Featured Teacher: Chris Punongbayan

chris Punongbayan

We are excited to welcome Chris Punongbayan to the team!

Tell us about yourself! What are some things that your students might not know?

I’ve lived in San Francisco for almost 20 years and love this city to pieces. I’m originally from Massachusetts and spent some time in Providence, New York City, and Los Angeles before settling down in the Bay Area.

How did you become interested in yoga?

I really can’t remember! I dabbled with yoga during college, and then tried to fit it in here and there over the years. I even took a 200 hour yoga teacher training in 2016 while I was on sabbatical from work, and within 6 months fell away from the practice because life just kept leading me in a different direction. It wasn’t until the pandemic and racial reckoning of 2020 that I was finally ready. I came to understand what yoga really means. I’ve been practicing consistently since then.

Tell us about your yoga journey. What style did you start in and with whom do you study now?

My yoga journey in San Francisco began in 2004. I first started taking classes because someone told me that it would be a helpful companion to marathon training. I really looked at yoga as just exercise, like a more active form of stretching. Little did I know that I was missing the entire point.
Yes, I gained some flexibility but I spent years ignoring the invitation to deepen my awareness about who I really am and what really matters. Today, I practice and teach in the hatha lineage. Hatha means “tenacious” and I love that idea of using yoga to tenaciously pursue physical, mental, and spiritual goals all at the same time.

Describe your teaching style. What can folks expect when they attend your class? 

My classes regularly incorporate meditation, breathwork, and philosophy as well as physical posture. I focus a lot on increasing flexibility because I think flexibility is underappreciated in our modern culture. Each class, I try to teach a concept from yoga, mindfulness, or other wellness traditions.

Any exciting projects or plans on the horizon?

I have been working on a project to harness the tools of yoga as a means to confront and dismantle racism in America today. Racism is a hierarchy of human value based on race and is perpetuated by more than just attitudes of individual bad actors. It is a system embedded into our culture and collective consciousness, and is upheld by laws and policies.
It is my firm belief that yoga offers a path towards liberation from this dehumanizing system. I just need to find the time to get all the ideas out of my head and into the studio.

Anything else you’d like to share with the Yoga Garden SF community?

I believe that yoga is an antidote to the daily grind of modern urban living. Yoga has helped me learn how be ok with taking a pause, and it has also helped me to process many difficult situations in my life. I hope that if you practice with me, you can discover deeper insights about your journey as a human being in this world. You are more than who you think you are!

That’s all for now, you can learn more about Chris on Instagram #GetFreeYoga or  check out his bio here.