The first ever Exotic Yoga Retreat was a yoga and wine holiday in Puglia.
“Yoga and, uh, wine?”
When Exotic Yoga Retreats was launched a few years ago, it seemed that everyone I told about it responded with this question — as if yoga and wine did not belong in the same sentence. I expected a ‘Wow!’ or an ‘Oooh, cool!’ Instead, I originally received skepticism.
“Yup,” I would reply. “Yoga and wine — in a fabulous villa, with delicious organic fresh food, interesting conversation, the great outdoors, and all sorts of other amazing things.”
Why did I feel like I was doing something naughty that somehow needed to be justified?
Of course, people attach all kinds of stereotypes to people who practice and teach yoga, and the reflexive raised eyebrow spoke to these. Many people picture baggy pants and dreadlocks, imagine yogis are all vegans and into communal living, or have maybe heard of a few super-skinny celebrities who tout the benefits of green juice. But those are stereotypes — and I wanted to Exotic Yoga Retreats to offer yoga that everyone can enjoy.
As I thought about what kind of people we would be welcoming to our yoga retreats and holidays, the idea of a “healthy hedonist” came to me — the kind of person who enjoys a variety of experiences, takes a relaxed and responsible approach to pleasure, and who cultivates contentment in the beauty of each moment. The word hedonism, after all, comes from the Greek word for pleasure.
“It’s not like we’ll be having some kind of crazy keg party!” I would say. “It is more about truly savoring something that has been produced with care and attention. Think about it. We almost expect yogis to smoke the occasional joint and try other mind-expanding substances. As I see it, there is really no reason why a glass or two of Chateauneuf de Pape should be off-limits, is there? Isn’t yoga about finding the sacred in almost everything, depending on your approach to it?”
From a historical perspective, we know that wine has been used in various sacred traditions, from Greek Dionysian rites through Buddhist tantra and the Christian Mass. So while our retreats offer an experience of wine that is on the secular side of celebration, we like to make each tasting a very special — even sacred — occasion.
At Exotic Yoga Retreats, we encourage our guests to see the world differently. We approach wine as a kind of potion with nutritional, medicinal and mood-enhancing properties.
As such, we thought we would share a few tips on enjoying the magic of wine. We hope these help you reconnect with your time on one of our yoga and wine holidays — or give you a small taste of what it is like to enjoy wine mindfully on one of our retreats.
Get to know a little about your wine, its ingredients and history. Discover wine from different countries and regions, and learn what gives each one its unique color, flavor and texture. When you sip your Chianti, for example, you might conjure a vision of a Tuscan hillside bathed in Italian sunshine. Consider the generations of wisdom that are passed down through each batch of wine and its specific length of time in a barrel or cask.
Savor every sip. Also, ensure that accompanying food complements, rather than overpowers, its flavors. Take your time, enjoying how the wine feels in your mouth and the warmth as it slides down your throat. In France, it is common for friends to meet for un verre — that single glass of wine that lasts through an entire hour of conversation and laughter, or a little candle-lit flirtation.
Buy the good stuff. If this means spending a little more and drinking a little less, go for it! When you pay closer attention, you will definitely notice the difference, and your body will thank you for it. Practicing yoga tunes us into the subtle energy that flows in and around us — drinking a good quality wine steeped in nature and tradition just feels good.
Make it a ritual. Get an ice bucket for your white wine (and rosé) and a decanter for the red, which generally benefits from some ‘breathing’ time before serving. Heck, you would benefit from taking a few deep breaths before sipping, too! Pour your wine into clear glasses so you can enjoy its color and clarity. Lastly, don’t overfill them — you might be tempted to drink more than you need.
Cheers! And we will hope to share un verre with you on one of our yoga and wine holidays soon.