Esalen, Big Sur, California
The Esalen Institute, in Big Sur, California has a very special place in my heart and has been the site of a great maturing process for myself. I am so grateful for the conscious practices of healing which Esalen is known for. The quality of Prana and Lifeforce in the environment is mindblowing and amazing and anyone who has been there knows what I am referring to.
I have been asked many times to name my favorite place to give a retreat. I always reply Esalen and Mexico. Esalen Institute hangs on the cliffs and coast of Big Sur and hosts amazing visual panoramas in all directions. Between the baths, the amazing visuals and incredible food, this is a big winner for doing a yoga retreat.
The island of Mallorca elicits an old memory from my first trip to Europe. I was 20 years old in 1978, taking an overnight boat from Barcelona, Spain to the Iberic islands on the Mediterranean sea. My destination was the island of Ibiza and the smallest island of Formentera. In the morning, after a very rough journey on the sea, we arrived in the port of Palma de Mallorca. Wow, what a beautiful place and city. While I did not disembark on that April day in 1978, I have returned these last 4 years to the city of Palma de Mallorca on the way to the retreat center, la Serrania.
Palma has the distinct feel of being in Spain as well as being on an island. The city is very European with an elegant old world architecture crossed with the tiles and gardened courtyards of Spain. As well, there is a very hip, cosmopolitan feel in this old world city. The islands are a major destination for the European sun lovers, particularly the British and Germans. I have really, really enjoyed my time in this city and am always left longing for more.
Yelapa is a small town or village on a large cove or bay on the southernmost rim of the Bahia de Banderas, the Bay of Flags. There are no roads to Yelapa so the contact of the village with Vallarta is via water taxi.
When we board the boat for Yelapa we take another step onto our adventure. As I leave the dock, I always have the feeling that we are leaving the known and familiar and venturing into a shamanic journey of sorts. There is a feeling of remoteness and solitude on the beach, and in the village and river valley of Yelapa. On the 40 minute ride I have witnessed whales, schools of dolphins, turtles and manta rays; not all on one journey, but the water life is really incredible.
The Hotel Lagunita stands on the far left side of the beach while the village is on the far right side of the bay. The hotel itself was built by an amazing artist with extensive rock, stone, brick and bamboo structures and walkways. The rooms are done in Polynesian and art deco motifs. They are spacious, colorful, and all have full bathrooms, running water and 24 hour electricity. The hotel is perched on the edge of the Pacific Ocean so the sound of the sea is enormous, present with us day and night. The hotel seems to be placed in the middle of a garden with beautiful palms and tropical plants everywhere.
Umbria & Tuscany, Italy
I love spending time in the heart of green Umbria, lodging and practicing in different sites, often along Cammino di San Francesco, St. Francis's trail. Surrounded by beautiful countryside, going through small villages, vineyards and olive tree groves while offers an opportunity of a deep contact with nature in an authentic spiritual atmosphere.