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This listing has one of the 10 most popular offers available in Portugal
This course is a 10 days Hatha Yoga and Meditation retreat and CPD (100-hours) into Sanatan yoga a classical Hatha, Jnana, and Raja yoga-based tradition, which has a strong foundation in the Gitananda paramparai. The course will be lead by Yogachariya Jnandev Giri and Suriya (James).
The international Yoga Satsanga Ashram is set at the edge of a forest, mountain region very close to the city of Castelo Branco which is towards the Spanish border. They are approximately two hours from Lisbon Portela Airport (LIS) by car.
The ashram is a 21-acre hillside with many cork oak trees and pine trees. The land is bordered by a seasonal stream and to the south side of the land, there are around 30 olive trees some of which are very old. There are some stunning panoramic views from the top of the land and some nice open spaces.
Life at the ashram will be a very much outdoor lifestyle! You will try to grow your own food, live in harmony with nature, use compost toilets, outdoor showers and it is off the grid and have power via solar panels or a generator when you need to pump water from the borehole.
Yoga Satsanga Ashram has one main building with a large yoga hall. Students will stay in a log cabin which may be shared with one other student. They also have two caravans as single accommodation and camping option is also available. There will be different pricing for each option depending on the accommodation choice.
Please be prepared for a camping outdoor lifestyle. You will live in harmony with nature as much as possible. The toilets will be compost toilets. Showers are outdoor but private. There will be tea-making facilities for students to help themselves whenever they want.
Yoga Satsanga Ashram is off-grid with simple living, they have three wood cabins which can be either shared twin rooms or single rooms, three caravans which will have some simple solar lighting in them and although they have gas cookers in them these will not be connected, as there will be a communal kitchen for this.
Likewise the toilets in the caravans are also not for use, instead, you will have a portable toilet which you will use as a compost toilet, with sawdust and empty when needed. Yoga Satsanga Ashram also has two five meters bell tents which will have an airbed in them. There are two private outdoor showers which will have hot water connected via a gas water heater should you need it.
During this one week course you will be learning 7 hatha yoga sequences from beginners to advance level based on various health and energy/prana concepts including chakra and Nadi system.
Cost 600 Euro(part of this will be used for tree plantation to help bring your carbon emission down and you will be able to return back to take care of the trees you have planted and keep a long term connection with the trees and fruits).
Yoga Satsanga Ashram Hatha Yoga practices and Satsangas will be based on following classical Sanatan yoga concepts and principals.
Ha means the Seer, the Self, the Soul (Purusa), and it’s represented by the sun (Surya) and the in-breath, prana, masculine and also loma energy.
Tha means nature (Prakriti), consciousness (Citta), and it is represented by the moon (Chandra), the out-breath, Apana, feminine or viloma energy.
Yoga means union. Hatha yoga means the union of Purusha and prakriti; sun and moon forces; prana and Apana; masculine and feminine energy; and loma and viloma energies.
Hatha yoga is one of the many paths or styles of yoga leading us to Samadhi. Most Hatha yoga scriptures explain that Hatha yoga is to prepare our body, mind, and senses for Raja yoga or higher yoga practices known as Antaranga yoga or internal yoga practices.
Hatha yoga is based on its key principle to balance our energy and attain union of opposite energies in forms of loma-viloma, shiva-shakti, prana-Apana, male-female, sun-moon, etc. Patanjali explains that through Asana practice one can attain freedom from the duality between body, mind, and senses.
Hatha literally means 'forceful', 'vigorous', and 'strong-willed'. In Hatha yoga, we use the body as a tool to reach higher states of mind. Cleansing or purifying practices are primary steps in Hatha yoga. To be free from all the dualities, stress, and health problems, we need to be free of all the mental, emotional and physical toxins.
Further Hatha yoga provides Asana, pranayama, and Mudra practices to refine and transform our gross energies into subtle divine Prana and consciously guide it to flow inward into the sources where it comes from.
Hatha Yoga includes the following key practices:
(These ten Yamas and Niyamas from the Hatha Yoga Pradipika are different to five Yamas and five Niyamas in Yoga Sutras of Patanjali)
These are essentials to achieve the goal. Swamiji Gitananada Giriji mentioned ‘three R for success are Regularity, Repetition and Rhythm’, which is tapa. Faith in God and self will always encourage and help sadhaka in moments of need.
