Tuscany is famed for its hedonistic pleasures. It has rich cultural heritage in arts, food, architecture, and rolling countryside vistas. To some, the idea of hosting a yoga retreat or holiday in Tuscany might seem disconnected from the typical Tuscan offerings, and it may not be on your conventional yoga retreat location list. After extensive travel, location scouting and time spent in Tuscany, we believe otherwise! Exotic Yoga Retreats has been taking happy yoga travellers to Tuscany for many years, and we keep on returning for more!
Here are 5 reasons why we believe Tuscany should be the location for your 2019 European summer yoga getaway:
Vit-D fix: Sunshine!
Tuscany is bathed in sunshine for much of the summer. Many of us have a deficiency of sunshine’s nutrient gift; Vitamin D. Reasons for this can be due to working in an office all day, living in the northern hemisphere with long dark winters, having metabolic disorders or anaemia that stops sufficient absorption of nutrients, or simply not privileging the time to get outside more. This lack in Vitamin D can severely affect our immunity levels and bone health, as well as our mental stability. Numerous medical studies have found compelling evidence of the direct link between time in the sun and mental wellbeing. We do not need medical experts to tell us, however, that sunshine is nature’s happiness! This is age-old, simple and intuitive. The Tuscan sun and a fruitful daily yoga practice are a perfect partnership – both working on simple, intuitive and natural methods to enhance wellbeing.
Organic, fresh produce
Once you have been doused in Vitamin D and feel-good rays, it’s time to nourish the soul. What better way to do than through vital fresh produce? Tuscan cuisine is not only delicious, as we know, it is also strongly rooted in the concept of a diet being based on whole foods, that are locally-sourced, seasonal and balanced. Tuscan cuisine invites us to care about how food is sourced and prepared. It invites us to forget the now outdated notions of ‘slimming diets’ and ‘calorie counters’, and rather embrace a sustainable relationship with food and ourselves. This is also one of the most important lessons of yoga – to embrace your body, health and tendencies as they are, and to work with them for optimum living, rather than to work against them, or try to force oneself into a mould of right / wrong. As there is no ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’ ingredients in a balanced Tuscan diet, so we learn that there are no ‘wrong’ aspects of yourself or your body, as you move deeper into your yoga practice.
A Tuscan summer is spacious. There is time to savour food, wine, nature, arts and relaxation. Tuscan locals are famously friendly and approachable. Why? Well, apart from a cultural tendency to love a good natter with friends old and new, it may because they have the time to be! When last were you able to really fruitfully engage in a conversation with someone without wondering to yourself about the next thing on your ‘to-do’ list to complete before the close of the day? When last did you sit down for a coffee or meal and not check your mobile phone for email notifications and missed-calls from a colleague or boss? Well, this is the everyday in Tuscany. This is also one of the central lessons of yoga practice; to be able to move through life with poise and mindfulness. There is no chance of cultivating presence if you feel time-pressured and rushed. Mindful living is living in spaciousness, where it feels OK to observe time, to listen carefully, to not always rush ‘to do something’ – life in Tuscany!
A feast for the eyes
Beauty as it arises before the eyes draws us to feel a greater spiritual connection, whatever our personal notion of what spirituality may be. The beauty of the Tuscan countryside is awe-inspiring. Such beauty moves us deeply, and softens even the most hardened and exhausted of hearts. As in a fruitful and regular yoga practice, we are brought to appreciate the glorious gift of life. More than just the countryside vistas, Tuscany offers three stunning city centres – Florence, Sienna and Pisa. All are renowned for their architectural beauty, and Florence in particular is known as the most important city in the world to view Renaissance art. The relatively convenient proximity of these centres to countryside villas ensures that you have the opportunity to taste the majesty of Italian art and history, without being weighed-down by the buzz and smoke of a frantic urban centre.
Connection and communion
Tuscany is considered to be the root of culture, history and cuisine in Italy, and yet there is nothing pretentious about Tuscan people. The abundance of life here is overflowing and the generosity of spirit of locals matches this. When you are greeted in Tuscany it is usually with warmth and sincerity. When a farmer insists you taste his latest press of extra virgin olive oil, it is not to show off, but rather to share with. This communion and kinship is the greatest gift of all the bounty in Tuscany. Indeed, the word ‘yoga’ means communion – the yoke of life, and the practice of yoga is to learn to collect all dislocated aspects of yourself, body, mind and soul, and to bring them together again. Through yoga we rebuild ourselves as whole beings.
Discover your wholeness, and bask in the bounty of Tuscany this summer!
Exotic Yoga Retreats has TWO gorgeous Tuscan villa locations for you to savour this summer: