Welcome to my blog post about the life-changing seven-day retreat I recently attended in Puglia, Italy. This wellness trip was an incredible experience, filled with self-discovery, relaxation, and cultural immersion. The group of individuals I traveled with came from all over the world, bringing unique perspectives and personalities that made the trip even more memorable. From daily yoga and meditation sessions to exploring the stunning beaches and historic towns of Puglia, every moment of the retreat was truly transformative.
The retreat I attended was hosted by May, the founder of Cara Mia May, a design-led brand that draws inspiration from her love for travel and handicrafts. The brand's name, "Cara Mia May," which means "Dear Beloved May" in Italian, was conceptualized and inspired by May's farm stay in Puglia, Italy.
Cara Mia May offers a unique collection of vintage-themed designs, with a focus on attention to fine details. Each piece is created with utmost care and is a thing of beauty to be cherished. The antique pieces offered by Cara Mia May are rare and priceless, making them an exquisite addition to any collection.
The brand's collection includes luxurious pyjama sets and linen collections that exude elegance and comfort. The designs are inspired by May's love for travel and are a true reflection of her passion for creating unique and sophisticated pieces.
In this post, I will share my personal reflections on the trip and the ways in which it has positively impacted my life. So sit back, relax, and join me on this journey to Puglia.
The seven-day retreat not only provided me with a transformative experience but also gave me a routine that has stuck with me long after the trip ended. If you're looking for a way to jumpstart a healthy lifestyle, attending a yoga retreat could be just what you need!
The first day of the yoga retreat was a truly magical experience that set the tone for the rest of the trip. After meeting the team and indulging in freshly baked tarts, we were given a tour of the stunning 16th-century property, Masseria Potenti, by the owner Maria Grazia. It was a great opportunity to get to know everyone and soak in the history and beauty of the region.
Later that evening, May, the host of the retreat, led us in a candlelit yin yoga session that left me feeling relaxed and centred. May's expertise and guidance were evident throughout the practice, and I felt grateful for the opportunity to learn from her. We then had the pleasure of experiencing Joseph's gift for sound bath healing, which left me feeling rejuvenated and energized. Joseph's use of sound and vibrations was truly remarkable, and I felt fortunate to have witnessed it firsthand.
The evening continued with a relaxing dinner, during which I couldn't help but notice the meticulous consideration that had gone into the food choices for this trip. It was evident that each ingredient had been thoughtfully selected to perfectly capture the essence of spring, creating a dining experience that was both delicious and harmonious with the season.
The first day of the retreat was a beautiful introduction to what would become an unforgettable experience.
The second day of the yoga retreat was a perfect start to a day of serenity and rejuvenation. We commenced the day with an early morning yoga session that left us feeling energised. After the practice, we enjoyed a sumptuous breakfast, and I must say it was a culinary delight. During the break, I took a leisurely stroll around the picturesque Masseria and was mesmerized by the stunning pool. The crystal-clear waters and the tranquil ambiance made me feel calm and peaceful.
At lunchtime, we all gathered in the dining room to reflect on the retreat thus far. It was a moment of profound gratitude as we shared our appreciation for the beauty around us and the enriching experiences we were having.
During my own time, I discovered a new way to capture the beauty of the Cara Mia May linen shirt collection by photographing them in flat layouts. With an eye for detail and a love for aesthetics, I carefully arranged the shirts, creating stunning compositions that showcased their unique patterns and textures. It was a creative outlet that allowed me to combine my passion for photography and fashion in a unique and satisfying way.
In the evening, we had an engaging ceramic workshop that allowed us to unleash our inner creativity. It was an unforgettable experience to design our very own plates that would be served for us when we leave. The workshop was followed by a delectable dinner that was both nourishing and mouthwatering.
The second day of the retreat was filled with opportunities to connect with ourselves, others, and the breathtaking surroundings. It was a day of creativity, relaxation, and indulgence, and I was excited to see what the rest of the retreat had in store for us.
As I woke up on the third day of my photography trip, I couldn't help but feel a sense of peace and comfort. It was hard to believe that just a few days ago, I was a nervous young woman traveling alone to embark on this adventure. However, I felt at home now, and my shoulders had dropped as a sign of the relaxation that had set in.
Despite the mixed emotions of joy and sadness that I had felt on this trip, I was convinced that it was healing me from fears that I had been harbouring. It took some getting used to waking up early to face a group of people, especially since I had isolated myself for some time. However, I forced myself to participate in everything and wake up every day with a positive attitude.
Participating in yoga sessions had changed my mood completely, and I felt like a new person every time I left the practice. I also realised that everyone on the trip was in the same position as me and that it was a safe space to communicate our feelings without judgment. It was perfect.
Lunch was always delicious, and I was getting used to trying new foods that I had never tasted before. After Lunch, I walked around the local area with a few ladies and particularly enjoyed admiring the poppy fields and tall trees.
We had a second yoga practice in the afternoon, followed by a wildflowers workshop where we made our own dried flower posters. The creations where special enough to frame and so, that’s what I did.
The workshops during the retreat were an absolute delight, with tea and cakes prepared for us to enjoy. One particular cake that stood out was at the flower workshop - it was truly exceptional and full of zest! The cake was moist, flavorful, and an absolute delight to the taste buds. Each bite was pure bliss, leaving me craving more.
