IT'S 9.30AM, Bangkok time and Paul Dallaghan has been up since 3am, meditating, walking on the beach and practising asanas (yoga postures) before teaching his first yoga class of the day at 6am. Dallaghan is the founder and director of Yoga Thailand and has gained a reputation as one of the best (ashtanga) teachers in Asia. Many people from Hong Kong who have had the calling to become a yoga teacher have studied with him and next week he arrives here to give a number of workshops at Pure Yoga. Dallaghan has been invited over by owner Colin Grant to work primarily with the studio's teachers, but students can attend a limited number of workshops the Irishman will take with the Pure Yoga faculty. 'Several of our students have been to his retreat and teacher training in Thailand and all have said positive things about Paul,' says Grant. 'The next step was to bring him over here to enable him to work with more of our students and our teachers. Paul is the first of many guest teachers who will be visiting Pure Yoga over the next year. Having him here for a week will enable him to share his knowledge of yoga with our students and, equally important, with our teachers. Paul will basically have a teacher training programme for our teachers here instead of us flying 11 teachers to the United States for a week's training.' Dallaghan is pleased to take up the offer and says he is willing to visit anywhere where the traditions and integrity of yoga is practised. 'I see myself as a filter,' says the former business graduate of Dublin's Trinity College, 'of the teachings which have been taught to me by the masters and I try and make that connection with other teachers, or people who want to be teachers, to this long tradition.' Dallaghan discovered yoga in 1995 while he was an actor in New York City. He says yoga came to him and he had a calling to go out and become a teacher. Having experienced several types of yoga in The Big Apple, Dallaghan found the ashtanga style suited his approach as it mixes the very physical aspects of yoga with intense spiritual awareness and meditation. He studies ashtanga with the yogi Sri K Pattabhi Jois at his shalah in Mysore, India, for six months and teaches at his own school in Thailand for the rest of the year. 'Answering the call [to teach] has been the most profound and wonderful thing I have done in my life. I love to teach and do so with vigour and passion,' he says on his website. To be a yoga teacher, Dallaghan says you need to have practised seriously for at least two years. Yoga has to be first and foremost part of your life. 'It's like brushing your teeth,' he says. 'You wouldn't go a day without brushing your teeth, and it's this kind of commitment that's needed.' Nowadays, you can make a living from being a yoga teacher and in the current boom it's a trendy occupation. But Dallaghan says yoga is more powerful than the individual, it will do its own thing and if there is some dirt along the path you'll feel it, if you are not fully committed. 'Thousands of years ago a teacher would select students and in return the students would look after the teacher, care to his needs, cook for him and so on,' says Dallaghan. 'Today, this exchange is done through money, but the inner calling of the teacher is the same and the feeling of love from offering guidance is rewarding enough.' Dallaghan believes, as do other yoga teachers, that while the advertisements saying: 'lose weight, obtain a better body, feel good and reduce stress' may entice many people to try yoga for the physical aspect, in time the spiritual awareness also takes over for those who become serious about their practice. 'When you go to the sink and there's a dirty coffee cup, you don't reuse it again until you've cleaned it,' says Dallaghan. 'And to do that you pour water into it, but it becomes cloudy and murky from the stains. If you stop the water, the cup will stay like that, but if you keep pouring water, depending on the force, the cup will become clean. The intensity of a yoga practice is the same, when the breathing, the awareness and the physical movement become one you get that cleanliness within. The nervous system becomes stronger and you have a more healthy reaction to stimuli and find yourself not becoming irritated with life on the same level as before.' Dallaghan recommends that anyone practicing yoga, at whatever level, the important thing is to go at your own pace. 'It's an individual journey and if you feel the calling then go deeper but it's all about what you are ready for now,' he says. Workshops for students: Two classes in Central on September 22 and 24, 7pm-9pm, and two in Causeway Bay on September 23 and 25, 7.30pm-9.30pm. These are offered as pairs of classes at $500. Students should do two in Central or two in Causeway Bay. Pure Yoga is also holding a three-hour workshop ($350) with Dallaghan on September 27, 2pm-5pm in Central and on September 28 in Causeway Bay, 10am-1pm. The Sunday workshop is an advanced class and students will need prior teacher permission. For more information call Pure Yoga on 2971 0055 or 2970 2299, or go to www.pure-yoga.com . For more information on Paul Dallaghan's yoga retreats and teacher training in Thailand visit www.yoga-thailand.com .