I LOVE to hear people’s yoga story, the journey that led them to the mat, their experiences, inspiration, and it turns out so do you. (Thank you for the feedback). So, I decided to start this guest post series again and we’re kicking off with Alessia, a life coach and yoga teacher based in Paris. She has found her passion in guiding and supporting others in finding their own purpose and passions in life. A fellow gentle, intuitive heart centred yoga teacher, and I’m looking forward to joining her on the mat when I’m next in Paris.
Tell us a little about yourself
Hello beautiful readers! My name is Alessia, I’m a life coach and Vinyasa Yoga teacher based in Paris and I’m also writer on my blog.
I’m an Italian girl but I’ve been a traveler since I was little, and I’ve been living in France for the last 5 years, initially to follow my masters in marketing and then when I decided to take a more entrepreneurial path last year I decided to stay in Paris and I’m living my passions every day since then :).
Everyone who has ended up on a yoga mat raising their arms in their first sun salutation has a story of what led them there. What’s yours?
That is so true! I have always joke about the fact that I didn’t decide to do yoga, it was this practice that called me! I started to practice in Italy during university, in a period in which I was really stressed out and I was looking for an activity that could reconnect me with myself and help me relax and slow down. I was a sensitive soul and an introvert, even if at the time I wasn’t aware of that, so I think yoga was my way to switch off the noise of the world and just take time to breathe.
I started practicing in a public course run by the city of Milan, it was in a high school gym I think, with no props or fancy yoga outfits. I think yoga wasn’t yet trendy at the time, and it was a beautiful Hatha practice and all I remember was the diverse community of people practicing and the warm feeling of self-care and calm.
What keeps you returning to your yoga mat?
This is such a good question! I think for years I came back to it because I needed it mentally to calm my mind and physically for the nurturing feeling that my body felt at the end of each session, it was like a big hug!
Last year I decided to take the huge step of following a Teacher Training and become a teacher myself. It was a big leap of faith, and I mostly did it for myself, as a way to deepen my practice and connect with the local yoga community in a moment in which I wanted to change the direction of my life, and I wanted to do something that helped people feel better.
It was a big challenge because my practice until that moment was not regular and I have never been a very “sporty” person, so I was overwhelmed by the fact of finally doing an activity that involved both my mind and my body. And it was such a blessing that I did it, it really changed my everyday life.
I think what keeps me returning to the mat now, is the desire to connect with myself and my body, to my breathe and on top a desire to give back to people through my teachings.
The funny thing is that while I didn’t start yoga for the physical side of it, now I’m also having fun with that more and more and I’m astonished about all the things my body can do, and how much stronger it is.
How has your yoga practice filtered through to your every day life?
In so many ways! I think it opened my heart so much and led me to be a more kind human being! I don’t say that I’m a nice person all the time, because I’m definitely not ( especially when stuck in the metro at the peak hours hehe) but it made me so much more aware of myself and the power I have to improve the world around me.
What is your favorite yoga pose, breathing practice or mantra?
I think my favorite pose is balasana. I love how my upper back melts, it is where I hold most of my tension, and the feeling of my forehead resting on the mat . It’s the most nurturing and sweet pose for me.
What advice do you have for those just starting out on their yoga journey?
The advice that I would give to someone starting out on their journey is simply “ Make it your own”. Don’t worry about how performing the “perfect posture” because it doesn’t exist, or comparing to the person on the mat next to you. Just start simple and focus on how it feels in your body and mind, and don’t forget to breathe! It’s a lifetime practice, a journey and there is no special “yogi destination “ to reach, so enjoy the process.
How has your yoga practice evolved over time?
I think it became more fun lately! As I was saying before my practice started as a way to rest my mind and relax the body, and now that I’m practicing more Vinyasa Yoga, even if these components are always there, I’m also having fun and challenging myself a little bit more, never pushing myself to do a specific posture but trusting my body and what it can do.
Also, since a couple of years I’ve deepened my meditation practice which is a life saver and I’ve added mantras and chanting into my practice.
What are you loving right now?
Such a juicy question!! Honestly I’m living a moment of huge gratitude for my life right now. Since I have decided to follow my bliss and trust life more, I’m experiencing so many beautiful connections and opportunities.
I think the thing I’m loving the most is the community of like-minded and big-hearted people (like you!!) which I’m connecting with everyday and the beautiful yoga community in Paris!
How do you nurture yourself?
I nurture myself a lot with my time alone. I love connecting with people and having deep and fun conversations, but I always need some “me time” to recharge my batteries and really processing and absorbing the benefits of my experiences.
Some activities that really help me are meditation, journaling a lot with some candles lit next to me, experimenting in the kitchen and taking baths (I wish I had a bath tub in my place, for the moment it happens when I’m travelling or home in Italy).
And also reading inspiring books, blog and listening to podcasts.
What wisdom has your yoga practice revealed to you that you’d like to share with us?
Oh my god, it’s so difficult to choose one! The one that comes to my mind is self-acceptance. You’re practice is unique and different from anyone else’s, and that’s perfectly ok.
The mat is a mirror that never lies, it shows you your strengths and weaknesses day after day and gives you a beautiful opportunity to love yourself anyways, whatever is coming up!
It simply holds a safe space for you to be yourself and be enough.
Thank you Alessia for sharing your yoga experiences and wisdom with us. Your last comment is pure gold, ‘Yoga holds a safe space for you to be yourself and be enough’. So much truth in that statement.
Alessia Gandolfo is a Life Coach for gypsy souls and a Vinyasa yoga Teacher based in Paris. She helps multicultural women blossom into the best version of themselves by uncovering their inner light through her coaching programs and yoga classes and she shares spirited life advice and inspiration on her blog. .
Alessia is also co-founder of the collective “ The Happy yogis in Paris”. When she’s not working with amazing clients, she loves travelling, exploring the food scene in Paris and connecting with like-minded people around the world.
You can find out more about Alessia and connect with her here: