It’s really funny how life takes you to where you’re exactly supposed to be, even if it wasn’t what you had planned, yeah? I’ve told the story of how my yoga practice began many times over, but every time I think back at where it all began, I still find myself in awe and with overwhelming gratitude at how amazing this journey has been. As I’ve said before, I really wanted to do yoga for the longest time. Many years before I first stepped into that mat, in fact. I was just too shy and hesitant to do so. So in 2010, I resolved to start a yoga practice. Since Bikram Yoga Alabang was the only studio I knew of at that time, I was all set to give it a try. Lucky for me (I’d like to believe), I ended up in a yin class, first at Ekagrata Sala and two days later, in an Introduction to Yin Workshop with my dear teacher (and friend) Dona Tumacder-Esteban. I say lucky for me because I don’t think my body was ready for the challenge of Bikram Yoga at that time, so if that was my first taste of what yoga was, perhaps the unfolding of the story would have been different.
And there it was. My love affair with yoga began. Till now whenever I am in a class with Dona and there are first timers, she always invites me to share my story with them. So now I will do just that. Perhaps with a new chapter this time.
Beginning with yin yoga really was an amazing start for me. It was exactly what I needed, I suppose. I would like to say that in my personal opinion, based on my experience, starting a yoga practice with yin, especially for someone like me who was extremely unhealthy and overweight, is the perfect first step into the mat. It was easy enough and not intimidating, yet it wasn’t simple and blah. It was…interesting to say the least.
Yin did not just provide me an access point to my body and open up the tight spaces that had been created by time, habits, and life. It gave me a means to open up my heart and soul to the greater things to come. Through the practice of Yin I also began to understand what it meant to be rooted to the earth, and to allow myself to be welcomed into the embrace of the dark side of things. It taught me to let go and surrender, and to stop fighting when there is nothing to fight for. It gave me a chance to stop asking and just listen. It taught me not to be afraid. But more than anything, it taught me to be comfortable with discomfort, to step out of the familiar and to open up to grace, knowing that even when you fall splat on your face or get your heart broken, it was exactly what you needed at that moment and for you are made more real and whole.
Because I was no longer afraid, I ventured into the yang. As Dona spoke of in today’s class, it is through tapping into the yin that you awaken the yang, kind of like awakening a dragon from its deep slumber in a cold, dark and damp cave. From that darkness an incredible lightness emerges, springing out from within, bringing you to light, soaring to the heavens. So from the seated and relaxed yin poses I had become familiar with, that energy emerged and showed me my warrior, my dancer, my tree…and today my flying dragon. The transition from yin to yang taught me to dance with myself, to not care if anyone was watching, to listen to my body, to push a little harder and most of all, to be comfortable with where I was and appreciate all that is.
Pretty soon, becoming a teacher seemed like the next logical step. My friend Kit, who is also a yin teacher, was actually teasing me last night, saying that I was the yin community’s “social experiment” , the girl who started with yin and eventually became a Vinyasa yoga teacher. So yes, this is me, taking to heart what it means to go from yin to yang, and go full circle, knowing full well each side is equally important in this practice.
And so I started 2011 as an unsure and insecure overweight person, clueless about what she was getting into. Now I welcome 2013 as a wide-eyed (admittedly sometimes frightened, but as a friend told me: there is no room for that in yoga… it is your responsibility to be fabulous. And so I will :)) Vinyasa and Kids Yoga Teacher.
As I end one of the most life-changing years, my Jesus year as someone told me some time ago, I take time to bow my head in gratitude to all the teachers who have lit my path, to all those who walked alongside me, to those who joined me for a bit and went their own ways, to those who watched and cheered me on, and to my inner teacher.
It has been an amazing journey on and off the mat, and I, for one, am so glad it isn’t over yet. Here’s to what lies ahead.