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stftm_izzaWhen Izza Gonzales-Agana walks into a room, everyone notices. It’s the height, the swish of fabric around a confident physique; the poise of a woman who has been around the world and back. Izza was crowned Bb. Pilipinas-Maja 1985 and represented the Philippines in the Miss Maja International competition in the same year where she became the 2nd runner-up. And although her days as a model and beauty queen are behind her, the je ne sais quoi that catapulted her career hasn’t diminished for a bit even after all those years. It might have come with the job description, but regardless, Izza seems to be among a rare breed of humans ingrained with a zest for fitness—often going to yoga classes in the morning then coming back for more in the afternoon. “It’s discipline,” she says. In a quiet corner of Salcedo Village, we attempt to learn her secret.

What started your interest in yoga?

Even before (modeling and being a beauty queen) I was already into fitness. I’ve been into yoga for the past 10 years. I used to do weights, did a lot of walking, was into pilates. One day, I wanted to try yoga—I got hooked. I was into it everyday; practiced it every single day. The benefits? Physical and mental. It made me physically strong. There was even a time when I was doing two classes a day.

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What was it about Hot Yoga that you liked?

It’s not just the sweat. I feel light and full of energy after each class. I feel clean everyday. It’s so dynamic, it needs focus. I also see the natural glow in my skin after each hot class. I think I’m the person that, when I want something, [I really put] my dedication and loyalty into it. When I was going to the gym, matagal ako nag-gym; when I was doing pilates, I was doing it for two years. I still think physical activity is important.

Is this discipline something you had to develop over the years?

Getting into fitness is a discipline, it doesn’t just come. I know my body; I’m not the hourglass type. My dedication as a model, my focus—as a model, your job is to maintain that body. But during the 80s, hindi naman kailangan payat. May konting laman lang. I’m not the type of person to limit myself. Just eat healthy and know what’s good for your body.

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Is there a difference between the first time you started yoga, and now, ten years down the line?

I have this body awareness. Now, I wake up in the morning and go, “why am I feeling like this?” I listen to what my body says. Back when I started practicing Hot Yoga, feeling ko parang superwoman pa ako. Wala pang sakit-sakit yung katawan ko. If I feel something today na medyo not so good, I’d ask myself, “should I practice today or not?” So now that I’m into Yin Yoga, parang I am more mindful and more aware of what’s in this knee, what’s in this hip...

Tell me about your experience with Yoga+.

They have a variety of classes! They have the dynamic classes that make you wonder after, “How did I survive?” But it feels good! It’s very complimenting. If you just go inside the room, not being mindful, parang pumunta ka lang dun. If you’ve convinced yourself to be in a dynamic class, the energy should come from you; not just your mat mate or instructor.

And then there’s Yin. I love Yin. For me, it’s always the best moment of my day—I don’t know why. I find the delivery of the dialogue very sexy, very grounding. You need to give in. The surrendering there isn’t easy. It’s so electrifying. It’s so different from the dynamic classes. Yin was only introduced to me October of last year.

 

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Have you every thought of teaching?

No, no. I can just be a good student. I’m not the A+ student nasuper flexible. I just want my practice to be stable and strong. I love going to basic [classes]. It’s like learning ABCs again.

Even after practicing for 10 years, you still find value in taking the basics?

Oh yes! If I finish a Flow+ class feeling something, I’d convince myself to go to basics again. Just because I’ve been practicing for ten years doesn’t mean I don’t need to learn. I was into Bikram style of Hot Yoga for 8 years and hindi ako nagsawa. When I feel something in my body during practice, I go back the next day thinking “maybe I should change the way I did it yesterday. Bakit sumakit katawan ko?”

Every day is a matter of learning. If you just do what you think you want to do, and you don’t listen, you’re not mindful, you’re not aware, how can you have a stable practice? If this is the type of thing you want for your fitness ‘til you have your grey hair, ‘til you can’t wear your stilettos, ‘di pwede yun. Always go back to the basics.

Do you think yoga helps you go through your age gracefully?

Yes! For my posture, my skin. I can still wear my heels, my stilettos. I can keep wearing the clothes that I think dapat pwede pa sa akin. That’s what yoga does to me. It keeps me looking fresh. Mentally, physically, and from the heart, always. Yoga helps me open my heart.

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