Bernadette Pacaña radiates wellness in mind, body and soul through yoga
By Deneb Batucan
FINDING one’s passion is a feat in itself, but dedicating time and effort to learn and master your art is a continuous challenge that takes every fiber of your being. For Bernadette Pacaña, she takes her passion seriously and keeps challenging herself to know more and more about it.
A yoga teacher who has had various trainings here and abroad, Bernadette is the first in the Philippines to be certified by Los Angeles-based YogaWorks, one of the top yoga schools in the world. But her journey to learning and teaching yoga never stops. It goes on and on. “There’s always so much to learn,” she said.
She started doing yoga in 2010. But even before she started taking classes, she has always been a gym nut. “I was always into group exercises in the gym. I really like to eat and the things that I like to eat are not the good ones. It was really for me to be able to eat what I want. I would join classes like hip-hop, step, kickboxing… all the group classes, except yoga,” she shared. “It was really out of curiosity. I have a cousin who was already into it and she told me to give it a shot. I really thought it was boring. I thought it was just stretching. But I tried it.”
After she tried it, she got hooked. What she thought was an easy practice turned out to be a challenge. She fell in love with yoga more and more because it challenged her. Because it challenged her, she wanted to learn more for herself. So she decided to do a 200-hour yoga teacher training in Manila under David Kim, a teacher from YogaWorks, which is based in Santa Monica, Los Angeles, California. The one-month training was to deepen her practice. But it was there that she discovered her ability to teach yoga. After her teacher training, she started teaching in Yogahub part time while still working for her corporate job.
“I really loved doing it. I was just doing it part time but I really love it, especially when I see my students come back and get hooked also which was what happened to me,” she said.
Bernadette fell in love with yoga even more when she started teaching it to other people. It fulfilled her so much that she chose to leave her corporate job in 2013 and start teaching yoga full time. Wanting to perfect her practice, she went to New York and did a 500-hour teacher training at YogaWorks. “Like in school, the 200-hour training is your undergrad while the 500-hour training is the masters,” she quipped.
For six months, she was trained by a mentor and at the same time she assisted in teaching classes in New York. After that extensive training, Bernadette took another certification with YogaWorks. She took a grueling three-hour test that she thought she was never going to pass.
“I was teaching teachers, which made me so nervous because it wasn’t my place. I came back home on September and that was when I got the results that I passed. I was so happy. I’m the first one in the Philippines to be certified by YogaWorks,” she said.
Jennifer Martinez, one of her partners in Yogahub, encouraged her to do her own teacher training here in Cebu. Now she has her own yoga manuals and has started her own brand of yoga training, BeYoga.
BeYoga is all about accessibility through options, alternatives and modifications. The BeYoga method of teaching is to go around the room and observe the students’ movements, facial expressions and their breathing. BeYoga aims to influence how people perceive yoga and help them be more open about it. Regardless of shape, size, age or gender, BeYoga believes that anyone can practice yoga.
Making a connection
Bernadette did her first yoga teacher training last January 2016 at the Qube Gallery in Crossroads, Banilad. “My students were really amazing in the sense that they really wanted to be there. They made it easy for me because they really wanted to learn. It was beautiful to watch them blossom. Even if they don’t teach after, it was very fulfilling for me,” she said.
Bernadette says that yoga is more than just stretching. “A lot of my students during the teacher training were concerned that they can’t do these fancy poses right. But it’s not about that. It’s not just about the physical practice also. It has a philosophy, which is really the aim — to connect the mind, body and spirit. The poses are used to heighten your awareness of your body. The poses are just tools. The aim of yoga is to connect your mind, body and spirit — to go inward through the physical body,” she explained.
Yoga has changed Bernadette’s life drastically. It has made a positive impact on her being. “The physical practice eventually made me look into the deeper part of me. It starts with being mindful of yourself, how you react to things and how you take care of your body. And later on it goes outward like how you deal with other people, how you react to situations,” she said. “I feel like I’m more grounded now than before. My life has become simpler and more content. Content in a way that I’m not living in the future. I’m living in the now. There’s a vision, but not so much worry. That’s the beauty of the yoga practice. The transformation happens naturally. I would want people to experience that too,” she said.
A growing community
At the moment, Bernadette and the rest of the teachers at Yogahub, which has been awarded by Sun.Star Cebu as the best yoga studio in Cebu, are ecstatic as they open their newest branch at the Raintree Mall in Mango Avenue. They are offering free yoga classes for two weeks. Bernadette attributes their ever-growing community to the dedicated and excellence-driven teachers at Yogahub. “They are consistently improving and train continuously,” she said with pride.
For her part, Bernadette is preparing for another yoga mentor’s program in Vancouver, Canada, where she will be trained at Y Yoga. She wishes to impart on her students all her learnings from trainings here and abroad.
“I’ve always believed that yoga is for everyone. There is a yoga practice for each and everyone here. When you say you’re not flexible, it’s actually a hint that you should practice more. When you start practicing, your body is placed in weird forms and that’s when you become more aware of your own body,” she said. “Just continue practicing and do it for yourself. And enjoy the process. There will be days when you feel strong and so open, but there will also be days when you feel stiff. That’s part of it. Just show up and let the practice unfold unto you.”
Photos: Alfred Gregory E. Bartolome
Make-up Artist: Carlo Damolo
Hair Stylist: Jerwin Bastatas