Mabel is the founder of Avani Yoga Retreats and I really enjoyed our conversation – especially as she explained her newest offering which will be a blend of ancient indigenous knowledge and yoga.
How did you get started?
I have practiced yoga for 10 years, and also practiced meditation. More recently I was initiated into shamanism. I travelled to Brazil and to Peru to study with the indigenous people there. I was born in the central Chile (Concepcion) and in my 20’s I moved to southern Chile to the town of Pucon and fell in love with this area because it is so magical here. I decided to start Avani Yoga Retreats to bring together what I have learned in yoga, meditation, and shamanism to help people.
What type of retreats do you run?
What I am teaching is a blend of tools I have learned, and I feel it is so important to connect with the earth. We are so disconnected from the sacred, from mother earth, and we need to reconnect and learn how to honour her.
The local indigenous people have also recently opened to me which has been so amazing because they are teaching me their rituals and giving me their blessing to bring them into my work.
People who come to my retreats get to experience participating in rituals in a beautiful natural environment, and it’s an amazing process. I believe that each person has a purpose, and with these tools there are ways to help people discover themselves and their purpose in life. It’s truly amazing to witness the changes that can happen in people’s lives.
How does the natural environment of your location influence the participants’ experience when they come on retreat?
The energy is so strong here because of the way nature is so accessible to us. I find it easier to have powerful meditations and to find the connection between mind and body.
We have all four elements here including an active volcano which is seen by the indigenous as the grand protector (and house of the spirit). Because of the active volcano you can feel a strong connection with your first chakra. The kundalini energy is very strong here in the Andes. We also have a strong wind.
What are you inspired by right now? What is your newest offering?
I want to expand upon what we’ve been doing for the past two years (which was yoga and hiking, yoga and kayaking, and yoga and meditation). This year I want to teach what I learned during my experience with a group of indigenous wise women in Brazil. This was a private event that I was very fortunate to be welcomed into. We slept on the forest floor, did sweat lodges, and ceremonies with plant medicine, and we danced to drumming around the fire at night. It was intense and amazing. I left feeling so happy and humbled and so connected with myself and the earth. I also went to a place called Alta Paraíso where I studied about energy healing and crystals. Now there is a local indigenous woman who has invited me to study with her and I am learning so many amazing things. It has been a very good year of learning. Now I want to bring this into my work, and share it with other people. I would also like to hold a special retreat for women.
What is a ritual that you do every day?
Every day I begin my day with meditation and yoga. I am also a mother of two kids, so when my children come home from school I continue my practice by bringing out the crystal healing bowls that I use for their healing vibration. I am teaching my kids how to use the bowls to program water with their sounds. I also work on my land each day where I grow my own food using permaculture principles – I have a green house and various food-bearing trees.
Can you share a story from one of your participants?
On one of our very first retreats we had a woman come from New York. She had been on retreats in many other places, including Bali, but she said that it didn’t compare to the transformational experience she had here. Nature was a big part of that. She loved to see the volcano and the shooting stars, and to see how we grow our own food. When she took her shoes off and walked barefoot on the land she actually cried. When she left she felt connected to herself and to mother earth in a way she had never experienced before.
We believe human beings are innately wise and kind. But this wisdom, although always present, can be covered up. Going on retreat is a beautiful way to reconnect to basic sanity and health. Our aspiration at Retreat Guru is to inspire people to experience authentic retreats and reconnect with their innate wisdom.