Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Healing Hearts And Feelings with Flow

Pole doesn't just take care of our bodies. It also takes care of our hearts. When we have feelings to express, the time when our hearts are just about to explode with all those feels, we can just dance it out.

Two summers ago, we had a class known as Pole Flow. In this class, we do not learn tricks. We do not condition or work on backbends and splits. We do not learn footwork or choreo. We learn how to feel. We learn how to put sense in our numbers so it isn't just a string of tricks and spins with floorwork for break. Come to think of it, I love dances that have sense and feels, not really much on the complicated crazy tricks.

Imagine my happiness when CD announced that she will be bringing flow back in our lunchtime classes. I really missed pole flow and amidst learning tricks and spins, I miss dancing (I secretly love to dance. As in really dance.) and although I'm not as pretty as the real dancers who have been dancing at the same time as they learned how to walk, I am determined to look just as pretty, and I know it's bound to happen at one point, like shoulder mounts, which up to this point I am still  working on.

Last Monday, the title of our lesson is Feelings Flow, where we brought to class - well, feelings! Contrary to popular belief, I have feelings, feelings that can sometimes be expressed, and there are also feelings that stayed bottled up. Social convention tells us something similar to what Elsa's parents said, "Conceal it, don't feel it. Don't let it show." school tells us that. corporate world tells us that. Heck even social media tells us that. Also, even we tell ourselves that. We are afraid to be vulnerable and afraid to be judged. In expressing feelings, we have fear, just like our fear in tricks.

In this class, we were told to let go of that shell, and let the feelings out. And we let it out through dance. Also, some unchoreographed tears. Tears are welcome, and they are welcomed with no judgement. Our dance steps and whatever dance skill level we had were also welcome with no judgement.

The theme of our dance is missing someone, so it was very sad, and also something everyone can relate to. There's always someone we miss. It may be a relative, friend, lover, or even something dear to you. Reality tells us to move on, and admittedly we all have to. But it's easier said than done, and oftentimes, we find ourselves either in that state of denial, or once again in fear - of facing reality that the person we longed for is gone in our lives. either by fate or by choice.

Aside from the choreography, we were given a few sets of 8 in the song to do some improv, and how we interpret the whole concept is up to us. The only rule was that it should be transitions, instead of doing tricks. That part I found liberating for me because it gave that part of me in the dance, and it made me "feel" the concept more.

It was amazing at how movement can help release a lot of pent-up feelings that we had all bottled up for whatever reason. Sometimes when we keep concealing things, it doesn't necessarily mean that it's gone completely. It's just like concealing a pimple. It may look like it's not there, but it's actually there hidden under all that makeup and skincare layering. Im glad for this exercise, that enabled us to just release and let go of that feeling with no judgement/ And what better medium to let it out than dance?

video
I don't know though if I became that super pretty dancer I dream I could be. I may still be in that process. But I know for sure that somehow there's a healing that happened that day. Here's a short preview of our dance.

Thanks CD for that awesome class.


Thursday, March 5, 2015

Yoga for Life March Classes

To those interested to try Yoga For Life's yoga classes, here's the March schedule. We offer different styles of yoga (Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Power, Hatha, and Yin and sometimes Becky Flow) and have classes at various studios and locations in the Metro. We would like to see you at our classes soon! For those who want to take my class, I have one more class this March on March 22 at Beyond Yoga Libis. The class is at 12 noon, so for those who would want to wake up later, this would be great.


Just a correction, the March 8 class at Beyond Yoga Libis will be taught by Duds instead of Paulo and it will also be a Vinyasa practice.

You may also get to know your Yoga For Life teachers by visiting the page at http://www.yogaforlife.ph/

See you on the mat!

Happy Hips at Home

My classes lately have been leaning towards hip openers and a lot of back decompression and forward folds. As I was planning my sequences for my yoga class, I would go, "Okay, so I'll use this sequence also for my classes in QC and Libis, as I taught it in BHS already." When I road-test my sequence with my self-practice, I do make a bit of modification coming into mind the different crowds of the studios, and their needs. Of course, during the class itself, the sequence also changes. But the formula is always the same, hip openers and forward folds. Lately, my regular students request a lot of hip openers, #punitsingit if you may.

