Growing up, I never gave my menstrual cycle much thought. I took it very much for granted because for the most part, it never caused me much pain. Sure, it was crazy unpredictable from the time it began up up until I discovered I had PCOS, but it never gave me grief. In fact, it was so negligible that despite the fact that I was bleeding for almost six months straight (well, maybe more like spotting rather than really bleeding), I never went to see a gynecologist. In my mind, since I was not sexually active nor was I planning to conceive, I dismissed it. Additionally, it wasn’t bothering me much. When I finally went to see the doctor, I realized how much I was neglecting the big, red (no pun intended) warning signs that irregular cycle was sending me. Given our family history of cancer, I think if I had ignored my endometrial hyperplasia at that time it would have only been time before I developed a cancer. The medical treatments helped me address some of the weight issues I was dealing with. PCOS, obesity and insulin resistance were co-morbid.

I’ve shared in this blog how the practice of yin yoga helped me through my PCOS and contributed to my periods becoming more regular and predictable. However, I still did not pay as close attention to it as I should. It was a natural part of womanhood, after all. As I grew deeper in my practice and understanding of yoga, I began to see how important it is to listen and honor my natural cycles, be this sleep, eating, as well as my menstrual cycle. This was because every time I would see my Teacher (who eventually became both Integrative Nutrition Counselor and Mentor) she would ask me three things: How is your sleep?; What have you been eating?; and “What’s your period like?”.

When I took my women’s health training, I learned about menstrual cups and period apps. Dona and Victor (my other yin teacher) talked about how important it is pay attention to the menstrual cycle because it is our personal health report card. I never thought of it that way. More »


Me and my fellow Yin Yoga teachers Clarice, Cookie and Dona celebrating our blessings: our periods! Photo taken from Yin Yoga Philippines during our Yin Yoga for Women’s Health training.


Yesterday an article  made it’s rounds on my Facebook feed. I initially dismissed it as I felt I already knew what to do, given my long history of having lived with and made efforts to manage my condition. However, my friend Dona, who is a staunch Women’s Health and Menstrual Health advocate, shared the article and asked my opinion and so I decided to read it.

There were four steps outlined in that article: change your diet, exercise, take birth control pills (and at times, insulin sensitizing drugs since hyperinsulinemia is also another side effect of PCOS) and progesterone treatments. I believe strongly in points one and two. Three and four are helpful. But if I wrote that article, I’d dare propose two more “need to do” points on the list:

1. Yin Yoga
2. Change your sleep patterns/cycles
More »




A few days ago, a friend of mine reminded me  to find the joy in Bubba’s passing. As she put it, his moving from this life to the next means he’s lived out his purpose and in doing so, his role in my spiritual journey has been completed. On the mat today, it came to me that indeed, he has lived out his purpose and that the part he played in my life’s journey has ended.

I’ve said it many times in the past few days: Bubba once saved my life. I don’t say that lightly. He came at a point in my life where I was in one of the deepest and darkest nights of the soul. If you thought Meredith Grey was dark and twisty, the “Ria” I was then was a hundred times more. At least Meredith drank out in the open: I hid my bottles in closets and shoes and all sorts of other places. I holed up in my room so much and lay on my bed until I felt the cushion began to take my shape already. If I could have peed in my bed, I would not have gotten up. The only time I’d get up was when Bubba would nudge me to signal that he needed to use the toilet. And so I’d go. On the nights when I’d have one too many drinks and a Nyquil to chase it down, despite my prayers to not wake up anymore, Bubba patiently shook me awake everyday to let him out to do his business, then he’d come back and curl himself next to me.

I’m lucky that my background in Psychology gave me insight as to what was going on inside me and it allowed me to seek the support I needed. Among those support systems I had was Bubba. He became my walking buddy, my partner and my person. Every day he’d bring me his leash and stubbornly insist that we walked. In time, all the work I did from journalling, to painting, and the movement and exercise helped clear the fog in my head and the dark clouds began to lift.

As I look back today Bubba helped me make amends with the hurts of my past. He taught me to love and be loved, and to let things be when needed. He gave the wounded child that lived inside me rhyme and reason to live, and reminded her that she was worth fighting for. And that she was amazing.

