Deeper Engagement Opens New Opportunities for Service

Posted by odysys_admin on August 12, 2019

Get Your Hands Dirty And Make A Difference

Community Impact in Juluchuca

This past spring, we welcomed Anne-Lauren Graham, founder of Radiant Spiral Retreats, for a second year as a holistic host and retreat leader.  In each of those capacities, Anne Lauren found ways to deepen her connection with the local community.  The holistic host is a multi-faceted role at Playa Viva, connecting guests with new experiences and helping them get in-tune with themselves through yoga and massage, thus she began by extending some of her activities beyond the resort by offering weekly yoga classes to kids in town.  Her experiences in town then inspired a service project for her own retreat which focused on animal welfare and engaging youth in Juluchuca. Her experience is a testament to the many levels of community engagement that are possible at Playa Viva, and the impact that engagement has for all involved.  

Anne Lauren, in her own words:

“On Tuesdays I would head into Juluchuca, set up to give a class and in this, actually receive so much,” Anne Lauren explains. “It always renewed my understanding of the simple joys and sweetness of life.  The gift of sharing yoga, movement, laughter, love and encouragement is one of the best gifts that life has to offer!”


After class, Anne-Lauren would often return to Playa Viva beaming. She would encourage other guests to visit town to connect with the local community. Through this connection, it’s easy to see how to give back. 


When it was time for Anne-Lauren’s own retreat, her experience in the community inspired a service project in conjunction with our spay and neuter campaign. On the day of the clinic, the Radiant Spiral Retreat split into two groups: one dedicated to helping animals to recuperate after surgery and the other group leading an environmental workshop with kids where they painted recycling containers to be placed around the town. At the end, there was space for play, reflection and for everyone to spend time with the animals from the clinic.  

Below, Anne-Lauren reflects on her time facilitating this experience:  

While at Playa Viva, our retreat was made complete by the inclusion of service project with the local community. Watching members of our retreat take their yoga practice off of their mat and into the local village of Juluchuca truly touched my heart. They showed up with arms open and ready to serve in an intense experience where all senses were heightened. They were still able to maintain their calm, their yoga, off the mat and into the world.  Anyone who has ever been a part of a spay and neuter project knows it is quite an intense, heart-wrenching experience. Seeing our participants step in and work seamlessly with the local community is a visual testament to the way compassion, service and love can interweave a tapestry between cultures (of existence) in which we are all in this together and willing to do what needs to be done to get the job completed. It is here where I am shown that when we work together, and from the heart, no task is too challenging or too large.

I feel grateful to Playa Viva for supporting this mission, for making it possible to give back to the animals, local community, and to the earth, this magical land here in Mexico that holds it all.

We give thanks and deep bows of infinite gratitude to Playa Viva, Colleen, Valentine, Ariel, Amanda and the rest of the volunteer team. And we give thanks to the local community for giving us the opportunity, allowing us to come in and be of service for the volunteer project of the week.

The opportunity to make a lasting impact during a retreat has proved incredibly rewarding for Anne-Lauren’s group, as well as other recent retreats.

If you or your retreat is interested in participating in a service project in conjunction with the local community, please contact our Social and Environmental impact coordinator, Colleen Fugate. Thank you, Anne-Lauren, for your service and dedication and for inspiring us all to give back in any way we can.