Want to learn more about what we did during our week retreat in Italy?! Learn about what each day of the retreat entails and gain some knowledge about the beautiful region of Puglia, Italy along the way.
Puglia, a southern region forming the heel of Italy’s “boot,” is known for its whitewashed hill towns, centuries-old farmland and hundreds of kilometers of Mediterranean coastline.
Before we go anywhere that we haven't been before, we may spend days, weeks even months dreaming and envisioning what it may be like. You try and wrap your head around all of the unknown spaces and all of the empty compartments of your mind that will soon be filled with memories of a time and place. When we arrived in Italy, it was one of those moments of, yes this isn't just a vision anymore, this is real. Really real.
At first, I was underwhelmed by Bari. It was overwhelmingly metropolitan and cars and highways filled the landscape. Of course I can't say too much because I only calculated this from my perspective in the taxi on our way to the retreat center in Fasano. I was just hoping that it wouldn't look like that once we arrived.
After a short 35 minute drive from the airport, we arrived just in time for sunset at the Masseria. The exit we got off of brought us into a whole new scenery of Puglia. Layers of olive trees stretch for miles and the cobble stone walls hugged the tight streets leading us to our home away from home for the week.
The entrance to the Masseria was a longer dirt road and the sign sat in a bed of hay, showcasing that yes we were in farm country, and was a gentle expression of the simplicity we would experience there. The gates opened and we entered to what felt like a white washed dream. The grounds were pristinely organized and lit with beautiful large lanterns that illuminated the gardens surrounding the building. Gentle instrumentals were playing in the background, but beyond the music, you could feel the quietness that instilled a sense of serenity I'll never forget.
Masseria San Francesco is a dream in Puglia. A must see. And "must" is an understatement.
We stayed for two nights before the rest of the retreat group arrived and what was one of the most memorable moments we experienced was having a conversation with our beautiful friend and organizer, Angela, one night over dinner and wine. She was this petite young woman who was full of energy, a gigantic metal grin (with braces), who always wore white which was such a representation of her youthful and glowing energy. We sat and discussed our lives and drew the conclusion that, yes we are so similar. Yes, there are things that are hard and there are many lessons to learn, and that the biggest lesson we must all learn is how to love and be loved in return. That night we gifted Angela a Mala Collective bracelet that we bought for everyone on the retreat, which stood for "clarity". Clarity to find the answers she and we are all seeking. Clarity to understand ourselves and what we need. Clarity to move forward and making choices that fulfill us and empower us. Clarity to see who we really are.
This was the perfect introduction to a week of healing and transformation. A week of discovery and learning about ourselves through our practice and through the course work we have developed known as, The Bow Method.
The Bow Method, is a tool, for a self discovery. The course work uses the philosophy of yoga and the chakras to help facilitate a deeper understanding of all different aspects of ourselves. We recognize that we are beings made up of light and darkness and that we are constantly seeking balance of that duality. Darkness is a choice just as finding our light is a choice. Yet we must learn to confront our darkness in order to manage in in our lives and learn to grow from it rather than be dampened by it. Arrow Yoga Retreats are a week of honestly seeing ourselves and empowering ourselves to choose what we truly desire so that we can launch forward into the direction of our dreams.
I'd love to share with you a breakdown of the course work for the week to help many of you have a greater understanding of what to expect on a Arrow Yoga Retreat.
Every retreat has a theme or intention that inspires our work for the week. Jana, is derived from the Roman God, Janus, who was a man depicted with two heads facing in opposite directions. He is known as the God of beginnings and endings,transitions, and change as one face is looking towards the past and the other is looking into the future. He represents the perfect balance between our duality. Also known as the God of Gateways, we thought Jana would be the perfect guide for us as we move forward on our journey of continual growth. He reminded us that as one door closes, another one is always bound to open.
DAY 1 >>Friday<<
Intro + Root Chakra
We gather for the first time and ground down together. Everyone was handed their manuals for the week and we went over what the course work would look like, the itinerary, and also went around in a circle and did an ice breaker.
Our root is our foundation. After a long traveling experience we learn how to feel our bodies again and reclaim our right to be here, present and connected to the earth. It is the most solid energy and enables us to feel safe, solid and supported again. It is where we connect to feeling grounded and at home no matter what soil we might be rooting into.
Day 2 >>Saturday<<
Going with the flow
We get into our bodies and experience the sensations of movement during a fluid and powerful vinyasa practice in the morning. Afterwards we gather and discuss the energy of the sacral which is represented by the energy of our hips. This is where we reclaim our right to feel as the hips are linked the water, we become fluid and move with the tides of our emotions.
We discover what we desire and what brings us pleasure on this day. We recognize what we don't want and many of our choices are driven by those very things. Once we feel the solidity of our root energy, we are then able to feel the joy and fluidity of our sacral energy.
Our activity today was a cooking class. As the sacral energy is also associated with the sensation of taste we thought it would be the perfect way to inspire a new awareness.
Day 3 >>Sunday<<
Our third energy center is associated with the core. It is known as our solar plexus energy that is what drives our personal power, our sense of self, a healthy ego, our ability to act on what we want from the sacral energy.
We added more core work to the vinyasa practice and identified how our core is the engine that fuels our will power. It drives us to move forward and reminds us to know that we are worthy, capable and enough.
