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Why Go on a Writing and Yoga Retreat?

Why go on a yoga and writing retreat?

 

Because it is the perfect symbiosis. Both yoga and writing represent tools for self-discovery. They invite us to examine and feel what is deep beneath the layers of our being. They welcome us to observe what the eye cannot see, to explore what lives past the stories we tell ourselves and tell others about ourselves. They invite us to seek and explore who we are beyond our own limitations, doubts and fears. Together they represent an art of inquiry and exploration.

 

How does yoga support writing?

 

Halina Duraj, co-instructor and professor of literature and creative writing at University of San Diego, beautifully describes this:

 

The best writing is done by the body, not only the language-part of the brain. Your hand holds a pen, or your fingers touch keys, or you open your mouth and tell a story with your voice. Stories need the body to exist in a world larger than the storyteller’s own mind. Stories are born in our bodies—born in them and born by them, until we’re ready to tell or write them. Just as we carry our emotions in certain parts of our body (anxiety in our shoulders, fear in our butterfly stomachs), we hold our stories in certain parts of our bodies—our guts, our hearts. Many people think writing comes from our heads, our intellect, but that is only one of three tools we need to tell stories. As novelist Fae Ng, says, we must write first from instinct (our gut), then from imagination, then from intellect.

 

Most of us who have explored yoga know that we have the power to access and explore our deepest emotions when we practice asana and meditation. Sometimes it is a conscious choice. We seek to learn more, and we seek to perceive more of what’s beyond the veil. Other times, the feelings just surface without forewarning and we may be “forced” to sit with it.

 

When we pair yoga with creative writing, we can gain access to material that may surface from newly explored places inside ourselves. As our emotions come to the surface, we are then encouraged to explore them with “compassionate curiosity,” as Halina puts it, and bring it into our writing.

 

Renee Gauthier (yoga instructor and co-host) illustrates how yoga not only helps us access our emotions, but also our “somatic intelligence.”

 

B.K.S. Iyengar talks a lot about the intelligence of the body: “A yogi’s brain extends from the bottom of the foot to the top of his head.” When we tap into the awareness of the body, we not only tap into emotions, but also a certain level of somatic intelligence, inner knowing.

 

Through the yoga asana, meditation, and relaxation, we clear out mental clutter and bring to light different parts of ourselves. A new sense of awareness is revealed. What’s next? This is when the yoga continues off the mat. On this retreat we will continue our yogic exploration through writing. We will carry the energy of openness and mindfulness from our yoga practice into our writing. The yoga helps us to open up, to be less guarded or hindered, to be less attached to outcome. The writing will be an opportunity to go deeper in this self-exploration. This retreat will nurture and support discovery and creative expression, as well as remind us of the wisdom that is already there.

 

How will this writing and yoga retreat benefit you?

 

The Art of Inquiry Yoga Retreat will offer each of us strategies to deepen and support both our yoga and writing practices. The retreat is open to practitioners of all levels, and yogis/yoginis and writers alike.

 

During our time together we will:

  • Learn new skills and techniques for accessing our creative energy.
  • Identify meaningful raw material for our writing during and after the retreat, as well as explore new paths for existing projects.
  • Uncover areas where we feel blocked or stagnant physically, mentally, emotionally, and energetically.

 

Through movement, mindfulness, and creative expression, our students will come home to a more integrated, balanced, and inspired sense of self. As retreat leaders, we hope that our students will leave the retreat armed with the tools and the motivation to continue their own journey in the Art of Inquiry – exploration in yoga and writing.

 

Created and co-written by Paloma Neuman, Renee Gauthier and Halina Duraj.

 

Learn more about The Art of Inquiry – Explorations in Writing and Yoga Retreat coming up May 31st – June 5th at Prana del Mar by visiting the My Dharma website.

Lentil Burger Recipe

Here’s another vegetarian recipe from Chef Manolo – healthful and delicious lentil and mushroom burgers. The following recipe will prepare burgers for 6 people.

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup mushrooms, sauteed in olive oil
  • 1 cup cooked lentils
  • ½ cup cooked brown rice
  • ¼ cup ground peanuts
  • 1 egg
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
  • . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

  • ½ chopped onion
  • ¼ finely chopped parsley
  • . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

  • Hemp seeds (to sprinkle)

 

Preparation:

  1. Place the initial ingredients in a food processor and blend until you have a soft, paste texture similar to pancakes.
  2. Pour this mixture into a bowl and mix in the chopped onion and parsley.
  3. Form into small hamburger shapes using a kitchen scoop and then place in a pan preheated with olive oil.
  4. Sprinkle hemp seeds on top, sautéing both sides evenly.
  5. Taste and adjust the mix if necessary and then sauté the remaining burgers in similar fashion

 

Let us know how your lentil burgers turn out – and enjoy!

