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Greetings from the Majestic Shores of Lake Atitlan,

Guatemala, March 2024

As I sit on my balcony on Lake Atitlan in Guatemala, I am awed by the beauty and

calmness of the lake and the incredible view of the volcano straight in front of

me. It has been an unbelievable experience.

There are 16 lovely ladies with me enjoying everything mystical and magical about

Lake Atitlan. We are staying at Villa Sumaya. It is located in a remote area near

the village of Santa Cruz La Laguna. The only access to Villa Sumaya is by boat,

which ensures that the landscape is quiet and pristine.

It has been close to two and a half decades since I was in Guatemala for a mission

trip. My first impression of Lake Atitlan after all these years is that it’s a haven to

enjoy nature along with yoga, Mayan ceremonies, body treatments, vegetarian

food, and more!

The goal for the week has been for everyone to find a deeper connection with themselves. The title for the retreat is called “A Journey to the Self.” Every morning we practice a slow flow vinyasa that includes breath work and meditation. An intention has been set for each class so that there can be contemplation in discovering more about yourself. Every afternoon we practice Kundalini with my co-leader and long-time friend, Karla Becker. If you have never tried Kundalini, I seriously recommend. It was a great combination with the

vinyasa and hatha classes.

We spent most of one day kayaking to a village; then several of us hiked back. We

went to the quaint “pueblo” or town called San Marcos.

We have had four unique Mayan ceremonies included this week. I loved the Chichimec Sweat Lodge. A traditional Chichimeca purification ceremony that offers ritualized practices and connection with the four elements – earth, fire, water and air. Songs to open the heart and specially prepared herbal teas help clear and lift the emotional body. Wish I could do this ceremony every week for detoxing and treating my skin to a good exfoliation.

The Cacao Ceremony was a lovely calming experience honoring earth. In the spirit of the ancient traditions, this sacred circle and celebration centers around the sharing of a cacao elixir, known as the “food of the Gods.”

We visited one of Guatemala’s most famous marketplaces, known for its colorfully and brightly dressed Quiche Maya. Starting with a short boat ride to Panajachel, we were picked up by a private van and drove for an hour and a half through the Mayan highlands, passing through fertile countryside. In Chichi, it was fun to stroll through the marketplace for textiles, handicrafts, jewelry, clothing, and more.

As always, one of the biggest highlights is the individuals who join our retreats. They are all adventurers, yogis and open to what comes. It is an honor to be able to escort these trips and teach concepts of yoga that I love. Sending hugs to all of them—Allie, Anita, Donnell, Durena, Julie, Karla, Kim, Laura, Madena, Michelle, Romi, Rose, Sarah, Stacy, Suzie, and Tamie.

Peace through Yoga Foundation is about yoga, adventure and service. I am pleased to announce that we were able to collect $2000 for the Mayan Mother’s Food Program. This non-profit supports local Mayan women in Santa Cruz La Laguna whose families are in the greatest need of financial support. This project began in 2020 when it was discovered mothers and widows with little to no income and those with alcoholic husbands were not being served.

A brief video of our morning in Santa Cruz:

Their project is simple. All the money collected goes directly toward the purchase of hand-selected vegetables and fruits for the families of the Mayan mothers target group. The women range from teenagers to the elderly. This local project has no administrative costs, so all the donated funds goes directly toward buying food. We hope you will consider donating as this program will be a long-term effort of Peace through Yoga Foundation.

I had the honor to deliver the food to 40 ladies the morning after I arrived and before my group arrived. Our funds also purchased mattresses for older widows, who for some had never slept on a mattress before. It was so fun to walk to one woman’s home, Christina, who was 80 years old, and deliver her mattress.

Christina managed to attend school for three years when she was a child. However, due to lack of resources, she had to stop. At that time, her father managed to get 20 cents a day for his work. Christina makes very little money selling firewood.

We were also able to purchase a bed for one woman who had never had a bed. It will be a morning I will never forget!! As individuals we may not be able to change the world, but we can all make a difference. Moments like these bring joy to my heart.

I will leave Guatemala with a lifetime of memories. This retreat fed my soul due to the camaraderie of the 16 women, the beautiful Mayan people and culture, the serene setting of Lake Atitlan, the unique activities and ceremonies, the fabulous body treatments, and yoga twice a day.

Until next time.. Sally Bassett

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