From Namascray to Namaslaying All Over Again

I started doing yoga because of lower back pain issues. After my medical exam for my very first job in 2006, I found out I have scoliosis. This surprised me, because up until that point, I’ve been physically active most of my life.

I took up ballet way before I learned how to read, and that lasted for 9 years. I fell in love with cheerleading next, and that lasted from high school throughout college. I probably abused my back all those years, but generally, I felt fine. I didn’t really do anything about my scoliosis right after learning about it because it wasn’t bothering me.

I didn’t dance anymore, I just halfheartedly went to the gym when I felt like it. Corporate life also took over. Fast forward to 2009, I was already a makeup artist, and standing while working for hours on end took a toll on my back. It got so hectic and busy that there were times that I needed to lie on my belly after work with a hot compress on my back to relieve some of the pain. Sometimes, the pain was excruciating that I had a hard time walking.

With the urging of my mom, I decided to try yoga summer of 2011 to see if it can help. Luckily, a quick Google search showed that there’s a yoga studio about 15 minutes away from my house, and I immediately signed up for a class. Again, luckily, my first few Hatha and Vinyasa Flow yoga classes were under good teachers, who gently but expertly guided me in the poses.

After about a month of regular classes and being stretched and strengthened to the core, I noticed that my lower back pain slowly disappeared. I also noticed that my dysmennorhea during the first day of my period magically disappeared. I was amazed. But aside from these benefits, I realized I sorely missed being active. I missed the intensity and grace of ballet. I I missed feeling the good kind of muscle pain coupled with hard earned sweat of cheerleading. My love for movement and fitness was rekindled in yoga. And hey, I can’t believe I can do splits again!

Admittedly, the meditation part and chanting “Om Shanti” weirded me out at first (not to mention the yoga jargon in Sanskrit), but when I got used to them, I looked forward to those few moments of silence and introspection. Moreover, I noticed that I have more energy and it greatly helped me focus, which led me to produce better makeup work. Needless to say, I was hooked.

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Now, saying that I was “hooked” was putting it gently. I was “hooked” on dance and that lasted a total of 16 years. I was “hooked” on makeup artistry and I’ve been at it for almost a decade. In true Kris Bacani fashion, these hooks turned to full blown obsessions, and yoga was no exception.

I was going to the studio at least 4 times a week and was thoroughly enjoying challenging myself in the classes. I also started reading yoga books, and I was convinced that this is the most intelligent form of physical exercise that I’ve encountered. When a new teacher introduced the Ashtanga Vinyasa style, I was HOOKED (yes, all caps necessary). Ashtanga is my jam. I love it so much that after a mere 6 months of practicing, I was convinced that I want to take a yoga teacher training to deepen my practice.

After 6 more months and a lot of research and prep work, I found myself in a tiny island in Thailand, an hour away via plane south of Bangkok. I did my teacher training in Koh Samui, and to this day, if you ask me what’s the best time of my short life so far, I’d say it’s my month long stay in this island.

The daily asana (physical) practice, meditation, breathwork, chanting, anatomy and philosophy classes, and a strict but yummy vegetarian diet, all did wonders for my mind, body, and soul. I don’t mean to sound Eat, Pray, Love-ish here, but I left feeling like a new person. Beach, yoga, and lots of coconut juice does that to you.

 
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I would like to say that I’ve greatly progressed in my practice since 2012, and that I can now hook my legs at the back of my head and have reached enlightenment and guru status, but my conviction to have a consistent practice was wavering at best since then. I’d be consistent for a few months, then stop for another few. I taught a few times but my teaching never gained momentum since I prioritized my makeup work.

I co-managed a yoga studio for a year, but managing is way different from practicing. This intermittent practice led to a tricep injury, which greatly demotivated me and forced me to stop. I completely stopped practicing when, for a year, I was balancing a full time job as a training manager of a makeup brand and my own freelance gigs. I was working 7 days a week, and yoga was definitely the last thing on my mind.   

My mom’s death last year forced me to slow down and to recalibrate my priorities. I made time for yoga, and found joy in it again. I learned to finally listen to and respect my body, instead of pushing it way past its limits. It was never a physical competition, but instead it’s my own sadhana, or spiritual practice, at my own pace.

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I was giddy with excitement when a good yoga teacher recently put up a practice space near my house that’s specifically dedicated to Ashtanga. It’s what I’ve always wished for. I’m proud to say that I’m back to consistent practice for almost 2 months (hey, baby steps!), and by the time this is posted, I’m in Siargao for a two-week yoga intensive.

I’m slowly but surely regaining strength, flexibility, and focus, and I couldn’t be happier. Aside from a strong, disciplined practice, It’s still my intention to be eventually good in teaching yoga, much like how it is with my teaching makeup artistry. But as of now, I’m just happy to be back and relearning on my mat.

A wise yogi said, “Practice, practice, and all is coming.” And I intend to do just that. So here's to namaslaying all over again, y'all.