Aya Healing Retreats
Aya Healing Retreats
WISDOM OF THE INDIGENOUS ELDERS
The Indigenous peoples of our world have lived in harmony with the natural environment for thousands of years. The wise elders of these traditions have much to teach us about our role as custodians of the earth and about the central importance of spiritual growth to a life lived well. Learning to take only what we need, to waste little, to honour our ancestors, to listen to our bodies and to the natural world are but some of the teachings these wise elders can share with us. At AYA Healing Retreats, we recognise the sacredness of these teachings and we draw from this generational wisdom passed down through the centuries to offer a powerful, authentic and life-changing healing experience.
We are blessed to have our curanderos / curanderas bring their expert knowledge of sacred plant medicines to our retreat center. Their primary role is to guide participants in directing the energy flow of the plant medicines, paving the way for a profound healing experience.
Sacred plant medicine healing can be a confronting experience. You will likely feel a variety of distressing emotions and be faced with shadow aspects of your personality and upsetting memories. The confrontation with these uncomfortable thoughts, feelings, and visions can cause us to panic, feel fear, to cry, scream and to vomit. Whilst uncomfortable, for the body to purge past trauma it must first have a chance to detoxify and rid itself of all that is preventing deep and enduring healing to occur.
The role of our facilitators, who all have extensive experience in sacred plant medicines and various psychological and creative therapies is to support you to locate the courage you need to move through the difficulty. Their primary role is to ensure your wellbeing. Our facilitators will create a loving, compassionate space in which all participants feel safe, respected and free to express themselves authentically.
Sacred plant medicine is a tool for realising profound spiritual, emotional and physical healing. These traditional medicines are gifts; gifts that over centuries have been cultivated and used by the indigenous tribespeople of the Amazon Basin to transform lives. As the direct recipients of this healing it is our social and personal responsibility to ensure that we use our new-found knowledge, wellness and transformation for good.
AYA Healing Retreats is committed to creating a more compassionate, safe and equal world. Which is why we are donating 10 percent of the profits of our sacred medicine retreat to two extraordinary humanitarian projects.
We are 100% transparent with our community. We will regularly update all participants of our retreats on how their contributions are being used to effect genuine changes in the lives those our partner NGO’s support.
We will also visit, monitor and report back on the impact our donations are making.
We only send useful content or promotions
The Shipibo people have a population of between 35,000 and 40,000 people and are one of the largest and most resilient tribes in the Peruvian Amazon. Today, the Shipibo live in approximately 150 small communities nestled along the Ucayali River. Around 1600, Spanish missionaries first began to flood the Amazon rainforest, looking to convert the Shipibo to Christianity and to colonise the region. The Shipibo resisted and it wasn’t until 1950’s that Christian missionaries attempted once more, with varying degrees of success to convert the Shipibo people. The Shipibo people are a resilient tribe, and despite numerous attacks on their culture and traditions, they have retained their traditional knowledge and customs.
The Shipibo people are deeply respected for their knowledge of the sacred plant medicines, ceremony and their spiritual connection to the rainforest environment. Traditionally, the Shipibo women, or Shipiba’s are artisans and are responsible for creating intricate and beautiful pottery, textiles and jewellery. The ceremonial songs, or Icaros and the energy that the songs produce is used to inspire the visual aesthetics of the Shipibo’s textiles, resulting in designs that are truly unique and hypnotic.
Several terrible political policies in the past have led to widespread degradation of the Shipibo’s natural environment. Increasing pollution of the waterways, unsustainable palm oil plantations, oil spills and the predominance of multinational oil and timber companies is an unrelenting threat to the Shipibo people. With this is mind, AYA Healing Retreats is committed to not contributing to the devastation of the Shipibo people that has been legislated by the Peruvian government for decades. We are committed to supporting the Shipibo people’s right to self-determination and to contributing what we can to restoring the vitality of the Amazon Rainforest.
Don Miguel was born into a Shipibo community called Roaboya on the River Ucayali. When Don Miguel was a child, Angel Sanchez Vargas, his grandfather was the community’s curandero. Vargas was an expert in sacred plant medicines and was frequently called upon to heal and share his spiritual wisdom with members of Roaboya. The school built some years later was named after Vargas and Roaboya went on to be recognised as the first indigenous community 114 years ago. Don Miguel grew up surrounded by the Shipibo wisdom and possess intimate knowledge of the sacred plant medicines. At a very young age he began his apprenticeship as a curandero through plant dietas under the supportive guidance of his grandfather. Miguel is also a trained literature professor and thoroughly enjoys teaching the Shipibo language and culture. Since 2012, Don Miguel has spent the bulk of his time at the Ayahuasca Foundation where he supports his brother, Don Enrique in leading lectures, workshops, initiation courses and retreats. Don Miguel will lead our Ayahuasca ceremonies, circle discussions and be available for personal consultations whilst on retreat.
