The Italian Job

Tak One

One big happy family

What an amazing week long holiday with Jaqui and her yoga friends.

Our villa, surrounded by vast swathes of nature – mountains, rivers and the sea, reminded me of my lovely hometown in Japan and with the owners Paul and Paola treating us like family; the whole experience was overtly welcoming. The focus of this holiday was the amazing yoga lessons by Jaqui who is an incredible woman; her stamina and determination are truly inspirational. Although I see her once or twice a week at her regular class, she totally changed my overall thinking on what Yoga is all about both  physically and mentally. I was immensely impressed the way she prepared to the finest details an excellent curriculum on personal body and mind improvements. I can’t thank you enough for making this a truly memorable holiday.

I would also like to thank all the members of the group who both took care of and encouraged me to undertake this – something I never thought I could do alone.

Written by Takako Yoshihara

Our studio

You Can’t Beat a Bit of Bath

A combination of two GPS systems, two printed map routes, one full size map book, four pairs of eyes, words of encouragement to Jaqui’s car and maybe a few too many u-turns got us to the Bath country house for our Bodacious Bonfire Yoga weekend.

The journey from London was fuelled by celery sticks, carrots and peppers (expertly prepared by Roxy’s other half) and yummy cake (thank you Noras) and a lot of girlish excitement.  We were met with warm chai and cake on arrival which left us  suitably refreshed for a gentle evening practice.  But cake was not the order of the evening, but of the weekend! This was a yoga weekend that was defined by good food and a lot of eating.

It was great to stretch out the cramps and aches from the car journey, and get acquainted with the yoga studio – but we only had time for a quick hour and a little bit of flying before getting ready for supper.  After showering and settling in we ate pumpkin soup and freshly baked bread, and ended the evening feeling very content!

Saturday commenced with meditation at 9:00 followed by class at 9.30, a very reasonable start time indeed.  The yoga throughout the day was great; a fast paced start to get warmed up that was later capitalised by by inversions and Acroyoga.  Headstands, handstands and forearm balances were all worked on, as well as inversions balancing on people’s backs and in between their knees!  It sounds strange, but looks great!  And some more flying which I really enjoyed.

We also focused on standing balances and arm balances: for example practicing going from bakasana into tripod headstand.  As usual – it’s all about the core!  Ooouch!

Between morning and afternoon classes we ate (a lot!), dozed (only a little!) and cuddled up with the very fluffy cat Flicker, and enjoyed saunas.  Those who like it hot (Vaclav!) were very happy to be in charge of the water bucket and we soon warmed up our winter bodies for the afternoon session.

Saturday evening was a really nice night – we had intended to go to a Fireworks display,  but it was cold and dark; we were in the middle of nowhere and quite happy to be just there, after all we were full, sleepy and spent. So with little enthusiasm for fireworks we decided to play board games!  We settled on Cranium – a team game involving trivia and word / spelling questions as well as drawing, charades, singing / humming and modelling things in clay.  This is what Saturday nights are made for. Seeing fellow yogis jump around like Michael Flatly (Chris), trying to mime a parrot (Stefane) and humming ABBA’s Dancing Queen or Sister Sledge’s We Are Family (Shahana) caused me to laugh to the point of exhaustion. Without a doubt our evening Craniun frolics warmed us more than a Bonfire ever could.

Sunday started with a massage for me, great relief for a stretched shoulder I had been nursing all week.  I love massages and to have one so easily and as part of the weekend was very welcome!

The rest of the day was spent doing lots of yoga puncutated with eating and sauna.  A bit of crazy impromptu dancing to the Black Eyed Peas I Gotta Feeling warmed us up for the penultimate yoga session before we unwound with partner massage, our final workshop. We finished the weekend with another big delicious feast. It was hard to leave; the weekend went so quickly, but felt like were there for days and days, and the thought of returning to work on the Monday was hard to deal with.  The best thing about leaving was looking forward to the returning.

