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Our Latest Yoga Journey to Peru

In the distance, clouds rolls over the mountain, revealing a shaggy hill side, covered with ancient agricultural terracing and foot paths. The sun spreads throughout valley, providing life for the numerous crops grown here by the locals. During our last Synergy Yoga Journey to the Sacred Valley or the Urubamba Valley, a valley in the Andes of Peru. In the Sacred Valley, we saw that life is still happening in a very simplistic and raw form. The valley runs between the towns of Pisac and Machu Picchu Pueblo and was formed by the Urubamba river. It is also known as “Willkamayu” which means the sacred river in Quechua. The Urubamba naturally irrigates the Sacred Valley’s alluvial plain, creating extremely fertile soil that has been used in agriculture for centuries. While many things have changed, the altitude of this region and the biodiversity of its ecosystem have remained the same, allowing farmers today to follow in the ways of the Incas

In our travels our group learned about the Quechua, who make up the largest group of indigenous people in Peru. Peru’s population includes more than 4 million indigenous persons, of whom 83.11% are Quechua. The Quechua subsist primarily on agriculture in the lower altitude regions, and on pastoral farming in the higher regions of the Puna. The typical Andean community extends over several altitude ranges and thus includes the cultivation of a variety of arable crops and/or livestock.

In almost all Quechua ethnic groups, many traditional handicrafts are an important aspect of material culture. This includes a tradition of weaving handed down from Inca times or earlier, using cotton, wool and a multitude of natural dyes, and incorporating numerous woven patterns (pallay). In Chincheros we visited a woman’s cooperative of weavers. There we met weavers and saw a demonstration of their weaving techniques and how they prepare the wool (from llama, alpaca, guanaco, vicuna), as well as what constituted their natural dyes.

A man working at Ceramicas Seminario

On our journey, we visited Ceramicas Seminario, the studio of local artists Pablo Seminario and Marilu Behar. Ceramicas Seminario is so much more than an art studio. It is a beautiful, tranquil place where you can learn about the history of Peruvian ceramics, see the process of making ceramics at their workshop, The grounds of the studio was covered in beautiful flourishing plants, with sculptures, fountains and several talking parrots. Seminario uses his 40 years of knowledge and experience to develop pottery and art work forming a fusion off all of the ancient cultures in Peru. Seminario uses clay from Nazca to make his sculptures and pottery. He employs local craftspeople, some with almost 20-25 years of experience who have been trained in  Inca and Pre-Inca techniques to create the Pablo Seminario style of ceramics.

A few ruined buildings and structural terraces remain on Wayna Picchu, the summit often seen behind Machu Picchu.

While society moves forward in some ways, these trusted farming practices—and ingredients—are still an integral part of life at altitude. The indigenous communities of the Andes understand well how altitude and respect for the soil affect food and farming methods and connect them to the natural environment. These communities are experts in ancient local ingredients and practices that might be otherwise lost to time. On the November journey our group will visit Moray & Moras, UNESCO world heritage sites, depicting the advanced agriculture practices of the Incas. These sites are also considered to be the Incan University, because these sites are where the Incas were able to experiment and master their agricultural practices.

Through the fertile river valley and up winding mountain roads, we saw many communities dotted along the path. As we rose higher up in elevation into the Andean communities, we saw life become more simplistic. those lands, forests and waters the people obtain the food they need to live and the materials they need to construct their houses, products and crafts. These communities hold a beautiful respect for their spaces. We arrived at the top and found Vinicunca, also called Montaña de Siete Colores (Mountain of Seven Colors). It is located in the Andes in the Cusco region of Peru. The reason why these colors have formed is because of ice that used to cover the area. When it started to melt, the water mixed with minerals in the ground, turning the earth into the many colors. Red areas are due to rust mixtures, yellows are due to iron sulphide, purples are from goethite or oxidized limonite, and the greens come from chlorite.

Registration is open for our next Yoga Journey in November 2020. We hope you can join us!

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