Baby Sea Turtle Release

Baby Sea Turtles Scramble to the Ocean

 

Baby Olive Ridley Sea Turtle

Baby Olive Ridley Sea Turtle

Sometimes it’s hard to believe how much cuteness can fit in the palm of your hand. Or how much fun you can have digging in the sand – especially when you’re helping to rescue and release baby sea turtles. This season, we’ve been organizing regular excursions for guests to get elbow deep in the sand, helping local researchers and preservationists to clean sea turtle nests – and giving the baby turtles a helping hand on their journey to their new home in the ocean. It’s an inspiring way to see the natural cycle up close, to learn about the turtles and their habitat, and to assist those who are making a real difference in sea turtle survival rates.

 

Sea Turtle Hatchlings

Ramla is loving it!

Local non-profit preservation group Asupmatoma works tirelessly to patrol Pacific beaches, relocate sea turtle nests to safe areas to ensure the highest yield among the eggs, assist the baby turtles as they hatch, and educate the public about these special creatures and the threats to their habitat. There are three primary turtle species that nest on the beaches near Prana del Mar – Olive Ridley, Leatherback, and Green turtles – with the Olive Ridleys (know as golfinas in Spanish) being the vast majority. All of these varieties are currently endangered, though conservation efforts have been fruitful in helping the populations to recuperate. By involving locals and visitors of all ages, Asupmatoma is raising awareness both in the local Los Cabos area and abroad – and creating special memories for people that will last a lifetime.

 

Sea Turtle Release

The group dives in to help

Each evening during nesting season, the biologists and volunteers from Asupmatoma scour the beach for the telltale signs of new turtle nests. They then carefully extract the eggs from their original locations and move them to a protected corral on the beach where they rebury them in the sand – taking care to create optimal conditions for maximum yield – to ensure their safety during the 45-day incubation period. It’s important to accurately replicate the conditions of a natural nest and to place them at a spot on the beach where the ambient temperature under the sand is in the low-80s (about 27° C). If the temperature is too high, then the majority of the hatchlings will be female; if the temp is too low, then the majority will be male. In the wild, anywhere from 10% to 50% of the eggs will hatch, depending upon conditions. At our local hatchery, over 80% of the eggs hatch with viable baby sea turtles.

 

Jill Knouse - Baby Sea Turtle

Jill beams with a new friend

As volunteers, we are lucky enough to assist the biologists in cleaning the nests to make sure none of the young turtles is left behind, digging down deep in the sand until we have removed all of the hatchlings, the remnants of their eggshells, and any infertile eggs. In nature, some of the last turtles to hatch often get buried under the weight of the sand as it compacts around them after their siblings have dug themselves out of the nest. So visitors are doing real rescue work as they clean the nest to make sure all survivors get the chance to make it to the ocean. The baby turtles often emerge from the nest a little groggy at first, but once they feel the sun on their shells and hear the ocean, they get pretty animated and their little flippers start propelling them around the small holding pen. An accurate count is made for the scientific records, and then we’re off to the shoreline to let them scamper free toward the next phase of their journey.

 

Baby Sea Turtles in Pen

Baby turtles just emerging from their nest

As the sun sinks low on the horizon, dipping into the Pacific, we spread the newly-hatched turtles along the sand about 30 feet from the water’s edge. Their instincts are strong and they immediately begin to scamper toward the water – several eager ones make a beeline directly for the surf and others who are still getting used to life outside the nest amble at a more moderate pace. It’s exciting to watch them paddle their flippers over the sand and inch their way towards the water, with the foam of each successive wave getting closer and closer to carrying them off into the Pacific. Though short, this journey across the beach is important. The turtles have subtle sensors on the undersides of their shells that imprints upon the texture of the beach. When the females become adults and are ready to create nests of their own, they will return to the same beach upon which they hatched some 15-20 years earlier – and will continued to come back each year to nest. Those 10 minutes of scuttling across the beach of their birth will stay with them for a lifetime – potentially 100 years or more – just as it has for the generations that preceded them.

