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Permaculture, Pachamama, Privilege: Deep Ecology of Wellness

Getting off the boat at Deep Ecology of Wellness, we were greeted with freshly cut coconuts, a perfect beginning to what would be an immersive, insightful, and inspiring week.

Article Photography by: Ashley Drody

I was one among thirty participants and ten teachers who spent a week living out the Deep Ecology of Wellness retreat organized by Yoga Trade at Punta Mona. The Punta Mona Center for Regenerative Design and Botanical Studies is an off-the-grid permaculture farm and educational retreat center on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. Launched in 1997, it is considered one of the most established and bio-diverse permaculture farms in Central America, with over 300 varieties of fruit and nut trees, as well as over 150 medicinal plants. Punta Mona’s mission is to practice and teach a simpler, regenerative way of living.

For most of us during this gathering, it was our first immersion into a permaculture-based lifestyle. As we learned during the workshops, permaculture is a holistic design system for creating sustainable human settlement and food production systems. It combines three key aspects:

1. An ethical framework
2. Understandings of how nature works
3. A design approach

Applying the permaculture principles to human relationships, communities, social systems, and networks is known as social permaculture. According to our teachers, social permaculture can be considered “the art of designing beneficial relationships” and includes the interrelationship among humans, plants, animals and the Earth. It thus comes with no surprise that permaculture stems from a strong emphasis on indigenous wisdom regarding how to live lightly on the planet.

At Punta Mona, every day began with yoga. A lovely tree-enclosed yoga shala housed our sessions allowing us to not only connect with our breath and bodies but also the natural environment around us.

In addition to fantastic yoga instructors, we were blessed with an incredible line up of passionate and wise workshop facilitators. I share a few of the highlights below:

– Founder of Punta Mona, Stephen Brooks, shared with us his excitement for fruit trees and knowledge of the jungle during tours around the land.


– Lala Palmieri, herbalist and co-leader of the Village Witches gave us an eye-opening tour of herbs, plants, flowers and their medicinal properties.


– Co-founder of the Permaculture Action Network, Ryan Rising, gave us the 101 on permaculture design, principles, and ethics. He also facilitated an “asset mapping” activity where we quickly realized how many of our needs can easily met by others in our communities and networks.


– Self-proclaimed Mother Nature representative and Village Witch, Sarah Wu, guided us on an insightful shamanic journey exploring deep ecology.


YogaSlackers power duo Sam and Raquel not only taught us how to do yoga on an inch-wide piece of fabric but also shared their tips on conscious-traveling as modern-day nomads.


Jess Taing, an experienced Kirtan teacher, facilitated a restorative mantra singing circle.


– Sustainable-surfer, yogini, and writer activist, Tara Ruttenberg, catalyzed us into deep introspection during an open dialogue on the important topic of privilege and responsibility.

Mary Tilson, an international retreat leader, helped us explore the complex topics of addiction, trauma, and ways to recovery.

– Bodyworker Lynn Alexander led us through a powerful breathwork workshop, in which many of us were able to deeply connect with our energy bodies and release old emotional experiences.


– Yoga Trade co-founder, Erica Hartnick, showered us with her love and visionary ideas, in particular during our opening and closing ceremonies.

Incredibly, the wisdom-sharing did not stop there. Mealtimes turned into fascinating discussions during which many of the participants shared their own expertise and experiences. For instance, I learned more about Ayurveda during one dinner conversation than during my entire lifetime.

In one of our final sessions, a question came up regarding how to take back and implement all that we had learned during this week into our daily lives. I share three main take-aways:

1) Privilege and Responsibility

There is no doubt that those of us lucky enough to travel for pleasure have been granted privileges in life that a majority of the world’s population does not share. The question is how do we respond to that privilege. Shame and guilt, which some privileged people often feel, are closed-hearted emotions that do not help anyone. It is okay to take time to mourn the suffering of others, but then it is critical to move into radical acceptance. It is not our fault that we have privileges, but it is our responsibility to be aware of them and use them for the betterment of the world. As Tara shared in her workshop, one way to do this is through mapping our privileges to better understand them and how they play out in our lives as travelers. You can read more about this in her recent post.

