Alchemy Tours Interview with Jacob Young and Silvia Mordini

Silvia Mordini and Jacob Young, owners of Alchemy Tours, are always getting ready to conduct spiritual multi-sport adventure retreats worldwide. 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 retreat they have planned. (Courtesy of Xinalani Retreat, visit them at

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 others 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!

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