Modern Yogi Goes to Paros (Ashtanga Yoga Retreat – Gregor Maehle & Monica Gauci)10 min read

Our relationship with Gregor Maehle started with his books. First we read the classic black book for the primary series & the analysis of the Yoga Sutras, and the journey had just began…. We started reading it with passion and we continued with the rest of the four books. Almost every night we used to discuss with ecstasy on the phone what we have read, we exchanged questions or discussed whatever impressed us. We were saying FINALLY a teacher at the system of Ashtanga Yoga that worked meticulously and gives us on paper instructions for the whole practice, all the techniques, simple enough to understand, using a method that is accessible to everybody.

Our practice and the way we approached the system slowly started to change, all the things that we may have thought and much more were written in front of us. And when we started to wonder how we are going to manage to meet him, we saw in his schedule that he was coming in Paros with his wife, Monica Gauci. The perfect opportunity.. we booked our spots immediately for June 2018 with tons of excitement!

Gregor Maehle began his yogic practices in 1978. Since then he studied with various yogic and tantric masters, traditional Indian sadhus and ascetics (Including B.N.S. Iyengar, BKS Iyengar, K. Pattabhi Jois) and he studied Sanskrit under Professor Narayanachar and Dr Chandrasekhar.

He lived for several years as a recluse, studying Sanskrit and yogic scripture and practising yogic techniques. Together with his wife, Monica, in 1996 they founded 8 Limbs in Perth, Australia, which they co-directed for 21 years.

Gregor’s internationally acclaimed textbook series consisting of Ashtanga Yoga: Practice and Philosophy, Ashtanga Yoga: The Intermediate Series, Pranayama: The Breath of Yoga, Yoga Meditation: Through Mantra, Chakras and Kundalini to Spiritual Freedom and Samadhi The Great Freedom – have sold more than 75,000 copies worldwide and have been translated into eight foreign languages. (Full Bio at the end of the article)

Monica has studied and practiced Yoga since 1978. She is dedicated Yogi, a compulsive Educator, a registered Yoga Therapist and a rehabilitative Doctor of Chiropractic! She was authorized in 1996 by K. Pattabhi Jois to teach Ashtanga Yoga and is also registered at the highest level with both Yoga Alliance (ERYT 500) and Yoga Australia (Level 3 Membership).

Monica has published ‘Ashtanga Yoga Beginners Course Manual for Teachers‘ which is a step-by-step guide on how to teach Ashtanga Yoga safely and effectively to beginners. She is also a contributing author to Ashtanga Yoga, Practice and Philosophy and Ashtanga Yoga, The Intermediate Series in the areas of asana, anatomy, injury prevention and rehabilitation. (Full Bio at the end of the article)

After all that we had read our expectations were really high and on the first day of the retreat when we all sat on the circle to meet each other we were asked what we are expecting from this retreat. The answer was simple, “to meet you, your books were so informative that we just wanted to have a direct experience”. The next week was catalytic for us to have a full image. Gregor and Monica approached us as they were our friends, in just a few days they managed to come close to all of the 24 people that were there and gave personal attention & care to each practitioner individually. We are all equal they kept saying, ask whatever it’s on your mind, we are here to serve you, and the knowledge was shared generously, without any second thought.

A sweet, calm energy was all around in the class all the days we were there, power and grace (sthira bhaga). Love for all the humans, for nature, for animals without obsessions and exaggerations, pure love. Early in the morning we practised asana mysore style and in the afternoon philosophy, pranayama and meditation.

Gregor has a deep knowledge of the scriptures and the techniques of the practice, in all the aspects of the eight limbed path, he is a humanist and is fully conscious of the situation of the planet in our times. He truly gives his whole being to pass on this sacred gift called yoga, with hope that each person individually will understand it’s Divine presence, and through that love for the self and the planet will develop which will allow human kind to continue it’s existence and live peacefully. Spirituality has a meaning here and now, he kept saying.

Monica with her healing touch and all the energy that surrounds her is the absolute feminine presence, all the feminine qualities, softness, caring, creativity were entering the room with her, it was something amazing to see. Although most of us were there because of Gregor’s books, the first thing that you noticed was Monica’s energy in the room. She always took care of the flowers, she taught us chanting and with her comments to each one of us and her general approach to the practice she pushed you to truly love yourself and build a nurturing practice.

Moreover I don’t want to forget to say about all the fun we had and all the good times we had outside of the classes. We were only 5 Greeks and we were teasing and laughing were all the time, we kept  saying to them that the schedule is not suitable with the life in a Greek island in the middle of the summer and more things like that.

The last day we sat in the usual circle to say goodbye and Gregor told us a story, that in his first trip in Greece that was in Crete he read a book called Zorbas that really influenced him later on his path. He told us that hanging around with the Greeks the last days, he saw live what he have read, spirituality in real life. We left with our minds and our hearts full and with the promise for our next meeting.