Since coming out of that dark night, I’ve faced many other challenging bits and pieces of life. And yes, there were times when the darkness and heaviness of life began to make its presence known. However, because of what I had learned from Bubba’s presence the first time around, I knew I had the tools I needed to wait out the storm.

In class today I saw that the wounded child in me had found healing and that she no longer was in trapped in her past. She now could laugh about and joke about her pains and realize that indeed, there is beauty in darkness. As Rumi put it,  “Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the boughs of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place.”

I have Bubba to thank for that. As I let his physical presence in my life go, I keep his love and light in my heart always.



Growing up, I never thought I had mesntrual health issues. I just took the experience as a natural process of my life as a woman.  Much as that mindset is a positive thing, I failed to recognize an important truth: the irregularity of my cycle, the bloating and retention, the weight issues, the occasional discomfort (I was lucky enough to never have debilitating pain with my periods), and the other emotional symptoms that surrounded my moon cycle was NOT normal. They were indications of some forms of imbalances in my system.

I had such little regard for my menstrual cycle that I did not care if it came on time, or if it never came at all. From menarche, my cycle period was irregular. I know now that I did not have an irregular cycle, because a cycle means something that is consistent and regular.  What I thought then, however, was that it was normal for someone to have irregular periods because sometimes that’s just what happens. It came to the point that I didn’t care at all and just took things in stride to the point that I was bleeding (not heavily, but more like spotting) on and off for a period of almost six months. I never brought it up to anybody because we just don’t talk about periods, right? And although I had been on the swim team when I was younger, I always managed to deal with my period with tampons and the like. Finally my mother found out about it and sent me to an OB/GYN. I had previously never gone to a doctor for my periods because I always thought we only needed to see one if we were pregnant, trying to conceive or were sexually active. I was neither. More »


I woke up this morning to a news article about model Cheryl Tiegs calling out Sports Illustrated’s first full-figured cover model Ashley Graham. At first I ignored it but since it was trending on Facebook, I took the bait and clicked on the articles. It saddened me that our society has placed such a premium on tall, skinny bikini clad models. In fact, the fact that I am plumpy — scratch that, I am obese — is what stopped me from doing yoga in the beginning.

Lucky for me I chose to ignore stereotypes and give yoga a try.

Admittedly at this point in my journey, I am not the healthiest. I did gain weight lately and I know that I have slid back to my unhealthy eating patterns. 

Nonetheless, the reason why I am writing this post is to highlight one thing: not all overweight looking people are unhealthy. 

What makes me say that? I say it from experience. You see, at one point in my life I weighed almost 250 pounds. I definitely was not healthy then. My digestion was shot, my menstrual cycle crazy and my mental and emotional health was at its lowest. I had hormone issues, which, coupled with depression took me into a downward spiral.

Luckily I got help. Then I started to lose wieght and change my lifestyle. At the peak of my weight loss, I had weighed only 135 pounds from 215, but while my external physique was at its slimmest and “healthiest” looking, I was far from it. In fact, it was at that time that I was at my weakest. My immune system was so low I contracted illness after illness. I was so sick at one point that I could not even tolerate water and keep it down. How was that healthy? 

Eventually I found balance. I went back to about 150 pounds, was fully vegetarian, and was practicing yoga at least 5 times a week and walking my dogs twice a day for about 15-30 minutes. I still looked overweight, but that was the healthiest I had ever been in my life. My bowel movements were regular and consistent, my hormone issues were resolved. The migraines and headaches I had a lot of in the past were virtually non-existent. I no longer had asthma attacks and my immune system was well in place. I was mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually well. But I was still fat.

So yes, Ms. Cheryl Tiegs, while I agree that the glofirication of an overweight body bears many dangers as it may leave people complacent or even encourage continuing unhealthy eating patterns, I disagree that someone who has some extra weight in them cannot be healthy. In fact I’d like to argue that, for example, an athlete who is strong and svelte may not always be healthier than someone with a few extra pounds for one reason or the other. If someone is in pain because they’ve overworked their body, I don’t think that’s necessarily healthy. I’d further like to argue that a healthy body is not really measured by its size alone, but by how effectively it functions. 

It believe is time we celebrate our bodies, curves and all…or lack of it for that matter. This does not mean someone like me shouldn’t work out and try to lose weight, it means we should work on being the healthiest versions of ourselves, inside and out.