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This human experience is a gift, an opportunity to align body, mind and heart so we can express ourselves completely and honestly. This means living authentically to who we really are.
When we live in alignment, we feel expansive, in the flow and joyful. When we are misaligned, we feel contracted, stagnant and fearful. The mind experiences some 60,000 thoughts a day, of which 80% are negative. Why do we pay so much attention to the noisy chatter getting us down and not enough time listening to the whispers of our heart?
This retreat is designed to help you realign and reignite. Through the practice of yoga and mindfulness, you’re invited to connect with your deepest truths and heartfelt desires to evolve into a kinder, more compassionate you. Challenge your old beliefs, let go of things no longer serving you, and open up to your unique potential.
Since 2008, the Winter family and Vale de Moses' team members have thrown themselves wholeheartedly into restoring the four Xisto stone houses with great care and respect to the old local Portuguese traditions of building with natural materials: clay, lime, stone, and wood. Vale de Moses hopes you will enjoy staying in these old dwelling places as much as they have over the years.
Beds are either quality mattresses or superb Portuguese made futons, all with cotton sheets, blankets, mosquito nets, good pillows, and duvets. Restorative sleep is an essential part of your retreat.
Yoga; A variety of styles of yoga are taught at Vale de Moses through the year by some delightful and inspiring teachers, who will take care of you on your mat. You will be safely and physically challenged. Please do not worry about being good enough, or flexible, or thin enough, or whatever enough.
Though the format and language of yoga styles taught by Vale de Moses' teachers may differ (dynamic, Ashtanga, Vinyasa flow, and more), they are in essence, just one. The very meaning of the word yoga is union. A daily invitation to explore the possibility of what your bodies can do and what they can show you about yourselves, and the world you perceive around you.
Yoga is an invitation to relax. Yoga uses anatomy to restore you physiologically, neurologically, energetically, and emotionally. Yoga is a doorway into the subtle, intuitive, perceptual qualities of your being. Modern western life is often stressful and combative and is heavily focused on the outward.
Yoga and meditation are anecdotes. Yoga and meditation advance your inward journey to your own center. It is from this steady, calm, lucid, and awake center that you move outward into your daily lives. Through practice, you feel well, whatever the challenges of life.
Whatever your capability or experience may be, you are truly welcome. It might be your first yoga retreat, perhaps your first yoga class, or maybe you have been practicing regularly for decades. The combination of good food and sleep, clean mountain air and water, therapeutic massage and acupuncture, hill walking and river swimming, all create a highly restorative context in which to begin, or to deepen, your yoga practice.
Retreats may differ slightly from each other, but generally, you will follow a schedule similar to this, with a full orientation around the houses and valleys on Monday morning after yoga class and breakfast.
One afternoon, you will all go off road to the nearby Rio Zezere or Cambas for a mud bath and swim depending on the weather during your stay. Here you will spend time enjoying the local surroundings and refreshments will be provided for the afternoon.
Mars has taught classes, privates, workshops, and retreats in Australia, Asia, and Europe. She is a dedicated Ashtanga Vinyasa practitioner and has spent extensive time in Mysore, India. She has completed 200-hour TTCs in Hatha/Vinyasa flow as well as Ashtanga Vinyasa and is a certified massage therapist. She has also completed a 10-day Vipassana in the Buddhist tradition. Mars is grateful to all her teachers, including you.
Vale de Moses is in the heart of the forested foothills of the Serra de Estrela. 40 years ago, life in these valleys was full of hard-working Portuguese smallholders who cultivated with their families every available piece of land by creating stone terraces on the hillsides. Small stone houses, adegas (winemaking sheds), corals and water mills, pepper, the riversides, and the valleys for miles around. Hence the name Moses, meaning a place of many milestones.
These days, like so many rural communities across southern Europe, those small holdings have been deserted by younger generations of the families that built them, needing to immigrate to the cities or abroad to find work.
Exploring the surrounding areas by foot, by bike, or by car, you enter a bygone age, and marvel at both the views and the stonework of the river and terrace walls that seem to go on forever in all directions. An old forest farming life that thankfully is still being lived here by a handful of neighbors, so you still can learn how to do it before those old ways are lost forever.
Within half an hour by car, you can visit Alvaro, Oleiros, Orvalho, Cambas, and Estreito, all of which have cafés and restaurants, shops, and more of the rich traditional Portuguese rural culture to experience.
