Friday, December 11, 2015

A Place of Healing

A place of healing inside and out

Regardless of students backgrounds, cultures, ethnicity or age, feelings of great life transformation and changes are always reported during the 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training. From improvements in ones weight, skin, hair and nails to experiencing less muscular pain, stress and anxiety, an overall feeling of well being is often noticed during ones stay at the Ashram. Whether students have come in hope of healing various conditions or whether they feel physically, mentally and emotionally strong, the yogic lifestyle at Wise Living Yoga brings about changes that often cure these ailments and leave students feeling amazed and extremely happy with the many wonderful improvements that have naturally taken place. 

The holistic yoga approach at the Ashram ensures that every aspect of ones daily life is managed in order to bring about balance. This balance is cultivated and nutured by focusing on living a moral lifestyle and purifying ones mind to ensure that our daily activities, interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships are carried out with positive feelings and intentions. Traditional or Classical yoga emphasises the importance of a holistic yoga lifestyle, therefore following a vegan diet, performing systematic postures (Asanas), learning breathing (Pranayamas) and purification (Kriyas) techniques, repeating Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras and doing daily meditation all contribute towards a healthy and happy well being.

The Vegan Diet

At the Ashram, an all vegan diet is followed with fresh, organic produce, much of which is grown on and around the Ashram itself. There is strictly no sugar added to the food or as an optional condiment on the serving or dining table. Much care is taken to cook and prepare the food with very little oil, the taste however is by no means jeopardized as various spices and fresh herbs are perfectly blended with each dish to compliment the delicious flavors. Each meal is wisely planned to ensure that a correct balance in protein, carbohydrates, fats and fiber is lovingly served to each student. Although some students may have certain allergies, this vegan diet with its delicious Thai and Indian influence is not only suitable for all students but also aids in overcoming these various allergies and food sensitivities.

The spices and herbs themselves have many medicinal healing properties, which often helps in those suffering from inflammation, skin problems, cardiovascular diseases, poor blood circulation as well as mental issues such as concentration, anxiety, Insomnia and stress. The balanced meals are organic, high in fiber and water concentration, which helps many students overcome constipation. This experience can easily be identified as one of the most important and beneficial as it naturally detoxifies the body and mind, leaving the individual feeling light, more energetic and an overall improvement in bodily functions, aches and pains.

The low oil and salt content along with a diet that is rich in vitamins and minerals supports a steady weight. It prevents weight gain as it reduces water retention and naturally the food contains healthy calories. The vegan diet aids in vital organs being able to function at their optimal level as blood is purified and supplies these organs, muscles and nervous system with fresh oxygenated blood. Students often notice their nails and hair becoming shinier and healthier as well as various skin ailments clearing up. Students sometimes however experience a skin breakout due to the elimination of toxins through the skin but this often clears up once the toxins are expelled.

Students who arrive with addictions to sugar and coffee are quickly able to readjust to the herbal tea and sugarless diet. Within a couple of days, their cravings have disappeared and positive changes such as concentration, anxiety, sleep, energy levels as well as inflammation and acidity have all improved. The stimulating effects of these products, caffeine and sugar, interfere with the natural balance of the body and mind, therefore providing healthy alternatives such as herbal teas and natural fructose, the natural energy and functioning of ones being is restored.

 Pranayamas and Kriyas

The breathing exercises, of which there are nine, assist in the expansion of the lungs and opening up of the chest cavity allowing more room for organs in this region to function at their best. Larger lung capacity allows more oxygen to be absorbed into the blood stream, purifying and carrying fresh blood to the brain, central nervous system, organs and muscles while Carbon Dioxide is better eliminated from the body along with toxins that have found their way into ones blood stream.

Pranayamas directly influence ones bio- energy and helps to evenly distribute blocked/ built up energy throughout the body. These essential breathing techniques calm the mind allowing for awareness, concentration and clarity to mature. They have been wonderful in facilitating my sleeping disorder and anxiety to the extent that I no longer need to rely on medication.

