5 Psychological Benefits of Practicing Yoga

Most everyone has heard about the physical health benefits that come from practicing yoga – from increased flexibility, to relief from chronic pain, to improved strength, muscle tone, and balance.  But more and more research is concluding what the ancient yogis and modern practitioners have already come to understand firsthand: that yoga can also have profound psychological and cognitive benefits as well. While yoga can do wonders for the body, the more profound power of the practice comes from its effect on your emotions and your mind.

1. Yoga offers stress relief

Stress seems to surround us in contemporary life. Many of us are continuously facing time constraints, financial pressures, and growing responsibilities at work and at home. These ongoing challenges can permeates our lives and drain our vitality. Repeated studies have shown that the physical postures of yoga – combined with breathing techniques and meditation – reduce tension, encourage relaxation, and lead to a greater sense of calm and equanimity.

2. Alleviating anxiety and depression with yoga

Yoga’s ability to help our bodies relax can help our minds to relax as well. As physical tension is replaced with a sense of strength and balance, a parallel change often occurs in our mental state. Yoga helps to drop blood pressure and reduce the levels of stress hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine, significantly reducing anxiety. Yoga and meditation can help us to boost our moods, focus on the present moment, and reframe negative thought patterns that leave us stuck in a rut.

3. Regular yoga practice can boost memory and improve concentration

Our busy, hectic lives often find us juggling too many tasks at once. This can leave us feeling distracted and scattered as we try to complete our growing to-do lists while balancing our work and family commitments. With so many items vying for our attention – often at the same time – it can be difficult to concentrate on a given task for an extended period and sometimes even to remember everything that we were supposed to do.

A growing body of research has shown that yoga can be an effective tool for improving concentration and enhancing memory as well. Dharana, or the practice of concentration, is the perfect remedy for a cluttered mind and stressed senses; it enables you to remove the “noise” from your thoughts and focus your mind, helping you to remember things more clearly, concentrate better, and give you greater overall clarity of thought. New studies also indicate that regular yoga practice can help to head off symptoms of Alzheimer’s and dementia, aiding the brain in forming new connections and recovering lost cognitive abilities.

4. Yoga can reduce the effects of PTSD

Yoga has also been found to be effective in alleviating the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Severely traumatic events often leave deep and lasting scars that are both physical and emotional. Therapeutic yoga can serve as a treatment bridge to increase a sense of awareness, safety, and control while also giving victims a new sense of perspective on their traumas and assisting in the recovery process. Yoga can be a potent tool for alleviating the wounds of profound trauma, which can lead to a renewed sense of empowerment that expedites healing.

5. Adolescent psychological disorders may be prevented through practicing yoga

Being a teenager can be tough. It’s a transitional stage of life as adolescents shift from being a child to becoming an adult. Hormones are raging, the process of individuation is beginning, and teens are more aware of the world beyond their homes and the challenges that await them. Combine this with feeling added pressure at school – both academic and social – as well as increased responsibilities at home, and it can be a volatile stage of life.

Mood swings, acting out, and withdrawal can all be problems for today’s teens and create friction with parents, siblings, and teachers. Preliminary evidence from a Harvard Medical School study indicates that yoga can be helpful in reducing behavioral problems among high school students. In the study, half of the class practiced Kripalu Yoga – which centers around physical postures, breathing, relaxation, and meditation – while the other half took a regular physical education (PE) class instead. Those students who took part in the yoga sessions displayed better moods in general, along with lower anxiety levels and improved ability to control anger. Since adolescence is such an important time for the development of mental health, including learning healthy coping strategies for stress, the benefits have the potential to extend into adult life as well.

So while many people are touting the physical benefits that come from a regular yoga practice, it’s clear that yoga can enhance our lives in ways that are much more profound that just changing our bodies. Yoga affects our mental and emotional states in many positive ways: relieving stress, decreasing depression, increasing focus and clarity, and helping to work through troubling emotions. Each passing day and each new scientific study reveal increasing evidence of the positive benefits that yoga can bring to our daily lives.

9 Reasons to Practice Yoga

Yoga’s popularity has grown in recent years as this ancient tradition has been adapted for and integrated into our modern world. You can now find yoga classes offered at local yoga studios, fitness centers, schools, and even outdoors in the park or at the beach.

