Quantcast
Latest Stories

Health and Wellness

Going beyond Yoga

By

(Discovered by the west during the hippie era as a way to transcendence, yoga has in recent years become part of the search for the perfect physique. Thanks to new teachers, gadgets and practices, it could again become an entry point for deeper spiritual practice)

The first time I tried yoga—I won’t say when, but Carlos Santana was still calling himself “Devadip”—it was in someone’s basement in the suburbs, with plastic mats on the floor.  Some guy in sweatpants led us through the Sun Salutations and the obligatory guided relaxation in the Corpse pose.  Afterward we all hung around drinking soy coffee.

A couple of months later, I was struggling to stay in the lotus posture in front of an intense, scary-looking Indian guy in orange robes.  The scent of sandalwood incense hung in the air, blending with the sampaguita garlands draped around a framed portrait of the guru.  After a couple of minutes he told me my mind wasn’t pure enough, and that I should chant “babanam kevalam” some more before coming back.

I had flunked the initiation.

The first wave of interest in yoga came in the aftermath of the hippie era, but the focus was on transcendence.  Their minds having been expanded with psychedelic drugs, people looking for enlightenment turned east.  In the ’70s, ex-hippies chanted “Hare Krishna,” tried Transcendental Meditation, joined Ananda Marga or devoted themselves to Bhagwan Shri Rajneesh or Satya Sai Baba.

Few people actually practiced the asanas-the yoga poses.  Those who did did so perfunctorily, mainly to prepare themselves for meditation and-they hoped-eventual enlightenment.

Then toward the end of the decade, yoga took a turn for the weird.  Chess grandmaster Viktor Korchnoi enlisted two monks from Ananda Marga to psych out Anatoli Karpov in their 1978 world championship match in Baguio City.  Later that same year, a nun from the same sect set herself on fire in Luneta to protest the continued imprisonment of their guru in India.

Things went quiet in the ’80s, but something interesting happened during the ’90s.  Somehow the practice of yoga merged with the cult of the perfect physique that had emerged during the Yuppie era.  Western disciples had taken the teachings of their Indian gurus and democratized it, adding more than a bit of marketing spin.  What in India were seen as age-old traditions emerged in the new global marketplace as brands: Iyengar, Ashtanga, Bikram, Jivamukti.  The asanas became the focal point of yoga practice.

Today, yoga is a growth industry. Ten years ago, you could count the yoga teachers in Manila on the fingers of one hand (and still have a finger or two left over).  Today there are literally dozens of yoga studios offering a plethora of classes in Metro Manila alone, and other metropolitan areas aren’t far behind.

Beyond Yoga, a studio that opened last October in the Tomas Morato area of Quezon City, exemplifies the modern, Westernized approach to yoga.

“We’re different from the other yoga studios in that we offer different kinds of yoga,” says Cara de Ocampo, one of the partners behind the studio.  “We teach over 10 styles of yoga: vinyasa yoga, gentle yoga, ‘hot’ yoga, jivamukti, ashtanga yoga.  Our newest style is antigravity yoga, and currently we’re the only studio in the Philippines licensed to teach it.”

In antigravity yoga, the poses are done while the yogi or yogini is suspended on a hammock-like swing.  Among other things, this allows them to perform strenuous inverted poses without unduly stressing their spinal columns.

“It feels like you’re flying,” says de Ocampo.  “Your back gets stretched, you get a good workout, but at the same time there’s a fun factor.”

Apart from the varieties of yoga, the studio also offers dance classes in jazz, hip-hop, belly dancing and pole dancing.

“It’s really a one-stop shop where you can do all kinds of workouts,” she continues.  “Our teachers train under the best abroad.  We try to get the best teachers, but we also try to make our services affordable so everyone can incorporate yoga in their lives.”

Periodically, she adds, the studio will fly in guest teachers from abroad to conduct intensive workshops and to conduct teacher training for advanced students who want to take their practice to the next level.  Beyond Yoga will be offering a 300-hour teacher training course in Vinyasa yoga later this year, the first in the country.

“Students start off being interested in yoga for the physical benefits-to lose weight, get fit.  Then after doing weeks and months of yoga as a physical practice, it goes to a different level.   People come to yoga to de-stress.  They do yoga for all these physical benefits but in the end, they also benefit mentally and spiritually.”

