Something magical happened.
Seven Riverflow yogis departed for Italy, a bit frazzled around the edges. We were acquaintances who shared a love of hot yoga.
Seven Riverflow yogis landed in Italy, transformed: friends, confidantes, blissful warrior women.
Ah, Italy....and oh, hot yoga in Florence...
Who wouldn't feel changed by the Tuscan hills, that Renaissance art, the fountains, the church bells, the River, the markets...the poetry of the language, the gentility of the people, the food - not counting calories but savoring things you never considered like wild boar and tripe and rooster, endless gelato and ice cream and nutella-filled everything - the coffee from espresso to latte, from macchiato to shakkerado, freddo, even Pocket Coffee, that amazing chocolate oozing liquid coffee centers. No limits. No guilt. All pleasure.
Then comes the inner transformation.
Suddenly you are without a To Do List. When nothing is expected of you, you get to rediscover who you are. You become an expert in your own happiness.
That is the art of a Riverflow Renewal.
When you are on Renewal, time expands. Centuries collide. Life fills you up. Nothing depletes your energy.
There is time to be yourself and time to be with others. Time to share and time to be quiet. Time to let go of stress, even the kind that seems so tightly wound up in side you at home.
Time to understand what does and doesn't make sense for you. Time to follow your own blissful inner guidance.
Without a plan, without a schedule, without a real strategy, you find your way home to yourself .
This was our time of Renewal.
Day 1: Milan
I had already been in Florence three days, getting things ready for my Blissful Warriors.
Actually, I was getting unready.
I was practicing what I was about to ask my yogis to do: go with the flow. And remember that the unplanned is the best plan
But I do love surprising people and I had some ideas....
From Malpensa Airport to Milano Centrale, our first stop was the little restaurant La Columbrina where the locals eat. Our first meal in Italy.
Consuela, Owner and Chef of at La Columbrina, sat us at a large table in a private room and told us about her freshly baked croissants filled with fig, nutella, apricot and wild berries, as she presented plate-fulls. Then fresh baked bread and olive oil for dipping (it is olive picking season in Italy, she explained, and this oil was pressed just this morning). Bottomless cups of machiatto, espresso, tea.
Then we ordered lunch. And desert
With every bite, we took it all in - we were really HERE - around the table, sharing conversation and crusty bruschetta with fresh tomatoes. Vegetable soup with vegetables just harvested this morning. Salads of wild arugula and raw mozzarella, prosciutto ham, soft eggs, and more olives. The fun was in the food. We felt satisfied, with our food and ourselves, and the more we ate the lighter we felt. Nourished.
The train ride to Florence rocked us into an afternoon nap, and we arrived at Palazzo San Niccolo, the Renaissance palace we were to call home/yoga studio/gathering ground/meetup space/garden and breakfast lounge for the week.
Our home was filled with our new Italian family. Elisa, Angel, Grazia, Francesca, Annalisa and Federico, our hosts, prepared our welcome dinner: Tuscan bread, pasta cingiale, venison stew, chocolated-dusted tiramisu.
This is what richness tastes like.
Day 2, 3, 4 and more in Florence and...
When I embark on any journey, I don't really prepare.
You prepave by clearing the pathway in your mind for the journey you want - fun, easy, delightful with surprises. When you expect it, and feel it, it must show up. And so you don't sweat the "obstacles" that may show up, because you know for sure that they are thinly disguised blessings, equally important to the plot of your journey which you have preapved to be taking you exactly where you said you wanted, at just the right time.
Prepaving has nothing to do with packing your suitcase - in fact, it requires unpacking your baggage. Letting go of "shouldn't eat pasta" and "I must see all the museums" and "I'm allergic to ice cream." It means turning your back on old paths that feel unsatisfying.
And turning the clock face-down. For 7 days and nights
How? You begin each day with Hot yoga and meditation to remember your priority: you.
You empty out the baggage and allow the wonder of Florence to fill you with awe and delight
I won't say much more about our Riverflow Renewal in Florence, 2017; it's all about surprises, and I don't want to spoil any surprises for you.
But I will tell you that in 2018, there are new surprises waiting... there are surprises everywhere
All you need to do is show up, having prepaved this adventure, from your heart.