This former waiter started her own empowerment program, helping women learn to live a more fearless life.

By Mirel Zaman
June 19, 2019
Joseph Longo

Now what?

That’s the most important question to Jennifer Pastiloff, 44, the creator of On Being Human, a program that combines yoga and dance with writing and sharing exercises. The goal of the workshops, which have a following of thousands of women in a dozen countries, is to inspire you to be happier and to ditch fear and self-criticism, and to empower you to change your mind about who you are and what you want.

Once you identify obstacles and areas prime for change, “you need to follow up and ask yourself, Now what? What’s the next step forward I can take?” Pastiloff says. “Otherwise, you’re just making lists.” (Related: Why You Should Try Gratitude Journaling)

Asking herself that question is how Pastiloff went from being a waiter to running workshops and, more recently, writing a book, On Being Human. After dropping out of college and working in a restaurant for nearly 14 years, Pastiloff started taking medication in 2008 for her long-untreated depression.

“That created this pinprick of light where there had been nothing,” she says. It was enough to spur her first “now what?” moment. She trained to become a yoga teacher on a friend’s suggestion. Then she put together a retreat that was part yoga, part life coaching. And those retreats evolved into On Being Human. (Read more of Pastiloff's personal backstory here.)

Pastiloff realized the power of what she had created when a woman named Julia emailed her, asking for words of wisdom after her infant son had died. Pastiloff shared Julia’s story on social media. First came hundreds of comments. Next came donations.

“Women sent money so Julia could come to one of my retreats in Italy. After, she wanted to pay it forward, so we started the Aleksander Fund, named for her son. It uses donations to bring women in need to the workshops,” Pastiloff says. The experience showed her the scope of the On Being Human community. (FYI: A support community can help you reach your health and fitness goals too.)

OK, now what? “I want to keep building,” Pastiloff says. “I hope I can continue to help people become more comfortable in their own skin and to be more open, compassionate, and willing to tell the truth about who they are.”

Make a Move: Pastiloff’s workshops use dance, song, yoga, and communication exercises to help women connect.

Pastiloff’s Mantra: “Dork it out,” meaning don’t take yourself too seriously. Tap into your playful side. (Here, more mantras from top trainers.)

Her Next Step: “I’m the world’s worst planner,” Pastiloff says. “I never set out to create this workshop or write a memoir. All I did was take one small step, then another.”

Shape Magazine, June 2019 issue
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