This blog has a new home

Thank you for visiting. This blog has been moved to my new website. Please go to http://louiepilapil.com/ for updates. I hope to hear from you there!

Namaste.

 

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On the Front Line of a Different War

Hello. It’s been a while, I know. So much has happened since the last entry that an apology is in order for the dearth in updates. So, to the three (or four) people reading this blog, sorry.

What do you know? I took a 200-hour teacher training course at Bliss Yoga Manila and got certified in December.

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While I am unable to go into yoga teaching full time, I have been lucky to be teaching at all given my work schedule and newbie status. It has not all been candy and roses in this brave new world I entered but I feel I can touch lives here, be of service somehow. Sometimes, I forget why I took this leap in the first place. I let my ego get the better of me and judge myself harshly for not being who I think I should be. Yoga and teaching became new barometers I used to measure my worth. It was only recently, after an incident that tested my love of the practice and made me doubt my abilities and decisions, that I realized I am here to share a gift and keep doing what I love. That’s all. That’s it. As long as I remember this, I’ll be fine and sort of immune to the baggage that comes with the inevitability of always trying to see your reflection in other people’s eyes.

In an age where humans are exploring outer space with the intention of building a colony somewhere, many of us yearn to go inward. And I tell you, it is the scariest place to be. I look inside myself a lot and at times, or many times, do not like what I see. Yoga has helped me quiet my relentless, wicked, and foul mind. I only need an hour or so of peace, you see. One out of 24 is more than enough to sustain me and allow me to soldier on despite the demeaning internal dialogue that rages in my head even when, I believe, I’m asleep. I need that one hour or so of compassion for myself from myself because I need it to be compassionate. I need to understand those who are not compassionate toward me or others. I often judge myself for judging others who are judgmental and it never ends… until I hit the mat. I’m not saying yoga is the solution for every problem on the planet. There is yoga and yet there is war. There is yoga and yet there is rape. There is yoga and yet there is intolerance.

But there is yoga, and thank God for that.

——-

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Tim Hetherington, portrait by Stephen Kosloff, CC by 2.0

I am watching the HBO documentary “Which Way Is The Front Line From Here: The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington” as I write this. It is a fitting tribute by author Sebastian Junger to his fallen friend. I first came across the image of Tim Hetherington on television, in an interview he gave to CNN during the 2010 war crimes trial of former Liberian strongman Charles Taylor. I was writing an article on Taylor for a news website at the time and this was how I became extra attuned to this story. While watching the interview, I was drawn to the superficial: the deep alpha voice coupled with an impeccable English accent, the regal yet rugged bearing. Yet I was more impressed by his gentlemanly resistance to decimate a supermodel’s character despite her testimony during the trial. That was hard, I thought, because it was so easy to get carried away by anger and blurt out something sensational, which, in this case, would have been understandable and even warranted (judgment, I know). Anyway, I wrote the story, had it published and forgot about the intelligent and earnest English gentleman with the nice voice. Less than a year after that interview, that gentleman, a war photographer, would be dead in Misrata, Libya, along with another photojournalist Chris Hondros, and the whole journalistic world would be shaken to its depths.

News of untimely deaths has a downing effect on me even though I know nothing about the person who passed. In instances where I read or hear about young people who die violent deaths or succumb to illness, I always have to remind myself that we are all on borrowed time and death can fetch us any day. But I was struck by the interest that Tim Hetherington’s story aroused in me. The more I read about him, the more curious I got. The sadder I became, too, that lives such as his and Chris’s, so full of promise and possibility, were snuffed out just like that.

Why am I writing about Tim Hetherington on my yoga blog? Well, what’s not yoga-like about Hetherington? By all accounts, he was a humanitarian and the embodiment of compassion. He wanted to get into the core of the human experience by documenting the suffering, joy, vulnerability and beauty around him. Judging by how he was and still is being mourned, he knew what love and friendship were and what they entailed. His creativity stemmed from being present, from his need to connect with a Source, from his hunger to understand himself and his world. His was and is an incandescent spirit.

Here was a man who truly lived.

