Paul Dallaghan - SamahitaWellness Expert
Paul Dallaghan is the co-founder and CEO of Samahita Retreat, Thailand’s very first dedicated yoga retreat, operating since 2003 on the tropical island of Koh Samui. In addition to running Samahita, Paul continues to teach yoga internationally while also researching its effects with an empirical scientific approach based on original textual study. He recently conducted a large clinical study as a PhD scholar at Emory University. As a scientist, educator and entrepreneur he drives the evolution of Samahita and its teachings, while still drawing from deep traditions of yoga and healthy living.
Paul completed his initial academic studies in economics and business but due to an early personal experience of the inner nature of meditation, he was driven on a personal search for meaning and what made sense in his life. For the past 25 years, he has immersed himself in the path of yoga and meditation, studying and practising at an advanced level, much of it in India, to become one of the world’s senior teachers of yoga (asana and pranayama breath) and meditative practices. He has had the good fortune to spend many rich years with his main teacher in pranayama and the meditative process, Sri O.P. Tiwari, and is now placed to carry forth these teachings and the tradition of Kuvalayananda.
1. What inspired you to create Samahita?
The motivation has always come from a genuine desire to share beneficial practices that can positively impact people’s lives and the lifestyle that comes with that.
Back in 1999, after some years of teaching in New York, I was asked by some students to lead them in teacher training. This triggered me to establish Centered Yoga which now 20 continuous years later is a world leader in yoga training, offered here at Samahita. It was in NYC that I met my partner, now business partner, Jutima, originally from Thailand. To dive deeper into the study and practice of yoga we packed up our lives in New York in 2001 and moved to India, but while visiting Koh Samui found it to be a perfect spot for practice and sharing yoga. We wanted a higher standard in food and setting than average resorts could offer so decided to set up our own space that was dedicated to offering a lifestyle that supported people in their lives, beyond just mere vacations.
Living and breathing this lifestyle ourselves in a fully authentic way, personally experiencing the benefits and incredible life hacking power, allowed for no alternative but to share it with others. We became pioneers in the retreat-resort-healthy lifestyle work and continue to be for over 17 years on the island, 12 years at our current location.
2. What's the philosophy behind the Yoga at Samahita?
A deep yogic understanding of how and why to do asana and use the breath lies behind Samahita’s yoga practices. I have personally spent over 20 years immersed in yoga practices including being one of the most senior teachers worldwide in the breath (pranayama) yogic practices, and bring this experience to the offering of yoga classes at Samahita.
Of ancient origins yoga asana is incredibly effective at both strengthening and opening the body leading to balance across the different bodily systems. Our emphasis is on core support to aid inner organs first by managing the autonomic nervous system, and second, for equal impact on the spine. In this process, mobility is key with strength and flexibility as good outcomes of the conditioning power of yoga asana. To help this development, we offer both guided dynamic and restorative classes as well as teacher-assisted self-practice.
3. Do you have to be an advanced yogi to come to Samahita?
Not at all. While we do have many advanced practitioners and teachers join our advanced trainings and various retreats, as well as our daily programmes, we pride ourselves on catering towards all levels, including complete beginners to yoga. There is no pressure to be at a certain level and many of our guests that come are brand new to yoga or fitness and leave with new practices in hand to take home.
4. What is YogaCoreCycle and why was it developed?
YogaCoreCycle is our signature programme and combines, in separate classes, yoga practices on breathwork, meditation, dynamic and restorative physical yoga classes, with fitness elements including beach view indoor cycling for cardio and several core workout classes in both moderate and high intensity. It includes up to five hours of classes a day, all optional for guests to pick their best selection or just do it all. It is about a balance across the body, the breath, and the mind and giving tools to attend to each.
The programme was designed to offer your body and mind an integrated yoga and functional fitness approach. I developed this programme with input by athlete trainer and movement expert, Arielle Nash-Degagne, and it has grown out of our long-term (over 40 years) experience in the world of yoga, meditation, health and fitness.
All our wellness programmes incorporate the classes from YogaCoreCycle plus the additional benefit of treatments and therapies with a choice of Detox, Weight Loss, Total Self-Care and our latest Brain Health Upgrade programme.
5. What's unique about Samahita?
There are so many options for people these days between retreat centres and hotels that offer yoga and wellness. We come with years of experience and living what we teach, to deliver the highest quality of retreat and wellness experience from our food, the environment and quality of teaching and facilities. We are 100% committed to this, so are different from a hotel with yoga where other guests may be partying, or a retreat that allows drinking and smoking. Our guests come specifically to get away from all that and are relieved to know that a sanctuary like ours exists.
For us it is not about profit focus, trying to satisfy everyone’s different wishes, which only ends up with a diluted approach to the guest, but really about making a positive impact to those who are looking for tools to transform their health - mentally, physically and spiritually - with the desire to improve their lives.
6. Are beginners to yoga welcome and what would you recommend for them?
Absolutely and YogaCoreCycle is perfect for a beginner. The choice of classes within the programme means that each day a guest can pick and choose what they want to participate in, whether just a couple of classes or the full schedule, and the teachers are all highly experienced with dealing with beginners. Our unique position as leaders in yoga and fitness means we can truly cater to all levels of guests’ yoga and fitness ability. We welcome all who want to work on their wellbeing.
If this interview has got you interested in starting your wellness journey at Samahita call our wellness advisors at 020 7843 3597 or enquire here .