My Christmas Week Schedule

Monday, December 22
8:00 AM – Marichi Yoga House – Vinyasa

Tuesday, December 23
4:00 PM – MetroLifestyle Fitness Center – Vinyasa

Saturday, December 27
4:00 PM – MetroLifestyle Fitness Center – Vinyasa

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Dear Yoga Virgin: An open letter to anyone who’s about to join a yoga class for the first time

Dear Yoga Virgin,

Namaste! First of all, let me congratulate you for finally coming inside the confines of a yoga studio for the first time. You may not realize this today, or not even in your next few days of yoga practice, but you are doing yourself a favor. You see, yoga has long been practiced in Ancient India as a means to reach one’s enlightenment. Sure, that image of yoga has been overshadowed by Western ads featuring bikini yoginis in wildly impossible contortions, but I hope that as you step onto the yoga mat, you keep an open mind and an open heart about the experience that is about to unfold.

Before we continue, please switch your phone to Silent Mode and keep it inside your bag. Most likely, you won’t need it during class. You won’t even get time to check it.

Since this is your first time (and you’re probably in the gym about to take a Flow class, or in a studio waiting for your Ashtanga teacher), let me tell you in a very calm, yoga teacher voice, it will be the worst 60 (or 90) minutes of your life as you know it. Or at least that’s how I felt during my first time (because really, this is just me sharing what it was like for me and I assume it’s going to be the same for everyone). Again I ask you to keep an open mind and an open heart, and if possible, a straight spine during meditation (unless you have kyphosis or some other spinal condition). Exaggeration aside, yoga is probably harder than you initially imagined. It’s not just stretching limbs, you know. In a full yoga asana class, we stretch, we bend, we lift, we balance, we do push-ups and one-handed planks, we stand on our heads, and sometimes we take a fun ride using our arms. It’s a full body workout and you will use muscles you’ve been neglecting for years. You will have to execute some of the most awkward postures you’ve ever done, and there will be strange sensations you’ve never felt before. Suffice it to say that you will feel really sore the next day. Honor your body at all times. If your body is telling you to rest, please do so. If your body is telling you that it has reached a certain limit (of flexibility or stamina perhaps), listen to your body and don’t push beyond that.

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Credits to the owner of this image

Which brings me to my next point: Whatever happens in class (unless it’s an emergency), please, please, please (and I say this as a teacher), stay on the mat until the final Savasana (that little nap time at the end of class). If you have already endured the rigorous Sun Salutations, odds are you’ve endured the hardest, most tiring part of class, and you are well on your way to making peace with the asanas. And if you’re feeling really uneasy, you can always rest on your mat in a seated or lying down position. Don’t get me wrong, if you step out of the class, no one is going to judge you. But it’s distracting for other practitioners to see someone walk out pre-Savasana. It makes your teacher wonder if he/she did something wrong to be walked out on. Don’t worry though. He/she will move on the second you close the door and forget it ever happened. No judging, no explanations required. If you absolutely must leave before class ends, please lie down in Savasana for a minute or two before heading out. I promise you, that exact moment when you open your eyes after Savasana is probably one of the best feelings in the world that it actually offsets any of the initial physical awkwardness that you felt during the class. Of course, the reason why you feel such peace after Savasana was those tiny awkward moments you had to endure, and the relief knowing that you’ve already survived that.

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Credits to the owner of this image

I’m not aware of your intentions in coming to this particular yoga class. If you’re like me, you’re probably here just to try it out, not knowing what to expect, and completely devoid of any intention. You may or may not like your first experience. If you don’t enjoy the first time, I urge you to try at least two more times before you decide whether or not yoga is for you (I’m sure it is).

The yogic journey usually starts with working on the asanas (or postures). But in time, if you give yourself the chance, you will find out that yoga has a deeper purpose than that, and physical fitness is only one of the innumerable benefits of yoga. I’m not gonna dwell on that for now because your class is about to start and I don’t want to overwhelm you.

So just try to have fun and try to see past the perfection of your alignment. You are already beautiful as you are. Embrace yourself fully, for all your strengths and all your weaknesses, and you will breeze through this practice. Don’t pressure yourself if an asana seems too difficult. Just laugh at it and do what your body can handle. 🙂

Until here. Have a safe and meaningful practice.

