Q&A with Farah Nazarali
What was the motivation for offering this retreat? Specifically, this particular retreat, at this time of year? What makes it special?
The holiday season can be a difficult time of year. If you are estranged from your family or if there are toxic and dysfunctional dynamics among family members, the holiday season can be emotionally stressful and draining. In addition, December tends to be a time of year of over-indulgence; excessive sugar and alcohol consumption, over-eating, late nights, and the amplified hustle and bustle of consumerism that reaches its peak during Christmas.
What I have noticed in myself and in many students is a hangover from the crazy excess of the holiday season and a lack of motivation to start with new habits until after New Year Eve when there is a repetition of excess and indulgence. I decided to offer Bija: Planting Seeds for the New Year On-Line Retreat to help people face the holiday season with a different approach- moderation, simplicity, and yogic practices that keep us grounded and balanced. What is unique about this Retreat, is that it offers a combination of live and pre-recorded components so students can participate in family and social gatherings and fit classes and workshops into their day. A typical day looks like this: a morning yoga video, trying out a healthy plant-based recipe, attending an optional 2 hour workshop, and ending your day with a live Yoga for Sleep class.
You mention in the outline that everything we do and say impacts our subconscious. How can yoga and the practices at this retreat harness this power/help with potentially negative patterns we wish to change?
There is a famous saying, “Watch your thoughts, they become your words. Watch your words, they become your deeds. Watch your deeds, they become your habits. Watch your habits, they determine your character.” By immersing in yogic practices and yogic wisdom, we become more aware and conscious of our actions, our words, and our thoughts. Through this consciousness, we can change our habits. All of this happens through practice. As Baba Hari Dass, says, “If you work on your yoga, your yoga will work on you.” Yoga is more than physical postures, it is a holistic system of awakening consciousness. When consciousness awakens, we can shift our perception, change long-standing behaviours that don’t serve us and most importantly, we awaken to love and Divine Grace. Our lives become more purposeful and oriented towards serving others and in being in right relationship with Mother Nature.
You are very generously donating the proceeds of this retreat to the Salt Spring Centre of Yoga. Can you tell us about what prompted this beautiful gift, and whether/how you consider this to be part of the practice of yoga?
I am honoured to raise funds for the Salt Spring Centre of Yoga and to share part of the proceeds of this Retreat to the Centre. All wisdom traditions know that the secret to living abundantly is sharing and generosity. Giving is one of the Six Perfections in the book the Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life written by Master Shantidev, and when I studied this book, I became inspired to test for myself whether generosity works in creating abundance. My karmic experiments over the years have proven over and over again that sharing and generosity are the best ways to ensure prosperity for all. Clinging and grasping to our money and possessions is rooted in scarcity. One of the Gurus from my Lineage says, “the goddess Lakshmi doesn’t like to be captured”. The true purpose of prosperity is sharing and the dharma of wealth is to provide for others.
What are some things that retreat participants can expect to take away from this experience?
My hope in offering this Retreat is to inspire people to commit to practicing yoga and testing for themselves the ethical guidelines of yoga – the yamas and niyamas. In yoga, ethical living is not an ideology or dogma, it is offered as a science for happiness. When we integrate ethics into our daily life and into our relationships, we develop confidence, esteem and integrity. These foundational qualities help us develop trust and faith in life regardless of our life circumstances. Even amidst hardship and challenge, we can lean on ethics to provide us with a guide and road map that will lead us towards harmony and integrity.
Can you say anything about how your yoga practice and teaching have been impacted during the pandemic? Has it brought any parts of practice/teaching more strongly to the fore? Why?
I feel very fortunate that throughout the pandemic, I have been able to continue teaching. My sadhana has strengthened, my commitment to yoga has deepened, and my appreciation for technology has grown! Prior to the pandemic, I never imagined offering a Retreat on-line. The pandemic offered me an opportunity to get creative and experiment with using technology to spread yogic wisdom. The feedback from students who attended the first Retreat was so positive, I offered a second on-line Retreat and made a commitment to continue to offer on-line Retreats during the Winter time. One of my favorite english language words is ‘inter-being’. This describes my motivation for teaching on-line (and in-person). I am inspired by my students and their commitment and interest in yoga. Pandemic or not, as humans we need yoga. I feel very grateful to my Guru for his inspiration and guidance on the yogic path and I am grateful to Baba Hari Dass and the many spiritual teachers whose lives inspire me to practice more, serve more, and love more.
Farah’s retreat BIJA: Planting Seeds for the New Year will take place online from Dec 27, 2021 – Jan 1, 2022
Suggestion donation: $108 – $395 (30% of all revenue will be donated to the the SSCY and the OM Ashram)
Farah is an inspirational yoga teacher, podcast host, and advocate of yogic practices that support health, happiness and harmony. She is founder of Drishti Point yoga Podcasts and has hosted podcasts for Hollyhock, Banyen Books, and Vancouver Co-op Radio. Farah specializes in facilitating transformational experiences in Retreat settings in BC and internationally. She teaches locally at Xenia Centre, Salt Spring Centre of Yoga, Hollyhock Leadership Centre, and leads international Yoga Retreats with True Nature Travels. She has a deep love for all things yoga and is profoundly inspired by the sacred texts of yoga, the teachings of Buddhism, and wisdom traditions that lead us to love, truth, and being of service. Learn more about Farah at: www.farahnazarali.com