I hope you all are keeping well. Such weird times we are having now. Keep safe and keep healthy. 2020 has really been one for the books. I don't think anyone has expected it to be such a year. I do not know what to write in this post. A lot of things are going through my head with the recent changes, It is kind of what we were expecting to happen. I think somehow I am overwhelmed and somehow sad, because it would probably mean it would take longer to go back to India or to visit my family in Philippines or just travelling to elsewhere.
I guess it's the not knowing what will happen next. It's the uncertainty of things. But yes, corona or no corona, things are always changing and events are always out of our hands. We have our own sphere of influence but for the rest we have to give it up to the greater power. I guess I just have to give in. And really, that is the best choice I think, do my best and the rest is up to God.
I miss hugging people. I miss seeing the smiles of people. I miss being able to see friends and family. I do know that this is temporary and everything will change again. Hope is always there and I hope for a better world, however dreamy that sounds.
A lot of things are going through my mind, they do not form any structured topic and I cannot seem to thread the words to make a coherent subject to communicate. I think I best leave it here for this week. I do hope you all stay healthy and safe. And happy. I am sending all of you a virtual hug and lots of love.
The human override, I think this separates us from machines, who are mechanical. Machines are programmed to think. They are made for a certain purpose and they are perfected until they can do the purpose they were made for, then they are released to the public, with the team hoping it will perform as the team hope for. Of course there are always bugs, errors in the system or things that were not taken into consideration in the program. But then comes version two of the code, which covers more scenarios and should fix the old problems that the previous implementation has maybe overlooked. As programmers we want to keep bettering the code so that the machine will serve it's purpose and of course the programmers can overlook things, or maybe it's not written on the specifications, or maybe we are just having a bad day but we keep on trying to perfecting our craft, to the best of our abilities.
But the machines are programmed to do what they are supposed to do, they can only do what they are deemed to do, for example a traffic light is differently programmed than a vending machine, and we cannot use the code of the traffic lights to the vending machine. But what is the difference of the traffic lights than a traffic personnel? A traffic personnel can think, it can adjust to the situations, of course now even traffic lights take some things into consideration that it couldn't 10 years ago. But still even now the traffic lights would have it's limitations still. But what am I really trying to discuss here? I mean the human touch always has an override. We humans were designed to think for ourselves, no matter how much programming we were put under. There will always be that unpredictable factor in the human decision. Our ability to choose, to override what is taught to us and to act on feelings and to act on actual happenings.
I think the human programming gets better in time, I do hope it does. I think our experience and lessons we encounter make us better and make us more understanding and compassionate. There are times that we quite lose our trust in the world or in the events but there will always be hope in the human heart. In the human mind and heart, there is passion and drive that really I think is hard to teach in any machine. It is not logical sometimes, and we cannot phantom it's immensity. And I am always hopeful that this override is used well and in situations that calls for it. There are rules, and yes rules are made for reasons. It's good to study these rules and regulations and why they were put there. But in the even we are asked to make decisions we have to use the rules and regulations but not only that, we gotta use what we are gifted. I think there comes the power.
I am hoping you all are staying safe and well and always feeling, always reacting and being involved in the best way we can. Of course we don't need to engage in everything but we gotta know when to do it. I guess that's the art. So keep safe, keep happy and keep well. I'm here to help your practice as always.
To be vulnerable, what does that mean to you? To fully trust something/someone and to let them have the power over you. To put oneself in a sensitive spot exposed to the forces, calculated and not calculated. It's a scary place to be and not everyone wants to be put in this spot. Not everyone can handle being in this spot. In some sense we need to be comfortable and to trusts the situation to allow ourselves to be put in this position. And that's saying a mouthful. We are creature of habits, and part of the habits is feeling safe. And yes, who doesn't want to feel safe and able to sustain and flourish even? We all want this and in a way we need to feel this.
For me studying Ashtanga puts me in a very vulnerable position. I trust the system and it has allowed me to in a way let myself go in the process of it. Studying the asana/physical part has taught me to trust my body and my mind. It allows me to use the body, the mind and the breath to move into shapes and in these physical states. It allows me to concentrate on one thing. Each asana is a complex set of movements, and yes every millimeter of stretch and every ounce of strength counts. And in a way it all needs to work together, a balance, a mixture of things and we are the alchemist, we make our own mix, we find our own sweet spot. Sometimes we need guides to take us there, but what is also important to know is that all of it is already in us. Sometimes we just do have to dig very deep and yes it is not so straight forward. It's not a quick fix, it is not an instant cure. It's more like simmering stew, growing a plant, or raising a child (or atleast I could imagine) as it takes time. And we do not decide when it all comes. It is out of our hands, simply put it just happens - a series of event that leads here.