Hari om,
Leona

7 Ways Yoga Made My Life Better

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1. I found a job I actually love.
Money or no money, I love teaching yoga. Yes. I am a teacher. I claim it. Being a yoga teacher gives me the emotional fulfillment of watching someone grow and learn, but without the hassles of grading papers. 😉 Teaching is also a wonderful learning process. Every once in a while, people notice the methodology and I am met with compliments or criticism. Either way, I learn which methods are effective and I find out on which areas I need to improve. I learn, I earn, and I am thankful. Being a yoga teacher, I always try to be mindful of my words and actions. I try (not always successfully) to adhere to yogic principles of Yama and I always hope in my heart that my students do the same.

2. I no longer slouch (sometimes).
Yoga improves the posture. That’s inarguable. In fact, one of the eight limbs of yoga is asana, which literally means ‘posture’ in Sanskrit. Since I started practicing asanas, I’ve engaged muscles I never even knew existed. “Sthira sukham asanam” – asanas are steady and comfortable. And somehow, a level of comfort resonates in me when I do certain postures. I’ve heard my teachers (and myself) say “lengthen your spine”, “widen your shoulders”, and “open your chest” more times than any other phrase in the world that these words have already been implanted in my subconscious. And what the mind says, the body follows. That’s why yoga is so effective. It doesn’t just give your body a work-out, it gives your mind a work-in too.

3. I have established a deeper connection with myself.
One of my favorite things that my teacher says is, “Make a conscious effort to [insert specific verb of action here]…” Yoga is also about awakening your consciousness in a whole deeper level, and that usually starts with the breath. I notice that when my teacher says “close your eyes, take deep breaths, acknowledge your emotions, and let them go”, and if I do exactly that, that’s when my mind becomes hyperactive. That’s when I come to realizations about the way I’ve been living my life, treating others, treating myself. Those are the moments I’m grateful for. Those few moments before I let my thoughts go give me a chance to think about wanting to become a better person.

4. I make a conscious effort to take things in moderation.
Should I eat this cake? Probably not but I can take a few bites. Am I allowed to have wine? Of course. A glass or two would suffice. I don’t necessarily have to deprive myself just because I practice yoga. But it is very important that I become conscious of my habits before I can even indulge. Can I do Bakasana (Crow Pose) 10 times in a row? No, that’s how people rip their shoulders. Maybe try 2-3 times and then rest.

5. My patience has tremendously increased.
The thing about yoga asanas is that more often than not, they are very awkward to execute in the beginning. You have to deal with your limbs flaying out or bent in a way that doesn’t really give comfort if you’re a beginner. But these moments of discomfort have been my defining moments. Whether it was holding a Warrior 2 for over a minute daily, or slowly working my way towards a wall-less Headstand for nearly two years now, or painstaikingly engaging my core so my Crow can take flight, something in the awkwardness has changed me. Now I can (try to) breathe into the discomfort and know with mild certainty that my mind will not give in to the stress. And when your mind is calm and clear, you can handle anything with grace even under pressure.

6. I have forgiven those who wronged me.
I forgive the security guard who won’t let me park in front of his establishment (even though easement is public property and anyone is legally allowed to park there), because he is only doing his job. I forgive my friend who ditched me when I needed her most, because I’m not the only person in her life and I should be fine with that. I forgive the girl who stole my ex-boyfriend, because I’m also thankful that she did. I forgive the boy who broke my heart, because then I learned what to look for in a partner. I forgive the guy who commented offensive things about rape and sexism, and pray that violent things don’t happen to his sister or daughter. I forgive the girl who talks about me behind my back, or the guy who thinks I’m full of shit. Life is too short to be angry all the time. As the cliché goes: “You’re in my life for a reason – either you’re a blessing or a lesson.” I hope everyone extends the same understanding, or at least tolerance, for people who have different cirumstances and views in life.

7. I have forgiven myself for being human. 
It is an unfortunate inevitability that humans are inclined to err. And this is something I accept about myself now. I won’t go so far as to say that I purposefully make mistakes, but I have allowed myself that certain margin of error wherein I can just let things pass and not give myself shit for days on end.

MYH Yoga Retreat Announcement

I am pleased to announce that the Marichi Yoga House team is pushing through the proposed Yoga Retreat! Details are being ironed out at the moment. But so far, we have finalized the dates and venue. We will prepare 16 slots for the event and will encourage early registration. Pricing details should be announced within the week.

Marichi Yoga Retreat
Dates: February 6-8, 2015
Venue: White Haven Beach Resort, Gumasa, Sarangani Province

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