Blogger Kathryn E. Livingston was curious to find out more about the upcoming yoga retreat at Casa Om with Elizabeth Falk and Rachhpal Gill. The dynamic duo will offer both Vinyasa yoga and Bikram yoga classes at their upcoming retreat, May 25-31, 2014 at Casa Om.
Q: What’s the focus of your retreat?
A: We’re going to do Vinyasa yoga and a Bikram yoga retreat; we’ll be practicing both kinds of yoga. My friend Rachhpal Gill is coming; we’ve done quite a bit of Bikram training together. He’s going to be mainly doing Bikram. I just finished my advanced Vinyasa teacher training in India so I’m excited to bring back my energy and the information I learned there.
Q: So you’ll be doing the Vinyasa and he’ll be teaching the Bikram?
A: Pretty much. I might teach a Bikram class here or there as well.
Q: Do most people enjoy doing both?
A: I love my Bikram yoga practice and all my training. But Bikram is always the same 26 postures, so sometimes it’s nice to mix it up a bit with Vinyasa. I wanted to explore some different things, like inversions.
Q: Where did you do your training?
A: I was in Rishikesh and I was also in Goa. I also did some Vinyasa training in Bali.
Q: How did you meet Rachhpal?
A: We did our Bikram yoga teacher training together in 2008 in Acapulco, Mexico.
We also did our advanced Bikram training together in Barcelona in 2010.
Q: So you haven’t seen him since 2010?
A: We communicate frequently and when I travel he covers for me. Rachhpal is like a traveling, nomad, gypsy kind of yogi so he travels everywhere. We’re always in communication but I haven’t seen him in a while.
Q: This will be a fun reunion for both of you.
Q: Have you been to Casa Om?
A: Not yet, but I’m going there in April prior to the retreat so I’ll be there one time. I chose Casa Om because I’m a teacher at Bikram Yoga Bethesda for Siri Om and I’ve heard so many wonderful things about Casa Om, and several of my friends who are teachers have had retreats there. I’m really excited to bring a bunch of students and have my own retreat there too.
Q: What will be the main take-away for the students?
A: A greater understanding of their practice. We’ll have workshops in which we’re going to dissect a lot of these postures. Most of the students who will be coming will be Bikram yoga practitioners. So they will take away from this workshop a deeper knowledge of all the postures and the correct alignment and also what the postures are good for, how they heal your body, how they strengthen your body.
Q: I understand Rachhpal is big on breath work?
A: Yes, he’s an expert. He has a lot to bring to the table and I’m eager to hear the information that he will share.
Q: Tell me about your part in the retreat.
A: In addition to the regular practice I’ll be spending a lot of time studying breathing. Breathing is the most important part of yoga. Everybody knows it brings oxygen to the body, but it also brings life force– prana. I will explain the difference between Hatha and Raja yoga, discuss the philosophy of yoga, and perhaps cover the ten most important yoga sutras. I will place more emphasis on breathing than the postures.
Q: What is your background?
A: I came from India, where I got my masters degree in biology. Then I got another masters in computer science at Montclair State in New Jersey. I got into business and rental properties but then a friend gave me a book about Bikram yoga. I had never heard of it before, and it took me six months to find a Bikram studio. At that time, in 2007, there was no studio near me in South Carolina. So the first-class I ever had was in 2008 in Toronto. When I came back I found a studio in Asheville, North Carolina. I started driving every weekend four and a half hours to practice. In time, I went to the training. Now for two and a half years I’ve been traveling around giving workshops and classes. I’ve been to 46 studios so far.
Q: Where have you traveled recently?
A: I went to Norway last year, and am going backing again this July and to Sweden. I’ve been to Mexico. Mostly I cover Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and I’ve been to the Maryland area. In April I’m going to Canada, to Vancouver and the Seattle, Washington areas. I stay on the road a lot.
Q: How would you describe your teaching?
A: I am dialogue driven teacher and my effort is always to put 100% of my energy into teaching the class. I am very compassionate.
Q: What will people come away with from the retreat?
A: I will give them, number one, why the breath is so important, and how to move the prana in your body. There are two kinds of blockages in the body; one is the biochemical, which we clear by sweating and stretching and the second is energy blockages; these blockages can be overcome if your mind is on the breathing. It’s very important to control your breathing in the postures.
Q: Tell me a little more about the breath.
A: Either you control the breath first to control the mind or you control the mind to control the breath. Sometimes we are upset and we say okay, sit down, and take a deep breath. Sometimes we are out of breath so we try to calm our mind. They go hand in hand. But in Hatha yoga the emphasis is to control the breath first, and then you control the mind. If you study the 8 limbs of yoga, first you have postures—asana– then you control your breath, which ultimately leads to control of senses. Breath is the bridge between your mind, body, and soul. So this is how sometimes I start teaching my class: “If you can calm your mind you can control your breath. If you can control your breath you can control your postures.”
Q: Sounds fascinating!
A: I’m really looking forward to it.