A day by day journal of the weeklong Fall Foliage Yoga Retreat at Masseria Potenti, Puglia
The yoga retreat has been planned with meticulous attention to details. Kudos to May for her creativity in setting up the refreshing flower bath as a symbolic ritual of cleansing the body and mind during the opening circle. The yin & soundbath session that followed was just the right mix to ease the yogis into the practice for the next 6 days.
Waking up at the crack of dawn, May sets off to the secluded yoga shala nestled in the olive groves for some prep work and warming up before the 8am yoga session starts. As the morning vinyasa yoga session ends, a delightful surprise awaits the yogis at the breakfast table.
The breakfast spread is a healthy selection of fruits or vegetable juices, fresh fruits platter, the all time favourite granola made by May herself, biscotti, bite-sized sandwiches with hot coffee served as well. A most satisfying and nutritious meal to start the day’s activities.
And so are all the other meals of the day. Beautiful tablescape set up for scrumptious lunches outdoor, the perfect setting to soak up the sun’s warmth. And the candle-lit dinners are always so magical and charming with just the right ambience for congenial conversations and sharing experiences over fine wines and the best of pugliese dishes. Then winding down the day’s activities for the most peaceful slumber in a countryside farmhouse.
As the retreat progressed, the yogis got into their ryhthm during yang yoga sessions in the early mornings, flowing into the various asanas as they follow May’s clear cues. The more relaxed yin yoga sessions at the shala are a welcome restorative practice in the evenings. Readings of inspirational messages by May at the end of each yoga sessions are food for thoughts.
Besides the nutritious food served every meal, 1 on 1 consultations with Raoul offered advice on a diet suited to one’s gut health. So much for food for the body, there’s food for the soul as well in the therapeutic and soothing soundbaths by Joseph.
Puglia is famed for the primitivo wine produced here, so it is the natural thing to host a wine tasting session at the vineyard. A special treat much anticipated by everyone. Walter introduced the Masseria’s house wines of Bianco, Rose and Primitivo as well as some other local wines. Everyone enjoyed not only the wines but the cheeses and delicious meatballs, lingering on even after sunset.
As part of an authentic farm experiience, a herb and harvest workshop conducted by the matriach of the Masseria, Maria Grazia showed how to preserve peppers, cherry tomatoes, aubergine and dried figs harvested in the farm within the Masseria. So then the summer’s harvest can be enjoyed through to winter.
Another interesting workshop on basket weaving was also held to introduce this handcraft of making baskets from local plant materials. It’s an eye opener that the stem of a plant found in abundance here can be used to make robust baskets that last.
To enjoy Puglia’s countryside, day trips were organised for outings to Maisia Potenti for lunch and to watch the flamingoes in the nearby reserve. Everyone could not resist taking a dip in the refreshing, cool, crystal clear waters of the Ionian sea. Exploring Porto Selvaggio in kayaks is another extra activity not to be missed.
As the finale to the retreat, a pyjama party was hosted and all the yogis look lovely in the beautiful Cara Mia May pyjamas which were gifted to them. Before dinner, a closing circle at the trullo was held. At the centre, a beautiful meaningful mandela which is a symbol of balance and equilibrium, was layed out on the floor. Yogis shared their thoughts about the retreat and how the week’s practice has affected and transformed them. After which everyone had so much fun making a pizza of their choice for dinner.
Connections and new friends were made and some were so happy with their experience in the Fall Foliage Retreat and stay at the Masseria, they have started making plans to return for the next retreat!
May and Walter together with Joseph and Raoul as collaborators deserve a big thank you for such an awesome yoga retreat! The success of the retreat is a result of much careful planning and team effort of the hosts and the support from the yogis. What a rejuvenating week it has been for all!
An observer’s review, all images are credited to Fabio Fiselli
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