Springtime Yoga Retreats In Italy

May and June at our village base of Casperia, in the hills of Lazio, is the most wonderful time: Perfect for nature, for yoga and for shaking-off the winter blues.

The reasons why?

  • The weather is mostly warm enough to enjoy yoga outdoors on our fabulous panoramic yoga deck.
  • The rolling hills are a tapestry of emerald green in riot of colour and texture; truly one of the most beautiful landscapes on earth!
  • Long day-length; perfect for enjoying sunset appertivi in a local bar or on the terrace of your village house.
  • Flights to Rome are more affordable than in high summer and they're frequent and from an variety of bases near your home as well. Book them at least six weeks before your holiday, to get the best prices.
  • Our smaller groups provide a great opportunity to bond with other yogini, as well as providing more personal help from our yoga instructor.
  • The days are hot and sunny, but still cool enough to enjoy cycling, walking, hot spas and a host of other activities, without the energy-sapping heat of the high summer.

Join us this spring for a revitalising yoga holiday for the mind, body and soul and enjoy the 10% discount we're offering, just at our Casperia base.

Then go home and brag to all the friends who ask ask you where you got that tan.

7 Yoga Poses For Beginners | The Ultimate Beginners Yoga Guide

Yoga is a growing practise, and with good reason: Since its birth, yoga has been proven to help improve state of mind, health, lifestyle and much more. However, one question is always on the mind of people aspiring to be a yogi, and that is "Where do I begin?".

That’s why we put together this list of the ultimate 7 yoga poses for beginners.

If you’re one of these aspiring yoga fanatics, then you’re in the right place: Here at Sunflower Retreats, we have been yoga experts since the late 1980’s, and we know the poses you should be doing whilst learning yoga. So all you have to do is practice the following seven yoga poses on a frequent basis, to become a fully-fledged yogi.

Let’s get started.

Mountain Pose - Tadasana

The Mountain Pose is one every beginner yogi should know, and get used to.

It might look like you’re just standing up straight, but this pose is an active pose, that will improve posture, balance and focus.

  • Begin by standing up straight, with your feet hip-width apart and parallel to the floor.

  • Start to distribute your weight evenly between your feet.

  • Align your hips directly over your legs, which should align directly over your feet.

  • Lengthen your lower back, by allowing your tailbone to drop.

  • With your body now in a neutral position, centre your shoulders between the front and back of your body.

  • With your shoulders and upper back aligned properly, your head should feel like it’s floating off of your neck.

  • Breathe normally and hold for as long as you like.

To release from this pose, simply relax.

One Leg Tree Pose - Vrksasana

The One Leg Tree Pose is no doubt one of the best poses out there for improving your balance and concentration.

  • Start by standing at the front of your yoga mat, with your feet hip-width apart, and your arms down by your sides.

  • Ensure your spine is erect and distribute your weight evenly.

  • Shift your weight onto your left leg.

  • Bend your right knee and draw your right heel up towards your pelvis.

  • Grab your heel with your hand and lift your heel up, and place it on your inner thigh of your left leg.

  • Keep your toes pointing down your leg toward the mat.

  • Your knee should be facing out.

  • Press your foot and inner thigh against each other.

  • Gently drop your tailbone toward the floor, allowing your lower back to lengthen.

  • Place your hands in front of your chest with your palms pressed together in the prayer position.

  • Extend your arms overhead, and keep your elbows straight, while keeping your hands in prayer position.

  • Hold the pose for several seconds, maintaining a calm breathing pattern.

  • Lower your foot to the mat, so both feet are on the ground and shift your weight over to the other side.

  • Repeat the pose on your other leg.

To release the pose, simply lower your foot.

Upward Facing Dog - Urdhva Mukha Svanasana

This pose is designed to lengthen and strengthen your spine, torso, and arms in one single hit.

  • Start by getting in the push-up plank position.

  • Lower yourself down and lean into one foot.

  • Set one of your feet on the floor, and point through the ankle. Spread toes and use your thigh bones.

