Grace Dubery on Home, Her Practice, and Making the Dreamiest Chocolate Mousse Cake

  • Brit Hastings
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This month, Grace Dubery will be leading a six-day yoga retreat in Portugal. But the retreat is so much more than a European getaway. It’s a unique immersion with an intimate window into Grace’s world — her home and her practice. Grace was born in Lisbon and spent her summers in the rural Portuguese countryside on her family’s farm, exploring, going to market, and enjoying time with her loved ones. She paints such a romantic picture of this place, we honestly might have to hop on a plane to join her!

The retreat is as much a focus on food and culture as it is on yoga. Grace and her co-host will lead guests in Vinyasa and Yin practices, and every meal will be a lesson in mindfulness as well as the local cuisine. Since there is an emphasis on self-care, balance, and nourishment, we asked Grace to share a favorite recipe with us. She obliged us with her favorite treat, a chocolate mousse cake. (See her recipe at the end of the article.)

In between her busy New York teaching schedule, this go-getter instructor took some time to share some thoughts about her her current practice and upcoming retreat with YogaToday (Photo by Lindsay Linton).

YogaToday: What have you been working on in your own practice recently that you are excited to share with your guests?

Grace Dubery: Refining my own practice and teaching is an ongoing process. I am currently trying to gain greater clarity around what, to me, feels important in a yoga asana practice.

I continue to push along the path of alignment and really breaking down asana; I follow Iyengar Yoga and am very attentive to alignment. In fact, I am going to India in July for an intensive training with Iyengar, so that has been pulling my interest of late. I’ve also been doing a sound healing training and have been working with the throat chakra, so I’m sure that I will tie in elements of sound healing, but the focus will still be on alignment and sequence-focused classes.

Sometimes, as teachers, I think we tend to make things more complex than they need to be. There’s a point where it becomes important to shed those layers and simplify. At the end of the day, you always come back to what’s important.

Take, for example, the breath and how even something as simple as breathing can be overcomplicated. Just breathe. We don’t have to make it more complex than it needs to be.

YT: Can you tell us more about the focus on food during the retreat?

GD: Nourishment will play an integral role in the retreat as the food represents a huge part of the Portuguese culture. Katrina will source our food from the local market, and we’ll be making all of our food from scratch. Guests will have the opportunity to participate if they choose. One of my favorite memories from my wedding last fall was when my Portuguese friends and American friends were cooking together in the kitchen.

The retreat is really equal parts yoga and equal parts food; nourishment, whether it’s serving your mind or your body, is almost holy, so we want to bring mindfulness to how and what we are eating. Part of the experience (and practice) will be in sharing food with one another.

I will lead two hours of flow in the morning and my co-host, Katrina, will lead a restorative practice in the afternoons so the entire retreat will be a lesson in mindfulness, in slowing down. Even in the region where we will be, you sense that the pace is slower, that there is a reverence for simple pleasures, and for taking one’s time. We don’t often have the luxury of time in our modern lives.

YT: What makes Portugal special to you? What is unique about this specific location?

GD: The farm that we will be on is my family farm. This is where I spent all of my summers growing up; and where I got married. My grandparents have had this place before I was even born. It’s my fave place on earth, familiar and intimate. I will be able to share a huge part of me in what I am offering. I feel somewhat exposed hosting the retreat in this intimate space, but I also think it will be very gratifying because I am so connected to the place.

The region is really untouched — off the beaten path, so to speak. Geographically, it’s an hour and a half drive from Lisbon, and very close to Spain, in fact. The land is sparse with olive groves, cork trees, and small, whitewashed villages. It’s honestly pretty magical. I always have the sense that no one has really been there, like it’s undiscovered. It’s beautiful and isolated.


Grace Dubery’s ‘Portuguese Dream’ Chocolate Mousse Cake

INGREDIENTS

1 cup of sugar

8 oz of baking chocolate, coarsely chopped and melted

2 sticks of butter

6 eggs

1/3 cup of flour

DIRECTIONS

1) Adjust the oven rack to the middle of the oven and heat to 400ºF.

2) Lightly grease and flour a 9-inch cake pan. Tap out any excess flour.

3) Beat egg whites for about 5 minutes until peaks form. Set aside.

4) Mix the yolks with the sugar and the butter for about 5 minutes, until smooth. You can do this by hand, or in a stand mixer.

5) Mix in the chocolate until smooth. Add flour and mix. Add egg whites and fold them in.

6) Spread the batter into the bottom of the prepared pan, smoothing it to the edges with a spatula. Bake for about 10 minutes or the edges are cooked. Cool to room temperature in the pan on a wire rack.

7) Dust with powdered sugar or shredded chocolate.


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