Our activity today was visiting nearby villages known as, Ostuni, Alborebello and Polignano a Mare. Three beautiful and unique towns that each offered something completely unique. We set off to Ostuni first, a white walled city that was perched on top of a hill. Full of historic buildings and narrow walkways that spilled out onto terraces equipped with stunning panoramic views of the country side and sea. Alberobello was a 30 minute drive from Ostuni, inland and northbound that was full of ancient Trulli houses. Trulli houses is a traditional Apuglian dry stone hut with a conical roof. This town was full of restaurants and numerous trinket shops. If you saw one touristy store, you honestly saw them all. Our third and final stop was in Polignano a Mare. A beautiful seaside village that is post card worthy. We stopped here to walk around and grab some lunch in one of the main squares. It is very easy to see most of the town in a short time, yet can be difficult to navigate through the maze of buildings and walkways. The most stunning view is the beach that sits in between these gigantic rock formations. Everyone stopped to take a picture here.
Day 4 >>Monday<<
Heart day is always a little heavier because we move beyond the density of our lower energy and move our way up to the center of our energy system. The heart is where we discover love, compassion, empathy. It also the place where we feel rejected, judgement, grief and heartache. After a heart opening flow we move into the course work that involves writing love letters to ourselves and sharing things we love about one another.
Our activity today was self care for majority of the day. Later that night we went to Masseria where we had a gourmet dinner paired with wines that were chosen by a brilliant sommelier. As an aphrodisiac, the wine and seafood were meant to instill some warm feelings of love and of course gathering around the table together fosters deeper connections with one another. It is at this point in the week where I do find everyone feels closer and the conversations become more personal. It is beautiful to witness the way everyone can support one another and inspire understanding and healing in ways even when they don't realize they are at a simple dinner. This night was lovely under the beautiful starlit sky.
Day 5 >>Tuesday<<
The heaviest of all days. When our root, sacral, core and our hearts come spilling out of our throat. Today we must share what we have been holding back on. This is the day we get real. It is always the hardest day for me to facilitate and also the day that provokes the most transformation. As the throat energy is where we communicate our inner world with our outer work. Things get personal. It is the place that can most easily be closed off as we are fearful of what we may say might stir up the energy of the rest of our system. This is how we express ourselves in a healthy way. We say what we need to say in order to clear out and move forward. We recognize that our thoughts are also words trapped in our minds and dictating our every move. Once we become aware of that, we recognize the power we have to choose something different.
Today we enjoyed long day biking through vineyards, olive oil mills, a dairy farm where we saw burrata being made, cruised along the coast and enjoyed lunch in a quiet fishing village just 15 minutes from our Masseria.
Day 6 >>Wednesday<<
Trusting our intuition
Today we practiced another invigorating flow to wake us up in the morning. The practice included ajna (third eye) energy postures to help restore balance to our energy. We were inspired to reclaim our right to see and learned that there is vision we see beyond the physical eyes. We have the beautiful capacity to remember, to see images and reels of the past and we also have the same power to envision a future and all of the magnificent things we want to create. The goal is to find a balance between envisioning and getting stuck in illusion. Illusion can be a trap in that we build expectations and guidelines which limits possibility. We must learn to be open to the end result but also have enough clarity and awareness to be able to create goals and ideas of the future that we can work towards.
We spent the morning meditating on visions of our future ten years from today. We wrote down our 10 year plan, our 5 year plan and our 1 year plan. This can be challenging for those who have never practiced this before but it is an amazing opportunity to start thinking about all of the amazing things that we want and create a tangible plan that holds us accountable to making it a reality.
Today we enjoyed an interesting cave experience that expanded our vision and enabled us to witness the world from this underground perspective. Afterwards we enjoyed a fun dinner Monopoli which is my favorite place in Puglia.
Day 7 >>Thursday<<
Connection + Fall Equinox
This is the day where we put it all together. The crown chakra is facilitated by the brain, our place of understanding and the place of consciousness. This is where we put everything that we've learned together and put meaning to it. Our mind is what enables us to connect to others, the world and the universe. It is also the place where we begin to witness that we are apart of something greater than ourselves. We learn from this energy that we are not separate beings and that there a great power that exists that we all supported by and connected to.
This mornings practice was restorative and guided everyone to see the connection of all that they've learned through out the week. Our past, present and future as well as our minds, bodies and spirits are all connected. We drew our awareness to restoring balance and feeling whole and complete in where we are.
Later that evening we practiced 108 sun salutations on a 15th century farm house that Masseria San Francesco also owns and is in the process of restoring. I feel so lucky and grateful that we were able to utilize this space to practice together for our last time in Italy.
Why 108? 108 represents a total number. A number of divine completion according to the great sages . 1 and 0 are representative of duality and the 8 symbolizes the infinite nature of all things. Those two opposing forces create the perfect balance. Change and growth is constant and this is just one of the many reasons I love doing 108 sun salutations for the change of the seasons. As we are nature, I love using the change of seasons as the time to do these retreats, to remind ourselves check in and reflect, discover and create a vision for moving forward. We move through cycles and it's imperative that we acknowledge our connection to ourselves, our bodies, our families and friends, and our world.
So we flowed, and we moved our bodies in rhythm with one another. With the wind wrestling with our mats and the view of the Adriatic, we celebrated through practice and said goodbye to the beautiful country that hosted us and filled our hearts with so much joy and our bellies with so many carbs.
Fall Equinox Party!
We danced the night away with a live traditional Apuglian band a dancers. We ate and drank and laughed and maybe cried. We set white balloons with sparklers attached free in the wind that carried our intentions with them to be manifested in the coming days and years of our lives.
Well that's a wrap. Thank you for checking in and getting to know what we experienced on our trip to Italia this Fall Equinox retreat. We hope that this gave you a greater idea of what to expect on one of Arrow Retreats. Continue to stay updated on what we're up to, both in the states and around the world.
Grazie! Ciao ciao ciao ciao!