If you’ve never tried it before, you may be wondering what all the fuss is about and whether it’s right for you. Fortunately, a regular yoga practice offers so many benefits that almost anyone will find it valuable:

  1. Feel Better in your Body

Most modern yoga classes tend to emphasize the physical postures and regular practice of those poses can have profound effects. You’ll increase your flexibility and improve your balance while toning your muscles and developing more endurance. This will lead to greater mobility, more energy, better posture, and a general sense of ease in your body.


  1. Cleanse from the Inside Out

Yoga poses combined with breathing exercises will also help your body to rid itself of natural waste products and accumulated toxins, leaving you feeling cleansed and purified. You’ll also become more aware of what you put in your body – food, alcohol, tobacco products, etc. – and how varying substances make you feel. As you become more attuned to these effects, you’ll find yourself choosing healthier alternatives that make you feel energetic and vibrant rather than tired and depleted.


  1. Gain Relief from Chronic Pain

Numerous studies have shown that yoga can be tremendously effective in reducing chronic pain, including osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel syndrome, and more. Yoga therapy has proven effective for back pain and other types of discomfort exacerbated by inflammation or immobility.


  1. Reduce Stress & Anxiety

Beyond just the physical benefits, yoga can also calm and focus your mind, diminishing anxiety and stress. Breathing exercises and meditation are integral components of the yogic tradition and these tools have proven to be very valuable in soothing tension and creating relaxation.


  1. Sleep Better

As you begin to feel better – physically and mentally – you’ll notice that your sleep improves as well. It will be easier to fall asleep and you’ll sleep more soundly. As you lessen your stress levels, your mind won’t be racing so feverishly to resolve any excess anxiety and you’ll wake up feeling more rested.


  1. Gain Clarity

Once stress levels decrease, you’ll find that you’re able to gain greater perspective on situations or issues that you find challenging and see options with greater clarity. Where once you saw only problems, you’ll begin to see possibilities. You’ll notice that you tend to focus more on the bigger picture and be less reactive to trivial annoyances.


  1. Increase your Patience

Along with this greater awareness and wider perspective, you may notice that you’re also more patient and understanding. You’ll find yourself less attached to your own struggles and more empathetic to the challenges that others are facing. It becomes easier not to sweat the small stuff – and to recognize how much of everyday life is small stuff.


  1. Find Community

If you practice yoga in a group setting, you’re bound to meet lots of like-minded folks who are also interested in health and well-being. Oftentimes, you’ll find that your connections run much deeper than just your shared enjoyment of yoga and those common bonds lead to valuable new friendships.


  1. Go Beyond your Yoga Mat

Yoga also teaches us many lessons about ourselves that we take with us off the mat. Instead of being just an activity that you practice a couple of hours per week, you may find that its holistic principles inform your day-to-day life and how you relate to others. Regular yoga practice opens our minds to a wider perspective. It encourages us to express our highest selves and to be of service to others. If we take its teachings to heart, yoga can help us to reach out highest potential – finding joy and meaning, and sharing those lessons with others.

While some people may worry that yoga is too challenging or too esoteric for them, the truth is really just the opposite. With such a wide range of yoga classes offered these days, you can easily find a style and approach that suits your needs. With so many benefits to offer, a regular yoga practice will enrich your life in many ways.

7 Reasons to Go on a Yoga Retreat

Yoga’s popularity has exploded in recent years. No longer the domain of just the New Age crowd or inconceivably flexible folk, yoga has gone mainstream as recent studies extol its benefits – from improving strength and balance to reducing stress to helping heal chronic injuries and pain.


Increasingly, people from diverse backgrounds are recognizing the positive effects that this ancient tradition can have on life in our modern world. Many of them have become curious about yoga retreats as a way to explore yoga in greater depth.


Whether you already practice yoga, or are just wondering what all the buzz is about, here are 7 fantastic reasons why a yoga retreat could be your perfect vacation: 


  1. Deepen your practice with expert guidance

Even if you’re new to yoga, there’s no reason to be intimidated by the thought of a yoga retreat. Experienced teachers cater to all abilities and will modify poses for multiple skill levels. Beginners will learn foundational skills that will build a solid base of understanding, and seasoned practitioners will get to explore the more challenging and profound aspects of yoga. Some people are drawn to yoga for the physical benefits while others are more focused on the spiritual aspects of the practice. Whichever appeals to you, you’ll learn new techniques and deepen your understanding of yoga and all it can offer. You’ll explore aspects of the practice beyond just the poses, enriching your appreciation for this ancient tradition and the practical ways that it can help you make positive changes in your life.