In modern times we are all full of toxins usually due to an unhealthy diet and lifestyle, even if we don’t see excessive fat in our bodies. Eating meat, ‘junk’ convenience or processed foods, drinking alcohol, smoking, etc leaves toxic residues in our body which our bodies may not be able to eliminate through its natural process.
In Yoga and Ayurveda, it is usually recommended to practice all of the cleansing practices at least once a year, or more frequently depending upon the practice. Please note that almost all of these practices should be done in the presence of a well-experienced Yoga teacher qualified in these specific practices.
The six purifying practices are Dhauti, Basti, Neti, Trataka, Nauli and Kapalbhati.
Jattis are unstructured shaking, loosening, circling, etc. movements throughout the body. We are not particularly focusing on the breath synchronized with the movement (however we always encourage deep long breaths throughout the class and life of course!) and we usually work from the lower part of the body up to the head symbolically we are also moving from lower to higher as one of the principles of yoga.
Jattis has so many benefits to practicing them! Jattis is something that everyone can join in with no matter what their abilities are. They draw people’s minds into their bodies thereby creating a deeper awareness of our own body before we move onto some deeper stretching in the general class structure.
This means that there is a very low risk of personal injury as students have already focused their minds in their bodies and are unlikely to ‘overdo it or overstretch’. Jattis have a wonderful quality to them of being able to shake out our tensions and stresses quite easily using sounds whooshing, hissing, etc.
Hatha Yoga work has always been a mix and balance of dynamic and static practices. Hatha Yoga in dynamic form is commonly known as Vinyasa or Kriya. A vinyasa of Kriya is a set of Asanas with movements from one pose to another pose with conscious breathing and awareness not only about body and breath but also on every transition (naturally connecting to the next pose) and transformation at body, mind and energy levels.
It can be as simple as a leg or hand lift using breath and awareness, or it can be as complex as an extended Rishikesh Suriya Namaskar with 84 classical postures in the flow or movement.
Suriya is the Sanskrit term for Sun and Namaskar is for salutation or greeting. Suriya Namaskars are typical examples of Hatha Yoga Vinyasa or Kriyas. In general, used as a warm-up for preparatory stronger/deeper asana. In our tradition, we have many variations of sun-salutations with various energy, attitude, chakras, naris, strength and flexibility ideas.
Some of them are like Aruna Suriya Namaskar, Vedic Suriya Namaskar, Rishikesh Suriya Namaskar, etc. Some schools follow them with the breath, others also follow them with the Suriya Mantras or Bheeja (seed) mantras for the sun.
Asana is the third limb of Raja Yoga, which means a seat, state of being, or throne. Patanjali describes asana as “sthiram sukham asanam” which means “steady, stable, pleasant posture is Asana.” Asana or posture is for achieving a healthy body and healthy mind so one can be comfortable in one position or asana for meditation and other higher practices. Asana helps us to attain a union of body, mind, and breath.
Asana has many aspects and benefits for everyone depending on what they are looking for. Most of us might follow or practice asana for strength, flexibility, relaxation, better sleep to heal injuries for health benefits, etc.
Others practice asana for their psychological and mental benefits to attain calm and serenity of mind. Yogis follow and practice Asana to enhance the quality of prana, purify naris (energy channels) and open or stimulate chakras.
Our body naturally likes to come to its state of ease or balance known as homeostasis. Due to our busy life, stress, and burden, our body and mind get confused and start to remain in tension most of the time. The concept of classical asana is based on the concept of spanda-nispanda (doing-letting go and being).
So you do your ASANA- stretch, twist, or bend as part of the action, then you let go and relax to achieve the state of ease to retrain our body-homeostasis system. This gradually builds us to help our body and mind to relax us even in stressful situations.
Mudras are gestures or seals to refine, enhance to channel subtle vital life forces. Mudras are used for expressing energy and emotions in many forms of Indian Classical Dances like Bharatnatyam, Kathakali, etc. In Hatha and Tantra, there are many Mudras to work on our chakras, various points in our body and subtle energies. Mudras are classified into two categories-
1) Asana-Mudra - Energy, body and mind expression in forms of body postures like yoga mudra, mahamudra, viparita karani mudra, etc.