 

Sea Turtle Hatchling Rescue

Jeff and pure joy

It feels satisfying and humbling to witness such an important part of this cycle of regeneration and to realize that the same turtles released here throughout this season will continue to return for decades. One day, in fact, our great-grandchildren could visit this same coastline and witness the hatching of one of their future nests. With any luck – combined with the hard work and dedication of the biologists and volunteers of organizations like Asupmatoma – perhaps by then, they will no longer need a helping hand from us.

 

Sea Turtle Hatchling Rescue

Patrick, Kaitlyn, and Carling

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Lisa shows off a baby

 

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Sea Turtles Race to the Ocean

Off they race to their new home in the Pacific!

Yoga Retreat for the Holidays

Holiday Yoga Retreat - Mexico

 

Yoga teacher Renee Gauthier is returning to visit us this December to host her second yoga retreat at Prana del Mar. She recently wrote an article on why she chose to schedule a retreat the week prior to Christmas and why she thinks it is so important to take a step back during that time of year – to reflect on the past, to embrace the present, and to set intention for the future.

 

Om for the Holidays!
10 Reasons to Retreat at Prana del Mar for the Holidays

 
Renee GauthierDecember and I have a complicated relationship. Being raised with both Christmas and Hanukkah traditions, having my birthday right before Christmas, attending multiple holiday parties and New Year’s Eve, means that life in December teds to be extremely busy. It can be tiring just thinking about it!

 

It’s also an exciting time of the year and, mostly, I do love this season for the opportunities to see friends and family, indulge in yummy foods, and focus on my sense of gratitude for all the blessings in my life. The trick is how to enjoy the holidays fully without ending up exhausted. Therefore, I decided to organize a yoga retreat during the holidays as an alternative to all the busy energy of the season. To some, this seems like not-the-best time of year to retreat: too much going on, too much to prepare for, not enough money after buying all the presents. However, I figured there must be folks out there looking for a way to escape, relax, and recharge. Also, I led a yoga retreat at Prana del Mar this May and couldn’t wait to make another trip back! So here are 10 reasons to consider retreating this holiday season:

 

  1. Invest in your well being.
    De-stress and recharge from daily life. When we take time to nurture ourselves, we are more productive, less likely to get sick, more relaxed, and happier. This energy has an impact on our work, our relationships, and our overall well-being.
  2. Prepare for the new year with a renewed you.
    Take time to reflect on the past year. With time and space away from our everyday routines, we can focus on clarifying our visions and intentions for the coming year. This can be a time to jumpstart New Year’s resolutions that seem so hard to maintain. Our New Year’s resolutions then change from starting something new, to remembering and honoring the positive things we are already doing.
  3. Avoid too many holiday parties.
    Don’t get me wrong. I love parties. And often I have a party in December. But with the numerous holiday parties out there, we can all get a little partied out. Having a special trip planned is a great reason not to feel obligated to say yes to all the holiday invitations.
  4. Avoid the mall.
    Need I say more?
  5. Treat your body to healthy, delicious meals while skipping the surplus of holiday treats.
    It’s difficult to say no to the abundance of treats around the holidays, as temptation abounds. When we surround ourselves with healthy, delicious, and beautiful meals, we are less inclined to crave unhealthy foods. And by retreating into a slower, more relaxed pace, we are more likely to be in tune with our body’s needs. The chefs at Prana del Mar are amazing! Each meal is an absolute treat to the senses. The colorful and beautiful presentations are exciting to see. And then sitting down to enjoy the array of healthy, clean, and creative delights is truly an inspiration to continue this way of eating after the retreat.
  6. Be active in a beautiful place.
    For those of us who tend to slow down and feel less motivated in the colder winter weather, being in a warm, beautiful place can inspire us to be more active. Prana del Mar is an ideal place to enjoy the healing energy of being immersed in nature. The expansive beach, the deep blue ocean, the rugged desert landscape, and the fantastic mountain views all nourish the soul and invite us to be outside in nature.
  7. Spare the environment from unwanted gifts and too much wrapping paper.
    Let’s face it. Re-gifting is kind of rude. But what do you do with those gifts that you really don’t need or want? And wrapping paper? Hopefully, it goes into the recycling, but not always, and even then it was created by cutting down a tree. Meaningful gifts are wonderful – especially those that you put particular thought into or even made yourself for someone special. Set an example of living simply and participating less in the consumer culture of holiday overspending on material items.
  8. Come home feeling refreshed and re-energized and with more love and energy to give to your family and friends.
    I come from a large family and community of friends, so I understand the desire to be close to loved ones during the holidays. But so often many of us lose connection to our own rhythm while trying to keep up with so many social obligations. By taking a few days of tranquility for yourself, this not only benefits you, but also sets an example that it’s OK to take time and space to focus on your well-being. And when you return, refreshed and renewed, you will have more energy to share with your loved ones.
  9. Reconnect with this part of yourself.
    Being on a retreat can help us to remember parts of ourselves that sometimes get lost in the shuffle of life. Slowing down, going inward and reconnecting with ourselves on a deep level can help us to remember the balance, inner calm, and harmony that’s already inside. We retreat to remember, and to carry that energy back with us into daily life.
  10. Why not?

