Interview with Silvia Mordini and Jacob Young

Cyber Interview Courtesy of our Friends at Xinalani Retreat, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Silvia Mordini and Jacob Young, owners of Alchemy Tours, are busy getting ready to escape the wintry Chicago-land area for a luscious tropical escape to Xinalani Retreat in sunny Mexico. In between planning workshops, classes, and music play-lists, we were able to conduct a cyber-interview with them so you can learn more about this world traveling couple and the amazing upcoming retreatthey have planned.

Xinalani: Where did the idea and name for Alchemy Tours come from?

Jacob: It really branched from two things. 1) One of our favorite books is The Alchemist. With that as the somewhat obvious backdrop, it made sense that the alchemy of Silvia’s and my background would blend to create a sort of super trip for people unlike others out there. The yoga and active travel vacation being the alchemy that turns to gold.

Xinalani: How did the two of you meet?

Jacob: We met on a train in Italy…yes, it was one of those romantic things you read about in books, and yes, we get asked every trip about it. Perhaps that is one of the incentives for coming on one of our trips?

Silvia: The way Jacob tells the story makes everyone cry every single time. It was exactly as Rumi writes, “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” In that moment of meeting I was returning from a Yoga Retreat in Tuscany where I had found much healing and growth. I had ever more fully let go of the barriers to loving myself. I was truly awake and more openhearted than ever before. And that is when Jacob found me.

Xinalani: What came first your love of travel or movement (yoga, cycling, hiking)?

Jacob: Certainly, for me, it was the movement that came first. Growing up in small-town New Hampshire was not confining to me, because it was all I knew. But from the moment I learned to ride on two wheels, I was gone. I stretched my boundaries constantly, and when I moved across the country my senior year of High School, I became aware of a bigger place around me. Living in Europe the past 8 years (Italy, France, the Netherlands, Spain) and guiding in those regions really expanded upon that.

Silvia: For me it would be travel although from an early age my parents tell me I could ski before I could walk, I danced formally and for the pleasure of it, and I was always doing something active Tennis, Swimteam, Biking, Hiking, Running. But even so travel was my greater influence and first love. My Father, Enrico, was at heart a pure adventurer and my Mother’s parents were serious spiritual seekers.

I grew up traveling all over the world with my brother and parents from the time I was an infant. I guess the fact that I love to show other people the beauty of the world through Yoga Retreats and Active Vacations shouldn’t surprise anyone since I was born in Ecuador, South America and my Father is from Northern Italy near Modena, and English was my third language.

One could say being a citizen of the world is in my blood. And I learned from my Father, this spirit of Don Quixote, Man of La Mancha, to dream the impossible. I saw with my own eyes, touched and tasted new flavors, experienced new landscapes and as a result I learned about myself. Every time I traveled somewhere I came back different, I was changed and knew that anything was possible.

Xinalani: What is your favorite part about going on retreat?

Jacob: Getting past the small talk and really getting to know people. Then, sharing with them the best parts of this new region they are visiting is fulfilling in a very unique way.
Silvia: I am always humbled by the ways our small tribes of Alchemy Tours grow fond of one another and unconditionally supportive of each other’s growth. In the corporate world we used to talk about teaming together, but you wouldn’t often really see it. Experiencing the loving group dynamic gives me great hope that little by little all people everywhere will one day be able to share this same yoga, or union of spirit and respect.

Xinalani: Describe one of the funniest adventures you’ve had on one of your trips?

Silvia: You will find us always laughing on our trips. When people feel safe and nurtured they are their funniest selves!

Xinalani: How do you see people changed by going on retreat?

Jacob: Without fail, people change after our retreats. Mark Twain sums it up when he says, “The enemy of prejudice is travel.” People learn more about themselves, and the yoga that Silvia teaches while on retreat is her to the max. If you have never experienced a Silvia class, you are in for a treat.

Xinalani: Describe a perfect day at home and then on retreat?

Jacob: A perfect day at home is waking up and enjoying a neighborhood run or a group ride. Coming home to relish in a relaxing brunch. Heading down to the farmer’s market to dream up an elaborate dinner, then going home to cook and enjoy quality time with those I love. On retreat, my perfect day is showing a group of people my favorite place in a given region…I am blessed to do this regularly.

Xinalani: When did you last have the most fun?

