January 5-18, 2019 | Goa, India
Immerse yourself in the practice of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, and rediscover the bliss of breathing sweetly through the forms. The secret of bliss is compassion, or perfect openness to reality. It comes over us by grace when we surrender to the fullness of embodied experience, and we allow our psychical tangles to come undone.
In this retreat, we rediscover the bliss of unraveling the mind through Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga. We learn to feel the internal movements of the breath, and to support these movements from the inside, using the techniques of bandha, mudra and visualization that bring the practice alive. Most importantly, we learn to deepen our aesthetic appreciation for the experience of the breathing body as a whole, so we can embrace ourselves, and our immediate experience, with closeness and authenticity.
There is a strong philosophical component to this retreat, designed to place Ashtanga in the current of Tantric practice to which it properly belongs. In exploring the philosophy behind the practice, we approach yoga as it was originally intended, which is to say, as a practice that engages the entire body and mind.
The program involves morning Mysore practice, followed by guided sessions of pranayama, chanting, and subtle body visualization, together with a series of afternoon workshops designed to illumine our them, elevate our practice and enrich our experience of the moving, breathing body. Some workshops will explore practical aspects of asana, bandha, mudra or breath, while others will be pure philosophy. The morning practice sessions will be in the traditional “Mysore-style” of the Ashtanga Vinyasa lineage. If you do not have a regular Mysore-style practice, assistants will be on hand to guide you, and you will be able to practice in the Mysore-style after just a few days.
This retreat can accommodate beginning and seasoned practitioners alike. No special proficiency is expected, and people with injuries, health challenges, and other limitations are absolutely welcome to join. The only intelligent approach to yoga is to adapt the practice to our current circumstances, so we can meet ourselves just as we are.
Sunday 1/6 Surya Namaskar
Monday 1/7 Mula Bandha
Tuesday 1/8 Philosophy: Tasting the Poison
Thursday 1/10 Coiling the Serpent’s Tail
Sunday 1/14 Backbending
Monday 1/15 Philosophy: Siva’s Dance
Tuesday 1/16 Spiraling and Folding
Thursday 1/18 Philosophy: The Goddess Returns
The backbone of the Ashtanga system is Surya Namaskar, the Salutation to the Sun. In the context of yoga, the Sun is not only the celestial body that gives us warmth and daylight, but the solar center of the human body, where our vital forces converge. These forces propel our bodily processes and illumine our minds from within. In Surya Namaskar, we are propitiating to these forces, and inviting them to rise up through the central axis of the body, burning away our delusions and giving us insight. In this session, we explore the mechanics of Surya Namaskar, so we can undertake the practice with greater presence, elegance and grace.
As consciousness unfolds, there is a spontaneous gathering and rising of prana, or subtle breath, through the central axis of the body. In Hatha Yoga, we retrace that same internal movement of prana with the raw material of sensation. In this session, we learn to create the Mula Bandha pattern with posture, attention, and subtle engagements of the lower belly and pelvic floor.
Coiling the Serpent’s Tail
The action of coiling the spine is perhaps the first purposive movement that we make in our lives. It awakens apana, the dissolving force that removes excess from the body and mind. In this session, we explore coiling as a primitive pattern of movement, and we learn how that pattern can imbue our asana practice with the strongest possible ground of psychophysical support.
Tasting the Poison
Yoga practice is said to be the antidote for halahala, the poison of conditioned existence. When the practice starts to work, the poison comes to the surface, and darkens the waters of our minds. This experience can be troubling, and pose serious obstacles to practice. In this workshop, which is an exploration of yoga philosophy and mythology (and involves no formal practice as such) we discuss the process of meeting these experiences with compassion, and turning the poison into insight.
The practice of backbending is about making ourselves vulnerable, and finding the internal support to handle that vulnerability with grace. When we backbend with internal support, we create opportunities for profound psychical release. In this session, we learn to work intelligently with the breath (and with the associated movements of the psoas and diaphragm) to create a long and supple spine that can reach gracefully into these difficult and exhilarating forms.
In Tantric mythology, there are few symbols more illuminating than Siva’s Dance. More than an image of divine revelry, it contains the whole Tantric teaching about the nature of the mind. In this session, which is an exposition of the fundamental vision of the Tantric philosophy (and contains no formal practice as such) we slowly unravel the symbology of Nataraj, Siva’s dancing form. We uncover a model for contemplating the natural unfolding of the mind, and an invitation for entering the blissful and ecstatic flow of an awakened consciousness.
Spiraling and Folding
In this session, we explore spiraling and folding as unique opportunities for experiencing the interrelationship of prana and apana. We learn to find the apanic ground of support in these forms and then to unfold their pranic elements outward from there. Through these exploration, we awaken the organic undulations of the internal breath through the spine.
The Goddess Returns
In the Siva cycle, the Goddess violently withdrawals from Siva whenever he reduces her to a concept, but she always returns in another form. Siva has trouble recognizing her at first, but he soon comes around, and their reunions always renew their relationship. In this session, we study this element of the Siva cycle as an allegory for the fluctuations of our own experience, and for our ability to recognize the presence of the sublime.
Purple Valley Yoga Centre
Purple Valley Yoga Centre is located in a peaceful valley in Assagao, North Goa, between the Arabian Sea at Anjuna beach and the small market town of Mapusa. Set in landscaped tropical gardens, the center is quiet and safe, and the ideal place for a yoga retreat. There are communal areas for eating and relaxing and private spaces for contemplation and meditation. The morning walk to the shala is through tropical gardens, with the sun rising over the field of palm trees and the birds and cicadas singing. The shala itself is an inspiring and tranquil place to deepen into your practice.
For more info on the center, or to register visit: Purple Valley Yoga Centre