5 Things (that aren't things) to bring on a Travel Yoga Retreat

1. Willingness to let go of control. If you’re an independent type A personality, this could be a tough one for you. Being in a new place with unfamiliar food, a different schedule, and new people to meet can be uncomfortable at first. Your retreat guides know where your next meal is coming from and where you’ll sleep that night, so you don’t have to.

2. A sense of humor. Being able to laugh at yourself and accept that your yoga practice and your life aren’t always going to be graceful and smooth. Sometimes your tree pose is crooked and sometimes you belly flop into the pool while trying to do a jackknife dive. If either of those are the worst things that happen to you that day, life is pretty good!

3. Empathy. Depending on where you’re traveling, the culture and people who’s lives you’re intersecting with could be drastically different than what you know. Let understanding these differences be what brings you together as opposed to what divides you.

4. Openness to try new things. Traveling and yoga help us grow so much as people because they provide a change of pace, deviating from the safe lifestyles many of us have created for ourselves. It’s in that place outside our safety zone that we can really explore what we’re made of.

5. Courage. Courage to try that pose you’ve been resisting, courage to try foreign foods, and courage to make every day the best day of your life!

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Healing Waters & Thermal Baths

People all over the world have known for centuries the therapeutic benefits of spending time in hot spring pools. Hot springs occur when geothermally heated groundwater finds its way to the surface, bringing with it a distinct mineral content depending on location. Each pool has it’s own unique benefits, and because of this many pools around the world have been preserved for us to enjoy. The word ‘spa’ itself comes from the Latin term ‘sanus per aquam,’ meaning health through water.

The hot spring pools of Iceland are known to contain anti-bacterial and anti-viral minerals that were said to keep sheep farmers healthy and warm through the harsh winter months. The Petriolo Thermal Baths in Italy date back to 1404 and were visited by many of the noble families sich as Medici and Gonzaga. These baths were known for high concentrations of substances that were effective for treating various skin diseases, respiratory problems,  and arthritis. Petriolo geothermal waters flow into the cold waters of the river Farma, so it is very healing for those with circulatory disorders. It is said that Roman soldiers routinely used Italy’s hot wells to recover from their physical and emotional wounds.

Hot springs occur naturally all over the world as a replenishing gift from mother nature that nourishes us from the inside out!

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Food and Wine of Tuscany Italy

In Tuscany, you’ll find a classic cuisine that stays faithful to long-standing Italian culinary traditions. Both rough and elegant, cucina Toscana is intrinsically linked to its rugged land, the changing seasons and an endearing obsession with fresh ingredients. Virtually every dish is seasonal and is prepared to highlight individual flavors. Recipes tend to be part of an oral rather than written tradition, so try as you might to secure that recipe for tiramisu, you’ll often be told to just combine ‘a little of this and a little of that.’ Not surprisingly, Tuscans cook and eat with their senses!

The cornerstones of Tuscan cuisine are bread and olive oil. Many Tuscan dishes use both, like ribollita, a hearty vegetable soup made with bread, and panzanella, a summer salad composed of tomatoes, basil, cucumber, onion, olive oil and bread. Tuscans prefer their bread unsalted, except for schiacciatoa, flattened dough baked with oil and salt. And the region’s dense and aromatic olive oils are among the country’s best.
notes from the field
No Tuscan meal is complete without an abundant tray of antipasti to warm up the palate. You’ll find bruschetta, slices of grilled or toasted bread rubbed with garlic, drenched with oil, sprinkled with salt and sometimes topped with tomato and fresh basil. Enjoy crostini, small pieces of bread spread with chicken liver paté. Melanzane (eggplant), asparagi (asparagus) carciofi (artichokes), zucca (squash), and porcini mushrooms will appear grilled, fried or simply doused with freshly-pressed olive oil. Fagioli (beans, white ones in particular) also make a regular appearance, especially as fagiolo all’uccelletto, white beans cooked with tomatoes, garlic, and sage.

Due to its proximity to the Apennines (mountainous interior), the region boasts some delectable meat and poultry, roasted, grilled and simply adorned with lemon. The ubiquitous cinghiale, or wild boar, is served roasted, stewed, in soups and sausages and as a key ingredient in pasta al ragu, where it is piccipastastewed with tomatoes into a rich sauce served over pasta. Arista is roast pork loin with garlic and rosemary; lombatina is grilled veal chop. There’s also excellent prosciutto, salami and salsiccia. Finocchiona is pork sausage flavored with fennel seeds; pork and wild boar sausage is everywhere, either fresche (fresh) or secche (dried).

