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”
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.”
Marta Wanderlust – Facilitator, Yoga & Breathwork Teacher
Marta is a gifted, passionate, and highly experienced teacher and student of Yoga and the teachings of Advaita Vedanta. She has first discovered Yoga when 14 years old, and right away felt the mysterious familiarity of the practice. She began her professional training with a Jivamukti Yoga immersion, under the guidance of Yogeswari – one of the most senior teachers of the method. Marta was certified as an Ashtanga and Vinyasa Flow instructor in a traditional school in Goa, India. In India, she also had the privilege to meet her Spiritual teacher Rishi Sudhir of Tiruvannamalai, with decades of experience in pranayama, meditation, and a depth of Vedic knowledge. Aside from the studies of Vedanta, she has also spent time at the ashram of Sri Ramana Maharshi, set at the foot of the sacred mountain Arunachala.
Marta’s love for the practice of being, Yin Yoga, comes as a result of her training with Joshua Summers, an experienced teacher and TCM practitioner. Her studies with Joshua initiated her into the system of meridians and Traditional Chinese Medicine, helping to establish a deep understanding of the subtle body and its many pathways, and their interrelationship with the Yoga practice and shamanic energy healing.
The power of the breath experienced in the active meditation practice of Breath-work has opened Marta to a whole new way of working with energy medicine. She adores her teacher, David Elliott, and continues to hold regular breathing circles – in person and online.
Marta lives in Peru, sharing her practice with the guests of a variety of plant medicine healing centers, teaching occasional workshops and classes in the Sacred Valley, working with private students, and leading personal Yoga retreats internationally. She has a passion for culture and tradition, and often travels in her mission to experience, grow, and develop a platform to share with others, spreading the message of love and compassion.
Over the last years, Marta has been studying with the plant medicines and shamanic traditions of Central and South America. She has had the opportunity to learn under the guidance of shamans and medicine people from various communities and traditions, including communities like the Shipibo and Mestizo in the Amazon, Q’eros in the Andes, Kogi in Colombia, and the wonderful cultures of Mexica and Lakota. Her studies across diverse traditions devoted to understanding both our human physicality and the pathways to Spirit have led her to understand that all paths are complementary, and ultimately lead to the very same realization of Unity.
For more about Marta: www.martawanderlust.com
Om Bolo Shri Sat Guru Bhagavan Ki.. Jai! // To my teacher within, the only teacher of truth.
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
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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.