Sunday, November 20, 2016

The passion behind our yoga retreats

We're delighted to present 3 new videos shot earlier this summer by the talented Lisbon film director, Tiago Pedro de Carvalho. We asked Tiago to capture the passion of our team, to take a look behind the scenes and explain a little better why we love practicing and teaching yoga here, why we prepare such delicious and nutritious food, and why we include massage and acupuncture treatments on every retreat.

You can also find these videos on our Facebook page. Help us spread the word about Vale de Moses by sharing with those you think might really enjoy retreating with us. View our calendar of retreats and reserve your place online via our Vale de Moses retreat website.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Sleeping Without Props, by Dr Nerina

This blog post is republished with kind permission from our friend and teacher Dr Nerina. She teaches workshops on a retreat with us once a year. Her Slumber and Restore retreat this May is already fully booked but we thought her insight and advice in this article, based on decades of experience, was an absolute must share.
‘To sleep is an act of faith’  Barbara Grizzuti Harrison
Firstly, I must apologise for the radio silence.  It has been more than six months since my last offering but I assure you, this has been for good reason.   Settling in to my new home and life and finishing Book 2 were no minor feats but throughout, I’ve mostly slept like a baby (one that sleeps well, that is).  Yes – I’m sleeping better than I’ve ever slept.  I used to need to sleep with a fan on at night – nothing to do with noisy neighbours or ferreting foxes but simply to erect a defence against my own noisy thoughts.  However, after decades of waging war against my own insomnia, studying the delicate workings of the melatonin-secreting pineal gland, and helping others to sleep, maybe…just maybe…I’ve cracked it.  No fan at night, no favourite pillow propped up just so, no sleep monitoring devices, no scented oils sprinkled on the pillow to calm mind and deepen breath.  No props.  Just…simple….deep, velvety sleep. Apparently we’re meant to spend roughly a third of our lives sleeping.  It’s an innate ability that’s encoded in our DNA.  So why is it so difficult at times?

To answer this let me draw your attention to another innate need – the need to feel safe.  Every living organism has this need.  And I’ve long known that sleep and safety are inextricably connected.  We sleep when we feel safe.  Whatever safety means to you – inbox emptied, food in the fridge, money in the bank, children happy at school, fulfilment at work, relationships harmonious, and so on – whatever makes up the messy, challenging, glorious tapestry of your life.  If we can let go of all of this, even the messiest of unfinished business…then we can sleep.  Because, after all, to sleep is an act of faith, a deep abiding trust that whatever is going on in life, you can let it go, put it on hold for some hours so that you can sleep deeply and restoratively, waking with the energy and resilience to face whatever lies ahead.

Sleep problems are not created when you put your head on the pillow at night.  Every choice you make during the day - every thought, every behaviour, every conversation (especially with yourself), whether you laugh or cry, the number of times you find yourself at the coffee machine, the number of times you swipe, how you live and love – all of this settles in your nervous system and affects your ability to sleep effortlessly.  The key to deepest restoration lies not in superficial sleep hygiene methods (although they might help a little) but in examining the choices we’re making in life.  Are we making choices that are building inner safety and trust?  Or are we making choices that fuel fear, quicken the breath, and foster distrust?

So much of life is uncertain.  So much can change at the drop of a hat.  And as life continues to go ever faster, one of our greatest resources lies in going deeper within, finding that place of inner stillness and safety from which we can move outwards to action, not always knowing where we will end up but always trusting.

And in so doing, maybe we can sleep deeply and effortlessly…and without props.

I promise you won’t have to wait so long for my next installment.  In my next blog, I will share practical steps to creating inner safety and trust thus helping you to create the pure sleep that you truly deserve.

Until then…

Yours in amazing health and energy,


Order a copy of Dr Nerina's new book "Fast Asleep, Wide Awake" on Amazon.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Where we live. In the foothills of this beauty.

A couple of beautiful videos below I saw this week, of our local Serra da Estrela mountain range, just 50 kms north east of us as the crow flies. We're in the foothills of the tallest mountain in continental Portugal, 2kms above sea level at its highest point (on top of a 7m stone obelisk as it's officially only 1993m high without that stone!).