Maestra Juana was born into the Shipibo community of Pahoyan, one of the most powerful Shipibo healing lineages in the Peruvian Amazon. She is around 60 years old, however her exact age is unknown.She has been studying for more than 35 years under Maestra Manuela, Papa Gilberto and Papa Bejamin, who are all members of the highly-respected curandero family, the Mahua family. Juana began her dieta on the mythical Amazonian tree Noya Rao when she was just 20 years old and has dedicated her life to the path of healing ever since. Juana is also very learned in the workings of the human body, possessing an excellent knowledge of the bones and skeletal system. Juana specialises in bone massage and will be available on the Noya Rao retreat to provide our guests with this unique healing experience. We are delighted to have Juana’s expertise, depth of wisdom and fun loving spirit with us on the Noya Rao retreat.
Papa Gilberto Mahua was born into a lineage of renowned Shipibo healers. His grandfather, father and earliest ancestors were all respected curanderos, who, Like Gilberto, were initiated into the plant medicine tradition at a very young age. Gilberto completed his first master plant dieta at the age of 11. For eighteen months, Gilberto saw only his father and uncle who were guiding him through the dieta and his two brothers who are also being apprenticed in Amazonian plant medicine. Ayahuasca and Tobacco along with Ayahuma, Bobinsana, Huaira Caspi and Chiric Sanango formed the basis of his initial journey with master plants.
Since that time, Gilberto has accumulated close to 60 year’s experience working in concert with master plants to promote healing in himself and others. He is regarded in his local community along the Ucayali River and throughout the West as a healer of great integrity, wisdom and excellence. Gilberto is revered not only for his experience and expertise but for his commitment to keeping the Shipibo healing traditions alive at a time when their culture faces ever-increasing political and environmental threats.
Gilberto is regarded as a father to his students. He cares deeply about the healing journey of each and every person and brings great compassion and strength to our ceremonies. His kindness and compelling presence coupled with his singular expertise create a container of safety that enables students to truly surrender to the healing process.
Originally from Italy, and now living in Melbourne Australia, Elio Geusa is the founder of AYA Healing Retreats. Elio is a qualified Social Worker and has over thirteen years experience working both on national and international humanitarian projects. He has worked with people living with intellectual disabilities and mental health conditions. He has also had the privilege of supporting refugee populations to overcome the trauma of displacement throughout Asia, Europe, and Australia. Elio believes that compassionate and inspired action can create meaningful change in the world.
Elio’s grandfather was a highly-respected healer in a small village in southern Italy. From a young age, Elio was drawn to healing as a profession after witnessing the profound differences his grandfather made in the lives of members of their community.
In 2009, Elio encountered the plant medicine, Ayahuasca for the first time. Convinced of its power to cure the incurable, Elio began an apprenticeship under the guidance of Maestro, Vegetalista Manaco Manain. Since 2009 he has continued to deepen his knowledge, experience, and understanding of the workings of the sacred plant medicines, studying the Shipibo traditions under the revered Mahua family and has undertaken numerous Master Plant Dietas with well-respected curanderos in the Peruvian Amazon.
This immersion in the sacred plant medicines of the indigenous peoples of Peru enabled Elio to experience deep and profound healing. He has overcome crippling anxiety and anger as a result of traumatic childhood experiences, healing that was not possible through the Western medical paradigm. His renewed sense of self-worth, love, compassion, and empathy for himself enables him to extend those same qualities to others.
Elio founded AYA Healing Retreats because he is convinced of the healing potentialities of sacred plant medicines. Not only does he hope to share the indigenous wisdom of the ancient traditions of the tribe’s peoples of the Amazon, but he also intends to invest part of AYA Healing Retreats profits into humanitarian projects that are creating a more compassionate world.
Elio is committed to creating a safe, enjoyable, transformative experience for every participant, whilst on retreat please don’t hesitate to approach Elio for help and support as you navigate the complexities of your healing journey.
Lindsey has spent the last decade gathering people from all over the world to sing healing medicine songs and mantras. She’s the founder of Global Sisters Song Circle and Global Song Circle that gathers on new and full moons. She uses music and movement to break down the emotional and energetic barriers that keep women stifled.
