Holistic Yoga Holidays

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Although Yoga retreats are not unusual – this one has a special charm.  Perhaps its the location, nestled deep in the breathtaking Sabina mountains, that draws your breath away, or maybe it’s something to do with the relaxing timetable, outstanding local produce and the enjoyment of meeting new people in such a friendly and informal setting.  Regardless of what attracts you to this stunning corner of the world, you can easily see how – year after year – this privately owned Eco-Tourism/holistic retreat has guests coming back for more.

My journey began by researching the huge variety and locales of yoga centres, ashrams and resorts available across the world.  It was easy to settle on Sunflower due to its proximity to Rome (meaning I could keep costs down by flying a cheap airline) and the website was a great source of information regarding the treatments available as well as some really great photos to help me make up my mind.



Getting there was easy, trains are pretty regular from central Rome and within minutes, you are whisked out into the countryside and towards the imposing mountain range of the Sabina region.  It’s worth noting that the Sabina region produces some of the best olive oil in Italy.  The town is called Casperia, pop 200 and it’s over 1000 years old, steeped in Roman and medevial history.  Going out of season meant I experienced the luxury of being upgraded.  I had originally decided on a single loft room with en-suite within the main building, but my actual accommodation turned out to be much grander.  The lowest room in the building benefited from being carved directly out of the rock than the hilltop town sat upon – creating a beautiful and unusual cave-like bathroom and a cooling temperature to counter the outside heat. 

Yoga on the Balcony

The bedroom was very comfortable and had plenty extra bedding and pillows – something I’m always moaning about in most hotels!  The whole complex boasts a homely feel about it – with scatter cushions, tartan blankets, fresh flowers and candles dotted around aimlessly.  The rooftop terrace is particularly suited to enjoying a stunning mountain sunset with a large glass of locally produced wine.  The idea is very much about flexibility here. The pace of life is easy and you can choose to eat in either of the local pizzerias or take advantage of the various trips to other hilltop towns to sample their local fare (wild boar was a particular favourite).  The other option is to invest in the local economy by preparing your own meals from the freshest pasta, basil and tomatoes I have ever seen! 


Everything in Casperia smells so fresh and the aromas are wonderful – the local corner shop will fetch your basil and vine tomatoes directly from her back garden, all organic and ripe to perfection. On our countryside walks – it was possible to pick fresh olives and pomegrantes from the trees along the path, or reach down to the forest floor for some aromatic sprigs of mint, cumin and lavender.  On our way back, the driver/founder stopped at his friends house to allow us to sample the freshly fermented wine that they had just unbarrelled in their garage. 

What really tickled us was the rather heated debate they were having about the best way to make wine.  I reckoned if that’s all we had to stress about in life, everyone would be a lot calmer. Of course, I couldn’t complete this article without mentioning the fabulous Hatha Yoga tuition.  It’s included in the accommodation price, but very much optional, for those of you who don’t feel like getting up before 9am.  Our guest teacher for the week was a friendly American lady who runs a large Yoga centre in San Francisco.  Her style was genuine, helpful and never forceful.  Over the 5 days, she helped us get into the various yoga postions (asanas) just right, offered advice on beneficial asanas for our personal aches and pains and joined us on a number of excursions outside the town. 

To complete the body/mind regime, there were a range of spa type treatments available, including La Stone, Aromatherapy, massages and Reiki.  I chose the lymphatic massage –  a light pressure, full body massage with the added benefit of providing a detoxifying effect in the lymphatic system.  I also opted to take the reflexology massage – an ancient Eastern practice using pressure points in the feet to gently treat other areas and complaints within the body.  I will warn you, it’s not the most comfortable of feelings in the world – but the therapist hit on every complaint I had, particularly my right shoulder, left lower back and carrying anxiety in my stomach.  All this from my feet!

The real selling point of this holiday for me was the chance to mix with a bigger group of people – as a single traveller – this was brilliant!  I met a nice couple, also from Scotland and another single traveller, a girl my age from Germany.  (Although this was a small group, several weeks before the resort was at full capacity with 36 people dotted around the various buildings around Casperia) 

The owners and organisers speak perfect English and are very knowledgable about the town and it’s surrounding areas/attractions.  In particular, the founder Alan, had an almost unlimited knowledge of the history, flora and fauna of the Sabina countryside as he was born and brought up in the town. Casperia is located about 20 minutes from Poggio Mertito train station, served from Fiumincino (Leonardo DaVinci) and Ciampino.  Easyjey, Ryanair, Fly Globespan, BA, Thomsonfly and Aer Linus all fly into either of Rome’s airports.  Prices range from £320-£420 per week depending on the size of room you require.

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