The Yogini from Manila

Tesa Celdran of Pulse Yoga


(I think my first encounter with Tesa was when she left a comment after I posted about Pulse Yoga on this blog. Eventually, I discovered she was a blogger as well and I would regularly visit to see what was up with her over at her blog (and of course, admire her yoga pictures).

Our first meet-up happened at the Rockwell Weekend of Fitness and everything snowballed from there. A group of us took privates with her and I covered Pulse Yoga’s official opening a few weeks after. She is a wonderful person to get to know and I am indeed privileged that she agreed to be interviewed for my blog. Her husband Carlos is no other than THE Carlos Celdran who takes us on these breathtaking and exciting personal tours of historic Manila.

Come learn more about Tesa — an amazing yoga teacher; an even more beautiful person inside and out. This is her story, in her very own words!)


How did you get into yoga?

My journey began about 6 years ago when I took my first class with Hoze Arando. I was going to have a breakfast meeting with a client (was working part-time as a Public Relations consultant) and she suggested we attend her yoga class before then. I knew Hoze as a friend of my husband, and also knew his wife, then, Sandy Carmona. They ran a shala in Pasay but I never took a class.

In my first class, I thoroughly enjoyed the breathing and could follow the asanas, not too well, but comfortably with the breath. I liked the way I felt after. After class, Hoze came and talked to me and said that I must continue to practice as he said, “You have a natural capacity for yoga, it is something you should pursue.”

I took a few classes with Sandy and Hoze now and then but was never really serious. I’d yoga “binge” then not practice for weeks. Until I put on weight. Wanting to shed the pounds and more importantly, to get healthy, I began to practice again but this time I was also going to the gym, and running. Yoga was just a physical fitness regimen.

Until I injured my ankle. Medical advice was to stop all high impact activity (by this time I was running 6 miles in the morning and taking a yoga class in the afternoon). I was devastated because running was top of mind. I loved it and the yoga was just to stretch out the muscles.

Feeling humbled, I took to yoga, as it was low impact exercise. And slowly, my practice began to grow under Sandy Carmona. I learned an Ashtanga inspired practice mixed in with Hatha. But after a while, I was searching for more. I wanted to practice more.

Until I met a friend who practiced Ashtanga. We would practice together and she would teach me the poses. She brought me to Bela Lipat, from whom I learned the Ashtanga system and fell in love with it. I had found the practice I knew I wanted to grow into for the rest of my life.

Simultaneously, I took Ashtanga workshops with teachers Yoga Manila would invite, practiced with Sandy and started my personal practice. Until one day, Sandy mentioned she was leaving town and asked me to sub for her classes.

I was terrified, but as it is said in yoga, when students come, one must teach. This is how my teaching path began. Until I underwent teacher training with Alex Medin and work with Pulse today.

What was your life like prior to yoga?

Well, if we’re speaking professionally, I’ve been a teacher all my life. Yes, I even have the Professional License to prove it (yes, took the exam with all the teachers of the Philippines, it was a whole day thing, went to Cuneta Astrodome to get sworn in and all that).

Started teaching at De La Salle University (where I finished my graduate and undergraduate degrees) with both the History and Literature Department. Also taught High School at St. Scholastica’s College, part time, also my Alma Mater.

Then I was recruited to work at AIM to help improve their case writing. Then I met Carlos and decided to stop working full time for a while. Here is where I did odd jobs of article writing, modeling, public relations, marketing, even advertising, would you believe?

After we were married in 2000, I guess I realized that I really was/am a teacher at the end of the day, I decided to try teaching again but this time, tried for international schools. It was Brent International, all the way in Mamplasan, Laguna, that liked my work. I taught Special Needs middle schoolers there for 5 years, until May 2007.

Shortly after Carlos and I were married was when my yoga journey began, but my teaching path was, officially certified, only in the last year.

Who would you consider your yoga mentors and what kind of classes/training have you undergone?

Sandy Carmona and Hoze Arando were my first mentors. My friend who I practiced with is also one of my teachers, Bela Lipat.

Workshops I took were with Clayton Horton, Paul Dallaghan, Sarem Atef, Ryan Redman, and Richard Freeman in the Ashtanga system.

My teacher training was under Alex Medin, I am certified to teach the basics of Ashtanga.

