Reviewed by Spa & Wellness MexiCaribe in 2015
With the recent popularity of retreat experiences in the bohemian resort town of Tulum on the Riviera Maya, I decided to investigate a little further and review one the retreats on offer for the readers of Spa Professional Mexico. After looking at the array of wellness experiences on offer I was drawn in particular to Life Source Retreats, located at the Alaya Tulum Hotel. With their stylish branding, organized website with clear information and array of retreat offerings they stood out from the rest. A range of dates was offered and those that worked best around my other travel commitments led me to join the Power Light: Fitness and Wellness Intensive Retreat. I believed this
would be perfect retreat for me as a yoga enthusiast, healthy food fanatic and fitness devotee.
I arrived on Monday afternoon to spectacular weather and a calm turquoise-blue sea. I met the retreat leaders who each greeted me with a warm hug, setting the tone for the wonderful week to come. The majority of the retreat group had arrived by early evening and we enjoyed a gentle restorative yoga class with Enicia Fisher, Yoga, Creativity and Spirituality specialist from California, perfect for those having landed from lengthy flights from as far afield as Switzerland. The ‘Heart Ceremony’ opened the retreat where David and Michele, Co-Founders of Life Source Retreats,
welcomed the group and outlined the purpose of the week to come. After dinner, Enicia led the group in a guided ‘Yoga Nidra Meditation’ to relax the mind and body.
On Tuesday morning we woke early to greet the sun and take part in a Mayan Blessing led by a local shaman. The Mayan Blessing incorporated a Copal spiritual cleansing (or ‘smudging’) of each participant. Copal is a tree resin extracted by the indigenous Mayan people who consider it sacred. The extraction of this resin must be done with honor and respect and is a ritual of meditation, peace and harmony with the universe. I soon found out this was just the
first of many ‘blessings’ to come! The morning Power Vinyasa Yoga class was taught by Nikki Carter, a New York based yoga instructor of Yoga To The People. An inspiring teacher, Nikki’s carefully articulated instructions really helped each of us get the most out of our yoga practice as she reminded us that ‘everything is an invitation, work with your own body’. An intense afternoon workout session with Nick Soderblum challenged our fitness and, after what seemed like a few hundred high kicks later, we were rewarded with a fantastic lunch. The Mayan Clay ceremony was one of the most fun experiences of the week. Starting with (another) Copal cleansing, we commenced with a self-application of the rich, remineralizing and detoxifying orange clay. Once covered, we then lay in the sand (the first time in years I’ve laid out in the sun without the worry of having applied enough sunscreen!). In the afternoon workshop, New Moon
Intention Setting, facilitated by Enicia we identified our intentions and answered to ourselves: ‘What do I have to do to make this a reality?’, ‘What do I need to let go of, to achieve this?’ and ‘How will I feel once I have achieved this?’
Parker Hurley, also of New York’s Yoga To The People, taught Wednesday morning’s power yoga. A natural teacher, Parker challenged each of us and encouraged us to work hard and believe that our bodies can do more. During the workshop ‘Change Your Attitude, Change Your Life’ we heard David’s story of following his passion, overcoming
life’s challenges and learning from mistakes. David Graziano, owner of Alaya Tulum, Ahau Tulum, Villa Pescadores and Co-Founder of Life Source Retreats, left a career in design and architecture in New York to settle in Tulum. He and his wife now raise their children in a place where they connect with nature on a daily basis and are surrounded by a multitude of nationalities, languages and cultures. The evening activity was the ‘Sound Healing Journey’, which started with another Copal cleansing (number 3 so far!).
On this rainy Tulum day, after our morning yoga and a little free time, the group gathered in the tree-house palapa to explore our creative side and get in touch with our ‘inner child’. With glitter and glue of all colors imaginable, an assortment of scrapbooking scissors and an array of magazines, we set to work creating our vision boards. Cutting
out anything and everything that ‘spoke’ to us from the pages of old copies of travel, yoga, lifestyle, fitness and style publications, we created boards that embodied our ideal vision for our lives ahead. Not surprisingly, sunshine, white beaches and turquoise blue waters featured heavily in my board along with wellness, spa, publishing, family, friends, and yes – a glass of wine!
The evening dried out just in time for us to experience the Temazcal. A traditional Mayan spiritual ritual of rebirth that takes place inside a stone and mortar domed structure – a symbol of Mother Nature’s womb. Carlos, the local shaman and ‘Temazcalero’, first performed a copal smudging to cleanse the aura, before we entered the mystical chamber one by one. Using steam created by herb infused water poured over glowing hot rocks in a central pit, the Temazcal ceremony purifies the body and the spirit. During the four stages of the Temazcal, the four ‘doors’, the intensity of the heat rises and with it, feelings and emotions are liberated. The experience is shared but individual at the same time. Between each stage of the journey a welcome influx of fresh air rushes in, as the blanket-covered entrance to the Temazcal is uncovered. The ritual ends with a dip in the ocean as the powerful waves cooled us down.
By day five I had noticed a distinct improvement in my Yoga practice, a development in strength and a deepening of the postures. I was pleased to hear from Parker, our teacher that morning, that he had also noticed the improvement in a couple of us during the week. The afternoon activity ‘fishbowl’ was deliberately kept a secret with none of us aware of what it would entail. While I won’t give it away, I will say we were all left with warm heart, full of compliments and deeper understanding of the group of individuals we had shared this amazing week with. During our
farewell dinner we all expressed something we had gained from the week’s experience that we hadn’t expected. With participants from across the globe, it may not be feasible to all get together again as a group, but we stay in touch
and will always share the wonderful experience of finding our ‘Source of Life’ on the beautiful beaches of Tulum.
By Sara Jones, editor