Pachamama Gives Guests Rest, Tranquility and Friendship in Todos Santos, Mexico
Pachamama Gives Guests Rest, Tranquility and Friendship in Todos Santos, Mexico
Alex Reichek disconnects with the world and reconnects with herself at the intimate yoga retreat
Story and photos by Alex Reichek
One day in October, my mentor and sister-friend Randee, who I worked with in New York City, called me to see if I wanted to join her on a five-day yoga retreat in Todos Santos for the first week of January 2022. I had been dealing with some health issues for a couple months, and had just attended ACL, my best friend’s wedding, handled the PR for Ranch Rider’s Migas Fest and hosted my family at my house in Austin — all in October. So, yeah, when Randee called I said yes immediately because I knew my body needed some rest!
Over the holidays, I had some personal breakthroughs on things I had been working on all year professionally and personally, so once it was a few days before Todos Santos, I was really ready to fly. That being said, when I was mid-flight, I finally thought “Wait, what am I about to do and who else is going to be in this group?”
As soon as I arrived at Pachamama, a cute boutique hotel with three ocean view suites and 12 Adobe tepees, I saw the gorgeous bright blue pool surrounded by banana hammocks, cacti and the sun setting over the ocean. It was a magical first sight. Then I met the whole group that I’d be spending the next five nights with, in a place where we would unwind our bodies through yoga and breath work twice a day, lounge at the pool, eat meals together followed by evening tea chats — all in between our elective massages, of course.
The group consisted of nine students, all residing in Los Angeles or New York City — plus one in D.C. and me from Austin — and two yoga teachers: Rebecca, who recently moved to Portugal, and Lindsey, another LA resident. Lentil stuffed peppers were our first warm meal and then we were on our way to our morning wake up call for the first yoga practice in a gorgeous yoga shala surrounded by live vegetation, tepees, singing birds and sandy ground.
I’ve always wanted to do a yoga retreat but didn’t know how the schedule would work and what kind of yoga intensity it would be. Our schedule gave us so much free time, with practice at 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m., breakfast at 10 a.m., lunch at 2 p.m., and dinner at 7 p.m. It felt very spacious and allowed us our own personal time plus enough time to connect, lounge and enjoy the property and beach.
The coolest thing about this experience is that all of us showed up and dropped right into exploring each other without any judgment or knowledge of our past or professional status. We truly accepted and met everyone right where they were in life, and it was the most present I’ve ever felt. This retreat was not fully focused on what you think of when you hear “yoga” or see it in a commercial. We learned how to move our mind with our bodies by breathing and caring for each other. One of the most memorable parts was when we wrote how we see ourselves and what we want for the new year before sharing it with the team. This helped us understand each other in such a soft and comforting way.
I walked into this trip with the intention of disconnecting fully, which meant being completely off my phone: no texts, emails, Instagram, etc. Man, I need to do this more often! I loved learning the teachings from The Bhagavad Gita, which is a collection of stories and Hindu ideas about dharma and yogi ideas that help us move through life while understanding the body and the mind. Rebecca Hajek taught me so much about a side of yoga I’d never learned before, which is unreal because these are the initial teachings and reasons for all that we do in these classes. It’s so much more than a downward dog or forcing your body into a headstand, which I’ve never done, but you know what I mean. She instructed us via Ashtanga, Hatha, Yoga Nidra and yogic philosophy.
The most exciting one was the Yoga Nidra on the beach at sunset. Yoga Nidra is the state between sleeping and being awake. With our bodies firm in the sand, Rebecca guided us through meditations that had us viewing ourselves in a bird’s-eye-view, flying above, at a time where we were feeling sad in the past and then had us visualize telling ourselves what we know now and consoling ourselves that moment in time. It was like a cleanse, meant to keep us strong and moving along.
We ended this yoga practice walking down to the ocean and stepping into the water, which naturally relaxed us and made us all hug and smile. During this exercise, the words “all you need in love” dropped into my head. Our group of strangers from all different backgrounds came together so seamlessly and easily to create an instant community of love, compassion and openness together, and I felt it so deeply right then, seeing nature change over in the sky before our eyes.
More teachings we went over that I’d like to remember frequently are the Six Pillars of Bhakti which include:
- I will not criticize.
- I am tolerant.
- I take no offense.
- I forgive immediately and completely/I am quick to apologize.
- I see the good in others and I let them know.
- I am grateful and I take tally of my blessings.
Our other teacher, Lindsey Valdez, gave us the gift of sound with all of her musical talents, instruments and gong that she traveled with all the way from Los Angeles. She taught me so much about breathing as we did several Pranayama sessions with nasal breathing and belly breathing. She also taught us the proper body work for Chaturanga, Crow, Headstand and Handstand. Lindsey instructed us through beautiful sound baths and really put our souls at rest and together at the same time. If you live in LA, you can book a private class with her, too!
I felt such a calling from both Rebecca and Lindsey for giving me the education that their teachers like Yogi Charu had given them and they shared it in such a digestible way that I can take it home with me and use it in my everyday life. Yoga is truly a lifestyle for everyone and there are all kinds of teachings, lessons and movements you can do that fit your body and intention of self balance or awakening. It’s been publicized in America in a way that I missed all of this until now, and the best part is that you can choose what works best for you. There is no right or wrong way.
