The sun slowly rose, birds chanted and the pink sky emanated everywhere.
Surrounded by the majestic mountains of southern Andalucia in Spain, we were in paradise; yes, an oasis of natural wonders, charm and tranquility in Casa de Laila, on the hillside of Alhaurín el Grande.
Hearts were fully open to sva-dhyaya—self-study, self-transformation, self-observation, simply selfless effort to let go and enjoy to the fullest.
Luckily, we were the first group to practice at the new Caña Shala—the yoga room, artisanally hand-made under the guidance of Canya Viva using more than 40,000 organic cañas, local bamboos, sand and natural fibers…a true architectural majesty!
The practice initiated with oil pulling, an Ayurvedic mouth cleansing for oral health, done on an empty stomach by rinsing the mouth with organic sesame oil during 15 to 20 minutes.
We started by the preparatory sequence of Kriyas and Pranayama as taught by Sri O.P. Tiwari, Director of the Kaivalyadhama Center in Lonalva, India. Some of the sequence included:
- Uddiyana bandha: raising of the diaphagram were the muscular contraction of the diaphagram and the ribs enable the spiritual force to rise up.
- Brahma Mudra : symbolizing the four heads of Brahma.
- Simha Mudra : mudra of the lion which exercises the pharyngeal muscles.
- Jivha bandha : or tongue lock which exercises the tongue by lifting it fully and pressing upon the palate.
- Kapalabhati: an advanced exercise for yoga cleansing and purification to make the “skull shine”. It is indeed fully energizing and able to clear mucous from the lungs, yielding many benefits.
- Ujjayi: victorious breathing by inhaling and exhaling through the nose while making the sound of the ocean accompanied by,
- Nadi Shodhana: or alternate nasal breathing, without retentions.
- Sheeta Li: inhaling by the mouth with the tongue curled and exhaling by both nostrils with retentions for some practitioners.
- Brahamari: the BEE-humming powerful in cooling and calming the mind, especially for releasing any anger, anxiety, or frustration.
After a lovely melody of bee humming we transitioned into a silent meditative state, that prepared us to begin the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga class. The seven day progressive program was tailored to all levels, from beginners, intermediate and advanced, to Mysore style practitioners.
After each practice, we covered a relevant Sanskrit word of the Yoga Sutras that related to the topic of the daily Satsang. In the afternoons we worked on the Yoga Art project using the Satsang reflections, as an inspiration for a journal entry, as well as colorful brushstrokes on a cotton canvas, which by the end turned out to precious works of art.
Brunch was served till noon and we had a lovely refresher before the evening session.
The evening program covered Transformational Yoga as taught by Swami Vidyanand at the SriMa International School of Transformational Yoga. Using body cleansing techniques and sound activation, the practice aim at working the four bodies including the physical, Pranic, mental and psychic body. The session ended with a magical Yoga Nidra—guided relaxation.
The evenings were enlightened by the delicate vegetarian meals of Anne Marie followed by a Kirtan—mantra chanting. We had a lovely birthday celebration, as well as a very special Agni Ceremony—sacred ritual used in purifying fire dedicated to burn out attachments, let go and create more free mind space to allow the new lotus flower to blossom and brighten our paths.
On the very last evening we had the pleasure of taking a Cha Cha class led by one of the participants, a ballroom serious dancer! It was a total blast.
Casa de Laila offers an intimate and coquettish glamping experience—glamourous camping as well as exquisite vegetarian meals, hosted by sweet hearts Anne Marie and Benjamin. It is a not to miss spot in the South of Spain, a place where love, passion and dedication can be sensed in the air and all around.
The week was filled up with contagious magic; our souls were richly nourished and happiness fully took over our senses. My heart feels purely at bliss with the heavy doses of love and inspirations from this amazing group. Namaste.
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Ed: Sara Crolick
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July’s Full Moon in Capricorn: The Heart wants what it Wants. The 4 Stages of a Good Divorce. How to Love a Woman who Scares You. Our Soulmates are Rarely Who We Expect. I Still Think of You. Men, Let’s Stop Fooling Ourselves: Size Matters. To the One Who Tried to Break Me. An Open Letter to the Fixers. How your Stored Memories in the Amygdala can lead to PTSD. How My Sister’s Death Transformed my Self-Perception.