Today we’d like to introduce you to Gloria Baraquio.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Gloria. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I was born and raised in Honolulu, as the youngest of 10 children. Strict Filipino Catholic upbringing. We all grew up as the church choir, prayed the rosary everyday, went to daily mass, cleaned the church every Saturday, and went to Catholic school. I grew up with a LOT of love and support, music, parties, beach time, and sports. Even though we didn’t have all the material things our peers had, we had each other, and lots of laughter.
I think I was always free-spirited, happy, and confident being the youngest of the family. As I grew up, I also became the rebel, or the black sheep, someone who questioned everything, especially the Catholic religion and all the rules my mom enforced. When I was 17, I insisted I go away to the “mainland”. My sisters helped me move out of my parents’ house and set me up for college and dorm life in Southern California. That was probably the beginning of my true independence. I explored many different religions and philosophies and studied abroad in England, which is when I started to first experience panic attacks. I moved back home to Hawaii, and this continued for some time. This was also when I deeply questioned the existence of God and focused on my material life. I fell into a depression, and life was feeling pretty grim. Somehow I stumbled into a yoga studio–they were my client when I was selling advertising. They invited me to try some classes, and after maybe the 10th class, the teacher asked us to try the ujjayi breath in a down dog. I will never forget it, it was like the first time in my life I had ever taken a deep breath.
I continued to practice yoga, and I realized that I haven’t had a panic attack ever since. Through yoga, I began to have deep insights into my nature, and one day, God spoke to me, and it was clear that God is real, not in the way others explained it to me, but in the sense that my relationship to this essence or to my inner being is real. My life pretty much shifted from there. I moved to the Big Island of Hawaii, where I was able to really dig into the land and all sorts of spiritual modalities: ecstatic dance, meditation, chanting, reiki, contact improv, deeksha, kirtan, Buddhism, and Hinduism. I look back at my life there and see it was my spiritual training. Fast forward a few years, after teaching high school, hosting a television show, and writing a newspaper column, I ended up in LA to pursue acting. I somehow was introduced to the founders of The Springs in DTLA, and they hired me in 2014 as their Director of Yoga and Wellness. This became the dream job I never knew existed, and I was able to meet and work with some of the most creative and conscious artists and entrepreneurs in LA. I led free daily meditations, taught yoga, hired amazing teachers and healers, and hosted some of the most unforgettable events there–all while eating the cleaniest, yummiest vegan food!
The Springs was where I met my teaching partner Serge Bandura, Founder of Shivakali Yoga. We instantly found synchronicity in our paths of Yoga and Buddhism, and he asked me to be a Lead Trainer for his yoga school. We had our first Yoga Teacher Training in the desert in the summer of 2015. Since then, we have held 12 more yoga training in places like Hawaii, Costa Rica, and Bali, and we have dedicated our lives to sharing the teachings we hold so sacred, specifically from our Hindu, Buddhist, Tantra, and Indigenous teachers.
Because of my experiences with yoga retreats, I decided I wanted to try this out full-time. I decided to live-work as a volunteer at Ratna Ling Retreat Center in the coastal redwoods of Sonoma, where I am currently residing right now. Here, we get to chant and meditate everyday, while working as a community, preserving, studying, and sharing ancient Buddhist teachings. Serge and I hold several trainings/retreats a year, and the COVID has altered life for us, but we continue to offer our work online.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
To become a yogi, one’s life must not have been smooth! As I mentioned before, the years of my anxiety, stress, and depression were very difficult. Feeling cut off from my faith and my family. I also was in love with someone at the time who attempted suicide. Being with him was hard, and breaking up with him for my own health was hard. It took many years to heal my heart and to understand karma between soulmates. The next big heartbreak was my brother who actually did take his own life in 2006. With both of those experiences, I vowed to take care of my own mental health and to help others do the same. Another big loss was the closing of The Springs in 2017, something that we thought would be so successful, but just couldn’t swing it financially. The loss of the most inspiring community and livelihood was a massive heartbreak for me. Being a full-time yoga teacher doesn’t always make for easy steady income, but somehow my life always feels so wealthy and abundant, with health and dear friends.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Shivakali Yoga – what should we know?
Shivakali Yoga is a spiritual family. We are devoted to sharing ancient spiritual teachings to the modern day yogi so that they can live with more courage, compassion, and joy in their life. The name Shivakali Yoga is a call for wholeness, the perfect harmony of Shiva and Kali, the masculine and feminine, the yin and the yang, the yoga (union) of self and God. I am most proud of how connected and tight-knit our yoga family is. Even years after an 18-day training, Serge and I remain dear friends with our trainees, and many of them, from different graduating classes befriend each other. It’s a testament to how connected we can be through our breath, and through sharing space together in nature for a long period of time.
I am a Lead Trainer of Shivakali Yoga, which is how many people know me in LA. Also as the former Director of The Springs. I also have hosted yoga retreats with Yogascapes in Nicaragua, Iceland, and Zion.
I think what sets me apart from others is that while I value the body, the mind, yoga practices, and meditation, I teach that we are NOT the body, we are NOT the mind. We HAVE a body and a mind, but we are so much more than what we sense or can conceptualize. We are so much more. Bringing people to touch that god-space within themselves is the most exciting thing for me.
Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
LOVE. Celebrating each person for who they are.
Faith. Unwavering surrender to divine order and interdependence.
- Shivakali Yoga Teacher Training Retreat – $3500+
- Private Yoga or Spiritual Consultation with Gloria – $150/hr
- Website: www.gloriabaraquio.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @gloloveyoga
- Facebook: @gloloveyoga
Mindy Coe Photography, Jiro Schneider