Just recently, I also joined Cle Souren’s Iyengar workshop.

Do you prefer a particular style of yoga?

Absolutely! My personal practice is the traditional yoga system of Ashtanga. Why? I fell in love with it the moment it was taught to me. I like this style of yoga because it focuses on viแน…yฤsa. It links movement to the breath, or rather, it is the breath that moves the body therefore it is never static. Also, I am able to track my journey as the system is a fixed series of poses that begins with the Primary, Intermediate, and then the Advanced series.

Another reason is that it is a VERY physically demanding practice that mirrors the demands I also make on myself. We yogistas always say that who we are off the mat mirrors who we are on the mat no?

I won’t go into the whole Ashtanga bit as there are websites for that.

But that’s my personal practice. Teaching wise, I teach Power Yoga (Ashtanga based), Hatha Yoga (Sivananda based), and Hot Flow (Vinyasa Flow in a hot room) for Pulse, as well as LED Ashtanga and Mysore practices.

How did you get into Pulse Yoga? What classes do you teach at Pulse?

I met Joelle (who owns Pulse) at a book launch of Sandy Carmona. We hit it off completely and talked yoga all afternoon. I guess then, early last year, 2007, she was planning to put up a teacher training in Manila. She pitched the idea to me (by this time I was already leaving Brent, serendipitous) and without batting an eyelash, I told her I would be enrollee #1.

Sure enough, it pushed through. Joelle’s teacher, Alex Medin flew in and I was certified under him in September 2007. By October Joelle was planning Pulse, we were discussing the idea. By November we were constructing, and by January 2, 2008 we opened. Voila! I didn’t even have time to breathe.

Things started slow, we are still building a yoga community. BUT, we are the ONLY Yoga Alliance certified studio in the country so that’s our edge. We are non-denominational, meaning if there is a kind of yoga out there that you want or need, we will try our best to offer it. Aside from the classes I teach (Power Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Hot Flow, LED Ashtanga, Mysore), we also offer Pilates, Nia, and even have workshops now and then on kinds of yoga we don’t have (as our opening weekend). We’re a very nurturing environment and are very open to beginners.

What can you give as advice to people wondering whether yoga is for them?

I’ve made it my role to bust the myth of yoga being only for fit and flexible people. That’s so NOT TRUE. Yoga is a journey and all one has to do is take the first step by taking a class. I tell you now, it will be the worst class so better to do it and get it over with. You will feel out of shape and disoriented as everybody else in class seems to know what to do and they WILL do it better than you.

BUT, believe me, no one is judging you but yourself. This is where the journey begins. Everybody in that 1st class has also taken their 1st class and probably felt like you do, inflexible, stiff, fat, stupid, etc. What one should think about is the next class, as it only gets better from there. That’s why it is called a practice, it is never perfect. Just when you think you’ve got something right, then it is time to take it further. It never ends, it will always be a journey and how wonderful the things you discover about yourself along the way.

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  1. I too take ashtanga yoga at Yoga Manila and there are good days and bad days but the key is not giving up. Thanks for sharing this.

    Jane: Mayi, hope we bump into each other some time at Yoga Manila!

  2. Hi Tesa! I work at GMA Network — in the corporate side of media. I used to be in the creative side years ago and now I do my photography to balance being mental. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Thanks Tesa! I’ll coordinate with you when would be a good time to take your yoga portraits. Jon has a schedule na, UP Sunken Garden.


  3. Lol! You’re such GIRLS to notice the earrings. I did make an effort as these shots were for our PR kit that never happened, yet. Thought I’d put something different as I usually look and feel like a dishrag all day when I’m teaching.

    Of course you can take me portraits Crissy. I’m surprised, I didn’t know you photograph as well. Where’s your work?

  4. Tesa, can I take your yoga portraits please…?

    Mother of coolness Jane, palakad naman o.


    Jane: Crissy, doesn’t Tesa look just so uber glam in these pictures although naka-yoga outfit lang siya? I LOVE her drop-down earrings! Will give her a heads-up on your request. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. I totally agree with how your first classes are going to be like. I remember that I couldn’t even balance in trikonasana and was sweating like crazy! =)

  6. Oh my goodness Jane, I had a lot to say!

    Thank you for taking the time to do this. Really, you’re such a sweetheart.


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