Slowing Down, Taking Deep Breaths

It has been a crazy couple of weeks in the yogic Life of Leona. For the first time in my teaching career as an E-RYT, I have managed to train and certify a student, with me as the Lead Trainer in a Yoga Alliance accredited course. Having that experience of creating a course curriculum, which for me contains the essential tools for a new yoga teacher, finally being able to train someone using that curriculum, watching them grow in their practice and their teaching methods…that experience is quite exhilarating. Not to mention the relationships that developed along the way. That will always be the best part of this journey, having wonderful people in my life who always encourage personal growth and happiness.

I only ever had a few weeks to breathe before I decided it was time for me to take it to the next level: to introduce the course – my course – to a wider audience. And next level it was… Within a span of 4 weeks, I was able to fill all the spots I offered for my upcoming Yoga Teacher Training Intensive in July 2018.

Having a business background does not usually enmesh with the yogic lifestyle. Most purists would say approaching yoga with a business-mind takes meaning out of yoga itself.

But I don’t completely agree with that. 

I believe that as yoga teachers, we have the moral obligation to teach as best as we can the essence of yoga – to live equanimously, with love and compassion for all. As yoga teachers, it is our secondary duty to reach and teach everyone who is willing to learn. And by everyone, I mean the entire world. But as human beings, our energy and resources are not infinite. We must make use of these resources in the most logical and wisest way possible. I believe that’s when business mathematics come into play. And it’s not always necessarily evil.

Having said that, I spent many nights unable to sleep because of the amount of work I need to put in this new venture – setting up a system, rounding up a team, the works. Not that I’m complaining, I am merely stating a fact. I am finally doing what I’ve always intended to do. I am finally walking down the path of my purpose. And I know walking with purpose comes with a price. Mine is a few acne breakouts every now and then, and an hour less to sleep at night. But when I think about the greater picture – how many lives will be touched by the souls that decide to teach yoga, and how many lives I can help because of the business that I am growing – I believe it’s a minuscule price to pay.


Right now, what I need is to slow down, recount my steps, and embrace a future that is filled with abundance and possibilities.


The Yoga of Lifelong Relationships

Lessons in love and life I learned by being with Parth Chaudhary:
1. Love is a commitment, not a feeling. There will be days when you don’t have a romantic bone in your body. There will be days when everything annoys the hell out of you. But through it all, if you are truly loving each other, all these things don’t matter. Because emotions are TEMPORARY, but your commitment to loving each other is lifelong.
2. A functional relationship will always foster a supportive environment. You may not always be on top of your game, but your partner understands this and allows you that space to make mistakes. They will be there to pick you up and dust you off on days you realize you have been less than perfect. Your partner would only want you to grow as a person. They can sometimes be snarky, but they will always be there for you. Sometimes not physically beside you, but watching along the sidelines, making sure you never feel alone. This goes both ways and you must also understand that there are days when your partner needs your presence and support more than ever.
3. Your relationship will crumble without TRUST and RESPECT. Let your partner explore the world with full confidence that they will come back to you. If you couldn’t bring yourself to trust them at that level, then you have no business being in that relationship. If you find yourselves fighting for whatever reason, try very hard not to insult or call each other names. Trust and respect are the two bricks of foundation you need to lay down before you can ever hope to build anything of significance.
4. Character is everything. Work on yourself and your ambitions. Work on the life that you hope to live. And love someone for what they are exactly, not for what you hope they could be. If you find yourself dreaming of a better version of your partner, then maybe you should set out to find a person who’s exactly like that to begin with.
5. Be in love with yourself first. Commit to self-improvement and know that you are always a work in progress. Eat well, stay hydrated, exercise regularly, sleep 8 hours a day. It’s easier to love someone when you’re healthy. Love yourself so much that you would never tolerate being disrespected. Set rules for yourself, know how much pain you would allow yourself to bear before saying you’ve had enough. Having said that, once you know your worth, the energies you would allow in your life are the ones that truly deserve to be there.
And I thank you. 😅

Perpetual Beginner

I don’t feel the need to be anything more than that – a beginner. Having said that, my practice is an amazing gift that I nurture with even more practice. It’s a gift from the universe that I do not take for granted. The whole experience is a plethora of emotions just waiting to be unleashed – delight, wonder, indifference, struggle, obsession, disappointment, breakdown, breakthrough, wonder, delight. I welcome each new emotion with an open heart, whether it appeals to my senses or not. I have learned not to dismiss any experience. Any aversion to unpleasant sensations only causes more misery than fully accepting the source of unpleasantness.

Nearly four years ago, I started my journey home to myself. Of course, back then, I didn’t really look at it that way. Back then, I lived a pretty sedentary lifestyle. I was overweight and borderline diabetic. I needed an activity – any activity at that – that allows more movement than my current lifestyle afforded me. I found a yoga studio around the corner from my house, and the rest was history. Each time I am one with my mat, I discover something new about my practice. I find something new about myself. Each time, with no fail, I am reminded that I am perpetually a learner – a beginner.

Fast forward four years…I still come back to practice. Mind you, my yoga has evolved in more ways than one. I’ve had to overcome my incessant ego several times. And I suspect I will still need to overcome its limitless attempts to undermine my journey. You see, ego is a funny little thing. It pushes you in multiple directions, but none of them ever really lead to liberation. It engages your self-destruct button and you have to succumb before you realize that you don’t have to. Ego will create and destroy relationships for you, so you will realize that all you ever really need is already within you.

