Monday, March 19, 2012

"The Joy of Yoga"

A big thanks to Emma who writes the Joy of Yoga blog, for posting up her interview with Vonnie yesterday.

Vale de Moses: Yoga, Massage, and Acupuncture in the Portuguese Mountains

One of the best things about the racket I run here are the folks I "meet" from all over the world. This week I received emails from Germany (Hallo, Bettina!), Guatemala, (Hola, Annie!), and-- as you may guess from the title of this post-- Portugal.
Ola, gorgeous Vonetta. Vonetta is the Senhoria of Vale de Moses, a retreat center in the Portuguese mountains. She read some of my posts from the past years about yoga and gardening (the season of which is upon us! Hurrah!) and emailed me about some upcoming yoga and gardening in Paradise (I mean, Portugal) retreats she has coming up. After some email correspondence, I decided I didn't want to keep her all to myself, so (without further ado, or further parenthesis), I introduce something very exciting....

Friday, March 9, 2012


One of the precious aspects of living a Portuguese rural life, is the opportunity, away from the noise and energy of city life, to allow for more contemplation. I’m not sure it is simply just having more time to think. It’s more to do with being in this stone terraced valley, in the midst of wilderness. The place itself somehow invites contemplation. “A Simplified Life” by Verena Schiller first introduced me to the notion of a place being liminal.

The view from our windows is always forest.  Green, dancing in the wind, pine tree forest. Remote or desert places, as many hermits like Verena and others will attest, often provide a fascinating mirror to the human condition. The power of planet earth to create, constantly, and provide habitats for creatures to thrive and die, is a continual reminder that we as humans, are part and parcel of the whole. Part of the natural universe that we see with our eyes, and in some way, part of the other dimensional realities we don't so readily see.

Many concepts exist in the plethora of human cultures that attempt to describe or illustrate this otherness. Spirit world. Heaven. The stream we enter through meditation. Consciousness.  The list is long.  It fascinates me to consider the possibility that an actual physical place and the space it holds, can be a threshold ‘between’  these worlds.

Liminality was first introduced to the vernacular in 1909 by the anthropologist Arnold van Gennep as a way of explaining the threshold moment that occurs in the middle of a cultural rite of passage. And neurological psychologists use the word to depict the metaphysical subjective state, conscious or otherwise, of being on the threshold of, or between, two different existential planes.

As we begin our new yoga retreat season for 2012, it will be interesting to observe how our guests from all over the globe will once again interact with this liminal valley at Moses. As we invite our bodies in yoga to relax a little more, the quieting of our minds may just allow a glimpse of an altogether different perception of the place we are in. 

I am so looking forward to it.   

liminal adj. 
1. of or pertaining to a limen, especially a sensory threshold. 
2. marginally perceptible

limen n.
a threshold, especially the point where a psychological or physiological effect begins to occur

Peace and all good things