The last few years have seen people all over the world slowly start to prioritize self-care and their wellbeing. One of the many outlets that really took off during the pandemic was yoga— and Sepfry Grace Rivera, founder of Dawata Wellness, is continually building a strong community around it.
“What really keeps me going nowadays is creating experiences,” Sepfry shares. “Retreats, events— creating something that brings the community together.” Dawata has definitely succeeded, offering avenues outside of yoga for the community to come together, like workshops or karaoke nights. “Everything is thought out, from the classes to the events and even retreats.”
This kind of community can be a source of comfort for anyone— and in fact, it started because Sepfry was looking for one.
Searching for healing
Back when she was still working a corporate job in Manila, her former boss had invited her to yoga classes, but there was always something holding her back. “I’m not flexible, it’s expensive… It’s really a lifestyle,” she remembers thinking.
Sepfry’s first real brush with yoga happened a few years later, when she was at a turning point in her life, and searching for some healing. She admits that from her very first class, she felt moved.
At the end of every class, the instructor would ask everyone to share things they’ve learned or things that came up during the session. “Yoga, for me, [became] my outlet of healing,” Sepfry says. “It gives you an awareness to things, it gives you patience and self-love.”
Her love for yoga had only grown over time, as she met people from different communities and find out their stories. “And at the same time, share mine without judgement,” she adds.
“Little seeds growing”
When the pandemic hit, Sepfry found that many other yoga instructors were out of work, and more importantly, a proper outlet for their wellness in such a crucial time. When an opportunity came up, she helped arrange some classes and events.
Despite enjoying the work, she admits she had thought it wasn’t sustainable, and was more of a passion— she wasn’t ready to start a studio of her own. “I wasn’t sure if [it was] really for me, but it started growing in me. Without realizing it, I was building a community.” After a few nudges from her son and partner, things started to fall into place. “Slowly, the universe aligned.”
And now, after just a couple of years, Dawata Wellness is already looking to expand the community: outside of the studio, of Cebu, and maybe even the Philippines.
Since she first started yoga, Sepfry has seen how much it’s changed her life, saying that it’s given her a sense of empowerment— finding power in her voice, in stories, and in solidarity. “What I really love is the community that we’ve built,” she says. “I’m inspired every day by the people I talk to, and the lessons that we learn together as a community.”
Peace of mind
To other people, yoga might seem like any other type of exercise. But for those searching for healing, like Sepfry and so many others, it can be a great way to really get in touch with your body and how you feel when you’re so used to suppressing it. “Once your mind says you’re stressed, the body will follow. Listen to your inner self, and listen to your body,” she says. “We listen to everyone but ourselves.”
The mind is a powerful thing— it might seem like your own worst enemy at times, but ultimately you are in control of it. It may take a lot of time and work to be able to find peace, but Sepfry says to trust in universal timing. “You can’t force healing, but if you need it, you will definitely have it. As long as you’re open to receive any challenges and lessons with gratitude, there will always be a positive outcome.”