Retreat Spotlight: Suryalila Yoga Retreat Centre and 1000 Suns Summit

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Retreat Spotlight: Suryalila Yoga Retreat Centre and 1000 Suns Summit

With yoga studios and retreats all round the world rethinking how they are sharing their message of yoga within their community, Manduka has taken a moment to sit down with the Spanish based yoga retreat centre Suryalila to find out how they have been adapting to 2020 and their upcoming 1000 Suns Online Summit.

Suryalila in Andalusia, southern Spain, was recognised as one of the best Yoga Retreat Centres in the world by Yoga Journal Magazine in 2019. The centre is nestled serenely in a large open valley in the foothills of the Sierra de Cadiz. A striking part of the natural beauty of the property are the breathtaking vistas unfurling in all directions; rolling hills, fields of sunflowers, and lakes. The sense of vastness and expansiveness is very uplifting.

Can you describe your retreat centre?

We have three beautiful Yoga Halls at Suryalila. The largest and most awe-inspiring is The Om Dome, which has been coined “the most magnificent Yoga Hall in Europe”. The sacred geometry creates a cathedral-like space, which is breathtaking. The Dome overlooks rolling hills, olive groves and a ruined convent. Inside, the Dome boasts underfloor heating and cooling, and two long walls for practicing inversions. The walls have been beautifully decorated with colourful murals of Indian gods and Tibetan imagery. There is a state of the art sound system as well as atmospheric lighting. The Dome can comfortably hold up to 80 people practicing Yoga and a lot more for concerts and other events.

Suryalia Retreat Centre

Do you host yoga teachers bringing their own groups?

Yes. As well as offering its own in-house custom designed Yoga Retreats, Suryalila welcomes group leaders bringing their own groups to do Yoga, Meditation and Dance as well as other holistic therapies. We have been fortunate to welcome many well-known teachers here such as Sarah Powers, Donna Farhi, Tiffany Cruikshank and Megan Currie. The Centre also welcomes independent hotel guests, who come to take the world-class in-house yoga classes, feast on the amazing organic vegetarian food and enjoy the beautiful natural surroundings.

Where do you source your food from?

We do grow quite a lot of our own food here. We are host to an non-profit educational permaculture project called Danyadara, which means “blessed Earth” that is planting thousands of trees, as well as growing vegetables, herbs and edible flowers. The rest of our produce comes from local organic farms in the mountains. It’s very important to us that all of the food we offer is organically produced.

Suryalia Retreat Centre

What made you decide to use Manduka mats at your retreat centre?

Vidya Heisel the Director of Suryalila, runs several Yoga Teacher Trainings at Suryalila every year Vidya is a master yoga teacher, having taught yoga for 45 years now. She is a huge fan of Manduka mats and has been practising on them for the last twenty years. When asked why she prefers them over other mats, Vidya says, “When we opened Suryalila, almost ten years ago I knew right away that all the mats had to be Manduka, and between our three yoga halls, we have almost 100 PROlite yoga mats. I love the thickness of Manduka mats, which allows you to do postures such as headstands without needing an additional blanket. They also have superb grip, meaning that you can safely do inversions against the wall, like L-shapes, without fear of the mat slipping. They are incredibly durable, and even after hundreds of retreats and intensive yoga teacher training’s, they are still like new.”

Suryalia Retreat Centre

How has Suryalila been affected by the current Pandemic?

To be honest, it’s been quite disastrous really, as almost every group since March this year has cancelled and we have endured constant lock-downs! So the business is suffering immensely. We had to lay-off a lot of our staff, which has been devastating, but we are thankful to still be open and have recently started offering “workations” - a peaceful refuge for people who are working from home or need to escape the city, to come to Suryalila for extended stays, to be in nature, and to be surrounded by a small like-minded community who practice Yoga and Meditation. We hope that we can offer a sanctuary for people in this time of crisis where they can experience the benefits of a healthy lifestyle in the Andalusian countryside away from the stresses and fears of the pandemic.

