Our Italy Yoga Retreat last summer was so wonderful, we decided to do it again this spring and it was just as magical as the first time around. I thought I'd share some highlights with you all.
Our venue in this part of the world is a family-run boutique hotel nestled on the side of the mountains near the Dolomites. It features breathtaking vineyard and mountain views, and is the perfect location because it's quiet and secluded yet the bustling little town is just a short walk away.
We had the perfect sized group of ten yogis from all over - Seattle, New Jersey, Boston, Italy - and they were so much fun to spend the week with. I love this size because it is just big enough that smaller groups will break off and do their own thing during the free time, but it is also small enough that I feel like I can connect with each person throughout the week.
We started each morning with a yoga practice. I pulled themes from my book Namaslay to create unique yoga workshops that aimed to arm students with tools to continue to grow their practice. We had a blindfold yoga class, two strength building arm balance classes, a no-mat creative flow class, and a banana SPLIT class (working on splits). The no-mat creative flow class was inspired from the constant requests I get to create YouTube videos teaching my personal practice flows like this. I can't film this style because my space isn't big enough, but I thought I'd give it a try teaching a live class this way. It was...interesting. I had the poor students rolling and twisting and doing some weird yoga choreography, but it was a lot of fun.
Related: Strength building arm balance classes are available for purchase under the Intermediate Bundle.
Mmm...breakfast out on the sunny terrace! That may or may not be a #mimosa. 🍳🥓🍞🍊🍾🥂🙌🙏🇮🇹 #vacation #italy #bolzano #yoga #meditation #yogaretreat #fitness #healthandwellness #alittlerandr #selfcare #selfcarerocks #YBCretreat #YBCitaly #yogabycandace #2017travels #KBtravels #instatravel #igtravels #traveldiaries #adventure #breakfast #perfectweather #pinchme #grateful #itsagood
After morning class, we'd eat breakfast together and our hotel had a bangin' breakfast, so that was always one of the high points of my days. There were fresh juices, mimosas if you fancied them, authentic Italian coffee, just-baked pastries and bread from the local bakery, yogurts, cheese, fruit, eggs, homemade jams - ugh, it was the best!
I kept the afternoons open so people could choose whether they wanted to lay low (the weather was perfection, so you could lay out and sunbathe comfortably), or go exploring (I organized a wine tasting for the group and a trip to a local lake with trails for hiking).
We'd meet again as a group in the early evenings for another practice - usually something like a slow flow or a hatha restorative class because after a long day of trekking around the city, it was nice to just go easy in class.
After class, we'd shower up and meet again for dinner. Dinner at our hotel, like breakfast, was no joke. Each dinner was a traditional five course meal and everyone agreed they were incredible. I don't think there was even one dish that we didn't love. We're talking handmade pasta, fresh, local cheeses and breads, and decadent desserts. It was next level yummmm.
One of my favorite parts of the retreat was something I'd never done before - private one to one consults. During one of our last retreats it was something that was requested when we asked for feedback so I figured I'd offer them this time around and they were so amazing! They were only 30 minutes each but in that thirty minutes, I was able to identify areas of improvement and make suggestions for tips and tricks for people who were focused on achieving specific poses. One retreat goer was so terrified of handstands, but she had the strength to hold herself up. She was really beating herself up about it and I had to give her a little pep talk (which made us both cry), and then out of no where she did it! There was much celebration and jumping up and down! So much fun and I'll definitely be offering that up in the future because I really think it makes such a huge difference for people looking to deepen their practice.
I really just love this location so much for a retreat, and will be doing more in the future here, so stay tuned. In the meantime, I'll leave you with a few more shots from the trip and some testimonials below. And if you're interested in attending a YBC retreat, we have space at our Greece Yoga Retreat this summer and a new, long weekend retreat is going to be announced this week, so keep your eyes peeled!
And just like that, the #spontaneous yoga retreat trip to Italy is over. One of the best weeks ever! That land behind me, though, might be the perfect spot for KB's new health and wellness center. #justsayin 📸: @anita.fashionista 🇮🇹🙌✔️ #vacation #italy #bolzano #yoga #meditation #yogaretreat #fitness #healthandwellness #alittlerandr #selfcare #selfcarerocks #YBCretreat #YBCitaly #yogabycandace #2017travels #KBtravels #instatravel #igtravels #traveldiaries #adventure #itsayoga #itsagood
From KB of Boston:
This was my first solo yoga retreat and while I'm not new to fitness (I switched to a Paleo-ish diet about 4 years ago and focus on Lagree and dance/barre practice), I am new to yoga and Candace. I have to say that this was one of my BEST trips ever! The whole experience was a joy right from the beginning with help from Candace's team answering any question I had, to being welcomed with a sweet hand-written note from Candace upon check-in at the hotel, to the warm, positive, and welcoming environment Candace created from the very beginning. She won me over in several ways: 1) When I first stepped into the studio room for our first class, she ran over to greet me with a huge, welcoming hug (I'm a sucker for hugs.), 2) By setting the ground rules at that first yoga class by advising that we could attend as many - or as few - of the classes the we wanted because this was OUR time; and that could even just lie down in Savasana for each class if that's what we needed at that moment (ahh - calming relief from any pressure), and, 3) By clearly preparing and thinking through in advance our sessions - there was a theme with appropriately coordinating music, quotes, stories, and even life advice! I thoroughly enjoyed each and every thoughtful detail she planned out. What a treat!
