We traveled to the Sacred Valley in Peru this June. This was our inaugural Karma Yoga Journey, and it was successful. Most importantly, it allowed us to make a difference in the lives of children at an orphanage.
The time in Peru was divided between volunteering at the nearby orphanage, excursions to places of historical and spiritual significance, experiencing contemporary Peruvian life in the Sacred Valley and our own yoga..
The group stayed in a house in a peaceful and beautifully maintained retreat center in a spiritual community near Urubamba in Peru’s Sacred Valley at an altitude of around 9,000 feet. Our house was comfortable, quiet and featured space for yoga and a beautiful garden. TWe were fed delicious home-cooked, Peruvian vegetarian meals.
The Sacred Valley consists of primarily agrarian communities nestled between the craggy and dramatic Andes mountains. We saw many picturesque local farming scenes in which work was done by hand sometimes with the help of oxen but very rarely motorized farm equipment.
The orphanage is in a rural location on a mountain next to a glacier. The children there, though they had little materially, were rich in joy and gave more to us than we gave to them. We each quickly got to know and become attached to individual children.
Our group bonded with one another during the trip. We formed lasting and meaningful friendships that stretch across Canada, Peru, and the US.
Daily yoga was conducted by Victor Oppenheimer. Yoga felt particularly special in the Sacred Valley where the energy of centuries of spiritual work seemed to enhance the special feeling of our own practice.
Our excursions to Inca ruins were historically educational, inspiring, and meaningful. To see Machu Picchu we first stayed the night in the nearby scenic Inca built town of Aguas Calientes. The next morning we arose at 5:30 am so that we could hike to a location slightly above the ruins before sunrise. There we watched the sun rise over the nearby mountains and saw the first rays bathe the Lost City of the Incas in morning light. It was stunning sight and well worth the effort.
We experienced contemporary Peru in a personal way and while contributing to the lives of local craftspeople. We visited a local beekeeper, a potter, a chocolate maker, a llama farm, a working salt mine built originally built by the Incas many hundreds of years ago and were given a tour of a local orchard where we were served a non-alcoholic wine made from the orchard.
Being in Peru felt like we stepped back in time to a simpler and less technological yet very rich way of living. It seemed that life slowed down and allowed us to live each moment more fully and meaningfully, which was a good lesson to take back to the Northern Hemisphere. The journey contributed to our personal growth, was heart opening and gave us memories and new friends to treasure for many years to come.