Hip openers are my personal favorite. It was through me working through my split that I got into yoga in the first place, as a safer way to my "lola" body (lola in dance world, as there are dancers that started moving way before they reach first grade). I discovered that the hips carry our burdens or emotions, and being the largest part of the body, you can just imagine how many kinks have gotten inside those crevices. That's why some people cry during hip openers, because we tend to release a lot of emotions.

In yin yoga we focus a lot on grounding the pelvis, because it is what provides stability and space to our physical support. As we ground our sitting bones, we get to sit so much straighter, creating space in our body, looking taller and improving our posture to be straighter instead of slumped to  slouch.

Hip openers also help a lot with our back pain, and standing up at work most of the time, I get to have a lot of tightness on my lower back and hips. On an added benefit, hip openers create space in the body, and will help those with a lot of menstrual issues. In our Yin Yoga for Women's Health workshop, our sequence had a lot of hip openers.

Forward folds aid a lot in back decompression, as bad posture and standing for prolonged periods of time tend to compress the spine. Also, if you tend to wear heels a lot (yes, pole dance world and our sky-high heels, it includes us), you notice that arch your lower back makes. Well yes, it does create a sexy shape in photos and performances but this can create a lot of bone compression in time. Aside from decompressing the back, forward folds direct your energy to you, and rid you from distractions allowing you to focus more on yourself rather than the distractions that surround us. I personally find forward folds humbling, as the pose is so inward and also, hard for yoga selfies (*wink*)

I'm sharing some of my favorite poses and a short which you could do at home, and modified it for those with a tiny space in their homes like me, Start with a 5-minute meditation either lying down in pentacle or a comfortable seated position. In this meditation, quiet down and clear your mind and direct energy towards yourself. keep the body soft, heavy on the pelvis and spine straight and tall. Hold each pose for 3 minutes (eventually graduating to 5 if you wish) and then end with a 5-minute rest in pentacle or savasanna. I also give options for those who are still working on their flexibility. Special thanks too to my pole buddy Kelay who took some of these photos for me after pole class.


Butterfly



Sit with your sitting bones rooted on the mat and form a big diamond shape with your legs, keeping the feet away from the groin. keeping the pelvis rooted, inhale and lengthen the spine, creating space in the body. Then, slowly walk your hands forward until you feel the stretch. Once you do, keeep the belly soft and exhale lowering down feeling the back muscles open. To get out of the pose, place your hands in line with your shoulders and while keeping the back soft and the pelvis rooted, push yourself back up with your arms, head coming up last.



Modification: If your knees come up higher than your hips, sit on a block, bolster, or cushion. You may also use blocks or pillows to support your knees or head. Remember, the key is not so much to reach your head to foot that your hips lift up. Focus on keeping them grounded.


Swan
(works on hips, hip flexors, stretches the front body)



Come into cat or tabletop, hips in line with knees and shoulders in line with the wrist. Step your right foot in between your hands and walk your right foot towards the left hand and drop the right knee to meet your right hand. Your front leg is now at a right angle. Sit on that right hip as you walk the left leg back grounding on your left big toe and remembering to keep the left hip turned in. Walk your hands forward so the back is straight and relaxed and the buttocks soft. There is a tendency here to put most of the weight in the hands so sink your hips down. As your body loosens and softens, see if you can walk your hands closer to your hips remembering to keep the spine lengthened instead of crunching on your vertebrae. Feel the stretch on the right hip and left hip flexors and quads. I also feel this on my belly. To come out of the pose, tuck the back toe in, push yourself up and rest in child's pose. Remember to do the other side.



Modification: You may sit on a block if your hip doesn't touch the ground. 

Gecko


Gecko is my absolute favorite. It's a very deep opener, so I don't expect beginners to come to this pose with no props. It also stretches the muscles in the belly, hip flexors, and front side. This is not necessarily a fully yin pose. In face, there's a bit of yang involved since the arms would be acting as a support

Start by coming into cat. Step the right foot to meet the OUTSIDE of the right hand. Turn the right knee and right foot out at a 45-degree angle. Ground on that right heel and walk the left foot back and ground on that left big toe. The left foot may be scooted outwards for stability but remember to keep the left leg turned in. As we ground on the right heel and left big toe, sit the right hip down and look up giving the front side body a yummy stretch.  Tuck back toes in and slowly rest in child's pose. Remember the other side!


Modification: If the right heel comes up, step on a block. You may also prop your arms on a block if you can't reach the ground. 