  • Lift your thigh bones away from the floor.

  • Bring your chest forward, while keeping your shoulder blades back.

  • Bend your elbows slightly.

To release this pose, simply roll back into the push-up plank position.

Triangle Pose - Utthita Trikonasana

This standing yoga pose is great for toning legs, reducing stress and increasing stability.

  • Stand with your feet about one metre apart.

  • Reach out your arms to the sides, parallel to the ground, palms down.

  • Turn your right foot 90 degrees to the right and turn your left foot inwards by 45 degrees, toward the right.

  • Shift your hips a little toward the left, and bring your chest and arms slightly to the right.

  • Bend your hips, lower your torso to the right so your left side is facing towards the sky.

  • Place your right hand on the mat outside of the right foot. If you have trouble reaching the floor, place your hand on your shin, or where feels comfortable.

  • Stretch your left arm toward the sky, palm up, creating a straight line from your left hand down your arm, through your left shoulder, right shoulder, and your right hand.

  • You can either keep your head in a neutral position or turn your face to look up, perform whichever feels comfiest.

  • Make sure your chest is facing forward at all times.

  • Hold the pose for several seconds.

  • Inhale, and lift your torso up to a standing position, keeping your arms out straight.

  • Turn your feet to the left, and repeat the pose on your left side, holding the pose for the same duration.

To release the pose, inhale and stand up straight, putting your arms down by your side and putting your feet together.

Seated Spinal Twist - Ardha Matsyendrasana

This pose is great for relieving tension from your body and is also great for stretching.

  • Sit on your heels with your back straight.

  • Shift your weight onto your butt to the left, keep your knees bent. Allowing you to stay seated on your mat to the left of your feet.

  • Raise your left knee up your so your right foot is flat on the floor, and begin to slide it to the outside of your left knee.

  • Twist your torso to the right, place your right hand (palm down), on your mat close behind your right hip.

  • Raise your left arm straight up towards the sky, whilst remaining twisted.

  • Lower your left arm so your elbow is on the outside of your right knee (keep your elbow bent or reach down to hold your right ankle).

  • Turn as far as you can without causing unwanted stress on your knees, spine, neck and shoulders.

  • Hold the pose for 3-5 breaths.

  • Release from the pose by removing your left elbow from your right knee, allowing you to release your body from the twisted position.

  • Repeat on the other side of your body.

To release from this pose, simply remove the elbow that is resting on your knee, allowing you to release from the twist. Bring your leg around to join the other behind your butt, and stand up into mountain pose.

Warrior I - Virabhadrasana

The Warrior I pose is perfect for increasing the mind and bodies focus, power, and stability.

  • Stand at the front of your mat with your feet hip-width apart. Ensure spine is erect, and your arms are at your sides.

  • Distribute your weight evenly.

  • Spread your legs three to four feet apart, keeping your hands at your thighs.

  • Turn your feet to the right so the right foot is facing toward the right side of the mat.

  • Turn your left foot 45 degrees toward the right side of the mat.

  • Rotate your torso to the right, and square your hips toward the right side.

  • Begin bending your right knee at a 90 degree angle, bringing your shin perpendicular to the ground and centered over your front foot.

  • Bring your palms together, and reach them up until they are straight above your head. This will lift your ribcage up from your pelvis.

  • Lengthen your lower back, and keep your shoulders relaxed.

  • Look up at your thumbs or keep looking straight forward.

  • Hold the pose for 30 seconds - breathe deeply and smoothly - keeping your torso and hips turned facing the right leg.

  • Release the pose by pressing your left heel into the floor, begin straightening your right knee, rotate your torso back to the center and bring your arms back down to your hips.

  • Repeat the pose on the left side by following the above steps, and hold for the same amount of time that you did on your right side.

To release from this pose, straighten your knee, and rotate your torso back to the centre. Bring your arms back down to your sides.

Standing Forward Bend - Uttanasana

The Forward Standing Bend is great for rejuvenating the mind and the body.

