Paul Dallaghan has a yoga retreat that I can only describe as the Richard Branson's Isand for yoga...
Any yoga "real thing" you'd like is there at his place in Ko Samui, Thailand (I've been to the place twice). For example: ayurvedic treatments, infrared saunas, pool, steaming showers, excellent food, exceptional yoga and pranayama instruction and amazingly beautiful accommodations by the ocean...
And he is one of the most humble people I know.
Claudia A. Altucher: Hello, everyone. Welcome to The Yoga Podcast. I am over the moon to have this guest with me because I've been looking for him for over, I'm gonna say, seven to eight months, and he's just so busy, but I have Paul Dallaghan. He is the co-founder with his wife, Jutima, of Yoga Thailand and Samahita Wellness –
Paul Dallaghan: Ex-wife.
Claudia A. Altucher: Excuse me?
Paul Dallaghan: That's ex-wife.
Claudia A. Altucher: Oh, I didn't know. I'm sorry to hear.
Paul Dallaghan: [Laughs] Nothing to be sorry about, but yeah, go ahead.
Claudia A. Altucher: Oh, okay. So that's news, I guess. Last December, CNN named them as one of the top ten wellness resorts in Asia. He has been trained personally in a one-on-one capacity with Sri O.P. Tiwari, a true yogi master, master of pranayama, and head of the Yoga Institute Kaivalyadhama in India. And amazingly enough, Paul was also trained in advanced asana practice with the great Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, who's the man himself, the founder of the Ashtanga Yoga Vinyasa system as we know it. Both centers – I had the opportunity to visit it twice in the beautiful island of Koh Samui, and he is also, at the moment, on top of all of this and having two children, he has been taken by the Emory University in Atlanta in the USA in the field of biological anthropology, and he's following a Ph.D. program, bringing the yogic practices and philosophy to the scientific field. Paul, welcome. So grateful to have you on the podcast.
Paul Dallaghan: Yeah, thank you, Claudia.
Claudia A. Altucher: So it is 3:38. I guess there have been major changes in your life. I know you just returned from a teacher training in Thailand for a full month. Are you still in Koh Samui time or are you in Atlanta time?
Paul Dallaghan: I'm in Atlanta time.
Claudia A. Altucher: Yeah? You've totally recovered from jetlag, no problem?
Paul Dallaghan: Well, I'm in – I never – naturally, there's a certain amount of drag that goes with the flight, but I find that it's not that big of an issue, and especially, I suppose, when you just kinda regulate yourself or maybe some of the benefit of the breath practice, I think, helps a lot. I mean, I once asked my own teacher, Tiwari G., who had just flown back from Europe to India, I said, "How are things? Any jetlag?" And he said, "What jetlag?" And this is him at 80 years of age, and he said, "What jetlag? If you do the practices, that doesn't really bother you."
Now, I'm not saying that, "Oh, this magical thing and everything goes away," but rather, that a certain, I suppose, respect in working with our own natural rhythms, our own internal clock, and – if you can kind of manage the length and the detail of the flight, along with how much and when you're eating, along with when you go to bed, and your own kind of rhythmic, internal setting, which you can kind of play with a lot just via the breath, then I think jetlag is way less. In my case, I feel its presence, but it's sort of minimal.
Claudia A. Altucher: That's very interesting, 'cause I remember in 2009, you gave us sort of like a – somewhat of some suggestions to avoid the jetlag, and you suggested, "Eat before, a healthy dinner, like three or four hours before; don't eat when you're in the airport, and try to relax and move the body, and then in the morning, if you want – " and you said, "Start singing some mantras and – " [laughs] – and it was funny because you looked around like, "What would be the reaction of other passengers if you started singing mantras and do some pranayama?" – all of which I tried, and none of which worked, and it probably is because I haven't been practicing 13 years nonstop like you have, so it didn't work for me.
Paul Dallaghan: Yeah, I mean, I don’t know how or what you did, so – but you know, I think the biggest thing is eating, and how long the flight is and when and how much you eat is a big factor. I mean, a lotta people get on the plane and it's around midnight and the time they get on, and then they're given the plate of food and they eat it, and – which they wouldn't be doing if they were just normally at home or whatever, you know? So avoiding those kinda little mishaps can help a lot. The rest, if you're doing any mantra singing, do that in your head, obviously.
Claudia A. Altucher: Right, yes. [Laughs]
Paul Dallaghan: And that's up to any individual for what they wanna get into, their preference, you know? Personally, I like to relax and watch a movie, you know? But usually, there's work to do.
