Teacher Spotlight: Nina Petruzzo

1. What made you try yoga for the first time? 
I was taking an eastern philosophy course back in college and one of our assignments was to partake in an activity/tradition from eastern culture.  I decided to try a Bikram Yoga class to complete the assignment. I remember how hot, sweaty, and challenging the class was not only physically but mentally. I almost gave up after 5 minutes, but had this realization that this was something I needed to stay connected to.  I fortunately continued taking yoga classes in more of the alignment-based vinyasa style in Boston shortly after and was totally hooked.

2. What's your favorite yoga pose and why?
I’m always fascinated with the feet (they are our foundation!), so I’ve been finding ways to activate and balance the arches of my feet in almost every posture. I would say at the moment coming to the top of my mat in Tadasana, grounding my feet to connect to the earth, balancing my spine, and setting an intention has become my favorite posture.

3. What are you focused on in your teaching right now?
In my own practice I have been really interested in pranyama and connecting to subtle body energies.  I've been finding that my own practices slowly translate into my group classes so I've been bringing in more breathwork and encouraging my students to slow down, be still, and pay attention as an invitation to bring more awareness to their energy, breath, and mental states. 

4. If you could study under anyone for a year, who would it be, and why? 
My main teacher and mentor Annie Carpenter continues to be a huge influence in my own practice and teachings.  Each time I train with her my mind is blown away by how much there is to learn; she constantly sparks my curiosity around the practice.  I am forever grateful for her humor, playfulness, joy, and wisdom.  She has inspired me in countless ways, but most importantly has taught me to practice in a way that produces the best version of myself.

5. What inspires you?
Being out in nature is my constant anchor and inspiration.  Nature has been my biggest teacher in learning to slow down and be still enough to take in the endless beauty that surrounds me.  Being out in nature--whether its by the ocean or in the mountains--completely grounds me, connecting me to a space of deep awareness and gratitude.

6. Best trip you've ever taken?
I've been very lucky to drive across the country two times in the past few years.  The first time I drove from Boston to San Diego taking the southern route across the US and this past spring I was able to drive from San Diego back to Cape Cod taking the northern route. I love traveling in the form of a road trip because you get to see and experience so many things along the way from majestic views of our national parks, gorgeous coastlines, magical mountain ranges, vibrant cities, and the boundless landscape across middle America.  My favorite thing through traveling this way is the diverse people, cultures, and communities I was able to cross paths with.  It was incredible to see the diversity of the country and meeting so many special people along the way.

7. What's your favorite part of teaching yoga?
TO CONNECT. Yoga to me is connection; connection to myself, my body, my breath, my mental states; connection to community, friends, students, and new people I meet, and connection to all beings everywhere. I practice and teach to cultivate awareness, patience, gratitude, presence, acceptance, and compassion, inviting myself and my students to stay awake and embody the best versions of themselves.

8. How do you try to live a mindful life?
I eat nourishing foods to fuel my body, I sit to embrace all of my mental states, I surround myself with people who inspire and support me, I connect to my core values of kindness, patience, and gratitude, and as taught to me by one of the most profound teachers of mindfulness practice, Michael Stone, I try my best each day to maintain an awareness of the preciousness of this human life.

Nina teaches Flow + Restore Yoga on Fridays at 4:15pm. View the full class schedule here

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Midweek Wisdom via Danna Faulds