Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat – 2016
January 7-9, 2016–A perfect 72 degrees and crystal blue water greeted us as we stepped into our own zen paradise at the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat Bahamas on Paradise Island. 97-year-old yoga master Tao Porchon-Lynch was invited to this garden of eden to share her wisdom and I joined to assist in the yoga workshops and moderate two evening programs.
Sivananda provides an immersion into the practices of a yogic lifestyle with a daily schedule of yoga, meditation and philosophical study that starts at 5:30am and ends at 10pm. Located a five-minute boat ride from Nassau, the Ashram shares a pristine beach with the large Atlantas Paradise Island Resort–an interesting juxtaposition of luxurious decadence and spiritual discipline. The daily vegetarian meals at 10am and 6pm were lovingly created by volunteer Karma yogis and simply delightful, particularly the homemade bread. I thought I may detox a bit but that was not happening.
They put us up in a garden room–a quaint cabin with two single beds and private bathroom. As Tao unpacked, she laughingly revealed a carry-on case almost entirely full of high heels making note that she was prepared for Ashram living. That’s a modern yoga master!! Since Tao was scheduled on the program the second evening, we got a chance to explore visiting the Boutique and taking in the beauty of the grounds.
On the evening of the 8th, it seemed like the entire Ashram of 200+ people came out for Satsang. My original yoga training was at Integral Yoga Institute in New York which is the lineage of Swami Satchidananda, a student of Swami Sivananda–so I felt right at home. In the Sivananda tradition, there is meditation and chanting before the main discussion. Our Conversation with a Master talk was the featured event and as usual Tao set the place abuzz.
The next day, Tao taught yoga at noon and then I moderated another evening Satsang discussion with her. It wasn’t all work. When Tao got up bright and early the next day she said she wanted to walk on the beach. That was music to my ears! I had already explored the sands the last two days so I knew the way. The reward at the end of the first stretch was cappuccino at Starbucks in the Atlantis Resort. Being half-French, that is one of Tao’s go-to drinks. We made it back to the Ashram just in time for 10am breakfast and then got ready for Tao’s yoga workshop.
The last full day was all about yoga and good conversation. Tao taught about the chakras and then we went into an asana class. The evening Satsang gave us beautiful music. When it was time to leave on the 12th, we were both rather sad. We shared hugs and received a yogic sendoff with chants of protection as we sailed out of paradise. About the trip, Tao said:
It was one of the most beautiful episodes. A smile came from the trees and everyone who was there. I will feel it always in my heart and would like them all to know how much I love them.
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