The purification techniques (Kriya) aid in clearing the nasal passages and any excess mucus around the face and throat. Students who suffer from congestion or infections in these areas experience far more ease in their breathing and less toxicities, which contribute to various diseases in the respiratory organs. Another benefit of Kriya. Jalaneti in particular, is a ‘clear head’ feeling where students are amazed at how light and clear their forehead region feels. This is due to the saline water solution, once been sucked through the nostril, stimulating the nerve endings ‘awakening’ this area, which doesn’t receive much stimulation. After clearing the nostrils with this solution, various massaging techniques on the face and neck are performed to further stimulate these areas and loosen any remaining mucus.   

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras

Patanjali was a sage who existed between 800- 200 BC. He constructed these Sutras (sentences) in order to make Yoga available to not only the advanced practitioner but to the beginner and medium practitioners as well. Each Sutra holds a wealth of knowledge which is easily applied to ones every day life in order to excel instilling the spirit of excellence in the individuals in his yoga practice to live a moral life whilst performing ones duties with a balanced and pure state of mind. These sentences are written and chanted in Sanskrit, they give precise guidelines on how one can live a yogic lifestyle and achieve the ultimate truth.

With this holistic approach at nurturing ones entire being, a peaceful, fulfilling and meaningful life can systematically be pursued and enjoyed. The passion in which Jeenal and Daniel impart this sacred knowledge and the loving environment in which these teachings take place, provide a naturally healing abode for each student to experience this life changing spiritual journey.

Katie Assad (Former student)

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


I love to meet new people. One of the things I value the most about my time in the ashram is the possibility to connect with people from around the world. Getting to know different people from different parts of the world, speaking different languages… It gives me energy. And hope. There are so many things that can be different. But there are also so many things that can be similar. And somehow people connect, are able to work, study, laugh, meditate and live together, despite the differences.

So when one of my first tasks in my Karma yoga Program was to receive the students and make them feel welcome, I could not be happier. This year I got to know people from Brazil, Russia, Malaysia, Thailand, US, Canada, UK, Germany, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Italy, … and they live all over the world, from Egypt to Nicaragua and back.

Connection can be a funny thing. What brought us together in the ashram is the interest and curiosity in traditional yoga and background. That is what we had in common to start with. But it is not that what made us connect with each other when we were meeting each other for the first time. We didn’t talk about yoga until the second day or so. No, people would start asking about people’s mother country, the country where they live now, which language they speak and so forth. Very quickly the connections had been laid by showing this interest for someone else’s background. And often there were anecdotes shared about visiting someone else’s country or hometown. This genuine interest for each other, and recognition, created an open and warm atmosphere.

Sometimes, somehow, the people we’ve just met, became quite familiar in a very short period of time. Somehow it makes the world looks small and familiar as well.
I am very grateful for all those connections. They broaden my perspective on things, enriche the things I've learned doing my karma work. I learned things about life just by listening to other people's stories. And those stories are always better than the films or books you can watch or read!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Our place, Our Ashram

The Ashram Setup

Wise Living Yoga Academy is truly the perfect place to not only attend a Yoga Teacher Training course but to experience a wonderful yogic lifestyle. The ashram is holistically designed to ensure the smooth and relaxing transition from ones daily yogic activities to a higher level, while being immersed in the exotic Thai gardens and surrounded by genuine laughter and smiles from students, teachers and friendly staff.

The serene environment at the ashram provides facilities that are extremely well kept and always inviting, whether it’s the relaxation area by the pond, the cosy library filled with an abundance of knowledge and wisdom or wooden seated areas hidden in and around the ashram for reading, self- reflection or just taking in the many peaceful sounds of nature.

Some rooms in the ashram opens onto it’s own garden ensuring the tranquility throughout the ashram for all students. There are four rooms situated near the dining area as well, two downstairs and the two rooms upstairs, all have a large balcony with a magnificent view as well.

Many students report being pleasantly surprised upon arrival regarding the accommodation. The rooms have a western influence with comfortable rooms and modern bathrooms and provide much needed comfort after a long day.

They are kept meticulously clean and whether sharing or staying on ones own, a feeling of ‘home away from home’ is often the warm feeling experienced by students at Wise Living Yoga.

The open asana area is situated in the middle of the ashram. This allows for easy access to ones room before, during or after sessions. One often hears the sounds of pots and plates clanking in the kitchen or work being carried out in the garden, which makes the students often feel at home whilst practicing their asanas with Daniel.

