The amazing thing about yoga is that you are empowering yourself without being conscious that that is what you are doing.
Yoga instructor Jasper Colina, who just opened OM Yoga Studio in Parañaque (he also teaches yoga at Fitness First), shares the experience of a female student who had a fear of crossing the street.
After several yoga sessions, she experienced changes within herself. She became confident with every pose she was able to accomplish and later on mustered enough courage to cross the street by herself.
Colina said most people initially go into yoga for physical fitness. In the process, however, they undergo not only physical change but also inner transformation that usually lead to a change in lifestyle—one that is gentler and more meaningful.
One of Colina’s students, Virginia Carag, attests to that.
A retired bank executive, Carag said she once ballooned to 280 pounds and was miserable. She was then taking care of her sick husband and “kain ako ng kain (I kept eating).”
One day, after her husband’s death, she was cleaning her room and saw her old photos when she was Miss PNB (Philippine National Bank). She felt depressed and cried.
She resolved to lose weight and on her own did some physical exercises like walking. But she said, “I felt there was something lacking.”
Carag became a member of Fitness First where she joined all group exercises, including yoga. The teacher then was Peewee Sanchez (now based in the Middle East), whom Carag credits for inspiring her to go further in her fitness regimen.
She got hooked on yoga that helped her regain her focus and balance.
Balance was also Steph Bregondo’s problem. “Palagi ako noon natatapilok (I used to trip a lot),” she recalled.
In the few months she has been doing yoga—she attends Colina’s classes in Fitness First at SM Mall of Asia and OM—Bregondo said her balance has markedly improved.
Soledad Rivera travels one-and-a-half hours from Navotas just to attend Colina’s classes at Fitness First and OM Yoga Center.
“I like Jasper’s classes because there’s a lot of variety. It’s never boring,” she said.
Rivera, who in her 60s does a wheel pose or backbend flawlessly, took up yoga upon the advice of her doctor who was treating her scoliosis.
She liked it so much that she now has her own yoga studio at home. “When I feel depressed, I do yoga,” she enthused.
Colina said yoga is uplifting because it starts from within. “It’s more than just poses. It involves emotional, mental and spiritual discipline,” he said.
Yoga traces its origin to India thousands of years ago and literally means “to yoke or join together.” It’s a discipline that brings the body and mind together in harmony.
In a gym setting, yoga puts emphasis on posture or physical exercise (asanas) and breathing (pranayama), two of the eight limbs of yoga, Colina said. The other six are yama (universal morality), niyama (personal observances), pratyahara (control of the senses), dharana (concentration and cultivating inner perceptual awareness) and dhyana (devotion, meditation on the divine).
Colina said most of the poses in yoga are lengthening and strengthening. Thus, as you practice yoga, your posture improves. You look taller, slimmer and younger.
Breathing is a core element of yoga. Proper breathing pumps more oxygen to the blood and brain. “If you inhale, exhale, you do a lot of cleaning,” Colina said.
A yoga class is life in a capsule. Like in life, everything is connected. Every pose is a preparation for the next pose until the peak or goal is accomplished.
Colina gives an example of the Warrior One pose, which celebrates the spiritual warrior/yoga practitioner’s battle against self-ignorance—the source of suffering.
“Warrior One is a very strong pose. It is not an easy pose. After 10 counts, you accomplish it. How do you apply it in your daily life? It teaches you how to face your problem. Then you will triumph. You will gain confidence,” he said.
Yoga also teaches discipline and is a constant reminder of the folly of taking shortcuts. “You cannot go to 10 without going through one, two, three and so on and so forth,” Colina said. Just like in life, taking shortcuts in yoga could lead to injuries, problems or not achieving your goal.
That’s why it is important for a student to start from the beginning of the class and stay to the end.
“We follow a pattern. It starts with centering or meditation, followed with sun salutation, then standing poses, sitting poses and finally savasana or corpse pose (lying on the back, with the arms and legs spread at about 45 degrees and the eyes closed),” Colina said.
Coming out of savasana, yoga practitioners resume daily activities feeling rejuvenated.
Yoga is becoming a popular antidote to the frenetic modern lifestyle. But it remains an elitist activity.
Colina said opening OM Yoga along a commuter-accessible location in Parañaque (at the Sotelo Business Center, 695 Quirino Avenue) is his way of bringing yoga to people who don’t go to high-end gyms and yoga studios. OM charges a reasonable fee of P200 per session.
Aside from vinyasa (flow) and ashtanga yoga, OM offers iron yoga.
“Iron yoga is our signature class. We add weights for resistance and for more toning,” Colina said.
OM Yoga also offers belly dancing and zumba.
Colina said he is working out with some yoga teacher friends a yoga program for kids, 3 to 7 years old. The poses would be patterned after nature like a bird’s pose, a turtle pose or happy baby pose.
“It’s basically play,” he said.
That would be fun.