Petriina Piuhola, Product Manager on Yoga

My name is Petriina Piuhola, and I’m the Product Manager at Frank Students. During my studies, I noticed that I thrive in the intersection of technology, design, and business, caring about the users. I want to see technology help people in their pursuits, so that is why product management feels like a great fit. Helsinki, my current location, is the city I consider my hometown – I moved back here for my current job. Helsinki offers possibilities for new events, movements, projects and places to appear. For example, in just a few years, the world’s leading start-up conference Slush grew from the living room of few enthusiastic students to an international spectacle of 20,000 attendees with the help of few thousand more enthusiastic students.

What I really love outside of my job is yoga. I did competitive figure skating (synchronized skating) in my teenage years. When I quit, I struggled with the transition to non-competitive sports. I fell in love with yoga because for the first time in my life, moving was about listening to my body and because I wasn’t supposed to compare myself to anyone else. The main benefit of yoga is connecting with my body and mind. Often, we are so disconnected from them in our daily life that just tuning back in will create a positive ripple effect of conscious changes outside the yoga class. Yoga teaches me mindfulness, kindness towards all living beings, and patience.

When it comes to practicing yoga, I like classes of great yoga teachers the best, because they truly can transport me to another place. My main inspirations are my yoga teachers and old yogis who have agile bodies and minds because of years of balanced life and practice. I love practicing other parts of the yogi lifestyle in my daily life and even doing some physical practice by myself, but when I am guiding the experience myself, I need to plan a bit in my head where the practice is going rather than just letting someone guide me and, thus, being able to let go completely. Wherever I live, I try to find a good teacher and go to their classes weekly. But unfortunately, great teachers are not everywhere yet or their classes might not be accessible, so I follow their workshop, training and retreat schedule and try to participate in those as much as I can. Yoga is also about small habits in daily life, like warming and stretching your body when you get out of bed, making sustainable choices, eating a wholesome plant-based diet, practicing mindfulness, etc.

I like to do flow yoga because I come from a dance background, so the flowy movements connected to music and telling a story inspire me in my practice. Also, compared to some more structured yoga styles, the flow can change based on the mood of the day. My favourite pose is the ‘three-legged dog’ – this just feels amazing in my body, my energy expands and then universal twist as a restorative pose to relax the body.

I think that my time with yoga and my current job are quite the opposite. The type of yoga I do tends to have a more female energy, sense of slowness, a bit of a hippie vibe, and just be very grounding. Whereas my work usually is more male-dominated, analytical, rational, hyper-connected, and fast paced.

Yoga definitely balances my life though and makes me more present in it. The concentration skills come handy with tasks that require deep effort, the healthier lifestyle results in better productivity and drive at work and it helps to connect with others on a deeper level. My goals with yoga are about how I can integrate it more to my everyday life in multiple ways so that there is no separate “yogic life”, but of course there are some poses that I secretly hope will happen someday for no good reason. My long-term goal with yoga is to have a healthy body and mind when I’m old, which means years of balanced practice.

My advice for beginners who wish to practice yoga is to go to different types of yoga classes and try different teachers. There is a suitable class for everyone. Don’t worry if you are not flexible (it’s like saying you are too dirty to bathe). With the right teacher, it’s caring for the body and the mind. If you cannot go to classes for some reason, I think there is plenty of great material out there. Most yoga teachers have an online presence, so just make sure that they have a good reputation. Sometimes I use the online material to check the teaching style of a teacher to see whether I should go to a workshop or something else. Otherwise, I think that the magic happens in the yoga class, where the teacher can create this atmosphere for the group to draw energy from.

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