While both curanderos and facilitators are united in their commitment to bringing about profound spiritual, physical and emotional healing in participants, their role whilst on retreat is very different. It is important to distinguish between our healers or curanderos and our facilitators so as you are aware of how we can best support throughout your time with us.
The role of our curanderos or healers is to bring to the retreat setting their indigenous wisdom and expert knowledge of the sacred plant medicines of the Amazon. Their role is to guide participants in directing the energy flow of the sacred plant medicine ceremonies. Their primary role is to ensure that the medicines are used appropriately and to channel the energy of the medicines to pave the way for the profound healing to occur.
Sacred plant medicine healing can be a confronting experience. You will likely feel a variety of distressing emotions and be faced with shadow aspects of your personality and upsetting memories. The confrontation with these uncomfortable thoughts, feelings, and visions can cause us to panic, feel fear, to cry, scream and to vomit. Whilst uncomfortable, for the body to purge past trauma it must first have a chance to detoxify and rid itself of all that is preventing deep and enduring healing to occur.
The role of our facilitators, who all have extensive experience in sacred plant medicines and various psychological and creative therapies is to support you to locate the courage you need to move through the difficulty. Their primary role is to ensure your wellbeing. Our facilitators will create a loving, compassionate space in which all participants feel safe, respected and free to express themselves authentically.
Elio Geusa – Founder, Lead Facilitator
Originally from Italy, and now living in Melbourne Australia, Elio Geusa is the founder of AYA Healing Retreats. Elio is a qualified Social Worker and has over thirteen years experience working both on national and international humanitarian projects. He has worked with people living with intellectual disabilities and mental health conditions. He has also had the privilege of supporting refugee populations to overcome the trauma of displacement throughout Asia, Europe, and Australia. Elio believes that compassionate and inspired action can create meaningful change in the world.
Elio’s grandfather was a highly-respected healer in a small village in southern Italy. From a young age, Elio was drawn to healing as a profession after witnessing the profound differences his grandfather made in the lives of members of their community.
In 2009, Elio encountered the plant medicine, Ayahuasca for the first time. Convinced of its power to cure the incurable, Elio began an apprenticeship under the guidance of Maestro, Vegetalista Manaco Manain. Since 2009 he has continued to deepen his knowledge, experience, and understanding of the workings of the sacred plant medicines, studying the Shipibo traditions under the revered Mahua family and has undertaken numerous Master Plant Dietas with well-respected curanderos in the Peruvian Amazon.
This immersion in the sacred plant medicines of the indigenous peoples of Peru enabled Elio to experience deep and profound healing. He has overcome crippling anxiety and anger as a result of traumatic childhood experiences, healing that was not possible through the Western medical paradigm. His renewed sense of self-worth, love, compassion, and empathy for himself enables him to extend those same qualities to others.
Elio founded AYA Healing Retreats because he is convinced of the healing potentialities of sacred plant medicines. Not only does he hope to share the indigenous wisdom of the ancient traditions of the tribe’s peoples of the Amazon, but he also intends to invest part of AYA Healing Retreats profits into humanitarian projects that are creating a more compassionate world.
Elio is committed to creating a safe, enjoyable, transformative experience for every participant, whilst on retreat please don’t hesitate to approach Elio for help and support as you navigate the complexities of your healing journey.
