When In Manila and around the world, people are constantly searching for harmony, enlightenment, and inner peace in these fast-paced, stressful, and chaotic times. There are many ways people try to achieve this: self development books and seminars are selling better than ever, while others try to find meaning through philanthropy and humanitarian activities, while others go to church or therapy, and still others meditate or go on journeys of self-discovery.
Another way that has been increasing in popularity is yoga. Perhaps it’s because it’s a way to keep fit and clear the mind at the same time, or maybe because it’s “in,” but whatever the case, if the yoga industry is any indicator, the practice of bending over backwards is more popular than ever before. In fact, the yoga instructor is among the list of fast-growing and lucrative professions today.
Don’t be fooled for a minute. This isn’t your usual tree-hugging, vegetarian, yoga instructor from California. This is one foul-mouthed, sadistic, pot-smoking yoga instructor from California.
Bliss Yoga Manila is one of the more established yoga studios in the Metro with two branches (one in Greenhills and another in Makati) and a third branch soon to open in Alabang. Founded in 2009 by Roland dela Cruz, Glenn Biscoe, and Monique Borja, they cater to various types of yoga (Power Yoga, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Jivamukti, Hot, etc) practitioners.
Just last August 22 and 23, Bliss Yoga Manila brought in American yogi Brian Kest, whose claim to fame is that he invented Power Yoga and was Madonna’s guru at one point, for the first time to the Philippines for a two-day power yoga workshop as part of Bliss Yoga Manila’s Bliss Workshops & Intesives series . He is one of the most sought-after yoga instructors around the world and his instructional video is one of the top-selling DVDs in its category on Amazon.com.
With Power Yoga, Brian Kest incorporated aspects of the different yoga techniques he’d learned from thirty years of practice, with his own understanding and philosophy, to create Power Yoga. Brian Kest started out the workshop with a lecture that lasted about an hour, where he talked about a bunch of things including the history of yoga, how it’s come to evolve to its different forms, how he had just been in a car accident, and that in Beverly Hills, the 1000th yoga studio had just opened its doors.
Now this part is for those of you who are familiar with the practice of yoga. Here are some of the big difference between power yoga and the other forms I’ve tried (such as ashtanga, hot, gentle, vinyasa). and this may have to do with specific instructors as well, in this case, Brian Kest:
1) Power Yoga has a different warm up phase and a really long cool down (shivasna) phase. The entire routine you’re encouraged to do as much or as little as you want, but at the end, you have to stay with the meditation phase which felt way too long for me. But maybe I was just distracted. Yoga classes end in different ways; Brian Kest chose to end this one with a meditation of gratitude, for example, others end with some with chanting, or breathing.
2) Power Yoga has hardly any binds, twists or inversions. It really works your core, balance, and muscles that other types of yoga don’t touch (at least in my experience). Since it was my first attempt, I found it quite challenging. I imagine that given time, one could get the hang of the entire sequence, which lasted about two hours. Although it could be like Ashtanga where you move through levels which increase in difficulty.
3) There are no strict forms in Power Yoga. Whereas in other types of yoga the instructor would push you so you could reach your toes or bend further, in Power Yoga you are encouraged to listen closely to your body and to adapt the pose however you feel comfortable, to have the courage to back off if you’re feeling pain or discomfort, and to stop and rest whenever you want. It may be the case that people who practice yoga feel the need to compete with themselves or with others around them, and that’s one way that people have brought “their shit into yoga and turned their yoga into shit,” as Brian Kest so eloquently puts it.
4) Finally, Power Yoga really tests your ability to focus and not let your mind go to its usual places. As we went through the forms, Brian Kest was constantly making comments, cracking jokes, at one point he was actually rhyming out his instructions. It was quite different from how one would normally imagine a yoga class, and it pushed one’s ability to focus the mind on nothing else but what they were doing.
The workshop started at 630 in the evening and ended way past the 930 mark. I’ve practiced Ashtanga for a few years now, so I was fairly confident I could handle whatever power yoga had to throw at me. Maybe it was due to the lack of sleep or my last meal being nine hours ago, but the session really wiped me out. That was partly the reason I didn’t show up for day two.
Brian Kest and the instructors of Bliss Yoga Manila
Now for you meatheads out there who think yoga is only for vegetarians, turns you gay and doesn’t require any real strength, watch the video below. See the guy just passed out the whole time? He probably goes to the gym.
There’s no doubt that lifting heavy weights will make you stronger, but yoga not only strengthens your body but your mind as well. And the effects go much deeper and can even be said to be permanent. There aren’t many activities that can do that simultaneously, and that’s what makes yoga such a great practice.
Although the purpose of this article isn’t to convince you to totally get you into yoga, it does hope that it will get you interested to maybe trade in that club or gym membership for one month at a yoga studio near you. Best if you try a studio that offers not just one type, as you may not find the yoga that works for you straightaway.
So When In Manila, strengthen your body, soften your heart, and clear you mind with Bliss Yoga Manila.
Bliss Yoga Manila: http://www.blissyogamanila.com