Reflections post Retreat – June 2018

Writing this on my first day back to home ground in Penang after spending almost a month in Koh Phangan at PYRAMID YOGA CENTRE, my former yoga teacher training school, for a 3 week intensive Healing Retreat. While I went as an apprentise to learn, support and to observe the various healing processes, I also immersed myself in the programme, allowing myself to heal, at the time from a bout of bad sinusitus and an ear infection which kept me half deaf for more than half the retreat.



The 3 weeks intensive programme put me through a fairly thorough internal cleansing process from a 2 day papaya fast, a day of salt flush, followed by a 3 day Master Cleanse diet and finally another 3 days of Juice fast. And, how could I forget the coffee anema and the sweat lodge that came at the end of it all clearing whatever remaining toxins still in the liver as well as in the pores of the skin! While these internal cleanses would have been rather impossible for me to have managed on my own, yet in a supported healing environment, I was so grateful that it was all done with relative ease and even with some fun and jokes! 🙂

I have come to learn how important intermittent internal cleansing and fasting is to the human body, especially to heal. So much of our energy is taken up with digesting and physical activity, that there is not much left for the body to focus on healing and regeneration. Our oxygen first goes towards physical and demanding activities, including digestion if we are constantly eating 3 or more meals a day, such that there is little left that can be diverted towards nourishing our white blood cells which is essential for the body’s healing.

If one looks at the animal kingdom, animals instinctively know how and when to fast. When they are ill, they don’t eat but rather hybernate in a corner and rest. When they recover they regain activity and only then look for food. Yet, human beings are the only mammals who need to be told to when and how to move, how to breathe and how and when to rest. Yoga is a natural way to help us restore our body rhythms and teaches us how to listen to when we need to eat, move, rest, and rejuvenate.

In this article I have yet to mention the fantastic healthy vegan foods that were prepared daily after our week of fasts. The food itself requires a separate article and mention, but it would be an incomplete sharing to not at least shed light on the careful and loving preparation of delicious healthy food that we received at the retreat as well.

There is a lot one can share and say about the Chakra Yoga Healing Retreat at Pyramid Yoga and how every part of the programme contributed towards one’s physical, mental, emotional and spiritual healing and growth. I am highlighting aspects that stood out for me so am in no way offering a comprehensive review.

Given the breadth of the retreat I would say the programme would have been a challenge for those who have not done chakra yoga before or who came with some ailments and dis-ease. Yet, it was designed to progressively help participants learn the basics of yoga from the breath, gentle yoga movements – that stimulate and massage internal organs, move lymphatic fluids around the body and which enhance various chakra centres to ensure the endocrine and nervous systems are activated – to more deeper pranayama, concentration, and sound techniques.

Of significance, the programme put participants through the EKADASI – an 11 days mental emotional cleanse through a breath work technique, followed by a lot of reflective time. While it was the second time for me to undergo Ekadasi and thus less mental-emotional issues came up, for the other participants there were significant purges that helped people become aware of and release old traumas, negative thought and emotional patterns that held them in states of pain, dis-ease, unhappiness, anger, resentment, and the range of stuck emotions.

Any healing programme that aims to heal a person, must necessarily address the whole human, and not just the physical body. This feature made the healing retreat more complete and profound when it included the next phase of reprogramming our mental and emotional patterns, such as creating more space for forgiveness, letting go, acceptance, freedom, trust, love and gratitude among other equally positive emotions! The retreat offered several thought provoking documentaries on the placebo effect, the neuroplasticity of the brain, how thoughts control our body and life, and much much more showing participants how we can regain control over our life and health.

David Goutlet, yogi of 46 years, ran the programme with a support team of other trained Chakra Yoga teachers making it possible to offer one on one assistance and support almost daily to each participant. This included help in proper breathing, relevant asana exercises for each person’s healing needs and condition, to counseling sessions, sound healing sessions and weekly massages.

Participants learnt over the 3 weeks how to empower themselves through appropriate asana movements, proper breath practices, changing thoughts and belief systems, and through a range of other yogic techniques to rebuild their lives. These included Raja Yoga practices of visualisation concentration techniques on chakra mandalas to reset and activate each chakra centre, savitri breathing with retentions at different points and variations of the Three Part Breaths from fast to slow depending on the purpose.

Having done my teacher training and chakra yoga healers course in 2013 and teaching and offering chakra healing for almost 5 years now, I came back reflecting on how the BREATH and various pranayama techniques continue to be so powerful in restoring a person, not just her/his health, but his/her life and sense of Being! … Throughout the healing retreat, daily breath work several times a day and even in between formal group sessions were done and recommended especially before long periods of shavasana and restoration periods.

Slowing down the body and the mind for significant periods was an essential part of the healing. I personally would have liked more quiet time as one participant in particular had excessive throat chakra issues creating rather discordant energies in the group. So my main recommendation would be to have more periods of silence that go with the healing and reflective process. However, this is always possible by taking meditative walks around the jungle environment of the Pyramid Yoga Centre. As it was often the case, the group would be led in mindful walking around the centre grounds or within the practice space and one time even at the beach 🙂

One more aspect stood out for me in this healing retreat: unlike many other healing or detox retreats, the emphasis on the role of SOUND, and how immersing in the right kind of sound frequencies can be healing to both the human body, and one’s energy field. Within the Chakra Yoga tradition, the entire programme is premised upon the fact that the human body and person is essentially made up of energy and that energy is in a constant state of vibration. Illness or dis-ease is when one’s vibratory fields and frequencies are off balance or in dissonance. Healing and health therefore requires restoring one’s vibratory field, starting with one’s chakras, in order to reset and realign one’s frequencies to that of perfect health and vitality. Regular sound sessions is therefore a strong feature of the chakra yoga healing retreat together with good breathing practices.

Being an avid proponent of sound healing I hold a deep appreciation for the role of sound. The sound bed sessions that David and his assistant, Marcelle Visser offered, as well as the other sound sessions using natural instruments and mantras, were all so beautifully woven into the 3 week programme. I was delighted to have been able to offer a few sound healing sessions together with Marcelle at the stunning Sound Dome at Pyramid Yoga Centre…

But the most important sound we were taught every morning to listen to and appreciate was the sound of the jungle, nature sounds and the internal cosmic sounds of the A-U-M.

Sitting writing this I still hear the rustles of the jungle, the crickets and cicadas and the breath of Mother Earth herself blowing through our pores, entering our nostrils into our lungs, and feeding our very blood, organs and glands. I AM forever grateful for this opportunity and healing path with an honourable teacher and dear friend.

Love and Namaste! Thank you David and your team at Pyramid Yoga!