2) Asset Mapping

To improve individual and family well-being requires communities, neighborhoods and their residents to be involved as co-producers of their own well-being. Everyone has something to contribute and we need everyone’s “gifts and assets”. Using the principles of Asset-Based Community Development and asset mapping we can help create powerful community partnerships to build healthier, safer and stronger neighborhoods and communities. At the most basic level, you can carry this out in your community by bringing people together and asking them three questions: What assets do you have? What skills do you have? What do you need? Then have people share and see what needs can be met by the skills or assets of others! You can also follow a more detailed process using this toolkit.

3) Healing Through Herbs

Herbal medicine traces its roots back to earliest civilizations. While conventional medicine often treats symptoms of acute illnesses, herbalism fosters preventative health and addresses the roots of chronic health problems. With little effort, time, or money, you can grow our own herbs, make your own medicines, and care for yourselves and families. Why not start your own herbal garden today?! See a list of medicinal herbs that you can grow here.

 

Naima Ritter:  My mission is to help people deeply connect with themselves, with others, and with the universal flow of life. As a Conscious Living Coach, I help other people reawaken their inner sparks and embark on journeys towards tapping the full potential of their lives, in particular through seven levels of awareness and action around grounding your energy, sacred sexuality, BEing/DOing, loneliness, conscious communication, positive thinking, and spirituality/higher purpose. After completing a Masters in International Development Management at the London School of Economics, I co-founded Conscious Co-Living, a consultancy that supports the development of co-living spaces built around connection, authentic relationships, and harmony with the natural world. Born in Guatemala and raised in the USA to Costa Rican and German parents, I consider myself a multi-cultural child of the universe. When not deliberating on the state of the world, I can often be found dancing, acro-yogaing or trying to plan a much needed global drumbeat movement revolution. 

CONNECT:

Living Simply: Ngalung Kalla

With the recent and rapid rise in technology, there are fewer places in the world we can be completely off-the-grid. Places to slow down, to enjoy the quiet, to learn from the elements. These types of sanctuaries are becoming a sort of endangered species. Yet, there are some amazing people out there who are walking the path of their dharma to keep these kinds of places alive. People that prioritize living simply, hope to create a better world, believe in harmonizing with nature and realize the benefits of multi generational environments. People that have a desire (vision), make an intention, and take action! The Sea family are some of these people. In just several years, they have brought their dream into reality and have created a full-on inspirational wonderland and educational/retreat center in Sumba, Indonesia. If you are someone who is curious, finds delight in exploring, and enjoys connecting with natural rhythms, you will love the magic of Ngalung Kalla.

From the words of Ngalung Kalla visionary, Christian Sea:

“We aim to be a small family owned and community led retreat where people can come to a very remote place and have an unforgettable experience. We offer accommodation, fresh local grown healthy food, excellent guiding to areas unknown, and empower visitors to live more simply and enjoy life more fully. We strive to do so in a low impact way utilizing solar power, permaculture principles, efficient and indigenous design, and local materials and staff whenever possible.

A trip to Sumba is not complete without a stroll through one of the incredible villages. A look inside one of their houses, a chat with an elder, maybe even a shot at the betelnut experience. We are not your average hotel. Nor are we your above average hotel. In fact, we don’t consider ourselves anywhere within that spectrum. We are a retreat away from the modern world and anything else. We consider ourselves (and are) a part of this unique community and our aim is to share this incredibly authentic life and place with you.

The majority of the people here still have “Marapu” as their religion. This literally means “the way of the ancestors” and is an animist system of medicine men/women, priests, kapus (Adat), and many associated ceremonies at the right times of year (also common for births/deaths/marriages). They use the moon, the tides, the animals, plants, the land, the forest and many other aspects of nature in determining their steps. It’s a very magnificent existence really. Their lives are still very much devoid of currency exchanges. Instead they use the things they can raise (food and animals), and make (hand woven fabric and mats, spears, knives, jewelry, etc.) for trades. What a beautiful concept!”

 


 

Newly certified yoga teacher and world traveler, Amanda Bertucci connected to a work exchange opportunity thru Yoga Trade and spent two months at Ngalang Kalla in 2018. Below, we catch up with Amanda as she shares about her experience:

Can you tell us what a typical day was like for you at Ngalung Kalla?

