If you wander around the city, you might notice some people in stretchy pants slinging a yoga mat on their backs. They are called yogis or people who do yoga. They are indeed a common sight here in Cebu. They are mostly students and professionals who find time to practice before or after their work.
Now, if you are wondering what they have been practicing, these yogis do poses called asanas which will help them improve their focus, strength, stamina and flexibility. Aside from that, they also do meditation to help them find a quiet space, both outward and inward, despite their busy schedules. Also, they learn how to do proper breathing techniques to help them focus and relax.
Some people have a misconception that yoga is all about sitting down with closed eyes, crossed legs and with hands on the knees. I don’t blame them because I have also seen those kinds of images on TV. However, that is just one aspect of yoga and it’s called meditation. It helps us attain clarity of the mind.
Finding inner peace
As my guru once explained to me, a confused mind is like murky water. Every particle that is making our mind unclear will settle down slowly at the bottom when we meditate. Thus, when we meditate when we are confused,we will find the answers. Meditation enables us to find inner peace. Now this “inner peace” may sound cliché but I definitely agree that if we can be at peace with our own self, we will eventually radiate that peace to the people around us.
The other aspect of yoga, the asanas or poses can be categorized from easy to advance. Compared with going to the gym to lift weights, I can say that yoga will help you lose weight or tone your body faster. Why? It’s because in yoga you don’t just carry dumb bells of say 20 pounds but you carry your own weight. Now, compare that to 20 lbs!
We get more benefits from doing yoga compared to other forms of physical exercises because yoga is not just an exercise but an “inner”cise as well. I have heard a lot of positive feedbacks from my friends who have been practicing yoga.
Aside from gaining toned arms and abs and becoming flexible, they said yoga has also helped them in terms of their attitude. One friend claimed she nags less now, or she is less noisy now. Another friend said she is more pro-active now, rather than reactive. According to them, yoga helps them become more focused on their task. Now, that is really something good for students who are cramming for their tests and for those who need to beat a deadline.
Most of my yogi friends agree that yoga has really lessened their stress.
Experience to understand
I can go on and on explaining what yoga can do but I guess it is better if you experience it yourself. It’s like love that is quite hard to explain or magic. You need to experience it to understand it.
If you want to know more, you can check out my Beginners’ Class at Surya Nanda Yoga on Acacia St. in Barangay Kaputhaw. It’s just across Harold’s Hotel on Gorordo Ave. I have been teaching yoga there for almost two years now. It is in Surya Nanda where I started to fall in love with yoga and I hope to share that love to you too.
I once was a beginner there who could hardly touch my toes. And mind you, I am a scoliotic too. I couldn’t even change my clothes without my daughter’s assistance. But you see, yoga has really done wonders to my spine. I have said goodbye to back pains a long time ago.
Practice with me every Saturday at 6:45 p.m. The fee is only P50 for an hour and 15 minute-class. My approach is like a Yoga 101class where I explain to beginners what to expect and do. I break down the poses in easy steps for beginners to understand it better. I also teach how to practice safely and modify your practice if you have any injury or health conditions.
If you think that yoga is just for those who are flexible, you can erase that misconception now. As I always explain to my students, flexibility is not a requirement but a result of doing yoga. All you need to do is show up and the rest will follow.
Just a few tips though before you come to your first yoga class. Make sure not to eat a full meal two hours before coming to class or you might feel weird in some poses. Wear comfy clothes like leggings and shorts and tops that hug your body.
Loose shirts often cover the nose when you’re upside down. You might find it difficult to breathe. As for the mats, we have yoga mats in the studio that youcan use for free or you can also bring your own. Bring your own towel of course and water. See you in the studio. Namaste!
(Claire Paredes is a grade school teacher by day and a Vinyasa yoga teacher by night. She is on a mission to share her passion of yoga and its benefits with anyone who is willing to learn. She credits yoga with helping her cope with her lower back pains due to scoliosis.)