Namaste.  

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Arm balances and patience

We were made to do arm balances in class the other day and, well, I was up and flying for a fraction of a second and, bam, I was barely able to keep my chin from hitting the floor. Of course, I was frustrated. I’d been practicing the crane pose at home for quite some time in the past and was able to stay up for five breaths. It’s true what they say: If you don’t use it, you lose it. And since I have been neglecting my home practice, it wasn’t surprising at all when I *almost* fell face down on the floor.

Now, I am NOT and will never be a paragon of patience. Everyone who knows me well can attest to this. I want things done now and done right. This attitude can be viewed as a plus in the corporate world but detrimental to one’s mental health. Relationships could also get unnecessarily cumbersome and exhausting because of (my) impatience.

If there’s one thing I need to learn, it’s to be gentle on myself and with others. Breathe when waiting my turn at the ATM.  Let all the elevator passengers out before I enter (One of my colleagues is so anal about this and thinks it’s rude of me not to wait. I’m starting to get swayed toward agreeing with him instead of thinking people are too slow when getting out, haha!).

Arm balances require a strong core, open shoulders, a flexible spine and tons of patience. All of which I will have one day.

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If this doesn’t inspire you, I don’t know what will

Photographer Robert Sturman captured these amazing images of 93-year-old yoga teacher Tao Porchon Lynch in her element. Don’t you want to be as strong, vibrant and full of life when you’re 93?

A Meeting In Central Park With The Oldest Living Yoga Teacher In The World. ~ Photographed by Robert Sturman.

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Healing requires patience *sigh*

It’s been 18 days since surgery and I’m itching to go back to the studio. I’ve been practicing at home, yes, but I miss the energy and excitement that comes with attending class. I take in the good vibes my fellow yogis and our teachers send out and carry them with me long after practice.

As much as I’d like to rejoin the vibtant and energetic community of committed yogis, my body is still not ready for a rigorous flow practice. I’m taking it slow because, even as the external wounds have healed, my internal organs are still smarting from the recent invasion.

So I’d have to listen to my body and wait a little longer. It will tell me what to do. In the meantime, I’d have to be content with reading yoga blogs and books, and watching yoga videos to keep me inspired.

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Yoga, illness and recovery

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I was sidelined by a health issue in the last few weeks but I’m back on my feet again and good as new. 🙂 I credit my fast-tracked healing and overall relaxed demeanor throughout the whole process to yoga. I was calm. There wasn’t much pain and soreness, and I was able to move about quickly. I had to protect my core area so I used my legs and arms to get out of bed, pick up stuff on the floor or carry things. I was generally in good health before the surgical procedure I had, so recovery was fast and fuss-free. I’ve also started practicing yoga at home and it’s been good, so far. I can’t do backbends and twists yet but standing poses and supported inversions are fine. Vinyasa flow classes would have to wait as I still tire easily, but I hope to be back to the usual practice soon.

Mentally, I was prepared for any eventuality. Remember my previous entry on surrender? Ha, what a way to learn it! When you’re in hospital, your life is in other people’s (and God’s) hands. When you go under, you just have to trust that you’ll wake up and everything will be all right. Nothing is within your control and you have to be OK with that.

I therefore conclude that yoga TRULY rocks!

Photo by: Diego Dacal

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Sagan, on Death.

Sagan, on Death..

Something to think about today.

(I learned that the man who cleans our office aircon, Mang Lot, died last Friday of a heart attack. A few weeks ago, he went to our house to clean our clogged aircon and he did a wonderful job, prompting me to think he so was grateful to make a decent living that it showed in his work. He was last in the office last week but I didn’t get the chance to talk to him. I was too busy to say hello. “The next time he comes, I’ll say hi,” I thought. Well, it turns out there won’t be a next time.

To many, he was just someone who dropped by the office once in a while, most of the time unnoticed. But he’s someone’s father, husband and friend. And he was a damn good aircon cleaner who happily did his work to feed his family. I want to honor him and the nameless, faceless people like him who come into our world and leave it without fuss.)

 

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