Philippines

Breathing through difficult poses, as in life

Em Aglipay Villar in Lord of the Dance pose (“Natarajasana”): “I just go with the flow.”

(27th in a series)

I took this pause in our lives as an opportunity to grow. More time with my family made my heart swell. I had time to cook for them and cater to their needs.

But I also had more time for myself. I have neglected myself for the past two years that I have been with the Department of Justice (DOJ) and studying in London. Before the community quarantine, I did not exercise regularly, I slept for only four hours a day and did not get to spend much time with my daughter as I used to.

In the last five months I was able to get back to the things I loved doing but had to set aside for lack of time, because of all my commitments, work and other activities. Now I am able to spend more time with my husband Mark and daughter Emma, exercise daily, meditate, sleep for seven to eight hours a day, cook and bake—while still working as justice undersecretary.

My yoga practice is one of the things I pulled out of the archives during the lockdown. I started yoga in 2005 but stopped when my work in a law firm took up practically all my time. I got back to practicing regularly in 2011 but stopped again after a year. I tried to do a class once a week when I started working at the DOJ, as suggested by my doctor, but I was not able to sustain it. It is only now that I started to do it regularly again.

Crane Pose (“Bakasana”)

I also do different kinds of physical activity during the community quarantine. I run, bike, dance, do high intensity interval training.

I am able to do yoga at least once a week. Just a couple of days ago, I decided to try a headstand, which I have never done before and to my surprise, I was able to do it, although not perfectly. But the following day and the day after that, I noticed I kept on improving. I am just a beginner in yoga but I am enjoying the physical and mental challenge.

Sense of peace

It is challenging for me to focus and hold the pose but, at the same time, it also gives me a sense of peace and calm to just focus on one thing—whether it is breathing, trying to kick up or stretch further, or bend deeper. It is meditation through movement.It is hard but fulfilling when I see myself getting stronger, more flexible and have better balance, better mobility and sharper focus. Yoga teaches me many things. Each time I step on the mat, there is something new to learn which can be applied to life.

We live our yoga practice. As we breathe through the difficult poses, so do we breathe through the challenges in life. We maintain our breath, and calm and focus despite the challenges.

One-Legged Four-Limbed Staff Pose (“Eka Pada Chaturanga Dandasana”)

I am sometimes tempted to skip the hard poses, especially when I am very tired, but it is part of the practice so I just go with the flow. Before I know it, I am done. Just like the difficult times in life. Things happen that we have no control over. Instead of fighting these things we cannot control, let’s go with the flow and bear in mind that it too shall pass.

There is always something to improve on in one’s practice. It’s a never-ending journey of learning and improving and facing challenges and celebrating victories—just like life. I’ve fallen many times in yoga but, just like in life, you get back up and try again. If you achieve goals, create new ones and keep on challenging yourself to grow and become better—in yoga as in life.

Headstand (“Sirsasana”)

But also, yoga has taught me to accept my flaws and weaknesses and not get frustrated by them. Yoga is a humbling experience. Slowly, though, if you work hard at your practice, things change—you grow, you get stronger, you are able to lift yourself higher and higher until you take flight. —CONTRIBUTTED INQ

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