  1. Gain clarity by focusing on yourself

Life at home can be hectic; many of us wake up each day to a tight schedule filled with obligations, responsibilities, and commitments. A yoga retreat gives you the opportunity to step away from the outside world and concentrate your attention on what is most important to you – what you’re passionate about and what feels most meaningful. If you’re wrestling with personal or professional issues, a retreat can provide the perfect setting to bring those concerns into sharper focus and to help you recognize what steps you need to take to get back on the right track.


  1. Relax, renew, and revitalize

Most retreats are set in remote locales, close to nature and far from the pressing concerns of the outside world. In this safe space, you get a unique chance to slow down, unwind, and sink into a more relaxing rhythm. Spend time walking the beach or hiking in the mountains, swimming in the pool or soaking in the hot tub, curled up on the couch with a good book or napping in a hammock. Pamper yourself with a massage or another spa treatment and let your daily worries melt away. We get so used to carrying tension with us everyday that we almost forget how freeing it can be to let all of it go and enjoy that sense of relaxation that we both need and deserve.


  1. Get healthy from the inside out

In addition to daily yoga and meditation practices, you’ll also be treated to delicious, healthful cuisine while on retreat. Fresh, nutritious meals – lovingly prepared with intention by the retreat chefs – will nourish your body, mind, and spirit. If you’re traveling far from home, you’ll likely get to sample foods you’ve never tried before, so be open to new flavors and local delicacies. You will doubtless learn new recipes and raise your awareness of how much impact the food you consume can affect your sense of well-being. When you recognize how good you feel, you’ll realize that you want to feel this way all the time.


  1. Establish healthier habits

An important lesson that you’ll learn while on retreat is how to integrate all of this newfound awareness into your everyday life back at home. Your time away is only the beginning, and the real rewards will come as you make healthier choices on a daily basis. You’ll find yourself choosing fresher, healthier, whole foods rather than processed or packaged options because you’ll notice the difference in how they make you feel. Though you might not be able to make it a local studio for class every day, you can probably find 10-20 minutes where you can take time for a few postures and a couple of breathing exercises. Who knows, you may even find yourself getting up a bit earlier each day to sneak in some morning meditation. Though these may seem like small adjustments, you’ll be surprised by how powerful the ripple effect can be as these changes shift your perspective and transform the way you feel.


  1. Meet like-minded people

On a yoga retreat, you’re likely to encounter a wide range of folks converging from many different places – all of whom share a common interest in health, well-being, and travel. You’re bound to meet lots of interesting people with fascinating stories to tell. You may be surprised at how easily and naturally you connect with others, as superficial barriers quickly dissolve and you relate with other participants in a more authentic way. Oftentimes, lifelong friendships will blossom that long outlast the retreat itself. Shared experiences help to forge deep bonds that can create profound and lasting connections.


  1. Have fun!

While the primary emphasis of such a retreat is naturally yoga, you’ll also find that there are often many additional adventurous, inspiring, and exciting activities for you to take part in. For instance, many retreats offer surf lessons, horseback rides, hiking excursions, sea kayaking trips, and cooking classes. Perhaps you can go out whale watching or participate in a baby sea turtle release. There may be local towns to explore for shopping or cultural experiences. And, of course, yoga itself doesn’t have to be serious all of the time. One of the primary purposes of yoga is to help you find what brings you joy so that you, in turn, can share that joy with the rest of the world.


So what are you waiting for? Whether you’re just looking to relax and recharge on a yoga vacation or to dive deep into the ancient wisdom of yoga and truly transform, a yoga retreat is an experience that will make a lasting, positive impact on your life in so many ways. Jump in – and enjoy!

Getting to Know Susan & Michelle

Susan & Michelle's Yoga Retreat in Mexico


An Interview with Susan Urquhart-Brown & Michelle Gilmore


The last week in April marks the return of two wonderful yoga teachers — Susan Urquhart-Brown and Michelle Gilmore — who will be co-leading their second yoga retreat with us. If you’re looking for the chance to relax, renew, and rejuvenate, then this could be the perfect holiday for you.


Incorporating hatha, vinyasa, and restorative yoga classes along with daily meditation will give you the opportunity to dive deeply into your practice. Sharing delicious meals, the warm Baja sun, and the profound beauty of Pacific coastline will replenish your body and your spirit.


We asked them a few questions to help you get to know them better and to offer an idea of what a week on retreat would be like. We hope you enjoy it!