So if this resonates with you, please consider joining Renee for her “Om for the Holidays” retreat December 18-22. All levels hatha flow yoga, restorative yoga, meditation, salsa dancing, and lots of spacious down-time. The retreat is family friendly, and kids/family yoga and music classes will be offered. Treat yourself to an amazing, uplifting and rejuvenating experience. We look forward to welcoming you!

Spotlight: Alchemy Tours

Alchemy Tours: Silvia & Jake

 

Silvia Mordini and Jake Young of Alchemy Tours are a peripatetic couple who travel the world offering exceptional yoga retreats and unique experiences for their guests. This year alone, they have planned over a dozen different opportunities to explore the globe, touching down on four different continents. With 14 years of experience guiding groups – and destinations as varied as Mexico, Tuscany, Bali, Brazil, France, the Galapagos and beyond – you can rest assured that you are in the caring and capable hands of folks who know the secrets of successful travel.

 

Beyond the thrill of external exploration, however, Silvia and Jake are also gifted guides for internal discovery as well. Using the various practices of yoga – asana, pranayama, meditation, and more – Silvia guides her guests in peeling back the superficial layers to reconnect with what is most important on an internal level. And using these insights, participants can better set intentions and goals for changes that they’d like to see in the here-and-now, as well as their future trajectories.

 

Jump in!

Jump in!

For their return visit to Prana del Mar, Silvia & Jake have a special itinerary planned. In addition to twice daily yoga classes, walking meditation in our labyrinth, journaling exercises, and wandering our wide-open golden sand beach, there are also lots of opportunities to explore the Los Cabos region beyond our retreat center. Whether you want to visit Cerritos Beach to surf, peruse art galleries and Mexican shops in the quaint town of Todos Santos, or cross over to the Sea of Cortez side of the peninsula for a kayak and snorkel adventure, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to get to know the wonders of Baja.

 

Silvia and Jake’s enthusiasm and energy are contagious – and their experience guiding retreats shines through. This will be a special week and you’ll be glad you attended. So take a look at the full description of their offering and be sure to check out the Alchemy Tours website. They are offering a special discounted rate of $200 off for double-occupancy packages and $250 off for single-occupancy packages. It’s the perfect time to jump in and join us for an experience that will set the tone for the year to come!

Quinoa Patty Recipe

Here’s one of the newer recipes that Chef Manolo has been preparing. Quinoa is a tasty seed that functions much like a grain. It has all the essential amino acids making it a complete protein, and is gluten-free and cholesterol-free.

 

    Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 3 fresh tomatoes, diced
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, minced
  • 1/2 bunch fresh parsley, minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh chives, minced
  • 1 egg
  • salt
  • pepper

 

    Prep:

  1. Mix everything together in a bowl and, with the help of an ice cream scoop, roll into little balls.
  2. Fry these balls in a pan for a couple of minutes until they are lightly-browned on the outside, but still soft on the inside.
  3. Finish them by baking in the oven for 10 minutes at 350 degrees.

 

Serve with salad and any sauce of your choosing. Enjoy!

Prana Perruno (Dog Prana)

The Dog Prana (Prana Perruno in Spanish) project was established 3 months ago with the idea of assisting a local dog shelter by training a couple of dogs at a time to make them more adoptable. Mariana, one of our managers, rented a small parcel very close by and – with the help of some volunteers made it “dog-safe” and named it Prana Perruno.

 

After first setting it up, Mariana quickly realized that there was much more that could be done, so Dog Prana started collaborating with all the dog shelters in the Los Cabos area. She currently takes in up to 5 dogs at a time from the Humane Society that have already been adopted by people in Canada or the U.S. and that are just waiting for a ride to their new homes abroad. This enables the Humane Society to shelter other dogs that have not yet found someone to adopt them and are still seeking a permanent home.