Is there anything else are you doing to create income?

Yes. We are working on our online presence and we are about to host our first online Summit. A team of us have been working very hard the past few months to put together an amazing 3 day conference which will be a huge help for Suryalila Retreat Centre as well as boosting the mental and physical health of everyone who attends. The Summit is called 1000 Suns Online. After the Summit we will continue with a live online presence. We would love to recreate the feeling of our beautiful retreat centre online so that we can inspire people in their own homes.

Why did you name the Summit 1000 Suns?

Firstly, because it is a reflection of the name of our retreat centre. Suryalila is a composite of two Sanskrit words. Surya refers to the ancient sun god and lila means cosmic play (of the gods). Together the words mean “Cosmic Play of the Sun”. Secondly, because my favourite spiritual text is the Bhagavad Gita and a famous quote from this scripture is: “If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst forth at once from the Sky, that would be like the Splendor of the Mighty One” So it’s a reference to the underlying Consciousness of the Whole. The Gita teaches us how to build inner resilience, through the understanding of the nature of existence.

“If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst forth at once from the Sky, that would be like the Splendor of the Mighty One”

Bhagavad Gita

What is the theme of the Summit?

How to Build Inner and Outer Resilience in a Turbulent World

We are examining this theme from every possible angle so that we can help others to weather the huge challenges that we are facing right now. We have identified twelve tools towards building Resilience and have 60 speakers and interviews on each of those themes, as well as many great Yoga Workshops. The idea is to offer a three day intensive online event (which will be available for 48 hours to a year afterwards, depending on the ticket you buy) followed by 14 complementary days of meditation and Yoga, leading up to Christmas. After that we will continue with a live online presence and grow our community so that we can collectively hold hands together in cyber space and support one another.

When will the Summit happen and is it available for all timezones?

4-6 December 2020. There will be two different stages running from 8am-11pm CET (with availability until 8 December, to cover all timezones). It is also possible to purchase a Resilience Pass which means all material will be available to you for one year, plus a lot of Bonus Material and plus the 14 days leading up to Christmas. It’s an amazing deal!

1000 Suns Summit

Who will be presenting in the Summit?

Some of the master yoga teachers presenting include Matt Giordano, Ana Forrest, Maya Fiennes, Doug Keller, Daniel Rama, Donna Farhi, Caroline Cowan, Travis Eliot and Jonelle Lewis to name just a few. We also have some wonderful mantra chanting from the legendary Queen of Mantra, Wah, and the Grammy Award nominated chanting duo Deva Premal and Miten. We are offering Chakra Meditation with Paul and Suzee Grilley and we will be contemplating the nature of existence with world renowned Vedanta teacher James Schwarz and the esteemed head of the New York Vedanta Society, Swami Sarvapriyananda. Seven-times New York Times bestselling author and internationally-recognised expert on nutrition and natural healing Dr Joel Furhman will talk to us about boosting our immune systems. And this is just a taster of what is on offer!

Why are you charging for the Summit?

Many summits are free these days with very restricted tickets. Their approach is to try to upsell more availability to the content. To keep it simple, we created a direct approach of selling tickets and in exchange we are providing excellent rich content, which is available for up to a year. More importantly, this Summit is a benefit for our beautiful Suryalila Retreat Centre in Spain. In a time when many yoga studios and retreat centres are closing their doors for good, we are endeavouring to keep this wonderful sanctuary, which has been a safe space of respite and transformation for hundreds of guests, students, staff and volunteers, afloat. The ticket sales will help to keep Suryalila open.

How much do the tickets cost?

We are still offering an early bird ticket for 75 euros, an all access pass for 99 euros and a Resilience Pass, which includes access to all of the material for one year 149 euros. Also, check out the limited Black Friday tickets discount with 50% off.

1000 Suns Summit

The “1000 Suns Yoga & Resilience Summit” registration is open now, more information and tickets on the 1000 Suns website / 4-6 December 2020.

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