Restore to Remember: A Spoil Yourself Retreat in Spain

Luxury Yoga Retreat 

 Andalucia, Spain 

May 23-30th, 2020

You are not your job.  You are not your familiar role, what you have accomplished, what you failed to do.  You are not what you have or do not have.  You are not your talent or your looks.  Do you remember who you are?

This year, we retreat to rejuvenate and restore on Spain’s southern coast, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.  It is common to feel guilty for taking time for yourself, and yet we would be better versions of ourselves if we did so.  Our world is fast-paced and demanding, and we rarely allow for our bodies to properly rest.  On this retreat, will be slowing down to spoil ourselves, remembering our essence by stripping away our daily routines and expectations.   

The studio, with expansive views of the Mediterranean

The retreat is comprised of many offerings.  You may participate in all, or you may find that you need to melt in to a lounge chair at the salt water pool or the beach.  There will be a vinyasa or a slow flow class each morning, and an evening restorative practice.  There will be an opportunity to make your own malas with Jess, flamenco dancing, hiking, and an opportunity to visit nearby Malaga, to visit the Picasso museum and explore one of Europe’s finest beaches.  All meals at the retreat center are included, and there are tea and snacks available between.  One massage or other treatment is included in the price.

Where you will stay

Retreat Center

The Yoga and Wellness Center is an authentic Andalusian farmhouse with gardens overlooking the sea.  It is an Eco-resort, yet luxurious.  The Dali Llama stayed here!  Set in a secluded location, the center is an Andalusian paradise. A farm of 50,000 sq, meters, it is located in the peace of the Spanish countryside, and yet is conveniently only 20 minutes from Malaga airport. You can immerse yourself in the silence of nature in its lovely gardens and surrounding hills. It is the perfect setting for your yoga and meditation retreat. It was mentioned in The Times as one of Europe’s best yoga and wellness centers. They proudly have a newly built, beautiful state of the art and fully equipped yoga studio, complete with Yoga Wall, designed with guidance from leading yoga teacher Simon Low.  You can relax in the extensive gardens or round the saltwater pool, and at night can enjoy star-gazing under the dark night sky – we can provide a bonfire outside for those cooler nights.a diverse array of treatments means you can discover practices that are right for you. 

There are 20 rooms, each individually styled, paying special attention to color, harmony and balance with the environment. All rooms have en-suite bathrooms with magnifying mirror, hair dryer and welcome products, air-conditioning, heating and each comes with a private outdoor space, either verandah or terrace, with lovely views of the gardens, surrounding hills or down the valley to the sea

FOOD

Food is farm to table, grown in the grounds around us.  We will offer breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as tea and snacks between. Meals are usually served buffet style.  We keep free-range chickens, so fresh eggs are available to your guests daily.

It is essential that you inform Jess of any dietary requirements, within reason, well in advance so that she can let us know of your needs.  If, for medical reasons, you follow a highly restricted diet, we advise you to bring with you any essentials you might need for your wellbeing.  If you are prone to a severe reaction to an allergen, for example, a very small amount on a kitchen knife or board, it is essential that we be informed. Please note that we are unable to offer absolute guarantees for such allergic conditions.

AVAILABLE TREATMENTS

(one included with your package)

• Facial beauty treatments

• Massage

• Thai yoga massage

• Shiatsu massage

• Osteopathy

• Physiotherapy

• Regression and soul therapies

• Reiki

AMENITIES

  • Salt Water Pool
  • Gardens
  • Hiking Trails from Center
  • Tennis Courts
  • Two State-of-the-Art Yoga Studios
  • Library

ANDALUCIA

The retreat center’s location is unbeatable for people who want to know Andalusia, as it is very close to emblematic Andalusian cities known for their beauty and monuments such as: Seville (La Giralda, Torre del Oro), located just 1 hour and 50 minutes away

-Cordoba con la Mesquite, located just 1 hour and 50 minutes away

-Granada with La Alhambra and Sierra Nevada, just 1 hour and 30 minutes away

Nearby beach

We will be situated in the mountains of the Axarquía, 15 minutes from the beaches of Rincon and 20 minutes from Málaga.  Axarquia is Located in the easternmost part of the province, this is the province of Malaga. It is characterized by the diversity and proximity of its towns, where visitors can discover vast natural spaces ranging from mountain and long beaches, not to mention the excellent local gastronomy and its magnificent cultural and artistic heritage.

