Deep Yoga and Sound Healing on the Edge of Europe
'Are you aligned with your dreams?' The invocation resonates around the circular temple, echoed by the beat of a shamanic drum. 'This is deep work. Everything is possible. We are going to go deep. I urge you to surrender.'
Our arms may be outstretched in triangle pose in front of a giant Ganesh, but this yoga and sound retreat is about yoga in the truest sense of the word, combining deep healing traditions from around the world.
'Asana is merely a preparation for meditation. Yoga means unity.'
Terra, is entreating, as Pedro her partner, eyes closed, lovingly accompanies her. This Brazilian duo are the keepers of sacred healing traditions, stories and songs they have collected first hand from indigenous around the world – from deep in the Amazon to high in the Himalayas.
Here, on a sound and yoga retreat at Monte Velho in the south west of Portugal's Algarve, is where Europe ends and what was once known as the 'New World' begins. On a thickly forested tongue of land, ochre cliffs plunge into the wild blue waters of the Atlantic, protected by a huge national park.
This is a rare space and a rare retreat. There is the sense of being held, by the people, the place and even the landscape. The retreat is a co creation with Vera, who has made Monte Velho her home. As we finger paint with earthy pigments under the pine trees Vera invites us to connect with feelings rather than form: 'Go to the door of your heart and enter the darkness',
On a silent walk to a spectacular surfing beach nearby, Vera says, 'I think you had a process with the art, not with the painting, but with yourself'. Her gentleness and perceptiveness touches me and she goes on to say, 'We create a lot, we create worlds'.
'You. Have. The. Power. To. Create. Anything. Right. Now'.
Terra's words, resonating with Vera's, are a prayer; Pedro's music a harmonic pulse. Terra's tiny barefoot body is pacing purposefully around the temple, her arms swinging as if to bathe us in the healing music. The sunset glints across the water as Pedro's voice rises, 'Let the light of the truth sign like a North star in the sky of your being'. Lyrical, moving, it resonates deep into our bodies and into our bones.
'We are all vibration. We just need to act with intention',
Pedro suggests in a personal sound healing. 'I will have a little talk and I will know what you need' and with that he casually picks up a Tibetan bowl, a shamanic drum, some bells and his tuning forks. 'This is my spiritual playground and these are my sacred toys', he says of his global musical instrument collection, which set the spiritual tone.
What happens next can only be described as a psycho spiritual MOT. Placing each tuning fork on joints around my body with all the skill and precision of a surgeon, Pedro carries out a fine-tuning. Finishing with some bells that feel like a music box in the heart, he says, 'Drop your mind into your inner experience.'
Ariadna, the angelic receptionist and trained nutritionist arranges an Ayurvedic massage for me with Hari Om, an experience that feels like being poured full of healing light. Hari Om was with spiritual teacher Mooji when he fell in love with this land and created an ashram nearby.
Andre the horseman appears. He helped me to look to the horizon and hold my space with the horses, and I feel two-inches taller, as if he were some kind of osteopath-psychologist. Mantras float out of the kitchen at Monte Velho. Joao, who came from Brazil to cook at this retreat says simply what he puts into the cooking is: 'Metta. Unconditional love for all beings.'
'I want you to connect with nature, with your nature.'
Vera says as we swim in the cool water of the lake, fringed with pine trees and dotted with pink lilies. 'People seem to find a way to let go of their own lives here, to surrender. I live in a paradise but I hope I never forget to look at the sunset.'
Vera has created her own Steiner school as a free and holistic way of teaching and speaks of her own dream to turn Monte Velho into a learning centre.
As we all let out a collective sigh, Pedro encourages us to find the therapeutic healing power of sound we all have within ourselves. The sigh is a form of mantra, connecting sound and breath that gives the signal to our body to let go.
'Sound is vibration. Vibration breaks down and removes blockages. It has the power to transform. You have the power to transform'.
Pedro is speaking; his eyes are closed, his fingers beating his hang, a kind of portable steel drums.
'Do you dare to dream your dreams? Terra has her hand on her heart and tears in her dark eyes as she thanks her guides and this healing centre. With typical humility, she tells us. ' 'I do not do this work. It comes through me. I can just guide you on your journey, as my guides have done for me.
We can't heal you. We can only heal ourselves.'
Yoga and Sound Healing Retreat
9 to 15 April 2017
Monte Velho Retreat Centre