Pasta in Tuscany tends to be heavy and flavorful. Regional varieties include gnocchi, ravioli and pappardelli. Hearty primi such as Tortelli al burro e salvia (butternut squash pillows with a butter and sage sauce), pappardelle alla lepre (egg noodles with braised rabbit) and penne all’arrabbiata (with a spicy or ‘angry’ tomato sauce) make for satisfying dining after a day of cycling those gorgeous Tuscan hills!

Desserts include heavenly tiramisu (lady fingers drenched with rum, dusted with cocoa and layered with mascarpone cheese) and panforte, a spice cake with candied fruit and nuts first served in medieval times, and torta alla nonna, a cake filled with custard and dusted with pignoli and powdered sugar in “grandmother’s style.” Other treats include blood oranges, chestnuts, wedges of parmigiano reggiano (from the north) or pecorino with walnuts, fresh figs and honey. But be sure not to miss what may be the very best dessert of all—gelato.
Food and Wine
In Tuscany, you’ll find a classic cuisine that stays faithful to long-standing Italian culinary traditions. Both rough and elegant, cucina Toscana is intrinsically linked to its rugged land, the changing seasons and an endearing obsession with fresh ingredients. Virtually every dish is seasonal and is prepared to highlight individual flavors. Recipes tend to be part of an oral rather than written tradition, so try as you might to secure that recipe for tiramisu, you’ll often be told to just combine ‘a little of this and a little of that.’ Not surprisingly, Tuscans cook and eat with their senses!

The cornerstones of Tuscan cuisine are bread and olive oil. Many Tuscan dishes use both, like ribollita, a hearty vegetable soup made with bread, and panzanella, a summer salad composed of tomatoes, basil, cucumber, onion, olive oil and bread. Tuscans prefer their bread unsalted, except for schiacciatoa, flattened dough baked with oil and salt. And the region’s dense and aromatic olive oils are among the country’s best.
notes from the field
No Tuscan meal is complete without an abundant tray of antipasti to warm up the palate. You’ll find bruschetta, slices of grilled or toasted bread rubbed with garlic, drenched with oil, sprinkled with salt and sometimes topped with tomato and fresh basil. Enjoy crostini, small pieces of bread spread with chicken liver paté. Melanzane (eggplant), asparagi (asparagus) carciofi (artichokes), zucca (squash), and porcini mushrooms will appear grilled, fried or simply doused with freshly-pressed olive oil. Fagioli (beans, white ones in particular) also make a regular appearance, especially as fagiolo all’uccelletto, white beans cooked with tomatoes, garlic, and sage.

Due to its proximity to the Apennines (mountainous interior), the region boasts some delectable meat and poultry, roasted, grilled and simply adorned with lemon. The ubiquitous cinghiale, or wild boar, is served roasted, stewed, in soups and sausages and as a key ingredient in pasta al ragu, where it is stewed with tomatoes into a rich sauce served over pasta. Arista is roast pork loin with garlic and rosemary; lombatina is grilled veal chop. There’s also excellent prosciutto, salami and salsiccia. Finocchiona is pork sausage flavored with fennel seeds; pork and wild boar sausage is everywhere, either fresche (fresh) or secche (dried).

Pasta in Tuscany tends to be heavy and flavorful. Regional varieties include gnocchi, ravioli and pappardelli. Hearty primi such as Tortelli al burro e salvia (butternut squash pillows with a butter and sage sauce), pappardelle alla lepre (egg noodles with braised rabbit) and penne all’arrabbiata (with a spicy or ‘angry’ tomato sauce) make for satisfying dining after a day of cycling those gorgeous Tuscan hills!

Desserts include heavenly tiramisu (lady fingers drenched with rum, dusted with cocoa and layered with mascarpone cheese) and panforte, a spice cake with candied fruit and nuts first served in medieval times, and torta alla nonna, a cake filled with custard and dusted with pignoli and powdered sugar in “grandmother’s style.” Other treats include blood oranges, chestnuts, wedges of parmigiano reggiano (from the north) or pecorino with walnuts, fresh figs and honey. But be sure not to miss what may be the very best dessert of all—gelato.
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Basic Italian You Should Know

Fortunately, getting around in Italy with little or no exposure to the Italian language is not very difficult. The Italians are, by nature, outgoing and often appreciate even the slightest attempt at communicating in Italian. Here are some useful words and phrases to help you get started:

English Italian
Yes Si
No No
Please Per Favore
Thank you Grazie
You’re welcome Prego
Excuse me Mi scuzi
I’m sorry Mi dispiace
Good morning Buongiorno
Good evening Buona sera
Good night Buona notte
Goodbye Arrivederci
To the left A la sinistra
To the right A la destra
Straight ahead Sempre dritto
Bicycle Bicicletta
Hotel Albergo
Scooter Moto, Motorini
Goodbye Ciao

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3 Reasons to Go On a Yoga Retreat

If you’re looking for a fulfilling, fun, healthful, nurturing way to spend a week of your precious vacation time, you’re in the right place. We specialize in relaxing, adventurous and purposeful yoga retreats.

