Meet Wellness Director and Yoga Teacher Claudia Jones
Claudia is a committed student of Ashtanga Yoga, Pranayama, and Meditation. Inspired by her time with Sri K Pattabhi Jois and his grandson Sharath in Mysore, she went on to complete her Centered Yoga Training in 2007. She has spent much time in India deepening her practices with many incredible and gifted teachers, most recently studying Pranayama in Lonavla with Sri O.P.Tiwari, and previously experiencing Vipassana Meditation courses in Dharamsala and Sarnath in the style of S N Goenka.
In 2001, Claudia established the successful Bay Tree Holistic Health and Yoga Centre in the South of England, which she ran until its sale in 2006. Claudia has taught Yoga and retreats both on the Greek Islands and in Goa, India. She brings a wealth of knowledge and experience of holistic health, complementary therapies and yoga to Thailand, and is delighted to be here full time as a Yoga teacher and Samahita Wellness Director.
My yoga journey began with Integral Yoga and the teachings of Sri Swami Satchidananda and I followed classes in this style for some time before coming to the practice of Ashtanga. Encouraged to attend my first Ashtanga class by a friend, I was instantly ‘hooked’. There was something about the way it worked incorporating the breath and bandhas that ignited a spark within. I felt alive, strong, and yet surprisingly peaceful. This was the practice I had been looking for.
Over the next few months I was fortunate enough to attend workshops with expert teachers and started to feel the benefits of this practice. It was not long before I found myself in East London’s Brick Lane attending five early morning sessions of Ashtanga Yoga in the presence of Sri K Pattabhi Jois, ‘Guruji’, and his grandson Sharath. Upon meeting them, I knew instantly that I would soon be heading to Mysore to practice at their Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute. The daily challenge of the early morning practice in Mysore helped me to develop enough discipline to begin sitting for meditation. This was excellent preparation for Vipassana.
I sat my first 10day Vipassana course in 2006 in Sarnath, near Varanasi, India. For anyone who doesn’t know, Vipassana is a very simple meditation technique that focuses on the breath and observation of sensations in the body, leading to present moment awareness. The 10day silent meditation course is testing in so many ways yet the rewards are great. I felt a huge shift in my awareness as a result of the first course and a year later I sat my second Vipassana course in Dharamsala, India.
It was during this colourful trip to India, that I felt a desire to share my experience of yoga so far. I had spent time in Mysore practicing Ashtanga with ‘Guruji’ and stayed in various ashrams exploring their teachings. I had sat Vipassana courses to grapple with my mind and cleansed my body with Ayurvedic Panchakarmas. I had received a lot and felt the need to share again; I wanted to teach Yoga.
This led me to attend the Centered Yoga Training with Paul Dallaghan on Koh Samui in 2007. I immediately connected with the approach to asana offered at Samahita Retreat and the sincerity with which the philosophy was shared. It was during these five intense yet powerful weeks that I experienced a traditional Pranayama practice for the first time. I immediately connected with the practice knowing it was taking me deeper, I enjoyed the sense of timelessness it gave me. This was something I had to continue.
Inspired to study pranayama further, I was excited to attend a one month long certification programme with Paul’s teacher, Sri O P Tiwari in Lonavla, India in November 2008. I immediately loved the simplicity of ‘Tiwariji’s’ teachings and the humour and warmth with which he shared them. The scientific research into Pranayama fascinated me and helped me to understand why this practice is so beneficial for both body and mind. I find that taking the time to practice Pranayama in the morning gives me a sense of peace and balance that I can draw upon throughout the day.
For some time prior to discovering the practices of Ashtanga, Pranayama and Vipassana I had been immersed in the world of complementary therapies. My enthusiasm for a healthy lifestyle had led me to open the Bay Tree Holistic Health Center in Bournemouth, England in 2001. The centre comprised a number of therapy rooms and a Mind Body Spirit store. A wide variety of treatments were offered including Aromatherapy, Reflexology and Reiki and many more. Its aim was to inspire and educate people to take care of their own wellbeing.
The idea to create the ‘Bay Tree’ had come to me during a trip to Byron Bay, a rather hippie town on the East coast of Australia. During my stay, I came across many complementary therapies including the ancient healing art of Reiki. Although I had very little understanding of ‘healing’, I felt a strong pull towards learning Reiki and on my return to England I swiftly attended a course. I spent the next eighteen months deepening my understanding of Reiki and learning a number of other complementary therapies.
My ongoing passion for health and wellbeing has led me on an exciting journey of self-discovery for many years now. I have experimented with both ancient and modern cleansing practices, approaches to diet and nutrition, styles of exercise and physical fitness and ways to lead a healthy, balanced lifestyle. In the five years that I ran the Bay Tree Holistic Health Center, I learned much about health and healing. I understood that complete health requires a nourishing of all aspects of our being from the physical through to the spiritual. It is an understanding of this balance that I hope I bring to Samahita Retreat in my role of Samahita Wellness Director.
I take pleasure in guiding and supporting our guests through detox and wellness programs, therapies and yoga practices that may inspire them to continue on their journey toward true health and happiness.