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Teaching Yoga in Apo Island Apr 10-22, 2017

Teaching Yoga in Apo Island

GPS waypoint: 09°04'40.08"N 123°16'09.19"E
Location Google Map: Apo Island, Dauin (municipality), Negros Oriental (province), Philippines
Yoga & Fitness Website: YOGA by Gigit Yoga by Gigit

Yoga Mandate
It was good fortune to receive an invite to teach yoga in Apo Island to a group of young locals who were training for their diver certification as part of Mario Pascobello's annual community outreach program - FAKP (Future Apo Island Kids Program). It was daily yoga starting at 6am which included asana, pranayama and meditation. There were 16 students altogether ranging from 13-22 years old, all of them yoga first-timers, except the 13 year old.

Late is Late
Coming from a culture of rubber-time in a laid-back island where a specified meeting time is regarded merely as a suggestion, it was a challenge to hammer-down the importance of punctuality. The first meeting, no one came on time. The 2nd meeting, only 1 came on time. The third meeting, I made everybody wait for the last person to show up, announcing to the late arrival, how many minutes they were late. After waiting for 30 minutes, we could finally start. If anyone showed up late on a class, I would tell the person how many minutes he/she was late.

I had to put a hard line on tardiness to let it sink to them. This was crucial as these kids are about to embark on a looming career on the horizon. I don't know of anyone who climbed the career ladder who couldn't be punctual at the very least.

Standing Poses
Because no one had a yoga mat, we had to contend with standing poses. They didn't get the full-body range but there were plenty of one-legged asanas to challenge them. I asked them to bring a carton or towel they can use for seated poses. The focus of my classes were on breathing and mindfulness while holding an increasingly difficult pose. As I was working on their bodies, I was also working on their minds - the mind is a powerful ally and you want that on your side.

Teaching Yoga in Apo Island
yoga class at the basketball court

Less Than Ideal Conditions
Although our practice was near the sea which made for great yoga, the venue was less than ideal. First at the dive shop, the space was limited and the ground was wet. We transfered to the basketball court were we had more space but little kids couldn't be stopped from playing basketball on the other side. Dirt was a main stay on the floor and often, we would smell garbage being burned with plastic in it. The neighborhood dogs were also distracting (skin disease and all), sniffing on your face and butt as you do a forward bend. But we all managed.

Not all the students wanted to attend the yoga class. It's not hard to understand why. In a remote island where yoga is an abstract form while diving is a surefire and lucrative career path, why should they even bother about yoga? Perhaps 6am was too early for them. Perhaps they didn't like the hard line I took about punctuality. I tried my best to explain the advantages of yoga - health, balance, well-being, etc. But to someone who is young, full of raging hormones and still untested by life, these reasons are not as compelling as it might be to a family person who is stressed juggling a million things with a deadline to catch.

This is the first time ever that I taught a class with uninterested participants. Increasingly, the student participation dwindled although some show up with more regularity. Usually, people take time, make the effort and glad to part with their money just to attend a yoga class. Motivation is usually high with regular partitioners. In Singapore where I taught a class, people paid the studio $35 a pop and it's a full class. It's free in Apo Island with mostly foreigners and locals taking up the slots instead of the students.

Yoga Optional?
It was tempting for me to formally say yoga is optional, and only those who want to learn should attend. But if learning institutions were to use that approach in every schooling, half the population would end up illiterate. Even without that announcement, only a handful of students showed up. If they only persevered, even the reluctant would surely benefit from it - even if they only realize that in hindsight.

Foreigner Participation
Perhaps not surprisingly, the foreigners were just too glad to find out yoga is available in Apo Island. Even though my class was only for the students, I accepted anyone interested to join. 3 members of Plongeurs du Monde joined my class, Olivier, Michael and Michelle together with Raquel (a Spanish yogini), Marine (a french kick boxer and fitness hardcore), Vivian (whom I saw doing asanas on the beach) and Danielle (an Australian who was filming Mario's program). Other travelers were eager to join but their travel plans were too tight.

Ending Thoughts
I am glad I don't make my money on yoga. I could keep it pure and impassioned no matter if I have a full house or a one-on-one. To the new people I met 'on the mat', I look forward to crossing paths again in the future. To the students who made the effort to come on time and pursue the practice, I hope they continue even if I'm not around. I'm just grateful that yoga has also become my currency in bridging with people. As I immensely benefit from yoga, I try to give back as much as I can.

--- Gigit (TheLoneRider)
YOGA by Gigit Yoga by Gigit | Learn English Learn English | Travel like a Nomad Nomad Travel Buddy | Donation Bank Donation Bank for TheLoneRider

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Reader Comments:

Michele Pullen Michele Pullen
(Apr 29, 2017) yoga classes I will never forget! thx again Gigit!

Google Map Apo Island, Dauin, Philippines

diving spots in Apo Island dive spots
  • Coconut in Apo Island Coconut - drift dive, school of Trevali, big fish
  • Cogon in Apo Island Cogon - drift dive
  • Mamsa in Apo Island Mamsa
  • Boluarte in Apo Island Boluarte
  • Largahan in Apo Island Largahan
  • Chapel in Apo Island Chapel - wall dive
  • Katipanan in Apo Island Katipanan
  • Rock Point in Apo Island Rock Point
hotels in Apo Island homestay / dive shop in Apo Island dive shop

Apo Island FYI / Tips

Apo Island Cost Index

(US$1 = Php 45.26 as of July 7, 2015)

How to get there from Dumaguete:

Apo Island Blogs:

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