  • Stand in the middle of your mat with your legs together. Center your weight on the balls of your feet.

  • Inhale, and begin stretching both of your arms straight above your head, beside your ears.

  • Exhale and bend forward at the waist - keeping your legs straight - reach down and grab the back of your legs wherever feels comfiest.

  • Ensure you keep your head and neck relaxed, making gravity do the work for you.

  • Hold this pose for several breaths.

To release from this pose, bring your hands to your hips, and start to lift your torso to waist-level. Lift until you’re parallel to the floor, next, inhale and raise your torso up straight until standing with your spine erect.

There you have it, our top seven yoga poses for beginners.

Perform these poses on a daily basis, and before you know it, you will be able to perform more advanced yoga poses with ease.


If you'd like to expand your knowledge of yoga and practise yoga with like-minded people, surrounded by nature, then why not look at our yoga retreats in Italy and Costa Rica.

I see yoga and daily meditation as the path to bringing awareness and gratefulness in our everyday actions.
— Laura - Sunflower Retreats Teacher

30 Items To Take With You On A Yoga Holiday

So, you’ve finally booked that yoga holiday in Europe you’ve long been wanting to try. But what do you pack for your first yoga retreat? 

30 items to take on a yoga holiday

A yoga holiday requires a little more thought than the regular beach holiday or city break you’re used to. Below, you will see all the necessities to bring for a relaxing, and unforgettable yoga retreat.

Yoga Clothing
With the great selection of classes we have available, it can be a little bit tempting to pack in all your yoga clothing. However, all you have to do is keep it simple. Pack the colours that match easily; this way you will only need a few yoga bottoms and tops. This means you get the benefit of not over packing, whilst being able to chose from a variety of outfits. 

A full breakdown of clothes we recommend can be seen below;

  • Yoga pants

  • Sports bras

  • Regular bras

  • Tank tops

  • Underwear

  • Socks

  • Dress

  • Skirts

  • Shawl

  • Swimsuits

Yoga Accessories
We do provide yoga mats, blankets and other props, so you can leave them at home if you wish. But if you want to bring your own, then that’s fine. Some of us yogis develop an emotional attachment to our mats and don’t like to participate without them. If you do choose to bring your own, then remember the following;

  • Yoga mat

  • Hand towel

  • Mat wipes

Casual Clothing
The important thing to remember with a yoga holiday, is to remember you’re on holiday. Pack whatever you feel most comfortable in. If you do want to get dressed up and look glamorous, then why not?.  after all,you will either be in Italy or Costa Rica.

Entertainment
Many people enjoy reading when on a yoga retreat, so we recommend bringing a few books with you to read in your downtime. Remember, just because you’re here to do yoga, you don’t have to bring spiritual or inspiring books, bring books that will really interest you nd keep you entertained too.

  • Reading books

  • Magazines

  • Kindle

  • Camera

  • Phone and charger

  • Notepad and pen

Toiletries
It is always worth bringing your own shampoo, conditioners, shower gels and soaps with you if you have a preference. Remember to bring your deodorant, toothbrush and toothpaste with you; no-one wants to do yoga next to someone who has bad breath or doesn’t smell very pleasant!

  • Shampoo and conditioner

  • Shower gel

  • Deodorant

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste

  • Make-up

  • Hair straightener orcurler

Footwear
When on a yoga vacation, you will find you’re constantly taking your shoes on and off, so it might be best you pack shoes that are easy to slip on and off, and a nice pair of flip-flops.

  • Flip-flops

  • Running shoes

  • Walking shoes

  • Sandals

Sunflower Retreats hope you enjoy this list and find it useful for your upcoming yoga getaway.

To talk to one of our yoga holiday specialists, don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss the yoga retreats we have available.

Why choose a Yoga holiday in Costa Rica?

The Popularity of Yoga

Yoga holidays have become more popular in the last five years and Costa Rica provides a great location for them, with its fabulous endless beaches, beautiful jungles and wildlife. Practising yoga in the tranquil setting of Costa Rica is an unforgettable experience.

