Over the years I’ve noticed how the style and level of assistance my teacher Paul has offered his students. The methods a teacher uses to do this can be explained in terms of gross, subtle and causal (or very subtle) in a similar way the different levels of awareness and personal practice evolve. Although all three levels are employed by experienced teachers from the outset I have noticed a marked shift over the years, of my teacher, towards a more subtle hands off approach.
Deep avoidance and fear of yoga is something I’ve experienced on occasion, so perhaps you have too. When I was in Mysore, India studying at Pattabhi Jois’ house, I got up very early in the morning, often at 3 or 3:30 am to prepare before practicing. It would usually take about an hour and a half of psyching myself up—doing meditation, prāṇāyāma, and prayer—in order to face his front door, which I equated with the portals of death.
Yoga at its core means the connection with that which does not change, with pure consciousness, with everything that is beyond what you perceive or cognize, with the ‘other’, with the ‘not this’, with what is truly internal, with what some call one’s true nature, with what others call the Divine.
That shala was a mental image 15 years ago, put to paper, planned out, and constructed. It was built for people to be in, to engage in practices that have been done for centuries. In line with what these ancient teachings recommend such a shala is a place of peace yet vitality, supportive and serene, to allow you to go within, to aid you in the transformation of consciousness. This space, this shala, has a purpose. Not built to double-up as some event space in a hotel with yoga on its menu. The opposite of that. To offer the experience to learn, practice, and delve deeper into yourself in a unique space dedicated to change, for you, for people, to be here, with the necessary hospitality infrastructure.
Learn the key points for Downward Facing Dog with Paul and Sarah in 1 minute
1 Minute Yoga - Bakasana
1 Minute Yoga - Upward Facing Dog
Paul was asked about his yoga journey and how that led to opening Samahita almost 20 years ago.
Have you ever been told, or maybe you have advised someone else, to take a breath to help calm down? It is a common, if acute, piece of advice. It may give a momentary relief but this effect is typically short-lived as a few deep inhales aren’t going to transform your physiology. In fact, only focusing on big inhales can exacerbate your anxiety. Instead of focusing on how deep your inhale is tune into the length and completion of your exhale. Aim to do this when not upset and you will find it becomes part of your normal breath functioning. This takes the same time and energy investment as the above acute advice but turns it into “breath resilience”, something you can cultivate over time by regularly practicing controlled yet simple breathwork activities. Subsequently, your capacity to adapt in different stressful situations without succumbing to negative mood and affect, known as “emotional resilience”, can be a possible outcome.
1 Minute Yoga - How to sit with Paul Dallaghan. Many people find the discomfort of sitting with cross legs an obstacle before getting started with meditation or breath practices. This video demonstrates how to sit on a chair, or raised surface, for meditation and to further develop that into a cross legged sitting posture.
Paul teaches a simple standing sequence perfect for readjusting our spine and relieving discomfort in the lower back.
Feel Love Experience Joy! - What does it really mean to practice Yoga? Here, Paul Dallaghan offers his humble reflections and insight into the true nature and purpose of practice. Originally shot just over 8 years ago with music and voice of Daphne Tse. Recut by Gray Bashew this video still has the impact of the original.
CORE: Learn variations of the DISH Daniel Stringer teaches fundamental core techniques building up to variations of the dish. Follow the full video to get it right without straining your lower back or neck.
Yoga, Breath and COVID-19: lifestyle behavioral support mechanisms Approaches to manage the physical and psychological burden of stress from living through and after the current global pandemic
Have you tried the one armed handstand challenge? It may be difficult to master but follow these steps with Daniel to get started, keep practicing and surprise yourself? Be careful with your wrists, don't force it. Take rest when needed. Good Luck!
Within this recent historical time period the physical body moving approach of Surya Namaskar was developed. A key manuscript describing it by the Maharaja of Aundh is only about 120 years old. The “Namaskar” system that became more popular from the 1920s on collided with calisthenic practices and other physical forms of workout. Indian gymnasiums were a mixture of Indian martial arts, flowing sun salutations, calisthenics with the practice of āsana done after the heavy physical work was done. A giant in this field and the first to research yoga and its effects in scientific experimentation, Swami Kuvalyananda, was asked by the Bombay government of the day (1932) to produce a pamphlet detailing āsana practice and routines for one, the physical development, and two, for one who is looking more at a spiritual approach. Here was presented the “jumping”, burpee-style movement between postures. This was a system that Krishnamcharya fully adopted at the behest of the Maharaja of Mysore as they were planning to open the school there. He refined it in the Surya Namaskar noting specific sequenced steps as “vinyasas” coordinated to a particular movement of breath.