The big river Zêzere where we take our guests every week for a wild swim and mud bath, actually originates up in these mountains. We've been as a family up there a few times over the last 8 years. Always so very majestic, with breathtaking views and crystal clean air.

Hikes for miles in all directions too. Well worth a visit before or after a retreat with us.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

10 reasons to retreat to Vale de Moses

By Katherine Smith, republished with permission from her own blog.

The mountain air rouses me from sleep, tickling the tip of my nose, as I breath deep. It’s not quite dawn and in the darkness the expectant moon shines through my window before it disappears behind the swaying tree line.

I rise in the stillness, to the sound of silence. I shower swiftly and pick my way across the olive terraces to the yoga retreat below.  A quick coffee, a reflective moment and I am ready for the day, which always began with practice then teaching.

Stretching, sweating, laughing and sometimes even swearing before giving in to Savasana is how I remember mornings at Vale de Moses. It is the place I called home for two years before moving to Amsterdam and where I’ll be leading yoga retreats this May, August and October.

Vale de Moses is a small old valley farm nestled in the remote and picturesque foothills of the Serra de Estrela mountain range, Central Portugal. Here you can retreat for a week on the edge of wilderness, in the beautifully restored home of the Winter family, who will enchant you.

From mud-baths and forest walks to healing hands and floating yoga spaces there are almost too many reasons to retreat to Vale de Moses. It is full of magic and might just be the very escape your soul has been searching for.

Here are 10 reasons to go on yoga retreat at Vale de Moses:

1. Healing hands

With one treatment included in every yoga retreat no-one misses out on benefiting from an incredible massage and/or acupuncture session with Vonetta or Peter.

2. The floating yoga shala

The yoga shala is perched above the vegetable patch and fragrant herb garden, providing stunning panoramic views of the surrounding forest and mountains, which burst into full bloom in May.  Yoga classes are offered every morning and afternoon in this serene spot.

3. Hidden spaces & secluded spots

If you get tired relaxing by the natural plunge pools, lounging on the sun-terraces or feasting in the sunken courtyard there are plenty of secret spots to discover where you can enjoy time alone, in close proximity to nature, beneath the Portuguese sun.

4. High vibes, mountain climbing and hikes

If yoga isn’t enough and you still have energy to burn, you can take off on the multitude of hiking trails through the mountains, visit local villages for a cheeky coffee or go climbing with an experienced guide.

5. Morning walks in the woods

Let Andy lead you through the forest on one of his infamous morning walks that never fail to inspire. It is the perfect way to wake up your body for the yoga class that will follow.

6. Furry friends

The dogs at Moses are very much part of the yoga family and love cuddles.

7. The food

Vale de Moses believes in abundance and feeding guests well. You will be served nourishing, homely meals rich in pulses, grains and fresh vegetables that are intended to be gentle on the digestion.

8. The wilderness

Magic happens when you immerse yourself in nature. Research has shown that spending time outdoors can have a positive impact on your health and happiness. Here you can bath in the natural pools, the forest, the mud or just the sun.

9. Getting here won’t break the bank

Flights to Lisbon or Porto are usually inexpensive, from within the rest of Europe, if you time it booking them right. According to Skyscanner 7 weeks ahead of your trip is the best time to book affordable flights. (Direct coaches to Oleiros on Sunday afternoon where there'll pick everyone up by car. Lisbon 1.30pm Porto 4.30pm. Rede Expressos site.)

10. Lisbon

It is hard not to fall in love with Lisbon. Its sunny colours, corner cafes and arty ambience provide the perfect stop off on route to Vale de Moses. There are plenty of beautiful Airbnb properties at reasonable prices, not to mention an incredible range of hostels offering rooms for as little at €15 per night. Be sure not to miss the Pasteis de Natas in Belem!

And if you’re still not convinced. Watch this video.

Join me at Vale De Moses for Wild & Whole, 1-7th May, 7-13 August, 2-8 October or Get on your mat with Kat, 8-14th May, 14-20 August, 9-15 October.

Online Reservations showing live availability for each of my retreats. Prices start from €740 for couples or friends sharing a private room, 790€ for a place in the old stone cottages, or 890€ for a private bedroom, Soulpad or Tipi as single occupancy.

Kat x