Its towns comprise picturesque havens which have managed to conserve the beauty of their streets, squares, monuments and popular festivals with a backdrop of light and color, and which coupled with its weather conditions and environmental attractions make this an ideal place to visit. For the lands of La Axarquia offer a landscape of incomparable variety: valleys, mountain ranges and coastline.

CLIMATE

Andalusia is one of the warmest regions anywhere in Europe. It has a warm, Mediterranean climate with dry, hot summers and mild winters with infrequent precipitation.  The Axarquía Costa del Sol climate is Mediterranean with mild winters and hot summers. This region’s climate is special thanks to its geographic situation as it is protected to the north from cold winds by the Tejeda, Almijara and Alhama mountain ranges.  The Mediterranean Sea’s influence on temperatures is such that these do not vary much, either the ambient one or that of the sea; they are very pleasant all year round. We can expect an average of 76 degrees for a high, 68 for a low during our stay. The high proportion of hours of sunshine marks the cheerful, hospitable character of the region’s people.

Yoga Studio

Carlo Enzo Studio:  a new state of the art yoga studio designed by internationally  renowned yoga teacher and trainer, Simon Low. This spacious state-of-the-art 170 m2 yoga sala has beautiful sea views. Due to its huge south-facing windows, you can practice yoga enjoying the sunsets, overlooking the sea, and appreciating the nature of Santillana’s own valley location.

Carlo Enzo Studio

This yoga studio, with its sprung, thermally insulated wooden floor has 24 stations on the The Great Wall, all the essential yoga props of the highest available quality, and all the attention to detail that makes it truly one of the most outstanding yoga studios in Europe, resulting in an enhanced experience for al students.

Classic Studio:  A meditation and dance studio of 90m2 with an Andalusian and traditional touch. This studio has a gabled roof and wooden floor. It can be divided into three smaller rooms with sliding doors if necessary, forming in this way, 3 very comfortable spaces with fire places and air-conditioning, where you can enjoy yoga in a more traditional Andalusian atmosphere.

Getting There

Fly in to Malaga airport, or some people may fly in to Madrid, and share a rented car to drive in.

Airport to resort transportation will be provided.

We recommend travel insurance for any unseen snafus. 

Itinerary:

DAY 1 –Saturday May 23rd

•Hotel transfers 

•Check in after 3:30

•Welcome reception 

•6pm Dinner

  • Opening Circle, Yoga Nidra

DAY 2 – Sunday May 24th 

  • 7:30 walking meditation

•8:30am Breakfast

  • 10 am yoga

•12pm lunch

•Mala making/pool/treatment/chill 

•6pm dinner

•restorative yoga

DAY 3 – Monday May 25th

•7:30am meditation 

•8:30am breakfast 

  • lunch

• Malaga- Picasso Museum

  • 6pm dinner
  • restorative yoga

DAY 4 – Tuesday May 27th

•7:30am meditation

  • 8:30am breakfast 

•10am yoga

•12pm lunch

•Hike El Camino

•6pm dinner

•7pm meditation 

DAY 5 – Wednesday May 28th

•7:30am meditation 

•8:30am breakfast 

•10am yoga (Forrest with Nicole)

•12pm lunch

•Free time 

•flamenco dancing 

•6pm dinner

•restorative yoga

DAY 6 – Thursday May 29

•7:30am meditation  

•8:30am breakfast 

•10am yoga

•12pm lunch

•beach/paddle boarding

•dinner

  • restorative yoga

DAY 7 – Friday May 30th

•Departures

Cost

Ground Floor with balcony and sea view, full bath

Twin bed in shared room: $1838

Single Queen: $2,188

Single King: $2,288

First and Second Floor with balcony, garden view

Twin bed in shared room: $1838

Queen bed in single: $2,188

Suites with balconies and sea view

Single with Queen bed, lounge, shower with hydro massage shower: $2,488

Gran Suite with two bathrooms, hydro massage shower (Shared):

King Bed: $2,188

Queen (2): $2,088

Included in Cost:

• transportation to and from Malaga Airport

• lodging

• one healing treatment

  • three daily meals offered at the center
  • yoga
  • Admission and transportation (as a group) to the Picasso Museum
  • Hike along the El Camino

Not Included in Cost:

  • Airfare
  • Alcohol and juice bar juices (Drinks will be complimentary at opening and closing receptions)
  • Tips on treatments

Your Teachers

Nicole Clark

For the past 24 years, Nicole Clark has followed her passion for understanding the human body—its anatomy, movement, and healing abilities—into multiple disciplines: yoga and meditation, bodywork, craniosacral therapy, dance, and visual art.