Have you tried the Yogi Burpee Challenge? Watch Paul and the team show you how it's done then give it a go and tag #yogiburpeechallenge
Trivia question: How many vertebrae does the human spine have? You may say 5 but some people have 6, including Paul Dallaghan. If you're looking for something to help ease back pain or simply want to improve strength and mobility of your spine then watch this.
Richard Freeman and Mary Taylor's Samahita Live event “Leaning into the Curve; Grounded, Compassionate and Clear in the Midst of it All” Originally streamed live on April 3rd, 2020
Keep up your home practice with the Samahita Team. Learn Warrior 1, 2 & 3 and transitions for your Vinyasa Yoga Practice. Smooth transitions plus handstand press.
Stuck at home without much to do? Or too much to do but it’s all stressful? Or bored? Or just not interested that much in what has to be done or what could be done? Thinking more about “what if’s”?
Downward Facing Dog - the one posture you are guaranteed to practice, and teach, in a yoga class. Get started, or refreshed, with this video for some tips on practicing and helping others with assists.
Sri. O. P. Tiwari and Paul Dallaghan discuss ongoing scientific research into the practices of yoga and pranayama. Paul explains the vision and motives of conducting this research and how it relates to peoples lives
Lineage and Parampara Paul Dallaghan introduces his teacher Sri O. P. Tiwari. Tiwariji talks about how he was introduced to his teacher Swami Kuvalayananda and the scientific work he undertook with a fundamental belief that yoga has a message for humanity in body, mind and soul. See video
“Why do Yoga Research?”, an interview with Paul Dallaghan, is excerpt from “Looking In”: a documentary into a Yoga Scientific Research Study”, by Sarah Pierroz. In January 2019 Paul Dallaghan designed and undertook one of the most comprehensive controlled research projects on yoga to date, carried out at the original center for yoga research since 1924, Kaivalyadhama Yoga Institute, Lonavla, India.
YogaCoreCycle offers a complete holistic approach for your mind and body. Your health, fitness, and overall wellbeing are supported through a broad spectrum of physical activity, breathwork and mindful meditation practices in a dedicated and natural environment with life-giving delicious food.
Men are overcoming their reluctance to step into the "feminine" world of a yoga class. In the US 28% of yoga practitioners are guys and this is increasing year on year. Many gyms and studios are introducing special classes and some guys are realising how a body-mind practice opens them up to a new experience of life. We have asked three guys to discuss taking the plunge into yoga and enjoying the all-embracing environment of Samahita.
Gill was born in South Africa, and has lived abroad in the UK, Ireland and Asia. She began her international teaching career, working in Inner city London schools, supporting children from challenging backgrounds, then on to Dublin and Yangon. Koh Samui is now her home where she combines her love of yoga and music in this unique transformational place.
The moments before dawn are my golden time. In that space before the sun rises, in the stillness, I can feel the earth taking a deep sigh as the day magically begins to unfold. Sitting in nature, feeling the nourishing sensation of my breath brings me immediately back to my source.
Have you really seen and appreciated the tropical environment of Koh Samui? Ara and Daniel took a trip to a Hin Laad waterfall on Koh Samui to enjoy nature and practice this awesome mobility and strength flow sequence.
Samahita Guest Jason talks about what he discovered at Samahita and why he'll keep coming back!
This video introduces the Centered Yoga Pranayama training. This practice of pranayama is part of a living tradition. Paul has learnt the full practice in a special one-to-one capacity over the past 20 years with Tiwariji
Dr. Al Scopp talks about his early years discovering yoga and being one of the first students to practice with Swami Satchidananda in New York, working at a pioneering neurology lab at Duke university in the 70’s and conducting some of the earliest experiments into biofeedback including testing Swami Satchidananda’s brainwaves and, more recently, conducts anti-aging seminars for medical professionals.
Paul was recently posed some questions on how and why I got into yoga and eventually started Samahita. It has become an interview online and so we reproduce the questions here.
Improve Core Stability and Hip Mobility with this Flow Sequence with Ara Hwang
Tiwariji explains that enthusiasm from inside based on understanding helps lead us to success in yoga.
According to Ayurveda, sattva is the quality of nature that contains balance, peace, harmony, purity and clarity. It is one of the three subtle qualities or ‘gunas’ that exist in all of nature. Anthea's blog gives 5 tips on how to cultivate a satvic state for a healthier, happier and balanced life.
Paul discusses how our practice should support and benefit us as we age and not merely something that we do as a chore. We should be prepared to change our approach so that the practice moves with us as we age.
Sri O. P. Tiwari explains how it is not a matter of saying one food is bad and another good but how we differentiate between food that supports practice and food that does not support it as described in the Hatha Pradipika.
