On a Yoga Retreat in Thailand you can practice more or less postural alignment. The traditional core of all Yoga practice is liberation (moksha) from suffering. In Phuket at Dharana we practice internal Yogas of the mind. We also offer daily Asana (Postural) practice to realign the body properly in order to support practice of silent contemplation and meditation. Meditation is definitely the main part of a Dharana Retreat but physical Yoga practice is offered daily. Below you can see one of the classic Yogic systems:
Ashtanga, The 8 Limbs of Patanjali
Ashtanga is not - as we often assume - a trademark, a new invention or a closed system of differing postures. Nowadays Yoga is often practiced as a superficial set of stretches. That has its benefits, however it is not entirely correct to label such a practice "Yoga". Here at the Dharana Retreat Center in Phuket Yoga classes are offered daily and complement this practice with all the other limbs as well.
1 Yama - The five Abstentions
We follow this principle strongly by not harming any insects, animals and human beings either directly or indirectly, mentally, verbally or physically. Ahimsa means to completely abstain from all forms of harm even towards yourself.
At the retreat you are allowed to speak and interact with each other. Any interaction whether verbally or non-verbally has to be truthful. That means we avoid deception of any kind and that includes deceiving yourself. The deepest form of truthfulness arises from knowing as it sees things as they are.
By not desiring anything from anyone else we express deep satisfaction with what is and how it is. A person being free from desire is a satisfied person. Furthermore, a mind led by covetousness starts to collect obstacles for meditation practice in the form of constant distraction. We follow this rule by practicing mindfulness.
Sexual abstinence preserves life-force and strengthens the mind energetically. The added energy can be used to heal the body and improve meditation practice very much. That's why we practice abstinence during our retreats. Try it and you will feel immediately how your energy levels and your mental clarity will increase.
Living a simple life does not only guard you from complications and problems, it also makes meditation practice much easier. The person being satisfied with little will easily advance spiritually. That's why we practice letting go of possessions by letting go of attachment. Here at the retreat you will learn to truly seize the day by surrendering completely to every moment.
2 Niyama - The five Observances
Shaucha: Mental and physical purity
A clean body and a clean surrounding puts the mind at ease and enables one to focus on the most important tasks swiftly. Also a clean surrounding reflects a clean heart and it works the other way round as well. That's why we offer daily room service and urge you to keep your accommodation as clean as possible.
Being simple and peaceful, satisfied with little is crucial if you want to tap into the spiritual domain. An overly unsatisfied and materialistic person will meet nothing but problems and difficulties during a retreat. We practice this limb by living relatively simple and without any gadgets but mainly by completely letting go of any need for distraction.
Tapas: Austerity and physical discipline while cultivating mental control
We practice this part later during the retreat and use it to cultivate patience, endurance and insight. There will be some specialized exercises that help you to increase insight and reach deeper levels of meditation.
Svadhyaya: Study the Vedic scriptures
We don't study any scriptures at the retreats, so we don't fulfill this need. Ven. Ajahn Chah said several times that the best book to study is the heart - so we keep it that way. You will receive a lot of teachings daily and this will be more than enough. However, studying scriptures is important as well so that's why we offer a Meditation blog with special information about scriptures and free books. That way you can continue to study with us even when you are back home already.
Ishvarapranidhana: Worship of God (Ishvara)
We don't worship any gods or supreme energies other than the power of Mindfulness, Wisdom, Concentration and Insight but we still stick to this rule because in Hindu-Mythology Ishvara is that energy which fills everything. Ishvara creates the world and enters into everything - just like transcendent awareness does.
3 Asana - Physical Postures and discipline of the body
|There is a Yoga-Asana class every day at 16:00 to energize the body and make it easier for the mind to enter deeper states of meditation. Yoga Asana practice has always been a wonderful friend of meditators all over the world. It increases freshness and mental clarity and decreases dullness and laxity. |
4 Pranayama - Control of Breath
|Some of the basic meditation techniques we teach will involve exercises known to purify our Prana (energy, life-force). These exercises are very important and strengthen the mind a great deal. Control of our life-force is the ability to control mind and breath. That's what you will learn mostly during later stages of the retreat and during the beginning.|
5 Pratyahara - Withdrawal of the Consciousness from the Senses
|When we practice concentration techniques we will work on this phenomenon intensively. Once the mind gathers within, the consciousness naturally withdraws from our senses. However we don't force this process. It is a side effect of correct practice belonging to the Buddhist training of absorptions (Jhana). |
6 Dharana - Concentration
|The intensive practice of concentration using external as well as internal objects to gather and bundle the mind is of great importance to our retreats. Carried by awareness, the mind will find it easy to slip into deeply satisfying and peaceful states of concentration. The techniques we use will lead to such deep states. Dharana is the stillness of a waveless surface of a lake being interrupted by occasional ripples. |
7 Dhyana - Steadfast Meditation
|During our retreats we train the mind to abide with the object of meditation until we reach a state of uninterrupted awareness. This is the state of Dhyana - uninterrupted mindfulness revolving around the object of meditation. Within the meditation session it is the mind abiding with the object of concentration uninterruptedly.|
8 Samadhi - Oneness with the Object of Meditation
|The pinnacle of concentrative meditation. In states of Samadhi the object of meditation and the meditating mind become one. The oneness is clearly realized and directly experienced. On top of that the mind will abide in utmost serenity accompanied by specific physical symptoms. As we practice concentrative meditation, we can say with confidence that we fulfill most of the practices suggested by Patanjali's eight limbs here at the retreat.|
Are we a Yoga Retreat?
We do offer daily Yoga classes during our retreats and follow the eight limbs practically. However we are not a traditional Yoga Retreat following the ancient Vedic teachings with a rigorous schedule of Asana and all the other necessary practices. A real Yoga Retreat would follow through with Hinduist rituals and Yogic practices such as fasting etc. We don't do that. For all those who enjoy some regular Yoga-Asana classes to keep body and mind fit during a meditation retreat we are the first choice though.