Anna Keppen – Facilitator
Anna was born in the United States and is currently based in the Andes of Southern Peru. She is an alternative health advocate, healing is her passion. Anna has devoted her life to healing and continued health education. She offers her clients tools of self-realization and personal empowerment. Anna’s primary focus is on plant-based medicine, yoga, qigong, and music. From an early age, Anna gravitated toward the healing arts. She knew through her own healing and self-discovery that her life’s work and personal fulfillment would be helping others.In 2010 her eight-year path of holistic healing and alternative medicine began at the Ashland Institute of Massage. Soon after she began working with Native American teachers learning Shamanistic rituals; she built on her newfound knowledge through the study of the healing practices across the world; earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Health Education and Native American Studies from Southern Oregon University in 2014. In late 2014 Anna felt the pull to focus on the ancient rituals of the Amazon. Traveling to Peru in August she had her first introduction to the profound healing capabilities of Ayahuasca. While Peru would eventually become her home; Anna continued to travel extensively through North, Central, and South America on a journey to connect with as many ancient rituals and practices as possible. Along the way, she discovered a natural ability to bridge culture, backgrounds, and unique personalities with the healing powers of the Amazon. By maintaining a strong personal practice of daily meditation and yoga that she learned in India; Anna has also been fortunate enough to share her knowledge of yoga and qigong with others for the last seven years. The foundation of Anna’s life is love, joy, and balance. She has enjoyed the opportunity to collect many ancient healing songs from around the world and is looking forward to releasing her first healing album in the near future. More about Anna Keppen: flyingbirdmedicine.com
“The healing plants of the Amazon have opened up my life and expanded my mind to amazing possibilities and opportunities. It’s a joy that this path opened to me, and an honor that I can share this healing with others”
Karo Munay – Facilitator, Guided Meditation
KaroMunay is an earth child that has experienced oneness through traveling the world, her solo nomad lifestyle has shown her the reality of a planet with no borders, born and raised on the Andean mountains of Ecuador, with a multifaceted background, from being an entrepreneur in her early twenties, she experienced a career in international relations and affairs as well as being involved in social development projects, this process let her see clear the non sense of the material illusion bringing her an understanding of her true mission, an inclination she had since a child, a path based on service, healing and art that lead her on the wonderful world of yoga, meditation, sound healing, dance, muralism, and ancestral knowledge.
On her journey, she has worked on social, environmental and creative projects around the world. Honoring the life-force energy she’s been given, towards union, awareness, objectivity, impeccability, with love in action. Her mission is to be a walking example of that love, this is a natural state that she manifests to resonate with every moment on this dimension. She follows this path because she trusts in human evolution because she knows that this transmutation can happen taking responsibility for our own lives and what do we irradiate from every thought, intention, and creation. Mediation has been a very important part of her life, she has dedicated her time and energy into understanding different meditation techniques, the nature of the mind, the body, the heart and their communion.
This continuous study and passion for the understanding of the self-took her to India, Nepal and many countries in South East Asia and Latin America, where she had the blessing to visit teachers, monasteries and dedicated an important period of time to each opportunity. During these years KaroMunay got a deeper understanding of many techniques and philosophies, among Buddhist studies with Mahayana tradition, Theravada tradition, Zen studies, Tao studies, Confucianism,Transcendental Meditation, Chi Kung, Taichi, Sufi philosophy and alchemy, Hinduism, mantra chanting meditation and Kriya Yoga, Tantra, Osho Meditation techniques, sound meditation and healing with Tibetan Singing Bowls, Sacred Geometry and the language of manifestation, and also art as a powerful meditative expression for transcend. KaroMunay knows from experience that all the tools for healing and transcending are inside, we don’t need anything exterior to reach that consciousness.
Five years ago she followed the call of “Mother” Ayahuasca, this journey has been loving, accurate, subtle and has opened even more her gratitude with nature of existence for this sacred perfect gift that we, as humans, have the opportunity to learn from, the sacred plant medicine that on the correct environment and guidance can help to heal the body, mind and soul. Her experience has been mostly on the Inga tradition in the Putumayo Rainforest. KaroMunay´s presence and dedication embody a modern-day Priests that inspires spontaneous joy and motivates others to take actions and become the best version of themselves, holding a safe space of love and compassion, she believes that we are here to channel this pure love energy and help others awaken this connection with their being. On this alchemy process, KaroMunay uses guided meditations, flowers, water, icaros, loving presence and touch.
