The Sun & Moon
Retreat to India
Nov 16 - Nov 28, 2023
Add On Nov 28- Dec 1
Hosted by Victoria Martinez & Brian Strahine
The Sun- Masculine energy, warm, piercing, penetrating, mental, logical
The Moon- Feminine energy, cool, inviting, nurturing, emotional, intuitive
You are invited to join us on a sacred pilgrimage to the birthplace of Yoga, the enchanted land of a million temples. We are honored to share with you some of the most sacred places in the country.
We believe as yogis an important part of our journey is to visit the homeland of the practice that has changed and transformed our lives so profoundly. Both Brian and Victoria have experienced a deepening of their practice, through their time in India and believe all Yogis can deepen their connection to their own sadhana (spiritual practice) in this magical land.
The Sun and Moon Divine Union Retreat is an opportunity to retreat to India to dive deep into your spiritual Practice and celebrate your soul’s yearning for devotion as Victoria & Brian guide you to some of the most mystical and sacred sites on this planet. Our days will start with meditation and asana practices that play with the time of year, the sacred sites we are visiting that day and the group's unique constitution. Our days will be filled with visiting breathtaking temples, sites and rituals carefully curated by Brian, Victoria and our India hosts. Our evenings will culminate in breathwork ceremonies, gentle asana and time for sacred rest.
Victoria’s beloved teacher, Uschi and her husband Rakesh, who live in India and have been steeped in its beauty and the traditions of yoga for decades. We are so lucky to have Uschi and Rakesh as our guides during this sacred time.
OUR SACRED PILGRIMAGE CITIES
1 night Delhi (Arrive Delhi before or after midnight. Breakfast in hotel, transfer to airport for domestic flight to Varanasi)
3 nights Varanasi
2 nights Khajuraho
2 nights Agra/Vrindavan
3 nights Rishikesh
1 overnight on the Train between cities
We begin our journey in Varanasi, the city of Lord Shiva, the god of transformation, dance, and yoga in Hindu mythology. Known as Banaras under the British rule, Varanasi is the holiest city for Hindus. Many go there to cleanse away lifetimes of karma in the Ganges River and take the blessings of Lord Shiva at the thousands of temples and shrines throughout the city. Known for its clockwork of rituals, where one can observe Hindu traditions at their source, we will be transported back in time as we make our way around this remarkable city. In the words of Mark Twain, “Varanasi is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together.”
SURYA: Chhath Puja Festival in Varanasi
The Sun gives life to our planet and we are all born into the light of the Sun, whether we are looking through the lens of Vedic or Western astrology. In Hindu Mythology, the sun god, Surya, has the power to bless all beings with good luck, long life, and good health. The Chhath Puja festival in Varanasi is a spectacular celebration where people go to give thanks for the Sun god’s blessings on the family and send out prayers for the long life of each family's descendents. Devotees gather on the banks of the Ganges River to bathe in the sacred waters and chant from the Rig Veda at dawn’s first light. This is a very special opportunity to observe an ancient Vedic ritual and offer up our own prayers during this life-changing experience.
Our next stop is the exotic Khajuraho, which means ‘The way of the Palm tree.’ Located in the countryside of Madhya Pradesh state, Khajuraho and it’s erotic temples were hidden in the jungle for centuries, which protected them from pillagers, invaders, and colonizers. Founded during the glorious Gupta period of Indian history, Khajuraho’s stunning temples unabashedly express the style of sensuality and worship that echo the principles of the Tantric tradition. Set in a rural countryside, we will enjoy days of tranquility and beauty, a charm that’s rare to experience anywhere in the world.
AGRA & VRINDAVAN
We will transition from Khajuraho to Agra, where we will have an opportunity to take a morning tour of the Taj Mahal. Built during the Mogul Empire by Shah Jahan as a monument to honor his beloved wife, Taj Mahal is a wonder of the world that will take your breath away. In the afternoon, we will drive to Vrindavan, home of the ISKCON temple, international headquarters for the Hare Krishna community. After visiting some temples around town, we will arrive at the main temple for the evening Satsang, an ecstatic devotional ceremony grounded in rituals that can only be experienced in India.
Our last stop is Rishikesh, located on the banks of the Ganges River in the foothills of the Himalayas. Rishikesh is a spiritual center, home to thousands of Ashrams, and a devotional vibe where millions of Yogis gather each year to sink into their respective practices. Once settled, we can relax and soak in some important teachings, enjoy casual walks along the river, and explore the many colorful shops and beaches. We will visit the famous Beatles’ Ashram, now a tiger sanctuary, where we will sink into a juicy yoga practice before taking photos amidst the backdrop of the many murals and ruins.
CHANDRA: Karthik Purnima Festival in Rishikesh
The full moon of the lunar month Karthik in the Vedic calendar is considered the most auspicious period of the year. Devotees gather at the banks of the Ganges to bathe in her cooling waters for purification and surrender to their prayers and blessings. Celebrated also for the victory of Lord Shiva over the demon Tripurasura, ghee lamps are lit and pujas performed in all Shiva temples on this night. We will be using this opportunity to participate in the purifying, offerings and prayers of the festival. We will bathe in the river to cleanse ourselves and honor our intentions that we set throughout the journey. This will be a divine closing to our transformative retreat.