Pachamama offered several types of massages in their little hut. My favorite was the Deep Energy Reiki Massage with Hesed. I have always wanted to try Reiki since I learned about it in Sedona, and I had no idea what to expect. Once he told me that he was hired by Liz Lambert for El Cosmico in Marfa, I got even more excited! The point of this service is to deconstruct the body with a physical deep massage and finalize with chakra alignment and stimulation of energy points. He made sure to tell me that the energy did not come from within his body but something natural from what he feels in his hands and specific sensations compared to the rest of my body.
The massage was incredible, and he made me feel really present in my body. The way he massaged in circles down my spine and the right side of my neck was a technique I had never felt before. I had been worried about my stomach from my previous health issues, and he let me know at the end of our session that my entire body was normal and already aligned with my chakras so he didn’t have to change anything. That almost made me more disappointed, but what he told me was that it was all coming from my thoughts and constant thinking. He said that he could tell I have strong opinions and emotions, and I just need to get out of my head and more into how my body feels.
Other spa offerings at the hotel included Myofascial Release/Connective Tissue Massage, which was very soothing and circular mostly on the back, neck, shoulders and legs. They also had Deep Tissue, Cranio-Sacral Therapy, Holistic Massage, Ayurvedic and Cupping.
The amazing crew at Pachamama made all of our meals. It was truly so nice not to have to decide what to eat and to just sit down and be taken care of— kind of how I felt about the entire retreat. It reminded me of Casa de Luz. The general manager Anabel was so incredible, warm and professional, along with the rest of the staff. Our breakfasts consisted of Molletes (bean spread on bread) topped with pico and a side of scrambled eggs, green omelets, red chilaquiles, sopes (corn cups filled with zucchini, mushrooms, lettuce and the works) and avocado toast.
Lunch and dinners consisted of vegetarian Buddha bowls with tamarind sauce, fish and vegetarian burritos, ceviche, enchiladas made with poblano sauce, fish skewers with grilled pineapple and fresh juice concoctions. I loved the cantaloupe and guava most.
Also, if you are staying at this boutique hotel, breakfast is included for each guest. They only provide lunch and dinner through retreats or for a large number of people.
We went to town a couple times, which was probably less than a 20-minute drive, to shop the quiet and pleasant streets. Beware of stray dogs, although they are pretty cute. A few boho stores include Zocolo and Nomad Chic, plus Mexican tourist shops with gorgeous ceramics — definitely go for a tequila bottle holder or coffee mugs when you visit. Try the mint chocolate ice cream at Baja Tasty and if you are extra like me, get the chocolate cake slice to go with it.
We hung out at Plaza Amigos and had fish tacos and Mezcalitos at Pacifica Cantina. I liked the grilled fish tacos over the shrimp. They have live music here on Fridays, and it was super hip. Don’t miss Taller 17, an outstanding bakery with fluffy chocolate chip cookies, gooey blondies and coffee. They close at 3 p.m.
My favorite restaurant, however, was further away. At Pura Playa, you can reserve bonfires on the beach. All the fresh seafood and cocktails come out of a little shed/bar. We shared the best fish tacos I’ve ever had, enormous glass coupes of ceviche and giant tuna tostadas. We washed it down with Hibiscus Mezcal drinks called Jaguar. If you are looking for well-made Mexican blankets, check out The Blanket Factory which also has table runners. Stop by Baja Beans on your way back for coffee and a massive blueberry scone that tasted more like a biscuit meets muffin.
What I Got Out of It
It’s really tough to put such an impactful trip into a short amount of words, as I could probably write an entire book about this experience and each person! My biggest takeaway is how incredible it is for 11 strangers (besides Randee and me!) to come together so easily, share their hopes, dreams, struggles, wishes and desires and to watch everyone automatically accept it and be there on such a compassionate and supportive level. I was just so there for each moment, living and loving everyone and, more importantly, myself. There were, of course, some things that came up for me that I thought I had already worked through, and it was just a simple reminder that I am human, and so is everyone else.
Everyone showed up and gave it their all, and the expectations that I did not set for this experience were pleasantly met. I stopped my outside world by turning off my phone for five days and was able to fully turn on my inside world and share it with nine perfect strangers. I’d really like to write about the mark that each person gave to me, but I think I told them enough in person and hope they can feel it. Thank you so much Angela, Leora, Kim, Sam, Day, Katrina, Randee, Pawla, Lindsey and Becca.
If you are looking for a similar experience, Rebecca is hosting a retreat this July in Greece and you can sign up here!
Alex Reichek is a hospitality PR and marketing expert working with several Austin brands to create awareness, partnerships and increase business. In addition, her website is filled with recommendations on where to dine, drink and experience the best of Austin, where she lives now, and New York City, where she lived for eight years after attending UT, as well as discoveries made on her travels around the world. Be sure to visit her instagram @ChekmarkEats to keep up with all of the best food and adventures in Austin and beyond.