By Natalie Smith

V is for Vaclav

Say Formaggio

Oh, it’s here again. Not really sure why I am changing nice cold and dark weather with hot and sunny weather in Italy. Could it be a previous experience which drove me there also in May; an intensive yoga retreat led by Jaqui Wan?

I don’t think so, I’m not a yoga junkie who wants to do five hours of practice every day.. Really I’m not the sort that wakes up at five a.m. to make an early bird ninety minute session of Bikram yoga, followed up by one hour lunch yoga and then  to gym  for weights and an evening of more yoga. Then tops it off with volleyball practice and cycling. No, that’s not me at all.

Vaclav at 06:30, 13:00 and 18:15

I met Jennifer, Shahana and Tony at the airport. I knew these guys from before; strange people – who want to talk all the time about yoga even when people are already poisoned from too much yoga talk and have volunteered to uncoil from their mortal coil by listening to more: they won’t stop. Do I have to listen to this? I don’t wanna die yet. Maybe later after a big gelato, or two of them, or more. I think, I don’t belong to this group… There were also other people, which we didn’t know yet: Mekella, Cobi, Emily and North.
There was one girl who made the mistake of  sending me a text message but I forgot to tell her I use my mobile only once a day when I need to switch my alarm off before it wakes me up. Anyhow, we found each other at the airport in Trieste. Chi called that there was an accident and she is stuck in the traffic and cannot pick up us. She was definitely stuck in some local gelato shop enjoying her ice cream; I know that was actually the accident: these are the facts and no one can tell me otherwise.
We moved to a bus station waiting for a bloody bus. After a few no, no, no there was yes and we got on the bus. While we were waiting for a bus we had a polite yoga introduction conversation with yoga buddies, what’s your name? where are you from?what’s your weight and age? are you single? how long? do you mind? don’t you mind? So we got to know each other a bit…

Group therapy

Our daily yoga routine was very nice. I enjoyed watching sleep zombies doing yoga in the morning;  who were thinking they do yoga just by watching each other. After the morning class was when sleep zombies transformed to normal people.

We enjoyed very nice food from Paola then chilled out, absorbed local gelato in a copius amounts trying to achieve “Nothing left for locals” target.
We were also by the sea and had very nice time playing bowling. I think every moment we spent all together was very nice, relaxing and unforgettable.
The evening yoga classes were more energetic and we tried to put to our practice as much as we can except one gal, Jaqui Wan. She was just walking around and commanding what to/not to do how to/not to do. Who did she think she is? A teacher or what? Actually, she was, forgot this bit again.

By the city

Not sure how other yoga buddies did but I have to admit I improved in my yoga practice but still some muscles were very loyal and stood solid and there was a very strong resistance to get further. Obviously, how can you bend metal?
Doing over five hours of yoga is not easy for everyone but Jaqui interpreted yoga in a way so everyone enjoyed it; we learnt about yoga from other aspects and had lots of fun.
The atmosphere she created (or maybe she mind manipulated us) meant even when things were challenging there was always time for a smile and laughs.
Well done to everybody. Well done to Jaqui Wan. Finally on our way back at the Trieste airport Jaqui and I did a one hand handstand. The security cameras were pointing at us but with no consequences. Maybe they enjoyed the show! Nameste.

Darling Yoga Buds of May

The invitation came from a fellow classmate to join the spring yoga retreat near Udine, Italy. I had no hesitations in going after following Jacqui’s weekly class for over two years. The chance to experience five days of immersive practice under her guidance in an idyllic location away from the noise and bright lights of London could not be overlooked.

Relationships developed quickly in such an atmosphere as we were absorbed in yoga and Italian lifestyle; gelato, sunshine, meals on the veranda, yoga by the lake – what a wonderful setting! Over five hours of yoga per day gave me a chance to experience new postures and also try out Jaqui’s speciality; Acroyoga.

My body may have ached after the first day, but was re-energised by the fourth nearly feeling renewed and ready to tackle my London life style. I think everyone could do with these experiences in life.

By Roxanne Degarie

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