You could tell immediately that Candace has a teaching background and experience - she was (and is) an absolute professional. I had so much FUN and was surprised and pleased with what I was able to do for many of the more advanced moves. Further, the fellow retreat members were fantastic! So fun, positive, and inclusive - no arrogance or snootiness (which I have sadly personally experienced from some other yoga studios); lots of opportunities to go on excursions with others but zero judgement from anyone if you wanted to hang back at the hotel and sleep, read, or just re-energize on your own. You just sort of came and went based on whatever your desires were that day - it was so freeing, blissful, and relaxing. Further, Candace is super friendly, open, and honest - just refreshingly nice and authentic. She was generous with her time to share stories and answer all of the questions the group zinged at her at every breakfast and dinner meal. Between Candace and the group, my faith in humanity was restored and I'm motivated to add more yoga practice to my fitness mix!
It didn't hurt that we were in the middle of gorgeous Italy, in a luxury hotel, with delicious four-course meals each night and homemade pasta, gelato, and delicious cappuccinos at our disposal during the day wherever we went during our free time excursions. Honestly, it felt like we were royalty. I felt very safe during my travels to and from Italy as well as in Italy itself - if I had one complaint, it is very minor in that the Wi-Fi was a bit slow but the reality there is that you're in the middle of some pretty steep mountains and really, in the end, isn't that just another sign that Italy is the perfect place to slow down, get off the technology, and just be present and enjoy your surroundings? It was such a terrific week and I have zero regrets - if you're thinking about doing a YBC retreat, go for it!
From Lizz, from Maryland
When I signed up for my place in the Bolzano yoga retreat, I was extremely excited. Although, a part of me was slightly anxious about traveling across the world and spending a week with complete strangers. I thought maybe I should wait and do it next year, but if I kept thinking like that I was going to continue to postpone the trip, without realizing it, and most likely never go. I took action and started making arrangements. It was easier than I thought. Strangers at the time, the group of us started sending emails to one another to discuss flights and trains, which answered my questions on transportation. I used their guidance to plan and arrive to Bolzano, Italy, the first day of the retreat.
On the first day of the retreat my nerves surfaced about meeting the group in person. Looking back, I wish my future self could have told me not to worry. Soon these strangers would become my great friends. After our first dinner I was already at ease with our group. Everyone ranged in age and zip codes, but we all shared our love towards yoga and Candace (lol). We all took our yoga classes together, ate breakfast (I still miss the cappuccinos) and ate our five course dinners together. Oh, wow, was the food delizioso!! During the day we had freedom to explore the city, and we all would either go together or in smaller groups, depending on what everyone wanted to do. Candace was so sweet to guide us where to go and even arrange our trips for us. We went hiking around the lake, explored downtown Bolzano, went up to the top of the mountain and even went to the beautiful town of Sopra Bolzano. Bolzano was a beautiful and relaxing town. The hotel was family run and the entire staff made us feel at home.
Spending time together was easy and I felt comfortable. Everyone was kind, inclusive and supportive. During our inversion workshops, I felt inspired by Candace. I have never done a handstand or forearm stand before and she walked me through it and I was able to successfully do it, even if it was only a few seconds. Candace’s yoga classes were of course, amazing. Her soothing voice made her classes calming and flow easily. She gave great and unique descriptive cues and sequences. Candace was very approachable, attentive, kind hearted, sweet and down to earth. She ate meals and took pictures with us and signed our Namasley books. I kept having to pinch myself that I was really taking a class with her in person. I was on cloud nine the entire time. I got to deepen my practice and learn new tips about many postures, especially inversions.
At the end of the trip I did not want to leave. There were tears shed, but like Dr. Suess says, “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” This retreat was such an incredible decision. I am so thankful that I got to practice yoga with my yoga idol Candace, explore a beautiful and peaceful mountain city and make great memories and lifelong friends :)
If you're on the fence about attending a yoga retreat, all I can tell you is this: get up and go. The environment is like nothing I've experienced with any studio or instructor before - a mix of being completely comfortable with where you are in your practice, with the encouragement to push yourself to try new things. It's a completely judgment-free zone; everyone in the room supported and encouraged each other. There was a refreshing lack of self-consciousness in the room; we innately understood that we were here to play and learn, not compare ourselves or be "better than" anyone else. There are no expectations for you to be a rockstar yogi - whether you're a seasoned pro or just started yesterday, you'll feel comfortable on a retreat and won't feel like you have to be further along than you are. Our group had individuals who had been practicing for years and some who were brand new to the practice, some who knew how to do advanced poses and some just trying them out for the first time, but everyone felt safe and comfortable trying new things because of Candace's careful instruction and eye for detailed assists. Every single person in that room experienced tremendous growth that week, more quickly and more significant than you could experience on your own or in a packed studio. This experience was not unique to just our retreat, either - these are the kinds of amazing people that Candace's retreats attract. (And if you're like me and find yourself super anxious meeting new people, don't sweat it. These are some of the most down-to-earth, friendly, and fun people you'll ever meet.) I promise you'll walk away from a retreat with a few new poses under your belt, more tips and tricks for perfecting your practice than you thought imaginable, and a group of phenomenal people you now consider your friends.