2) Hasta or Prana Mudras- Use of hands and fingers in various positions to channel and enhance subtle energy flows.
Practicing the mudras is not only done to show the beauty of yogic practices but also to please the deities. This impacts the pranic flow in the naris and the neurons. Mudras stimulate the nerve circuits in particular parts of the brain. Thus mudras are the process to control the body-brain-mind-emotion processes. They control the functions within various nerve terminals of the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous system.
The nervous system has the afflex action and the reflex system. The afflex action carries afferent or the sensory response as well as efferent or the motor responses. The reflex system is like the grounding wire for the whole nervous system.
Our body could be divided into ten equal parts, five on each side from toe to head. Each regulated by one of the major five pranas. Furthermore, the body can be divided into ten pranic areas. Five major pranas: prana, apana, vyana, Samana, and Udana govern each one of them.
These five parts are the head, chest, abdomen, pelvis, and extremities. Minor five pranas regulate the functioning of the specific nerve areas. The actual goal of pranayama is to control all these ten pranas flowing in various parts of the body and the five koshas.
When the fingers are united together in various hand mudras, we unite various specific nerves in a closed circuit. Fingers not in use represent the open circuits. When both hands are united together like the namaskar or the yoga mudra then the cranial nerve circuits of the head and upper body are united together in the vagus system. In the yoni mudra facial nerves and the vagus nerves are brought together to close the circuit.
The fourth, the limb of Ashtanga is pranayama. Prana means the subtlest form energy which exists before creation, it exists right through the existence, and it will exist at the end. We are continuously exchanging between individual prana and universal prana through our breath, drinks, food and sensory inputs. As breathing is the most common and continuous exchange, yogis used breath as a tool to purify, control and enhance the prana to awaken our potential energy, sleeping in the form of kundalini energy.
Prana is a universal catalytic force or energy in the form of subtle electromagnetic ions. This is the mother or creative energy from which everything -living and non-living matter manifests. Einstein also explains the same in the law of energy conservation. This energy is transforming dynamically in many forms, but still, it remains conserved (i.e. it cannot be destroyed) like a swing in motion energy changing from potential to kinetic and kinetic to potential energy.
This eternal divine force is clever, intelligent and holds all the universal laws of creation, sustain, and evolution like the seeds of a flower or a plant. The seed holds all the DNA formulas or intelligence on how to utilize all the elements to grow into what it is meant to be.
Pranayama provides us with all the tools by means of breath to refine and enhance this subtlest eternal form of cosmic energy.
There are three Bandhas. The elaboration of Bandhas is available in the Yogatatvopanishad and Shandilyopanishad scriptures. The air runs towards the empty space. Detention of the air from incoming and outgoing is called a Bandha on a physical level. For a spiritual yoga, sadhaka bandhas are to refine, control and redirect the flow of Pancha-pranas upwards into the higher chakras.
1. Moola-bandha: Sit in Sidhasana, i.e. place the left heel against the perineum, the middle point in between the anus and the genitals. Gradually place the right heel against the left on top of genitals. Now shrink the anal muscles and lift the Apanvayu (intestinal gas) up. This is Moola-bandha.
2. Jalandhara-bandha: Sit in the Sidhasana. After completing a deep Purvaka (inhale) place your chin down to your collar bone or chest and focus at Ajna-chakra/ in the middle of eyebrows. This is Jalandhara-bandha. Unlock the Bandha with the Rechaka (exhale). Perform the same Jalandhara-bandha in the Bahira-kumbhaka (holding the breath out).
3. Uddiyana-bandha: Sit in the Sidhasana. After a complete exhale or Rechaka try to squeeze and drawback your abdominal muscles towards the backbone as much as you can. This is called Uddiyana-bandha.
4. Mahabandha: Performing all the three Bandhas together is known as Mahabandha. Sit in Siddha-asana and exhale all your breath. Now squeeze and lift up the anal muscles, press the abdominal muscles towards the backbone and touch your chin down to chest firmly. Hold three bandhas together as long as you can hold the breath out. When you need to breathe in release all the bandhas and follow with a few deep breaths and repeat the same again.