We came back in Athens with more tools in our personal yoga tool box and our mind a little bit different. Our approach as practitioners and as teachers changed a lot. Keep wondering and question everything, observe if what they serve you truly suits you, treat every human being individually, not everything suits to everybody but everyone has the right to it’s Higher Nature from the day we first placed our feet on Earth, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Practice all the limbs of yoga, not only the physical, you can do more! This is only a small fraction of the knowledge that was given these days and changed our practice and our teachings. Pranayama and meditation started to have a more active presence in our practice and by extension to our students.

Modern Yogi was in the making then and of course we couldn’t miss the chance to ask them for an interview and they happily agreed. The interviews will be published shortly in the website and we feel really grateful for that. Also Gregor will be in Athens on the 15th of April at Enjoy Practice studio at Melissia(event link), so if you are practising Ashtanga yoga don’t miss the chance!

We should also mention the beautiful island that hosted us. Paros in June is amazing & calm it has all the traditional cycladic elements, with white and blue colours everywhere around you, and of course the beaches and the food are fantastic. Paros is a beautyful island with relaxed rythms and good prices. We swam at Santa Maria, Mikri Santa, Kolimpithres, Chrisi Akti and also at the village that we were staying Ampellas. Naousa has a variety of restaurants with great food with background the tiny streets and the bougainvilleas. Also the village Leykes has nice taverns and amazing view and it deserves a visit, or two.

Namaste

Marianna Thimiaki & Anthony Charalampous

 

About Gregor Maehle:

Gregor Maehle began his yogic practices in 1978. In the mid-1980s he commenced annual travels to India, where he studied with various yogic and tantric masters, traditional Indian sadhus and ascetics. After practising with BKS Iyengar he spent fourteen months in Mysore, and in 1997 was authorised to teach Ashtanga Yoga by K. Pattabhi Jois*. Since then he has branched out into researching the anatomical alignment of postures and the higher limbs of yoga. He gained his anatomical knowledge through a Health Practitioner degree and has also studied history, philosophy and comparative religion.

In India Gregor also received eight months of mostly one-on-one instruction in scripture and the higher limbs of Yoga through B.N.S. Iyengar, a student of T. Krishnamacharya, and he studied Sanskrit under Professor Narayanachar and Dr Chandrasekhar. He lived for several years as a recluse, studying Sanskrit and yogic scripture and practising yogic techniques. Together with his wife, Monica, in 1996 they founded 8 Limbs in Perth, Australia, which they co-directed for 21 years. They now live in a rain forest in the hinterland of Byron Bay where they conduct occasional Teacher Training Immersions.

Gregor’s internationally acclaimed textbook series consisting of Ashtanga Yoga: Practice and Philosophy, Ashtanga Yoga: The Intermediate Series, Pranayama: The Breath of Yoga, Yoga Meditation: Through Mantra, Chakras and Kundalini to Spiritual Freedom and Samadhi The Great Freedom – have sold more than 75,000 copies worldwide and have been translated into eight foreign languages. Further volumes are in progress. He has been invited to many countries to teach and has contributed to and been interviewed by numerous yoga magazines.

Today he teaches an anatomically sophisticated interpretation of traditional vinyasa yoga, integrated into the practice of the higher limbs in the spirit of Patanjali and T. Krishnamacharya. His zany sense of humour, his manifold personal experiences, and his vast and deep knowledge of scripture, Indian philosophies and yogic techniques combine to make his teachings applicable, relevant and easily accessible to all his students. Apart from offering with Monica Teacher Trainings and Immersions in Melbourne, Perth, Tokyo, Byron Bay and Bali, Gregor also teaches retreats and workshops in various locations around the world.

You will find Gregor’s blog page here and his Facebook page here.

 

About Dr Monica Gauci:

Monica has studied and practiced Yoga since 1978. She is dedicated Yogi, a compulsive Educator, a registered Yoga Therapist and a rehabilitative Doctor of Chiropractic!

In 1996 Monica was authorized by K. Pattabhi Jois* to teach Ashtanga Yoga. She is registered at the highest level with both Yoga Alliance (ERYT 500) and Yoga Australia (Level 3 Membership).

Since the age of 24 years, Monica has studied many disciplines of the Healing Arts, including Reiki, Australian Bush Flower Essences, Applied Kinesiology, Lomi Lomi massage and emotional release techniques. In 2008 Monica graduated with 1st class honour as a Doctor of Chiropractic. Additionally, she received numerous awards for Academic Excellence.

Monica has published ‘Ashtanga Yoga Beginners Course Manual for Teachers‘ which is a step-by-step guide on how to teach Ashtanga Yoga safely and effectively to beginners. She is also a contributing author to Ashtanga Yoga, Practice and Philosophy and Ashtanga Yoga, The Intermediate Series in the areas of asana, anatomy, injury prevention and rehabilitation.

In 1996 Monica co-founded 8 Limbs Yoga in Perth, Australia, which they co-directed for 21 years. They now live in a rain forest in the hinterland of Byron Bay where they conduct occasional Immersions. Together offer yoga teacher trainings, retreats and workshops in many locations around the globe. Monica loves to write articles on helping people to heal themselves. She is available for workshops on a variety of topics as well as one-on-one Yoga Therapy consultations and private Yoga tuition.

Monica’s breadth of knowledge, her insight, her calm manner and playful personality make learning from her easy and enjoyable!

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