Yoga teacher and triathlete Bubbles Paraiso is someone who shines from within, as we (her cat Skar included) witness during our busy yet stress-free afternoon shoot in BGC. And while the easy way she carries herself reflects a prolific modeling career, we learn later on that it is also the result of an ever-evolving understanding and appreciation of the simplicity of every moment. She gamely talks about being a furmom to Skar, and just as casually enjoys a donut where many a figure-conscious celeb would have not.
“It’s not cheating. You’re just not depriving yourself... It’s a treat!” She says. “Of course, you’re not gonna treat yourself all the time. [But] I’m not gonna call it a ‘cheat’ because I’m not in a relationship with food for me to cheat on it, right? Eat that donut, be happy with it.”
Escaping to Bali
Bubbles' upbeat personality belies a certain calmness that takes things as they are, but the model-turned-actress shares that this was not always the case.
She has always been very open about her past and her beginnings with yoga: it took a heartbreak and a trip to a faraway place (as most of us can relate to) for her to eventually turn her life around. “It was more of [because] I needed to get out of the country. I was like, ‘I’ll just go to Bali,” Bubbles relates.
Keeping herself busy and creating a daily routine were her utmost concerns then, so she focused on the fact that she was also just about to launch her Beyond Yoga branch in Bonifacio High Street. That was when she decided to join a yoga teacher training program.
“I was thinking…why not enroll na lang also just so I have something to do? It wasn’t really my intention to become a real teacher or anything. It was more of ‘I’m flying to Bali for over a month—what am I gonna do?’ I was just so sad, so lost... I needed to have structure when I flew there, so I thought, ‘Okay, why not a teacher training?’”
Despite admitting that she was often an emotional mess, she signed up and showed up, attending classes every day with no fail.
“It was really starting from scratch,” she notes. “There was a yoga philosophy teacher, and then I met all of these amazing people from around the world. So everything changed there that I didn’t expect. I fell in love with yoga, I fell in love with life, I fell in love with everything.”
Yoga, Bubbles explains, is more than just posing or stretching or getting fit. Grounded on Hinduism, it is a way of life that, simply put, aims to bring both body and mind to a higher state of being.
"Ahimsa which is ‘kindness and compassion to all living things’…It should start within yourself..."
“But of course, it’s more of a more modern way of applying the teachings of yoga rather than taking everything literally right away,” she says, noting that one example of her applying what she learned was going back to eating meat after being vegetarian for quite some time due to her highly active lifestyle as a triathlete. “Usually people start eating, start becoming vegetarian after they’ve done yoga, but because of ahimsa which is ‘kindness and compassion to all living things’…It should start within yourself, and I was already getting sick. I was already anemic, so I started eating meat because of that.”
But more than changing and letting go of the physical habits that have stopped working for her, the training also helped her slowly go through the healing processes. “I think everyone heals on their own time, and on their own pace… Mine took a while, but the biggest chunk of it happened while I was in Bali, but everything else, all the other pieces came with time, slowly.”
Once back home, Bubbles immediately jumped into teaching yoga as she got her life in order. “I let go of the things that didn’t serve me anymore. It can be things, it can be people that don’t really serve the purpose of your life…
“You let it go, because it’s also love for yourself and love for them because it’s your time. You’re just wasting your time, spending your time with each other and you’re just dragging each other down.”
Hitting the ground running
From that point on, every day was a new opportunity for Bubbles to improve herself. She got interested in running and before she knew it, she started going for triathlons.
“It took a whole village, actually,” the Sid & Aya (Not A Love Story) actress admits, saying that it was initially Maggie Wilson’s husband, Victor Consunji, who urged her to get into it even before she left for Bali. “I was like, ‘Vic, I can’t swim, I hate running, and last time I rode a bike I was 12 years old. So, no.’” But an afternoon run with friend Tim Yap changed everything: “I met Kim Atienza, Mark Goricetta, and Mark Hernandez, who are now my teammates.
“My six kilometers took the same amount of time that they did 12 kilometers. I am not kidding, because I was walking half the time,” she says with a laugh. “I remember distinctly, I was like, ‘One day I’m gonna be running next to you.’”
"It’s not just about the numbers. It’s always about how your body feels at that moment, and the process."
At that point, she was only about running, but one thing led to another, and before she knew it...
“Kuya Kim signed me up for a relay in Ironman 70.3. I was only supposed to do the run part—and then two weeks before the race, our biker got into a crash and broke a hip,” she continues. “So Kuya Kim goes, ‘Marunong ka naman mag-bike, eh. Ikaw na lang mag-bike!’ I had been biking for three weeks already that time also, so I was like, ‘Okay sige.’ and because of that we won second place… And then that was when I [thought], ‘Parang this is fun. Sige nga I’ll do the whole thing na.’”
From then on, Bubbles had completed several races and has been gunning to go international this 2019. Tri, she says, was the perfect balance to her yoga.
“With triathlons, it’s really more of ‘What can my body do? How much can I swim this given amount of time? How much can I bike? How much can I run?’ It’s really pushing my body beyond its limits.
“When it comes to yoga—it’s the perfect yin-and-yang—it’s all about how my body feels. I get to apply everything I learn in yoga to triathlon, because it’s not just about the numbers. It’s always about how your body feels at that moment, and the process. It’s not just the results eh: ‘Okay, I won first place! Oh, I’m third today!’ It’s not like that. It’s more of like the process of everything.”
When asked how far she has come from the time that she flew to Bali to find herself, Bubbles answers that she's leagues away from who she was before. “You know how Facebook memories would show you your old posts and everything? I’d see my old posts na sobrang hugot and whatever, and I’d also see my pictures—it was so different. The way that I also disrespected my body before I got into yoga. Disrespect in a way na, if I wanted to lose weight, I just won’t eat for seven days and disguise it as ‘Guys, I’m fasting!’”
She jokes that she was doing intermittent fasting before it was popular, but she knew even then that she wasn’t doing right by herself. “It worked, but I was not happy, like people were saying that I looked good... I looked good on the outside, but I felt like shit on the inside. I think what the most important thing is, once you feel good on the inside, then the outside will just mirror that.
"It’s always action and reaction, so as much as possible I just give positive action to the people that I encounter."
“[When] I stopped chasing my body goals and whatever goals I had when I was younger, they just came! Like all of a sudden, the abs arrived, then the arms arrived, and toned legs and—it just happened because I started loving my body and I started loving myself. Everything else is just a reward. I was like, ‘Had I known this earlier on, sana pala I loved myself earlier! Sana pala I loved myself from the get-go.’
And that’s how she now looks at the world—cultivating love and positivity from within and reflecting it to those she meets.
“It’s always action and reaction, so as much as possible I just give positive action to the people that I encounter,” she says. “That’s the energy that I will just give out to the world.”
SHOOT COORDINATION: Ysabel Yuzon, Charlene Owen
PHOTOGRAPHY AND ART DIRECTION: Jico Joson
HAIR: Francis Guintu
MAKEUP: Jigs Mayuga
STYLIST: Charmaine Palermo
CLOTHES: c/o Adidas Greenbelt
SHOOT LOCATION: Beyond Yoga Serendra