Claudia A. Altucher: Right. So you started – you discovered, you say, yoga in 1995 in New York City, and you were on course to become an actor?
Paul Dallaghan: No, I had a academic background in economics and business, and I had done a bit of work in that after graduating in Europe, and I came interviewing on Wall Street, but something other, shall we say, was calling me. I wasn't that interested in getting a job, per se. You know, 23, 24, I felt, "Well, there's other things in my heart, and some of them just require exploration, and some, I can't put a finger on or express," but given a space and given a kind of a freedom, which is what I felt New York embodied and which is why I wanted to be there was to pull off the tie, quite literally, and explore. And one of the things I was interested in was the expression that might come through acting, et cetera, and so I went in and out of that over a couple of years there, and in the sense, sort of satisfied that urge or interest, but at the same time, the word "yoga" came into my vocabulary. When maybe I should've been looking at The New York Times help wanted section, instead, I was looking at obscure pages, say, on The Village Voice or whatever, and out of there popped the word "yoga" and my curiosity and so on from there.
Claudia A. Altucher: And so then you began a – it happened kind of fast because you began teaching in New York in 1998, so I guess – and you started with Sivananda, you had mentioned, I think, and had some explorations in that time?
Paul Dallaghan: Well, the first yoga session I ever took was Sivananda, but I also had a – got a job in a restaurant in the East Village, and I found a room in the top floor of that same building, but in between me and the restaurant was a small, young Jivamukti yoga studio.
Claudia A. Altucher: Wow.
Paul Dallaghan: So I used to have a key to the studio to go to my room, and – it just turned out, you know? So I sort of found myself, without any prior intention, in a sort of a yoga world zone. And early on, I got sort of a mental message, "Oh, you should teach yoga," but then the slightly erroneous, but rational side, said, "No, you've got other things to do."
Claudia A. Altucher: But when you say you got a message, what do you mean? You got a message from the universe? Did you read it in a billboard? How did that message come in?
Paul Dallaghan: [Laughs] Must've been a text message back in 1996. Oh, they didn't have text messages back in 1996.
Claudia A. Altucher: Right. [Laughs]
Paul Dallaghan: What I mean is you just get – I don't wanna go too much into that, but you just get sort of inner insights – or in this sense, it literally was an inner kind of voice or message that I chose to ignore until I couldn't ignore it after a few years –
Claudia A. Altucher: Well, no, once it puts the Jivamukti studio before your – between your bedroom and the world, it becomes kind of a – I mean, the mythology of that image is just enormous. [Laughs]
Paul Dallaghan: Yeah, but I – I was still intent – and I suppose I had to explore other aspects of my character or desire and ambitions, and they took a couple of years not so much to get satisfied, but to get extracted and somewhat beaten, even, so that I kind of realized what really speaks to me or interests me is, you know, to embody it in a yogic path, but it is sort of working within, working on the inside, working and – you know, via, I suppose, these practices on who I am, and I said, "Okay, let's go with life that way."
Claudia A. Altucher: So that's very interesting to me. So you – because you were very young, and to have that realization at such a young age, "Okay, let's go with what life takes – is sort of guiding me to do," is a little bit of a blessing.
Paul Dallaghan: Yes, but at that age, you don't think you're very young, you know? [Inaudible due to crosstalk] If you're 26, you don't think you're young. You're like, "Well, shouldn't I have done stuff already?" And that was part of my problem before that. It was like, "Well, I'm supposed to have got into this or done that or made that," and that's what was the kind of trajectory coming out of a academic and university setting, and that path, in itself, had to unravel.
And if anything, it wasn't – there's no sheer intelligence or genius on my part; it was more just, "Let me explore and take a risk," and in the process, it was kind of frustrating or a little bit challenging to, I suppose, ego and the mental side, but on the other side, it was exciting to just sort of be free and look at things. And within that, I suppose, because being willing to explore within that came a realization, which if you look at a life, you could say it came early, but I mean, I could almost say, "Well, why didn't it happen at 18 instead of 26?"
Claudia A. Altucher: Right, yeah, the mind can always complain.
Paul Dallaghan: Not – no, I wouldn't call it complaining, but it's more like the process of going through things is important to the process, you know? It's important to the discovery, to the understanding. So if you don't allow the process to go through, then it's always something that's one step away or at a distance or – so it's not just the, "Oh," you wake up at 18 or 48, you know, and there it is; it's rather that either life has kicked us into some difficulty or challenge or something inside is unsettled or dissatisfied or wants to search and look, and that actual process is the benefit in and of itself and the kind of revealing factor.