Silvia: Today. Without a doubt, I wake up and say to myself and all those around me “this is the best day ever”. And it is. I can make fun out of anything and anywhere, even chair pose or going up a crazy steep climb on two wheels.

Xinalani: What do you do when not guiding or leading a retreat?

Silvia: I own a successful yoga studio in Chicagoland Total Body Yoga, named the best Yoga Studio of 2010. We have over 50 weekly classes and a team of 15 teachers in 3,900 square feet of wellness space and have happily welcomed over 8,000 students in 8 years. And as a studio owner I have always been a full-time yoga teacher as well. And most of all, when not on retreat I dive deep into being the best student of yoga. I take daily classes and live by the words of Michelangelo when he was in his nineties, “Ancora Imparo” (I am still learning.) However my greatest joy when not guiding others comes from being a good friend, partner, lover, daughter, sister and one day a mom too.

Xinalani: How important is music in your life? What music do you play in yoga class?

Jacob: Music for me is life. I love music because it can not only infuse emotion to a situation but can also be a very powerful tool and motivator.
Silvia: My life is constantly flowing with a soundtrack. My yoga has a soundtrack too. I take great pride in putting together a gourmet experience of sound in creating a new and unique play-list for every class to complement the mood, the time of year, day, bhava (feeling) of the experience. And I love receiving and sharing new music with friends!

Here are two play-lists I just created for our Xinalani Retreat.

Om Shreem Shriyei, Steve Gold
Count Your Blessings, Nas & Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley
The Ave, Blue Scholars
POWER, Kanye West
Miss Teardrops, Felix Laband
Govinda Fly, Sharon Gannon (Mixed By Mike D)
Alors On Danse, Stromae
Trapped In My Mind, Kid Cudi
Motion Movement, Blue Scholars
What a Feeling, Collie Buddz
Meditate, (feat. Gabriel Teodros & Khingz) Suntonio Bandanaz
Hey Baby, Stephen Marley featuring Mos Def
Afterlife, Glorybox

Flip Ya Lid, Nightmares On Wax
Under Pressure, Queen & David Bowie
Diarabi, Issa Bagayogo
Mamacita, Collie Buddz
Clothes Drop, Shaggy
Breathe, Stretch, Shake, Mase
Breathe, Alexi Murdoch
Twist, Xavier Rudd
Jamaican In New York, Shinehead
The End, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
Drive, Ziggy Marley
Enchantment, Corinne Bailey Rae
Something So Right, Paul Simon
Purnamadah, Shantala
Shavasana/Deep Relaxation, Shiva Rea

Xinalani: How did you first hear about Xinalani Retreat in Mexico, and why did you choose Xinalani for your retreat?

Silvia: I have been traveling to Puerto Vallarta with my parents and brother since I was a little girl. I love it there! I find the energy of the people and the place so deeply generous that when Yoga Journal named Xinalani one of the top 10 yoga retreat centers in the world I knew I had to bring folks there. I saw myself doing something like this in Puerto Vallarta in a dream many years ago. And now the dream is coming true!

Xinalani: Where do you go next? What comes next for Alchemy Tours?

Silvia: We have 11 retreats planned for this year. Our schedule is:
April 2-5, 2011 Pagosa Springs, Colorado – Yoga, Skiing and Snowboarding
April 16, -19, 2011 Moab, Utah – Arches National Park Yoga and Mountain Biking
June 19-25, 2011 Tuscany, Italy – Yoga, Cycling and Cultural Adventure
July 2-9, 2011 Dolomites, Italy (Sellaronda Bike Day is 7/3/2011) Yoga, Hiking and Cycling
August 4-7, 2011 Seattle, Washington Wallace Lodge – Yoga, Beers and Bikes
Oct 16-22, 2011 Tuscany, Italy – Yoga, Cycling and Cultural Adventure
Oct 28-31, 2011 Moab, Utah – Canyonland National Park Yoga and Mountain Biking
Sept 2-5, 2011 Sonoma, California – Yoga, Wine & Cycling
Nov 24-28, 2011 Sayulita, Mexico Yoga & Surfing Retreat at Haramara Resort
Dec 18-23, 2011 Big Island, Hawaii, Yoga, Kayaking and Cycling

We hope to meet new friends at one of our upcoming retreats!