Prana del Mar: Can you describe your approach to teaching yoga and the areas where you place your focus?


Susan: Our approach to teaching yoga is to build a community for students to explore, practice the yoga they love, and try new things in a comfortable, encouraging and safe environment. We are both calm and nurturing as we offer an eclectic practice that is energizing and gentle. We believe in suggesting modifications and options for those who want less as well as those who want a bit more of a challenge.


Michelle: We draw from the Iyengar and vinyasa traditions, incorporating restorative aspects as well as teachings that focus on healthy aging. We emphasize a well-balanced active asana practice that also includes meditation, pranayama, and deeply relaxing restorative poses.

 Beach Meditation at Sunset - Yoga Retreat in Mexico

PdM: How did the two of you meet and what drew you together? How do your styles complement one another?


Michelle: Susan and I live in Oakland, CA and have known each other for 10 years. We met in the business world and quickly realized that we had a love for yoga and meditation in common. Susan had experience organizing and leading retreats, and I have attended many yoga and meditation retreats over the years. We decided we wanted to share our love of these two disciplines and hold retreats together.


Susan: Our first retreat was a celebration of Michelle’s 60th birthday and my first year in my own yoga studio: Anjori Yoga in Oakland, CA.


PdM: What is unique about the retreats you lead?


Michelle: The focus of our retreats is rejuvenation, relaxation, and celebrating life — there is no pressure to perform! We offer individual support for each student and encourage them to listen within to what is true for them in the moment.


PdM: Why did you choose Prana del Mar for your retreat?


Susan: We chose Prana del Mar for it’s remoteness and beauty — white sand beach, amazing sunsets and night sky, as well as the delicious food, spacious accommodations and friendly staff! Combined with yoga and meditation, one leaves feeling calm and relaxed — the goal of our retreat.


PdM: Can you give us an example of an experience – either yours or a student’s – from a past retreat that exemplifies the spirit or aim of what you try to provide on your retreat?


Michelle: As a retreat leader, it is essential that you are able to adapt to the circumstances at the moment, especially when something unexpected happens! I was teaching yoga on the roof one afternoon and we heard a horse whinny loudly very close by. Somehow the horse got through the gate into the courtyard and was running spiritedly as he tried to get out. So I asked the class to do horse pose as we watched the excitement as a staff member settled the horse and helped him out the gate. We laughed and continued class…


PdM: What have past retreats taught you?


Susan: In my experience, people want to connect with others in a deeper way than in their everyday lives. Being with a group of like-minded people develops camaraderie, friendship, fun and the chance to talk in-depth with each other. We have people returning each year to be with the friends they made at the last retreat!


Many thanks to Susan and Michelle for sharing a bit about their approach and the intention they bring to their retreats. If you’d like to join them this spring here in Baja, please check out our page dedicated to their Rejuvenating Yoga Retreat this April.


Yoga Journal Cover - Susan & Michelle - Yoga Retreat in Mexico

Poetic Inspiration on Retreat

Poetic Imagery - Mexico Yoga Retreat


Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.
          – Robert Frost


We’re so touched by a poem shared with us by a returning guest, Jane White, who expressed in beautiful verse how she felt during her recent retreat with us. We hope that you’ll enjoy it as much as we have. Thank you, Jane!


Prana del Mar


There is an impossible place
where the ocean and the desert meet;
souls are called here
by deep rolling waves
whispering wisdom
to the twitching ears of jack rabbits
jumping quick to catch every word.


They come to shift through the sands of time stored here,
where each grain holds infinite knowledge
guarded by ancient Saguaro
always at attention.


They come searching for themselves
in the fresh eyes of friends not yet met
and in the smiles of old friends not forgotten.


Together the souls dwell here for a while,
communing with wise jack rabbits
questioning cacti
contemplating grains of sand
to the distant sound of cow bells
and learning how sea spray
is turned into stars
by the dusky twilight.


But they must leave this place,
this impossible place;
for its magic contains a mission
for those who find it
and are open to all it has to offer.


When it is time
and they have been kissed by the sun
and blue sky threaded with white hope
settles on their shoulders,
the souls leave
carrying in their hearts
the possibilities of the impossible
to share with the rest of the world.


          – Jane White, 2015


Poet Jane White - Yoga Retreat in Mexico

Welcome, Ema!

Baby Ema


Ema & Mariana

Ema & Mariana

We are so thrilled to introduce the newest member of the Prana del Mar family. Baby
Ema was born on Saturday, September 20th at 2:26pm in La Paz – just six days after Hurricane Odile swept through Los Cabos and the Baja peninsula.