I have come to terms with the fact that as far as yoga is concerned, as a practitioner and a teacher, I am a child. A stubborn child who has a lot to learn. But unlike a child, I realize now that I am not in a hurry to grow up. I enjoy being a beginner. I don’t really need to go far, I just need to keep going. Continue reading

Modern Miseries

Why is our generation so miserable? We have everything, all the conveniences that technology has to offer. And yet, when we go through our Facebook feed, it’s all full of depression, hate, desperation. To add fuel to the fire is the comments section, which I feel should forever be avoided.

We have more modes of transportation now, making it so easy to get from point A to point B, you’d think people would go out more. But ironically, just when transportation has gotten easier, more delivery options have also become available. Instead of physically going to your favorite restaurant or shopping center, why not have my food and goods delivered with just a phone call or a click of a button?

We have cellphones, internet video calling. Flights are cheaper than ever. But instead we have reduced ourselves to become keyboard warriors. It’s your friend’s birthday? Write on her wall. Oh she’s sick? Here’s a “Get well soon” graphic on her inbox. Guys, when and why did we become so lazy? Having all this unused energy, I think, is making us miserable. There’s so much fire in us that we need to unleash, except going through our News Feed is actually easier so here, let me just do that for one quick minute…

There are those of us who were raised as a God-fearing individual and that’s mainly a good thing. It means that we have with us a set of moral values that we need in order to live a harmonious life with others. We have been attending worship services as young as we could possibly remember. Then we grew up and started making your own choices. We are then constantly reminded that our choices are not always as morally-upright as what your religious leaders expect of you. We are perpetually guilted into submission, in anticipation of a hypothetical eternally blissful afterlife. But what about this life though? Do we purposely forget that we are fighting to survive in this world, right here, right now, where it’s as real as it will ever be?

Yoga Teacher Training (RYT 200) in the Philippines

At Bodhi Yoga Center, we believe that yoga is a lifestyle and that our practice doesn’t end when we leave the mat or the studio. We practice our yogic values in the way we work and play. And we take fun very seriously.

Spend a month-long immersion in the heart of laid-back General Santos City in Southern Philippines. Spend weekends (and maybe some weekdays) learning theory or practicing vinyasa or acroyoga by the white sand beaches of Sarangani Bay. Do water activities in your spare time such as scuba diving or snorkeling.

Sure, fun is there. But when we work, we work hard. We train from sunrise to sunset, studying a comprehensive syllabus to ensure that our trainees become compassionate and competent yoga teachers after graduation.

Whether you have the calling to teach others, or you are simply exploring your own practice, anyone can benefit from learning safe and correct methods to practice yoga postures, breathing, cleansing techniques and meditation. Appreciate from an anatomical standpoint how these practices affect our physical and mental state. Learn how to modify postures to fit any type of body, and know that Yoga is indeed for everyone. Understand the correlation between the physical practice and the underlying philosophy and truly see that yoga is all-encompassing – it is life as we know it.

200hr Yoga Teacher Training with Vinay Jesta Yoga – Truestrengthvinyasa
Bodhi Yoga Center GenSan, General Santos City, Philippines
November 20 – December 15, 2017

Early bird rate = Php 100,000 (USD 2,000) incl. Course + Private Accommodation for 26 Nights + 3 Daily Meals
Flexible payment terms available.

Contact us!
Phone: +63-9328891103

My Journey to the Primary Series

Marichyasana D. Bhujapidasana. Supta Kurmasana. These are some of the poses I have yet to achieve in my 3-year on-again-off-again relationship with the Ashtanga Primary Series. These are postures with intense binds that not only require flexibility to attain, but strength to maintain the bind as well.

I practice yoga not because I have asana goals. I’ve learned long ago to let go of the postures that require me to force myself into a pretzel. But practicing Ashtanga has given me an entirely different perspective on #AsanaGoals. It’s less about the physical capability of the body than the mental resolution to finish what I’ve started, no matter how long it takes.

I am currently enjoying my Mysore practice with Laruga Glaser here in Manila. Every morning, we are given 3 hours to practice together as a group. Each person is on a different place in his/her practice, so each one is performing different asanas, different sets of postures at their own pace. If you look at the room as an outsider, it would look like an organized chaos. Some would be doing seemingly super human stretches in the Intermediate Series, while others are still being cued into their first few standing postures. But one thing we have in common is an intention to look deeper than what our bodies currently offer.

There are times when practicing Ashtanga feels like a punishment. But after the motions of going through it, I am resolved with the fact that it’s a great mind-and-body workout. It is indeed a good gauge on how the body has progressed through the years. And although my body no longer shivers in Parivritta Trikonasana the way it did three years back, I am still miles away from completing my journey in Primary Series. I have come to terms with the fact that it may take a while, maybe even a lifetime. And that’s okay.

Moments of Great Uncertainty

What is your vision? What do you hope to achieve? How do you propose to serve the world that has given you so much?

These are the questions I ask myself in moments of great uncertainty. Moments when I think myself useless or incapable of reaching the lengths of my ambitions. When I feel like my plan is doomed for failure. I think about how grateful I am to have found my passion, to be of service to others while doing it, and occasionally get paid for it as well.

I am nothing. I have reached nothing. I have proven nothing.

These are the things I speak to my heart whenever I feel like I have won tiny victories. Of course, I know every person has an innate brilliance that needs years of polishing experience. But surely there is a way of accepting destiny without letting it aggrandize the ego?

My inner yoga is a constant battle between contentment and improvement. I have an unwavering desire to go out into the world and learn. But my life is so beautiful that I know in my heart it would not be wrong to stay exactly where I am. How does one decide the next move when she has wings and she has an anchor?