I struggle to put myself in this vulnerable place. Because it means others can hurt me and I can also hurt myself. And maybe it is not their intention to hurt but it still possible. Things happen out of our hands sometimes, but we can also say some people do also have less good intentions and of course we end up being hurt. But I also know, growth and space comes from places of discomfort. The learning process increases there. And of course not a lot of people are willing to risk it. But sometimes there is no other way than through it. And we just need to stop thinking and just go.
I keep my dreams high and wild and my expectations low and realistic. It is a huge margin in between but it gives me the allowance to take the risks and go for it. Because I know I learn a lot when I am in a vulnerable spot. I risk a lot but there is also much to gain. And even if I come out of it with nothing, just the process has already taught me so much. For me this works atleast.
I hope you can harness your own vulnerability and benefit from learning from this, in your own limits, in your own time. And always know you are doing your very best, we need to count our efforts as they are. It is so easy to underestimate ourselves and our efforts in this whole story. Thank you for taking your time reading my posts and thinking with me. I appreciate hearing your comments on my posts and if you want to write something, I'm happy to share the space.
As always, stay happy, healthy and safe. Take care of you and your loved ones. The shala is now open to welcome people but I will keep it intimate for me and for you. Let me know if you want to come practice.
Days are getting shorter, and colder and windier. And the rain is being generous. Time for hoodies and jogging pants again. Time to go cozy back inside and rest and relax. Soup and pumpkin are in season again. Hearty and filling food to energize the body that is also undergoing the changes. It can be a bit shocking and we all of a sudden feel tired, sensitive and moody (my secret these days, well it's never a secret with me, chocolates! and lots of them!)
I grew up in a country having only summer and rainy season. The changing of the seasons is always interesting for me. I love the transitions from summer to autumn. And yes I miss having long days already but there is also something calming about the shorter days. More rest, more staying inside, hahaha, yes even more. And yes we have been all in this sort of quarantine for 6 months already, and it doesn't seem to stop yet. I understand and I have it too. I get frustrated and I just sometimes want to hug people and to be with people. To travel again, and to see friends and family and to give them the tightest hugs and the most heartfelt greetings. I have to say I have been keeping a lot to myself this year, maybe because I know I really can't spend so much time with people to keep myself safe and to keep them safe.
This isolation has really made me think a lot of the things that are important to me. The self introspection sometimes is deep and there is just no avoiding it when you are confronted by yourself. It made me think and assess the things that I hold very dear to me and it made me think of my priorities and think a lot on what I want in the future. And yes I know that the things I want my not necessarily be for me but it made me realise what is important for me. And even though I cannot have it all, all at once, I am just aware of these things and I keep them close. Maybe maybe not getting them someday, and to be honest getting them is not the goal, well maybe a bit yes. But I know if I focus on that it will only cause frustration on my side if I cannot have them. So I try to just set the best intention and leave the rest up to whatever we want to call it.
I hope you are staying well, feeling loved, eating healthy and being happy. Self care is most important these days.
<3 Love always,
The concept of rest is very hard for society nowadays. We are bombarded by media who tells it it should always be a hustle. We should be always running here and there and getting the next thing. There's a nicer car, a nicer house, nicer clothes, nicer body. And of course there is no shame at all to wanting these nice things. We all want to be comfortable and happy. And sometimes it is easy to associate happiness with what we have, in material things, in beautiful material things. And for some point there is a happiness that is given by the material things, but there is also the wanting for more. We see what others have and we want that too. In some sense there is no feeling of contentment and satisfaction. There is always the comparison factor.
In ashtanga it is easy to get into this mentality. We see other peoples practice and we want to get a flexible as them, or as strong as them. We want to have their jumpbacks, or their backbends, or their strength. While others see us and they also want stuff we can do that they cannot. And in a way this can work for us, we get motivated to get what we want, but sometimes there's also the frustration of comparison. And yes we are human beings we were programmed to compare and spot the differences.
What we often skip is finding the beauty in what we have, finding the happiness in what we do. We are always looking to the front, to the future, to the possibilities that it becomes quite easy to forget what we have now. The beauty of what is. And that is just that.
Short and sweet post this week. I continue the rest of my rest. I hope you all are well and happy and healthy. I'll see you soon. Questions on how to practice with me online or in person is always welcome.