Nicole studied and practiced yoga for eleven years in New York and Los Angeles, exploring Vinyasa, Jivamukti, Hatha, Sivananda, and Bikram before discovering Forrest Yoga. She trained extensively with Ana Forrest, completing the intensive foundation training in 2002 and immediately going on to teach at the Forrest Yoga Circle in Los Angeles. Nicole quickly earned a reputation for her elegant sequences, hands-on adjustments, work with  injuries, and ability to hold a safe space for every student.

Pursuing deeper knowledge of anatomy and the healing arts, Nicole studied at length with Ellen Heed and Dr. Vincent Medici in the areas of pain and orthopedic evaluation, core sequencing, energetics, and healing bodywork. From there she went on to study Visionary Craniosacral Work for nine years with Hugh Milne, founder of the Milne Institute. Nicole has also studied aerial pole for four years with accomplished yogi and choreographer Rie Katagiri, with whom she learned to move with a fluid balance of lightness and strength.

Nicole has channeled her experience and passion into myriad classes and workshops on both coasts and as far away as Hong Kong and Singapore, including her highly successful Power of Touch workshops and Juicy Yoga classes. She uses her teachings to create a powerful healing space through the art of sequencing, breathwork, self awareness, and self exploration to liberate the body and spirit. Nicole encourages every student to unlock the unlimited possibilities that yoga has to offer both on and off the mat.

Jessica Riley-Norton

Jessica has trained under Natasha Rizopoulos, Jill Abraham, Nikki Meyers, and S.N. Goenka in Yoga and meditation. She is devoted to helping others thrive, by walking in their true, uncompromised highest self. Jessica is inspired by her own continual transformation in uncovering the fundamental goodness, as well as witnessing the miracles of yoga received by her  students. Jessica opened the doors of Evoke with the intention of creating a supportive, energetic community, with opportunities to grow and thrive through the ancient wisdom of yoga. Her love of cycle classes developed when she trained for her first marathon. Jessica believes that movement is medicine, and in her own experience, finds that a good sweat each day gives her the ability to take on what life gives with a sense of grace, grit, and gratitude. With her love of mindful movement, Jessica is also beginning to study the Hakomi Method, and continues to train under Natasha Rizolopoulos and Nicole Clark.

Check List 

RETREAT DETAILS 

• Retreat begins at 3:30pm on May 23rd and concludes at 11am on May 30th. 

•Retreat fees to be paid in full before April 23rd. Payments can be made on the website evokeyogacapecod.com, or checks as payments can be sent to

Evoke Yoga

64 Enterprise Rd

Hyannis, Ma

02668

  • CC Fees are non-refundable
  • 6 weeks prior to the retreat date you will receive a verification of the retreats continuance and final itinerary. If the retreat is unable to held for any reason you will receive a refund. 
  • You will receive a confirmation email as to when to book your flight

Packing Check List

Yoga mat and yoga mat towel – we have a state-of-the-art equipped yoga studio with yoga mats, but for hygiene reasons or for extra comfort you may want to bring your own mat. If you are used to using a yoga mat towel, please bring your own, too, as those we do not provide. If you use one of our studio yoga mats, you will be required to wipe it clean at the end of each class.

Beach towel and Sport towel – we provide towels for showers and pool towels, but please bring your own beach towel and sport towel

Swimming Suits – we have a salt-water pool large enough for comfortable laps and leisure swimming. Please make sure that you shower before and after entering the pool.

Sun-hat

Sun protection cream – we ask that you be mindful of swimming in the pool with sun protection cream on. Please follow the showering instructions before and after entering the pool.

A good book – we have a multi-language library growing at Santillan. Please feel free to leave behind your books when you have finished them, so that future guests can enjoy them. Please remember to return borrowed library books to their dedicated sections when you leave.

Walking shoes – pair of walking shoes or strong sandals are recommended if you want to take advantage of the walks around Molino de Santillan.

Insect repellent – we prefer that you use natural insect repellents.

Water bottle – you can fill this with water from our water fountains.

Travel Documents– Passport and photo copies of it, insurance, itineraries

Money: ATMs are available in most locations

Credit/debit cards (5-20% surcharges sometimes applies). 

Phone and charger (European plug adaptor required). 

