My Yoga Mantra for 2015

“When yoga is reduced to a self-obsessed, bourgeois lifestyle distraction, people who are so poor they would never have time to take a yoga class actually die in collapsing Bangladesh sweatshops. So a bare minimum goal in yoga work should be to keep things real.

“I wish that teachers will recognize that the enemy of terrestrial life is global, structural, pervasive and tenacious, and that neither asanas nor meditation can attack it directly. Only boots-on-the-ground activism can.

“I wish that teachers will accept that it is a sign of obsessive narcissism to long for these drives to be erased in a blaze of private enlightenment, and to spend countless hours practicing towards this end. However, they will know that addressing things like attachment and aversion pragmatically in the brief and privileged laboratory of practice can allow the higher yoga of activism to proceed with greater sustainability.

“I wish that every single teacher can start to make this work in simple ways first. Like tithing their monthly income to a warrior cause they publicize through their newsletters. Or by modeling activism for their communities by serving populations without access to yoga. Or by tying access to ‘advanced-level’ practices with strategic (rather than symbolic) environmental work. Or by letting students know that asana and meditation can grant the insight to see that they are in a war that can finally be heroic. By letting them know that practice can give the strength to fight with grace, even though — or especially because — the outcome is unclear.”

Source: http://matthewremski.com/wordpress/the-war-that-no-yoga-teacher-can-run-from/



I’m Back! (For the Umpteenth Time)

This is officially my first entry as an out-of-school…adult.

Since I have been doing my yoga for the last nine months, during the home stretch of my schooling, I could relate to this post very much (except perhaps to the community part) in more ways than one.

Less competition, more community. Less intimidation, more motivation. Less ambition, more transition.”

Full article here.

And this was also my message last week during a lecture-workshop I delivered to bank professionals. You could smell competition several blocks away from the venue. Competition per se is not bad if it does not keep you from getting things done. But it does.

We were brought up to be the best and the brightest and I practically spent half of my life in institutions that made their people think this way. But if one engages in competition, only one wins; the rest loses. In the school of ordinary people where I spent my last four years and recently graduated, people were generally helpful–maybe because we did recognize that we needed help, because we were not the best and the brightest (although I met really brilliant people in that place). Collaboration gets things done. In collaboration, everybody wins.

So the next time I deliver this course, I will keep this lesson in mind.



Yoga and Anatomy

My torso is short, my legs are long, my arms are short…I used to say these lines as funny excuses to being unable to do certain yoga poses. At least, some teachers made me believe that anatomical differences are just excuses. But you see, I did measure my torso–it is shorter by two inches than the average adult’s. So what’s two inches?



Try making a knot out of a four-inch ribbon…then out of a two-inch ribbon. Yes, two inches make a big difference! How much more in a human body? I am now drawn to anatomy, as I have discovered it as a new way of loving my body, loving myself.

Someone asked what kind of yoga I practice nowadays because I do not go to a studio anymore. I said, I do my yoga: I do what my body can and what my body needs. I guess I am doing something right because a few weeks back, my left shoulder which had been “dislocated” (pilay in Filipino, not sure about my translation) since December last year popped back into its right place while just watching TV. WHAT A RELIEF.

Starting to learn anatomy with this video. I hope to watch the rest of the series soon.







I realize that I am most flexible and strongest during these asana-less days.

These are the days for which I am practicing asana.

It is at this time that I am doing real yoga.



Reposting: Despairing Ashtangi

It’s one thing to be stuck in your practice for more than three years and it’s another to be stuck in your practice for more than three years, with the possibility of sliding back, because you are injured. How bad is it? Never have I imagined that cat and cow poses, or simply putting on pants, could be this agonizing.

Then this blog article: The Despairing Ashtangi.

What struck me more were the comments of a certain FB user on Indaba Yoga’s timeline where the article was reposted:

“Interesting. It raises the question how you know when you’re on a plateau and when you’re just doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.”

“I’ve sometimes quit and sometimes made massive leaps forward by changing approach or putting something to one side for a while. As the legendary Marisol Kucharek once told me ‘sometimes practice, practice, all is coming really means I have no idea how to help you progress.'”


Repost: The Truth About Ashtanga Yoga by Jessica Blanchard

Read the full article here.

If I were to write a subtitle, it would be “A Must-Read for All Ashtanga Practitioners”.

My reaction to each point raised:

1. “Non-violence (ahimsa) is the first yama of the eight limbs, and in Sanskrit writing the most important. Being violent to oneself goes against an extremely important concept of yoga. The second yama, truthfulness (satya), helps us to see and be honest with ourselves about what we are doing.” Is there any shala that teaches the first two limbs before asanas? I would like to go. If this cannot be done, I think yamas and niyamas should at least be incorporated in the asana practice.

2. “If you get stressed over your diet, then you are missing the whole point.”

3. I had been an introvert long before I started Ashtanga.

4. Ashtanga fails in this area in my case. Ha! So looking forward to becoming a convert. 😛

5. Yeah, I will also do that pose while pregnant!

6. I have learned the lesson the hard, painful way. Still, learning.

7. “Worry about your own practices.” This one cannot be overemphasized.

8. Only when it is absolutely necessary. It takes a lot of motivation on my part to wake up at 3:45am to be in the shala by 6:30++am. Sleeping for two more hours and practicing at home instead is always a very tempting option.

9. “I’m learning all about Karma yoga.” I think Karma yoga is underrated.

10. Some things in life do not require us to seek moral compass; all they take is common sense.