My 12 Years with Samahita: Affinity and Destiny
Back in 2006 when I was 26 years old traveling in India and thinking about where life would take me next I had a conversation with a yoga teacher (of whom there were plenty). He recommended traveling to Thailand to take Paul Dallaghan’s one month Training course. Paul who? At that point I had no plans to become a yoga teacher but the thought of spending a couple of months in Thailand learning even more about yoga was appealing. So I applied for the course whilst still in India and received an acceptance email shortly thereafter.
After a few weeks back home I set off to Yoga Thailand, as it was then known, excited and with an open mind. Thailand is a beautiful country with equally beautiful people to match and its always a pleasure to be here. On my arrival at YT I found the space charming with a small shala encircled by a few wooden huts next to the quiet beach. A perfect place to spend the following month of intense practice and study.
My first impression of Paul – one particular memory stands out. We were sitting eyes closed patiently waiting to begin our first meeting when Paul crept in unnoticed and began to speak. His voice, much more mature than his age, reminded me of an old Irish priest with an air of authority, groundedness and spiritual depth. It was a voice of sincerity and truth that I would learn to follow and trust. In contrast to this I was also stuck by his humour and playfulness always keeping a lighthearted touch during challenging moments.
This relationship continued as I enrolled on more courses at the original Yoga Thailand and later at Samahita in its current location. Neil Barker was still teaching then and offered excellent training in anatomy that once again has been instrumental in my understanding of teaching asana.
Overall the supportive and educational environment was essential to our development as yoga practitioners and teachers. The experience of immersing in a complete yoga practice with a group of dedicated students and teachers was transformational and set myself and others up with a greater purpose in our lives.
Many of the students from that first course in 2006 have become successful teachers or set up their own yoga businesses. After a year living on Koh Samui, where I met my wife and obtained my first experiences as a teacher, I was invited to Hong Kong by my fellow TT graduate Eva to teach full time. Sometimes it is the people we meet who make the difference and Samahita is a hub of international talent – guests and Staff alike! Sharing rooms has also been an important part of the experience as during each visit I’ve met people who have become life long friends, people with knowledge and experience and a passion for Yoga. This diverse international community of dedicated, compassionate and learned people makes visiting Samahita so valuable and is realised even more during repeat visits. It always feels like home – comfortable and caring with familiar faces.
There is no doubt in my mind that surrendering to the practice and a healthy lifestyle opened up many channels for positive growth and development all of which has been mediated by Samahita and Paul Dallaghan in particular.
As Yoga Thailand grew in popularity, with a reputation for quality and authenticity, new premises were built and was inaugurated with the name Samahita. It was a pleasure to see that all the hard work from Paul and Jutima had facilitated this growth and in many ways was a gift to all returning students. We all appreciated the upgraded accommodation and of course the Shala adorned with inspirational pictures of spiritual seekers and Tiwariji’s lineage. With a greater capacity Samahita offered more trainings including special guests such as Richard Freeman and Mary Taylor and of course O. P. Tiwari. I am grateful to have received the opportunity to study with Paul and Tiwariji regularly for the benefit of my own development as a teacher. As everyone who’s been here knows Tiwari’s and Paul’s teachings in Pranayama is second to none. This is a method rooted in tradition, modernised through scientific study and realised through dedicated practice.
Teaching at Samahita
Being a Samahita regular contributed to my own personal energy and strength as a yoga teacher allowing me to pass this on to my students in Hong Kong and encourage them to visit. Before long I was leading retreats and as many teachers now realise Samahita is the best place in Asia to do so. After 4 years of teaching retreats I joined the Samahita tribe full time moving my family to Thailand as a show of commitment and confidence. It’s a privilege working here teaching on the regular programs, retreats and trainings as Samahita moves ahead and evolves opening up to new visitors who may not originally have planned to take yoga or health retreats.
Samahita has been an immensely important part of my life not merely as a place to learn yoga but as a pivot in my life. Changing the way I think, behave, live and work. I was set up for a new life and destiny took its course to put me in the right place at the right time. I am eternally grateful for all the teachings and practices passed down by Paul and Tiwari. May all the many visitors continue to benefit in equal measure and the Samahita family will endeavour to deliver this.