: Pernilla – yoga teacher
Interview: Pernilla - yoga teacher

Pernilla is a Yoga Teacher and Founder of Calma Studios. She is Swedish and has 2 kids, 18 and 23 years old. She moved to Gran Canaria in 2018. And when I asked her in our Spanish classes to tell me something about herself before starting with the interview, this is what she said: 

I was born in Sweden and grew up in a small village. As me and my sister moved out, my parents went sailing around the world. This was a huge inspiration for me and opened my eyes to the wonders of travelling. After some years in Sweden I and my husband moved with our children to London where we lived for 10 years. This is also where my interest in Yoga started and eventually I took a yoga teacher certification. However, as time went by we felt that change was needed and 2018 we moved to Gran Canaria. Our son goes to the British School here and our daughter still lives in London.

1   Why did you decide to move to Gran Canaria and when was the idea of the Calma yoga studio born?

Many years ago my husband and I joined my parents for a few weeks of sailing around the Canary Islands, which was an amazing experience. Since then Spain has always been close to my heart. When we decided to leave London, Gran Canaria was our choice since we have had such nice experiences from Las Palmas.

I feel so at home here and the idea of opening a yoga studio had been growing for some time. I know I will never get tired of dwelling deeper into the mystery of yoga and spirituality and I want more people to experience the benefits of Yoga.

 2    I’ve known you since you arrived on the island and your idea of the yoga studio has been present since the very beginning. How long did it take you to start the business? What was the most difficult for you?

I and my husband knew early on that we wanted the studio to be in the Guanarteme part of Las Canteras beach. My main language for teaching yoga is English and this part of Las Palmas is such an international hub with new cool places popping up all the time. I feel so grateful that we found a great venue in this buzzing part of Las Palmas and so close to the beach.

Sourcing a good venue and starting the renovations to comply with all the regulations was a quite daunting business. We were lucky to be working with super professional local trades people who sorted out all the issues and hick ups along the way. Patience is a major quality to cultivate! Everything worked out beautifully in the end. During the renovations COVID hit, so we stayed low for a while before opening the studio for the public.

3   There are many foreigners who would like to either move to Spain or even start a business in Spain. In fact, your sister has a restaurant in Triana too. What is your main advice for those who are moving to Gran Canaria?

There is not a huge job market here, apart from hospitality. So another option is of course to create your own work. My sister and her husband opened their beautiful restaurant Popology a year ago in Vegueta and it has been a great success, both among local people and expats.

I previously worked as a self employed yoga teacher in UK. As a comparison, there is so much more difficult to work independently here. To register as autonomo you pay for social security which is expensive, even if there are discounts the first year and second year. There is no distinction between how much you earn, if you work part time or full time, the cost is same for all. There is also a lot of bureaucracy, and it is costly in terms of accounting administration and taxes. Comparing to the simplicity of doing business in UK I believe this limits creativity for creating and developing new business ideas.

There is also a large community of digital nomads who work remotely and move around the world. This is of course another way to support yourself when living in Las Palmas.

4    As a foreigner, what do you like most about living here and what are you still getting used to?

I love the people in Gran Canaria! The locals are very welcoming and helpful. It’s a relaxed atmosphere here, less stress and more fun, people are enjoying life. Coming from north of Europe I also love the climate; nice weather all year around.

I’m still getting used to the Canarian way of living. People here eat lunch late, and dinner even later. Parties start after midnight, when we are about to go home and sleep. This is a distinct difference from both Sweden and UK, but we are adjusting. Don’t want to miss out on all the fun!

6    Mother or a business owner: which one do you find more challenging and why?

Impossible to say, as it constantly changes!

5    When moving to Las Palmas, what is your opinion about speaking Spanish. Do you find it useful/helpful or even mandatory? What would you say to someone who wants to move to Gran Canaria in terms of the language?

For any country, language is always the key to understand and appreciate the culture in more depth.

If you come here to live for a longer time I believe you should learn to speak at least a little Spanish. Many locals don’t speak English at all. The private Spanish lessons I took in the beginning quickly brought me up to speed enough to get around and manage daily life.

I would recommend anyone to prepare and study a little Spanish before moving, if there is time. Nowadays there are many fun and accessible options to study, online via zoom, using language apps etc.

7    What differentiate your yoga studio from other studios in Las Palmas?

We aim for Calma Studios to be a boutique yoga centre where students can experience a variety of yoga and spiritual practices such as mindfulness meditation and Reiki energy healing etc. We believe that learning different styles of practices will allow for a more holistic individual development.

The Yoga Shala is a calm and welcoming space for students of all levels. With classes in Spanish as well as English, each teacher brings their unique presence and skill-set to the practice. In collaboration with our teachers the goal is to create an interesting mix of yoga classes and workshops and take the mind/body/soul journey to the next level.

It is also interesting for students to try classes in different languages. As the practice of yoga is similar, a foreign language may provide a different feel, as well as an excellent language learning opportunity.

8    What is your definition of success?

I want to spread the experience of yoga, wellness and spiritual development to more people and I love that the people here are so open to it! Additionally we want to support local teachers and create a community where both teachers and students all can evolve in our practice and as individuals. I believe that not only do students grow when they go to a yoga class, but also the teachers grow when they meet new students and new situations.

“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.”  Thich Nhat Hanh


Pernilla & Nika

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