Moinhos Velhos is a secluded valley located by the Barragem da Bravura 14 km. NW from Lagos on the Algarve coast in Portugal. Away from the popular tourist areas we have 16 hectares (40 acres) in an area of several thousand hectares of natural beauty. It is a protected area. We wake up to the songs of the birds in the morning and retire with the silence of the stars at night. Yet,by car, we are only one hour from the airport at Faro, 15 minutes from the city of Lagos and 20 minutes from the nearest beaches.
Water and Electricity
We are most fortunate that the water from the Barragem, (which is a major supply of water for Portimao and Lagos) runs through our property. A tunnel through the mountain opens into a control station on our property, from which we are able to get our water for the garden. We have two means of obtaining this water. There is an old gravity feed through canals which supplies water to our lower garden. Our Portuguese gardener loves this,.as that is the system which he is used to, and he makes good old fashioned ditches which supplies water to the plants.
We also have a pump at the control station, and this pump supplies water to the rest of the garden, primarily through a computerized 16 station irrigation system.
In spite of the fact that Southern Europe is experiencing a severe draught this year, there is still sufficient water in our barragem to supply all the water that we need We have a 100 meter deep borehole, from which we obtain the water for drinking, as this water is a better quality than the barragem water. The water from the borehole is pumped into a storage tank from which it is then pumped to the main house.
Our main water supply
When we purchased Moinhos Velhos in 1992 there was a converted farm house, three old animal buildings and a couple of ruin During the first year here we cleaned up the property and built the yoga temple, swimming pool, sauna, clinic and guest house and we had our first program in May 1993.In the following years the main house was added to and restored, a couple of ruins converted and other buildings added.
Today we have altogether 12 buildings on the property plus a large (160 square meter) greenhouse, a sauna and a tepee. The main building has a dining room and two kitchens. One kitchen is for making the juices. In the second kitchen there is a staff eating area. Adjoining the office is the living room, which is very cozy with a most efficient wood burning heater. There is also a wood burning free standing heater in the dining room. Above the living room is the main office with two computers, printers, copying machine etc.
Outside the dining room and kitchen there is a large terrace with comfortable seating. In the summer time part of this area is shaded by an overhead grape vine. Just stretch out your hand and pick the grapes, which of course are off limit for the fasters. A broad stone stairway leads down to the yoga temple and pool.
Below the temple there is a room with bathroom. This is presently used as a therapy room but can be used for accommodation. There is also a storage area and a walk in cooler under the temple.
The pool is a salt water pool. Approximately 12m x 6m we use no chemicals in the water. A special conversion units splits the salt atoms into natural chlorine and oxygen,(at least that is the way I understand it) providing a chemical free pool. It is truly a pleasure to swim in this water, it feels like silk on the skin. We use the pool 12 month of the year. In the winter when the water temperature can drop to 14 degrees, we first have a sauna and a quick dip in the pool is then most refreshing
Past the temple is the clinic. This building has four rooms and one toilet. There are three therapy rooms with a selection of modern holistic therapeutic equipment. We have a complete "Bicom" system, Foot Detox Bath and the Quantum QXCI. The magnetic harmonizing bed is at the moment located in the room below the yoga temple .There is a reading room with a large selection of spiritual and health related books, a CD and DVD player and a good selection of tapes and disks.
The main guest house has four rooms, 3 double and 1 single. All with private bath and individual heaters. All the guest rooms are also fitted with a Clysmatic (Gravity colonic unit).
Moinhos Velhos means "The Old Mills". In days before the Barragem was built this was an operating water mill, and all the neighboring farmers would bring their produce to be milled here. Apparently this goes back many hundreds of years. We have converted half the mill ruin into two single rooms. The other half of the mill belongs to our neighbor.
These wooden cottages are our most popular accommodation. Each cottage is about 20 square meters, plus two bathrooms and a patio. Sitting in a secluded area, fitted with central hot water heating system and semiautomatic water filling for the clysmatics, they offer the ultimate in peace and tranquility. Ideal for two people.