There are so many benefits of Hatha Yoga to be mentioned. Many of us practice yoga to gain some basic benefits such as weight loss, flexibility, suppleness, pain relief, stress release, mental peace, emotional stability, physical strength, better sleep, and healthy posture.
Physical strength: regular practice of hatha-yoga or posture work will strengthen the body. It helps strengthen muscles, joints, bones and inner organs. Hatha Yoga practice improves blood and energy circulation.
Flexibility, mobility, and coordination: stiffness caused due to poor diet, unhealthy lifestyle and lack of proper exercise gradually results in tense muscles, stiff joints, lack of flexibility, stability or steadiness, poor coordination of limbs and other body parts. Yoga can help prevent or cure stiffness, bring flexibility, mobility and improve coordination. Teaching plenty of kriya work with breath and sound will also help yoga the practitioners enjoy the movement and find the coordination. Yoga will improve flexibility, mobility, and muscles’ tone and joints.
Endurance and capacity: we all need to have the endurance, and capacity to deal with physical, mental and emotional strains and pressures we have to go through. Yoga will help prepare our muscular and organ strength as well as their capability to deal with the challenges. Yoga balances the hormones and the autonomic nervous system.
Stability and concentration: in our day to day tasks, it very important to remain focussed and stable. If we are unstable or unable to focus, this will create struggles in our day-to-day tasks and learning activities. These struggles can gradually build pressure and cause more serious mental and emotional problems. Regular Asana and pranayama practice will help improve stability and concentration and hence yoga can be very helpful in preventing many mental and emotional problems too.
Mental and Emotional Balance: all the pressure and competition of our modern lifestyle causes mental and emotional imbalance and it disturbs our day to day balance and behavior. Yoga also prepares and balances mental and emotional behaviours through strengthening and empowering our body, mind and soul.
Will power, self-confidence, and enthusiasm: as yoga offers a wide range of practices to each and every level, everyone can appreciate and enjoy them and be encouraged and motivated to gradually improve their control and mastery over the body. This improves self-confidence, strengthens will power and reignites enthusiasm to embrace and accept new challenges.
Discipline: in yoga, it is said that discipline is the only path to freedom and success. Weaknesses, lack of stability, fear, etc. cause irritation, anger, and agitation which results in a lack of discipline. Yoga empowers the self, removes weaknesses and fears.
Moral and ethical values: lots of behavioral problems can be rooted in having a weak body or / and weak mind. If we want to have a healthy and ethical society, the one key element will be a healthy and strong physique and a stable mind. Swamiji Dr. Gitananda Giriji mentions that yoga and evolution is a path for strong and brave people.
This also means that only strong people can follow a holistic lifestyle. Moral and ethical values are one of the key factors for improving our life and establish peace around us. Hatha Yoga leads into Raja Yoga which provides all the tools at this level.
Self-respect and caring: we also need to learn to respect and care for ourselves as well as others. Hatha Yoga and posture work also help us to know ourselves better. This helps us to appreciate or have respect for what we do and achieve.
Holistic health and well-being: holistic well-being on a physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual level can be empowered through Hatha Yoga. Hatha Yoga including Asana, pranayama, Mudra, and meditation is a holistic package of overall health and well-being.
The Loma-viloma concept of energy or the pranic flow is one of the unique concepts of Swami Dr. Gitananda’s Yoga teachings. This is the simple concept of the energy flow in our body. Energy flows from the top of the head to the bottom at the feet and then from the feet up to the top of the head.
Hatha yoga and all the Tantric practices are based on the concept of the Loma- viloma. The Sanskrit word ‘hatha’ means re-union or joining of ‘ha’ and ‘tha’. ‘Ha’ is the solar energy represented by the warm golden sun. ‘Tha’ is the lunar energy represented by the cool silvery moon. The aim of all the hatha yoga and tantric practices is the union and the balance of the ‘ha’ and ‘tha’, the solar and lunar energies.
Our half right part of the body is represented by the masculine characters of shiva and the left half of the body is the representation of the feminine characters of shakti. The sun and moon, warm golden and cool silvery, ha and tha energies are known as loma and viloma respectively. These are also represented by the pranic and apranic energies.
