the KAPWA YOGA story
In 2010, I was introduced to Leny Strobel and the Center for Babaylan Studies (CfBS) and found new purpose in life. As a classically trained theatre artist, educator, community organizer, ceremonialist with an esoteric school and former seminarian and church leader, who was trying to find belonging, CfBS showed me where my roots were and provided a deep lens for considering my responsibility as a leader, guide, teacher, artist, healer and person of color.
In 2011, Tita ("Auntie") Leny welcomed a few of us into the community, who were exploring the activities of CfBS, and I became a regular volunteer. Even after I moved away from the Bay Area, I have maintained my relationships with the CfBS founding members and consider them to be important mentors in my journey.
The Typhoon Haiyan disaster in late 2013 brought global attention to the Philippines and there were many gatherings and events being organized around the world to fundraise for those affected by the storm. With Tita Leny's blessing and loving encouragement, I co-organized and directed "ReBuilding Bayanihan", a program and day-long event with 4 Filipino/a/x artists and community leaders, which was held at SIPA (the Search for the Inclusion of Pilipino Americans) in downtown Los Angeles. We offered ritual, gave performances, and had booths featuring local artisans, a photo booth, a food truck serving Filipino cuisine and a beautifully crafted altar to ground our gathering. A handful of artists and healers in the San Francisco Bay Area, who were also connected with the activities of CfBS, joined us. Our aim was to provide a sacred response to the devastation in the Philippines and to offer our blessings.
After this event, the director of SIPA connected a few of our group members with Natalie Macam (a highly experienced Fil-Am yoga instructor) who was looking to host a conscious fundraiser at the Mahasukha Center in LA, as well, through yoga and the cultural arts of the Philippines. I had just finished my 200-hour yoga teacher training in 2013, so Natalie and I became fast friends and a whole new world of exploration opened up: the connection between India and the Philippines and the connection between Sanskrit (the ancient script of Hinduism and Buddhism) and Baybayin (the indigenous alphabet of the Philippines). Through these discoveries, Natalie and I grew our curiosities for chants that might celebrate these connections and a yoga practice that might offer a doorway into connecting with one's roots.
In 2014, Kapwa Yoga was born. With 2 other highly experienced yoga instructors of Filipino heritage, Amy Valdez and Archimedes De Leon, Natalie and I held a yoga and music event at Yoga SF-Ocean in San Francisco called "Umuwi: Come Home". We received a blessing ritual given by Baylan Megino, co-founder of CfBS, and we introduced ideas of connecting with our roots through the concept of Kapwa in practice as well as offered music that highlighted the Sanskrit/Baybayin connection. Because of competing priorities, our efforts fizzled out over time. Our website came down, featuring the amazing logo that Nicanor Evangelista designed for us, and we each went to our respective meditations around these teachings. I decided to hold on to the domain and have been slowly and mindfully considering the deeper meaning of Kapwa as it relates to yoga and leadership in an American context.
I have since joined forces with Paul Jochico, owner of Kapwa Yoga in New York, and he will be the new caretaker of the KapwaYoga.com. I have also been connecting with the members of the Kapwa Yoga Circle in the San Francisco Bay Area and discerning ways that we can come together and develop our work as yoga teachers of Filipino heritage.
"Kapwa", which means "the self in the other" is a core term that derives from Sikolohiyang Pilipino, which was a system developed by Virgilio Enriquez as a way to distinguish the Filipino character*. Kapwa Yoga seeks to carefully and lovingly integrate the spirit of Kapwa, the indigenous wisdom teachings of the Philippines and the deep traditions of yoga philosophy.
The use of "kapwa" (when referring to community, unity, interconnectedness, brotherhood/sisterhood) has become increasingly popular in the Millennium and has inspired several community organizations and efforts including Kapwa Care Mixtape, Kapwa Collective, Kapwa Gardens, Kapwa Kirtan, Kapwa Konversations, Kultivating Kapwa, Our Kapwa and the 4 groups of Kapwa Yoga. While there is much to celebrate in these efforts, there is still much to do to bring Filipino/a/x conscious practitioners/instructors together and engage in the deep work of healing.
It is common understanding amongst Kapwa groups that it is vitally important to honor our elders and learn responsibly. Through prayer and outreach, Christine hopes to inspire an ethos of accountability, collective learning and growth, collaboration and compassion as the spirit of Kapwa grows.
If you are interested in co-developing the Kapwa Yoga teachings or being involved in future workshops/trainings (or you are already and would like to work together to be more fully "in kapwa"), please send Christine a message and we can begin the "kapwa konversation". Peace & Blessings. Namaste. Maha Mahal. Bahala Na. Mabuhay!
KAPWA YOGA KONNEKTIONS
There are 4 known Kapwa Yoga groups:
A school founded in April of 2014 by Christine Jugueta, Archimedes Miranda De Leon, Natalie Macam and Amy Valdez encouraging awareness of kapwa teachings and indigenous wisdom as a tool for understanding yogic philosophy and authenticity in yoga practice.
A studio in the Philippines from 2015-2016 by Arch De Leon.
A corporation established in July of 2020 by Paul Jochico encouraging interconnectedness and the teachings of kapwa as a lens for developing meditation and yoga practice.
An Instagram collaborative formed in August of 2020 celebrating mostly female-identified Filipinx yoga instructors based in the San Francisco Bay Area and encouraging yoga practice in the Filipino/a/x community.
Currently, the following teachers/groups offer "Kapwa Yoga" classes:
PJ in Motion, owner of Kapwa.Yoga (and new caretaker of KapwaYoga.com)
Jessy Zapanta, who teaches Kapwa Flow through the East Bay Meditation Center
Inspiration and guidance also comes from the following organizations:
* From Kapwa: The Self in the Other by Katrin de Guia
Logo by Nicanor Evangelista