Self-care and Yoga | Interview with Anna Manalastas


 

Anna Manalastas started her yoga journey in 2012.She is a certified Pre-Natal Yoga, Post-Natal Yoga, and Yoga for Active Birth teacher. Anna was also trained under Budokon founder, Kancho Cameron Shayne, and Melayne Shayne in the United States and eventually become a certified BudokonYoga teacher in February 2018.

How long have you been practicing yoga? I've been practicing yoga for a little over 8 years now. I started my journey in 2012 and realized this was the path that most resonated with me and that would bring me the most joy and growth. I gladly surrendered my corporate job to be able to do more yoga in my life.

What type of yoga do you teach? I teach different styles of yoga. I am certified to teach Vinyasa Yoga, Power Yoga, Basic Ashtanga Yoga, Yin Yoga, Yoga for Pregnancy, and Budokon Yoga.

VINYASA

Vinyasa Flow is a popular and versatile yoga style in which poses are strewn together in a sequence and synchronized with the breath. Vinyasa sequences can be modified for beginners, intermediate, and advanced practitioners.

POWER YOGA

Power Yoga is a dynamic style of vinyasa that focuses on powerful positions that strengthen and tone the muscles and the body. It is sometimes called "Yoga for Athletes."

BASIC ASHTANGA

Ashtanga is an athletic flow combining strength, flexibility, and stamina for a complete practice. Traditionally meant to be a daily practice, Ashtanga utilizes a set series of poses that fosters discipline, focus, and deep cleansing of the mind, body, and spirit.

YIN YOGA

Yin yoga is a slow-paced style of yoga wherein you hold the poses for longer periods of time. The practice encourages a deep surrender to the present moment in stillness and develops the flexibility and resilience of the joints, muscles, and connective tissues. Yin yoga poses are usually passive floor poses held for up to five minutes or longer.
PRENATAL YOGA

Prenatal yoga focuses on poses for pregnant women, to help increase strength and flexibility. It also helps pregnant women to develop proper breathing and relaxation techniques for easier and more comfortable labor. The class makes use of props to help support the mother in the different stages of her pregnancy.

POST-NATAL YOGA

Post-natal yoga facilitates healing, recovery, and strengthening for women who have recently given birth. The poses aim to help them regain strength in the core and pelvic muscles, re-balance hormones, and nourish the body through energetic breathing practices. 

YOGA FOR ACTIVE BIRTH

Yoga for Active Birth gives pregnant ladies an opportunity to practice positions that will help facilitate a safe and more efficient birthing experience for both the mother and baby. These breathing practices and positions will help ease the pain of contractions and empower the mother to stay conscious and make wise and loving decisions during the birthing process. 

BUDOKON YOGA

Budokon Yoga is a modern yoga style that unites the ancient tradition of self-inquiry with modern mixed movement. The series explores a unique and dynamic blend of contemporary yoga asana with movements influenced by ancient martial arts and animal locomotion. Aiming to unify the mind and body, Budokon Yoga brings concentration, fluidity, power, and creativity to hatha yoga in an original, authentic expression.

 

How did you get started?
My yoga journey began as a way to compensate for missing my pole dancing classes during a very busy time in my career. I couldn't go to my classes in Pasig so I decided to try the newly-opened yoga studio near my office. My main intention was to develop my flexibility so that I could do a full split on the pole.


Little did I know that my first Ashtanga class in that studio would change my life drastically -- and for the better. I didn't expect much from the class - simply a workout. But because of my lack of expectations, I think my mind was open enough to be keenly aware and curious about what's going on in the class. I remember thinking my teacher could read my mind because she would say things like, "Don't feel like you have to compete with your neighbor" during the times when my Type A personality was getting the better of me! She was also able to instill valuable lessons in class even while we were in deep concentration in the poses. And she would remind us to breathe just when I felt like I was holding my breath! It felt magical and I felt deeply connected in the present moment.


My teacher was also very approachable and I found myself asking her how I can deepen my stretches after class. To be honest, she wasn't the smiley kind of teacher but there was something in her that drew me in and I learned a lot from a single class. After my 1-week trial expired, I realized I can't do yoga anymore. I was hooked. It empowered me and helped me release unhelpful thoughts, beliefs, and patterns I was holding within. It also guided me towards re-establishing a gentle, compassionate, and loving relationship with myself - my body, heart, and mind.