Loma or golden prana moves from the top to the bottom in the right half of the body while Viloma or “cool silvery” apana moves from the bottom to the top in the left half of the body. This is also found in the concept of the polarity of the human body. The energy always flows in a wide oval shape inside and outside the body. Loma has positive ions of subtle electromagnetic energy, while Viloma has negative ions.
We enjoy complete health and well being when these energies flow in harmony and balance. Any physical, mental and emotional problem can cause the blockage in the free and balanced flow of loma-viloma energies and vice versa. Any kind of imbalance or blockage in the flow of the loma or viloma energy will cause or manifest physical, mental, emotional or spiritual problems.
Dvandva is a Sanskrit term which means “a compound or pair of opposite words”. These words explain dualities, two opposite views and/or conflicts. Dvandva is a pair of opposite concepts, ideas, emotions and experiences like pain-pleasure (dukha-sukha), raga-dvesa (like, dislike), puraka-rechaka (inhalation-exhalation), spanda-nispanda (action, inaction), suriya-chanda (sun, moon), swastha-aswastha (healthy, unhealthy).
Dvandvas are important in yoga because there are several yogic concepts, as mentioned also in the Yoga Sutras, that teaches us that we need to overcome Dvandvas in order to experience the stillness or quietness of the mind. These Dvandvas are causing conflicts and duality. “I like or don’t like it” can lead us into doing what is not good for us or not doing what is good for our evolution.
Swamiji Dr Gitananda Giri ji said “don’t avoid good for the sake of pleasure. Good may not always be pleasurable and what is pleasant may not always be good.” In the Bhagavat Gita Krishna uses this concept to explain that we can focus our mind on the “Reality” which is eternal, divine and unchanging, which can lead us from material to higher consciousness.
We also live in “Dvandva” in our body, mind and consciousness. We are the material being in the form of the body but also the result of the self resulted by accumulation of desires, experiences, feelings, emotions and habits. Discomfort, pain and stress are also creating dualism between body and mind awareness. According to Patanjali, Asanas can help free ourselves from this Dvandva and duality and lead us into Samatva or Union of body-mind-awareness.
Yoga Sutra 2.48 states, “Tatah dvandva anabhighata.”
“Once we master a posture and balance, we become free from all the sufferings”.
This can only be obtained once the effort is relaxed and attention is focused on the higher or divine energy. Our pranic energies of consciousness can flow outward or inward. If it flows outward, it leads into dvandva as the Prana and pure consciousness have their primary quality to flow inward to attain union with the divine or higher self. Our senses, mind and desire are attracted to all the sense or pleasure-seeking objects. This attracts our prana and awareness to flow outward, causing pain and suffering.
Samatva is an abstract concept or virtue in Hinduism and Yoga, which means the state of equanimity, equality, indifference or uniformity. The term comes from the Sanskrit root word, sama, meaning “equal.” Krishna says in Bhagavat Gita that a Yogi or spiritual seekers should try to live with a balanced mind or equanimity in all situations.
This means not getting over-excited in moments when we achieve something and not suffering emotionally we lose something. Hatha Yoga Kriyas can help establish Samatva of body-mind-awareness by balancing our hormonal and nervous system functions. Balance of Loma-Viloma, Suriya-Chandra Naris, Shiva-Shakti, Pancha-Prana, Sapta-Chakras, Tri-Gunas can be attained through regular Hatha Yoga practice.
Krishna explains samatva in the Bhagavat Gita as “success and failure should be treated alike”. The Bhagavad Gita explains Karma yoga as a means to attain samatva. It also explains ‘steady and comfortable posture or asana; tranquillity and focus mind can help mastering samatva or balance’.
In our body, muscles, organs, joints, and every cell-like to do their duty or exercise and after completing their tasks, they like to come to their natural state of ease, comfort or balance known as “homeostasis” in medical terms. Our body is one of the most intelligent and complex system, built with all the mechanisms to help us deal with all the challenging, stressful and adverse situations.
Along with this capability to deal or cope with stressful situations, it also has an opposite system that helps to bring it back to its previous state of ease. When we are living under chronic stress, fear, anxieties, and pressure in life, we are constantly releasing stress-coping hormones like adrenaline, and oxytocin, which is not allowing our body systems to come to their state of ease or homeostasis. Only at the state of ease or balance all the healing, and rejuvenation can take place.
