Most retreats offer either bodywork or a creative art. What makes our course different is that we start with the body (Pilates/Garuda) get the mind in the right place (mindfulness, meditation, workshops, etc) and then structure creative activities that integrate imagination and presence – and all in the beauty of the Tuscan countryside, in a place of safety and seclusion.
You will emerge with new, connected and transferable skills.
Pilates and Garuda
Pilates will help you to reshape, realign and rebalance your body helping to make it longer, leaner and stronger.
Garuda is a Pilates, yoga and gyrotonics-based system that builds gradually. Here movements start first by isolating individual muscles, then move on to the myofascial lines they belong to. All of the exercises are systematically devised to bring your mind back into exercise while making your body the leanest, strongest and most flexible it has ever been.
Garuda is about arcing and curling, pushing and pulling, lengthening and strengthening the entire body. Full body movement from fingers to toes - owning your space. Come and feel delicious in the body you are in - be curious about your movement and explore your growth!
Your body will thank you!
Some people experience changes through how their body looks and how clothes fit. Others are relieved of previous chronic aches and pains; feel less fatigued, experience increased energy levels, notice improved flexibility, standing or seating posture, positive mental outlook and peaceful mind. Overall benefits also include: increased muscular endurance and strength, improved concentration and focus, more efficient movement patterns, improved breathing and breath control.
Mindful Movement and Meditation
Mindful Movement teaches you ways to experience for yourself how your body and mind interact and align, and how that alignment creates a greater sense of how thoughts and feelings impact how you hold your body.
Sue integrates all the disciplines of Bodywork (massage, acupressure, Thai body, reflexology, Pilates, Yoga, Dance, Franklin Method, and Zenga) with the latest understanding of neuroscience. At the start of the class Sue takes time to listen to the students needs, emotions and feelings to make sure students leave their session feeling in a better mental and physical state.
These sessions incorporate focus and awareness on how the body and mind relate using visualization and emotive thinking to improve the function of the body. Attention is given to fascial releasing and the use of spiky balls to massage away tensions. Having released tensions and enabled the body to move more freely the sessions always close with a mindfulness meditation, relaxation and instructed breath work.
“I love teaching this class, it’s a great for de-stressing, physical and even emotional release.” Sue SGPilates
Voicework in speech and song
I'm regularly asked, 'What's a good voice?' I often answer, 'One that I don't notice'. I would also add, one which makes me notice things about a spoken text. (RSC voice coach Patsy Rodenburg)
How do you find your own voice and use it to engage others?
Good voice use begins with the breath, continues through an understanding of vocal physiology and technique, and culminates in the art of presence: holding a room and moving an audience.
Building on the physical connections and understanding you will gain in Pilates and Garuda, we will teach you the fundamentals of good voice use: instantly implementable skills that will help you to overcome your nerves, release tension and communicate openly.
Vocal warm-up and exercises start every session. From here we move into choral singing (to improve range and tone) presence exercises and speech work.
Materials range from modern to classical texts: by the end of the week, you will understand how actors approach Shakespeare (and if you can do this, you can apply it to absolutely anything!)
Linked to our skills sessions on voice, this workshop offers you the chance to express yourself in writing. Starting once again from the self and taking inspiration from our surroundings, we will cover:
Finding your authentic voice -developing an individual style.
Descriptive writing - sharpening the senses and fashioning a world.
Point of view - who owns the story?
Constructing characters: backstories, conflict, creating individuals
Dialogue, plot and momentum
Editing and feedback
At the end of the week, you will have an opportunity to share your work.
The Art of Seeing - visual art
Overcoming concrete thought is a great step towards the magic of the the illusion in representational art.
We tend to want to draw what we know rather than what we actually see.
A true art lesson can benefit the student with enhanced visual memory and observational skills as well as giving them the tools to express themselves and their reaction to the world around them. This, in turn, gives the student a greater understanding of the subject as well as a great sense of achievement and confidence- and often tranquility.
Whether you feel you have little talent or are an experienced artist, by the end of the week you will have greater confidence in your ability and deepen your artistic perception.
We will concentrate on traditional techniques and key aspects of representational art as well as more expressive forms of painting and drawing. A fresh look at drawing with pencil, graphite, charcoal and pen and wash as well as techniques with watercolour and acrylic .
Genres include still-life, life-drawing, portraiture and of course the beautiful Tuscan landscape in its various lights and colours of day will be explored.
The world around us will be approached both through long distance, pulling back and looking out (landscape) and scrutiny at close quarters, up close in the studio - (portraiture, botanical drawing, still life ) .
There will be both sketching ‘en plain air’ and studio work as well touching on some art history, including trips to art museums .
As well as the cognitive and therapeutic values of the process of making art, students can simply enjoy trying out new media; experimenting with materials and interpretation. You can also really learn how to achieve representational illusions if you so choose to.
We will regularly touch upon some art history. Modern and contemporary art will be set against its history so that the journey is understood.
Even listening to music of the period whilst looking at certain artistic movements or subjects can help with a more subversive and holistic experience; enabling better concentration and results!
Students will be able to choose to focus on one particular genre or technique over the week or be free to practise all subjects and techniques on offer. Private tuition is available for those who would like to concentrate on a personal project or simply have more concentrated training.
All materials are supplied.
Other Activities and Excursions
We have planned a variety of complementary activities and excursions to deepen connections and enhance your experience. These include:
Movie night in our private cinema
Make-your-own-pizza in our wood-fired oven
Day trip to Volterra with artist-guided tour
Dinner in a local hill village Optional visit to the nearby Lama Tzong Khapa Insitute - one of the largest Tibetan monasteries in the western world.