(Update: Vinyasa Yoga Center is currently closed already but Pio continues to teach in a private location. For those interested in getting in touch with Pio, you may now reach him at 0905-2652688 or at firstname.lastname@example.org).
I have long been planning to compile a Who’s Who of yoga instructors in the Philippines but never got around to starting. So let me begin close to home with none other than my own yoga teacher, Pio Baquiran.
In the classes that Pio conducts, breathing (or pranayama) is paramount as it is the soul of the Vinyasa Yoga Style. He begins by putting on calming and soothing music. The Vinyasa yoga style integrates breath and movement, awareness and alignment, strength and flexibility which connect poses (or asanas) through the breath to “stoke the fire” inside the body and achieve balance.
Pio’s classes progress from warm-up basic yoga poses, to sun salutations (asanas that stretch and heat up the body), to other yoga poses — all the while stressing the breathing rhythm that needs to be maintained throughout. The class ends with a relaxing prone pose and meditation in which one’s senses are brought to a subliminal stage in order for the body to gain the full benefits of the Vinyasa session.
Sessions can address the beginner practitioner as well as those ready for more advanced and challenging poses. Pio is very attentive to his students’ alignment and does not fail to correct and adjust whenever necessary. This attention and care, even while in a group class, makes his classes one of the most phenomenal and experiential within the metro.
With Pio’s permission, I am reprinting here (with some editing) the write-up about him that came out in the website of the upcoming Mind-Body Conference this Aug. 25-26, 2007 where he is one of the presenters.
As one of the rising yoga teachers here in Metro Manila, Pio Baquiran is a celebrated monk, yoga practitioner and member of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) since 1986 He is likewise an Aikido Black Belter . Pio’s exposure to the yoga culture began as early as 13, thereby making his proponents and philosophical mastery of the yogic system both broad and deep.
Pio attained brahminical initiation or priesthood for the Bhakti Yoga Tradition within ISKCON in 1994 which gave him prime status and authority in the different branches of yoga which were part of his studies and training during his monk hood. He gained formal studies and graduated with a bachelorβs degree in Philosophy β major in Vaisnava Theology and Philosophy at the ISKCON Vaisnava Institute of Higher Learning in India in 1992 and subsequently accepted his first initiation as member to the esteemed group.
In 1996, he was sent to India once more to further his studies and training. He completed his masters through the Bhaktivedanta College of South Africa (through correspondence) and received the degree MA Philosophy in Vaisnav Theology and Philosophy. During his stay in India, Pio immersed himself and graduated from several training programs and courses such as Ayurveda β under the mentorship of Prahladhananda Swami; Vedic and International Vegetarian Cooking by Internationally acclaimed Vegetarian Guru, Kurma Das; The Art of Deity Worship β under the training of head priest of the Sri Sri Krishna Balaram Mandir Temple, Mukunda Datta Prabhu; Bhagavad Gita Course β under the direction of Bhakti Chaitanya Swami.
During his life as a monk and discipleship under His Holiness Tamal Krishna Goswami, Pio took up the reigns of becoming a strict practitioner of the yogic tradition as well as an ayurvedic vegetarian diet. His practice of both Hatha Yoga and Vinyasa Yoga styles have been a daily routine in the temple and eventually became his normal lifestyle.
He formally took up the teachers training degree for imparting the yogic tradition in August of 2001 under the mentor ship of renowned International Yoga Master β Charu Chandra Prabhu, from the International Yoga Institute and acquired his accreditation and license to teach.
Today, Pio Baquiran, or more respectably referred to as Gokula Chandra Prabhu, his initiated title, is the co-owner, director and head master of the Vinyasa Yoga Center, a foundation which was created to have a core community for yoga enthusiasts within the Ortigas-Makati and neighboring areas.
Gokula Chandra Prabhu received the prestigious Most Outstanding Yoga Teacher of the Year Award under the National Award Category of the Agora Awards last 2006 for his unparalleled dedication and unique spiritual foundation and lifestyle together with his unwavering mission to impart the age-old tradition of improving the quality of living in our society.
Today, he is considered one of the most authorized gurus in the Vinyasa Yoga Style in the Metro.