Lots of love
Teaching mysore style classes online was something that I didn't really think I was going to do. I've always thought that to teach this practice, you had to be physically present to transmit the message. But then came COVID, and our physical contacts became limited, we kind of had to adapt and find new ways to connect, to transmit. The dawn of zoom classes came in. I was very skeptical of this in the beginning. I thought though, why not try, I wanted to share the practice and in a way it made me have a purpose to practice everyday, even more purpose. I know the practice is for me, and in sharing practicing with others, it somehow makes it easier. The presence of others helped a lot and I learned a lot from them. Somehow I feel like I learn more from them than they learn from me. I am the student. I knew, I wouldn't have a lot of students. It's a quite sensitive spot to put yourself in front of the camera. But not only you, your house, your family, your cats even... also come into the camera. It became more personal in a way, because the students also had to share their personal lives.
It's hard to set a place and a time for practice. And maybe, it is even harder to get the ones you love mixed into the practice. We weren't in a room away from the world, we were practicing in our own worlds, in our own spaces, the place we share with our nearest and dearest, our homes. Cats jumping in the mat became normal, household sounds and the everyday hustle and bustle became part of the practice. But somehow it also gave a bit of rest, we don't need to be running here and there, we learned to pause in our practice to take care of more important things and come back in a better time. We learned to be more tolerant, in understanding the situation of others.
I learned how to use my voice more, since I couldn't help put the student in the poses through physical contact, I slowly started to learn the power of the voice, to give short, clear instructions, I hope at least. I learned even more that the practice is and should be part of our lives, not a separate from the rest of what we do. After all it's a 24 hour practice, the asana part may start the journey, but what really counts is being a good person outside of the mat.
I continue this journey with you guys. I am really grateful that this wireless connection is available for us in these times of distance. And yes, it's getting even more busy now, the world seems to be coming back to the normal pace and we always are trying to keep up. I stay at your service, to give you company, to give you the extra boosts, to greet you good morning, to say hi to the lovely kids, to be amused by your pets who also want some attention, and mostly to have so much respect to you, being there for yourself and continuing this practice - no matter how hard it seems to get.
So thank you, for teaching me.
Stay happy, stay safe! Keep practicing.
I think it is very easy to take this practice for granted. We often think that having this practice is easy and accessible but to be honest not everyone has access to it. If course were in the year 2020 and yes yoga has become more accessible, thanks to the ones who have come before us and made it like that for us. But yes. Let's think about it. A yoga class is 10-20 eur. Maybe some classes are donation based. Or maybe some teachers provide a way for you do work work exchange. But it is still not a cheap amount for most. And it is also not easy to find a teacher who is willing to give you a let's say scholarship. Yes it is also online, but not everyone has access to unlimited internet, or phones or laptops or maybe even a yoga mat.
And yes a seasoned practitioner will say you do not need all the fancy things. I agree. But you kind of have to learn the practice to know how to go about it. And to be honest I know how much of an investment that it, time-wise but also financially and effort-wise.
And we cannot blame the teachers as well. They have worked and studied for this. And as much as they want to give it out for free they know that it is important for the student to know the value of what they are getting. Otherwise it is not really appreciated and often taken for granted. Let's face it. The teachers also know that this practice is very hard and demanding to maintain. And they understand that not everyone can make this commitment and I think they also do not expect their students to have that commitment. But our human logic tells us if we're not doing it as the other one is, it does not count. Because it is not as impressive or they do it better. The trap of comparison is hard to avoid. And yes I am guilty of this too. I am often hard on myself. I try my best not to though. I try to think that this is a practice. It is not life. It is not the end all and be all of things. It just a part of it.
I like to think of it as a way to make everything else better. It is a method that will help me in my life and should not hinder me. It should not cause me to be separated from reality. Yoga feels good for the mind and for the body but it doesn't and it shouldn't separate me from the reality of the world. It's all and well in yoga land but to be ignoring the world I think is missing the point of the practice. And yes. We cannot also blame the people who do this. I mean I do this too. Avoiding news and avoiding mediums that I know will just bring me unpleasant things. We know it exist and we know somehow we can be contributing to it.
I don't have the answers. I know not everyone can a give 2-3 hours of their day to their practice or 5 or 6 day a week. They have work, family duties, studies, and other important stuff. I would like to think of it that it is my way of sharing. I practice not only for me but also for those who wish they can allot this time and effort for themselves. I try to find a way to share it. Because yes sharing is caring. I find ways I can share - to be online, to be available in my best capacity, to be present and to be kind, to not judge. But words are easy and beautiful. Actions are so much harder.
I know this is a privilege practice. I don't kid myself that I am a philanthropist trying to save the world not wanting to gain anything. At the end of the day I also have needs that have to be maintained. And yes I could do with a lot less but I know there's also no shame in living a comfortable life. It's really such a complex thing.i think all we can really do is best effort. As I would like to believe we all do.
