Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Can't Get Enough of... Yoga

During my month long trip to Manila last September, I joined 2 yoga workshops and attended a yoga exhibit because I can't get enough yoga in my life! It's true, I practice, breathe & teach yoga and will forever be a student of its teachings, no matter what style.

First among the series of events was the Wake Up & Shake Up (WUSU) brought by the Art of Living Organization. This was a 2-hour course given by Swami Sadyojathah, an Advanced Course Art of Living Teacher and Director of Art of Living International Affairs. He travels to different parts of the world conducting advanced meditation courses, talks and satsangs, spreading joy to all people.

We did not have a clue on what to expect and it surely was a unique experience. I have a friend who stepped out because she couldn't understand what was going on and thought the very simple but extraordinary yoga moves we were doing made her look silly. We're all used to Ashtanga/Vinyasa/Bikram/Yin Yoga asanas so, to be asked to walk across the room on the insides or outer edges of your feet may have felt awkward for some. Most burst out in laughter! But maybe that was needed, to be childish again, not to care about 'what yoga should look like' and care more about 'how you feel after' which is what matters - energy flowing again to parts you need it most. And it did. AOL yoga worked, just as much as the other styles. Lesson: Many paths, one destination.


Two days after was the exhibit on the Life and Works of B.K.S Iyengar at the Powerplant Mall on my birthday, Sept 16. What divine timing! :)

My Backlog Iyengar story

I have been attending the introductory course of Iyengar Yoga Manila in Joya, Rockwell mainly because of convenience. It's a skip and a hop away from where my parents live. But I didn't know it would broaden my yogi perspective and help my practice tremendously because Rina Ortiz is an amazing guru (sanskrit for remover of all obstacles)! She knows how to push the right buttons so that you can do more, better or even your best ever Setu Bandhasana (Bridge Pose). Plus, I always have those golden AHA moments whenever she throws philosophical nuggets of wisdom in class..which I love!

I must admit that I didn't always feel this way towards her. The very first time I attended the class, I was terrified of her (authoritative? military?) style of teaching. I remember clearly that dreadful scenario when she raised her voice during class, "Whoever is breathing that way, please stop it! Do not use the breathe to desensitize the pain". Yes, she was referring to me.. the Ashtangi/Vinyasa teacher.

Oh gee, I've been conditioned to use the Ujjayi breath in all the Ashtanga Vinyasa classes that I just couldn't comprehend what she was asking of me. It felt like suffocating, not to breathe this noisy, raspy, Darth Vader-ish breath I'm so used to with every yoga pose I make. It was indeed so much effort to attempt not to do it and yes, I did feel the pain of the poses! God, I did. Which was again, the point...to feel yourself, your muscles, your body through it all. Only then, I was able to make adjustments on myself by being truly sensitive to where my body was at. And yes, I realized you are able to concentrate more because your mind has no time to think about other trivial stuff (like what to eat for dinner) because of the pain! Great tactic, Guruji BKS.

Now, back to the exhibit.

One of the opening acts was a special guest from Kuala Lumpur who presented the Dance of Shiva. It was spectacular!

This guy has OPEN hips, I could tell!
"Yoga is for all. I designed props so that all can benefit from it"-BKS Iyengar
I pose beside the great Guru with other Iyengar fanatic friends

 And lastly was the much-awaited Jivamukti classes & workshop weekend hosted by the fab people of Yoga+. I've chosen this birthday treat to myself for my final year in the rockin' 20's!

According to the official Jivamukti website: Jules Febre the nephew of Sharon Gannon and David Life, has been practicing Jivamukti Yoga since the age of 6 and is an advanced certified Jivamukti Teacher, mentoring at the Jivamukti Teacher Training course & the Apprentice course at the NYC Jivamukti School as well as teaching workshops around the world. Having grown up in NYC Jules has an eclectic style of teaching that has brought him into the public school system, homeless shelters & youth development centers teaching young people as well as seasoned practitioners. 


Honestly, I went clubbing the night before (sorry, birthday girl wanted to dance!), got home at 4am and missed the 1st mornings session because of a hang over.  I skipped it thinking that it would be best to miss the inversion class.. only to find out that they interchanged modules for the day. Oh bummer. It was a miracle I didn't barf when I attempted my jumping into inversions- headstands, handstands and Pincha Mayurasanas (Peacock Pose). But I was smart to drop by the Rawlicious booth at the Legaspi Market for a liter of green smoothie to alkalinize my system (after 4 very acidic alcoholic drinks from the previous night).

Now we're clean.

So, this Jules did something right in his past life to be initiated into the yoga path at such as early age. His facebook profile photo shows him as a child posing with Ashtanga Guru Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. He was born in 1982 (my birth year, too) which makes his yoga experience over 20 years! That's astounding stuff. A very young enlightened being he was and is. (Which makes me wonder if all this yoga will rub of Santi like it did on Jules?)

If you've ever been on a Jivamukti class, you'll notice that they play pretty cool music during class. The ones on the top charts, maybe some rock or hip hop (Jules made us do some hip hopping moves in challenging balancing poses!) You'll also notice that they're hardcore activists. Sharon Ganon wrote a book on Yoga & Vegetarianism and I remember seeing a book too about pets at the conference a few months back. So they really took this mantra below and lived it as an example to all.

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu
May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.

Lifted from the Jivamukti website---We assure our own future suffering by what we do to animals now. When we choose to eat meat, eggs or dairy, we are denying living beings the happiness and freedom we so want for ourselves, but so often find hard to attain. These warnings date back thousands of years to the Yoga Sutras, whose dictates are as relevant today as they were then. We each weave our own tangled web of karma and will most certainly become entangled in it, as our reality is being created from our own actions. When we chant, speak or even just think the words lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu, if we include all the other animals with whom we share this planet in our concept of "all beings," including the animals we use for food, we can start to create the kind of world we want to live in-a kind world. 

Jules talked on the importance of embracing an ahimsa (non-harming) diet & attitude towards all beings. He also reiterated those words (that I will never forget David Life mentioning during the Asia Yoga Conference,) "Do you want to be RIGHT or do you want to be FREE?" Think about it and how it relates to various aspects in your life.

In his blog, Jules wrote about how beautiful Boracay is but trash was everywhere so he started picking up trash even if people were staring at him.

Their sustainable teachings also remind me of Clayton Horton's lectures on 'greening your life'. He continues to lead the Greenpath Yoga teacher trainings yearly in Boracay, Philippines. I'm proud to be a graduate of batch #1 back in 2009! :)

Some more snapshots from Jules & Jivamukti classes-

Jules teaching us how to safely land from a handstand with me and Jojo Santos (Pulse Yoga) assisting

Look at all the sweaty soldiers after 2 full days of Jiva!

For more stories from Jules Febre, read his blog www.julesfebre.blogspot.com 
Like he says, Peace, Love & Vegetables! Goodnight :)

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