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Yoga Beyond the Mat Oct 21, 2016

Yoga Beyond the Mat

GPS waypoint: 7°03'51.7"N 125°36'27.8"E
Location: Davao City, Philippines

Day-to-Day Application
How do you apply yoga to someone who cuts you off the street? How can yoga help you if you are constantly plagued by painful thoughts from the past that leave you agitated and angry? What do you do in a pose to help you boost your immune system and add vitality to your life? The lessons learned in Bali together with my background in pranayama and meditation are now evident in my yoga teaching. I would underscore the translation of yoga on-the-mat to yoga off-the-mat. My teaching style has changed from asana-centric to purpose-centric. Of course, the asanas remain the cornerstone of the practice but they are just a means towards an expressed end. It could be a sequence about non-reaction. It could be about digestive optimization. It could be a sequence for the fountain of youth. I offer direct translation of yoga - as you drive the car, as you sit 9-5 behind the desk, as you are confronted by worries about the future or anger from the past. While yoga by itself already addresses those issues, I connect the dots and pull everything into a seamless singularity.

Davao Yoga Scene
conducting a class at Holiday Gym and Spa

Anger From the Past
Many times during the day, painful episodes from the past invade our here-and-now. This episode could have been an asshole from 20 years ago who said something nasty. Or, it could have been you being right but the other person had the last word - so you replay this episode over and over again in your head, this time with you having the last say. It's all too familiar. Without even being aware of it, we react to it. Our breathing gets faster and more blood is pumped into our system. Before we know it, we are already agitated and angry. We redirect this anger to our colleagues, our family and friends. Sometimes, it takes hours before this anger simmers down and disappear. In all this time, we are not even aware of what took place - we have given this thought from the past, permission to rob us of our precious bliss.

Worry About the Future
If it's not the past sneaking on our here-and-now, it's the future. We worry about things in the future we cannot change now. Pressing deadlines? Perhaps it's something in the distant future. Who takes care of me when I get old? Is my money enough to sustain my retirement days? Who will take care of my loved ones when I'm gone?

I use principles of Adhitthana (strong determination) in a yoga asana to observe this nasty thought without reacting to it. By doing this, the bitterness of the past and the worries about the future lose its stranglehold. You unshackle yourself from the bondage and regain control, keeping the balance of the mind.

Fountain of Youth
The story goes that in the 1930s, a British army colonel was taught the 5 Tibetan Rites by Buddhist monks. The sequence is designed to delay the ageing process and render a much younger look to the practitioner. Although the asanas are similar, the way it's done and its sequencing produce the anti-ageing effect. On one particular class I conducted at Plana Forma, the entire one-hour sequence was the 5 Tibetan Rites.

Building Strength
Between 2 opposing forces, the stronger force wins. You get sick because the germs, bacteria and viruses have become stronger than your immune system. What if you boost the immune system? The germs will still be there, but with a stronger immune system, they cannot prevail - you don't get sick. At least, not that easily. I cannot remember the last time I got sick or the last time I saw a doctor. I don't take any medication or maintenance pill. At times, I can even feel the surge of my strength. Yoga makes you strong. But yoga + pranayama + meditation make you stronger. When I conduct a class, even a short 1-hour class, I make sure pranayama and meditation are included.

Sometimes, at the end of the class, I give the students a homework using their smart phone - something that would force a habit to take them to the here-and-now and restore equanimity in their demeanor. I learned this from the practices of the Thich Nhat Nhan monastics in Thailand.

My practice incorporates lessons from Vipassana Meditation in the Goenka tradition, Mindfulness Meditation of Thich Nhat Nhan at the Plum Village, text from ancient Indian treatises, lessons from my teachers, point-of-failure asana and lessons learned on the open road. I only teach what I practice on an experiential basis. It's still in compliance to a conventional studio offering but with sharper focus on non-reaction, breathing and staying present. My yoga continues to evolve and consequently, my teaching.

Finally, after stopping on the Uddiyanda Bandha (pulling-in the belly) for a long time after doing my failed Nauli, I decided to really devote my time perfecting Nauli (stomach churning) - I got as far as Madya Nauli (center abdominals popping in front while the belly is pulled-in). I stayed inside my hotel room for 3 days practicing in front of the mirror. Nauli is said to put fire in the digestion for increased metabolism and eradicate all digestive problems. I validate this. My digestion is optimized to say the least - I go to the washroom as often as I have my meals.

Ending Thoughts
The theory goes that there is no illness yoga cannot cure. Illness is said to be caused by energy (prana) blockage. If prana cannot flow through the kidney, then you suffer from kidney failure. But with kidney-specific asanas, the blockages are cleared restoring the kidney back to health. This concept resonates. Perhaps this is where I take my practice - yoga as an off-the-mat cure.

-- TheLoneRider

ps - If you want me to participate and write about your yoga studio or your yoga practice, email me. For my complete yoga profile, you can visit this page: YOGA by Gigit

Facebook Users

Reader Comments:

Bryan TenorioBryan Tenorio
(Oct 23, 2016) Gigit, i should have attended your classes.

Millet AcsavanMillet Acsavan
(Oct 22, 2016) I love this class...Thanks teacher Gigit

Ivy May AkianganIvy May Akiangan
(Oct 22, 2016) I LOVE YOUR CLASS sir!!!! Been in Bali too...

Oct 21, 2016

Google Map Davao City, Philippines

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  • Apollo Van Rental Apollo Van Rental - Davao City tour, Samal Island tour, airport transfer
    0925.500.3211 |
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Great Things Going for Davao City

  • one of the cleanest potable water in the country
  • smoking is banned from commercial establishments
  • pineapple samurais are endemic here and nowhere else in the country (pineapple vendors who cut-up whole pineapples into chunks with just a few strokes of their carving knives)
  • public utility drivers conspicuously display their IDs
  • durian Mecca of the Philippines (not to mention Marang, Mangosteen and Sweet Pomelo)
  • you want to add some more? please submit on the form below

Not So Great Things Going Against Davao City

  • the weighing scale of fruit vendors specially the durian push cart vendors are a blatant cheat - showing almost twice the actual weight

Davao Related Articles

Davao City Travel Information
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