There’s something about Yoga Thailand that draws people back again and again. The friendly staff who remembers you even though your last visit may have been 8 months ago, the warm sun and humidity that never change, the semi-private beach resting in the rural parts of Koh Samui, the delicious vegetarian food, the yoga vibe, the great teachers…and oh, did I mention deadly mosquitoes?
So here I am again, after my TT in June/July. I am back again, to my second home, as if nothing’s changed the past 8 months (well, they did build an extra beach shala to accomodate to growing number of visitors here). There are a few familiar faces too, three from my TT group, two who are here for Tiwari’s pranayama course, and one who officially works here now on the Wellness Team (they serve as advisors for people on the Detox). It feels good to be away from city life, it feels good to wake up to the sounds of crickets and birds (and waking up at 5am isn’t as hard), it feels good to be sweating like crazy on your mat in this humidity, and then have the sea wind blow your hair dry after your shower and while having your breakfast. It feels good to walk in flip-flops, and more often than not on your barefoot. It feels good to meet all these lovely yogis from around the world, hearing about how they fell in love with the practice and how it’s changed them. It feels good to be around people who doesn’t think you’re crazing for waking up at 5am every morning. It feels good to practice alongside these people, breathing, pranayama-ing, bending ourselves. It feels good to be away from baking for awhile, to allow my muscles to rest, and to just be by myself.
But, more about me later. Let’s talk about Sri O. P. Tiwari, teacher of pranayama, yoga therapy, philosophy, and student of Swami Kuvalayananda. He’s the teacher of my teacher.
The focus of this retreat is pranayama and Buddhist philosophy. Today he explained why philosophy even existed. Without philosophy, people wouldn’t know how to live, to achieve goals and see positive results. The society is not made for philosophy, rather a set of philosophical values are made to fit within the society. When one set of philosophy is outdated and is collapsing the society, a new one naturally arrives to regain order of the society. That is how Buddhism came in–a set of values of order over the ancient superstitions.
He then went on to talk about Divinity, how people are wrong when they try to achieve it. Because, we are all essentially divine, according to the Yoga Sutras. We are all created by the Divine, by Brahma. Everything we see, hear, touch, smell is divine. We are all like a diamond covered in dust or dirt, waiting to be cleaned and to sparkle. We just need a little more awareness, a little more understanding, a little less ignorance and misconception to find that Divine One within ourselves.
One student asked a question regarding ahimsa and the yogi vegetarian diet, as there are alot of debates whether ahimsa in the YS refers to purely vegetarian diet. Ultimately, Tiwariji, opened out his hands and chuckled, “I am very open.”
“You see,” he proceeded to explain, “everything has life.” So when we eat we are always taking something away, whether they be plants, vegetables, legumes, beef, fish, chicken, lamb, etc. In order to survive, you will never be able to live in 100% nonviolence. We should nevertheless “save the most, and kill the least.” When we eat, we should bring our awareness to our eating, “why do we eat?” Or why am I eating this right now? Am I hungry? Is the desire to eat coming from a physical need to consume this item for the wellbeing of my body? Or is it purely a mental desire? In other words, do not impose anything not coming from within. Each person needs a different diet, and vegetarian isn’t a one size fit all diet, so what we can do is experiment. Experiment eating different kinds of food and see how it affects your mind and body.
Here, Paul cut in and talked about his experience with vegetarianism. He was vegetarian for 3 years, simply because he had changed his way of thinking through yoga practices. But then one day, he started feeling the urge to eat some meat, and he did. He kept it up for 2 weeks and then his body started repelling it. No meat for him, he decided. So he tried fish, and that worked out fine, and in fact improved his wellbeing. Nonetheless, he always feels bad for eating fish, given the conditions fish are in now (overfishing, by-catch issues, etc.). To this, I strongly related to, because I had also been vegetarian for 3 years without much desire to eat any fish or meat. And then one day, I felt like my body needed that extra source of protein, and I started introducing fish back into my diet. It was causing suffering in my body and mental states (the craving!) for rejecting the fish, so eventually I gave in. I try to limit my fish-eating to once or twice a week though, because, as Paul said, I feel guilty.
So while I’m at YT, I figured I could try a detox. This is my first “real” detox under professional care, so I decided to keep it simple with the 5-day kitcheri detox. On top of that, I have to take a bajillion capsules, from triphala, to vitamin C, probiotics, Ayurveda herbs, etc., and drink detox juices, psyllium husk, juice with amino acids….All in all it’s been a good first day. I have had my first enema experience this morning (look it up if you dare, but don’t say I didn’t warn you!) which went quite successfully. Also had to test my body pH via sticking the pH paper in my pee. I also get lots of special treatments like massages and infrared sauna. And I still get to have my daily coconut juice (this is one of the other reasons I came back to YT for). I did, however, grabbed a little piece of raw cheesecake that was the dessert for dinner tonight to put in my fridge and save for 5 days later. Everybody’s been raving about the raw cheesecake that I just have to have it…in 5 days.