“My mission, to walk on the white path where my actions are based on the clear will from the heart, so I can bring everyday harmony and beauty in life, serving the whole, reaching continuously a higher connection with my pure nature”
Kara Cura – Facilitator, Sound Healer
Kara has spent her life expanding her healing gifts, offering counsel to many, and building her career around the pillars of healing while offering services in many areas such as art and art therapy, music and sound healing, hands-on healing through Reiki and deep integrative trauma release bodywork and studying what draws her into deeper realms of healing through plant medicine, healing the body with food, and daily practices to keep the body and mind centered. Growing up with parents in the US that loved to travel, Kara realized at an early age that she loved traveling. Now spending the majority of her time in South and Central America, Peru and Guatemala have become her new homes.
In 2005 Kara met Ayahuasca and the introduction was life-changing for her. After moving into the work slowly – about 4 years only sitting once every two years – it wasn’t until she met her first teacher that she heard the calling to the medicine in a deeper way. After that calling, she began a serious 7-year study of this sacred plant medicine and found herself in Peru. Studying and learning from some of the most revered Shipibo’s curanderos in South America. Today she focuses most of her learning time with the Mahua family and the Gomez family in the Peruvian Amazon.
Her work with the Amazonian plants has deepened her own journey into facilitating retreats with her teacher(s), hosting her own retreats, and offering ceremonies. One of her main focuses in these spaces is integration. Kara believes the most important work comes during the time after the retreat – how we integrate the plants and their knowledge into our own daily lives is the key to successful plant medicine healing.
Kara offers facilitation and ceremonies that are built with the participants and their own intention. Holding a light to their goals and journey, Kara brings seven (+) years of study and practice to the circle, holding you with love, healing and humor, and with creative solutions and paradigms to help allow new information to integrate into your soul. Kara believes this is the best work we can offer to our own development. You can find more information about Kara’s offerings at www.karacura.com.
“The medicine path is what I know, and the calling is an honor. May my path always hold me in love and allow me to guide others along their own unique healing. May we all rise to our highest expressions of self and hold the light for our fellow brothers and sisters to do the same. Together we change the world.”
Jessica Begin – Facilitator, Voice Coach
Jessica is a multidisciplinary artist, dancer, singer/songwriter, yoga/dance/voice teacher and healing practitioner. Born and raised in Canada, she now lives in Peru. As a passionate lover of plants, dances, and songs, Jessica holds the firm belief that the re-awakening of humans to our authentic power lies in the practice opening of our voices and in developing the channel that each of uniquely is as vessels for Spirit.
Born and raised by a yoga teacher mother, Jessica has been teaching yoga and dance related movement and voice workshops for 10 years, she has studied and certified as a teacher in Hatha and Vinyasa flow yoga. Her passion for exploring the body as a vessel for the spirit has led her to study dance modalities such as Capoeira, dances of the African diaspora, Butoh, 5 Rhythms and la Danza de la Luna, as well as studying Yoga of the Voice with Alba Lirio and Silvia Nakkach. She has also apprenticed for 3 years with Ayurvedic practitioner Komala Lyra of Ayurveda Mandala.
Jessica holds a deep respect for the healing ways and ancient ceremonial practices of indigenous peoples across the Americas and the world. She feels that the universally practiced indigenous traditions of songs, dances, storytelling, and ceremonies hold the keys to helping us to remember our origins and place in the great design of life.
She has been working with Ayahuasca for 9 years in various traditions from Brazil, Colombia, and Peru. For the past 3 years, she has been dieting in the Shipibo tradition as well as working as a retreat and Dieta facilitator and teacher at Temple of the Way of Light and Niwe Roa Xobo centers. She has had the privilege spending time with indigenous leaders and medicine people from across the continent, assisting in the organization/production of multi-national indigenous-led cultural, spiritual and climate change focused gatherings and ceremonies in the USA, Brazil, Panama, and Mexico, as well as acting as a translator and interpreter between representatives of various nations from North, Central, and South America.
She considers the medicine and the plants to have guided her “home” to her true nature, allowing her to face and release deeply held old traumas, fears, and pain as well as awakening her to joy, creativity, connection, a sense of life purpose and above all, opening her voice to sing her “true song of the soul”.
Jessica’s greatest joy lies in assisting others to connect to their free and uninhibited capacity to express their deepest heart’s longing through voice and movement.