So whenever that comes up for – for me, you could say it was coming up early. It wasn't – the thoughts were there as a college student, but you're in kind of a nice, boxed world. You step out of that and then you're in the world, and so then those thoughts really came up, you know? "Okay, I can have a job, but that seems too easy," you know? Or it doesn't seem – "It won't satisfy me, so what else is there?" is the way my mind was looking at things at, I suppose, 24.
Laruga Glaser couldn't help but being a yoga teacher... It kept calling her, even when she was kicked out of a yoga teacher training!
Even though she experienced hardships growing up, meaning abuse, which I can relate to, she learned through yoga to transcend and heal.
I was taken by her presence and her pace. She exudes stillness, and she is very friendly.
As a teacher she has a heavy international traveling schedule as well as a Mysore program she runs daily in Stockholm.
I also appreciated how she helps us all give ourselves a break when she says (talking about the brutal winters in the Northern hemisphere)...
I do feel it is important to be sensitive to the seasonal shifts and adjust the rhythm of one’s practice during these times of external extremes, instead of trying to force the same pacing month after month
Claudia A. Altucher: Let me ask you something. It’s 4:00 PM in Stockholm, so I’m wondering: what did you do today?
Laruga Glaser: Oh, okay. Well –
Yeah, my usual schedule is – I’ll – first thing in the morning, I practice – I’ll do my practice, which is quite early.
Claudia A. Altucher: What is “quite early”?
Laruga Glaser: My alarm come – goes off at around 2:45 AM.
Claudia A. Altucher: Oh, my goodness.
Laruga Glaser: So – but that doesn’t mean that I necessarily get up right away. It depends on – sometimes I hit “snooze” a few times to be perfectly honest.
Claudia A. Altucher: Well, you’re very allowed. Anyone who puts the clock at 2:45 AM is allowed to “snooze it” in my world.
Laruga Glaser: Yeah, sometimes I need a little bit of a buffer. Sometimes I do pop out of bed right away, but sometimes I’ll – you know, it’s a good way for me to kind of segue myself out of bed.
Claudia A. Altucher: So what time do you go to bed then?
Laruga Glaser: In a perfect world: 8:00 PM. That doesn’t always happen. Usually, I really start winding down between 8:00 PM or 9:00 PM, but the best time for me to be in bed is before 8:30 PM, really.
Claudia A. Altucher: Yeah, you need that. For me, too, only I don’t wake up that early. That’s very impressive to me.
Laruga Glaser: Yeah, yeah, that’s important.
Claudia A. Altucher: And then what did you do?
Laruga Glaser: Then – so I’ll do my practice, then it’s like I have to, very quickly, kind of shower and get ready to head to the studio to teach. So my commute isn’t too bad – it’s about, from door-to-door, it’s maybe about 20 minutes?
Claudia A. Altucher: Do you go by train, I guess? Or –
Laruga Glaser: Yeah. Twenty – twenty-five minutes, really, actually. So, yeah, I catch a train into the city center and make my way to Yogayama to teach. So I start around – a little after 6:30AM is when I start teaching. So my boyfriend leaves, actually, earlier to open the doors; he opens the doors at the studio at 6:00 AM. So some students like to arrive before I arrive to get started.
Claudia A. Altucher: Right, right. Yeah.
Laruga Glaser: So he’s a really big help for me because then it allows me to have some breathing room to do my practice because I won’t – you know, it’s – I will not wake up at 2:00 AM or 1:00 AM to do my practice. [Laughs]
Claudia A. Altucher: No, that will be – yeah. That will be going Sharath – like, going a little – like, well, he has to ’cause he opens at 4:00 AM, but – yeah. So your boyfriend is very into Ashtanga yoga as well; in fact, you met him in Mysore, is that right?
Laruga Glaser: Yeah, I did. I met him in Mysore in 2009, and – yeah, so we both have this mutual passion or dedication for the practice, which is really nice. We – but, you know, yoga doesn’t necessarily consume our life and conversation day-to-day, but it really – we kind of just have this steady acknowledgment of that it’s something that we do daily. We support each other’s process, and also he supports my teaching, and I also support his practice and also his teaching. He teaches a little bit – not nearly as much because he has another full-time job. It’s a great thing to share together, so –
Claudia A. Altucher: Yeah, of course. And so you teach from 6:30 AM or so until what time?
