Preparing for an Ayahuasca Retreat - Blog

Preparing for an Ayahuasca Ceremony

Preparing for an Ayahuasca ceremony before attending a Retreat is very important. We want to show up as clean, ready vessels in order to meet the Spirit of Ayahuasca, so she can have the best impact on our healing process.

 Physical Preparation

For the physical preparation, most shamans suggest following a strict diet before and after drinking Ayahuasca. Our typical diets are usually cluttered with processed foods, junk, stimulants, alcohol, heavy meats, sugar, oils, and salt. If you did not cleanse your body beforehand, the first thing Ayahuasca would do is to try to help your body rid itself of all of these toxins by purging. Although you still may purge even if you do cleanse your body beforehand, is it best to get a jumpstart on the cleansing process, so we can work with Ayahuasca more efficiently and jump right into the juicy stuff that is blocking us (“the fun stuff”).Ayahuasca (Banistriopsis caapi)  is an MAOi, which means it temporarily inhibits the activation of monoamine oxidase enzymes. These enzymes are responsible for breaking down the neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin in the brain and the amino acid tyramine in the gut. Therefore as part of your preparations before your plant medicine ceremony, it is important to avoid foods that contain a high quantity of tyramine:

Pork, red meat, fermented food, aged cheese, yogurt, alcohol, chocolate (in large amounts), and Peanuts (in large amounts). It’s also recommended to avoid salt, refined sugar, oily food, spicy food, dairy, and caffeine.


SHAMAN. Native man with drum.Drummer sitting in the forest.Near him are grizzly bear and eagle,also indian fireplace.Freehand sketching,line drawing.Hand drawn vector illustration.Line art technique.

Physical Contraindications

Any medications that contains MOA inhibitors are known to cause dangerous side effects in conjunction with ayahuasca. Medications that have an effect on the serotonin in the brain such as SSRIs (usually prescribed for antidepressant and treating anxiety) can cause serotonin toxicities and sometimes even death when mixed with Ayahuasca. For an extended list please review our terms and condition page. These medications must not be in use at least 2 weeks before attending an Ayahuasca ceremony at Vikara. People with heart conditions, epilepsy, diabetes, or hepatic conditions must first consult with us and provide more information about your health condition in order to determine if it is safe for you to participate. For your own safety, if you have a heart condition or chronic high blood pressure we cannot allow you to participate in our plant medicine retreat.

Marijuana is a healing plant. It takes lots of mental space. So does Ayahuasca. Smoking marijuana before Ayahausca ceremony is not advisable. It has the tendency to amplify the experience, but can create a foggy and  uncomfortable experience. Ayahuasca likes it when we give her our full attention. Yes there are certain other plants sometimes used in a “dieta” in Peru in conjunction with ayahuasca , but there is an intention behind it. Usually heavy users of marijuana, are not aware of why they are using it. This can actually be an opportunity to understand your habits.

Abstinence Before Ceremony

Much of what you’ll read on the internet recommends that you abstain from sexual activity before and after Plant Medicine ceremonies. We have lots of guests, especially partners coming together to the retreat, that are particularly concerned about this restraint. The idea behind abstinence is to retain your vital energy so that the medicine’s impact is more powerful and longer-lasting. In essence, the cleaner your energy field, the more potent your medicine will be. Personally, I think that each case is different. The idea of avoiding sexual contact completely is aimed for someone who is on an intensive spiritual path to become a shaman (many of whom fail because of this part). For partners who are coming to a retreat together to bond in a sacred way, I personally think you can use your own judgment. Whatever you choose, don’t be hard on yourself if you aren’t perfectly abstinent – it’s not the end of the world. Remember, the ceremony is largely what you decide to make of it. Respect your intuition and do what feels right.

Mental and Spiritual Preparation

Mental and spiritual preparation are just as important as the physical preparation!

In order to start training your mental state, we recommend starting or continuing your meditation practice. Breath work is also a wonderful tool for mental preparation.

Sitting daily for 2 weeks before arrival in meditation or contemplation, even if it’s just for 5 minutes a day, is a really good way to prepare yourself. We highly recommend giving yoga a try or deepen your practice in order to get familiar with asanas and breathing techniques. Attention to your breath is crucial during the ceremonies- in fact it is a very important part of surrendering to the healing process.

We always recommend to come to a retreat with a clear intention. The clearer you are on your purpose for the medicine, the likelier you are to receive your answers.

Preparing for an Ayahuasca ceremony, you turn your body and mind to be in the best possible position to receive the teachings of Ayahuasca.  You become ready to meet yourself in your highest truth.

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