At Ngalung Kalla, your body clock is reset to align with nature. Live by the sun and eat when hungry. My morning would typically start between 5 to 6am, either on the boat, in the ocean or the yoga deck, during or just following sunrise. The yoga class schedule is determined nightly for the following day and caters to what the guests desire (sunrise yoga, dawn patrol surf or dive, early bird-watch hike, sleep in). Typically, if not on a paddle board or meditating on the floating pontoon in the bay, I would be found stretching on the deck. Waves crashing, flowers falling, tropical breeze from the overhead trees circulating calming aromas, this space is unlike anywhere I have ever practiced and meditative in itself. 

Following practice is smoothie and breakfast time! Fresh coconut water, papaya, and spirulina, and either a sweet or savory healthy brekkie combined with the shining sun supplements. A complete energy source for the day. The retreat is located in a bay shared with a local village and is home to some pretty special snorkeling and a premium right-hander surf spot and inside learner’s wave. This is usually where I’d be throughout the day, if not running around with the kids or exploring the jungle on a land mission.

Afternoons start with a yummy lunch usually followed by a boat adventure, surf, hike to the cool springs, tidepools, village, or mellow hammock hang time with a book. For the yogis we’d sometimes have multiple practices a day or kiddie yoga if the little ones want to wind down. Often, I’d find myself in the kitchen during the scorching parts of the afternoon, laughing with the local women as they would teach me to speak Bahasa Indonesian.

In the evening, we all gather by the campfire and watch the sky change colors as the sun sets over the bay. Cellphones, computers, and televisions are non-existent and not necessary when surrounded by the Ngalung Kalla family of like-minded, wonderful people. Conversations never fall flat and there is always the possibility of creating a special connection with someone new. “Sumba Midnight” is usually around 8pm after the sun has set and dinner has everyone feeling happy and satisfied. By this time, I know I’m ready for an ocean lullaby and dreamy sleep. Gratitudes to the island, this life and stoked to do it all again tomorrow.

What is your biggest take away from your time spent there?

Embrace the simplicity, less is more. Take quick efficient showers. Shout out to Christian on this one for a much-appreciated lesson of where the water we shower with comes from. From a hand dug well, water is carted and carried and can in fact run out if not conscious of our usage. In the villages, women and children of all ages walk for miles to and from the well with heavy loads of water for their families. Food for thought next time turning on a tap. Another big takeaway is understanding that what we need, we have. We are all so very capable of more than we may realize and give ourselves credit for. Openness to learn more about that which we don’t understand can change our lives in more ways than money. Leave mama nature better than you find her. Please and thank you. Less if not any plastic, more environmentally conscious (homemade and waste-free when possible) products, and please double check that your sunscreen is reef safe!

Describe the Sea family…

When you visit Ngalung Kalla, you are literally visiting the home of the Sea family. Three young girls; Deha (9), Kamali’i (7), and baby Wren Kaleleyanu (1), all raised on the island, fluent in Bahasa Indonesian and crazy intelligent. Full on jungle girls, kind, fearless and full of life. Credits to the radical parent duo Ka’ale and Christian who have lived on Sumba the past 14 years after moving over from Hawai’i. Deha will tell you that the animals are part of the family and I certainly agree! More than 20 “pets”, not including the geckos, toads, wolf snakes, mice and other creature friends they adopt. Five dogs, chickens, a pigeon, goats, ducks, and Lily the pig, Kamali’i’s sidekick and best mate. All cared for by Deha and Kamali’i. Some of my favorite days were spent with the girls, frolicking barefoot through the jungle, using fallen logs to jump over and splashing around in desolate cool water springs. Dressing up with monstera leaves and dancing around. Enjoying nature’s obstacle course.

Can you explain the benefits you see for families to visit Ngalung Kalla?

I think visiting a place like Ngalung Kalla and seeing how simple and doable sustainable living can be, is inspiring for anyone and everyone, especially families! To slow down and reconnect with nature is not only a humbling and grounding experience for adults, but an important part of childhood development and connecting to the roots. Socializing with new friends, talking about the environment, witnessing a beautiful culture, and creating bonds with animals. The lack of modern day distractions allows families to be completely present with each other and experience compassion and gratitude for being able to enjoy something so magical, together.

Did your relationship with nature change at all while you were there?