You’re committed, ambitious and competitive. Dedicated to your practice, getting up every morning without fail or taking those 3 classes in a row at the studio. All is well and your friends comment on how much improvement you’ve made until one day you’ve hurt your knee, wrist, lower back and shoulder! Maybe its time to calm things down and reflect on the true motive behind your effort.
The research on sleep and understanding coming from it is increasing every year. Poor quality sleep first and foremost, and then duration of sleep, are considered main culprits behind several disease states. This blog does not plan to write a synopsis of all this wonderful information. Rather, it is a help to address a question recently asked in class, and common everywhere, “I can’t fall asleep … is there a way to breathe and sleep and calm down?”
Watch this video to get an inside view of the Centered Yoga 200 hour Teacher Training. Filmed in-situ with messages from the teaching team and students and a close look at what is on offer here at Samahita!
Watch all that Samahita has to offer. This incredible video by the very talented Gray Bashew imbues the full meaning and feeling of the Samahita experience. We invite you to take another look to remind yourselves, and share with others, just what it is that keeps us all coming back.
Our 15th Anniversary was celebrated with a fantastic party including live performance from Jack Harrison, Nabs and Gill. An awesome show from our delightful Thai staff not to mention a live fire show on the beach.
"Congratulations Samahita - 15 years of excellence is a superb record. Paul Dallaghan's cutting edge teaching is delivered with compassion and humor, ably supported by a team of fine teachers who enable the student to overcome hurdles with skill and gentle care. No doubt Sri Tiwari will also be a great experience. Here like minded students from around the globe share experiences around the dinner table and create a bonding atmosphere so each retreat is memorable. Importantly whether 30 yrs. or 80 yrs. of age or somewhere in between the student leaves inspired to continue along their yoga path. There is no greater compliment."
“Samahita is a home for my soul. Coming here, whether before as a student or now as a teacher, I always feel like my soul is resting but that I’m also growing and developing. It’s a life changing experience for myself and especially my soul.” ~ Ara, Assistant General Manager & Yoga Teacher
Back in the Day 2008 at Yoga Thailand Neil Barker demonstrates the safest method to assist Supta Kurmasana. Often performed dangerously and over forced. Get it right with this video.
The reality is we are in a continuously oppressive, destructive environment. That doesn’t mean to set a negative tone or context; it just means there are numerous forces we have to deal with: environmentally, and through physics and so on. To put yourself in the savasana position requires a complete release of bodily tension, which is not what we allow to happen very much in other moments of our lives whether sitting or standing for example.
When we talk about managing injury, in one sense, just for daily wellbeing, we want to manage this on a body-health-stress level. But the other sense is that the state of mind or personal spiritual progress – in other words your attitude and how you understand things and look at them – is a key component in all of this. It’s not enough to just do it; we need to do it, understand it, and absorb into it.
Feeling stuck and robotic in your Sun Salutations? Watch this video with our Yoga Teacher Ara Hwang to improve your mobility and try some new moves to help with difficult transitions such as chaturanga to upward dog and jumping back / forwards.
Having kids doesn’t necessarily mean losing your yoga practice especially if you’re prepared to make a few adjustments to your routine (you’ll have no choice anyway). Each stage of your Childs development has its own challenges and opportunities for example newborn babies wake up at night but they also nap during the day so that gives you extra time to relax and connect with yourself. Whatever the situation it’s important to find balance of your commitments and your own personal needs. Here are 5 tips to help you cope.
Back in 2012, after almost 20 years of doing asana practice, Paul caught a moment to condense together a mix of asanas across levels with certain transitions. It is more of an artistic display of what the body can do without being competitively strained.
Diets that promote inflammation tend to be high in refined starches, sugar, dairy, saturated and trans-fats. Choosing foods which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fiber from vegetables, and many natural antioxidants and polyphenols actively lower inflammation in the body
Video Archive. June 2010 Paul explains Sutra Neti with the aid of a skeleton detailing the anatomy and process of this kriya.
Paul was interviewed for Yoga Journal China about injuries and yoga practice. As he explains, it is not as straight forward as addressing a body-tissue injury. That is merely one factor. You need to look at injuries brought from outside class and unfortunate injuries occurring in a pose, but also how you approach practice, where your focus is, how the breath fits in with injury prevention, the vital place of the lower abdomen in managing the body and thus any possibility of avoiding injury, and intelligent ways to modify that help you heal and grow instead of worsening the issue or staying stuck. This interview transcript is from the spoken word, so slightly different than when written, and is brought to you in three parts.
Somatic Movement is nothing new. It is, however often bypassed amidst the frenzy of what is “trending” in yoga or fitness to push you to your limits and increase your caloric expenditure. How sad. Somatics do just the opposite. The process of somatic education turns you internally, rather than focusing on external form. Ultimately, we produce more efficient movement, meaning that we actually use less energy. Working intelligently with movement by tuning into the somatic nervous system forces you to move slowly while you learn movement to create healthy neuromuscular patterning.