Hatha Yoga explores this aspect through kriyas and asanas. Asanas stretch, twist, put pressure on muscles and organs to create a state of stress (spanda) and then let go and relax to allow the body and the mind to experience a state of ease (nispanda). Spanda means action or state of doing, while nispanda means inaction or state of being at ease and balance. Hatha Yoga teaches us to use the postures, kriyas, bandhas, and mudras to put pressure against body parts, Bindus or energy points, chakras, naris to create some energy movements, this energy is then released and experienced as we let go when we come out of it and relax.
In the Anandamaya Kosha, a man/woman's being is at her/his healthiest and in perfect harmony and balance of all his/her faculties. At the Vijnanamaya Kosha level, there are movements, but these are channeled in the right direction. It is in the Manomaya Kosha where the imbalances start according to the yoga texts. These imbalances amplify themselves resulting in mental illnesses called” Adhis “. At this stage, there are no symptoms at the physical level.
Prompted by the perpetual growth of desires, these mental diseases concealed in us, begin to manifest themselves externally and gradually and if we don’t heal them soon they take roots in our mind-body.
They create the imbalance in our Pranamaya Kosha which manifests in the form of physical problems known as Vyadhi or Diseases. Adhi-Vydhi is the ancient concept which now modern medicine and psychology are explaining regarding psycho-somatic or stress-related health problems.
Hatha Yoga through its purification practices, jattis, kriyas, asana, pranayama, and mudra helps us remove all the blockages and toxins that cause pain, suffering and health problems.
The word Swastha comes from two Sanskrit root words: Swa means self and Astha established or one with.
Swasthya means a state of being with our true self or nature. To be in ease or harmony with our true self we need to be in peace within ourselves, our family, relations, society, and universe.
The World Health Organization (WHO), describes health and swasthya as a “State of complete physical, mental, social, economic and spiritual well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Through the Hatha Yoga Kriyas, we can attain a healthy body, peaceful mind, clarity of perception and intellectual properties of our brain which naturally lead to better healthy and peaceful living.
Also, it is mentioned in the Hatha Yoga scriptures that Hatha Yoga helps to prepare our body and mind for further advance practices of Raja Yoga or Ashtanga. Hatha Yoga can be seen as the foundation of holistic health and Swasthya.
Pancha Koshas - Yoga and Tantra Science explains the “five bodies” concept. Pancha means five and Kosha means sheath or layer. Yoga believes in five bodies concept. It is very important to understand this concept to understand the concept of Chakras, Kundalini and the true essence of Hatha Yoga Kriyas from the Tantric perspectives.
Surender Sani was born in India and lived there for the first 33 years of his life. He is also known as Yogachariya Jnandev. He studied yoga in both aspects, academically, and through his own experiences. Now he has established an ashram primarily based on Gitananda yoga, along with his wife Sally, in Wales, UK. Jnandev has studied yogic scriptures in their original language, Sanskrit. He comes from a Hindu family and holds the moral and ethical codes of yoga as vitally important. He believes that spiritual growth and evolution are the foundations of true yoga practice.
Deepika (Sally Saini) started her yoga practice back in 1993 and she became a full time yoga instructor later. She is married to Surender Saini. They met in India while she was doing an intensive teacher training at the International Center for Yoga Education and Research. She is also known as Yogacharini Deepika. Sally has also studied, practiced, and been involved in many other systems and techniques over the years in her spiritual seeking. Deepika is now one of the few people worldwide who hold a 3000hours advanced qualification from ICYER, Ananda Ashram.
The location is quite rural but you can walk to the village from the land and on your days off Yoga Satsanga Ashram will try to arrange lifts onto town wherever possible.
All vegetarian food will be provided (within reason, any special dietary products may need to be purchased by the student).
Lisbon Portela Airport
Transfer not provided
Please book your flight to arrive at Lisbon Portela Airport (LIS). Guests can get a bus or train to Castelo Branco very easily from Lisbon and Yoga Satsanga Ashram will collect them from the bus or train station at Castelo Branco. From Lisbon, the ashram is two hours by car and around three hours by bus or train.
Buses are available every two hours from Lisbon for around 14 EUR (one way) to Castelo Branco where Yoga Satsanga Ashram can arrange pick up.
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