Laruga Glaser: Until 10:00 AM.
Claudia A. Altucher: Ah, okay. Mysore – where you’re adjusting everybody depending on the level they’re at.
Laruga Glaser: Yes, yes. So –
Claudia A. Altucher: And what happens after 10:00 AM?
Laruga Glaser: So – oh, gosh. It could be so many things. You know, sometimes I have meetings and different things that have to do with teaching at Yogayama; other times, it’s a matter of me – you know, I’ll come back home, I’ll eat something ’cause, usually, after practice, I really don’t have time to eat, and, actually, don’t like to really eat too much before teaching – so it’s kind of really like my first meal after teaching. So I definitely try to have something to eat. And then I do need to rest and wind down after teaching.
Claudia A. Altucher: Of course, of course, and, you know, it’s interesting what you said right there, and I find this the more I practice. I’ve been practicing daily, non-stop, since 2007 – even though I started in ’05. Like, there’s always a transition between starting Ashtanga, but I find the more I practice, the less I want to eat until late in the day – seems to be – the practice seems to generate that.
Laruga Glaser: Yeah, I find it really interesting. But I have gone through different cycles with that where – you’re kind of in the practice in a way where it seems like the appetite drops where you want to eat later, but then I’ve also gone through some cycles, too, where it’s like – it seems like my body wants food earlier in the day or the metabolism or my appetite has increased. You know, sometimes it waxes and wanes, which I find kind of interesting as well.
Claudia A. Altucher: Well, maybe I’ll experience that when I get to higher levels. I am only in that primary – little bit of intermediate – series. Maybe when I get to the ultra-strong handstands and balances, poses that you have amazing photos of, maybe then my appetite will change.
Laruga Glaser: Well, I mean, that’s still high level. I think just daily practices and consistency and – that’s an advanced practice, too. I don’t know if it’s always – I don’t know if it’s always these other more advanced poses all the time, but –
Claudia A. Altucher: You talked recently – you said that you were – you had been experiencing, I think I heard this in an interview, a little bit of fatigue during a period of your practice, and –
Laruga Glaser: Oh, yeah. Yeah, I did. So, yeah – I just – it was a little bit like I kind of – just – I don’t know if the right term would be kind of “hitting a wall” a little bit – just – I think there are several factors going into it. One thing is, like, just adapting to living in Sweden. So when I first moved, it’s kind of like everything is new. And like, you know, the body and my – and everything is just kind of like calibrating to being in a new place, but
Claudia A. Altucher: Where were you living before Sweden?
Laruga Glaser: I was in the Midwest; I was in Columbus, Ohio.
Claudia A. Altucher: Where you were born?
Laruga Glaser: No, no, no. I actually was born in South Carolina.
Claudia A. Altucher: Oh, you were born in South Carolina? Oh.
Laruga Glaser: Yeah, I was born – but I didn’t stay there for long. So when my sister was born, she – we’re only 13 months apart –
Claudia A. Altucher: Oh.
Laruga Glaser: Yeah, so – yeah, that’s a quick turnover –
Claudia A. Altucher: Yeah, very quick.
Laruga Glaser: [Laughs] When she was born, then we moved away from South Carolina, and we moved to Illinois, where I grew up in a small town called Edwardsville that’s like in the southern part of the state – so, not close to Chicago. Like, every time I bring up the state Illinois, everyone thinks, “Oh, you were from Chicago” – which is actually where my dad is from originally. So I grew up there until about – yeah – the time that I graduated high school. And then I ended up in Columbus, Ohio, when I went to university there at Ohio State.
Claudia A. Altucher: What did you study in university?
Laruga Glaser: It’s really – so I changed my major, like, four or five times. But I actually – I graduated with a bachelor’s of science degree in human ecology with a focus on fashion merchandising.
Claudia A. Altucher: Wow. And then from that to yoga teacher?
Laruga Glaser: Yeah, yeah, so – yeah. I mean, it was – I think, too, because of the fact that I changed my major so many times, I was a little bit not – I was just a little bit confused on where to go. You know –
Claudia A. Altucher: But you started yoga really, really early, so you were practicing already by this time.
Laruga Glaser: Yeah, and I wasn’t – you know – I can’t say that I was super, super serious, but I was really – so when I first discovered yoga, and actually before I even started practicing Asana, I was really interested in spirituality, philosophy – you know, I was even dabbling in New Age thought; I was reading about meditation; I was reading about Buddhism – anything I could get my hands on when it came to just spirituality, different views of thought – and through that investigation, I came across like – that’s when I came across Ashtanga yoga, like the eight limbs, before even understanding that there’s an Asana practice called Ashtanga yoga.
