Expert Spotlight with Pino Rizzi

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One of my favourite things to do each week is hit up Pino Rizzi’s Power Yoga Strength class at Power Yoga Canada in Oakville, Ontario. This class cannot be beat! Somehow, in the span of 60 minutes, Pino manages to make a room full of Yogi’s sweat like they’ve never sweat before, hurt (in that oh-so good way) like they’ve never hurt before, feel more engaged and more present than they ever have before and be open to change in their lives like they never have before. Pino is a leader, a teacher, a coach, a personal trainer, a motivational speaker and a presenter. And when you're in his presence — even for a few short minutes — you quickly realize why he is successfully all of these things. It's for all of these reasons that for our first expert spotlight at NLF, we chose to interview Pino Rizzi. Keep reading for some very insightful answers to our expert Q & A!

How did you begin your journey as a Yoga Instructor and expert in the wellness field?

Being physical and expressing myself through movement was always a natural way of being for me. I discovered how liberating it is to move uninhibited and unconstrained. As a teenager I started professional dance training and part of our work was Yoga and Body Conditioning. During those years I saw Yoga as a physical practice only and stayed determined because of those results and the ridged disciple Yoga and dance gave me. Years later I began to open up to a deeper transformation going on within me. My focus was no longer physical results. I awakened to a new spirituality and something bigger than myself emerged. I was truly inspired the  day I realized Yoga is about my internal state and  how I show up everywhere for everyone in all aspects of my life- not just on my mat and not just in my body.  This was an AHA moment for me and this was the day I committed to Yoga practice and knew I would be a student of Yoga forever. I continued to study different styles over many years and naturally teaching and leading followed. Now I am a certified Baptiste Yoga Teacher. I teach at Power Yoga Canada and I lead programs for the Baptiste Institute. Also I am a Personal trainer and wellness coach.

What motivates you to stay healthy?

Being a teacher, trainer and leader motivates me to stay healthy. My intention is to live authentically and the work I do is all about teaching and sharing practices and techniques for a healthy mind, body and spirit. It is not always easy to follow this path. Influences and temptations all around us make it acceptable to live with unhealthy choices around food, fitness, relationships, work, stress and the relationship we have with ourselves. I remember a quote from Baron Baptiste that says: “Don’t wish for it, Work for it.” Unhealthy choices lead to unhealthy consequences and I am motived to lead – even without words. This means my actions need to be in alignment with what I am asking others to take on as well.

What is your favourite Yoga pose and why?

This is a great question because it often changes. I love challenging my strength and the idea of working on poses that I do not fully have right now. There is a sense of connection with the challenge and pure bliss when the pose I thought I could not do – becomes possible. I work on inversions daily and I like to work core for strength, power and stability. Dancer’s Pose is one of my favourite poses to get open and feel expanded. Using Blocks and straps is something I do often to deepen, release, and integrate more.

What are your 3 top self-care strategies that you incorporate into your regular routine?

a) Take long hot baths and showers. There is something soothing about heat and water. Add in beautiful scents with soaps and oils and it is an experience that leaves me revitalized.

b) Do Yoga and Meditate. This keeps me in the practice of caring for my Body, Mind and Spirit.

c) Be outside. Run, walk, sit and watch people, the lake, birds and dogs. Breathing in and out and having all my senses come alive is why I make time to be outside all year round.

What is your philosophy on healthy eating?

The impact of food on our bodies is interesting to me. There are clear and undisputed results on energy, strength, various health conditions, disease and mental health all from the food we consume. It’s a miracle that something picked from the earth can have such profound effects. My philosophy is to stay focused on clear eating with things from the ground to the table. Not harming animals, the environment and fair working conditions also matters. Food is all around us and it is an important part of life on many levels – for survival, there is an emotional connection to food, we express love and gratitude with food, we express who we are and take care of others with food. A balanced approach is my goal. Using food for fuel, energy and ultimate health.

What is your favourite go-to healthy meal?

Generally I keep things simple and keep it colourful. Exploring a new fruit or vegetable is a nice surprise for my taste buds and I love to add fresh herbs, ginger, or spices to bring flavours to life and have added health benefits

What advice can you give our readers who may be new to Yoga?

I often have conversations with people who do not do Yoga – at the gym, in a line waiting, and even close friends and family. Generally the one thing that stops people from stepping into a Yoga class is – I can’t do that!

a)     I’m not flexible

b)     I don’t have a Yoga body

c)     I’m not strong

d)      I can’t sit still

e)     It’s weird!

The idea that Yoga is not accessible for every human being on the planet comes from some of the images we see. Of course not all- but some magazines, things we see on television, or some Yoga Gurus we hear speak can present Yoga as something “out there”, advanced, complex, and for the already enlightened. The truth is Yoga is about union. Simple – your body as it is right now. Your breath as it is right now. Your thoughts and emotions. It is for every body type, shape, size and level of experience. Physical changes will come – yes more flexibility and strength. Greater vitality and health. It starts with getting out of your own way, rolling out your mat and come as you are. Sometimes happy, sometimes sad, sometimes enlightened, sometimes stuck, sometimes whole, sometimes broken. Through the practice of Yoga you practice how to show up, rise up, and Break through. If there is any fear, hesitation, or doubt in your mind and a curiosity about Yoga – you must go. This is more than an invitation – It is a bold request I make of you to find a local studio and take a Yoga class. You will not know all of the poses at first. You will shake a little when holding a pose, you will lift your right arm when the teacher said left, you will start thinking of your to do list, checking the time, and fixing your top. And it’s perfect. Laugh, sweat, move your body, sit when you need to sit and sigh when you need to sigh. Yoga is the practice life. Your life is happening right now. What are you waiting for?

→ If you enjoyed this Expert Spotlight, read on for 6 Yoga Brands We Can't Get Enough Of