The Yoga of Chocolate: A Journey through the Senses - Sacred Valley, Peru
In Patanjali’s 8 Limbs of Yoga, the fifth limb, pratyahara, is often defined as 'a withdrawal of the senses'. With it’s central location it could also be considered the “bridge limb” - the point where the outer can become inner (and vice versa).
However, a less common translation, and more accurate, translation of the word pratyahara is to recover our senses.
Scholars of yoga philosophy often regard pratyahara as the 'forgotten limb' of yoga, it's importance being gravely undervalued and ignored. Pratyahara is intimately related to ALL the limbs of yoga, as they all - from asana to samadhi—contain aspects of pratyahara; It is the basis for meditation and provides the gateway towards the higher practices of yoga: dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation), and samadhi (absorption/oneness).
In this 8 day/7 night retreat, we will turn the spotlight on this forgotten limb, weaving together asana, meditation, breathwork, somatic movement, sacred ritual and ceremony, indigenous healing practices, and (drum roll)... CHOCOLATE as the vehicles with which we will use to recover, revitalize, and deepen our sensory awareness.
And we will do so while surrounded and supported by the energy of the Sacred Valley of Peru, an area famous for it's apus (which means mountain in Quechua, the language of the indigenous people of this part of Peru). The retreat center hosting us, Sach'a Munay (which in Quechua translates as love from the ancient forests) has been built with the utmost respect for the land, following permacultural principles in all of it's construction. Sach'a Munay is a sanctuary for deep work, with hardly a detail overlooked (including the magestic new yoga temple which has been built on top of quartz crystal & has a window down into the Earth/quartz at the center of the temple.)
*You also have the option to extend your journey with a tour of several cacao farms in the Quillabamba region followed by a visit to Machu Picchu immediately after the retreat ends. (Details below)
"Pratyahara does not mean suppressing the senses! We need our mind and senses to be outward in order to function in the world and enjoy life. Pratyahara means training and mastering the mind and senses so they stop roaming aimlessly, depleting us of our vital energies (prana) in the process." ~ Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, PhD
Cacao originates from the Amazon River Basin, an area that includes Peru. For thousands of years, cacao has been considered a sacred food; a food high both in nutritional and energetic components. And, for me personally, it's much more than food - it's medicine.
Cacao (chocolate) has been an integral part of my yogic path for decades. To me, it is prasad, an offering. And I'm far from the only one who sees it that way - cacao was known to the Ancient Mayans as a powerful heart opener and potent healer. (It's origins are in South America, but it's cultivation originated in Central America) It is an ancient plant teacher and facilitator that can assist one with the journey deep into our hearts.
Chocolate will be one of the tools used as a means of directing the our attention inward. It's the perfect tool, actually, as chocolate is one of the most complex foods on the planet, more than twice as complex as wine in it's flavor notes! With mindful exploration, chocolate can teach us how to slow down and really taste, savor, and enjoy our present moment experiences.
Optional Cacao Farm & Machu Pichhu Tour:
Immediately following our retreat time at Sach'a Munay, you have the option of continuing your journey with a trip to the beautiful cloud forests of Quillabamba, an area which also happen to be one of the primary growing regions for cacao in Peru, and where one of Peru's rarest varieties of cacao is grown.
Upon completion of our retreat, we will leave as a group to Cusco. From Cusco, those who will be continuing on will continue on to Quillabamba (approx 5 hour drive) where we will spend the next day and a half visiting cacao farms in the area and observing all the time and labor intensive steps of the process of turning the fruit (cacao pods) into chocolate.
From Quillabamba we will leave for Aguas Calientes, the base town to Machu Picchu. We will spend the night in Aguas Calientes in preparation for our visit to the ancient Inca city of Machu Picchu early the next morning. Upon completion of our time at Machu Picchu, we will head back to Cusco.
7 nights accommodations
in the beautiful luxe eco-accommodations of Sach'a Munay retreat center
3 vegetarian meals/day
all of the food served will be organic. Gluten-free and vegan options available with advanced notice.
Jyl will lead you through a daily Prajna Yoga practice, combining Hatha Yoga & SATYA, a body of somatic movement techniques developed by Tias Little, to further heighten that awareness
Jyl will guide you through a variety of simple meditation techniques facilitating your journey inward.
Led by a Q'ero shaman, a despacho is similar to a mandala or sacred creation in that it holds symbolic elements and the prayers of the participants. The despacho becomes a living prayer.
Temescal Sweat Lodge
A temazcal is a traditional steam bath which uses medicinal plants in a heated adobe structure. Promoting physical well-being & healing, the temazcal is also seen as a ritual & spiritual practice
An opportunity to connect with and call in the spirit of Ixcacao as we embark on our week-long journey together.
Trip to Pisac market
Known as the gateway to the Scared Valley, Pisac offers and amazing array of textiles, food, art & culture in this charming town known as the gateway to the Sacred Valley
Guided Chocolate Tasting
We'll explore the subtleties in aroma, flavor, texture, taste, and energetics by mindfully tasting a selection of origin chocolate from different regions of Peru.
Transportation to & from Cusco on May 26 & June 2
What's Not Included?
Trip to Maras Salt Flats
The salt flats are one of the many hidden gems of this part of Peru. Lying in the middle of inconspicuous mountains, with sun reflecting on it as though they were snow, the salt flats will stun you.
Chocolate Making Class
Learn how to create your own chocolate in this class at ChocoMuseo in Pisac. $25/person
Medicinal Bath & Massage
(must be booked at least one day in advance) Outdoor bath infused with medicinal plants and herbs custom blended for you, followed by a Shiatsu-based massage. $100/person (including transportation)
plant and vapour baths are used to rid the body of any unhelpful spirits or energetic blockages that would otherwise impair us from healing. approx $35
About the Organizer:
Jyl Marie (ERT-500, LMT) is a Senior Instructor of Prajna Yoga (Tias & Surya Little) and has received both her 200 hr & 500 hr certifications through them. She is also certified to teach their SATYA work*. She brings an interdisciplinary approach to her teaching, combining technique, alignment & flow with therapeutic somatic movement. She co-founded the Austin based non-profit organization, Community Yoga Austin, and has brought yoga to schools, veterans, recovery centers, prisons, shelters & senior centers. She is also a Licensed Massage Therapist specializing in Visionary Craniosacral Therapy, Visceral Manipulation, and Zen Shiatsu.
Her exploration of chocolate as plant medicine has turned a lifetime chocolate obsession into a profound part of her life’s journey. www.jylmarieyoga.com
*SATYA, Sensory Awareness Training for Yoga Attunement is a body of work created by Tias Little that was designed to complement an asana practice. The SATYA movements cultivate inner listening and heighten proprioceptive awareness. The exercises are non-weight bearing and involve sliding, gliding and circular movements to reduce myo-fascial holding in the body. The exercises help mobilize the joints, remove fatigue from the body, balance asymmetries and align the right and left sides of the body. In a totally unique way, SATYA practice opens doorways into the interior, providing new pathways of perception and feeling. It guides students away from "doing" movement and toward sensing, receiving and "being" movement. As an adjunct to yoga practice, somatic awareness leads to embodied wisdom.
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