Join us on Facebook at

Salt Water Heals Anything

“The cure for anything is salt water – sweat, tears, or the sea.”
–Isak Dinesen

February 8, 2011.  I have found great healing both on and off the yoga mat, on a bike,  trail running both sweating and crying at the same time.  Maybe that makes the cure of salt water even more efficient? I find the same benefits from sweat and tears as a I do when I visit the ocean.

There is something that transforms itself from the inside out.  I leave the sea feeling cleansed and ever more hopeful.  I would love for you to have this same healing experienced.  Come experience the cure of 7 days of yoga, living looking out at the sea, playing in the water, walking the sandy beaches at Xinalani February 26 – March 5, 2011.

Your time is now to promote your own healing. There is no good that comes from postponing the cure and I speak of this from experience. With no regrets, just a suggestion I wish I would have followed sooner, invest in your own healing. The cure is always within your power to choose! Love yourself, love you day, love your life! Silvia  ( to join me for regular yoga classes)

Your Life GPS: Where are you going this Year?

February 5, 2011. Just a year ago I used GPS for the first time. I get the idea. You plug in where you want to go and it helps guide you there. The key point being you KNOW where you want to go. Yoga to me has been that which helps us ask the question “who am I” and eventually we get to the “why am I here” and even further down the path “WHERE THE HELL AM I GOING?” So this concept of GPS is pretty vibrant.

If you can get to the point that you know where you want to go then you know your spiritual maturity is evolving in the right direction. Until I finally decide to go to Tuscany on a Yoga Retreat one year I just played at entering a real GPS for my life. Then from that point forward I got clear. I want that for you. Get on the mat, do the practice, get your destination in gear and watch what happens. Love yourself, love your day, love your life! Silvia


Hard Sun (Main), Eddie Vedder
Nogo, Issa Bagayogo
Break Your Heart, Taio Cruz Feat. Ludacris
Vamos A Bailar, Gipsy Kings
Tighten Up ,The Black Keys
Express Yourself, Mocean Worker Charles Wright & The Watts 103rd Street
Mr Big Stuff, Jean Knight
Dedication, Kirby Shelstad

Join us on an amazing spiritual adventure or come take class with me

Beach Therapy Puerto Vallarta Mexico Yoga Retreat Feb 26 to Mar 5, 2011


“When anxious, uneasy and bad thoughts come, I go to the sea, and the sea drowns them out with its great wide sounds, cleanses me with its noise, and imposes a rhythm upon everything in me that is bewildered and confused.” – Rainer Maria Rilke

Xinalani is a brand new resort center accessed only by boat. It is in Banderas Bay, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico on 10 acres of unspoiled jungle with a beautiful pristine beach, only 12 miles south of Puerto Vallarta International Airport. Accomodations are ALL beach front with a choices of various private suites and a shared house if you are looking to save money. Xinalani Retreat features its own beach club where you will enjoy a relaxing break between your classes. Where you want to go swimming, snorkeling, or just sunbathe while sipping a natural fruit smoothie, corona, margarita, this is the place to be. Take a walk in the soft sand, discover the hidden secrets of the naturally sculpted rocks scattered along the shore and explore the small private coves as you explore yourself.

We have chosen for this retreat to stay at a one of its kind eco-resort named Xinalani because we fully believe Xinalani supports our guests on their search for mind-body balance better allows us to facilitate the setting of intentions so each person leaves more focused and open hearted to realize their full human potential. The name Xinalani comes from the Nauatl Xinaloani that means «seed». It is pronounced shee-nah-lah-nee. It embodies the shared vision that this world could be better if everybody planted and grew a seed inside themselves and let love blossom around it. We look forward to your registration! You are in excellent hands!

Eco-chic Suites $2500 $1,999.00
Eco-Premium Suites $1900 $1,699.00
Petite Suite $1600 $1,399.00
Big Palapa $899 NA

Deposit: A $500 dollar deposit will reserve your space.
Register by February 15, 2011 Get $100 OFF

7 nights of accommodation at Xinalani Retreat
3 complete gourmet vegetarian meals per day. Chef is expert in ayurveda cuisine and macrobiotics.
A social hour on select evenings
All transportation during the trip, including to and from the airport to Xinalani Retreat
14 Yoga classes with Silvia Mordini
Yoga clinics and mini workshops with Silvia Mordini
Sunset Yoga Ceremonies
Guided Jungle Hiking
Private Dharma talks facilitated by your Guides
All gratuities for special events, transfers, lodging and group meals.
A special goodie bag with loving gifts

Airfare to and from the trip, gratuities for your guides


Losing the Past Opens the Future

February 2, 2011. Losing the Past Opens the Future. It is such a simple statement and rolls up yogic philosophy so easily….and yet not always that easy to put into practice. Our humanness boasts to us in little mental self talk that of course we can rewrite the past! Why wouldn’t we be able to? But we intellectually know we cannot. And until we surrender to our own letting go known as vairagya we cannot fully welcome the best future of ourselves.

