You are cordially invited to join Michael j. Stewart the founder of Shanta Vira Yoga and Melanie Shank sacred ceremony facilitator and Kaula Hatha Yoga teacher, for a week in the heart of the pristine Saraha desert. Melanie and Michael bring together over 60 years of experience; exploring, inhabiting, and creating Yoga journeys that take you to the depths of your being. In this week together they will guide you through in-depth asana experiences, invigorating pranayama sessions, ancient mantra vibrations, mystical mudra vinyasa, intention setting pujas, and transforming homam. You might wonder what some of these offerings are? Our suggestion is that you grace us with your company and they will serve you up a plethora of Yoga and Sacred Ceremony delights for your physical, energetic, mental, and etheric bodies. Our days will begin with the sunrise and the invigorating practice of Sungazing, followed by practices that will include dynamic and subtle asana sessions, infused with a variety of pranayama mudras and mantras to take you from the gross to the most subtle aspects of your entire being. Once the sun has risen to its peak we will retreat to a shady spot and enjoy a nourishing authentic Moroccan, sometimes specifically Berber meal prepared by the devis of the Ousiddi family. Our afternoons will be spent lounging in one of the beautifully created spaces, by the family, or in deep discussion about all things Yoga and Life that move you, under a palm tree. The evening practices will vary depending on the mood of the day. These could include Puja, a sacred ceremony invoking the energies to remove obstacles in our lives or a Fire ceremony called Homam, to lay the ground for what is to be manifested, or a Yin class with gentle music to carry you into the night. Once again we will have an opportunity to indulge in the culinary delicacies created by the family for our dinner. This brings us to the final moments of our day in this wonderful desert oasis where the entire family, that includes all of us gather under a blanket of stars to share ancient mantras and songs from the Berber people, around a blazing fire vibrated by drums, cymbals, clapping and ecstatic voices. You can drift off to your cozy bed or lounge by the dwindling fire to fall into a dreamless deep sleep. Aaah and tomorrow bring another day! Melanie, Michael, Barak, and family await your presence on this auspicious occasion.
Travel services and price 1.550 €
Not included in the tour price:
What is special about this journey?
Today you go on your way into the desert. How did you decide? If you come by domestic flight from Casablanca to Errachidia, the transfer takes you deep into the desert region to the Merzouga oasis (approximately two hours drive). The domestic flight lands in Errachidia at 00:55 a.m. the following day.
Arrival in Merzouga is, therefore, late at night. The driver is waiting for you and the other participants. If you come to Merzouga by bus from one of the royal cities, you will be picked up from the bus stop. On the way, it goes through small Kasbah villages and past beautiful palm groves. The first night is in Hotel Kanz Erremal on the edge of the desert.
You start the day with breakfast together with a view of the dunes. In the morning, you ride your camels to the desert camp. A wonderfully fresh lunch awaits you there and the Oussidi family, who will look after you during your stay in the desert. After you have settled in at the camp, you go to your first yoga class in the desert. Let the desert affect you and immerse yourself in the silence. After dinner, you say goodbye to the day with a colorful sunset. Around the campfire, you enjoy the night sky dotted with millions of stars along with traditional Berber drums and music.
The days start with a tea ceremony in the heart of the desert camp. Then you meet for a yoga lesson with a view of the endless expanse of the desert and then strengthen yourself with a delicious breakfast. Now the individual time begins. What are you after the possibilities are great? Hear Barak’s stories about Morocco and the desert. Exchange ideas in the community, read in a shady place, listen to the silence in meditation, or enjoy a desert walk to Barak’s Dune.
The desert gong heralds lunch and you will be spoiled with traditional Berber delicacies. Until the evening, yoga class is your individual time again. After the yoga class, Barak’s nephews wait with drums around the crackling campfire while dinner is already being prepared in the kitchen. The days end with a view of the breathtaking starry sky.
After morning yoga in the desert, you return to Merzouga with the camels. In the village, you will take a tour of the oasis. You are treated to a traditional Berber meal in their house by the Oussidi family. Afterward, you visit the children’s project, which was founded by Barak Oussidi and a Berber cooperative that offers traditional handicrafts. In the afternoon, you practice yoga one last time, dinner, and overnight in the kasbah.
For the air travelers, it goes to Aéroport Errachidia Moulay Ali Chérif (ERH) in the early morning. You will experience one last spectacular sunrise and the panorama of the palm gardens. Sahara Yoga will take the bus travelers to the bus stop.
Originally from Texas, USA, Melanie Shank has been a yoga practitioner, since 2000. She took her first Hatha Yoga teacher training in 2004 and since then, she has been continuing her studies and training in different lineages and paths of wisdom. With commitment and joy, she shares classes, workshops, training, and retreats in an accessible and authentic way, for all levels and for everyone. Since 2009, Melanie has been studying directly with yogini Parvathi Nanda Nath who passed on the teachings of Kaula Hatha Yoga that have profoundly transformed her personal practice and teaching. Her intention in sharing Yoga is to offer a sacred and contained space for self-exploration of the subtle layers of the body, mind, and Heart, to create a space for the true recognition and experience of unity here in the body, and to transmit the beautiful and powerful practices and techniques from this authentic lineage of Kaula Hatha Yoga.
Michael J. Stewart is a teacher, nomad, and creator of Shanta Vira Yoga. Born in Karachi to an Assamese mother and a Scottish-Irish father, he developed an early interest in a broad sense of humanity. His first initiation into spirituality and esoteric practices came from his maternal grandmother, a healer who was deeply connected to her Hindu roots and as much, a counter-cultural rebel. Being raised by his athletic and disciplinarian father, he spent his youth building a relationship with the physical body through boxing, competitive powerlifting, and bodybuilding. Michael has since lived, studied, and traveled in over 30 countries. While in theater school in Chicago, he was introduced to Yoga as a way of calming the mind and exploring subtle aspects of expression. Once this deep, familiar acquaintance was made, his life took a turn away from theater and fully toward his life as a yogi, seeking and deeply delving into all aspects of spiritual life. In New York City, Michael went first to Jivamukti Yoga and Astanga Yoga for regular classes and a crucial stay at the Sivananda Ashram in the Bahamas where inspiration fortified his understandings. He went further afield to study the precision of Iyengar Yoga in India with Sharat Arora and Rajiv Chenchani. His religious studies during all of these explorations brought him as well to Buddhism, Christianity, and Sufism. He developed a daily practice of Mindfulness and Mantra and lived for several years in intentional communities where humans focused on building healthy relationships – interpersonally and interiorly. Decades later, Michael met Dharma Mittra and through his presentation of Classical Yoga spurred the next level of inquiry into the human condition, the Self, and the possibilities that Yoga holds. At the peak of this questioning, Michael became aware of a lineage of South Indian Tantra called Rajanaka. These teachings of Saivism and Saktism, as offered by Dr. Douglas Brooks, responded clearly to his own soul’s desire. His journey continues on this path today. Michael is deeply immersed in studying Sri Vidya Tantra with Ma Parvati Nath a profound lifetime practitioner and lineage holder and direct student of Sri Amritananda Nath Sarawati. Alongside his profound constancy with a spiritual life of Yoga, Michael has been involved in civil disobedience protests and activism. He is touched when unheard voices of society find a platform to be heard. He is empowered when through unification, impossibilities become possible. He is blown away that even with the chance of loss, humans place themselves at risk in order to create change, growth, and betterment. This life is from where Shanta Vira Yoga took root and grows.
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