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.
Immediately following our retreat time at Sach'a Munay, on June 2nd, 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 visiting a cacao farm 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, hiking the last portion of the Incan trail to the base town to Machu Picchu (the hike is a few hours, but flat and not considered difficult). 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 take the train to Ollantaytambo and from there, a shuttle back to Cusco, arriving back in Cusco the evening of June 5th.
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. 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.
Where do I fly into?
Peru has become a popular travel destination so I advise booking early for international and domestic flights.
From your home airport book your flight to Lima, the capital of Peru (airport code LIM). Lima is the international gateway for Peru, and the hub for pretty much all flights in the country. Our retreat will both begin and end in Cusco. We'll be taking a shuttle from Cusco to our retreat center, S'acha Munay, on May 26th and another taking us back to Cusco the morning of June 2nd.
From Lima you'll want to book a 1-hour flight to Cusco (CUZ). Cusco is a wonderful city, so you might want to come in a few days before the retreat begins to explore.
Please plan on arriving in Cusco no later than 2pm on the day that our retreat will begin – May 26th. Please plan your departure flight out of Cusco for anytime after 1pm on the last day of our retreat, June 2nd. If you'll be continuing on for the Cacao Farm/Machu Picchu excursion, please plan your flight for anytime after June 6th.
I'll begin asking for everyone's travel info about a month before the retreat begins, to coordinate our pick up time/place. (If your trip falls outside of the group transfers, you'll be responsible for transportation costs)
Any tips for good flights to Peru?
Yes! It can be cheaper to book two separate flights with one from your departure city to Lima and another from Lima to Cusco.
If your dates are flexible, both Google Flights and Kayak.com offer features for searching with flexible dates. The Hopper app may also be a useful tool. You put in your dates and it will tell you whether flights are likely to increase, decrease, or stay the same.
Also, I do recommend getting travel insurance when you book your flight.
American citizens do not need a passport to travel to Peru, only a passport.
May & June is the dry season in the Peruvian highlands. It is typically sunny with blue skies and temperatures are in the low-mid 70sF during the day to high 30sF in the evenings. It is best to prepare for all weather conditions including rain, cold mountain conditions and warm days.
How will the altitude affect me?
Every traveler is different with respect to how their bodies respond to elevation change. You can acclimate more easily if after landing in Cusco you spend the first night or two in the Sacred Valley as the altitude is significantly lower. For example, the altitude of Calca is 9371 feet in comparison with that of Cusco which is located at 11,154 feet. Travelers may experience some fatigue, sleeplessness and shortness of breath with exertion during the first 24 hours. This can be minimized by drinking lots of liquids including coca tea, avoiding alcohol, and not overexerting yourself the first day. If you have any medical conditions, it is recommended that you discuss the effects of altitude with your physician before traveling.
The locals chew on coca leaves as an effective remedy for altitude sickness. We will have those available and will also be participating in a coca ceremony with a local Q'ero shaman at the beginning of our retreat. But, supplements such as ChlorOxygen can be helpful (I'll have some available) and making sure that you're staying well hydrated.
Is Cusco part of our itinerary?
We will not be touring Cusco during the retreat. However, it is a magnificent city to visit & I've included some suggestions for things to do and places to stay below.
Exploring Cusco (coming soon)
Beautiful, spacious, eco-friendly accommodations in one of Sach'a Munay's triple occupancy rooms for 7 nights. Private bath in room. Includes 3 nourishing vegetarian meals per day and all the other amenities included with the retreat.
Images of some of the triple rooms can be seen HERE (scroll down for detailed pics)
* Refunds and Cancellations: Refund less deposit ($500.00) before April 15. No refunds after April 15, 2018. You may transfer your reservation to another person as long as you notify Jyl in advance. In case of cancellation of the retreat, you will receive a full refund. Due to special arrangements made with the retreat centers and hosts, there is no exception to this policy. $500 initial deposit holds your space. Total fees can be paid at one time or in installments with all final payments due by May 1, 2018. No exceptions.
Beautiful, spacious, eco-friendly accommodations in one of Sach'a Munay's double occupancy rooms for 7 nights. Private bath in room. Includes 3 nourishing vegetarian meals per day and all the other amenities included with the retreat.
Images of some of the double rooms can be seen HERE (scroll down for add'l pics)
* Refunds and Cancellations: Refund less deposit ($500.00) before April 15. No refunds after April 15th, 2018. You may transfer your reservation to another person as long as you notify Jyl in advance. In case of cancellation of the retreat, you will receive a full refund. Due to special arrangements made with the retreat centers and hosts, there is no exception to this policy. $500 initial deposit holds your space. Total fees can be paid at one time or in installments with all final payments due by May 1, 2018. No exceptions.
Beautiful, spacious, eco-friendly accommodations in one of Sach'a Munay's private rooms for 7 nights. Private bath in room. Includes 3 nourishing vegetarian meals per day and all the other amenities included with the retreat.
Images of some of the single rooms can be seen HERE
* Refunds and Cancellations: Refund less deposit ($500.00) before Feb. 1st. No refunds after Feb. 1, 2018. You may transfer your reservation to another person as long as you notify Jyl in advance. In case of cancellation of the retreat, you will receive a full refund. Due to special arrangements made with the retreat centers and hosts, there is no exception to this policy. $500 initial deposit holds your space. Total fees can be paid at one time or in installments with all final payments due by May 1, 2018. No exceptions.