Clothes:  In the warmest months, May–October, all you need to bring are your favourite summer clothes, as the weather will be comfortably warm, sometimes hot, day and night. During late July to late August, occasionally it can be quite hot day and night, as the winds sometimes come up from the Sahara desert and we are bathed in glorious desert heat. In the evenings after the sun has set, there may be a few mosquitoes, as with most of the Mediterranean coast, so a few thin long-sleeved and long-legged garments and ankle-length pants, skirts/dresses would be handy.

Life in Mediterranean countries is oriented to outdoor living, and Molino de Santillan is the region of the highest levels of all-year-round sunshine in Spain. You can enjoy glorious warm sunshine during the day throughout the year.

Journal and pen. 

With sustainability in mind. Consider limiting disposable products. 

Important Contacts

Jessica Riley-Norton

info@evokeyogacapecod.com

or

evokeyogacapecod.com

Evoke Facebook page: 

www.facebook.com/Evokeyogacapecod

508-367-0228

Evoke Yoga Retreat Registration  Form

64 Enterprise rd Hyannis Ma, 02668

info@evokeyogacapecod.com

Restore to Remember: Andalucia, Spain May 23-30th, 2020

Name: __________________________________________________________

Address: ________________________________________________________

City:____________________________________________________________

Phone: (___) _________________

Are you new to Evoke, Jessica’s Retreats, or to Nicole Clark?

________________________________________________________________

Emergency Contact

Name:___________________________________________________________

Additional Information_____________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

State:__________________

Zip:____________________

Email: _________________

Phone: (___)____________

Please list the name(s) of any other attendants you are registering in coordination with:_________________________________________________

What is your room preference_______________________________________

What Healing treatment would you like? ______________________________

Yoga Experience:  Beginner /Intermediate /Advanced

Please list any health concerns or injuries Jess should be aware of – pertaining to general health and more specifically to yoga practice, as well as food allergies and dietary restrictions:_____________________________

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Registration Information

-Please mail this form with your full payment or deposit to 64 Enterprise rd Hyannis, Ma 02268

-Payments can be made by credit card on evokeyogacapecod.com or check payable to Evoke Yoga.

-You will be sent a confirmation email 

-Specific payment plans can be arranged with Jess

Cancellation Policy

Refunds minus a $50 administration fee will only be given to those who cancel at least 1 month in advance of the retreat.  Should the retreat not run for any reason, you will be reimbursed.

Acknowledgments

I understand and agree to the cancellation policy above.

I am solely responsible for my health, safety and well-being while participating in this retreat. I agree that I will inform the instructors of any injuries or health conditions I might have, and that I will not perform any activity which I feel is likely to cause me to injure myself. I agree to hold the instructors harmless from any and all responsibility for any injury that I may sustain during or as a result of this retreat.

I understand that unless I request otherwise, pictures taken during the retreat may be posted online on Evoke’s website or Facebook page.

Sign_________________________________ Date__________________

Please contact Jess directly with any questions or concerns, at 508-367-0228

Sentients with Roots: the Consciousness of Plants

Conscious Cactus

If I had a dime for every wise guy who responded to my vegetarian diet in the last nineteen years with, “What about the plants? All of those poor plants you eat?” my college loans would be paid off. Yet, what about those plants?

Talking to tomato plants is a cliché for baby boomers who never let go of tie-dye, who still may or may not believe in the discredited studies of Cleve Backster, Peter Tompkins, and Christphor Bird. Backster hooked up his houseplants to a polygraph machine to read emotional responses in 1967, and six years later, Tomkins and Bird wrote the book The Secret Life of Plants. The book claims that plants are sentients, yet is somewhat discredited due to its supernatural speculations. Backster was discredited soon after, when his findings were not able to be duplicated. The scientific world, for the most part, turned their backs on plant feelings and intelligence.

It seems impossible to conceive plants as beings of intellect and soul, since they do not have a brain. They simply react to sun, water, and fertilizer. They appear to be a collection of cells that have stood the test of evolution, many staking their survival on human adoration and consumption. They clean our air, give us shelter, and provide every medicine for our ailments.

In contrast to this functional view of plants, there now is a quiet buzz within the scientific community, again raising the possibility that plants are so much more than we realize. Credible scientific institutions are publishing studies that indicate plant emotions and intelligence. What was once wrapped inside of macramé hemp is again inside of scientific journals.