 

As cute as they come

As cute as they come

While they are here, the dogs receive basic training: learning to walk with a leash, sit, come, and other basic commands. Mariana assists in their continued rehabilitation as well. Dogs in shelters or that have lived in the streets for some time, tend to compete for everything and can become somewhat aggressive towards other dogs (or people) for food, toys, a place to rest, and even for love and attention. Often, they don’t know how to play with each other or with humans; they don’t know how to behave as a loved pet usually would. So Dog Prana provides a transitional space where they can begin the adjustment process, learn new behavior, and move more freely than they could within the confines of a kennel.

 

Mariana and Benjamin also organize a weekly event at Prana del Mar to raise funds for the project. They offer a raffle and sometimes bring live music to enliven those evenings. With the money raised, they pay rent on the land and buy food for the dogs at Dog Prana as well as for those at the Humane Society of Los Cabos and El Ranchito Dog Shelter. Additional donations in cash are also made in special cases for dogs that are in particularly bad condition and need medicine or physical rehabilitation.

 

Helping to keep the beach clean

Helping to keep the beach clean

Dog Prana helps to promote adoptions of the dogs and cats found in shelters, raise awareness regarding free sterilizations, and even tries to find escorts among our guests who are willing allow an adopted dog to hitch a ride with them back to the U.S. or Canada after their retreat with us. If you are planning to come to Prana del Mar or the Los Cabos area and you would like to visit Dog Prana or get more info on how you can help, please contact Mariana via email. You can also “like” the Facebook page.

 

Mariana also would like to express her personal gratitude for the circumstances in her life that have made it possible for her to help these dogs and do what she truly loves. It has led her to a deeper bond with our guests here at Prana del Mar as well as to many other people who also love animals and wish to protect them. She is very thankful for the help and support of all those who have taken an interest in Dog Prana, especially her husband Benjamin who has contributed his energy and assistance throughout the development of the project.

 

We’re very proud of Mariana’s efforts, her dedicated service, and all that she has already accomplished. If you’re interested in the welfare of animals, we hope that you’ll ask her about Prana Perruno the next time you come to visit. If you’d like, she’d be happy to introduce you to some new friends!

 

Mariana and friends

Mariana and friends

Millet Patty Recipe

Millet recipe – makes 12 millet patties

 

Chef Manolo would like to share one of his special recipes – an oft-requested perennial favorite in the dining room here. Delicious and healthy!

 

    Ingredients:

  • 1 cup millet
  • 2 cups yams, sweet potatoes or a mixture of both – peeled and chopped
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1-2 tsp ancho chili powder
  • 1 tsp chipotle purée
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
  • 2 Tbsp fresh oregano, minced
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

 

    Prep:

  1. Dry roast millet until aromatic, add 2 cups water or vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, place tight fitting lid on and turn down to simmer for 15-20 minutes until water has absorbed.
  2. Steam sweet potatoes (or yams)
  3. Combine ingredients, use ice cream scooper or 1/4 cup measure and form patties on parchment-lined cookie sheet
  4. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes and serve with either roasted red pepper sauce or – my favorite – a dollop of pesto

 

Enjoy – and let us know what you think!

Brand New Website

We’re so excited to be launching this brand new website, completely redesigned from the ground up. We’re very pleased with the all the wonderful changes and hope that it will make it much easier for you to find the info you need to stay up-to-date with our upcoming yoga retreats and teacher trainings.

 

A few of the highlights of the new site include:

  • lots more photos to give you a better feel for our retreat center along with the natural world that surrounds us – ocean, mountains, and desert
  • our calendar of upcoming events now has much more detailed listings about each individual retreat along with teachers’ biographies
  • an expanded testimonials section will give you insight into the experiences of previous guests
  • greater detail and more pictures of the wide range of activities you can enjoy during your stay
  • more info about what to expect during your stay here, including an orientation section, answers to frequent questions, and helpful links
  • and, of course, this blog which we will be filling with periodic updates, interviews with visiting teachers, some delicious recipes direct from our kitchen, beautiful photos, and the occasional random musing on yoga

 

If you’re new to Prana del Mar and want to take a virtual tour of our facilities, then we encourage you to head over to our pages highlighting our rooms and suites, our beautiful yoga studios, the swimming pool and hot tub at the Community Building, our gardens, and more.

 

If you can’t wait to get here (or return), then check your calendar for your next vacation and make plans to attend one of our upcoming events.

 

If you would like to find out what other guests and retreat leaders having been saying about us, head over to read the testimonials section.

 

Or perhaps you’d like to bring your group for a retreat? We’d love to welcome you to our little slice of paradise. Feel free to contact us and we’ll be happy to share all the details.

 

Please let us know what you think of our new website by leaving your feedback in the comments section below.