A year ago I would have given Judy Ann Santos a run for her money for having the most active tear ducts. I cried first thing in the morning, I cried in the shower, I cried while eating, I cried while working, cried in the ladies room, cried in public transportation, cried while walking home, cried while putting on my makeup, cried while taking off my makeup, and for the ultimate finale, cried myself to sleep. To say that I was a mess would be an understatement; I was inconsolable. So heartbroken and miserable that everyday, all I prayed for was to die.
This dark phase though, no matter how ugly, taught me a few things. One of them is that even when you feel that you are alone, you are most certainly not. I was surprised to learn that there are actually people who care about me. And one of them is Karen, a former colleague who reached out to me through an FB message. Karen and I hardly talked in the office so I didn’t expect that someone who barely knew me would offer some words of encouragements. That and a gift; a free trial of yoga.
Karen has been practicing yoga since 2012. Yoga, she said, is one of the things she tried to mend her broken heart. She would take yoga classes at night so by the time she got home, she’d be too bushed to feed her thoughts with hurtful things and just go straight to sleep. In a hope to help ease my pain, Karen offered a 7-day free trial pass to Bliss Yoga Manila. It was one offer I would regret not taking. It wasn’t until a year later that I’d finally give yoga a try.
September 30, I finally went to Bliss Yoga Manila. The walk-in rate is PHP 500 but they have an introductory promo of PHP 1,000 for seven days of practice. To fully understand the benefits of yoga and to know if it’s for me, I opted to avail of the promo.
You can bring your yoga mat or rent from Bliss Yoga. You don’t have to worry about it when you avail of the introductory promo though as it is included in the package. The towel is provided when you go there so you don’t have to bring one anymore and they also have a shower area.
During this period I was able to go to their studio four times, tried four different yoga styles, and met three yoga teachers. The following are the yoga classes that I took:
On my first day I took the 8:30 p.m. Vinyasa flow under Camille Packing. This practice gives you a full-body workout. For an hour and a half, I’d bent my body in different, unnatural ways. The pacing was fast; I was on the floor one moment then up on my feet the next. I’ve been introduced to different yoga postures, such as sun salutation, downward facing dog, cow pose, cat pose, lunge, warrior pose, cobra pose, child pose (my favorite hehe…), etc. It was so intense I perspired the way I did when I took the mountains of Batad. Before this, I haven’t done such strenuous activity for quite some time, so I immediately felt the soreness of my muscles when the class ended. Despite this, I went home feeling like a heavy load has been lifted off me.
Yin – On my second day, I tried a yoga style that didn’t require a lot of movements but involved holding poses for longer periods, yin yoga. The yoga instructor is a guy named Oliver Loyola, who started us through a guided meditation. Since I have background in meditation, I had no trouble going through the first phase. Yin is not as intense as vinyasa so I expected it’d be easier; I guessed wrong. The pace may be slow but holding a pose was anything but comfortable. Many times I felt my legs quivering from the strain, willing Oliver to ring the tingsha that signals the end of each posture. I think if you want to work on your flexibility, this style works best as it requires the muscles and the joints to stretch.
Thursday night I had an event to go to so I decided to use my lunch break for Gentle flow yoga, also under Oliver’s supervision. This style is a lot like yin yoga, but with less time spent on meditation. Though I still struggled with some of the poses, I noticed that my body was not as stiff as before. This time, I was able to follow the instructor easily. It helped that Oliver was always willing to assist, he really took the time to go around and correct our poses.
Bhakti urban flow
In my last day, I tried Karen’s recommendation, Bhakti, under her favorite yoga instructor, Roland. I’m not sure if it was because of Roland or the fact it was a Sunday or if it’s the yoga style itself, but this class had the most number of participants out of all I’d taken. I happened to be the only Bhakti first timer, upon learning this, Roland approached me and introduced himself. He also explained a few things that I could expect from this class. Out of the all the teachers, Roland is my favorite, mainly because he was very warm and smiled a lot. He was also the only one who provided a small talk on how we could incorporate the benefits of yoga in our lives.
Based from my observation, Bhakti is part vinyasa part yin. The movements are fluid and the changing of poses are frequent but not as fast-paced as vinyasa. At some points we had to hold our poses for long periods. Most of the time though we were on the move. Like yin, there was some meditation involved. By the end of session we had a little chanting as Roland played his harmonium. He made us chant lokah samastha sukhino bhavantu, which means “Let all the people in the world be happy.”
After undergoing four yoga classes, I realized several things:
1. The body is an instrument that can be trained to do things, even those ridiculously seemingly impossible poses.
2. Yoga is just as exhausting as other physical activities like going to the gym or doing sports. Therefore, it is a good exercise regime.
3. Meditation helps you maintain focus so you can better perform and hold the postures.
4. Yoga teaches you to control and do proper breathing.
5. Yoga helps correct posture.
6. It is more motivating to do yoga with other practitioners.
I am not a fan of sports and other activities that require so much physical effort, but I definitely love yoga and how it makes me feel after each session. I like that it gives me strength and energy, improves my flexibility, and quiets the mind. Nowadays, it’s no longer my tear ducts that are active but my sweat glands. And I tend to keep it that way.