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.