Yoga retreat in Caspéria with Sunflower Retreats

Before I went to Caspéria the only bit of yoga I had done was part of a class I do twice a week at my local gym which incorporates elements of Tai Chi with Pilates as well as yoga.

I had chosen Sunflower from The Retreat Company's website partly because it was non-denominational as it were, and partly because the day started with an hour and three quarters of yoga.

Starting and ending in Shivasana was wonderful. The start prepared you for the class, and the end for the rest of day. Through the relaxation there were pathways to meditation either by bringing your awareness to your breathing or via visualisation. I was fairly sure at the time that I was meditating, but whatever I was doing brought a glow to my being and a feeling of calm and serenity. And love. (I've since done a course on various meditation techniques and approaches and I am now certain that I was genuinely meditating!)

One day we practised on the roof. We did our sun salutations as the sun rose. Slightly chilly at first, once the sun came up from behind the mountain, our faces were warmed. I also had a one-to-one session on the roof top in the afternoon and the experience was just as good ­ maybe better - as I was receiving individual tuition.
The quality of the air in Caspéria, and the setting with its gorgeous views, are stunning. Doing yoga enabled me to appreciate these simple things more to the full and without seeking after anything else or feeling the need to. The weather helped. Mid October, the temperatures were between 28 and 32 degrees in the day, cooling down significantly and pleasantly at night because we were in the Sabine mountains.

The Sunflower approach can cater for all tastes. It also lays on a suite of alternative therapies which you book on the first morning and which take place in the afternoons over the next four days. These include Reiki, Chakra Balancing, Indian Head Massage, Shiatzu massage, Individual Yoga lessons, Aloe Vera treatments. Additionally a number of bikes were available for our use and this proved to be a fantastic way of enjoying the countryside and getting some exercise.
Situated between Rome and Assisi, Caspéria is in an ideal location for a jaunt to either of these places but Sunflower do lay on a number of excursions which you can opt in or out of. The visit to the thermal baths and springs in Viterbo is a must among these. Likewise in the evening there is transport laid on (at minimal extra cost) to local restaurants which have fine food and wines at extremely reasonable prices. I did my own (and very moving) pilgrimage to Assisi whilst I was there and Alan organised the transport to and from the station.

Accommodation is either same-sex sharing in the village house, or for a supplement, you can stay in the gorgeous La Toretta not far away in the village. This is run by Alan's mom, Maureen, and has rooms with stunning views as well as a terrace with a fantastic panorama.

One of things we all look for in a holiday and hope for in a retreat, is that some of the benefit experienced at the time can stay with us on our return. This has certainly been the case for me. Not only have I signed up to a yoga class, bought a couple of recommended books, acquired a mat, chosen my rose quartz and started burning my essential oils, and also pursuing meditation, the actual qualities of life as experienced on retreat still remain with me. These can be summed up as keeping things simple, don¹t rush so much, take people for who they are and accept that others will do likewise to you."

Roy Peters