One group of scientists in France have discovered that trees make sounds, at a frequency undetected by the human ear when they are thirsty; they even make different sounds when they are severely dehydrated. Do trees cry when they need water? Do trees experience suffering? Do they fear death? Are they communicating? Are they praying? These questions may at first seem childish or romantic, but some are finding validity and reality to these hippy-dippy, crunchy inquisitions.

2005 marked the first meeting in Florence for the Society for Plant Neurobiology. Though our green friends lack a brain, they do in fact have neurotransmitters that include dopamine, serotonin, and glutamate. It remains a mystery as to why and how these neurotransmitters exist without neurons, and whether plants act as individuals, or simply as a reactive cluster of cells. One of the more appealing arguments for scientists proving plants act on an individual basis is each plant’s adaptation to circadian rhythms, and as in sunflowers, solar tracking. It is also impressive that plants appear to have memory and “learn,” adapting as animals do. In a PRI radio interview, Michael Pollan discusses an experiment that shows how plants react to pain, and eventually adapt–they can respond to 15-20 environmental variables. They also can be “put out” with human anthesetics, and can make their own.

In Pollan’s book, Botany of Desire, he explains the survival of flowers such as tulips, and how they make themselves alluring to the human eye for the survival of their species. That’s pretty smart, considering they don’t even have nervous systems.

We are beginning to see plants–maybe even life–in a new light. What if intelligence or a consciousness exists without a brain, hearts, and nerves? What about all of the ethereal potential prana, chi, or life energy inside those cells? Take a walk outside, perhaps even through the woods with the idea that you are amongst intelligent life. This new scientific front is both fascinating and illuminating, and certainly sheds new light on my “conscious” plant diet.

(This essay was originally published in 2014 on Peacefuldumpling.com)


The Yoga of Cuba

Havana

Each yoga retreat to a different country has presented its own insights in to who we are, as we shed away layers of national identity and move closer to our true essence. These travels are not vacations; they are explorations. It is an opportunity to examine our holding patterns and reactions in the context of a different environment with our senses heightened. Much like building heat and getting ourselves in to complicated postures where we may balance on a single foot or even hands to access knowledge of our kleshas (obsticles) or to strengthen muscles of courage, traveling to some of these countries is in itself a yoga class. Traveling Cuba was an exceptional opportunity to access our selves.

We commenced our time together in the beautiful home of a couple who study yoga with our guide. Our group, joined by a couple of yoga students in Havana, circled up beneath antique chandeliers to embrace the week ahead. In this room, we secretly practiced yoga and danced salsa and rumba. This is how we set the week:

“What an incredible opportunity this week is for us to explore not only this passionate country, but to explore who we are in relationship to our political system and culture. Stepping on to the mat each day will provide space for introspection. Beneath the thrill of travel, being in a new place with a fabulous group of people on a tropical island, there will be layers of identity to reckon with. We will have an opportunity to clean the lens of our eyes, as North Americans and as members of a democracy. Perhaps we will question or validate what we value. Perhaps we will witness joy where we think it is impossible, and we redefine what it means to be rich. Perhaps you will find gratitude for the life you have. Perhaps the spirit of the Cuban people will ignite inspiration, or maybe you will feel guilty and overwhelmed. At times you may feel yourself attached to ideals, other times liberated. You may notice aversion to differences, or perhaps enthusiastic curiosity. You may feel all of it; this space between. As we navigate these spaces and the land we travel this week, look in to each others eyes, and in to the eyes of those we meet. See yourself in every set of eyes you meet, and the space between will collapse. As our lenses become clearer, this becomes easier to do. “

It was Sunday. We walked back to our Casa Particular’s through a more upscale neighborhood, amongst delapated, colorful buildings adorned with gardens and laundry. We walked past a school that seemed as though it has been abandoned for decades. I took a photo of it, of the rusty fence that encircled it, its discolored walls, and the weeds between the cracks that seemed to be reclaiming this corner of Havana. The following day, we rounded the same corner only to find the ball court filled with laughing, running children.

Casa Particulars are like Airbnb’s, but the people are living there, and cook you breakfast. With the relatively new tourism industry and lack of hotels, Cubans have been given permission to rent out rooms in their homes. In fact, by US law Americans are not allowed to stay in hotels, as they directly benefit the Cuban government. The home owners apply for licenses and pay a monthly fee to the government to host tourists. The average monthly income in Cuba is $40 per month, and so this opportunity to rent rooms in the home is a grand one.