Mary Sky – Facilitator, Guided Meditation
Mary Sky has been traveling to magical Peru for more than 10 years, working closely with the medicines of both Ayahausca and Huachuma. In more recent years, undergoing different plant medicine dietas in both Iquitos at the Temple of the Way of Light (2013), and more recently, (since 2014), in Pucallpa.
For the past two years she has been working with Noya Rao, under the guidance of both Manuala Mahua initially in Amsterdam in Holland and later with Juanita Mahua in Pucallpa. Before Peru called her, she had been working as a nurse and single parenting her now two grown daughters in Ireland. Always passionate about health and healing she became increasingly frustrated with what she terms “the illness system” of the western cultures.
Mary has many skills, including holistic massage, intuitive energy healing, somatic release therapy, a skill which has developed intuitively over her years of personal healing work and meditation practices. She has also studied and practiced aromatherapy, reflexology, ear-candling, and holotropic breathwork. The breathwork she practices is in the vein of the Spiritual Emergence paradigm shift under the guidance of Stanislav Grof.
She has also been a passionate practitioner and studier of different mystical and esoteric traditions, from Buddhism to Sufism, Hindu culture, Druidic, Celtic wisdom, native American Indian wisdom traditions. She was a student of Tibetan Buddhism for many years and currently study’s and practices within the Tibetan Bon tradition. Tibetan Bon pre-dates Buddhism by 17,000 years, more the Shamanic origins of Buddhism.
Noya Rao excites her as it connects in beautifully with the Tibetan Bon practices she has been working with which focus on awakening of the Sacred body or sacred anatomy. The Flying Tree or Tree of Light is such incredible imagery for body focused awareness of our own inherent energy anatomy.
Mary will offer these “yogas” when facilitating on the retreats and be present to assist in any way she can to help you on your journey. Her own journey from dis-illusioned disembodiment to passionate embodiment is ever ongoing and more recently she has been working with the awakening of the Divine feminine energies in both the male and female. The arising of the innate wisdom within our very own bodies. Mary is also passionate about the empowerment of our own inner healing wisdom and the recognition of our true nature in this very lifetime.
She teaches and practices the Tibetan yogas of Tsa Lung and Healing Sounds and somatic meditation and looks forward to offering them at the retreats. Over the years of traveling and bringing groups to Peru for plant medicine ceremonies she has found these practices to be of great benefit with the integration of the profound experiences that one can have while journeying with these amazing medicines. She is passionate about grounding experiences so we can return to our homes, families and communities and make a difference to the changes that are so needed in our world.
For more about Mary Sky: dancingtheworlds.com
Atira Tan – Integration Support
Hailing from her native Singapore Atira Tan, now based in Melbourne Australia, has over 15 years experience healing trauma through yoga, mindfulness, art, and counseling. Atira has a Master’s Degree in Art Therapy from Latrobe University, Melbourne, she has featured on TED X, is the founder of Art to Healing and the annual international Yogathon event, Yoga for Freedom. Atira works extensively throughout Asia and Australia in various projects that are centered around healing and empowering women and girls who have been sexually abused and violated through the sex trafficking industry.
From 2004 onwards, Atira established numerous clinical art therapy and trauma recovery programs and has partnered with international organisations to bring art therapy, somatic therapies, yoga, mindfulness to the refugee camps of Burma, the war zones of Cambodia, the brothels of Kathmandu, regions devastated by earthquakes in Nepal and to remote Aboriginal communities in Australia. In addition to her not for profit work, Art to Healing, Atira works as a clinician and clinical supervisor in Australia and the Asia Pacific region and as an educator in Transpersonal Art Therapy. Like Elio, Atira is dedicated to creating the space for transformative experiences to occur for each participant. She is the head of our integration team and as well as teaching yoga on selected retreats, she will facilitate your post-retreat integration sessions via Skype.
More about Atira Tan: atiratan.com
Ready to journey with us?
Ask us questions about what to expect on retreat, book a free Skype session, start you medical screening questionnaire and get set to be profoundly changed.