Cradle

We need to close the hip in from all those hip openers. Cradle is like a lying-down child, a yummy forward fold that decompresses the spine and massages the belly. All you need to do is bring your knees in towards you and give them a hug, letting the hands act as weights rather than forcing them down. Keep the sacrum down or for an added stretch, lift the sacrum at the last minute

Modification: You may use a strap or scarf to help you

Twisted Roots


Twists give the side body a nice stretch, massage the digestive system, and detoxify the body (like wringing out a wet towel). For those with limited spaces in their homes to practice yoga, I recommend twisted roots as this pose doesn't take much space. Start lying down. Bend your knees and cross the right leg over the left and drop your knees towards the left side, feeling the side body lengthen and an opening on the right shoulder and chest. You may anchor the knees to further open the upper body or anchor the right shoulder giving the lower body and IT band a nice stretch. To come out of the pose, bring legs back to center, uncross the legs and give them a hug to recalibrate. Then do the other side.



Modification: You can raise the right arm up overhead for an added arm stretch.

This is actually a short sequence that you can do at home if you don't have time to practice in a yoga studio but need your yin fix. You may use the timer feature in your phones or download the Chakra Chime app (available both in Apple and Android) for self-practice, Remember to honor your body and go where your body takes you to avoid any injury and it's perfectly fine to take a  step back if you feel pain or stinging discomfort. Also, please remember to breathe and let the breath guide you to go deeper into your pose, sending the breath to where it is tight. Have fun!

For my classes with Yoga for Life, you may check out the Yoga For Life Facebook Page as well as announcements of their events.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

My Afternoon of Squee at Miao Cat Cafe

I've heard of cat cafes in Japan and Taiwan and dream that one day, our country gets to have one. Apparently, we have quite a number of cat lovers here in the Philippines and some of them do not own kitties due to apartment restrictions but also some family members who have cat dander allergy. Fortunately, the dream is now a reality.

Paula, our neighbor, tagged me in her Instagram photo where she posted a photo of this beautiful cat in a cat cafe here in Manila. Imagine me widening my eyes in absolute squee of happiness. She also gave very complete directions in its location and even shared their Facebook page. Well, I wouldn't miss it for the world. The following day, I WAS THERE!

Miao Cat Cafe, the very first cat cafe here in Manila is located in Congressional Ave, Quezon City. It's quite young, only 1-1/2 weeks old but they already have visitors coming all the way from Las Pinas, Cavite, Paranaque, and Alabang. The drive is quite long since we came from Ortigas (i had pole class) but we made it! Since parking is quite hard, it's adviseable to park near Filoil gas station (there's like this bar near it, heading towards a village). The cafe is located in the same building as Cake 2 Go. You will see a kitty print mat at the bottom of the stairs and then all you have to do is climb up the stairs and you are in cat heaven.

Before entering, you are asked to read the rules and regulations (no flash photography, no disturbing of cats when sleeping). Slippers are provided as we are advised to leave our footwear on the shelves. After sanitizing our hands and signing the waiver, we can proceed to kitty heaven.




Correction, it's cat lady heaven. Almost everything is decorated with kitty prints and cat-themed things. Apparently, the owners have already been buying and collecting cat-themed things such as fabrics (used for the throw pillows and seat covers), cups, glasses, clothespins, and decor.


look! a pole-cat!


They also have an al fresco area.

#bortarms check!


The resident cats were the highlight of our entire stay. These are the owners' own kitty furbabies. Several purebreds such as munchkin cats, Exotic Shorthairs, Scottishfolds, and Persian cats as well as their own rescued puspins are there saying hello. Let me zone out into cuteness as of the moment.








Miao Cat Cafe charges adults Php300 and children Php150 for a two-hour stay inclusive of one drink and food/pastry. On weekends, it is advised to make reservations as it can get really full.

Cat ladies can go shopping for their cat lady needs. I wanted the dress though but it was too short for me at the torso area.



I think I cried when I left but yes, I definitely would be coming back. It was worth the drive and the kitties certainly takes away the stress away from you once you're there. One thing I find awesome is that everyone was interacting with each other playing with the kitties or sharing their own kitty stories. In coffee shops, everyone just keeps to themselves. I'm not saying it's a bad thing though, but I certainly found it refreshing to converse with fellow cat lovers and find out that I'm not so strange after all taking photos of kitties, collecting cat items, talking to my two cats, or carrying cat food in my bag. It must be a cat person thing.