Totally! And once again I have my two favorite little jungle sisters to thank for that. I’ve loved being outdoors and surrounded by nature since I was really young – digging out worms in the garden to save them from the birds soaring above. At Ngalung Kalla, sleeping in the open air, showering outside and counting on one hand the time I even wore shoes, truly strengthened this bond. My curiosity about permaculture and living off the land heightened and in the same moment I realized how little I was among the vast ocean and jungle. I know that my life course is directed to living as closely with nature as possible.

What’s next for you?

Following two months at Ngalung Kalla, I spent a short time travelling before fully immersing myself into the yoga community on Bali and taking the time to expand my personal practice. I’ve always been a kinesthetic learner and teach based on experience rather than theory. I spent a month of daily Mysore with an incredible mentor, expanding my practice to new branches of asana and meditation and finding my niche. While I love the challenge of an intense practice, my teaching style guides me in the direction of active restorative and conscious vinyasa. Healing pain and ailments in the body through simple, balanced movements, while strengthening the core through combined breathwork. I will be returning to teach at Ngalung Kalla for March and April 2019. As of now I do not have further plans and will be feeling out opportunities, open to what the universe has to offer as I continue traveling and teaching.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I consider Ngalung Kalla to be the most epic and untouched oasis I have been lucky to have come across on my journey through life and around the world. Picture this: you get off a plane only 50 minutes from Bali, to an island untouched and uncrowded. Inhabited mostly by locals in homes so beautifully created by the land’s offerings that they are camouflaged within the surrounding nature. Ngalung Kalla is an eco retreat with that same naturalistic design, with a focus on permanent agriculture and operating as sustainably as possible. Fresh, organic, home-grown fruits and veggies and a coconut grove that would bypass any palm tree lover’s wildest dreams. My favorite thing about Ngalung Kalla, besides the ocean view villa, delicious fresh food and killer weather, is the ability to learn something new everyday if you’re willing. There truly is something for everyone. For me it was tying different knots, finally learning to play chess (thanks Kama!), operating the boat, identifying wildlife, plant medicine and of course, surfing. This time around I’ll be spending more time in the garden. In my opinion, raw luxury is the best way to describe Ngalung Kalla; rugged and natural with comforting amenities like a hot shower and cozy bed. The retreat isn’t a one-size-fits-all kind of place and each individual is bound to have a different experience and gain a new perspective on a unique type of life. But that’s just my take. My suggestion: fly way outside of your comfort zone, explore the beauty Sumba and Ngalung Kalla have to offer and get inspired!

Connect with Amanda and follow her on Instagram here:  @amandabertucci

 


 

Ngalung Kalla is a remote family owned and operated eco-retreat and farm in West Sumba, Indonesia. They provide an adventurous, healthy, comfortable experience for guests. The center is designed with maximum respect for the Earth and consideration for the local climate and people. The local indigenous culture and community have a high priority in all aspects of this retreat’s design and implementation. It is a wonderful place for families, friends, and solo travelers. Experience simple goodness. Visit Ngalung Kalla!

Website:  ngalungkalla.com

IG:  @ngalung_kalla

Check out this exciting and upcoming event they are offering in March 2019!

 

 

Deep Ecology of Wellness GIVEAWAY!

***UPDATE***

Today is December 18th, 2018 and we have picked the winner at random. Big CONGRATULATIONS to Yoga Trade member @bevinking !!! YOU WON! See you in the jungle! Big thanks to all who participated! A few more days to sign up with our earlybird pricing. Use the discount code AMIGOS at checkout to receive $200 off before December 20th!


Yoga Trade is excited to announce our Deep Ecology of Wellness GIVEAWAY!

One lucky member will receive free admission (5 nights shared glamping accommodation, three meals a day, all workshops and classes) to Deep Ecology of Wellness, April 9-14, 2019 at Punta Mona, Costa Rica. ($950 value)

Deep Ecology of Wellness is a unique and special retreat gathering (limited to 100 participants max). It is will be held at an off-the-grid botanical center where the rainforest meets the Caribbean sea. A space for Yoga Teachers, Wellness Professionals, Permaculturists, and those with a desire to learn from around the world to come together in an intimate and natural conference setting. Enjoy Movement, Yoga, Nature Connection, Community Building, Continuing Education, Storytelling, Permaculture, Regenerative Design, and Joy. Check out the incredible line up of passionate teachers HERE.

