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Today marks the end of the #nynb30daychallenge. It’s been quite a ride and although it did’t go exactly as I had envisioned (I only made 26 out of the 30 days and barely made a dent in terms of numbers on the scale) but what I gained from it is beyond measure :) Borrowing the words of one of my fellow challengers: I may have not lost as many pounds as I wanted, but I don’t feel as fat on the inside and that’s more than I could have expected.

The challenge, however, doesn’t end with just the scorecard of how many classes I did or how much weight I lost (or didn’t lose), but I take away from it key realizations that will make me a happier, healthier, better human being.

Three important life lessons I learned through this challenge are as follows:

1. To Be Discerning. I guess it was really too ambitious of me to try to manage too many things because I ended up getting sick twice. However, what the challenge reminded me was to not to be too hard on myself and to learn how to discern when to push and when to step back.

2. To Keep an Open Mind. For those who know me, they know I am not a fan of the hot yoga practice. In fact, it surprises people when I take a class. However, this challenge forced me to step out of my comfort zone and to do things that are not necessarily my personal preference. By coming to the hot classes, I was reminded to let go of attachment to preference and to accept what is there. Svaha, as they say. It is what it is. The challenge also made my transition to my new role in the studio a little easier as it encouraged me to open up to others a little bit more and be more engaging with my fellow practitioners.

3. The Value of Self-Love. One of my big goals for this challenge was to step back on to the mat with more consistency. It is often easy for me to push my mat practice to the back burner because of other things I am doing. The challenge made me realize that setting priorities for my practice is not just an act of kindness and compassion to my body, but also of self-love. By nourishing my soul with that 60-, 75-, or 90-minute practice, I did not just move my body but it also gave me the chance to love myself a little bit more, day by day. By skipping my practice, however, I take away or cut myself short.

The challenge may be over but I carry with it these lessons. In the next month, my practice will be all about different kinds of self-love practices. Want to join me?

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Twelve years ago today, my Bubba was born. He came home to my sister two months later, and five months after that, my sister left for the US and so began the story of Bubba and Me.

At first, I wanted nothing to do with “that dog”. But slowly, he crept into my heart and that was the first life lesson he taught me.

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1. Bubba taught me to, at the very least, TRY.

By trying to allow him in my life, I opened up to a world of love I never thought possible. He taught me to try opening my heart despite the fear of what may lie ahead. He showed me the value of trying to open up to opportunities even if there was a possibility of failure. He showed me to try letting loose and having fun, even when I look silly or weird. Yes, my Bubba proved to me that if you at least try, you may be surprised at what comes your way. More »

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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 »

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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
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bubba

 

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.

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