For those who would want to go to Miao Cat Cafe, it is located at 7 Congressional Ave, Quezon City. Directions are in their Facebook Page. You may call at  022747937 and 09258777617 for your reservation especially if you're coming on a weekend or holiday. Please bring your cameras because you will definitely take lots of photos and videos. They also have Instagram (@miaocatcafe) .



Friday, February 20, 2015

Partner Yoga Weekend

I've been teaching with Yoga For Life since December and it has been a very wonderful experience sharing what I have learned and experienced in yoga. I've been practicing yoga with them for quite some time now, making it a Sunday morning habit. For those who do not know what Yoga For Life is, Yoga For Life is a non-government organization that supports and empowers those living with HIV and AIDS through the healing practice of yoga. We do this by the donation-based community classes where we all practice together as one community regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, HIV status, social status, or spiritual belief. And also, we remove discrimination and stigma.  Teaching has been a wonderful experience for me, and it has been really great to see all my students after classes appreciating my classes and leave with new and relaxed bodies and calmer minds.

Last weekend, since it was a Valentine's weekend, we practiced partner yoga. Partner yoga has two teachers, and I co-taught the two partner yin classes with my favorite doctor Kit. Partner yin yoga is not entirely yin, because we direct our energy not just to ourselves but to our partner. In solo yin yoga we have props that help us get deeper into the pose. Here, our partners sometimes act as props. The photos shown here are from our Sunday class at Beyond Yoga Libis.


In partner yin yoga, we do not just think of ourselves. We think also of our partners. Are we helping our partners go deep into the pose or are we obstructing them from going deeper. Or as we go deeper into the pose, are we hurting our partner as a consequence? It's a give-and-take thing, and we meet halfway. We have to think of our partner. Isn't it awesome how yoga mimics life as well?


Communication by sharing energies. How do we communicate without words while in the pose?

"Partner Yin Yoga, like what we did at Yoga For Life community class today, is even more intimate: a subtle practice of the self, a gentle exploration of the other, and a gradual discovery of the self through the partner. Trust, vulnerability, openness, honesty, and connection are just some of the gifts in our practice today."

--Kit Navarro




In biology class, we learn about symbiotic relationships, how organisms in the world interact with one another, There is a relationship called parasitism where one just gives and the other just takes at the expense of the other. Commensalism is when the other benefits and the other is just deadma, or unaffected. Partner yoga has to be mutualism, where both species benefit from the relationship.


Full class! Thank you everyone for sharing your energies this Valentine's weekend and thank you Kit for sharing your knowledge!

Life's lessons can be learned also in our practice. An Ashtanga yoga teacher once told me that I should use yoga not just to help me with my body on the physical level but also help me in order to be a better person. Taking spirituality aside, yoga may help me be in harmony with my surroundings, and as I begun teaching, this makes sense now.

And the thought of teaching, I'll be teaching this Sunday at Beyond Yoga BHS, and I'll be doing one my signature Happy Hips sequences. This will be our last community class at Beyond Yoga BHS because Beyond Yoga BHS will soon be moving to Beyond Yoga Serendra.


Happy Birthday Kitties!

Last weekend was special because it was a double celebration since our cats celebrated their birthdays. We had cake and the cats had Fancy Feast canned food, their ultimate favorite wet food.

How much are those kitties by the window Meow Meow!
Candy turned four last Sunday, February 15. He's been doing really well with good appetite. He transitioned last year to Royal Canin Urinary s/o cat food (he prefers dry food over wet, strange cat) due to a bladder problem. His obesity has also been less thanks to the exercise he has been getting by kitty playtime. He still remains a big cat though, probably since he's part Bengal. He has considerably mellowed down though, and bathing him is much easier.

He takes over the bed. Tomorrow, the world
Candy's birthday was the date of his adoption but Burt's is the approximate of his real birthday. When Burt was spotted last June, he was about 3 months old as per the doctor. So counting from his adoption date, his estimated actual birthday is February, and coincidentally, the day before Candy's birthday.

This is Burt now. He has officially left kitten status and is now an adult cat. Isn't he all cute and fat?



He has already been neutered (done when he was about 6 months old) and his shots and deworming complete. Also, he found a best friend with his big brother, Candy.




My two little piggies.



The two are super different with their personalities but became surprisingly best friends. Candy's a bit aloof and choosy with people while Burt loves attention

The hoomans got cake that day while the kitties got Fancy Feast for two days. Unfortunately, no photos of their meals as they wolfed them all down. I wish my two babies lots more long years of living with their family. :) Because life is awesome with kitties around.





Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Bare Minimum Look with Ponds

Even if I studied makeup and how to apply it the professional way, it's quite ironic to know that nowadays, I feel most comfortable makeup-free, or at least with eyebrows and lipstick (and the lipstick at sometimes can be optional). I remember back then when I thought less was ugly and more was fab. Name it - colorful eyeshadows (I hated browns and neutrals then), smoky eyes, a full face of foundation and two hours of makeup. When it was a shock for me to be makeup-less many years ago, right now, people do a double-take when I actually have production number level makeup on. Because really, who has the luxury of two hours and the hassle of setting up things and packing them back up when there's so much things to do?

I think the makeup gods heard me when I attended a Beauty Trends Talk yesterday led by beauty expert Agoo Bengzon. Guess what? This season, the look that is in is - the bare minimum look or no-makeup look, or what we called in makeup school as the Ponds look. Okay, that flawless face we see in TV is actually a face full of makeup applied by a makeup artist who applied that thick layer of makeup artfully in such a way that the face looks absolutely flawless (and lights, softboxes, the whole shazam). There is, however, a way to recreate that same look without having to hire a glam squad. The best thing I like it is that it's fast and it uses multitasking tools that do not take up a lot of space in our gym bags, handbags, or travelling bags. To sum it up, it's like a better version of yourself with no makeup. Since it doesn't take a lot of time and makeup kit real estate, you have more time to do other things, like have an extra cake or go ahead and fix your hair.

Multitasking tools are probably one of the best inventions in makeup world. Makeup noobs will love it and so do people who hate bringing a lot of things.



A BB cream acts as a moisturizer as well as makeup primer or tinted moisturizer. Back during the day when BB creams were appearing left and right, I really steer clear from them because the formulation was super thick, almost like a foundation and most of the super potent formulas look and feel more like a mask. I'm glad that local brands like Ponds came up with a BB cream that has a lighter formulation on the face with a non-oily finish. I used it this morning on my way to a shoot and I was quite impressed that it looked like a better version of my skin instead of foundation or a mask. Tip: massage the BB cream onto the face, giving your face a mini-massage to boost circulation and give skin a glow.





Lip and cheek tints give you some color so we look alive, especially since I tend to get pale-looking if I'm in my non-tanned skin color. Bobbi Brown Art stick in Rose Brown is a neutral rosy color that glides on the lips in a sexy matte color (a la Kylie Jenner) and can also be used on the apples of the cheeks as well.



After lightly powdering the T-zone and oil-prone areas, You may go ahead and do your eyebrows or if you still have time, lightly sweep the lids with your eyeshadow. Inglot;s Rainbow eyeshadow is a 3-in-1 pan with 3 shades that you can use together without taking up a lot of space in the teeny makeup bag or the hassle of carrying a lot of eyeshadow pots. This particular palette can also double as blush too.



Busy ladies who need to have pretty polished nails minus the chips despite doing a lot of work can finish off with gel polish, which gives shiny nails sans chips up to 2 weeks or until you cry because you want to take it off,

Of course the skin itself should be taken good care of before and after (most especially after) makeup. I always emphasize on skincare because good skin is the perfect base for makeup, whether it be that full glam-on face or the relaxed everyday makeup for going out. Ponds launched yesterday the newest addition to their skincare line - the Ponds Pearl Cleansing Gel.



I am recommending this to those with extremely dry and/or sensitive skin because this really cleans the face when I tried it. Most people with dry or sensitive skin tend to get that tight, stingy feeling after they wash their face. For those who wash their face with regular bath soap, they feel this too. While the tight and tingly feeling may feel oh-so-nice and clean, it actually means stripping your skin of its natural moisture. Although some opt to just clean their face with water, this still does not feel clean enough. This gel cleans the face so you get the nice clean feeling without the stingy, dry feeling after. This feels lighter than the other Ponds facial washes that I'm familiar with, especially those formulated for oily and acne-prone skin.

The cost is also light on the pocket (100 g for Php 155 and 50 g for Php 85. You can take the 50g with you on the gym and you still have extra space in your bag). This will soon be available on March but if any one of you would like to be one of the first to try the Pond's Pearl Cleansing Gel, log on to Zalora on February 20 . If you are on of the first 100 shoppers, you will get this with free shipping.