 

Do you feel anyone can enjoy and gain from yoga?
Yes, of course. Yoga can be enjoyed by anyone at any age and at any time. There are no real prerequisites in yoga, except your body, your mind, and your breath. The mat is actually optional. Ancient yogis used to practice simply on a bedsheet, if at all. Nowadays, there are so many different styles of yoga that you can choose from and you're bound to find a style that resonates with you deeply.
There is Yoga for Kids, Yoga for Seniors, Yoga for Trauma Healing, Yoga for Anxiety and Depression, Power Yoga, Kundalini Yoga that includes mantras and mudras (hand seals,) Kriya Yoga (focused on breathing and cleansing techniques,) Yoga Nidra (wherein you're lying on the floor and allowing yourself to relax with the guidance of the teacher,) and much much more.
Each of these styles focuses on different goals but ultimately, bringing together the mind, body, and breath through the practice will bring you back to yourself and help you regain confidence, kindness, joy, and healing where you are.

 

What has yoga done for you as a person?
I think yoga has truly brought me back to myself and helped me to heal my traumas and wounds in a healthy and efficient way. The journey isn't always easy and sometimes I cry during my practices but ultimately, every time I finish practice, I feel free, open, and safe. Yoga has helped me awaken and see my toxic thoughts, patterns, and beliefs as they are. I am much less afraid of darkness and much more trusting than I am capable of overcoming whatever comes in my path - whether it be an obstacle from my past, a shadow in my present, or the uncertainty of the future. I feel more confident, wiser, kinder, and self-aware as a person because of yoga and I really really like this "integrated version" of me a lot better.. Of course, there is still room for improvement, that's why the practice never stops. 
 
Do you believe it is an alternative form of healing and medicine?
Yes, of course. Yoga is not just a physical workout, it's actually a work in that goes deep into the many layers of the body - physical, emotional, energetic, mental, and spiritual. You will find that when you move the body, you not only release tension that's keeping you stuck or limited, you also wake up stagnant energy and cleanse yourself from within. A lot of our tension are manifestations of emotional pain, trauma, grief, and toxic beliefs that we haven't worked out yet. They get stored in the body and sometimes, they calcify and keep us stuck and feeling small. Yoga poses and breathing techniques are there to open up the body, ground and sharpen the mind, and release what is unnecessary so we can be healed and remember that we are all free and loving souls.
How do you associate yoga and self-care?
Yoga is one way for me to feel deeply connected with my body - to communicate with it and explore what it's been storing. In practicing yoga, I am able to care for myself in a more personal, healing, and meaningful way. As I move through the practice, I start to clear out space within me so I can really see what it is I care for, what it is I need to tend to, what it is I need for recovery. It really helps me care for my whole self.
What do you prefer/enjoy about this particular form of yoga?
Each style of yoga offers different "experiences" that can help me get in tune with myself. I love them all. The different styles also address what my body, mind, and soul need at different times - maybe I need a gentle practice, or a strong and disciplined one, or a dynamic and heart-pumping one. The beauty of yoga is that, even though it's a discipline, it's also open to interpretations and expressions, as long as you honor its true purpose - which is to help unify and heal the parts of us that have been disconnected or deeply wounded and allow us to be free to love and care for ourselves and others.
How do you practice self-care? What's your self-care ritual?
In the morning, I always start with a few stretches in bed after I wake up. I wash my face and brush my teeth then show up for the day. I usually do my yoga practice in the morning. It ranges from 10-60 minutes, depending on how much time I have. Afterward, I sit in front of my altar and meditate in stillness. On my altar are different items that inspire me and are really helpful in grounding me.
I have my candles, incense, crystals, and some tarot and oracle cards there. I also have a small notepad and pen that I can use if any inspiration comes to mind. Sometimes, I meditate in silence. Sometimes, I meditate with a guide or just with music. Most times, I meditate sitting upright but sometimes, I also lie down flat on the floor. After my meditation, I usually choose a few cards from my tarot and oracle decks to guide me through the day. They keep me deeply connected with my guides and angels. I know they're authentic messages that are meant to help me stay rooted in love and evolve from negativity.
 
When there is something that is bothering me, I usually journal my thoughts and feelings and try not to judge them. I also listen to my teacher's podcasts when I have the time. Before the lockdown, when I would drive to my classes, I would always listen to podcasts, never music. Throughout the day, I try to remember drinking a lot of water and I always have 1-2 cups of tea to help with my digestion but also to remind me to slow down and be present.
 
In the evening before bed, I write in my gratitude journal and reflect on my day. Then I usually put on some solfeggio healing music to sleep to and I notice that every time I do so, I wake up feeling more relaxed and unburdened, even after a tough day.

 

What can you advise to anyone who would like to start practicing yoga?

Show up. You will never know what to expect from the class. You might research and choose the classes you go to based on the descriptions.. and that's a smart way of starting your journey. But keep an open mind. Even if you feel scared, or tired, or unsure, just show up and you'll find that whatever class you take will always offer you something that you need. Maybe it's just a new way of breathing. Maybe it's a pose that relieves your body aches. Or maybe it's something your teacher just said that spoke to your heart and facilitated deeper healing. You never know what's coming but you can trust it will always be for your higher good.
 
 For any questions or inquiries. Feel free to connect with Anna