We started our first yoga and health retreat in Norway. But Norway was too cold, we wanted to to be in a warmer climate.hile living in Spain we were guided to move to Portugal to establish a yoga and health retreat here.
During these channeled sessions we had two guides, one whom we had never heard of from Estonia. The other was Jesus Christ from Nazareth. This really surprised us as neither Anne Karine nor Frank consider themselves to be Christians. Frank stated: I am not a Christian, I am a Yogi. My name is Parameshwara and my mantra is Om Nahma Sivaya. It was confirmed that this was really Jesus Christ from Nazareth who lived 2000 years ago who now advised us to locate in Portugal.
The word Barragem was also mentioned but somehow the meaning of this was lost on us. Barragem was a strange word which meant nothing to us. It was only after we had purchased Moinhos Velhos that we realized that we were located next to the" Barragem da Bravura".
Later I came to realize that "The Christ Energy" has nothing to do with being a Christian, but is a divine energy available to all. We maintained contact with the guides for a time after settling in at Moinhos Velhos. But gradually this connection became weaker and after the temple was built we were no longer able to establish direct contact.
It seemed as if the purpose had been achieved and now a new energy manifested. Not as verbal as the previous one, more of a subtle energy, and in meditation in the temple we were advised that Moinhos Velhos is one of the Light Centers in the world, and that we should concentrate on bringing in the Light. Here we would establish a program for Detoxification and Purification of Body Mind and Spirit with Fasting - Yoga - Meditation and Alternative Therapies.
During the past 13 years we have observed the transformation in the lives of many of our clients. It seems as if Moinhos Velhos is a halfway house between the secular and the spiritual, where program participants often find a new direction in their lives, sometimes quitting their jobs to establish a new lifestyle, some getting education in alternative therapies and several have taken the Sivananda TTC to become Yoga teachers.
During the terrible fires in 2003 which destroyed thousands of hectares of forest, devastated many homes, killed several people and a multitude of animals, which in our area raged completely out of control for one week and left everything around us in black cinder, not one blade of gras was harmed in our valley.
The police arrived and gave us twenty minutes to evacuate the place. But stubborn Frank with his jeep sneaked back through the lower valley. He was not prepared to give in to the fires without a fight, and for several days watched the fires ravishing everything around. But each time the fires approached Moinhos Velhos they stopped. The cars in Lagos were covered with ashes, but not even one grain of ash fell in the valley. Yes the firemen did a great job, but we truly believe that we also experienced Divine Protection.
The garden of course is completely organic with many fruit trees. We are self-sufficient with oranges for our juices for most of the season.In the summer we also have melons and watermelons, strawberries, grapes etc.We have a full time gardener and all the vegetables for the soups comes from our garde
The first few years as predicted were a struggle. Anne Karine and Frank did everything the meditation and yoga, the therapies, maintenance, gardening etc.
We had a cleaning lady who came in only twice a week, and we had to pick her up from the local village. Anne Karine kept her job as an administrative superintendent on a gas rig in the North Sea, and all of her salary went into covering operating expenses and expansion.
Initially we offered many different programs, Fasting, Touch For Health, Yoga, B&B, but we soon came to realize that the one field in which we were unique was our fasting and detox programs. Nobody anywhere in the world offered the package that we did, so we decided to concentrate on this.
As we became better known, and particularly after a few articles in international magazines and popular papers (Marie Clair, Russian Cosmopolitan, The Sunday Times (where we were rated the best spa in the world for yoga) our programs were filling up, and as we soon we had a waiting list we had to expand the programs and employ more staff.
Here is an article written by Judy Fox, (who later went on to became a Sivananda Yoga teacher, TTC India) and published in the Wawe magazine.
Judith Fox heads off to the Algarve to try and lose weight