So it was just like I had all this information, and then yoga just really sparked my interest. I just loved this – I don’t know – it just seemed so holistic in a way where it’s like – it was about self-investigation and about practice and self-reflection and just being guided within and all these things. It really spoke to me versus kind of like more religious establishments, kind of telling you from the outside: follow these rules, “Do this, do that.” The whole path of yoga kind of just – there was something in it that I acknowledged, that I recognized, that kind of sparked something within me. And then to find Asana practice, which was actually the tool of using the body to further this investigation, just really excited me. I just thought joining the use of the body with the mind and the spirit – I just felt like that was so amazing.
Claudia A. Altucher: Yeah, and I especially find that interesting particularly with Ashtanga yoga because it’s a type of – the Asana in the lineage of Pattabhi Jois is so challenging. They take the Asana part so seriously, and the breathing, that it really puts you in touch with the body right away. You start feeling that transformation in the body immediately, and so the questions begin to come because it’s so intense.
Laruga Glaser: Most definitely. Yeah, I mean – yeah, this gateway of using the breath and the body, so breathing consciously and just moving and – I just – I feel like in the Ashtanga yoga practice, yeah, there is an intensity, but it doesn’t necessarily always have to be intense. Sometimes, we can add on layers of intensity that don’t necessarily have to be there, but there’s something about this Asana practice where, you know, you’re kind of uniting breath and movement and you’re using the body as a tool where it’s just – you connect to all the sheaths of your body in a way where it’s not just physical. You feel the mental sheath, the subtle sheath, that all of these just kind of like – it’s like all of a sudden, you kind of connect to it.
And I remember, early on, when I was practicing, I didn’t really understand what that was – like, but then, later, when you kind of do something reading and you’re kind of like, “Oh, yeah. Okay. That’s kind of something that I was experiencing or connecting to.” But I will tell you, my first start with Asana practice – I was doing other forms, which I really enjoyed – like kind of softer forms, or a little bit more like Iyengar-type of inspired practices. But when I found Ashtanga yoga, it was like – I don’t know – it was just like the clouds parted, the angels sang –
I don’t know. Right away, I just had such a strong connection to it even though it was very challenging. It wasn’t like it just – everything just was so easy, but I just – there was something to it that just ran a little bit deeper inside that I hadn’t really experienced before.
I had to go. Badly. But one of my three roommates was taking a luxury long shower in the only bathroom. What to do?! No oh no! The thought crossed my mind...
Use the Indian bathroom? Me?
None of the four of us sub-leasing that house in Mysore, South India circa 2008 had yet opened THAT door.
None of us had dared step into the vortex of how two thirds of the world do their business.
But I had to. What was the alternative?
So I did.
I opened the door.... Slowly. Would the walls be splashed? Would there be water in the pot next to it? Would it even be clean? Would I fall into an infinite tunnel of shit?
No. Phew! Very clean.
I went outside to refill the pot with clean water, grabbed some extra toilette paper, closed the door, and did what I had to do.
Wait. What is this?
Even though it was uncomfortable, everything was easy... It almost felt... Hm, what is the word? NATURAL, human, normal. DIFFERENT.
Imagine my delight when I saw the episode of Shark Tank in which Bobby and Judy presented what they have come to call "Squatty-Potty" a company that created a stool so we can, IN THE WEST, squat easily...
Because I have this habit of calling anyone who helps me evacuate my intestines better I picked up the phone and gave Bobby and Judy a call and they agreed to go on the podcast that I do with lovely husband, "Ask Altucher".
The four of us had a lot to talk about. Almost every illness out there starts in the intestines.
Bobby shipped me two Squatty-Potties ahead of the podcast recording so I could try it myself, and I have to tell you, I noticed a few things right away...
If you get put off by talk of how the body works, maybe skip these points...
As a yogi, I am fascinated by this type of things
1) It works JUST like the Indian toilette, only it is EASIER because my muscles don't have to hold me in position, my legs simply raise to the occasion
2) It works. It is the right position in which to do "our business"
3) This is only for women... I know... But I noticed that I was able to empty my bladder to an extent I had never done before... I mean, it kept going and going... Like the pink bunny
I will let you hear the episode and I hope you try it...