Following the birth of her first child, Lindsey Wise bled to death. During this Near-Death Experience, she found herself surrounded by multitudes of light beings, who initiated her into the world of subtle energies and healing vibrations. At that moment, she realized that all beings create their own unique vibration—their soul song. Each person’s soul song makes up the great Choir of Life.
Lindsey’s work is to awaken humanity to the healing power of the voice. She has traveled the world and the astral realms, cultivating healing techniques to help people awaken to the power of their own voice and to the healer within. Lindsey is an E-RYT 500 certified yoga teacher. She blends yoga, breathwork, guided journeys, energetic healing, and community song to help people overcome fear and anxiety and to clear the energetic blocks that limit expression.
For more about Lindsey: www.lindseywise.com
Hailing from her native Singapore Atira Tan, now based in Melbourne Australia, has over 15 years experience healing trauma through yoga, mindfulness, art, and counseling. Atira has a Master’s Degree in Art Therapy from Latrobe University, Melbourne, she was featured on TED X, is the founder of Art to Healing and the annual international Yogathon event, Yoga for Freedom. Atira works extensively throughout Asia and Australia in various projects that are centered around healing and empowering women and girls who have been sexually abused and violated through the sex trafficking industry.
From 2004 onwards, Atira established numerous clinical art therapy and trauma recovery programs and has partnered with international organizations to bring art therapy, somatic therapies, yoga, mindfulness to the refugee camps of Burma, the war zones of Cambodia, the brothels of Kathmandu, regions devastated by earthquakes in Nepal and to remote Aboriginal communities in Australia. In addition to her not-for-profit work, Art to Healing, Atira works as a clinician and clinical supervisor in Australia and the Asia Pacific region and as an educator in Transpersonal Art Therapy. Like Elio, Atira is dedicated to creating the space for transformative experiences to occur for each participant. She is the head of our integration team and as well as teaching yoga on selected retreats, she will facilitate your post-retreat integration sessions via Skype.
More about Atira Tan: atiratan.com
Kara has spent her life expanding her healing gifts, offering counsel to many, and building her career around the pillars of healing while offering services in many areas such as art and art therapy, music and sound healing, hands-on healing through Reiki and deep integrative trauma release bodywork and studying what draws her into deeper realms of healing through plant medicine, healing the body with food, and daily practices to keep the body and mind centered. Growing up with parents in the US that loved to travel, Kara realized at an early age that she loved traveling. Now spending the majority of her time in South and Central America, Peru and Guatemala have become her new homes.
In 2005 Kara met Ayahuasca and the introduction was life-changing for her. After moving into the work slowly – about 4 years only sitting once every two years – it wasn’t until she met her first teacher that she heard the calling to the medicine in a deeper way. After that calling, she began a serious 7-year study of this sacred plant medicine and found herself in Peru. Studying and learning from some of the most revered Shipibo’s curanderos in South America. Today she focuses most of her learning time with the Mahua family and the Gomez family in the Peruvian Amazon.
Her work with the Amazonian plants has deepened her own journey into facilitating retreats with her teacher(s), hosting her own retreats, and offering ceremonies. One of her main focuses in these spaces is integration. Kara believes the most important work comes during the time after the retreat – how we integrate the plants and their knowledge into our own daily lives is the key to successful plant medicine healing.
Kara offers facilitation and ceremonies that are built with the participants and their own intention. Holding a light to their goals and journey, Kara brings seven (+) years of study and practice to the circle, holding you with love, healing and humor, and with creative solutions and paradigms to help allow new information to integrate into your soul. Kara believes this is the best work we can offer to our own development. You can find more information about Kara’s offerings at www.karacura.com.
Anna was born in the United States and is currently based in the Andes of Southern Peru. She is an alternative health advocate, healing is her passion. Anna has devoted her life to healing and continued health education. She offers her clients tools of self-realization and personal empowerment. Anna’s primary focus is on plant-based medicine, yoga, qigong, and music. From an early age, Anna gravitated toward the healing arts. She knew through her own healing and self-discovery that her life’s work and personal fulfillment would be helping others.In 2010 her eight-year path of holistic healing and alternative medicine began at the Ashland Institute of Massage. Soon after she began working with Native American teachers learning Shamanistic rituals; she built on her newfound knowledge through the study of the healing practices across the world; earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Health Education and Native American Studies from Southern Oregon University in 2014. In late 2014 Anna felt the pull to focus on the ancient rituals of the Amazon. Traveling to Peru in August she had her first introduction to the profound healing capabilities of Ayahuasca. While Peru would eventually become her home; Anna continued to travel extensively through North, Central, and South America on a journey to connect with as many ancient rituals and practices as possible. Along the way, she discovered a natural ability to bridge culture, backgrounds, and unique personalities with the healing powers of the Amazon. By maintaining a strong personal practice of daily meditation and yoga that she learned in India; Anna has also been fortunate enough to share her knowledge of yoga and qigong with others for the last seven years. The foundation of Anna’s life is love, joy, and balance. She has enjoyed the opportunity to collect many ancient healing songs from around the world and is looking forward to releasing her first healing album in the near future.