Fidel is dead, Raul is no longer president, yet the Castro brothers and Che Guevara remain a strong presence

Although the people are limited, they are not impoverished. They have refrigerators, stoves, and regular food rations. The have health care, yet will enthusiastically welcome aspirin and Tylenol as gifts. Cubans have free education and are supported financially throughout their education, yet ask any bartender or taxi driver what they studied, and they may tell you they were a lawyer of a scientist, and this job pays better. The people are relatively comfortable, however when something breaks, it is not like you can go to the hardware store and get a part.

We walked through the city one day, and passed by a business in which there was a counter of men with tools and desk lights, repairing items. Customers patiently sat across the counter from them looking on. The rest of the room was a waiting area of people in chairs with sewing machines, toasters, and other small appliances in their laps. The people of Cuba do not have the luxury of throwing anything out, and are rather brilliant in fixing things in creative, unorthodox ways. If there isn’t a part, they make something else work. Upcycling is part of life.

There are food lines. The markets have signs, to indicate weekly rations according to ages and household members. As tourists, we could eat at restaurants, but there were no grocery markets to speak of. Rather, liquor stores carried items such as “Fitness” crackers and yogurt sandwich cookies, and that was about it for food to snack on. Cuban restaurants were alive with music and dancing, but it is rare to see someone sitting with food in front of them. The one thing you could count on was a ham and cheese sandwich (no pickles!).

Traveling from Havana to Trinidad

We traveled to the historical city of Trinadad, were we relocated for a number of days. We explored the beach, the town, the jungle, a waterfall, a coffee farm, and took more salsa lessons.

Jungle waterfalls in the mountains north of Trinidad

In Havana there were several birds in bird cages, and then in Trinidad it was as though every home had one. During the day, homes along main streets were converted in to stores, and the birds were placed outside. I became obsessed with this image. It was as though it was an expression of what couldn’t be said, and possibly not even a conscious expression. I had a dream while I was in Trinadad of my pet bird growing up, laying down in her cage without food or water. She awoke to my touch, and once I fed her, she panicked, trying to get out of the cage.The thrill of travel wears quickly when life is less than convenient than life at home. When personal space, reliable plumbing, and drinking water became luxury items, our identity as Americans was quickly revealed. These standards to living are not everyones standards, and our group had to readjust. Some quickly adjusted, others more slowly. This was the medicine. When so much comfort and ease we are used to was stripped away, we were able to feel what Cuba is like- if only for a week. The dancing, the singing, the music, the vivid paint colors on the buildings and the art became much more precious, taking on new context. The things we fear; not having enough, economic instability, oppression, were remedied even if only for a short time with individuals coming together to dance, to sing, to gather. There was genuine joy there. People stopped by each others houses to visit, spending time without anxiety of the day’s agenda. People seemed to be “in the moment”, a place so many people try to get to in our world of opportunity and excess. Our group did settle in to the way well. We immensely enjoyed each other’s company. We laughed, we danced, played soccer, smoked cigars, drank Cuba Libre’s (and virgin pina colada’s) and landed in our bodies in yoga practices and dance classes

Cuba revealed to me the joy that is possible from within. It is to savor self expression, voice, to dance and sing no matter how heavy the weight on my shoulders seems to be.

Cuba’s exquisite art scene

During our trip, unbeknown to us, the people of Cuba had already begun to experience food shortages with their main subsidizer, Venezuela, going through political upheaval. They believe they are on the brink of a second “Special Period”. The first was a cruel time in Cuba’s history, when the then main economic subsidizer, The USSR collapsed.

It is my hope that something changes for the Cuban people. Perhaps their government sees tourism as an opportunity to truly become independent, and allows the people to have greater opportunities and freedoms. It is also my hope that more Americans get to see and feel Cuba just as it is right now. To know the possibility of joy no matter what happens, to be liberated in ways we can’t understand unless we are stripped naked of our own cultural framework. Cuba is not for the faint of heart or the resort and cruise ship traveler, but it is a yoga practice that will stretch and open you like none other.

Typical billboards. Very few advertisements

Next year we will retreat to unwind, to experience travel in a way to place our bodies in a new place to remember our essence through restoring. I will carry Cuba with me always, and will continue to process my week there; who I was in Cuba, and what the people and country mean to me as members of this human fabric of community, teachers, brothers and sisters.

Rosario (left) led a beautiful slow flow class while our guide, Shoshanna (Cuba Wellness Adventures), interpreted. Rosario has been teaching yoga in Santiago, Cuba for 20 years, and radiates love and light.