I recently took a rocking introductory Ash Asana session at Life Yoga, a beautifully designed new yoga studio in Taguig, Bonifacio Global City, Metro Manila. Tucked away on the second floor of the shiny Forbestown Center building, the homey two-floor studio overlooks a serene green park, with Manila’s cityscape just about visible in the horizon.
I arrived at Life Yoga for the first time almost an hour early for my afternoon session. The interiors at the studio and café are earthy, clean, and simple. The glass walls, wooden doors, unpainted concrete, faux grass, bright colours, and eclectic furniture gave the place a jolt of homey energy, and a chilled ambiance that, now I think about it, is rare to successfully cultivate in a city like Manila.
I took my time looking around the locker rooms and downstairs studio before changing into my yoga gear. Cute motivational quotes and messages were scrawled on the walls by the mirrors and in the showers, like Get your ass to yoga class. The lockers looked like a box of crayons. All the colour made me happy, mostly because my bright orange dress fit right in. (It's the little things in life that keep me going! Woohoo, orange.)
After changing into a yoga-friendly outfit, I ventured into the adjoining Vibe Café while waiting for my yoga buddy to arrive. I refilled my empty water bottle from a kilner jar of lemon-steeped water and nearly spilled water everywhere because I was busy admiring the hand-painted tree mural adorning the wall behind the counter by the chalkboard menus. Their food selection looked pretty healthy (zucchini noodles, good stuff!).
Vibe Café also had a shop of sorts, with locally-sourced and handmade products assorted on shelves across its back wall. The record discs and posters made me feel like I'd just stepped into a college dorm in the seventies. They offer some cool products, including towels, glitter headbands, organic lotions and potions, handcrafted sports bras, yoga mats, blocks, pads, crystals, jewellery, and books.
I checked out the hot yoga studio before the session and get the lay of the land. The moment I walked upstairs I was hit by an intense blanket of heat. Yoga mats, blocks, and straps were laid out neatly across the floorboards, ready for us. Natural light flooded the room from the large windows.
In the studio below, I noticed the silhouette of a slender woman, relaxed and content, lounging on the floorboards. She looked so serene that I was moved to take a picture. When I met her again later, I found out that she was the actual owner of Life Yoga (Noelle Rodriguez). She joined us for the afternoon hot yoga session.
My yoga buddy arrived and soon, it was time to get the Hot Yoga session started. We went upstairs to settle onto our mats and adjust to the heat. When our smiling teacher, Ryan, arrived in the room, five of us were ready for practice. We introduced ourselves and our level of yoga experience. There was one yoga newbie and another woman who, like me, had only started practicing yoga in recent months. Ryan told us that he would adjust the session accordingly, for everyone’s benefit and understanding, and then we began.
One hour passed both slowly and quickly. Something about the heat, about getting my muscles moving and my blood flowing, about the art of breathing and connecting to the body, that had me feeling wonderful throughout the session. We performed sun salutations with a variety of other poses and moves. As we eased our body into the practice with each cycle, Ryan came around to each one of us and gently helped us push our limits, little by little. On the many occasions that he had to touch my highly un-pedicured feet, he did so with care and warmth. With each new chaturanga and upward dog, my arms felt stronger than they did from the previous cycles. I connected with my muscles, breath, and core and felt beads of perspiration forming all over my body. It felt good to sweat, to detox.
As the session wound down, we melted into savasana, corpse pose. I felt Ryan softly adjust my feet and hands for a completely neutral position, and even though the adjustments were small, they made a world of difference. I closed my eyes and drifted into meditation. I heard him rub his hands together before he massaged some ointment into my neck, palms, and forehead. It smelled minty, and soon, began to tingle in the most incredible way. The deeper I sank into my breathing routine, the deeper I felt the ointment tingling, penetrating my muscles, contributing to a feeling of total relaxation. Remembering that incredible sensation even now, typing this, makes me feel so blissed out…
We bowed our heads and thanked one another, as well as ourselves, for sharing the session together and coming to the mat. I returned downstairs feeling warm, tingly, and renewed. Time to shower! I didn’t bring a towel, and was charged 100 pesos to borrow one of Life Yoga’s, which I found steep. But needs must, especially after Ash Asana. The tingling made me feel like I was floating on air the entire time as I showered and dressed.
This was my first yoga session since moving to the Philippines that took place outside of my bedroom floor! I left feeling alive, calm, warm, and full of energy. Ash Asana is a ritual I would really love to take up on a regular basis. If you’re in Manila and are happy to invest in yoga classes, or try something new for a change, I highly recommend Life Yoga. Scope out their IG and FB to see if it's for you. The good vibrations are palpable, and any class or place that leaves people feeling positive and empowered is always worth exploring.
Thank you for reading, and Namaste.
Mel left London to chase summer around the world, one country at a time. She loves the ocean, writing postcards, and solo exploration. Travel with her on Instagram.