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The Union of Opposites: 4-day Thailand Retreat

  • the sanctuary koh phangan Thailand (map)

"Conventional relationship is the dramatization of each others' imagined limitations" — from 'Yoga of Heart.' 

A four-day retreat with Mark Whitwell exploring intimacy with body, breath, and relationship with all. Hosted by Eric and Maanee of Amane Curated.

We need the practical tools from the great tradition to realise our beautiful ideals for relationship. Around the world, many schools and teachers are selling "neo-tantra" — sexual exaggeration without a basis in actual hatha yoga, which is the practical means for us to feel our intimacy with ourselves, and then our intimacy with everything else, including perhaps a chosen other.

Against this trend, Mark teaches hatha yoga as handed down from the Tradition as participation in the union of opposites — the perfect intrinsic union of male and female that is all of life. There is no getting to it, because we are it. Rather than gymnastic, energetic, sexual, or any other kind of exaggeration, authentic yoga is simply participation in the given reality, allowing us to truly see and receive ourselves and one another.

Real yoga is not a project to get somewhere, as if you are not somewhere. Such activity IS the denial of the feminine in search of future possibilites. Mark teaches us to come back into horizontal relatedness with all ordinary conditions and feel the wonder that is already our lives. Only then does relationship become possible. We need the practical tools to relate to ourselves as the power of the cosmos, arising as pure intelligence and utter beauty, before we can hope to recognise this in another and overlook their social patterning — their "imagined limitations". We don't need to endlessly resolve or dissect our neuroses: we become utterly distracted by tangibly feeling the beauty of what is already right here. The precise technology of practice, as taught by the grandfather of modern Yoga, T. Krishnamacharya, tailored to each individual, gives us the practical means to relate heart to heart rather than mind to mind. In this way we learn to truly relate and bypass the social mess.

Sex is not a game, a stimulating entertainment, a search, a distraction, or a tension release. It is a communciation of love, a deeply sacred and private affair between two individuals. Yet it has been toxified in the world as a casual, exaggerated, or repressed affair, leaving us in pain and confusion. Yoga is the means by which we heal the primal knot caused by this dysfunctional inheritance. Through actual practice we discover how to relax and resensitize the body, so it can truly and yogically love another, rather than just using other people to try and feel something. Sensitivity to our own embodiement naturally gives us sensitivity to another's.