Parmatma is offering a beautiful restorative yoga retreat at Casa Om, June 1-7. Blogger Kathryn E. Livingston asked this wise and gentle yogini a few questions about the retreat as well as about why it’s so essential to relax, restore, and make time for ourselves. This nourishing yoga retreat, combining Kundalini and restorative yoga practices, is open to all levels.
Q: Tell me a bit about yourself and your retreat.
A: I’ve been dancing on the path of yoga since l996. I’ve been teaching Kundalini yoga since l998. And in addition, I also took a lot of training as a yoga therapist and studied Hatha yoga, Restorative Yoga as well as yoga Nidra. In this weeklong retreat we’ll be focusing on rejuvenation and healing. It’s my experience that because the nature of Kundalini yoga works so much on the psyche and the subconscious as well as the energetic anatomy- the nadis and the chakras—the practice clears deeply held densities, that frees up space in the physical body. So I’m bringing in a couple of different things in my retreat. We’ll have a Kundalini yoga practice and a group meditation every day with a specific focus. And in addition most of our second practices are going to be either Hatha yoga based or yoga nidra or restorative yoga to bring in some other components, because the true gift of asana really is to create a comfortable seat for meditation. I find that the two work great together. I don’t intermingle them in a single class, but I know when you’re diving in and clearing density from the psyche there’s so much more space available in the physical body. So why not explore the body and mind in multiple ways!
Q: What do you think of practicing multiple styles of yoga?
A: I really think in this day and age that people need a combination of techniques and that it’s not uncommon to use the tools from different systems to help ourselves. For most people, I think, personal practice varies through the years and I’m definitely more of a meditator now in the style of Kundalini yoga and awareness techniques and consciousness. I’ve been studying Sat Nam Rasayan with Guru Dev Singh since 1998. So that’s the big component for me. That’s my foundation. I feel Kundalini Yoga and Hatha Yoga go really nicely hand in hand.
Q: Could you comment on why restoration is so important? We have so much stress these days.
A: I’m on staff for a thermography group as a self-care specialist. What’s really become evident to me more so in the last ten years, is that people don’t relax. They don’t know how to relax. They don’t understand the benefits of it, really. There’s a continuum between unconsciousness and complete awareness, and along the way toward falling asleep is relaxation. Oftentimes in classes or practices students just fall asleep in shavasana because they are so depleted. They’re drawn in so many different directions nowadays; they end up just skipping that part of relaxation that is needed to rejuvenate and restore, because they’re so exhausted. I love Yoga Nidra; I love restorative yoga for ways to help someone get into that relaxed state without a lot of effort. It’s so important because we’re always doing, doing, doing.
Q: It’s so difficult for most people. It takes a while to learn.
A: Or to unlearn! To unlearn the running. Often at my retreats people realize, “Wow, I haven’t relaxed in a long time.” Sometimes, in years.
Q: What will an average day be like? Or maybe there won’t be any “average” days?
A: I’m always into extraordinary and amazing days! But an average day of extraordinary and amazing will be that we’ll do an optional early morning meditation where we’ll practice a 31-minute meditation, probably the same one for the entire week to set the tone and work on something very specific for the group. Then we’ll have some light fruit and tea followed by a morning practice of an hour and a half to two hours. Then we’ll have brunch; there will be plenty of free time. We do have some scheduled trips. We’ll either go to Tulum or swimming in Sacred Cenotes one day. And another day we’re going to Chichen Itza. My plan is to spend sunset out there. As we move into June the serpent becomes apparent on the pyramid leading up to Summer Solstice. That will be a highlight we will be able to enjoy. Then we’ll have an afternoon or an evening practice most days as well.
Q: Have you been to Casa Om?
A: No, but I know Siri Om and Hargobind and I just find them to be people of high caliber and they have a good eye for attention to detail. It looks like a perfect place for what I’d like to offer.
Q: Where are you based now?
A: I’m in California in Sonoma County and I’ve had a studio up here for about seven years. I spent a number of years in India.
Q: Did you study directly with Yogi Bhajan?
A: Yes, I did. I had the opportunity to serve him a few times and I did any training that was a Master’s Touch program, any of the level two modules that he was at.
Q: What was that like?
A: At the time it was so much information that I’m still integrating in a way. I think that’s true of any of his teachings; at any point in time, something clicks into place and you can really receive more, like if you watch some of the old videos and lectures. It was powerful and profound.
Q: What is your Hatha practice like?
A: I was trained in classical Ashtang yoga–the traditional eight-limbed system. But I have a heavy emphasis on Yoga Therapy and therapeutics and I like innovative and creative ways to open the body so that you can experience a much more space in traditional asana. I’m very much interested in joint integrity and alignment and strengthening, and I’m not afraid of props. I think they can be very helpful. I’m really a person who loves to share some of the gifts that I’ve received along this path and a lot of it is that gift of relaxation and slowing down inside even when life is going by. I know from offering programs like this in the past just how much people do release in one week. It’s really amazing.
Q: What will the participants come away with?
A: Recognizing how to relax, and bringing relaxation into daily life. Often as yoga practitioners we hear yoga is not what you do on the mat it’s what you take off the mat and into your life. It’s the same thing with relaxation. We want to be able to embody that deep sense of wholeness and being at ease with everything going around and on in our lives, so that once you come away from the week it’s not gone the first day you go back to work.
Q: It’s a tool you can keep with you.
Q: How can we find out more about you and the retreat?
A: Just go to Rejuvenationtravel.com