“Empty within, empty without, empty like a pot in space. Full within, full without, full like a pot in the ocean.”
Hathapradipika compiled by Swatmarama and translated by Akers (2002, p.98)
This year we have been inspired by the writings of Thich Nhat Hanh, especially in relation to the concept of śunya, which in yoga can be translated as space, void or emptiness. Thich Nhat Hanh aptly writes: “When people hear the word “emptiness” they often panic because they tend to equate emptiness with nothingness.” He goes further to suggest that “To be or not to be, that is no longer the question. The question is one of interbeing.” (The Other Shore, 2017, p. 28)
This insight from a modern Buddhist monk is also found in the Haṭhapradīpikā, one of the key texts of haṭhayoga from 1450 which describes the state of śunya: “Empty within, empty without, empty like a pot in space. Full within, full without, full like a pot in the ocean.” (Akers, 2002, p. 98)
From these two perspectives, we may come to understand that space is not devoid of sensation or meaning, but rather, if we can relax into the sensing of emptiness it may be felt as an experience of fullness and complete wholeness.
The urban retreat offers an opportunity to touch into this natural spacious wholeness that supports a profound sense of interrelationship both in body and community. The retreat provides a much needed sanctuary where a new understanding and experience of boundless space can be discovered and assimilated through yoga practice, the power of story and the sharing of conversation and community.
Let’s dive deep into the transformative power of retreat, together.
Anna and Jean
Anna Ashby has been studying and practising yoga for over 30 years and teaching for over 20 years. Anna is one of London’s leading yoga teachers and a dedicated triyoga teacher. Anna is a founder and senior faculty member of triyoga’s teacher training program and holds the highest level of certification from Yoga Alliance both in the UK and in the US (E-RYT 500/Senior Teacher). Anna’s teaching style has evolved from her study of dance, in-depth training with established, classical yoga systems that focus on alignment, and a dedicated yoga practice that developed while she lived for 12 years in a yoga ashram in upstate New York.
Jean Hall has spent much of her life exploring bodywork disciplines, travelling and practicing yoga.
Having discovered yoga whilst training as a dancer it soon became an integral part of Jean’s life, leading her to qualify as yoga teacher in 1995 and continue to study different forms of yoga and movement practices with many great teachers from many diverse backgrounds.
Jean teaches a somatic style of flow (vinyasa) yoga that stems from a deep listening within, so that the body’s wisdom and knowing can be heard, felt and valued. Jean is a co-founder of triyoga’s advanced teacher training programme and is an author of published yoga books.