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.

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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?

Snorkeling in Samal Island


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.

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Never change, Samal.

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Little Thoughts from a Little Yogintreprenuer

Yes, yes. Reading the title, I’m fairly certain that a lot of traditional yogis would roll their eyes so hard they could see their brains. But I urge you to read on without judgment. Listen to that silent voice of reason that you know resides inside your heart.

On the 9th of March 2015, I gave birth to a beautiful baby – my very own yoga studio in the heart of General Santos City, Bodhi Yoga Center. I haven’t been the same since. It’s no walk in the park being a part-time yoga teacher and a full-time representative of your own venture. And though there have been heartbreaks in the beginning – in the form of empty classes – things have been looking up. Where there used to be exactly ZERO number of students, I now teach an average of 8 students per class – some days less, but most days, really way more.

And while being a yoga teacher is quite fulfilling, being a yoga entrepreneur made me question the entirety of my existence. You see, when you get into a venture like this, you will be perpetually torn in between selfless generosity and mutual growth between you and the community you serve. As a yogi, you feel mandated by tradition to stick to the roots of dhana. But as a modern entrepreneur, you know that in order to continue your service and further your reach, you have to make rational business decisions.

But ultimately it boils down to passion. My passion to teach and serve will not be mummed by empty classes or zero revenues. Of course, that’s because I have other revenue streams I rely on to survive. So I’m not saying you should quit your day job so you can start your passion project. It’s really more complicated than that. Passion projects are inspirational, but only if you have a working capital and you can afford a 3-5 year ROI without resorting to starvation and destitution.

What works for me might not work for everyone. Hell, what seemingly works for me might not be even working as well as I’d hoped. But here I am, getting by, making sure I can keep doing what I love with the people who love it just the same.

Namaste! 🙏

Yoga in General Santos

I am happy with the way the yoga communities in GenSan are progressing. More and more people start to take interest in the practice, and the reception is with such fervor that we can no longer consider it a fad. I am also happy that there are more options for timetables and classes in the city.

In Bodhi Yoga Center, students can choose from Beginner to Intermediate classes. We have Vinyasa classes, Mysore-style or led Ashtanga classes, and simple Yoga Basics. We also started to roll out pre-natal yoga classes but are currently still private sessions.

We have a staple 6:00 PM class from Monday to Friday. Students can also ask us to schedule 8:00 AM and 7:30 PM group classes if they wish. Also, private sessions may be booked so as to focus on the student’s individual needs.

For bookings or inquiries regarding our Studio Classes, please contact me at Bodhi Yoga Center, mobile number (+63) 932 8891103 or e-mail at info@bodhiyogacenter.com.

For those aspiring to become yoga teachers, Bodhi Yoga Center is hosting a residential 200-Hour Vinyasa Yoga Teacher Training program. This will be led by Vinay Jesta, an Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher who currently conducts trainings across India and Europe. For more details about this program, kindly visit http://bodhiyogacenter.com.

Other places that offer yoga in General Santos are Marichi Yoga Studio, Metrolifestyle Fitness Center, Pacman Wildcard Gym, Tuna Smashers Badminton Courts, and AMSAI Gensan. 🙂

How to make your yoga practice sustainable

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The most difficult part of any journey is starting it. Whether we wish to learn a new craft, or work towards getting fitter, it’s always the most tedious of tasks to motivate ourselves to just go for it. After all, why would we want to wake up at five in the morning for a jog when we could just stay bundled up in bed for a few more hours of sleep? What’s in it for us?

For starters, it makes us productive. And if productivity isn’t attractive enough, working on towards a goal gives us a sense of fullfillment. Whether or not you achieve said goal, just knowing you’re doing your best to attain it is enough to keep your happy hormones pumping.

The same is true in establishing a yoga practice. Being a relatively new craze in my hometown, the people I often invite to join my yoga classes in General Santos City, Philippines almost always ask me the same question: WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME? I could go on and on about all of the published research on how yoga is beneficial to our holistic health. But paper is just paper. You will never appreciate just how good yoga feels until you have felt it yourself.

The only way to get yourself into something like yoga is to just get your ass up and DO IT. It takes a little push but once you get your groove on, it’s hard to shake it off.

I’ve compiled a list of ways on how to help yourself establish and sustain your practice. Yoga or not, these tips can really give you that extra push you need to achieve your goals.