Another partner in Beyond Yoga is New York-based yoga teacher Anna Carbonell.  A second-generation yoga practitioner, her father is the poet Rolando Carbonell, who became better known as new age guru Swami Devaleelananda in the 1980s.  Steeped in yoga practices since childhood, Carbonell rediscovered yoga in the US when she was in her twenties, and eventually became a certified teacher of vinyasa yoga in 2006.

“I am happy that [yoga] has become trendy in the Philippines even just in a physical sense because to some it becomes an ‘entry point’ to a deeper spiritual practice,” she says in an e-mail interview.

“A student or practitioner who starts off wanting physical beauty could evolve to seeking spiritual development because of the way the asanas affect the body and mind.  When the body is in a good state, the mind follows and the next in line is the spirit.   If it doesn’t go that way for them, then maybe along the line they will find a teacher or a yoga studio that incorporates spirituality in the practice,” she adds.

“Overall, yoga is a great practice whether some just do it for beauty but it’s best when it’s done with ethical living, wisdom, and devotion and respect to the ancient teachings and its origins… I believe that yoga in the Philippines will be influenced again with spirituality.  We can make it happen.” •

Beyond Yoga is at 3F Il Terrazo Building, Tomas Morato Ave. cor. Sct. Madrinan, Quezon City. Check out www.igobeyondyoga.com


Follow Us


Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Eric S. Caruncho , Sunday Inquirer Magazine , wellness , Yoga



Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
  1. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  2. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  3. This is not just a farm
  4. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  5. Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  6. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week?
  7. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  8. 12 other things you can do at Pico de Loro Cove
  9. Moist, extra-tender blueberry muffins
  10. The truffled mac ‘n’ cheese, eggs benedict, chicken leg confit are excellent
  1. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  2. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  3. Marcos grandson to wed beautiful Rocha scion
  4. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  5. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  6. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  7. France makes work beyond 6 p.m. illegal
  8. Ever heard of HydroBob?
  9. 90 percent of Filipino households don’t practice proper toilet hygiene, sanitation
  10. Boots Anson-Roa to wed in Eddie Baddeo
  1. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  2. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  3. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  4. Manila in shock over model Helena Belmonte’s death
  5. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  6. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  7. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  8. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  9. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer
  10. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?

News

  • Two Popes who would be saints
  • Anti-gay demo in Ethiopia cancelled
  • Obama launches measures to support solar energy in US
  • Nebraska toddler gets stuck inside claw machine
  • Philippine eagle rescued by Army turned over to DENR
  • Sports

  • Duke freshman declares for NBA draft
  • Vietnam says it will not host Asian Games
  • Nadal passes clay landmark with 300th victory
  • Wawrinka waltzes through with Monte Carlo walkover
  • Power Pinays smash India in Asian Women’s Club volleyball opener
  • Lifestyle

  • Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • This is not just a farm
  • Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  • Entertainment

  • Cannes film festival launches race for 2014 Palme d’Or
  • Jones, Godard, Cronenberg in competition at Cannes
  • Will Arnett files for divorce from Amy Poehler
  • American rapper cuts own penis, jumps off building
  • Jay Z to bring Made in America music fest to LA
  • Business

  • Total says makes ‘very promising’ oil find off Ivory Coast
  • ‘Chinese Twitter’ firm Weibo to go public in US
  • World stocks subdued, Nikkei flat on profit taking
  • Asia stocks fail to match Wall Street gains
  • Fired Yahoo exec gets $58M for 15 months of work
  • Technology

  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Filipinos #PrayForSouthKorea
  • Taylor Swift tries video blogging, crashes into fan’s bridal shower
  • DOF: Tagaytay, QC best at handling funds
  • Smart phone apps and sites perfect for the Holy Week
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • Last call for nominations to ’14 Presidential Awards
  • San Francisco business coalition slams proposed tax on sugary drinks
  • A ‘time-travel’ production of ‘Les Miserable’ at Stanford
  • Filipina Maryknoll sister honored for years of service
  • Malaysia quarantines 64 villagers over MERS virus
    Marketplace