The past and the future energies cannot fully occupy the same exact space. How or what happened yesterday is done. All we have now is this moment and the intentions for the next moments. Replaying things past only clutters our minds, leaks our energies and prevents us from engaging life right now. Through physical practice we let go of the old stories stored in the tissues of hurts, frustrations, disappointments and clear the way for our best experiences. And yoga works all day long mentally and emotionally to help remind us to lose the past, whether pleasant or unpleasant, so the world opens us up to the most magnificent future.

It is up to us not to hold ourselves back, to not remain stuck, but to create the space by letting go that opens the future.

I work on this everyday and I’ve experienced amazing results. it is still often very hard and sometimes easier but nevertheless always really powerful in letting grace and love flow towards my open heart. I wish for all us to find the courage to lose the past, and open to your future. Your BEST life ever. Love yourself, love your day, love your life! Silvia

PS If you feel like you would benefit from more dedicated time to do the serious work of letting go (losing the past) then join me on an upcoming yoga retreat in Mexico, Moab, Italy, Washington, California, Colorado, and more! or or friend us on facebook Alchemy Tours, Alchemy of Yoga

Benefits of Natural Hot Springs

February 1, 2011. Growing up in a family of free spirited adventurers we would explore the “wild” west on our many skiing, camping or hiking trips. One place discovered along the way is Pagosa Springs. Pagosa Springs is a small mountain town located in the Four-Corners region of southwestern Colorado. The region is known for its access to archeological sites, unmatched mountains, great skiing, beautiful rivers, canyon lands and a wealth of cultural history. The town is nestled in a beautiful valley on the banks of the San Juan River, surrounded by the 3 million acre San Juan Forest and adjacent to the largest contiguous wilderness area in the nation, the Weminuche Wilderness.

One of the best kept secrets that make Pagosa Springs so special is the hot springs. Long touted as the largest and hottest natural mineral outflow in the world, the “Great Pagosah Hot Spring” is often coveted for its healing and restorative qualities. The use of hot springs dates back to the Bronze Age. Once you experience hot springs you will be hooked. Here are some of the many benefits (

Improve Circulation
Hot springs are thought to help with blood circulation, hypertension, nervous imbalances and atherosclerosis.

Treat Skin Infections
Sulfur is a mineral present in every cell of your body and is used to make collagen, which keeps your skin smooth and healthy. Hot springs are a rich source of sulfur and its healing benefits include treating skin irritations and infections such as rashes and eczema. According to the website Alternative Doctor, bathing in sulfur-rich hot springs helps treat dry scalp and arthritic pain as well as internal problems such as menopausal symptoms and digestive disorders.

Reduce Stress
The hot waters of mineral hot springs help your body to relax, which benefits many aspects of your health, including sleeping patterns and nutrient assimilation. When you are experiencing stress, your digestive tract can have trouble digesting and you may even suffer from insomnia, which, according to the National Sleep Foundation, causes more stress in your body and decreases your productivity. The relaxation promoted by the heat and buoyancy of hot springs also helps increase the range of motion of your muscles and joints, making the soaking beneficial for individuals recovering from trauma or suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.

According to the article “Some Like it Hot,” published in the Spavelous magazine in August 2008, bathing repeatedly in hot springs can help tone your autonomic nervous system and normalize your endocrine system, as well as release toxins in your body through sweating.

Boost Immune System
Some proponents believe that iron content in hot springs, along with other trace minerals, might help build your body’s immune system, making it stronger and more able to fight infections.

Keep exploring and living your dreams,
Kendra Charts

Alchemy Tours will be combining the healing properties of the hot springs and yoga with the adventure of snowboarding and skiing in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, April 7-10, 2011. If being in a mountain town soaking in hot springs under the stars sounds like heaven or if you have always wanted to learn to snowboard or ski or already a rock star at it please consider this Yoga and Snowboarding (and Skiing) Colorado retreat with Silvia, Jacob and myself.