Click to see more vegetarian-friendly Yoga Retreats
You won't be hungry as Vale de Moses feel it's important to nourish your body while on retreat. The kitchen team lovingly prepare three delicious and nutritious vegetarian/vegan meals every day. Fresh vegetables, salads, and fruit available from their own or their neighbors' gardens during the season and from the favorite local greengrocers in Oleiros. Rich in pulses and grains, low in salt and high in fresh herbs and spices. Honey from local wild bees is preferred over sugar.
Our chefs this year bring passion and joy to their cooking. They have years of experience with vegetarian and their fusion of ingredients, spices, and flavors, according to the principles of Ayurveda, mean every dish is not only tasty but also easy to digest.
You will start the day with warming tea, fruit, and nuts before a silent meditation walk in the forest, followed by a yoga class. After which they serve a hearty breakfast of rice, millet, quinoa or oat porridge, with fruit salad, toasted nuts and seeds, and freshly squeezed juices. Lunch is the biggest meal of the day when your stomachs are best able to digest. Dinners are light to help you sleep more deeply. Food is plentiful at Vale de Moses. And one of the highlights mentioned in many of their reviews.
Vale de Moses is well versed in looking after those who have specific dietary requirements. The majority of the menus are vegan and gluten-free. Please do let them know any other requirements in advance and introduce yourself to the chef and kitchen team when you arrive.
Any additional treatments or workshops will not be included in the price. Additional massages and treatments will cost 90 EUR for 90 minutes.
Acupuncture: Acupuncture rebalances the energetic potential of your body by stimulating energetic points or pools of energy through the insertion of needles. Acupuncture examines your physiological and psychological health as a whole to look for patterns of disharmony or imbalance in your body. You are viewed as a whole being in need of returning so to speak. Symptoms of disharmony may be a pain in legs, sciatica, insomnia, stress, or irritable bowel syndrome; however, in acupuncture, the symptoms are treated within the context of the whole of your body.
Indonesian massage; If you prefer an oil treatment, then Indonesian massage is also available. Indonesian massage is characterized by deep work along the lines of muscle tissues to lengthen shortened and tightened muscle fibers. Indonesian massage is soulful. You simply lie on the table and allow yourself to be perfumed, pampered, and nourished.
Thai massage; Thai massage, a second clothed massage technique performed on the floor, is a meditative dance between the therapist and the person receiving the treatment. In a Thai massage, the nadis, energetic or Qi lines are systematically pressed and stimulated by thumbs and hands to remove energetic blockages from the body. Thai massage is a wonderful complement to yoga practice as it invites deeper opening in the joints, particularly the hip sockets and the shoulders encouraging flexibility and mobility, a deep sense of wellbeing and contentment. After a Thai massage, the body drifts as light as a feather on a breeze, the spirit is refueled, and the mind contemplative and serene.
Tui Na massage; Chinese Tui Na massage is a deep tissue treatment on a clothed or covered body, excellent for chronic complaints such as whiplash injury, tension, disc problems, rheumatoid arthritis, headaches, migraines, neuralgia, depression, insomnia, chronic strain, frozen shoulder, lumbar pain, and other illnesses of repetitive strain. You will be kneaded into a state of health.
Additional treatments; During the week, you can also book in additional treatments with one of the therapists available. It is available for 90 EUR per 90 minutes, payable at the end of your stay.
Francisco de Sá Carneiro Airport
Transfer not provided
Lisbon Portela Airport
Transfer not provided
Driving directions from Porto:
Take the Sunday afternoon coach from Lisbon (1:30 p.m.) or Porto (4:30 p.m.) to the local town, Oleiros, or Sertã if arriving from Porto, where Vale de Moses will pick you up by car on arrival. Coach timetable, prices, and tickets are on the Rede Expressos website. They will email all guests the week before arrival so if you'd like, you can contact each other to meet in Lisbon or Porto before travelling up to the forest together. A good meeting place in Lisbon is the cafe in the zoo next to the coach station.
The trip from Porto has 2 changes, Coimbra, and Sertã, where you will be picked up to save the hour waiting time. However, do remember you must buy your ticket on the 4:30 pm from Porto to Oleiros. The coach from Lisbon has one short loo break halfway.
Depart: Return coach is 8:00 a.m. whether you are returning to Lisbon or to Porto the following Saturday. You will be transported to Oleiros at 7:00 a.m. to make it in time for the 8:00 a.m. bus. You can buy your coach tickets in advance online, or 15 minutes before you board.
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