I want to share some good news. I have talked to Luke Jordan and he would love to visit us again in Antewrp in the spring of 2021. We're working on the details but do drop me a message if you are interested. I would like to know how many people we can count on so we can arrange as needed.
I will open my home again coming weeks to practice physically with me. If you are interested, please do get in touch with me. The online program stays as well. And of you are interested in learning this method and you find that the stakes of the practice are too high - be it financially or physically, or time or effort, do have a conversation with me. Let me know because I would like to help if I can. It's my way of sharing my privileges. Big hugs. Stay healthy and happy and keep sharing.
Love always <3
Clumsy, awkward... Maybe these are not the words you would describe me, but if you know me, you would agree. In my sneakers or barefeet and yoga pants, I have trained to be more stable. But put me in more dressy clothes, heels, you would see how uncoordinated and all over the place I am. And no shame here. I don't think there's anything wrong with this. I find it quite hilarious tripping all over the place. It means I have to concentrate on where I am walking and looking at where I am going. I trip, I fall, and luckily I haven't twisted an ankle or gotten anything serious. Matter of fact to find out how uncoordinated I am, tell me right or left when I am not practicing, I probably would take the wrong direction. I don't know right or left is just such a hard concept for me, and I always think I can get it 50% chance right without having to think about it. It also means I have 50% chance of getting it wrong. ;)
Imagine me growing up. My parents and my brother would attest to this. My coordination was very bad. Sports, I was terrible. Dancing, I felt very conscious and I felt looked at, worst judged, whenever I did any attempt to dance. Walking in the street, I would trip once or twice a day, normal occurrence, nothing to be alarmed about. I learned to pick myself up and proceed. I also learned how not to hurt myself and to know when to pay more attention. But sometimes I get into the conversation, and poof, on the floor again. I guess falling and failing has been a talent, if you can treat it as that. I learned to be comfortable with falling and failing and I learned to treat it as a big matter, pretend no one saw, dust yourself off, pick yourself up and on you go.
I guess this is a big advantage in yoga, knowing how to fall and fail. Because there will be enough things to suck at. And over the years I learned that the everyday work helps. It doesn't seem like it. But it does, everyday failure somehow translates to success someday, even if sometimes that doesn't seem to make sense. But this everyday trying, it trains the body and the mind, so even in failure there is triggers to get it right and it might not come today, it might not come tomorrow or next week maybe not even next month, but next year is possible. I have time, there is no rush. It's a lifetime practice and I enjoy the falling and failing.
So get it wrong, that's alright. Don't be afraid to make mistakes but also know that you can do what you set your mind into. Dedication and effort, sometimes that's all it takes, a lot of those two and a whole lot of guts but the recipe is simple. Sometimes we complicate things.
Keep practicing. Keep happy. Keep safe <3
Ola! How are you guys doing? It's almost the end of August and soon it's gonna be September, how time can fly right? I think around this time last year I was getting anxious at the thought that it was time to go to India again, to apply for Sharath. I got anxious at not getting in, I got anxious at getting in as well. I wanted to be there but I know going to India always meant jobless for 3 months, mostly it was money going out and not knowing what is next after that. But that's life right? We sometimes have to take these jumps and just not think and just go. We learn to swim or fly when we need to. And this year no Sharath or India and at the same time that I will miss it, there is also a bit of a relief that I do not need to be there. It is not a possibility. I know there will be another year for it. It's been 3 years after each other that I got out of the winter in Europe and this year I get to stay and enjoy the winter time here and spend it with the love ones here. And for some people winter can be depressing with short and very cold days but as someone who grew up in a tropical country, I always have such a curiousity and love for the cold.
I can also travel in Europe and study with Luke who is open in September, but yes, I will skip that one for this year too. I am a creature of habit and I need to be prepared a bit to go in study trips. I need mental preparation to go somewhere. Of course just packing the bags and leaving will always be an option, but my analytical side likes to think and rethink of all the possibilities, shall we say being ready in my mind. And I guess this year I am not mentally ready to go in trips. I know I sound so rigid right? I love the spontaneity in things but at this time, it helps me to be same, constant. I feel like that there are so many changes around me that I just need to sit this out for now.
Somehow that gives me stability at this time. I know I will be here for a while, I can work on my projects, I can learn and relearn new things, I can save for things in the future and I can enjoy what I have. Count my blessings. Sometimes I know that I am always looking for the next event that I kind of forget how special the moments are now. But yeah things like this makes me appreciate the things I was able to do earlier. So yes mixed emotions.
