Rediscover the Brilliance of Ashtanga

Awaken each morning to an inspiring Mysore-style practice, followed by gentle but potent sessions of chanting and pranayama. In the afternoons, absorb generous teachings on philosophy and technique, organized lovingly to illumine our theme. Then take time to laugh with friends, explore the Mediterranean, or recline and reflect on your experience.

The theme of our retreat is compassion, for compassion is truly the nectar of yoga. It comes over us by grace when we open ourselves to the fullness of the present moment. In this special week of study and contemplation, we learn to see compassion as the essence of an embodied yogic consciousness. Meditating on stories and images of Siva, the divine patron of yoga, we identify the internal forms that bring compassion alive. Then we explore these forms in the context of Ashtanga Vinyasa, rediscovering the phenomenal potency of the practice, and opening ourselves for a taste of the divine.

Schedule of Afternoon Sessions:

The Dance of Shiva – Sunday
In our opening session, we consider the symbolism of Siva as the divine patron of yoga. We study his tandava, or sacred dance, as an allegory of gestures that symbolize the natural unfolding of the mind, from the creation of thought to the illumination that is said to follow upon complete release. Through these reflections, we come to see compassion as the essence of yoga practice.

The Body of Compassion – Tuesday
Having identified compassion as the support of yoga practice, we now explore the “internal forms” of breath, bandha and mudra that bring the practice alive. We use these forms to center awareness in the body, and then to hold an open space for the tandava, an open space for conditioned patterns of thought and feeling to unwind. Through this practice, we give ourselves an opportunity to release the psychical forms that underlie our conditioning.

Mandalas of Sensation – Thursday
This session is an experiment in postural alignment. Using the techniques of breath, bandha and mudra that we developed previously, we explore the distinctive patterns of sensation that emerge when we find an internal balance of opposing forces in torsions, forward folds, backbends and inversions. We experience these as mandalas of sensation, and we practice meditating on them as they change form and dissolve.

Tasting The Nectar – Friday
In this session, we look more closely at the dynamic interplay between Siva and Shakti, as symbols of nature and consciousness. We study the stories of their ecstatic and often blistering love affair, and we learn to see our bodies as scenes in which this drama unfolds. Through this exploration, we rediscover yoga as an opportunity to align ourselves with the currents of divine love that are flowing within us, and to savor the inherent sweetness of embodied experience.

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