Reading the Body Retreat in the Swiss Alps

Toby Brothers and Ann Moradian join forces once again, with Reading the Body, an embodied five-day literary retreat in the idyllic setting of Kandersteg in the Bernese Oberland region of Switzerland.

This retreat will be enjoyable for anyone looking to immerse in nature, great writing and deep connection to the moving body. An extraordinary escape that includes room, board and a full program of activities. (Swimming optional.)

Nourish your body with healthy, delicious and authentic Swiss and vegetarian dishes. The magical surrounding of this Alpine environment will inspire and amaze you. During free time, go on a hike, cycle around the lake or escape into your own lovely solitude.

Ann and Toby have each been exploring in their work the movement from personal understanding to connection and global engagement. They have designed this retreat to further their mind and body work towards a deeper understanding and experience of our shared relationship with the natural world.


Reading the Body Retreat: Mind & Body Interplay

Providing the material for a play that drives further into the self with the intention of greater understanding of and connection to the world we inhabit…

Ann and Toby have both developed approaches to probing the understanding of the self in the world. Ann’s work uses the body as a space of exploration & understanding, while Toby employs literature as a platform for discovery.

Each day will include two sessions of yoga and embodied physical work & two sessions of literature study. This will leave several hours in the afternoon for down time: explore the local area, rest and resource, do some reading, swimming, hiking, stretching.

Toby has chosen the literature to resonate with Ann’s desire to understand and deepen our individual relationship with the earth. Ann has identified a strong correlation between how we relate to our bodies and how we interact with each other and the planet. Our hope is to dive into this experience as a way to reconnect with our own deepest values, wisdom and being, to look honestly at what works for us in our lives and in our being, and what asks for clarification, refining or outright change.

In addition to a 2-hour yoga class each day, along with more free-form physical explorations based on Ann’s work in dance, the martial arts and energy work, we will spend four hours considering representative writing by the American transcendentalists, Thoreau and Emerson. The philosophical inquiries of these writers re-imagined the individual’s relationship to society and the natural world. Our self-reflection through our physical practice will parallel this process of questioning. Thoreau in his Walden Pond experiment sought to strip away the influences of society so as to more fully and deeply connect to his divine nature—not as an end in and of itself but towards greater clarity so to return to society wide awake. This is a question we set ourselves in this retreat, through the literary, the discursive and the embodied physical.

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms…”  — Henry David Thoreau

We will turn from the Transcendentalist writings to the incredible work of Marilynne Robinson. Her sublime novel, Housekeeping, explores the journey of two women who depart from societal norms in a broken and transcendent journey that overturns assumptions about home, parenting and healing.

Toby’s approach to the literature, as developed in her years of running literary salons, offers unique and inclusive discussion-based studies—weaving the ideas of participants with questions the writings raise about what it is to be human. You will be asked to read approx. 12 pages of Thoreau & Emerson and to complete the short novel, Housekeeping for the study.  The Salon offers support for all ideas & questions in response to the literature—the work has been described as a lively journey together into the depth of ideas and words.

Ann’s approach to yoga and embodied movement exploration allows anyone, and any body to work at their own rhythm, allowing the body itself to serve the role of primary guide and wise teacher as we learn to listen to, speak and act with our full and embodied being. With over 30 years of experience teaching, Ann’s approaches are influence by her work in dance, yoga, choreography, improvisation and the martial arts and her work has often been described as gentle, deep, empowering and transformative.

** Ann & Toby have worked hard to find a place that offers immersion in the natural world, relative ease of access, comfortable accommodations, space for both the mind & body studies AND is not cost-prohibitive. We are excited to announce that the International Retreat Centre at Kandersteg is able to accommodate us for these dates– in the heart of the Swiss Alps, this site offers wild spaces and mountains to explore, pristine lakes for immersion and a traditional village for an inspiring reflective space. We are really excited to play in the heart of these awe-inspiring mountains.

If you would like to request this study or have any questions about it, please contact us.



Posted on

February 22, 2018