QYP 28: PAUL DALLAGHAN ON PRACTICAL PRANAYAMA AND THE BREATH
Paul Dallaghan, founder of Centered Yoga at Samhita Retreat Center in Koh Samui, Thailand
Paul Dallaghan formally established Centered Yoga in New York City in 1999, and soon thereafter began the first training course. Although the course was born out of a direct request from students, at the time Paul had also been thinking about how to raise the standards of yoga education. He felt a need to offer teaching that would preserve the integrity of traditional yogic practices while also carefully examining and understanding their origins and meaning.
Since the very beginning of Centered Yoga, Sri O.P. Tiwari (head of the Kaivalyadhama Yoga Institute near Bombay) has been its main advisor, principally owing to his longstanding relationship with Paul. As such, Centered Yoga enjoys full affiliation with Kaivalyadhama, a highly regarded research facility dedicated to examining yoga practices from both scientific and traditional points of view.
Established by Swami Kuvalayananda in 1924, Kaivalyadhama has had tremendous influence on the understanding and propagation of yoga in India and throughout the world. Indeed, both Gandhi and Nehru were students of Swamiji; Swami Sivananda dedicated the first issue of every book to Kuvalayananda; and Krishnamacharya studied there in 1933, sent by the Maharaja of Mysore.
Sri O.P. Tiwari is Swamiji’s key disciple. To Tiwari he left the institute, as well as valuable personal teachings, particularly in the field of Pranayama. Tiwariji is thus one of the most authoritative sources on Pranayama today. He is an experienced, extremely knowledgeable master who stays true to the traditions of yoga, preserving its integrity so that students, present and future, can benefit fully.
This lineage, or parampara, is the force behind the teachings, as well as what drives all the courses of Centered Yoga. Eighty years of painstaking research into different aspects of yoga is hard to equal in the modern world.
As one of three senior students of Tiwariji, Paul is committed to continuing the legacy through personal practice and a genuine approach to living yoga daily. He has spent years learning and practicing the full Pranayama to an advanced level under Tiwariji, has sat beside him to learn how to read pulse specifically for Pranayama, and has studied closely what goes on in its practice.
Paul has also spent many years with Sri K. Pattabhi Jois in Mysore practicing Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga, becoming one of a few students worldwide to be certified by him. His advanced Asana and vinyasa practice combined with a deeper insight born of a solid Pranayama practice enable Paul to better guide students through key concepts involving the body and breath.
Centered Yoga has since grown to become a leader in the field of yoga education, offering thorough and professional courses since its founding. Paul moved to Thailand toward the end of 2001 and resumed teaching the training courses the following year. Out of this sprouted Samahita Retreat-the venue for yoga retreats, training courses, and, most recently, wellness programs.
Over the years Centered Yoga has helped train over seven hundred students, many of whom have gone on to teach. For all, even those who decide not to teach, the training programs are a time for deep practice and growth in the understanding of yoga.
Many esteemed teachers have also come to share their knowledge; among them Tiwariji, who continues to be Centered Yoga’s primary teacher and yoga master. He believes in the programs and recognizes the need for an advanced level of training, practice, and learning by students, especially those that go on to teach others. Others include Richard Freeman, Prof Jayashree, Prof Nagaraja Rao and other anatomical and ayurvedic specialists.
Centered Yoga makes its home in Samahita Retreat-a center established specifically for practicing yoga and learning healthy and positive living habits. This in itself is a unique advantage. Samahita Retreat provides an ideal environment in which to learn, experience, and practice the lessons imparted in our courses. Few such places exist in the modern world.
The fact that Centered Yoga is one of the first schools to become a member of Yoga Alliance is attractive to many students, especially those who use its courses as a platform from which to teach. Centered Yoga offers 200- and 500-hour-level qualifications; furthermore, it has its own qualification level, Distinguished Advanced-Level Teacher, which a student reaches after 1100 hours.
Centered Yoga’s purpose is not to churn out teachers but to guide, inspire, and uplift students of yoga. Sincerity is therefore a primary qualification, the inner quality that allows a student to approach his or her personal development and the practices in an earnest and mature way.