High-Intensity Yoga and Meditation Retreat
October 31st till November 4th
Retreat Schedule: The five-day retreat promises to be physically challenging, intellectually stimulating, and poetically inspiring. The guided practice of simultaneous “doing, sensing and observing” will be systematically organized and framed within the vision of the consciousness-expanding Siva Sutras.
Fee & payment options: The fee for the five-day retreat is Rs 22,000. This includes all meals, accommodation on a twin-share basis, plus content. You may wire the money (bank details provided below), or else pay by cash or cheque (in favour of Studio Abhyas).
Group Travel: If you wish to travel on an overnight train with the group then please let us know ASAP. We will depart on the night of 30/10 to Pathankot/Chakki Bank and then take a cab to Sidhbari in the early morning of 1st. The return from Pathankot will be on the night of 4/11. Flying to Dharamsala (Gaggal) is also an option.
Please come prepared to Practice, Study and Reflect.
A Note on the Retreat:
Modern Yoga has essentially become an indiscriminate mix of Patanjala ideals and Hatha methods, concepts and techniques. Though the two share commonalities, they don’t flow into each other seamlessly, in fact, in some manner they can be even said to be incongruous to each other. Considering, that Yoga by definition implies clarity or distinction, kaivalyam, this blurring of very specific positions gives rise to a general vagueness that is antithetic to Yoga. It is for this reason that we, at Abhyas, are committed to serious enquiry into the philosophical schools that Patanjal and Hatha Yoga emerge out of, namely Samkhya and Tantra respectively.
Our last retreat, in May, was devoted to the study of the Samkhyakarika, the earliest existing Samkhya text (4th century). The aim of this retreat was to understand the “rational” philosophy upon which Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras are premised. Samkhya occupies itself purely with the organization of material reality and offers us a system to methodically distil matter unto spirit. Moored in the materiality of the five elements, it offers a navigable grid for attention to traverse between the extremes of the gross and the super-subtle. Continuing in the Samkhya mode, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali offer a distilling practice that promises the seeker a recognition of his/her mula (essence) and an occupation of swarupa, the “distinct-self”. The profundity of Yoga lies in its dual nature of being both a practice of “doing” as well as simultaneous “seeing”, i.e. it does not only involve a process of distilling the gross to its subtlest essence, but also warrants a symbiotic observation of this percolation. Therefore, the role of drstu or the inner-seer is central to the Samkhya Yoga project. And this was precisely the focus of our last retreat: to create a poised space for unperturbed inner-seeing within the rigor of asana practice.
The upcoming retreat will be sequel to the Samkhya retreat. This time, after a brief recap of the Samkhya philosophy, the focus will veer to the study of the Siva Sutra, a Tantric Saiva text which views the body as the vehicle of consciousness. Tantra both builds upon and radicalises the Samkhya model by introducing into it the factor of free-will or iccha shakti, thus it will be the role of responsible-autonomy in practice that will be explored. The Siva Sutra is a short and evocative text that inspires visualisation, moreover, its format and language is relatively simple and thus affords an intimate engagement. Our daily routine at the retreat, apart from a rigorous asana and pranayama practice, will include meditations based upon the Siva Sutra; we will also chant the sutras every evening and hope that by the end of the five days each participant can chant this highly suggestive text by rote.
The asana routine during this retreat will be precise, rigorous and intense, with a very strong focus on building endurance, strength and litheness. The practice will strictly follow the BARPS method devised by Navtej Johar (BARPS being an acronym for the five progressive steps of asana, i.e. bracing, aligning, appropriate rotating of joints, poising of breath, and finally fulsomely stretching in mindful asana. The retreat will commence with an introductory BARPS session that will explain the method in detail, and how it may be applied to enhance asana, pranayama and meditation practice.