Sunflower Retreats has offered yoga holidays in Costa Rica for the last two years and we have enjoyed every minute of it. There is something special about Central and Southern America which helps you enhance your spirituality with famous places such as Machu Pichu not far in Peru. Our home will always be the yoga retreat in Casperia, Italy but Costa Rica doesn't make a bad second home.

To Relax

The main goal of the yoga science is to connect and harmonize with our inner nature or atman, which is said to be a reflection of the divine or source. Our yoga retreats and yoga holidays embrace yoga and meditation techniques each day. By practicing yoga we become more aware of our inner nature or atman so to see ourselves as a reflection of the divine.

Many of the techniques or yoga Asana (yoga positions) in are named after animals, plants and aspects of nature - guiding us to the ultimate goal of harmonizing with Mother Nature. This makes practicing yoga in this beautiful country so powerful, as when you practice you are surrounded by a huge variety of tropical birds and animals such as monkeys, deer,raccoons and wonderful Central American flora.

Nature

Meditation with the sounds of the birds lifts your spirits and reconnects you to Mother Nature making you feel part of nature, not separate.

The food in Costa Rica is perfect for yoga and wellness holidays, the main diet being rice and beans with a wonderful choice of tasty, nutritious vegetables and freshly caught fish.

Five Reasons to Go on a Yoga Retreat

Retreat (noun) /rɪˈtriːt/
'A quiet or secluded place in which one can rest and relax.'

The concept of going on a retreat is as old as faith itself. For thousands of years, people from all walks of life and spiritual practices have used retreats as a means of withdrawing from the world and devoting time to prayer, meditation and relaxation. Even the word ashram, in Sanskrit means ‘to not toil’; embodying the idea of focussing one’s energy on personal and spiritual development, rather than exhausting physical labour.

yoga retreat

In today’s increasingly hectic world, the benefits of going on a retreat as opposed to a more traditional choice of holiday are in abundance. Yoga in particular lends itself to this setting: offering a wonderfully holistic opportunity to reset, reconnect and re-centre the body, mind and spirit - away from the stresses and pressures of everyday life.

Whether you are an experienced yogi, or have yet to attend your first class, there will be a retreat for you. Here are five reasons to go on one:

  1. Full Immersion
    There are few opportunities in western culture to really shut off from the noise of everyday life and enjoy total immersion in an experience. A good yoga retreat offers just this. From the moment you wake up in the morning, to the moment you close your eyes at night – you have the choice to completely immerse yourself in all that the retreat has to offer. Nothing allows for living in the moment quite like this.

  2. Personal Development
    Personal development through yoga comes in many forms. Be it the sense of achievement in perfecting an asana that has challenged you for so long; that moment of release when you finally let go in Savasana, or the warm sense of clarity and calm that comes from deep meditation. Even just being in a retreat environment encourages a constant level of self-awareness that will take you on a journey and open you up to new aspects of yourself you didn’t know you had. 

  3. Being Looked After
    Though every retreat will differ in its level of ‘hands on’ support, the very nature of these holidays is to give guests a break from the hassle of mundane chores so they can focus their energy on themselves. From the daily classes, to the wholesome food and array of pampering treatments – a yoga retreat will free you from responsibility and nourish you from the inside out. 

  4. Location
    Yoga retreats are renowned for their incredible locations – often sun drenched and isolated, away from the hustle and bustle of civilisation. With so many now dotted all over the world, you can literally make a wish list of the surroundings you would like to be in, and find a yoga retreat that fits. Sunflower Retreats, for example, has the beautiful hilltop village of Casperia; the sun, sea and sand of Sperlonga; or the exotic paradise of Costa Rica. 

  5. Relax, Reset and Reconnect
    Yoga retreats are lifestyle holidays. They are created specifically to give guests the right formula to really switch off and relax, before then learning to reconnect with themselves. The combination of all the above points – the full immersion, the personal development, the location and the pampering – is a unique and valuable means of really getting to know yourself, without the constant distractions of work and home life.