“The healing plants of the Amazon have opened up my life and expanded my mind to amazing possibilities and opportunities. It’s a joy that this path opened to me, and an honor that I can share this healing with others”
Born in the United States, Adelina began her healing path at the young age of 5 with deep initiations through the womb. Modern-day medicine saved her life and would later unfold her dharma. Rooted in her Native American and Italian heritage, she began communing with the dreamworld and spirits in her early teens. She has always felt deeply guided by her ancestors. In 2011, Adelina graduated from university with a Bachelor’s in Human Behavior and Health Education, intending to attend medical school. She instead enrolled in Massage School and now specializes in modalities such as Polarity, Neuromuscular Therapy, and Trauma Bodywork. Shortly after, she was then guided to Peru and received her 200 RYT in the Sacred Valley in 2015. On this trip, she met the Ancient Mother, Ayahuasca, which changed the course of her life path.
She received many instructions from this plant teacher and shared deep prayers of gratitude. Following the call, Adelina traveled to the sacred lands of Mount Shasta to complete her facilitation certification in Clarity Breathwork. The sacred medicine continued to speak with her in dreams until she met with her again and full trust of this path was born. She has spent the past 3 years assisting in circles and helping in ceremonies. After holding space for so many, she began to realize the importance of grounded integration while working with such intelligent plant allies. This led to an in-depth focus on somatic studies, attachment theory, non-violent communication, and mind-body practices. Coming from a bloodline of addiction and sexual trauma, a lot came to surface while studying. She returned to the amazon to sit with Maestra Juanita and the Master Plant Noya Rao at AYA Healing Retreat Center in 2019 – where her respect for this path deepened even more.
Adelina is now focused on supporting people as they move through their traumas, addictions, ancestral conditions, and unaligned habits. She travels creating sacred spaces through sound healing, dance, breath-work, and somatic body awareness to help reprogram the subconscious. She is fully committed to helping people prepare and integrate their experiences with these ancient plants. Forever a student, she bows in deep gratitude to these sacred medicines and the lineages that hold them in protection.
For more about Adelina: www.adelinavaughn.com
Marta is a gifted, passionate, and highly experienced teacher and student of Yoga and the teachings of Advaita Vedanta. She has first discovered Yoga when 14 years old, and right away felt the mysterious familiarity of the practice. She began her professional training with a Jivamukti Yoga immersion, under the guidance of Yogeswari – one of the most senior teachers of the method. Marta was certified as an Ashtanga and Vinyasa Flow instructor in a traditional school in Goa, India. In India, she also had the privilege to meet her Spiritual teacher Rishi Sudhir of Tiruvannamalai, with decades of experience in pranayama, meditation, and a depth of Vedic knowledge. Aside from the studies of Vedanta, she has also spent time at the ashram of Sri Ramana Maharshi, set at the foot of the sacred mountain Arunachala.
Marta’s love for the practice of being, Yin Yoga, comes as a result of her training with Joshua Summers, an experienced teacher and TCM practitioner. Her studies with Joshua initiated her into the system of meridians and Traditional Chinese Medicine, helping to establish a deep understanding of the subtle body and its many pathways, and their interrelationship with the Yoga practice and shamanic energy healing.
The power of the breath experienced in the active meditation practice of Breath-work has opened Marta to a whole new way of working with energy medicine. She adores her teacher, David Elliott, and continues to hold regular breathing circles – in person and online.
Marta lives in Peru, sharing her practice with the guests of a variety of plant medicine healing centers, teaching occasional workshops and classes in the Sacred Valley, working with private students, and leading personal Yoga retreats internationally. She has a passion for culture and tradition, and often travels in her mission to experience, grow, and develop a platform to share with others, spreading the message of love and compassion.
Over the last years, Marta has been studying with the plant medicines and shamanic traditions of Central and South America. She has had the opportunity to learn under the guidance of shamans and medicine people from various communities and traditions, including communities like the Shipibo and Mestizo in the Amazon, Q’eros in the Andes, Kogi in Colombia, and the wonderful cultures of Mexica and Lakota. Her studies across diverse traditions devoted to understanding both our human physicality and the pathways to Spirit have led her to understand that all paths are complementary, and ultimately lead to the very same realization of Unity.