The open layout of the hall nestled among pure nature allows students to practice whilst nourishing their bodies with clean fresh air and absorbing an attitude of simplicity, calmness and gratitude whilst being surrounded by the peacefulness of nature.

Lectures held by Jeenal on Pranayamas, relaxation techniques, kriyas (purification techniques) and Sutra’s are also held in the open hall. Much of the students busy schedule takes place outside which gives the students a much needed break from indoor, city environments and contributes to them achieving a quiet and steady mind away from the rush and business of ones life.

The meditation and lecture room is in front of the asana area. It embodies and illuminates a sense of spiritual wisdom with an alter paying respect to photo’s of astute Guru’s.

Surrounding the intimate and warm room, are posters filled with conveying encouraging messages and various traditional ornaments each with their own powerful and unique meanings from ancient teachings.

As students meditate at sunrise, a feeling of union and respect can be felt as a common goal of stillness and concentration is sought after by each individual soul with the aim of achieving the ultimate truth.

With the guidance of the Guru’s and the emanating calmness and love from the beautifully considered room, one often enjoys meditation and interesting Philosophy classes in this beautiful space.

Most students will agree that one of their favourite aspects of their experience at Wise Living Yoga is undoubtedly the delicious, nutritious vegan food that is served with so much love by our incredible cook Panan with the help of the amazing and creative staff.

It is not only the scrumptious and vibrant meals that make the students dining experience so enjoyable, but the way in which the eating area is set up. The open area is behind the asana hall and next to the meditation room outside, where students have a view of the garden and are able to enjoy each meal either eating mindfully in silence whilst listening to nature or socializing with each other… usually the latter ;)

There is often some interaction between the staff and students while dishing up ‘buffet style’ as the staff ensures our taste buds are satisfied.

They often enjoy explaining their creative dishes in Thai while students after much gesturing, play a guessing game as to the correlated English meaning. After dishing up, there is an array of spices (oregano, turmeric, cumin etc) and wonderful condiments (vinegar, olive oil, sesame seeds etc) are displayed at the end of the table to further enrich the nutrition and taste of each meal.

Opposite the spice table lies a hot pot of Gold (herbal tea with lemon grass, ginger, bael and other ingredients) that will have you forgetting about coffee before long! This tea is always fresh and available throughout the day to not only refresh and support a healthy body function but also adds to the homely, comfortable feeling during ones stay at the ashram. Bananas are always available kept among the tea if students feel the need for a quick ‘pick me up’ during the day.

There is an outside relaxation area situated at the back of the ashram around the pond where one may enjoy listening to birds chirping, fish jumping, roosters roosting and bees buzzing among many of nature’s soothing sounds. This area can be used for reading in the hammock, asana practice or relaxation sessions

Wise Living Yoga Academy in Chiang Mai truly is a little piece of heaven. Situated in a surrounding community called Doi Saket with rolling hills, loads of lush green rice paddies and an abundance of fruit trees, including coconut palms and vegetable gardens. It really doesn’t get much better than this.


The people of Doi Saket are the most genuine, friendly and happy people you’ll ever meet. There are many temples in and around Doi Saket, two of which you will experience on the Friday morning walks known as Doi Saket Temple and Peacock Temple. With breath taking views, the Mae Kuaeng Dam can be reached within a half an hour walk during one of the Friday morning excursions or during ones free time. A cycle around the community whilst passing endless smiles and occasionally being chased by an excited village dog will keep your spirits soaring during your stay in Chiang Mai.

Lastly, one is not confined to the food and facilities of the ashram, although many students have no need to venture out due to the beautiful, tranquil set up, delicious food and staff that treat you like family. There are however various surrounding resorts with juice bars, swimming pools, masseuse’s and vegan/ vegetarian menus. 


I couldn’t ask for a better place to learn traditional yoga from teachers who have studied from under the oldest Guru’s in India and have such passion and care for their students. In a beautiful and more than comfortable ashram set in a community where the healing lifestyle is the exact opposite of everything that you would find in the chaotic and stressful world we live in today. I assure you that in your search for peace and contentment, the answer is awaiting you at this hidden Gem called Wise Living Yoga Academy.

