Category Archives: Ashtanga Vinyasa

More specific to this method

A yoga teacher…

Qualities of a good yoga teacher (for me)…

Gentle and calming

Open and giving

Knowledgable and skillful

I have met several and will forever be grateful to them.  This week, I am especially thankful to Gregor Maehle — “Be compassionate in your practice.”

And to my teacher Jon Cagas, who so willingly gave his time to help my colleagues in their practice of yoga — for his love of yoga and his value of physical activity –“Gratitude, compassion, surrender”.



Attending a Led Class

This is a long overdue.  I had intended to write my thoughts about attending a led class two or three weeks ago but these past few weeks are the busiest for me in the school calendar.  Nonetheless, I think it is still worth writing about.

I learned asthanga vinyasa yoga by attending Mysore-style classes.  I have always appreciated this type of class because it allows me to listen to my body and follow my instincts.  In the past few months however, I found myself needing to attend led classes just to make sure I get to practice three or four times a week.  Surprisingly, attending a led class provides a different perspective in the practice.

1.  It takes me out of my comfort zone and pushes me to “work” harder.  Since the teacher counts for us, I have to keep pace with her counting.  This makes the breath more steady and even-paced.

2.  It makes me more focused.  One has to listen to the teacher’s count and instructions.  This does not give my mind much time to wander and look around.  During Mysore, my eyes tend to roam and watch others practice and then my mind starts to think of things like..”how does she do that?” or “when will I ever get to that level?”… During a led class, you listen to keep pace with the class.

3.  I get to review the counts and the names of the asanas. 

4.  My endurance and stamina is 10-times more because 10 others are exerting and exuding energy that will carry you throughout the practice.

And although, I may have made the class sound serious and “military-ish”, it isn’t. We laugh during  light moments (when our teacher counts 1, 2, 3, 3 and a half, 4, 4and a half… during navasana!).  We get “breaks” (when our teacher binds each of us for marichyasana D and supta kurmasana).

Most importantly,  the energy and learning is carried through to my next self-practice class.  I am more inspired and motivated to have a better practice, to make my breath more steady, my movements more fluid and my mind more focused.

I attend led classes at Stillpoint Manila in Makati on Sundays at 4 pm.  You must know the practice already to attend this class.  Becky De Villa (aka Becky-ji)  does this class so well. She counts in an even steady pace, gives adjustments (while keeping count!), gives techniques and binds you during “crucial” binding-asanas.

Try it! Om.

Ekam…dve…trini…John Scott was in town!

It’s been quite sometime since I have written.  My life was on 5th gear and didn’t have time to slow down.  It took a lot of control for me not to blog despite many good reasons to.  I made work a priority (and rightly so!), had two new lectures/class at the graduate level and a poster presentation for the undergraduate students.

My yoga highlight in the recent past is the John Scott workshop “Alchemy of Ashtanga Yoga”  ( held last September 2, 3 and 4 at The Residences Greenbelt.

Aside from being grounded in the practice of Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga, John Scott is charismatic and inspiring.  He shared with us, or rather, what I took home from the weekend workshop were the following:

1.  Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga is described by Guruji as a “counted method”.  Counting the vinyasas throughout the practice allows you to get rid of other thoughts (vrittis–I’m not sure if this is the word he used).  Counting makes you focus on the count and not on other “issues” of an asana. Counting becomes meditative.

2.  Transitions are infantile movements! This was significant to me because I work closely with infants and toddlers with movement problems.  On hands and knees (quadruped), sitting on one-sitbone (side sitting); these are asanas (static positions) I usually require my patients to achieve because it will allow movement and mobility.

3.  Cat and dog…positioning the spine in either a cat (curved spine) or a dog (extended spine) allows you to access jaladhara banda, which I was not always aware of, and engage it with the asana.

4.  Sharing yoga. John Scott mentioned that yoga becomes spiritual when it is shared.  When you share yoga, you empty yourself; ready once more to be filled up with more learnings.  These words inspired me to pursue a teacher training course, when the timing is right. Someday…

I don’t have my notebook with me now. I’m sure I jotted down a lot more.  But these are what I remember.  I was not able to join the Mysore sessions, I am sure that would have been a blast. Someday, I will have the privilege to practice under his watchful eyes.  A dream for now.





The finishing poses

The finishing poses…

…. cools you down

…. calming

…. restorative

….affirming (that my body is still intact!)

This is my favorite part of the ashtanga vinyasa practice!

The odd couple

My hubby wasn’t feeling too well today, so I stayed in with him. Maybe I wasn’t cooking him enough meat so I cooked him some longganisa from Baguio Country Club.  Then we turned on the TV and voila! Two much loved Hollywood personalities on HBO: Jack Lemmon and Walter Mathau in the movie The Odd Couple 2!

It was funny, light and pure! I miss these two…grumpy old men!


Reconnecting with Savasana

Savasana or corpse pose is one of the most delightful poses I have experienced in this yoga journey.  Savasana is the promise pose or the reward pose.  It comes at the end of your yoga practice.

In these past months, I have not been able to appreciate its value…I’m always rushing off to work and trying to beat the time to save on my parking fees.  Aside from that, I’ve had this post-nasal drip which makes it difficult to maintain a prolonged position.

This holiday season though, allowed me to reconnect with the enchantment of savasana.  I don’t need to rush to work, (the parking lot in Salcedo street is cheaper too!) and the weather has allowed my sinuses to be clear.   I am able to stay in the asana longer and appreciate the work that I had just done earlier.

Apart from this, the Stillpoint teachers use their healing and soothing hands to keep me in that pose in a more tranquil state.

One of my 2011 wishes…a consistent experience of deep stillness in savasana…


Yoga at Stillpoint

Yoga Manila is closed for the holiday season.  I got in touch with my friend Cherry who also needed time to practice.  We were both thinking of the same thing, to practice at Stillpoint which is open weekdays during the holidays.

I had always been invited to go there but am always afraid to get out of my comfort zone; not only in my yoga practice but also in other things like, finding my way there through Makati traffic, getting a parking space, etc, etc… Today though seems to be a good time to do it.

I studied the map the night before (am not so good at directions!), slowed down when I got to Salcedo street. Found the building but realized there was no parking on that street.  I found a nearby car park (which is cheaper than parking in Perea!).  I walked to the front of the building but no one opened the door for me.  I had to go at the back of the building to enter.  Later on the lobby guard told me that there was a doorbell in front which I could ring and they would let me in (he…he…silly me!).

The shala was a small cozy place, filled to the rafters. I found a spot near the door.  I was immediately attracted to the sun salutation figures painted on the wall.  Although familiar faces were there, I had to adjust to the new surroundings, ambient noises, chanting music, closely placed yoga mats…but in no time I got my bearings.

It turned out to be a good practice.  Becky helped me out in my dropbacks…she carried me mostly but I really needed to feel that stretch and lengthening of the spine.  I am so grateful for that counter stretch she helped me with during the seated forward bend!

The other teacher (I didn’t get her name, I should introduce myself the next time) took time to help me out in shirsasana.  It felt so safe to have someone there and it really completed my good practice today.

Thank you Stillpoint for being there when I needed you!