Although you may only have two or three main meals in a day, there is a good chance you wander off for a snack, coffee or tea at other times. If you think about those snacks, they provide more of a mental break and social purpose than any blood glucose need. (Which is good news seeing as most snacks aren’t that healthy!)
A couple of things should happen when you practice asana. You should enjoy it, as it can both challenge and reward you, and it should support you, and not wear you down. Depending where you are at in practice, it can help cultivate an overall integrated experience on the level of breath and mind.
In yoga classes we are encouraged to keep our mouths closed, breathing only through the nose. Yet this is highly advised off the mat as well, and for several good reasons. The evolution of our systems to partially separate the passage of food and air is sophisticated and well studied.
If you have ever asked why do yoga and fitness? Isn’t my yoga my fitness anyway? What kind of workout goes well with yoga? How to do yoga to fit a workout? Or still don’t know why a longterm yoga practitioner would also embrace other workouts, then please read all, or part, of the following to get an understanding as to the genesis of YogaCoreCycle and how the bigger picture of yoga requires such activity, within moderation.
Yoga, though also physically challenging at times, has a focus to balance nervous activity, teach integrity of posture, to encourage this through stamina development and holding of positions. Some positions are just too complex for the average person or too intricate to be added to a fitness routine, which current yoga approaches try to do.
As I was about to write this introduction I found my mind drift to many of the great wonders and benefits my life has received in these many years in yoga. I happened to just go to Daphne Tse’s pledge site and play her new song, which she sang with us back in July and will again this Christmas. It always stirs my heart. Similar for me is the great music of Jack Harrison, a good Irishman who I have been happy to be part of his music journey out there.
The answer to this is something that evolves over time, with one’s development, as the experiences and insight grows and changes. In the beginning I can’t say why I practiced other than I liked it. I remember saying to myself “this is the most intelligent form of exercise I have ever done”.
Follow and DO as you read. Sit at the edge of your chair. Try to straighten your spine. Put one hand on your navel. Put the other hand on your heart center. Inhale through your nose.
You may say, “but I’m breathing all the time.” True. It’s such a vital function that without it you wouldn’t be reading this. The quality of breathing varies greatly, however, leaving most people seriously undernourished and overstressed.
Consider yoga as just a word, or term, for the process of being internally connected, a light to look at oneself, separate to outside study. One might ask, “what supports such a process?” Hence the many approaches within yoga and spiritual paths in general. My point is that yoga is a term for that, “internal focus and connection”, just as gravity is a term for a certain exerted external force.
Personally I think life is beautiful and great. An underlying understanding from many philosophies is that life is full of suffering. Which it is, especially if you really look at all we go through. However, how do you approach this? I realize the temporariness of life. I am personally going through the difficulties and challenges of life. Yet somehow, everyday, I feel great and very upbeat, from deep within.
This is the beauty of the yoga method and why it is still available today to those interested in looking within. On the surface it goes through popular shifts but at its core it answers the perennial question still haunting mankind: to know thyself. So let practice evolve and change but aim to understand the teachings. Don’t be attached to the techniques nor the teacher, but connect with the teachings.
Paul Dallaghan’s Interview for Inner Peace Conference in Amsterdam: "I was sent away at 16 on my own to work and live on a farm in rural France. Much time was spent in nature, either working or quietly alone. Without me realizing it was a key meditative time. That was the first key transformation for me with a few later key shifts occurring so it is now lived on a daily level."
My last article left you at Sirsasana while I was 27weeks pregnant with twins. I had gained 14kg and was feeling fantastic on the mat and off. That 14kg turned into nearly 30 by full-term and Sirsasana became a calculated risk, but I still felt amazing, for the most part.
Many pregnant women look to start a yoga practice during pregnancy, and although they should go to a Prenatal Yoga class, what happens when they show up to yours? Without the proper knowledge, it can be frightening to glance up at the group when your class is starting to see a woman with a baby on board. Too often, pregnant women are actually ignored in classes, or just told to “skip this one” because the teacher doesn’t know what to do.
A woman experiences two or more (depending on pregnancies) significant hormonal shifts in her life, which can dramatically impact what’s going on for her physically and emotionally when she comes to the mat everyday. If you are teacher, ask yourself… before you adjust someone in an asana, do you take into consideration what tendencies they are predisposed to because of their gender?
Questions that come up in every training and retreat — without fail! -reflect concern about a woman’s monthly cycle. And it is always surprising how many students deal with amenorrhea (absence of periods) or irregular periods.