Thomas Michael Fortel
is a longtime yoga practitioner/teacher, influenced by the Iyengar, Ashtanga, and Anusara styles of Hatha yoga, and drawing from his devotional experience in Bhakti yoga. He travels widely, sharing his love for yoga.
Taking the time to go on retreat is a wonderful spiritual practice. Often on retreat, we enter into the cradle of nature where the pranic force (life energy) is magnified and completely available for anyone who comes. In a similar way, the practitioners of yoga have journeyed for thousands of years to the ashram (yoga community) to engage the practices of meditation, pranayama (conscious breathing), chanting, and Hatha yoga. In Sanskrit, the ancient language of India, the word “shramas” means fatigue, and “ashram” means removal of fatigue.
The long, slow, conscious breath has the ability to stabilize and quiet the fluctuations of the mind. Concurrently, the breath can act as a medium through which we are able to connect to the formless dimension of being, to the invisible realms of spirit and soul. Whether we are in the yoga room, changing jobs, or dealing with a shadow facet of ourselves, the conscious breath can serve as an amazing tool of transition—it can calm us down in the corridors of change.