She weighed in at a very healthy 3.5 kilos (7 lbs 11 ounces) and measured 52cm (20.5 inches). Both baby and mother are doing well.



Such a cutie!

We apologize for the delay in getting you all the news, but life has been a bit turbulent these last couple of weeks with preparations for the coming season. Fortunately, Ema patiently weathered Odile in utero, where it was nice and warm and safe.


We are very excited for that she has arrived and is getting acquainted with her new surroundings. We can’t wait for you to meet her. Please come down soon and bring plenty of hugs and kisses!



Ema, Mariana & Benjamin

Lovely family

Update: Hurricane Odile in Baja

Dear Friends and Family of Prana del Mar,


As many of you may have heard, the southern part of the Baja peninsula has suffered a devastating blow from the Category 3 hurricane that made landfall late Sunday night. Reports say that the intensity of this storm far surpasses any other recorded in the area and the amount of damage left in its wake is unprecedented.


First and foremost, our hearts go out to all the people of Los Cabos and the surrounding areas who have been impacted by this tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers are with them as they cope with all the challenges they are currently facing as well as those they will encounter during the rebuilding process.


We are also incredibly grateful that Mariana and Benjamin – who rode out the storm at Prana del Mar – are safe and secure. As some of you know, Mariana is pregnant with her first child and is due at the end of September, so we are very relieved to know that all is well. The hurricane has altered their plan to have a home birth with a midwife at the retreat center, so they are currently seeking out appropriate hospitals that have weathered the storm and will be able to accommodate their baby when she arrives.


Cabo San Lucas and San Jose have been largely without power, gasoline, phone service, and Internet since Sunday, so we have not heard from all employees yet, but are encouraged that the area has no reported fatalities and the majority of injuries have been minor. We will update here as we get additional information.


Many thanks to all of you who have emailed and called to express your concern and support. We really appreciate all your warm and caring wishes. I (Erik) am in the States, so it has been worrying and frustrating to pace the halls with such limited communication and only tidbits of information to share, but I am very relieved to finally have more to report.


As for damage, we did not escape the wrath of the tempest. Fortunately, our facilities are well-constructed, we had invested in hurricane screens, and Benjamin and a very-pregnant Mariana did a good job of securing our buildings as best they could on short notice. With the force of the winds and the enormity of the rains, the palapa roof on the Sun Studio was damaged and several of those windows were cracked. We also had water intrude into the Community Building and some pergola structures that did not fare well. We lost about 25% of our solar panels, but fortunately all power systems are still functioning – some just have fewer solar collectors supplying them for the time being. All of the guest rooms came though very well and show very little impact.


Aside from the above, the damage is largely cosmetic. We do have a fair amount of clean up ahead of us and plenty of beautification to return the gardens to their previous state, but we are thankful that the situation is not worse.


With our season scheduled to begin in three weeks, many of you who have plans to join us soon will surely be wondering about your upcoming retreat. We feel that we will have the facility ready enough to host groups by that time, even if we are not entirely back to our former glory. Our most pressing concern, however, is with the overall state of commerce in Los Cabos and whether we will have access to all the food and supplies that are necessary to make your stay meet the standards that we expect of ourselves. Some reports have indicated that it could be a month or more before stores are approaching normal operations and shelves are fully stocked.


We will be contacting all of the teachers who have retreats planned with us before the end of the year to discuss with them individually how they would like to proceed. If you could give them a few days to digest all of this and decide upon their preferred plan of action, they will soon be determining whether to move forward, to wait-and-see on progress in Los Cabos, or to cancel or reschedule their retreats.


For those who are interested in helping out with Hurricane Relief efforts, we are hoping to create an avenue for you to contribute or to establish a list of non-profits that are providing valuable services in the area. Once we have something more definitive, we will pass along information about options that may be of interest.


In the meantime, thank you again for your warm support and loving concern during these challenging times. We are dedicated to restoring Prana del Mar to its former beauty and once again opening our doors and hearts to all of the kind, gracious, compassionate guests who are the lifeblood of our retreat center. The sun is already shining in Baja and we look forward to welcoming you back to enjoy it sometime soon!


With warmth and love,


Erik & the Prana del Mar staff

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.



  • 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)



  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


Lisa shows off a baby



Sea Turtles Race to the Ocean

Off they race to their new home in the Pacific!