How Yoga Teacher Jennifer Pastiloff Is Changing Women’s Lives Through Her Empowerment Workshops

03/08/2016 at 04:34 PM ET

Jennifer Pastiloff
Courtesy of Jennifer Pastiloff

When you get to the end of your life, and ponder: “What have I done?” — what will your answer be?

While many of us may not have given this prompt much thought in the past, Jennifer Pastiloff, 41, already knows how she wants to be remembered. “Let my answer be: I have done love,” she tells a group of 70+ women at a Pure Yoga studio in N.Y.C. on Saturday, reciting the quote she considers her mission statement.

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Pastiloff is a pro at making people feel safe. She admitted this to the room of women taking one of her frequently sold-out workshops, which she leads across the United States (including an annual retreat in Italy), aptly named The Manifestation Workshop: On Being Human.

“I started doing these workshops shortly after I became a yoga teacher,” Pastiloff tells PEOPLE. “When I started sharing very openly and honestly who I was in my personal essays and online through social media, I began to develop a very loyal following. I saw the power in being vulnerable and telling the truth in who I was and realized I could cultivate that same community and connection in real life.”

Hello, NYC workshop! I love you!

A post shared by Jennifer Pastiloff (@jenpastiloff) on

The yoga teacher-turned-retreat leader created these workshops six years ago to promote the importance and need for human connection, which she successfully takes on by providing participants (mostly women, though Pastiloff says a handful of men have attended in the past) with writing prompts, sharing sessions and an epic dance party — with classic yoga moves trickled throughout “to open up and connect with our bodies.” Singing along to Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” and Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'” is highly encouraged.

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The inclusion of karaoke yoga, according to the expectant first-time mother, helps people become more in-tune with their bodies and also serves as a much-needed break from the heavy admissions these women bravely offer up during the three-hour event.

“I don’t care if you’ve never done yoga,” she says to the group of women, a slew of whom raised their hands moments before when asked by Pastiloff if they were nervous. “The point is to get us connected.”

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Pastiloff’s Saturday workshop, much like her past ones, was comprised of a diverse group of women whose ages ranged from 16 to mid-50s. Despite more than 70 people gathered in the studio, the experience remained intimate.

The day, which promptly started at 1pm and ran a little after 4pm, began with sun salutations to warm up the body but quickly turned into a writing workshop. Pastiloff — who has struggled with significant hearing loss and has also openly spoken and written about her years-long battle with depression — delivered prompts that elicited emotional and heartbreaking responses from those in attendance. The women addressed their insecurities, their hopes and fears for the future and why they think they’re worthy of giving and receiving love, through their writing, which they then shared out loud.

“Despite my hearing loss, I say my job is ‘listening,'” Pastiloff tells PEOPLE. “I was afraid at first that if I opened up about my own depression that it would affect what I had created with my career, but quite the opposite happened. People showed up in droves. I realized that people were yearning for someone who they felt gave them permission to share their own truths.”

Even Lena Dunham is a fan of Pastiloff’s work. Back in November, the Girls star enlisted the soon-to-be published author to speak at The Ally Coalition’s Talent Show, which benefited homeless LGBT youth.

“I don’t think there is any area of my life that my workshops have not impacted,” she says. “Each time I listen to someone’s story — I am changed. I love inspiring people to create something that doesn’t fit inside a box. My workshop surely doesn’t.”

—Grace Gavilanes, @gracegavilanes

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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms


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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms

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On a clear day, you can see forever—or at least that’s the wicked thought behind L.A. designer Agi Berliner’s transparent idea: see-through jeans. Exhibitionists notwithstanding, most folks wear them over bathing suits or as attention-getting evening wear with halters, garter belts and body stockings. Created for the disco crowd, the $34 jeans are selling like, well, hot pants. In just six weeks, 25,000 pairs have already been sold in such major department store chains as Macy’s, Bonwit’s and Saks.

“What’s limiting American designers is that we’re afraid to do something different,” says Berliner, 32, a Hungarian émigré who fled with her family to the U.S. in 1956. Agi thought up the gimmick in London while marveling at the way plastics were being employed by designers of punk fashion. In her L.A. office, where she designs for La Parisienne junior sportswear, Agi spent five days on the phone and six weeks testing to come up with the right plastic.

Agi herself tried out the French-cut jeans with the zipper in front, and quickly found several problems: Some plastics tore away from stitching, others wouldn’t bend and all fogged with perspiration. The ideal material proved to be a vinyl supplied by a bookbinder. The steam was eliminated with a series of vents behind the knees and in the crotch. “They’re no hotter than polyester pants,” claims Agi, “and if you wear them with tights, they won’t stick to your legs.”

Whatever the discomfort and despite the problem of Saturday night feverishness, discomaniacs report one major advantage of the plastic pants: no laundry bills. To keep Berliner’s see-through jeans clear, all the wearer needs is a little Windex.

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barbarapotter on

I love this

Anonymous on

Had no idea you were hearing impaired. So am I. The frustration of people around me makes me nervous. My own daughter has no patience with me especially on the phone. I will be following you and hope one day I will be able to attend your workshop..

RiRedd on

A woman worthy of her following and more. I am a fan and a follower.

Debra Cusick on

I had the good fortune to take one of Jens workshops in Chicago. She is the real deal and trusts life. By sharing her true self, she gives others permission to, in an atmosphere that gets our juices flowing, with love and compassion. No judging needed or allowed. Five hearts 💜💚💛❤️💙

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Linda on

I have taken a workshop with Jennifer. It is a safe, warm and loving space to share… I can’t recommend it enough. Wish my daughters would go… A blessing for young women.
Jennifer is amazing!

fulldisclosures on

Jen has been so inspiring to me over the last few years. Her authenticity and leadership sometimes overshadow the fact that she is a truly gifted writer, as well.

Keri on

She is what the world needs more of! She preaches peace & love. She tells you that you are enough, to be yourself & love yourself – and my favorite, F anyone who makes you feel otherwise!
Keep at it Jen!!

Rianna on

An amazing woman in so many ways!

SBK on

Love-love-Love Jennifer. She’s so real and says it like it is.. She’s says what we at all thinking in a productive way!! She’s the real deal..

Rachael Crosby on

Best gift i ever gifted myself was JenCamp. The connections and encouragement continue a year later.

Anonymous on

Such and inspiration! Love you Jen😘😘😘

Suzanne Magdalena Rolph-Mcfalls on

Jen is a voice of loving-kindness and acceptance that is long overdue in this world. She’s a force, a gift, an energy wave that we surf, leaving us on the shore opened to living authentically, and loving ourselves wholly.