Little cracks, I don't know about you, but when I practice, everything cracks, not everything at the same time but there are some movements that causes certain cracks, and if it is a new crack sometimes it is surprising and there are also those streches that I know will make cracks and I look for it, and wait until it cracks, because at the same time that it is a bit weird that it cracks, there is also some relief in the cracking. It somehow feels the muscles are relaxing and the parts of the body are shifting. Always sore right? And the further I go to the practice, the more sore I get. And I know I also do not need to get so deep in the practice. I find joy in the simple practice, but also at the same time, the quest for the study and to understand this method and this body and this mind is very interesting to me. Let's say I'm a very eager student.
But not that eager, if you think I wake up and get on my mat right away, this is not the truth. It takes me a while to get there, and there is always this mental monologue if I want to go on the mat, and yes you might think that me being so regular, might win this easy. Answer is no. I struggle with it, there are days I want to stay in bed, there are days I think I am too stiff, too tired, too whatever, it doesn't matter what. My mind and body does fight on going to the mat. But we all end up there in the end because I am also hard headed. And standing there in the mat, even then my mind tries of making excuses why not today. I raise my hands and surrender to whatever it is during that practice. And no, it doesn't end there, there are points in the practice where I get distracted and want to stop. I try to concentrate on just the breathing, one inhale, one movement, one exhale, one movement. I tell myself I can quit anytime. But why quit now. And everyday I learn something. Another day in the bag. Tomorrow, we deal with that another day.
I hope you are all staying and keeping well and happy. My program stays available online and do drop me a mail or a message if you have any questions. I like hearing from you. Do you have questions about the practice? Do you want to practice together? Let me know. I like sharing with you.
Be well and happy and find this small cracks of opening.
I get asked sometimes if I experience pain in my practice. The answer is yes. For me this practice was never easy. Yes, one can argue I have flexibility. However that does not mean I never had to struggle in my practice. Some postures were more accessible for me than others, I have to agree. But what drew me to this practice is that the practice may be the same for everyone, everyone follows the same set of postures but we have different expressions of this postures. Mine is not necessarily better than yours, it is just different. Because my body is different than yours, it doesn't give another person less ability to do the pose in their best effort. And for me this is the beauty of the practice. You can go as deep or as shallow as you want, as you see fit. And of course in the beginning of the practice we do not know our own limits and capacities, we tend to over do, or sometimes not dare to do because we are scared. Good company always helps, a good teacher and a good community can always help in this journey. But most of the times it is important for us to feel our restrictions and capabilities ourselves, because no body feels the pain like we do.
I often ask my students, where do you feel it? Of course there are moments when I see the pain, or the feelings, but I cannot observe it all the time, it helps that the student is aware of it. But yes, it does take a lot of... yes you have guessed it, practice to be able to locate this. Often times in our practice there is a lot we think about, the next pose, the room needs cleaning, what we need to do for the rest of the day, the amount of work we still have to do and asking this question, helps me get back to what I am doing at the moment, where am I at at this point. Feeling the present situation. And in being aware of that am able to adjust and find out what is it I need to work on in this, it allows me to find space in the body and in the mind and to free the breath, it allows me to recognise the parts I need to work on. And it is not a one day discovery, it really takes time. And I know, we always think we do not have time. But really we do.
Pain is also for me an indication of where the healing needs to happen. For me it is an indication of stress, physically or emotionally. I like to use the practice as a healing practice. The movements in the practice allows us to discover how to breathe through the pain, or how to move through the pain. And from my own practice I realise that there are ways to free up the pain. Using the breath and calming the mind and letting the body know that it is safe, it allows me to get deeper into these poses and these transitions. In these same movements, I get to know myself, I find out my stiffness, or where I am flexible, I find out where I am strong and where I am weak, and most of the times, it is things I already know but I am still reluctant to accept. But somehow this practice has given me confidence in myself and my abilities and it has taught me that there are a lot of possibilities.
The pain also moves, the body and the mind seems like a puzzle, once we solve something, something else pops out. And yes it is a process of discovery and rediscovery. It is the same everyday and in that way we are able to gauge what is changing. It is not to scare you for the pain. I think even if we do not practice there will be pain, different pain, not better, not worse just different. But practicing and being aware of this pain can be useful. These feelings can be quite intense but we should always know that we can get through these pain and we just got to let time work on it.
I do hope you have a pain free practice, and if something does hurt I do hope you are able to practice through this pain. I hope the practice can also provide you healing as it does to me or at the least I hope you can use this practice as a place to inquire where this pain is coming from. From this knowing where it comes from maybe you can discover that you can heal yourself from this. Stay happy. Stay safe.