Katie Assad (Former Student)

Monday, August 3, 2015

Underground Adventures

Daniel's Experiments with Permaculture


Maya, one of our 300hr students, helping out during karmayoga time
Anyone who has spent time in the ashram has seen Daniel running to and fro, usually with a few tools or a wheelbarrow full of fresh soil, and always with a bright smile.

Bath time for bamboo
His enthusiasm and curiosity for these endeavors is infectious, and one can't help but smile and trail after him to learn about the latest project.  Speaking of which, we currently have two projects underway simultaneously.

The first is an experimental structure made of woven bamboo poles, for which we made miniature models with our 300 hours YTT students as well as Stefano's three wonderful daughters. 

You might be wondering how exactly one goes about bending trees that were recently rooted firmly in the ground. The first step, after acquiring several stout bamboo poles, is splitting them lengthwise into approximately equal strips.  Step two typically involves soaking the bamboo in warm water, such as in a large pot.  So, of course, we chose to give our bamboos a bath overnight in our pond.

Making miniature domes together.

Bamboo is naturally flexible and impressively strong lengthwise, and this pliability increases hugely when softened with a water bath.  Following our paper models, we eventually interwove our bamboo strips into a cohesive unit, after which we began the slow yet steady process of affixing each joint with wire and watched the dome gradually appear.  We left the dome overnight to "cure" and strengthened each joint again the next morning -- now it's quite solid!  We're still thinking of how exactly to cover the dome, whether simply for shade or a more waterproof option, but more on that later.

Beatrice casually holding up the entire structure

Complete! Now to find a covering...

First layer...
Our second project is a long-term investment.  Daniel has been investigating permaculture and recently was introduce to the concept of "hugelkultur" or "hill culture," in German (see example here).  The idea is part of a "no-effort" permaculture technique which is somewhat of a contradiction, as for the past three weeks Daniel has been laboriously hauling cartloads full of earth, sticks, soil, and still more soil around the ashram -- which certainly requires a bit of effort.  However, this is all the preparation for this hill culture, which imitates the natural ecosystem of a forest floor.

Firstly we lay down a bed of relatively large branches and sticks in order to store water and nutrients, as well as biodegrade over months-years to continually nurture the soil and plants above.  This is fenced in by a short wall made of still larger tree limbs to contain the structure.  Consecutive layers of sticks and leaves are added on top of this, gradually compacting into a a dense bed.  The final layer is a mound of new soil, preferably compost-based, but any good soil works well.  This is formed into a hill with soil deepest in the center and only shallow around the edges, allowing for plants with different root systems to grow simultaneously.   
One of many layers of leaves and branches

One could ostensibly begin planting at this stage, but we've decided to go even further so that even less effort is required long term.  We next put down a layer of cardboard over our hugel -- which will both store water and discourage pests and unwanted plants from growing.

Designer garden!

We designed our little garden on the boards and sliced out holes for each plant to germinate.

After lovingly embracing the hugel, we scattered our bountiful seeds into their domains and put down the ultimate layer: straw mulch.  This finishing touch again soaks and stores water, as well as decomposes above the newly-planted seeds, providing fresh nutrients to them almost immediately.

Final layer....
Hopefully we've done everything correctly on this attempt and imitated nature's rhythms accurately.  If so, we should see some lovely little sprouts within the next few weeks!  Ideally, we have nothing left to do but remove the few undesirable plants that may pop up, harvest, and eventually add more fresh soil on top.  The rest ought to take care of itself on its own time and on nature's benevolent and fruitful terms. 

Our anticipated bounty includes: lettuce (purple and green), radishes (two varieties), beetroot, onions (bush and German), Thai tomatoes, celery, parsley, basil, zucchini (two varieties), capsicum, and Thai sweet peppers.  For good measure, we scattered around something called feldsalat about which we're not entirely sure but which looks to be some kind of salad green.  Here's to unknown futures and what looks to be a beautiful crop!
Give a little bit, give a little bit of your love to me...


For more information on permaculture; life here in the Wise Living ashram; 200-, 300- or 500-hours Yoga Teacher Training in Thailand; or anything else -- check out our Facebook page or the Wise Living Yoga Academy website

May all beings be happy, well, peaceful, and skillful.