If you thought yoga retreats were all silence and brown rice, Yoga Cucina invites you to reconsider. Initiated by a trio of yoga instructors — and wine drinkers — it's a brand new kind of yoga-inspired getaway. Gear up to spend a weekend practising your salutes to the sun and downward dogs, in between sampling several drops, feasting on Italian fare, playing darts and swimming beneath waterfalls.
"We want it to be an adventure, rather than a retreat," says Aly Clarke, who's organised the project alongside friends Rebecca Lockyer and Claire Blackwood. "It's not about people dressing in white and wearing patchouli."
The idea came about at 1am, over a year ago. "We'd been to yoga together and were starving," Aly says. "Claire's husband, Marco [Gobbo] and his best friend Luca [Faccin] are both chefs, so they cooked up some risotto. There we were, eating and drinking wine and rum, and playing poker. We started thinking, other people must want to do this."
And so, Yoga Cucina was born. The first adventure will be held over three nights, from September 29 to October 2 in The Pill Factory, a 19th century sandstone building in NSW's Southern Highlands. Think Chesterfields, open fireplaces and secretive nooks.
"On the first night, we'll meet for a pre-dinner drink, then sit down to a big, family feast," Aly explains. Marco and Luca, who are both Michelin star trained, will be taking care of that.
Come morning, you'll wake up to a two-hour yoga session, soundtracked by hip hop, before partaking in a barbecue lunch. Then it'll be off to a local national park for swimming under waterfalls and back to The Pill Factory for a pasta-making class, followed by another epic dinner and an evening in the games room, playing pool, darts and board games. Days two and three offer similar eclecticism, including a meeting with a monk at nearby Sunnataram Theravada Buddhist Monastery.
A weekend at the retreat will set you back $880-935 per person, which includes all activities and brunch, dinner and snacks. Space is strictly limited to 26 and there are rooms for singles, doubles and groups. "The building is really big, so there's heaps of space for people to spread out and do whatever they want, Aly says. "We want them to feel free to do as little — or as much — as they'd like."
After the first adventure is completed, the Yoga Cucina team will look further afield. When we chatted with them, they were scoping out venues in Tasmania.
Image: Leeroy Te Hira.