Mindful Summers

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. šŸ™‚

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India, so far

As of this writing, I have been in India for exactly ten days now. I must say the experience has been something so far beyond my expectations. In the weeks leading up to my trip here, I’ve been mentally preparing myself for the worst. I’m not usually pessimistic like that, but it’s my first month-long trip out of my country and I just had to prepare for whatever comes along my way. However, I did forget to prepare myself for positive things. Except for the Yoga Teacher Training, I didn’t expect much from India. And this place just SHOCKED me in the most beautiful way imaginable.

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Laxman Jhula Bridge, a mere 2-minute walk from my hotel

Where I imagined people to be stuck up and rude, I have only met kind and pleasant people. From my teachers to my classmates to the shopkeepers along the streets of Rishikesh, everyone seems to be in a jolly disposition most of the time. The locals here are genuinely nice, and I’ve never had a bad experience with them at all. I hope it keeps being that way until the end of my course. Where I expected filth and disgusting things, the city where I am is actually quite pleasant. I mean sure cow dung is a normal occurence on the streets of India. But other than that, they keep this part of India really beautiful.

Just a short walk from my hotel is the magnificent Ganges River. This part of the Ganges is still pretty clean. The water is green most of the time, except when it rains upstream and the water becomes just a little murky. A few minutes drive uphill, and the view is even more stunning that I simply cannot describe it with words.

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Maa Ganga by Vashistha Cave, 45 minutes from Vinyasa Yoga School

The course is physically and mentally demanding. We would wake up really early because the first class starts at 6:30 AM. It’s usually some form of cleansing (Kriya) the air passages (Jal Neti and Sutra Neti). Today though we tried another type of cleansing, the Kunjal Kriya which is basically cleaning your upper digestive tract. I’ll write more about that later. All the kriya techniques are weird at first, but they all have their merits as well. Lol.

After an intense day of learning all things yoga, we end the day with a meditation class, which I’m still not sure how I feel about. Maybe I need to search deeper. Lol.

I have other things I want to share but more on that later as I have a Vinyasa class starting in 5 minutes. After 6 months of teaching asanas in my city, it feels exhilirating to become a student again. So, there. Til later. šŸ™‚

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View of The Ganges from our hotel roof

The Paradox of the Practice

Only in yoga can you feel that you’ve really come a long way since you first started and yet feel that you still have so much more to accomplish. You get this feeling of fulfillment because you have conquered your fears and weaknesses, yet you humble yourself because you know there is always room for improvement. That is the beautiful paradox of the practice.

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SHIRSHASANA or HEADSTAND
Taken on my third month of practice
What needs adjustment: The spine should be long and straight. As seen on the leftmost shot, my back is curved and my tailbone is popping out. The rightmost shot shows the proper alignment of the back but my legs should be straight with my toes pointing up or my soles facing the ceiling.




Why Yoga? Why not?!

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I can name FOUR THINGS that usually stop adults from trying out something new: FEAR, INDOLENCE, POVERTY and AILMENT. Fortunately, none of them can really be used as an excuse from trying out Yoga. As I have learned in my relatively short practice [barely 4 months], the only thing that can stop you from practicing is YOURSELF.

Are you scared that you might not be strong or flexible enough to try Yoga? Now, that is just plain silly! You gain strength and flexibility by practicing. It is not a prerequisite that you should be strong and flexible prior to actual practice. You need only come with good intentions for your health and wellness, and the rest will follow.

Are you mostly lethargic and overall unmotivated to try something new? I know you think it’s okay not to do anything with your life. That sedentary lifestyle probably works for you. But, uhmm, if you could just stand up from your couch and walk to the nearby Yoga studio, that would be great for your physical and mental health. Maybe it’ll distract you from the huge bore that you consider your life.

Think you can’t afford to attend a Yoga class or to purchase Yoga gear? Good news! The Yoga studio I go to only charges Php 50 (that’s FIFTY Philippine Pesos) for every session you attend. They can even lend you a Yoga mat for free! Marichi Yoga House is located at Aparente Street, Purok Malakas, General Santos City. Currently, they have 8:00 AM and 6:30 PM sessions everyday except Sundays.

Got a medical condition? Ask for your physician’s opinion if you can engage in light physical activities such as Yoga. And do inform your instructor prior to class of your ailment. It is generally safe to practice Yoga. In fact, some practitioners even swear their medical condition improved with continued practice. But you must be responsible for your own well-being. Listen to your body. Don’t worry, your body will almost always tell you to go on with the practice. šŸ˜‰

If I may be honest, the only thing that got me to try doing Yoga was the close proximity of the Yoga studio to my house. It’s quite literally a stone’s throw away. I felt that I needed a new activity to distract me from the mundane cycle that is my existence. And when I did try Yoga for the first time, during the entire session, all I could think of was, “What have I gotten myself into? When is this session coming to an end?” I admit, it was tough. I was pretty much sedentary for a long time. But when I was all stretched and drenched in sweat, I knew I was coming back. And I did. Not everyday though. But as often as I could. And I dedicated myself to the practice.

Four months ago, I couldn’t even reach my toes standing up, bending down. Now, not only can I let my hands touch flat on the floor, I can even step on palms with my toes touching my wrists. The beautiful thing about Yoga is that Yogis don’t compete with each other, yogis compete with themselves. And as long as I know I’m better and stronger today than I was yesterday, then I know I’m on the right track.

If there is any disadvantage of practicing Yoga, I have yet to discover it. If you would ask me why anybody should ever try yoga, I would only answer with another question, “Well, why the hell not?”

CHAKRASANA or WHEEL POSE Photo taken on my third week of Yoga practice What needs adjustment: the feet should be pointed directly in front and not sideways.

CHAKRASANA or WHEEL POSE
Photo taken on my third week of Yoga practice
What needs adjustment: the feet should be pointed directly in front and not sideways.