HOW TO ENTER:

(Please read directions carefully, it’s a 3 step process)

1. To enter, log into your Yoga Trade account and LEAVE A REPLY (post comment) below at the end of this BLOG post. In the comment, state why you are excited to attend the Deep Ecology of Wellness event! Within your comment, feel free to also share about your own experiences with Yoga Trade. You must be a Yoga Trade member to post a comment. (If you are not currently a member, you can sign up at yogatrade.com)

2. Visit the Facebook page for this event (https://www.facebook.com/events/329849784255275) and mark that you are either ‘GOING’ or ‘INTERESTED’.

3.  Finally, SHARE about this BLOG/EVENT GIVEAWAY post on at least one social media platform of your choice (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc.). You must share this link:  https://yogatrade.com/deep-ecology-wellness-giveaway/

That’s it. You’re Entered!

Thank you for contributing to this flourishing community. We look forward to growing together!!!

The WINNER will be chosen at random (random.org) and will be announced on December 18th, 2018.

*Only ONE entry allowed per person. You must be a real human to enter. The giveaway is only valid for persons age 18 and above. The event ticket is not transferable to another person if winner is unable to use. The event ticket includes full admission (shared accommodation, food, and classes), and does NOT include transportation to the event or other travel costs. The event ticket is not redeemable for cash. 

How Every Yoga Teacher Can Benefit From a Permaculture Design Course

As a student and teacher of yoga, I am consistently  called to continuing education. This January, I completed a Permaculture Design Course at Punta Mona: A Center for Regenerative Design and Botanical Studies. It is situated in a unique and remote location where the rainforest meets the Caribbean sea in Costa Rica. The property has one of the largest collections of useful plants in the country and is a beautiful place to deeply connect with nature. Besides the center and facilitators being top quality, there are also these draws: daily yoga classes, the ocean front location, and the fact it’s called “The land of freedom!”

What is Permaculture?

“Permaculture is the art of designing beneficial relationships.”  -Starhawk

“Permaculture is a system of agricultural and social design principles centered around simulating or directly utilizing the patterns and features observed in natural ecosystems.”   -Wikipedia

We can create and nurture beneficial relationships many places in our lives; in our gardens, our home design, our community, our businesses, on our yoga mats, etc. Permaculture can be applied to all aspects of our lives and society. It teaches us to observe patterns so we can design our lives with a holistic mind set and return back to the basics and live simply.

Permaculture helps us gain practical life tools to see the land as a canvas for opportunity and to see the Earth with fresh eyes. Practicing this philosophy is a great step in an important life long journey to see the world in a new way.

Permaculture Ethics:

Earth Care: Cultivating a deep respect for nature.

People Care: Self care for ourselves and others.

Future Care: Living with the intention to create a positive legacy.

Fair Share: Letting go of the competitive mind set and thinking about ‘co-opertition’.

The basic curriculum in the course includes class topics such as; ethics, principles, design, soil health, water strategies, plants, energy, earth works, and social systems.

How Permaculture Compliments a Yoga Practice:

-Ignites progressive thinking and regenerative design.

-Empowers leadership and positive action.

-Encourages creative problem solving. “The problem is the solution.”

-Inspires a return to the basics. Simple living.

-Builds resiliency practices.

Participating in a Permaculture Design Course creates space for amazing potential to birth new projects and collaborations. It is a wonderful place to build lifelong friendships that have optimisitc solution based perspectives.

Grow. Expand. Take Action.

Create your guild!

Deepen your practice as a student and a teacher by blending Permacutlure Design into your life on and off the mat.

Visit this educational paradise!

Punta Mona:

puntamona.org

FB: puntamonacenter

IG: @puntamona

 

 

 

Erica Hartnick grew up in the Sierra Nevada foothills of California, and enjoys all things wild and free. She teaches nature inspired yoga and leads mindful adventures in California and Costa Rica. She gets excited about; LEARNING, intense weather, glassy ocean peaks, pillows of fresh powder snow, crystal clear water, positive people, cultural travel, thriving vegetable gardens, fresh mint chip ice cream, nature’s glory, LIVING YOGA, and connecting with others. She is passionate about the collaboration with friends that led to the creation of Yoga Trade, and is devoted to connecting the yoga community with infinite opportunities!