I’ve decided to share this vlog in hopes that people might actually be interested in a bit of yoga philosophy. I hope you find this vlog informative and useful for your own practice on and off the mat. And if you have questions, comment below or DM me to discuss! 😉
I must admit that I need to write more often. As a teenager, I found writing to be a therapeutic respite from my raging hormones. But long have the days past when I had an excessive amount of free time within my grasp. As somebody who is nearing the glorious age of three tens, I struggle to keep a routine between teaching, mothering, daughtering, friending, businessing. It’s an intense battle of misappropriation of priorities in which writing has been pushed back to the lowest of echelons.
But now, I suddenly find myself wanting, needing a daily routine for my sanity. Perhaps now I can devote more time to meaningful monologue in my blog. Perhaps I can even “pencil it” into my daily schedule.
I have a raging fire in my heart and a predominantly right brain oozing with passionate ideas for idyllic living. And yet somehow I am lost in my own habitual patterns of procrastination and borderline desperation. I am happy, I am moving, but I am utterly lost. And it is my pleasure continue finding my way back to myself.
In lieu of a bedtime story, I somehow managed to “trick” my 6-year-old daughter to meditate before sleeping. It was a short but meaningful exercise on non-attachment that any parent could do with their tiny tots before tucking them in. Read our conversation below.
Evanna: Story time!
Me: Okay, I have something better. Close your eyes and listen to what I say. Take a deep breath in and out. And then breathe again.
Me: Now think about your favorite color and your favorite thing in the world.
Evanna: Oooh purple… and lipstick!
Me: Oh purple lipstick? Now think about how you would look like wearing purple lipstick. Do you like it? Does it make you happy?
Me: Now think about what you look like without that purple lipstick.
Evanna: I look even better!!!
Me: So you feel okay even when the purple lipstick is gone?
Me: Good! Now, think about your favorite toy in the world.
Evanna: Barbie dolls!!!
Me: Imagine that you’re playing with you favorite Barbie dolls. Does it make you happy?
Evanna: Super happy!!!
Me: Now, mommy wants you to put away your Barbie dolls in their safe box because playtime is over. Can you imagine putting your Barbie dolls away?
Evanna: Okay, mommy.
Me: How do you feel?
Evanna: I’m still okay.
Me: Do you still feel happy?
Evanna: Yes, mommy.
Me: Good! That’s because your happiness doesn’t come from your favorite things or toys. Your happiness comes from inside. Remember your inside weather?
Evanna: Yes! Sunshine and rainbows!!!
Me: Yes, sunshine and rainbows! Your happiness will always come from inside. Don’t ever forget that. Goodnight, baby.
Evanna: Goodnight, mommy.
“Children are great imitators. So give them something great to imitate.”
In no particular order, here’s a list of (outrageous) things I or somebody I know had experienced with regards to the safety of Mindanao, or Philippines in general:
A girl from the Netherlands was eager to participate in our first ever international yoga teacher training in General Santos. She wanted to stay in the Philippines for three months. She put in her deposit for the yoga teacher training and applied for a three-month visa. She was DENIED the visa because she indicated that she was going to General Santos City, the southernmost city in Mindanao. It’s interesting to note that this was the Philippine Embassy that denied her the visa. *frustration ensues*
A girl from one travel group in Facebook asked for travel tips in the Philippines. Many of those who commented said that it’s generally safe in the Philippines, EXCEPT the south, i.e. Mindanao. It would have been okay if it were the foreigners who advised her not to come here, but it was mostly Filipinas who did. *frustration continues*
A couple from Venezuela and Portugal touched base with my studio about wanting to come here for our next open yoga teacher training. We had a nice conversation about what to expect in the training. We did not discuss the history of Mindanao. Fast forward a few weeks later, said couple decided not to pursue coming here because the Embassy (which I hope to God was not the Philippine Embassy ~again~) advised them not to come. *getting really tired of people propunding ignorance of the matter*
I had a guest teacher from all over the world, originally Australia, who initially asked me about the security situation. Of course I was honest about it and said there had been incidents in the past but we live peacefully now. She said she wasn’t scared, having lived in Colombia and Israel, she knew what these stigmas can do.
I had guests from India who received news articles discouraging them to come to Mindanao. But being stubbornly brave, they came anyway. They were pleasantly surprised that General Santos City is not actually a warzone, but a quaint peaceful town near gorgeous white sand beaches.
I have had guests from all over the world who experienced how safe and pleasant it is in General Santos. It’s those who have never been here that have a lot to say about our security. *thank God for brave people*
The people of Philippines’ Region XII have been working hard to promote tourism because it’s honest-to-God filled with beautiful scenery. But when your own government, i.e. Philippine Embassies all over the world, and your own people, e.g., Manilennials and Baby Boomers NOT from Mindanao, are discouraging tourists to come down here, then we are wasting millions of pesos in advertising and thousands of work hours just to promote our region. We might as well shut down travel blogs about Region 12 and abolish Region XII Department of Tourism.
I understand that safety is of primary concern. But in this new age where travel is so accessible and the west continually attack countries in the Middle East, is there any place that is completely safe?
Are we forgetting that crime and terrorism can happen anywhere? It can happen in America, where airplanes were used to crash into the World Trade Center Twin Towers, killing nearly 3,000 people who did not expect to die that day, where elementary schools are targets of mass shootings even to this day, where marathons can be the perfect spot to set off an improvised grenade. It can happened in Paris, where the Al-Qaeda massacred 12 people out of spite for Charlie Hebdo magazine’s satirical pieces mocking the Islam faith. It can happen in England, where an improvised explosive device was used to attack Ariana Grande’s concert audience. Are we gonna let these incidents stop us from seeing those places?
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.
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?
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
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.
How could something so pretty be so underrated? If you find yourself wandering through Davao and its neighboring towns, the Taclobo Tours by ADECOR of Samal Island is something you shouldn’t miss. You will see clams as big as your torso. The aquatic life is so healthy and diverse, it’s such a gift to see.
I actually can’t remember the exact place to go to reach the giant clam sanctuary. Ooops. But the resident tricycle drivers are experts and you can just ask them to take you there. It’s a rough and long ride from Brgy. Peñaplata, and we’ve had issues with our boat, but the struggle was so well worth it.
Near the giant clam sanctuary is Uraya Beach, where we spent a few hours on the sand, playing with some asanas. My companions were Lydie and Mercedes, guest teachers of Bodhi Yoga Center Gensan in February 2016.
On our way back to the city, we made a quick stop to Hagimit Falls. It would have been a lovely sight if it weren’t for the overcrowding.
If the universe conspires to make my work manageable, I shall be leading a yoga retreat in the island of Koh Samui in Thailand in June of next year. That is a LOOOOONG way to go, but I’m keeping my arms wide open to receive whatever the universe has in store for me.
This is a sneak preview of the retreat location I got my eyes on!!! Aggghhhhhh. Images grabbed from the venue’s official website. 🙂