ManilaJiva PETA and Gita!
“Thank you, Sir!”
“Of course, Sir!”
I think Manila has got to be one of the sweetest most polite places I’ve ever been to! Arriving and spending the majority of my days just randomly rummaging around, I finally reached out into the blue to see what fun, spiritual adventures I could embark on. Up comes:
I’m sitting back thinking to myself: YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING! THERE’S A JIVAMUKTI CENTER IN MANILA! THAT’S AMAZING!
Jivamukti Yoga is, in my opinion, one of the most premier yoga schools in the U.S. Their training is top notch — they don’t even accept students unless they’ve been practicing every day for a year… and in an industry where almost every other person is a “teacher trainer,” it’s such a pleasure to find people with some serious standards. Students have to learn the sanscrit. They have to learn the REAL YOGA — not just the asanas, but the meaning, depth, and history behind them. I was impressed.
Exiting the taxi to find the studio I was completely lost. There are no sidewalks in the intersection – just large overhead walkways leading across the different city blocks along the greenbelt. Trying my luck I enter a building with a starbucks featuring two military men in full camo carrying automatic rifles. Not quite what you would expect outside a yoga studio.
When I walked in Nancy was leading everyone in one of the classic Jivamukti opening slokas. I sat down. She spoke about forgiveness then gave us all a pen and paper, asking us to write down a closing conversation we would like to have had with someone who has hurt us. I choose my first girlfriend.
We then slip the paper underneath the matt. She tells us, “as we stand, we can always choose to stand above our conflicts,” weaving the theme of forgiveness and our little papers masterfully throughout the entire class between and during the asanas.
Seriously, it was one of the best classes I’ve ever taken. I’ve never seen another teacher give so much attention to the psychological aspects of yoga. I was impressed! It’s so important to the practice and yet so often neglected. I even remember during my trainings, my teachers would tell me: STOP TALKING SO MUCH! And yet, there are a thousand teachers who just call out the poses and leave them in silence — there are far fewer teachers that are actually guiding people on a holistic journey throughout the process!
After class, I showered up (I don’t think I’ve been in such a hot studio before — not because they cranked the heat up but because the sun radiated the blinds!), and we left for lunch. Nancy took me to a little vegan restaurant called Wabi-Sabi I never would have found tucked away a side alley in a little Co-Op. The food was amazing. We ordered EVERYTHING on the menu and talked for hours about veganism, yoga, and manila, then went to go get some amazing vegan peanut butter / chocolate chip and caramel ice-cream next door by Kitchen Revolution at a place called Ritual.
It was SO COOL — there was tons of of art around the walls and we even found my friend Gary Baseman’s toys in one of the stores there!
Inspired by my friend Hayley in Sydney, I was on a mission to feed homeless kids fruit! Manila had a lot of very poor people — especially kids — who were so cute!!! They would very humbly hold out their hands and walk with you for blocks. On our first night, Russ Irwin, who plays keyboard and does vocals for Aerosmith (http://www.russirwin.com/), gave literally everything he had to this little boy that was followed us.
Nancy and I bought fruit and hit the streets. We found a lot of locals who literally stared me down for blocks (Nancy brought this up) — but no little kids! After a few miles of walking, finally, we stopped a little motorbike with a sidecar: “Take us to the poorest area you can find! We want to give the kids fruit!” He nodded. We squeezed in the little sidecar.
He drove us down some alleyways and stopped in the middle of an intersection where two old and battered women were slumped against the wall. I saw a kid. I quickly jumped out and grabbed Nancy — giving her a tub of pineapple and ripping one open myself… now there were 10 kids… I kept ripping open fruit and handing them out — 20 kids… 30 kids… adults… 40… 50! We were totally surrounded. The fruit gone, we hurried away.
After we decompressed and walked into an amazing art gallery filled with Pilipino artists I had never heard of before. I was totally inspired.
I was supposed to head back for dinner, but Nancy invited me to dinner some PETA friends of hers. Apparently Makati is the PETA headquarters for all of East Asia! I was in! We went back to her place to do some yoga beforehand — especially to practice Crow Pose (her cryptonite pose) — then met up with her friends at the PETA headquarters.
We all grabbed food at a korean restaurant called Korea Gardens and had such a great time talking they had to silently crowd around our table to get us to leave. We hung out walking along the street exchanging stories until the early morning hours.
A vegadventure to the max!!!
You can find Nancy @ http://www.manilajiva.com/
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