1. Make it part of your schedule

To say make it a priority would be downright preposterous for some. Because let’s face it, we have other areas in our life that need tending to, like work and family. But if you know well enough to set a designated timeslot for your yoga practice and discipline yourself to follow it, then chances are you’ll be showing up to your mat more often than if you just go “whenever you feel like going.”

The only way you’ll ever show up to yoga if you don’t have time…is to make time! 🙂

2. Set REALISTIC expectations

So you finally muster up the motivation to show up to your mat. And then what? You turn to INSTAGRAM to find your #YogaInspiration. There may be a danger to this. Instagram-famous pseudo-celebs have been practicing for years! Even decades! To try and achieve in a few hours what these people have been practicing for practically their entire lifetime would be nothing short of silly, really. Don’t let it dishearten you. Instead, make these photos and videos your motivation to keep coming back to your mat.

Oh so you’ve been doing yoga for a month and you still couldn’t rock a headstand? I have news for you! There is ABSOLUTELY NO NEED for you to pressure yourself.

These things take time. Honestly, I still even find it extremely difficult to sit still and cross-legged for two minutes. But then again, I have only been practicing that daily for three short years. No pressure. I’ll get there when my body is ready. And you will, too. Believe you can and you’re halfway there, as they say.

3. Show up even on bad days

If you only come to practice on the days when you feel good, then you’ll be missing a lot! Bad days are a part of life. Not only is it inevitable, but it’s also necessary for personal growth. Unless you are ill and need bed rest, there’s really no reason for you to skip yoga practice.

4. Bring a friend or two

Encourage a friend to join you. Even if a yoga class isn’t really the best place to chat or hangout with them, having a friend by your side gives that extra push. You’ll have someone to talk to about the experience. You’ll have a cheerleader to give you encouragement. And you’ll have someone to nag you when you feel lazy.

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5. Track your progress

It could be as simple as consciously holding your spine straight up to avoid slouching. Small victories are still victories. And if you want something to look back on, carefully track these tiny victories. You might not be able to come up into a headstand right away, but you can start with nailing your dolphin pose, which you can work on by mastering your downward dog.

Advanced yoga poses can only be achieved by working on easy ones first and then gradually building your strength and flexibility as you go along. It’s progression that keeps you hooked and coming back. But you should keep in mind that it’s being content with what your body is capable of doing that gives you a meaningful practice.

6. Offer a moment of silence to yourself daily

If you are able to handle your thoughts in moments of silence without wanting to get up and run, then that’s truly the moment you’ll know your yoga is working on your favor. Yoga is traditionally learned to stop the fluctuations of the mind. Now this doesn’t mean you stop thinking. We are more inclined to interpret it as being lucid and rational, regardless of the emotions brought about by our thoughts. It’s giving meaningful responses to various circumstances instead of impulsive reactions.

6. Find a class suitable to your level and schedule

If you live in General Santos, you will find different studios offering classes at various timings during the day. Assess your body and be honest with yourself. If you are completely new to this, join a beginner-friendly class. Bodhi Yoga Center‘s daily classes are always suitable for beginners who want to learn the safe and sustainable way. The teachers themselves assess each student and guide them to the asanas that provide adequate challenge and comfort (sthira and sukha). Check out the studio website http://www.bodhiyogacenter.com for more information on class timings.

Setting one-on-one private sessions with your teacher can also help you track your progress. It can answer whatever doubts or questions in your mind that are sometimes not addressed in a regular group setting. For more information on private classes, feel free to get in touch with me directly at leona@bodhiyogacenter.com. 🙂

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Yoga Teacher Training in the Philippines

Hi everyone! You remember the baby that I gave birth to early this year? Well, my baby has reached a milestone! Bodhi Yoga Center is now a Registered Yoga School with Yoga Alliance. This means that we are ready to offer Yoga Teacher Training programs with an approved curriculum.

The first Yoga Alliance-approved teacher training course in General Santos will commence in April 2016. The course will be taught by Indian yogi Vinay Jesta, who has been training teachers in Europe and India.

Vinay Jesta - Bodhi Yoga Center's Lead Trainer

Vinay Jesta – Bodhi Yoga Center’s Lead Trainer

 

I hope that by training more teachers in our city, our yoga community will become more diverse and the practice more sustainable. 🙂

If you wish to join this teacher training program, please express your interest by e-mailing to info@bodhiyogacenter.com.