***KAINCHI DHAM ADD ON (NOV 28-DEC 1)***
This is a unique opportunity to visit Kainchi Dham, home to the Sri Neem Karoli Baba Ashram, and engage in the energy of one of the most influential enlightened masters of our time. Kainchi is a 6 hour drive from Rishikesh, in a beautiful valley surrounded by mountains and lakes. We will stay in a lodge that is within walking distance from the ashram. We will attend the daily Santangas and simmer in reflection, silence, and beautifully guided sessions with Brian and Victoria.
***Space is limited for the add on so let us know right away if you hope to include this portion in your journey!***
INCLUDED IN THE RETREAT PACKAGE:
Guidance preparing & throughout the journey from our India hosts.
Support in purchasing international & domestic flight
Assistance with the India eVisa process
Transfer from Delhi airport to Lemon Tree Premier
Double occupancy at Lemon Tree Premier Delhi Aerocity
Single occupancy throughout remainder of Retreat
All trains, cars, tuk tuks, cycle rickshaws
All meals mentioned in the itinerary
Safe drinking water throughout the journey
Transfer from Rishikesh to Delhi airport based on your departure time.
NOT INCLUDED IN RETREAT PRICING:
International airfare to and from India
Indian eVisa fee
Domestic flight from Delhi to Varanasi (Uschi supports you purchasing the flight)
Optional travel insurance (we recommend)
Prasad/Offerings at temples *Customarily these need to come from you
Astrology readings/Massage & Ayurveda treatments
Tips for drivers and local guides (no more than $40 USD total)
Flight from Dehradun to Delhi should you choose to transfer that way instead of the provided land transportation
$3379 EARLY BIRD per person
$3579 AFTER JAN 1, 2023 per person
(Pricing is based on a twin share room for the arrival in Delhi, with single occupancy throughout the rest of the retreat.)
EARLY BIRD Deposit:
$979 per person is due no later than January 1, 2023
AFTER January 1, 2023 Deposit: $1179 per person
You can break up your EARLY BIRD DEPOSIT
$500 By DEC 1
$479 By JAN 1
Final Payment for retreat is due no later than October 1, 2023
KAINCHI DHAM ADD ON (NOV 28-DEC 1):
$659 Per Person (single occupancy)
$559 Per Person (double occupancy)
Includes: 3 nights stay at hotel, all food, rooms, and transfers to Kainchi (6hr drive) and from Kainchi to airport (6-7hr drive).
***Please let Victoria or Brian know if you will be attending the ADD ON by Jan 1, 2023***
VICTORIA’S TIME IN INDIA:
I had been dreaming of visiting India since I started practicing yoga in 1999. At the beginning of 2019, I was presented with the opportunity to travel to India on retreat with a beloved teacher. At the time, I had an insatiable desire to go, but many obstacles stood in my way. My gut intuition was so strong and I put the deposit down knowing that somehow I would make it there. I was so right! I arrived in the most foreign and exotic place I had ever traveled and I also had a sense that I was home. India spoke to my soul with its colors, curries, and breathtaking temples. At the time, I was an established practitioner and yoga teacher, yet I knew NOTHING about its rich history and traditions and so I emptied myself so that I could be filled by its wisdom. Words will never be enough to explain what I learned during my time in India. My Sadhana, or personal practice, completely changed during the trip. I realized by observing the Indian culture that Sadhana was ingrained in every part of their day, from the moment they woke up with the sun to meditate at the Ganges River to the moment they went to bed. Devotion and mindfulness was a lifestyle. Every breath and every meal was an opportunity to practice devotion. I was so in awe of my time in Rishikesh that I decided to stay beyond my retreat and visit the city of Varanasi, the original home of Shiva. It's now the first stop on our sacred pilgrimage and I am so honored to present its deep sacredness to you all. It's time to go home to the land of our beloved practice and learn from the land, the Ganges river, the Himalayas, and the extraordinary people of India.
BRIAN’S TIME IN INDIA:
In January 2017, I answered a deep call to visit India. At the time, I was not clear why the call arose. I am so fortunate that I was aware of its voice and listened. I arrived in Bangalore to spend 3 weeks as part of an international team of volunteers with Habitat for Humanity’s Global Village program. We lived and worked in a neighborhood and helped with several projects. I felt so connected to the local families that partnered with us and welcomed us into their homes with such hospitality. I then made my way to Varanasi where I spent 2 weeks living and learning at Bal Ashram, a safe home for boys and young men. I was invited to join them during their morning practices and afternoon school activities. It was such an honor to witness their deep passion for life. I stay in close contact with several of the young men who still live and work in Varanasi. My final destination was Rishikesh for 5 weeks where I completed my 200-hour yoga teacher training at Shiva Yoga Peeth. I had the opportunity to explore so many parts of this beautiful city, including a motorcycle ride deep into the Himalayas that was an epic journey. I am so excited to welcome you to a country that continues to touch my heart in profound ways!
This 50hr Module can count towards your 300HR YTT with Chakra Flow University
50 CEU’s also available
Chakra Flow University
RYS 200, RYS 300, YACEP