January 6-19 | Goa, India
Deepen your devotion to Ashtanga Vinyasa by immersing yourself in practice, and rediscover the inherent bliss of breathing sweetly through the forms. In this special two-week retreat, we explore techniques from the Hatha tradition to reawaken our experience of the body and bring new vibrancy to the practice itself – moving our bodies from the inside, following internal currents of breath, balancing subtle patterns of sensation, and softening ever more deeply into the forms.
Morning Mysore practices, followed by instruction in Pranayama, and a series of afternoon workshops designed to illumine our theme. Some workshops will explore practical aspects of asana, bandha, mudra, and meditation, while others will be pure philosophy.
This course is designed to accommodate practitioners of all kinds. No special proficiency is expected, and people with injuries, health challenges, and other limitations are absolutely welcome to participate. The only intelligent approach to Ashtanga is to modify and adapt the postures to our current circumstance, so that we can practice just as we are. If you have any questions about the content of the course, feel free to contact me directly.
Sunday 1/6 The Breath of Ashtanga
Monday 1/7 Surya Namaskar
Tuesday 1/8 Alignment Lab I – Backbends and Folds
Thursday 1/10 Alignment Lab II – Torsions and Inversions
Sunday 1/14 Tasting the Poison
Monday 1/15 Mula Bandha
Tuesday 1/16 Radiance in Motion
Thursday 1/18 Shiva’s Dance
The Breath of Ashtanga
Ashtanga Vinyasa comes alive with breath. When we awaken the breath, it moves us from the inside out, animating our bodies with precision and grace. In this session, we explore some basic movement patterns from the Ashtanga system that are designed to awaken the breath. These patterns encourage the breath to reach throughout the body and expand into its natural fullness. Through this exploration, we rediscover the exhilarating experience of being moved by breath.
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.
Ashtanga Vinyasa works with two opposing patterns of breath. These patterns are called prana and apana, or the ascending and descending breaths, and alignment can be thought of as the continual rediscovery of balance between them. In this workshop, we explore the movements of these two opposing patterns as they present in our bodies. We learn to recognize their unique physiological signatures, and we practice integrating them in some key postures from the Ashtanga system. Through these explorations, we will rediscover the breath as a principal axis of alignment, one that brings unusual depth and vibrancy to the postures themselves.
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.
Hatha Yoga is the process of awakening our natural intelligence. When the intelligence awakens, there is a spontaneous gathering and rising of prana through the central axis of the body. As prana rises, it burns through our dualistic delusions, giving us insight. This spontaneous awakening is called Mula Bandha. In this workshop, we explore some eponymous techniques from in both visceral and more subtle forms. These techniques allow us to manipulate the subtle forces that shape our experience, and to balance the creative and dissolutive movements of our minds. Through this balance, we can invite the experience of Mula Bandha to arise.
Radiance in Motion
The practice of Ashtanga Vinyasa amplifies our internal currents of breath. With assiduous practice, we can learn to ride these currents, moving our bodies with elegance and grace. In this workshop, we learn the techniques of bandha and mudra that underlie this ability, and we explore them through some fundamental movement patterns from the Ashtanga Vinyasa system, including the coveted actions of pressing, piking, jumping through and jumping back. We learn techniques for cultivating these actions over time, and imbuing our movements immediately with radiance. This class is vigorous and illuminating.
In Tantric mythology, there are few symbols more enthralling than Shiva’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, Shiva’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.
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, there are communal areas for eating and relaxing and private spaces for contemplation and meditation. It is quiet and safe, and the ideal place for a yoga retreat.
The yoga is mainly of the Ashtanga yoga tradition. 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 amazing space with a peaceful energy and the perfect place to deepen and explore your yoga practice.
All meals are vegetarian, served on an open-air terrace and enjoyed in the company of other students. Breakfast is a feast of exotic tropical fruits, homemade breads with toppings, local nuts and porridge. Dinners are an imaginative mix of Indian and Western food and all ingredients are bought fresh daily at the local market, organic wherever possible and everything is prepared with love.
For more info on the center, visit: Purple Valley Yoga Centre