Back when I was on the student’s side of the yoga classroom, teachers always seemed so impenetrable in their calm happiness, and sometimes even, otherworldly. Now that I’m a yoga teacher myself, I can tell you all with full confidence and honesty: we can be just as crazy, unhinged, insecure, uncool, basic, and normal as everyone else on the planet.
And you can bet the teachers in Manila have a lot of the Filipino quirks you can think of too ;)
In an attempt to demystify yoga teachers and the seeming perfection of their practice as seen through social media, I’m starting a series on my blog not-so-creatively entitled “Yoga Teachers of Manila.”
With grace and honesty, yoga teachers share with us their struggles, their funny “un-yogi” moments, and what keeps them on their mat as a teacher and as a student.
For this post, teacher Monica Suarez shares with us her yoga journey.
A little bit more about her from her profile on Yoga Alliance: “Monica is a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) through Yoga Alliance. She is an ocean lover and a Stand Up Paddle board (SUP) yoga enthusiast. She is global brand ambassador for Starboards Stand Up Paddle Boards/Paddle board Yoga. She is also certified in Yin Yoga, Pre-natal / Post-natal Yoga Children’s Yoga and Aerial Yoga. Monica spent an active life growing up as an Ice Skating athlete. She competed in both local and international competitions, winning several medals and performing in ice skating show tours. Yoga and meditation first came to her at an early age of 15 as part of her athletic training. It became more important to her when she was determined to have Scoliosis (a sideways deviation of the spine). This made her realize that she would likewise have to make adjustments in her life. Yoga has made a great impact on her and it has changed her life physically, emotionally and spiritually. Back when she lived in San Francisco, she started to learn yoga- eventually earning her certification in 2011. She began stand-up paddle board yoga in 2013 practicing her craft around the lakes and waters of the city by the bay. She also taught yoga classes there until she moved back to the Philippines in 2014 where she continues to teach yoga today. Having lived in two countries, Her classes are very diverse- her teaching style uniquely shaped by her fun and perky personality and inspired by 2 diverse cultures (western and eastern). She is greatly influenced by her teachers and mentors from Yoga Tree/Yoga Works San Francisco including Dina Amsterdam, Pete Guinosso, Sean Haleen, Jill Abelson, Jason Bowman, Janet Stone, Jai Uttal, Shana Meyerson (Yoga Athletica), Jennifer Moore (Prenatal Vinyasa Yoga) and Lisa Marie Haley (Flight Club Yoga). In Manila, where she is currently based, one will find that if she is not on a mat in the yoga studios of the city, she is on a stand up paddle board paddling the warm tropic beaches and islands of the Philippines.”
A lot more about her in her own words below :)
♥ How long have you been teaching yoga?
I’ve been teaching yoga since 2012 in the US and recently moved back to Manila in October of 2014.
♥ What kind of yoga do you teach?
I am RYT-500 under and RPYT (Registered Pre-natal & Post-natal Teacher) under Yoga Alliance. I am also certified in Yin Yoga, Children’s Yoga and Aerial Yoga.
♥ What’s your personal practice like?
Lots of meditation (on a daily basis). My life is basically influenced by a lot of Buddhist and Hindu teachings and principles.
♥ Do you get to practice in a class setting? How often? How long?
I make sure I meditate every time before I start a class to keep me grounded. I normally throw in a fast moving practice before I teach just to feel more open- physically, emotionally and psychologically ready before conducting a class.
♥ Do you ever get unmotivated in your practice? How do you deal with it?
Yes, like any other teacher – yes. It simply humbles me and reminds me of being human. It is part of the practice of learning to open to it every time, widen compassion and continuously harness loving kindness to myself and to my practice for my students.
♥ What’s the funniest thing that’s happened to you in a yoga class?
It is always a teachable moment when you see your students respond to you even with the slightest gestures – a smile, a nod, even a breath.
♥ Can you share any roadblocks you had in your practice and how you got through them?
The continuous struggle when you lose your own balance. You practice more and you realize your practice deepens more too.
♥ If you’ve done it, what’s it like teaching your parents/family?
My family will never understand what I do – sadly for them it is against our Catholic religion. But since they’ve realize that although yoga teachers don’t make much, it brings the bread and the butter to my table and see the lighter side of me and how I live and look at life nowadays.
♥ Why do you continue to teach yoga?
I teach to serve. I feel like I owe it to the universe for all the blessings in my life –, being able to be where I am now amidst all the difficulties in my journey.
I want to help people to similarly become spiritual seekers along their inner journey and to see that they have the power to change their world to a more peaceful place through the power of yoga. I want people to recognize their own strength and power and then use the practice to experience it.
From all of us, thank you Teacher Monica :) If you have any questions for her, you can get in touch via the details below.
Her website: On Yoga Alliance