Centered Yoga, a leader in the field of yoga education, was founded by Paul Dallaghan in New York City in 1999. Two years later Paul and his wife, Jutima, moved to Thailand, Jutima’s birthplace. Together they opened Samahita Retreat in 2003-the venue for Centered Yoga’s retreats, training courses, and wellness programs.
The support and guidance of Sri O.P. Tiwari has been present and strong since the beginning.
First, I offer deep respects and thanks to my direct teachers, whose guidance has enabled me to grow in the path of yoga. I am also grateful to the long line of teachers who have come before them, who have spent their lives learning and coming to understand the practice, and who have passed down the knowledge they received through direct teachings of their teachers and their teachers’ teachers.
Each day I learn, too, from my young sons, Sean and Dylan, from my loving wife, Jutima, as well as from my students. These interactions keep me reflecting on myself, which in turn helps me grow.
My yoga path has been grounded in certain practices that have grown in intensity over the years. These practices have refined my behavior and influenced how I live in this world–taking care of family, making a living, and interacting with others.
Early on, I was exposed to many different gurus and teaching lineages-but my growth came out of practicing a particular approach and letting go of my ego to go under my teachers’ direct guidance. Sri O.P. Tiwari has had the greatest influence on my journey. With his focus on classical Pranayama, the main source for my ongoing growth, Tiwariji is my primary teacher. I have also spent a lot of time with Sri K. Pattabhi Jois in the Asana practice of Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga.
Mornings with Pattabhi Jois at the old shala in Mysore
It isn’t so much that I sought out my teachers or made any kind of decisions; it’s more that the path had me. I realized at some point that, in fact, I knew nothing and that the best I could do was commit wholeheartedly to the practice. As I continue to do today, I simply aimed to understand it, apply it, live it, and then pass it on in the realm of teaching.
Pranayama and Asana have given me solid grounding for the practice of Meditation. That I live in Thailand is also significant, as I am immersed in Buddhism and influenced greatly by the lives and practices of two of the great masters of the Forest Tradition, Ajahn Mun and Ajahn Chah. In this area as well Tiwariji guides me, using Pranayama to travel deep into realms of Meditation.
An accomplished yogi from India and a disciple of Swami Kuvalayananda, who founded the Kaivalyadhama Yoga Research Institute, Tiwariji is one of the few authorities on Pranayama and the true practice of yoga. He has tutored me in Pranayama, philosophy, as well as in other aspects of yoga, taking only me and one other student through the entire Pranayama system. I am most grateful to him and to the belief he continues to have in me. He continues to believe in me and has permitted me to teach all levels of Pranayama to the different students. (Click here for image of cert)
In my early days, I studied with many leading yoga teachers and spent much time at the Sivananda and other ashrams. I find Richard Freeman to be most inspiring and respect him as a teacher of mine. I have been trained extensively in Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga, having spent much time in Mysore, India, personally with Sri K. Pattabhi Jois (Guruji) and his family. Guruji gave me his blessing to teach in 2002 and officially certified me in 2007. (Click here for image of cert) For this I am most grateful. It took many years to discover the power and benefits, however, along with plenty of perseverance and many growing pains. “Just practice”, he would say. So I have. He passed on May 18, 2009. Bless his soul and my eternal love, respect and gratitude remains.
My training and ongoing personal practice has given me an intimate understanding of Asana, with specific expertise on how to teach it to others. My approach to Asana remains firmly rooted in tradition even as it goes beyond the confines of current Mysore Ashtanga. It serves as a solid base to explore and teach many from varied backgrounds. The essence of how to approach the Asanas is what I have learnt most from many years of long committed practice in Ashtanga. This essence can be applied and modified to suit each individual which I try to do with intelligence and truth.
On pilgrimage at the holy Mount Kailash, 2002
I also have a very strong interest in health, physiology, nutrition and digestion. I believe a knowledge of this is essential for understanding the yoga process. I continue to take courses in the study of the body and its workings such as anatomy trains and various therapist courses including being trained as a colon hydrotherapist.
With a degree in Economics and Business from Trinity College, Dublin, I did not go out into the world with any notion of becoming a yoga teacher. When I discovered yoga in 1995, in New York City, I had already experienced working in the business world and was entertaining my passion for theater and acting.
But yoga and the spiritual path persistently called on me. I found I could not refuse, and soon I was spending time living at ashrams in India and the United States, including the Sivananda ashram. I began teaching in New York in 1998, and by late 2001 I decided to move to Asia, intending to go even deeper into the practices.
I have been fortunate to have spent a lot of time with my teacher, and also to have taken time to meet other masters and go on personal pilgrimages to many charged locations in India, Tibet, Thailand, Ireland, Israel and so on. I feel all this has contributed to a well-rounded approach to yoga and teaching yoga.
In 2003, after many years of pilgrimages, practice, and immersion, my wife, Jutima, and I put up the first incarnation of Samahita Retreat, home to Centered Yoga, so that we could begin offering full-on courses and retreats. Five years later we finished building a completely upgraded location, this one designed specifically with the yogic lifestyle in mind, and made it home to both Centered Yoga as well as Samahita Wellness.
Thank you for taking the time to learn more about me.
Our visit with friend and teacher Richard Freeman in 2000
Sean and Dylan
My role as Managing Director is working closely with our management team in marketing, operations and overall programs of retreats and wellness. We are blessed with a growing international community that has developed over the years at Samahita Retreat. At times we have more than twenty nationalities in residence at the same time, which makes life very interesting at the retreat center.
I am so grateful for my wonderful family especially my two boys, Sean and Dylan. I am also thankful for the support of our teachers, staff, friends, and students for our 10 plus years on Koh Samui. I especially am grateful to Paul Dallaghan, my true friend, father to my children and business partner for creating Samahita Retreat together. I look forward to welcoming you here.