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Mind, body, and soul working together

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A lot of people think that living life to the fullest means doing everything under the sun, but did it ever occur to you that life can be enjoyed during its pauses?


WORDS JOSEPH L. GARCIA

Breathe in, breathe out. Life is a long, often troubling ride, and we might as well make the most of it by picking up all the good that might come across our way. A lot of people think that living life to the fullest means doing everything under the sun, but did it ever occur to you that life can be enjoyed during its pauses?

Some people live their lives around yoga, the ancient Indian philosophy tied to exercise and meditation, that might be summed up as assuming poses and practicing correct breathing techniques. The world of yoga is incredibly diverse, its imprint spreading across Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. This writer apologizes in advance for the awfully simplistic definition, because based on this writer’s experience, yoga means making the mind, body, and soul work together for one to be in communion with the universe. Perhaps it’s fitting that the Sanskrit word translates to English as “yoke,” thereby implying that one becomes attached to a force greater than one’s own.

High Life talked to Urban Ashram Yoga instructor Carlo Ordoñez, who goes by Janaka, a name given to him by the monks in Sivananda, a yoga center where he trained in Val Morin, Quebec. After his stint in Canada, he moved to California, living an ascetic lifestyle centered on meditation and physical work. “Almost as a monk,” he told High Life. “It was a joyful time there where I met truly light beings of Mahatma status changing the collective vibration through silent service.”

He began his yoga practice in college in the early 2000s, where he described himself as “mentally, physically broken down.” He believes that his practice began his healing process.

High Life asked Mr. Ordoñez about yoga routines for executives and people in positions of power, whom we termed as “extra-busy” people. Yoga was brought to the West in the 20th century, and was embraced by people as diverse as Madonna to former US Vice-President Al Gore. Mr. Ordoñez said that “extra-busy” people like executives are drawn to it because it’s simply effective and practical. “Nobody is too busy to do yoga really,” said Mr. Ordoñez. “That is just an excuse because yoga can be practiced anywhere, any time by everyone regardless of fitness or background. You can squeeze in a five-minute practice in your office if you’re determined to practice.”

While there are many yoga classes offered in the country, ranging from free classes to thousands of pesos per session, there’s a certain advantage to hiring your own yoga instructor. Mr. Ordoñez said: “Yoga, meaning union, is finding your own individual connection to the Self. Firstly, you will have a personalized design to your sessions, tailor-fit to your specific needs whether physical, mental or spiritual. Secondly, you learn to build a solid foundation and relationship to your own mind and body with your guide in a more in-depth process. Thirdly, you have the advantage of creating your own discipline and expression of the practice in a more focused trajectory.”

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Urban Ashram Yoga instructor Carlo Ordoñez (who goes by the name Janaka) says that yoga can be practiced anywhere, any time by everyone regardless of fitness or backgrounds. Photo courtesy of Urban Ashram Manila

CLEAN, SIMPLE, AND FREE OF DISTRACTIONS
If you’re getting your own yoga instructor, why not build your own meditation room—everybody needs a sanctuary from this world. According to Mr. Ordoñez, a person’s yoga or meditation room (or corner) should be clean, simple, and free of distractions: “As much as possible everything you’re surrounded by in the space should be related to your practice and promote a sense of wholeness and inwardness/interiorization—it is a time you devote for yourself.”

The space should have basics such as a mat, a bolster or chair to sit on for meditation, and a shelf or altar containing symbols of inspiration.

Even without a meditation room, however, one can still tap into the energies and knowledge of yoga. A person really, really pressed for time can, ironically, start the day right by staying in bed for a few more moments. “Take a minute in the morning before jumping out of bed to mindfully take a deep breath in and take a breath out while scanning the length of the body and each part, then add another minute working your way up to five minutes if you can, then sit in stillness. Add this practice at intervals throughout the day,” said Mr. Ordoñez. “Breath is a person’s first mantra coming into the world but we forget and get distracted from it by societal conditioning and ‘busyness.’”

LIVING IN THE PRESENT
Yoga can help you become more efficient at work. “Practitioners generally find that they’re more calm, productive and efficient in any of their pursuits. If the mind is clear and focused, the body can move and breathe healthfully—then, it’s manageable to navigate around one’s environment. One finds that tackling activities are done by being present.”

If one lives in the present, then one can forget about worrying about the past and panicking about the future. The goal is inner freedom, liberation, or moksha in Sanskrit yoga terminology, a state described by Mr. Ordoñez as an “eternal now-timeless, in-the-zone, flow-state.” “Yoga,” he continued, is “a hack, so to speak, to free oneself from limitations, challenges, and illusions on all levels.”