Dear Yogis and Yoginis,
Since this is my first blog, I will begin with a brief introduction about myself.
I am Chris, the founder of Ashiyana. I have several passions in life, such as designing beautiful places and spaces, as well as anything water related.... but perhaps my greatest passion, outside of family and friends, is "wellbeing". This sphere of life has always fascinated me. My mother taught my brother, sister and me how to swim when we were very young, whilst my father used to talk about the importance of fresh fruit and vegetables, and has had a morning exercise routine throughout his life. I was never much interested in drinking or smoking, and I have always been keen on health and fitness. Indeed I remember thinking at the age of nineteen that I would create some kind of "centre for health and wellbeing" at some point in my life.
I had heard of Ayurveda, and so when people asked me what I was going to do, I used to say that I would open an Ayurvedic Centre somewhere in the tropics - I already had visions of gently swaying palm trees :) I had no idea just how prophetic were those early dreams of mine.
As fate would have it, the twists and turns of my life odyssey took me into the food business very early on, where I created a concept much like "Pret a Manger", at exactly the same time as them in fact. This was an invaluable period of learning about food, healthy eating and the hospitality industry.
Throughout my thirties, I became fascinated with everything alternative, and was, at one point or another, indulging in homeopathy, acupuncture, re-birthing, humanistic and integrative psychotherapy, and various other forms of the healing arts. It was at this time that I also entered the world of yoga. A formative period at Fausto Maria Dorelli's Innergy Centre in north-west London offered me an inspiring and enlightening view of the full expression of yoga - not merely asana, but also Karma Yoga (selfless service), Bhakti Yoga (devotion) and Jnana Yoga (selfknowledge). During this time, I took a yoga teacher training with the Sivananda school, a beautiful experience consisting of an intense immersion into a yogic way of life for a few weeks.
At the age of thirty six I met the man who has perhaps most influenced me over the last years - Satyananda - and I have sat in regular silent satsang retreats with him ever since. Gradually I have learnt to trust life, and to realize that all the answers I need are within me.
My creative expression has burgeoned, both in the form of the Ashiyana Yoga and Spa Villages, as well as the other elements and projects which are contained within, or have resulted from, that manifestation.
I remember seeing a You Tube video last year, about a movement called - "The Slow Revolution" - this really touched me. Firstly because I remember vividly in my early thirties the presence of a quiet but persistent voice within, telling me that I needed to slow my life down; and secondly because, as I travel across the globe, I can't help but notice just how life grows ever more complex and fastpaced.
What I see and feel, deeply within my being, is that life on planet earth today is both exciting and filled with great opportunity, and yet in equal measure it is confusing and full of suffering for many. The need for a "slow revolution" grows correspondingly. This 'slowing down' will enormously benefit many who inhabit the urban jungle, and in turn will cause a ripple of well-doing towards those less fortunate amongst us who need our support and help.
By this I include all of the beautiful initiatives which social media and e-commerce offer us, as well as many others manifesting around the globe today.
I shall say much more about this in future blogs, since I am working on a couple of projects which enter the arena of what I call - "For the Love of Business".
I am passionate about inviting our guests at Ashiyana to slow down, relax deeply and remember what it is to flow with life. I do not say this as one who's life is a never ending magic carpet ride through blissful and calm lands, but rather as one who is deeply grateful for having been able to create the life that I desire.
During the summer period, when the Goa centre is closed, I have spent many hours contemplating what we can offer at Ashiyana to invite beautiful journeys of relaxation and inspiration for our guests. Out of this process, we have created the Ashiyana Yoga Teacher Training, the Detox Retreats, the new Spa and Treatment Centre, and so on.
Most recently, we have grown our management team, not just because of the newcentres that we will be opening, but also in order to become more organized and efficient, so that our guest's stays with us are that much more pleasurable. Those of you visiting us this coming season or up-coming seasons will hopefully experience this positive development.
I often feel like there are already many Yoga teachers and therapists out there in the world, but I also believe that the world needs plenty more who teach and practice with real compassion. What is perhaps required is that they become more specialized, by concentrating on their unique talent or passion. Nobody would doubt that a teacher training is an essential grounding for being a yoga teacher, but I believe that it is equally beneficial for deepening your practice.
I frequently refer to our teacher training as a "life training" and not just a teacher training, particularly because of the way that we have designed the course. As one student said recently, "In lively philosophical discussion, conventional notions were often challenged, and new perspectives presented - but not pushed". I like this comment since it demonstrates a point which I feel is very important in life today - that we not take things for granted and merely follow the "status quo". But instead we ask ourselves, "What do I feel about this....what does my inner voice of wisdom have to say on this matter". In other words, that we rise to the possibility of being self-responsible and less dependent on others, and their doctrines.
I believe that the skills and knowledge required for development as a yoga teacher, perhaps involving teaching 1:1, yoga therapy, or conducting personalized assessments and programs, necessitate specialized training.
A 2008 study by Research and Markets - U.S. stated, "One significant trend to emerge is the use of yoga as medical therapy; according to the study, 6.1 percent, or nearly 14 million Americans, say that a doctor or therapist has recommended yoga to them.....in addition, nearly half (45 percent) of all adults agree that yoga would be beneficial if they were undergoing treatment for a medical condition.
In recognition of this, Kaitlin Quistgaard, editor in chief of Yoga Journal, (the most distributed yoga magazine today) said - "Yoga as medicine represents the next great yoga wave.....in the next few years, we will be seeing a lot more yoga in health care settings and more yoga recommended by the medical community, as new research shows that yoga is a valuable therapeutic tool for many health conditions".
"Yoga Therapy can cure every disease and disorder, even cancer" says Subhash Sharma, a yoga therapist who spent 19 years in a Gurukul in Rajasthan and is also a post-graduate from the Kasturba Medical College, Manipal.
I have therefore decided to expand our training program with a series of modules (including - Ayurveda, Yoga Therapy, Iyengar Yoga, Acro-Yoga and Thai Yoga Massage) that follow on from our training, and which will combine to become a 500hr Yoga Alliance Certified Course. We will begin, next season, with a Vinyasa Flow Course with Linda d'Antal, our head asana teacher, as well as a Thai Yoga Massage Course with Christian Gentile, one of our most gifted healers:
All of the details for these courses as well as our regular Ashiyana 200hr Yoga Alliance registered trainings are available here.
I hope that you are having a beautiful summer, wherever you are, and I truly hope that you are living your dreams more and more every day.
Founder, Ashiyana Yoga and Spa Villages