As the day turned into night, we gathered by the fire for dinner, and the crackling ASMR noises sent me into a deep state of relaxation. The warm flames danced before my eyes, and I savored every bite of my delicious dessert.
As the night drew to a close, I eagerly made my way to my bedroom, ready to jump into my cozy bed. The soft and inviting pillows embraced me as I snuggled in and closed my eyes, feeling grateful for the day's experiences and the comfort of my surroundings.
The fourth day of the retreat was undoubtedly the most challenging and rewarding experience for me. Being a person who loves walking, I was eagerly anticipating the hike, but little did I know that it would involve a lot of climbing. Despite the initial discomfort, I welcomed the challenge as I knew it would push me out of my comfort zone. I have to say, it was an experience that I will never forget.
May, our guide, was a passionate being who loves to push boundaries, and this was evident in the hike. We trekked until our bodies could handle it, taking breaks in-between to enjoy some picnic food close to the sea. The view was breathtaking, and it was just the break we needed before continuing our hike into the pine reserve.
Once in the reserve, Joseph, our sound bath specialist, sent us into a trance with his sound bath instruments. It was such an otherworldly experience, and it was the perfect way to end our hike. We then headed back to the Masseria to freshen up for dinner and a movie night.
The movie night was cozy, and the setup made it even better. We had some gelato and great company to boot. It was the perfect way to unwind after such an intense day.
Day five started with an invigorating yoga session that awakened our senses and refreshed us for the day ahead. After a satisfying breakfast, I geared up for a long day of photoshoots that included capturing the linen collection, the upcoming villas at Masseria, and some precious moments with Maria Grazia and her daughter, Chiara.
Upon returning to our rooms, we were greeted with a beautiful display of freshly steamed pyjamas gifted to us by May from her Cara Mia May collection. These pyjamas were for the famous pyjama party that May hosts on her retreats, and ours was scheduled for the fifth night. I received a stunning white set that complemented my skin tone and hair perfectly. We had the freedom to style our pyjamas into elegant evening outfits, and I must say, I had a blast doing so, as you will see in the pictures!
Later in the evening, just before the pyjama party and pizza night, Joseph gifted us with his last sound bath healing session. It was a Yoga Nidra session with crystal bowls, and it was hands down the most relaxed I had felt during the entire trip. Yoga Nidra is a meditative state of consciousness between waking and sleeping, and Joseph's guided meditation induced a sense of peace that allowed me to release a lot of emotions.
After the session, we headed back to our rooms to get ready for the much-anticipated pyjama party night and pizza feast, prepared by the talented chef. The night brought together the Masseria family and friends and transformed into one big celebration filled with love and laughter. We even had a lovely lady who taught us traditional Puglian dances, which was fantastic and got everyone to let loose and have a great time to the beat of the music.
On the sixth and final day of our retreat, May guided us through our last yoga session. As the days went by, the sessions became more intense and lasted for around an hour and a half. May's focus was on posture, breathing, and muscle-strengthening moves, which left our bodies feeling energised and ready for the day ahead.
After the yoga session, I took some time to explore the Masseria's vintage shop, where I picked up some beautiful ceramics and delicious olive oil. As an avid lover of all things Italian, I couldn't resist!
I also had a couple more photoshoots to complete for Cara Mia May and the vintage shop, which were an absolute pleasure. The models were fantastic, and shooting in natural light is always a dream come true.
At this point in the retreat, I had built a strong connection with everyone, and the Masseria felt like home. I spent some time exploring the grounds on a bike ride, indulged in a delightful massage at the spa, and relaxed by the fire with a cappuccino in hand.
On our final evening at the retreat, May's husband Walter gave a wine tasting class for all the guests. Although I'm not usually one for drinking, I couldn't resist trying the delicious chili jam nibbles that were served alongside the wine. They were simply divine!
Walter's wine tasting class was an excellent way to end the retreat on a high note. It was fascinating to learn about the different wines and their origins, and I found myself appreciating the complexities of the flavors and aromas more than ever before.
As our time at the Masseria came to an end, I reflected on the incredible experience I had. The yoga, the food, the people, and the surroundings all came together to create a truly unforgettable retreat.
On my final day of the retreat, I had the whole day to soak up the last of the incredible experiences and create even more memories. While most of the guests had left in the early hours, I had the opportunity to fill my day before my evening flight.
The day commenced with a peaceful walk, followed by a calming meditation and photography session with Joseph and May at the yoga shala. After that, I ventured to the monastery in Nardo, and later made my way to the charming fisherman village located in the town of Porto Cesareo.
There, I had my first taste of sea urchin, relishing the delicate and delicious flavor while admiring the crystal clear waters. In the afternoon, I dined at a beautiful restaurant, where I ordered a pasta dish with prawns that was simply unforgettable.
As the day drew to a close, I felt a tinge of sadness at leaving this beautiful place and the wonderful people I had met. However, I was also filled with a sense of pride and gratitude for everything I had experienced and learned on this trip. It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will cherish forever.
For anyone considering a retreat in the near future, I can confidently say that this is the place to be. As a young woman who values safety and being taken care of in a nurturing environment, I can attest that the Masseria and May Koh's retreats are top-notch. I would like to extend my deepest thanks to Maria Grazia, her family, and May Koh for allowing me to document this incredible journey.