The first thing you have to know: it’s never too late to start! And that’s exactly what instructor Paola, alternatively known as @yogafter40 on social media, is all about! After years of weightlifting and cardio exercises, she sought a physical activity that was more mindful and involved a lot of inner energy. At 41 years old, she started doing yoga, eventually growing her yoga community to over 169,000! Now, she can 100% say that:
Yoga makes a huge impact on your physical and mental strength.
Paola: Ever since I started practicing yoga on a consistent basis I have felt incredible changes in my life not only on the physical aspect- I’m more flexible, stronger, and I have better balance- but also on my mental and emotional wellness. I have come to understand my uniqueness as well as my connection to everything in the world; understanding that my limitations are created by me, and allowing my mind to guide my body to feel better, to do what I want. I have learned to be present and to enjoy this moment as it is.
Proper breathing is key.
Paola: Breathing by far is the most important thing when doing yoga or when you are off the mat. Unfortunately many of us forget to breathe correctly, we hold our breath when we are under very stressful situations or we take shallow breaths.
Flexibility isn’t a prerequisite to yoga.
Paola: One of the most common misconceptions about yoga is that yoga is for flexible people. Fact is that yoga makes you flexible, in your physical body as well as your mental and emotional body.
Yoga combines mental and physical discipline.
Paola: Yoga helps control your mind and body. It helps manage stress, anxiety, sharpens concentration and increases body awareness, at the same time, it helps in increasing flexibility and muscle strength.
Yoga is for everyone.
Paola: Yoga is for everyone. I am proof that yoga is for all ages; I started at 41 and I have students who started yoga at 60 +. It’s also for all body types, genders and just anyone who wants to pursue a better life. Yoga is union, we are all one, we are all connected, and we welcome everyone to the practice.
Yoga isn’t a religion.
Paola: Fact is that yoga welcomes all religions and faiths. The intention of the practice is to unite, and bring us together as one while individually exploring self development and growth.
Stretching while working and standing up is beneficial to our bodies.
Paola: Stretching while working and standing up helps improve flexibility while maintaining mobility and preventing injuries. It also helps improve posture as well as mental clarity. I use my beautiful, lightweight Harmoni desk, a total game changer, since I am not trapped in a chair anymore. It really helps a lot since I spend a lot of time editing videos and creating online content, giving me the flexibility to work standing up or sitting down and taking it places with me if I need to.
Paola: If somebody wants to start practicing yoga, my personal advice is to take classes from a certified yoga instructor. It’s great to do it face to face to get the benefits of hands-on adjustments but taking online classes give you the flexibility to practice from your own home, at your own pace, and for a better price than a local studio membership. In any case, just like everything else in life, it all depends on preferences and convenience! Some tips I always share with my students are:
Paola’s Yoga Tips for Beginners
- Connect to your breath
- Listen to your body and honor your body
- Bring your awareness inwards- focus your attention on you, on your emotions & sensations
- Enjoy the journey
- All asanas (poses) look different on different people
- Don't compare your journey with someone else's
- Let go of any expectations and any judgment
The bottomline is, don’t let hesitations hold you back and trust the process always! Even for a certified yoga instructor like Paola, it took quite a bit of time. In fact, she didn’t fall in love with yoga until about 3-5 months into doing it! When it comes to your fitness and mental well-being, your happiness and satisfaction are most important and you should follow only your personal pace!
Learn more from yoga teacher and social media influencer Paola Pietri through her social media:https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfZ4X3RaIfaSjAl84aw0-sw