So what does a group of 12 women do on a weekend yoga retreat in the small mountain town of Lake Placid, NY? Everything you could imagine they'd do...and more.
On Friday at dusk the St. Lawrence University Yoga Club made their way via winding roads, lined with forest, from farm-town Canton, NY to the charming Olympic village of Lake Placid, NY. We may not have said it, but we all were feeling it - nervous, anxious-excited and unsure of what to expect from the weekend ahead.
When they arrived a warm dinner awaited: salted arugula salad, Ayurvedic kitchari, herbed roasted purple potatoes, and a warmed local loaf of vegan whole wheat sourdough. We ate, we shared, we laughed the dinner hour away, and before we knew it it was time for Yin & Yoga Nidra. Once relaxed - properly prepped for the rejuvenating weekend ahead - it was time for home baked goodies - chocolate chip cookies and brownies - and tea. Between the soothing sips and sweet nibbles, each lovely lady received a chair massage before slipping away into a restful sleep.
And just like that the weekend was off to a magical magical start.
It all began with fresh ground coffee, warmed apple crisp, vanilla yogurt and granola galore. Then we bundled up, packed layers and fresh brewed tea and goodies for all, and hiked to the summit of Balanced Rock where we embodied the mountain we sat upon in meditation with Palouse's Mountain Meditation.
When we returned from our hike - muddy footprints and hearts filled full with the fresh fall mountain air - the aroma of lunch was too good to be true: coconut curried lentil toast on sprouted birdy bread, topped with arugula and shaved parmesan.
"I have two bags of chocolate in my room because I figured this weekend would be all healthy and I'd starve, but honestly I'm thriving right now."
With that quote, Saturday's lunch became my favorite meal we shared all weekend.
After lunch we made our way to Lonesome Bay. It was here we grounded down and explored what it is that is keeping us from being our truest selves in a world filled with distractions. The temperature was just right and the sun shone warm and bright. We breathed and we flowed, one with nature and one with ourselves.
When we thought it couldn't get better, it did just that. Thanks to Forever Wild Apothecary, we enjoyed a free-writing & sip workshop, bringing intention beyond our movement, into words on the page. From there, many enjoyed a stroll down Main Street; some huddled up with a good book. After a moment of down time to ourselves we again came together for a warm dinner: maple dressed pear kale salad, harvest chili and warmed pumpkin bread.
Restorative Yoga & Meditation helped us wind down the night, which ended in sweet dreams for all. Like no joke, everyone slept like a rock. #success
After Sunday Yoga at Sunrise, the OG plan was to make our way to the ice cold Mirror Lake, wading and noticing, not judging, the sensations as they came. However, when we woke to unceasing rain showers, Palouse's Lake Meditation brought us to the lake in our own minds' eyes.
After a morning of mindfulness on our mats, we made our way to the breakfast table for our last meal together. There, dozens of freshly baked banana blueberry muffins awaited our appetites. We filled our bellies and laughed and shared together once more before parting ways back to the realities we each hold.
Grateful. Thankful. And so very very blessed.
I tried my best to remain mindful amidst the meal prep and the laughs and the Surya Namaskars to stop, look, and take it all in, lest I miss my dreams becoming a reality. In my eyes what I learned from my students outweighed what I taught throughout the weekend, but in retrospect you cannot have one without the other. I hold so much gratitude in my heart for the people who helped make it possible, and every life-lesson I have learned thus far that has prepared me to hold space for such an experience.
Seeing women come together from different walks of life the way these 11 women did has assured me like nothing ever has that I am exactly where I am meant to be.
I cannot wait to do it again, and again, and again.
"I loved the weekend! The retreat came at a perfect time. I struggle with depression and I had been letting my self-care slip and was starting to return to a bad place. The yoga and meditations were so relaxing and refreshing and the weekend gave me a lot of new tools I can use to continue self-care and mindfulness at SLU."
"Being a college student, it can be easy to forget to take care of myself, and it can be easy to forget what it means to take care of myself. This weekend allowed me to meditate on what is important to me, and what I need to do to take better care of my mind and body. The weekend was full of amazing yoga, delicious food, and great company to share it all with!"
"I am so grateful for the space this retreat gave me to relax, slow down, and focus on my own practice through various yoga classes, mindfulness workshops, and Anna's amazing cooking!"
"This weekend was a time for me to slow down and think about what really matters to me in my life. It's easy to get overwhelmed and push self-care to the side. My favorite point Anna made was how each of us has the time to do things we make time to do. It's important to take charge of our lives, and take the initiative to be happier and calmer by simply allowing ourselves to be. Since the retreat I have been consciously taking more time for myself to destress, as self-care is not selfish - it is power to find peace amongst the chaos."
"It's incredible how, if you take the time and surround yourself with the right people, you can come back to yourself and to your purpose in a matter of hours."
"I've been thinking a lot about the retreat weekend and putting to practice a lot of things you shared with us and I just wanted to thank you for such a great and relaxing weekend. It was such a nice break and I appreciate all of the things you did to make it so special for us. I could tell how much thought and heart went into it. You are so inspiring and I'm excited to see where you take these retreats in the future!"
Studying abroad is by far one of the most amazing experiences of my life thus far. I grew in ways I didn't know possible, but I also was challenged in ways I never knew possible. If I'm being honest, one of the biggest challenges for me at first was finding a way to balance my wellness while still being open to the new culture I was surrounded by. It's not unheard of to study abroad and ditch the healthy habits because you are on "vacation," and there is something to be said about enjoying the finer things in life while overseas. But I knew that if I did not maintain normalcy while trying to live for four months in a foreign country, I would never have been able to fully enjoy my time abroad. I was bound and determined to maintain my fitness and health, despite living in a French city and living in a high rise. I found ways to do so and I'm here to share with you some of my favorite strategies in combatting the feeling of losing control while you're abroad. I promise you if you take care of yourself and continue to put your health first, your time spent overseas will be far more enjoyable than if you let yourself go.