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My Yoga Beginnings with Ananda Marga Yoga in Manila

I’ve been interested in yoga for as long as I can remember, but with the steep price of yoga classes in most of Metro Manila, I couldn’t maintain yoga practice, given my spending priorities (i.e. travel).

My previous attempts / ideas on starting my yoga practice

I resorted to subscribing to online yoga journals, and reading up on yoga poses, but there is only so much you can do without proper guidance or instruction. 

Because of that, I jumped at all possible chances to get trial yoga sessions, and waited for deals on group-buying sites, but again, this wasn’t a sustainable way to develop my practice.

I also told myself it was more authentic and practical to save up for a trip to India and learn at an ashram there instead. However, upon further research, it seems this isn’t as economical as I thought either. And it would be nice if I actually went to an ashram in India with at least rudimentary knowledge and experience in basic yoga asanas, as my yogaholic friend Jamie also advised, so that my experience at India would be that much more enriching.

Yoga for all

I’ve always thought that practicing yoga was so expensive, and at the same time, questioned why it was so, since I felt that yoga should be one of those physical activities that should be available for all. All you need is maybe 3 square meters floor and a mat or towel. And while some say yoga is an ancient, non-religious system, it also has its roots in Hinduism, Jainism & Buddhism, which if I am not mistaken, espouse a life of simplicity and detachment from earthly things, and yet I feel a lot of yoga places put emphasis on the physical / material world. Something about the prevalent yoga attitude seemed lacking in depth for me.

Finally, late last year, in looking for democratically-priced yoga in Manila, I stumbled upon Ananda Marga Yoga Centre’s site, and was surprised at how much more affordable, and therefore sustainable, their yoga classes were. See prices below:

  • Walk-in — P350/session
  • 10 Sessions — P2,500, includes a book and a CD
  • 3 Months Unlimited P 4,000, includes a book and a CD

However, with the craziness of the Christmas season, I told myself I’d check it out when things got less busy. Yet, I still somehow managed to put things off until late March. But better late than never! I’m so happy I finally kicked my lazy butt into action and paid Ananda Marga a visit.

Ananda Marga is a charitable not-for-profit organization that has been around in the Philippines since 1967. So one might say they advocated yoga long before it became popular.

Ananda Marga Yoga Center’s unassuming gate / entrance in Sikatuna Village (you will find no signs whatsoever on the outside)

Ananda Marga: Yoga as it should be

While I enjoy the occasional flourishing of words, I write things the way I see them.

Yoga at Ananda Marga is a no frills experience. While it’s undeniably prettier to enter a yoga center with a reception area decked with designer furniture, with a mini-shop selling Lulu Lemon yoga wear, with a studio perfectly laid out Manduka yoga mats, and with a locker room that looks like a spa, complete with lemongrass & ginger bath products, pretty is not what I’m after.

I’m after something more simplistic, with teachers who seem to show real interest in helping you reap the most physical and spiritual benefits from your practice. I’ve only attended 4 classes so far, under the instruction of 3 different teachers, but I already loved the place after my first class.

At first, I thought I just got lucky with my first teacher, Lokesh, but all 3 of them were very thorough in explaining the asanas. As a beginner (and well, maybe even for regular yogis), I appreciated being told what muscles certain poses were supposed to target, how to position one’s fingers, how not to angle one’s elbows, and what benefits certain poses aim to provide.

Though the shower facility may be improved, and the evening classes may bring some mosquito classmates, it is of little bearing to me given the ability to pursue yoga at a democratic price, the teachers’ attention to detail in asanas and generosity in sharing what they know, the confidence that I will improve my practice here, the feel of authenticity, and the organization’s pursuit of a holistically healthy, simple and service-oriented lifestyle.

I might still be in a honeymoon phase with Ananda Marga right now, but I do believe these feelings will last. And if I have somehow convinced you to try out a class at Ananda Marga, do let me know. Please tell Radhika or whoever you sign up with that you found out about them through my blog too. 

Namaskar!

Yogi barely,
Jen

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Ananda Marga Yoga Center
46 Maamo Street, Sikatuna Village
Quezon City, Metro Manila 1101
+63 912 809 1320 (Radhika)

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