Over the last 5 years yoga retreats have ballooned! And with more retreats, comes increased confusion for all of us looking to book a retreat, me included.

Truth be told, I try to attend a retreat as a client every year! It is my dharma and what I commit myself to full-time. My intention is to serve you through transformational travel and spiritual adventure. Are you are wondering what makes my Alchemy Tours Retreats unique?

Here are 3 Reasons to Go On A #YogaRetreat with Alchemy Tours.

1. Yoga & Relaxation = grounding / pampering / rejuvenation / stress-relief
2. Yoga & Adventure = fun / exploration / culture / play / art
3. Yoga & Purpose = clarity / inspiration / manifestation / transformation / vitality

All of our trips are based in one of three offerings: Relaxation, Adventure, Purpose.

If you are looking for Adventure then choose from:
Tuscany June 21-28, 2014 Art of Adventure: La Dolce Vita
Ischia Amalfi June 29-July 6, 2014 Art of Adventure: Soulful Exploration
Thailand Sept 2014 Art of Adventure: Cultural Exploration

If you are looking for Relaxation then choose from:
Bali Sept 13-20, 2014 Art of Relaxation: Cultural Bliss
Maui Oct 11-16, 2014 Art of Relaxation: Luxury Bliss
Greece 2015 Art of Relaxation: Creating Positive Change

If you are looking for Purpose then choose from:
Xinalani Mexico Mar 29-Apr 5, 2014 Embrace Your Purpose: Transform Your Life
Haramara Mexico July 12-19, 2014 Embrace Your Purpose: Live Your Bliss
Costa Rica RYT200 Teacher Training Aug 9-30 Embrace Your Purpose: Live Your Happiness
Prana del Mar Mexico Nov 29-Dec 6, 2014 Embrace Your Purpose: Manifestation Yoga Retreat

Take a look at http://www.alchemytours.com and pick exactly what you need. Your vacation time is valuable and it’s important that you choose a retreat that meets your expectations. Don’t leave it to chance. Choose wisely.

Love yourself, love your day, love your life!

Silvia Mordini & Jacob Young, Co-Founders Alchemy Tours

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Clap Hands, Today is All Happiness

My favorite Rumi poem begins:

“Come for today is a day of festival,
Henceforward joy and pleasure are on the increase.
Clap hands, say, ‘Today is all happiness,
from the beginning it was a manifestly fine day.”

It reminds me of when we were kids and we would spontaneously clap behappyour hands together to celebrate ourselves. How great was that! To clap and celebrate ones own life is Yoga! The Dalai Lama weighs in when he says “the roots of all goodness lie in the soul of appreciation for goodness.”

When we symbolically clap hands by saying nice things to ourselves we are appreciating our innate goodness. Healthy self-esteem grows from recognizing our own gifts, unabashedly celebrating them, therefore making today a day of happiness, a really fine day.

On the other hand, if we seek approval and happiness outside ourselves, it sets us up for life-long disappointment. As Dr Wayne Dyer says “Every moment that you spend upset, in despair, in anguish, angry or hurt because of the behaviour of anybody else in your life is a moment in which you have given up control of your life.”

Today focus on how amazing you are, join me in clapping hands (even at the end of your next yoga class!) I know you might feel self-conscious at first, but I trust you can let go of any pretense and share the beauty and humor of your real self. Just try it, spontaneously increase your joy and appreciation for your life by clapping hands. I’m quite certain it will make you smile!

Love yourself, love your day, love your life! Silvia

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Take Pleasure in Yoga

When I think about the main message I want to give folks about yoga it’s this: JUST HAVE FUN. Find pleasure in the practice. ENJOY IT! I don’t want you to get all worked about about what you look like, how you practice and whether you’re doing it perfectly. I really don’t want your yoga to be another opportunity to practice the self-abuse of perfectionism.

havegoodtimeJust be YOURSELF. This means if you want to cry or laugh or both at the same time, that’s just you being you without conditions. Just like your breath is unconditional. It will breath us no matter what. I remember a time in my life where I was not given permission to breath or to be myself, flaws and all, and it felt like I was a prisoner. YOGA SET ME FREE. I want it to do that for you too.

Remember REAL YOGA IS WHAT YOU CAN’T SEE. IT IS INVISIBLE.

So while I know you will find deep benefits from the practice including greater clarity and a more peaceful demeanor I hope this is achieved while you are enjoying your time on the mat. That it becomes for you what it is for me, FREEDOM, LIGHTNESS, RECESS FOR ADULTS. Let the yoga work for you, takes its lessons to heart but most of all HAVE FUN!