For more about Marta: www.martawanderlust.com
Dee is originally from the plains of Pawnee, Oklahoma and has lived and traveled to over 40 countries since her Humble, rural upbringing. Dee is a transgender woman who has worked with Ayahuasca for several years, is a plant medicine facilitator for gender and sexual diverse people, song healer, and seeks to teach people about intersections of spirituality, gender, sexuality, and plant medicines. You can read more about her experiences with Ayahuasca and her transgender journey here. and listen to her experience on the Psychedologist podcast here.
Dee created the organization Aya Gender ¬ Sexual diversity (AyaGSD) – www.ayagsd.com – whose mission is to support and promote safer spaces for GSD people to integrate and experience Ayahuasca through retreats and ceremonies, research, and education and support. She is partners with AYA Healing Retreats to create a retreat specifically for gender and sexually diverse people. Dee leads the retreat design and implementation, provides training for staff on gender and sexual diversity, and links with local organizations further support gender and sexually diverse people in Pucallpa.
One of Dee’s favorite thing is to sing in ceremony in a variety of languages – Spanish, Sesotho (an African ‘click’ language), Shipibo, and English. She has received and written many songs in and for ceremony, and hopes to one day share them with you in ceremony!
Until then, these songs of ceremony can be heard at https://journeyswithdee.bandcamp.com.
She’s the one who has the answers to all your questions. But please allow at least 24 hours.
Graduated in Linguistic Mediation, she speaks English, Spanish and Italian.
Beautiful on the inside as much as on the outside, she radiates a loving feminine presence. She puts love and magic in everything she does. Old-soul piscean, compassionate, open-hearted, rock-n-roll mom. Lulu is the proud mother of the cutest red haired little girl named Ginni.
She’s spiritually aware and a kindness advocate. Interested in Yogic and Tantric studies, Human Psychology and Astrology. She believes in the naturally ecstatic and blissful essence of humanity.
Art to Healing is an Australian charity that is dedicated to transforming the lives of women and girls who have suffered unimaginable trauma through sex slavery, torture, abuse and exploitation throughout Asia and The Pacific. Art to Healing is a community of volunteers, founded and directed by Expressive Art Therapist and yoga teacher Atria Tan. Art to Healing deliver numerous trauma recovery, art therapy, counseling, yoga, mindfulness, reproductive health workshops and peer to peer leadership initiatives for women and children in Asia who have experienced sex slavery. Art to Healing is committed to creating a world where every woman can lead a life free from abuse, harm and injustice.
Alianza Arkana is a grassroots non-government organisation (NGO) that supports regenerative projects in the Peruvian Amazon that enhance the wellbeing of both the Amazon and its indigenous people. Alianza Arkana work primarily with rural and urban Shipibo people who, due to mass deforestation, marginalisation and discrimination face increasing hardship and the devastation of their homelands. Each project that Alianza Arkana embarks on is guided and led by the needs of the local Shipibo community. This has a twofold benefit. Firstly the Shipibo people are involved in making decisions about what’s best for their collective community, and secondly, they are active leaders in realising the changes they wish to see, which enables them to benefit financially from the projects. Some of the key projects that Alianza Arkana has committed to include improvements in sanitation and the quality of community drinking water, scholarships that support Shipibo youth to go to university and advocating for indigenous rights and environmental justice by strengthening indigenous federations and collectives.
…and access to our limited duration promotions for new retreat offerings, online courses, and giveaways.
Our comprehensive screening questionnaire has been developed in partnership with the International Centre for Ethnobotanical Education, Research and Service (ICEERS). Please take your time to answer it as honestly and with as much detail as possible. This information will remain strictly confidential and will only be used to assess your suitability for a place on retreat with AYA Healing Retreats and keep you safe
Please remember that the purpose of this screening questionnaire is to determine whether plant medicine healing is suitable for you…not whether you are suitable for plant medicine healing. Plant medicines are tools, like any other healing modality and like other tools for healing experiencing them entails certain risks. We need to make sure that our plant medicines will not compromise your wellbeing or harm you in any way before we allow you to begin your healing journey with us. In short, we care about your safety and we need to do what we can to ensure that during your time with us you are not at risk of harm. Plant medicines can be dangerous if the plants are not the right fit for the individual. Your answers to this questionnaire will help us to determine whether the plants we intend to use are going to help, rather than harm you