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A Retreat for the Senses at Monestevole

November 28, 2016

Something magical happens in the months leading up to a retreat. As inquiries start streaming in, a strange sort of magnetism takes effect, and the universe starts selecting the perfect constellation of adventurers to come together at this unique time, in this particular place.

Our constellation included glowing souls from two continents and three countries, none of whom had ever met. One by one, they awkwardly sought each other out at nearby train stations from Rome and Florence, guessing (based on the yoga mat strapped to their backsides) that they were potentially going to the same place.

“Hey, I noticed your yoga mat. Are you with Yogascapes? Are you going to Umbertide?”

(The next day, on a farm tour around Monestevole, our host Filipe explained patiently, “It’s pronounced um-BER-ti-day.” The musical lilt of his Italian accent breathed life into the name of the tiny town at the base of the mountainside below the farm where we stood).

On the first day, once the last traveler arrived, we gathered together as a group sipping some pre-yoga vino at a wooden farm table underneath a trellis drenched in grapevines. The sun was getting low, and golden late day light was bouncing off the windows of the farmhouse and the eyes of each jet-lagged voyager. It was there, in those first moments together that the real magic that brought these unique beings together began to reveal itself.

One of my teachers first shared with me the idea that each group forms to fulfill a unique purpose. Over and over again, in yoga trainings and retreats, this statement seems to prove true.

As we were still learning each other’s names around the table that afternoon, the threads of connection between each retreater began to weave together a hint at a common goal. Some were just leaving jobs, others were leaving relationships, all were seeking the same thing—time to explore the unknown or forgotten parts of themselves so that they could return to their daily lives more alive, inspired, and on purpose.

During our daily practices, we used the koshas as our roadmap to make contact with the various layers of our selves—physical, energetic, mental/emotional, witness and bliss. As these layers took shape, we asked again and again, “what am I hungry for,” and we listened again and again for the multitude of answers. (A nap! A new path as a life coach! A second plate of pasta! A hike! A late-night dance party!)


Each day, we feasted on farm-grown food, locally made wine, sweet and sweaty yoga, and the richness of nature sprawling in every direction around us. We slept when we needed, we ate until we felt fed, we cried on shoulders, on our journals, over tiny moments of magic, on our mats and in circle, we danced on tables, we did handstands, we fell, and we laughed, and laughed and laughed.

One week later, our constellation of strangers had become traveling partners for life. We left Italy for two continents and three countries completely full, and wholly nourished.

Alive, inspired and on purpose.


Dana Rizer

A lifelong food enthusiast, and a student of the body for the past twelve years, Dana offers a range of practices that nourish the body, mind and heart.

Dana has completed over 800 hours of yoga teacher training and assisting, and is a dedicated student of Iyengar Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga and Yin Yoga respectively. After twelve years in the wilds of NYC, she now teaches alignment-based flow and Yin Yoga classes in her home base of Los Angeles.

For the past five years, Dana has also been on the faculty of the Nosara Yoga Institute. She now co-teaches their 200-hour Interdisciplinary Yoga Teacher Training under founders, Don and Amba Stapleton. Because a body in motion needs to be fed, Dana completed a Master’s degree in Food Studies from New York University, and a 617-hour chef certification through The Natural Gourmet Institute of Health and Culinary Arts. She believe as much in the healing power of a good meal shared in good company as in the practice of a well-aligned downward facing dog: each expands consciousness, increases interconnection, and has the power to open the heart.

Dana’s intention is to bring the essence of yoga into practical, daily living through the cultivation of community, awareness in action, holistic, whole-foods education and sensational cuisine.