Yogagaia, Hiking and Painting in the Italian Alps

Yoga and painting, Yoga and hiking in the Italian Alps

Yoga and painting in the Italian Alps. Come and fall in love with our planet by exploring Yogagaia.
With Hasita Nadai and Laura Clark • From July 14 to July 24, 2012


A Kripalu Yoga and Hiking Retreat in the Italian Alps with Hasita Nadai

Celebrate the beauty of the planet in the high mountains through Yogagaia, Yoga and painting and hiking. 
A unique opportunity to rejuvenate and rejoice in our connection to ourselves and  the planet.  This program is open to adults, families and children over six years old.

Cheneil is a very small mountain village in the Italian Alps, sitting in a glacially carved out bowl, 2001 m high and it is above the tree line. Cheneil (italian description) is located on the Italian side of the Matterhorn (Cervino in Italian). From Milano one drives up the Val d’Aosta, the valley located in Central Italian Alps.

Cheneil map, Yoga and painting, Yoga and hiking in the Italian AlpsVal d’Aosta leads into a narrow valley called Valtournenche, which holds an ancient town also called Valtournenche. Cheneil is a “suburb” of Valtournenche. It is above and beyond the ridge of the eastern flank of Valtournenche . It consists of a few homes and an ancient hotel, the Hotel Panorama Bich.

In Cheneil there are no roads and no car; there are green Alpine meadows colored with wild flowers, interspersed with murmuring brooks and protected by an arch of high mountains. Beyond these mountains are the gigantic glaciers of the Alps and if weather permits the Matterhorn, the giant of the Valley is visible. Typically one would drive up the Val d’Aosta from Milano. The main winding mountain road forks into a narrow steeper, winding road that leads to Cheneil. The road ends at a large parking lot next to a mini waterfall with a trail leading to paradise. There is a little cable car that only transports the luggage. The walk is about 15 to 20 minutes long. There is huffing and puffing, mainly because of the altitude.


The days in Cheneil will be woven together by meditation, walking, breathing, eating, playing, yoga and painting and celebrating. There will be some guided time for landscape painting in the mountains, emphasizing process over product. No former training is necessary to enjoy “deep seeing”, a meditation that helps us be more present observers and chroniclers of the world we are so much part of, and is a part of us. Walking in the mountains and exploring inside ourselves will be the core activities. We will surrender to the alpine weather which will determine our daily programs. We will explore the wild alpine flowers and their ecosystems. We will charge our systems with oxygen, which after two weeks will be maintained in our body for at least one year.

These mountains have many stories to tell us about their origin and evolution through millions of years. They harbor many human dramas as well. One of these, the story of the first ascent of the Matterhorn, is a human drama with heroes and victims (I will tell the story for an evening event). We will be in contact with the inhabitants of Cheneil and get to know their lovely families, and all their pets, including horses. The homemade food is exquisite Northern Italian Cuisine.Yoga and painting, Yoga and hiking in the Italian Alps


We will discover through yoga and painting, through meditation, pranyama and walking in the mountains that our body and the earth are temples of the divine.
We will explore our deep connection to the universe.
We will enhance our connection to the natural beauty that surrounds us and learn that the process of painting can be a form of meditation through working with watercolors in the landscape in the open air.
We will realize that through our eyes the universe sees itself, that through our consciousness the universe becomes conscious of itself.
When we do yoga in the mountains, the richness of sensations is planted deep inside us.
When in silence in the mountains we experience the moment fully.
On the mountain, to be in the moment is effortless, the witness disappears and …we become one.
It will be the practice of the silence of the mind that will take us to the highest peaks of experience.
While immersing ourselves in natural beauty we will learn to discover our own beauty.
When we realize how we are deeply connected to the planet, our lives transform and our commitments evolve.
We will reawaken our sense of wonder.
We will realize the sacredness of all of life: the rights of the rivers, of the mountains, of the glaciers, of the grass, of the flowers, the marmots, the wildlife.


Laura, Yoga and painting, Yoga and hiking in the Italian AlpsOur bodies are miraculous connectors to other species, to all matter on the planet and to the universe. Inside ourselves, in our cells and sinews, we hold memories of our own individual formation, our evolution from the sea, and even of the formation of our planet and the very universe itself. Yogagaia, as a practice, is a special combination of traditional and nontraditional asanas and flow sequences. It enables us to connect to our place in and among the plants and creatures on the earth and the very substance of our planet. We unlock memories of our evolution in our physical bodies, containers of billions of years of history, through a combination of movement and meditation. Practicing Yogagaia in the mountains through yoga and painting magnifies its effect, as we feel the earth rise up beneath our feet and we gaze down into the crevasses and meadows of this beautiful part of the Italian Alps. We observe the changing sky and weather, and the flora and fauna of the mountains of which we are a part, and sense our deep connection to all that surrounds us. We create yoga in a new setting, but one that is completely familiar to us as part of our ancient personal history, yet another home for us in our continual evolution.


Hasita: She has an MA in Biology and an MS in Geology. She is a professional 500 Hour Kripalu RYT and a Deep Ecologist.  She has  been  teaching yoga since 1994 for adults and children.  As a teacher and researcher in  the earth sciences she has created Yogagaia which reconnects our life to the life of the planet. Hasita has been roaming the Alps for 65 years and has organized trips and led hikes in the Cheneil area.

Yogagaia in Cheneil 2008 

One thought on “Yogagaia, Hiking and Painting in the Italian Alps

  • February 17, 2012 at 12:33 am

    I work at a Yoga Retreat Center in Costa RIca and we just started having someone come in to offer watercolor painting workshops….she takes them on a nature hike to find something that inspires them to paint….I can only imagine the inspiration one would find being in the Italian Alps!!


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