Amanda, Joella, Bry, and Stacy reflect on the February Retreat

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Retreats. What a ride, eh?

This past weekend wraps up our ninth retreat, hard to believe. At this point, many yogis have joined us for more than one retreat. As a host, it is indescribable to witness the relationships that have developed and deepened.  We are so humbled and grateful that many of you are on this walk with us, and we know that just like us, you find something new from each retreat weekend. It is hard to describe how much meaningful work we can do in one weekend- by simply taking a few days to focus on nourishing movement, mindfulness, play, and connection, it seems we can realign our perspective and find a place of calm to take on an entire year.

After each retreat we share our highs and lows from the weekend. This time, we decided to share with y’all. At the end, we’re sharing some of the lovely original work omies emailed to us after the retreat- THANK YOU!

Joella’s take:

Re - treat : an act of moving back or withdrawing.

…. Every retreat sparks a new experience, sensation, and discovery. Often times, I find myself wondering how in the hell I was able to make it this far. Looking back at who I was, what I was, and where I was, these weekends offer a gentle reminder of how far I have evolved.

The human body replaces itself with a largely new set of cells ever 7-10 years. Every cell replenishes itself offering a sense of renewal and rebirth. Perhaps every 7-10 years we are given the opportunity to reestablish who we long to be in this life, in this body.

I certainly feel it.

We had our third annual winter yoga retreat this past weekend at the place where it all started, a wholesome environmental learning center deep in Northern Minnesota’s heavenly pine forest. This past weekend offered unforgettable memories shared with individuals who I can now call friends, or even family. I remember a moment when I couldn’t help but smile and let out a big sigh of relief as I laid on my back listening to Bryana’s sweet voice guide us through a gentle movement class while watching the thick, pure white snowflakes, each unique and offering a new opportunity, falling from the grey-blue sky.

That moment. This moment. Every evolving moment keeping me feeling alive and on top of the world. This shift of consciousness from “I can’t” to “ I can” and “ I will.”

Each retreat I am reminded of the heartache my body and mind endured as I continue to search for those special pieces to finish my puzzle. Perhaps my puzzle will never be finished. Maybe that's the point? I’ve accepted that too. Yet, I am filled with so much joy, hope, and strength being surrounded by yogis ready to share themselves with the world, that I find reassurance in this challenging, yet beautiful journey to the self as I realize that we are all in this adventure together.

The moments where we are moving in unison connecting breath to movement, the times our omies share their stories of sorrow and joy through journaling and connection, and the sensation we all endure when we finally let down our walls, it’s in these moments we truly shine as a collective whole. These weekends, these group of beautiful, strong individuals remind me that we are all experiencing the same heartache, sorrow, happiness, and joy at some point within our lives, and there is comfort in knowing we aren’t alone as we help lift each other up through positive words and connections.

Each year, It’s so magnificent watching every one of us evolve into a new version of ourselves. And these weekends always remind me of how far I have come, but most importantly just how far I still have to go, how far we all have to go.

I’m learning to cherish every moment as if it were a yoga retreat weekend. For as long as I surround myself with those I love and those that fill my cup, while following my hearts desire, I will never be without. Because of these weekends, I am reminded that I am capable of anything.

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From Bry’s point of view:

Riding high on loving memories of this retreat. Reflecting back.... the feeling is almost indescribable.

Thank you for bringing your sweet, beautiful souls to this special corner of the world. Thank you for sharing with us your adventurous spirit, hardship, love, obstacle, compassion, joy, curiosity ... Thank you for sharing your journey with us.

One thing that has really been sticking with me is that it’s often said that it’s more difficult to make friends in adulthood.

Allowing myself to connect deeper with my love of yoga has brought me many gifts. One of which, is that I am constantly surrounded by the most amazing people. 20-something-year-old-me would’ve never known this type of connection, friendship, and community was possible.

For example, I first met Stacy Nightwine at our first winter yoga retreat in 2016. We hit it off immediately. Now I feel like I’ve known her forever.  I feel so grateful to have met her, and really blossomed a friendship with her. That would’ve never happened (I don’t think…?), without yoga retreats.  The same holds true for my friendships with Joella and Amanda. We would not stand where we are today without the dedicated space of yoga retreats. We can let our “freak flags fly” when it comes to all things yoga.  I’m so incredibly thankful that I have these yogi weirdos in my life.

Because of yoga, and retreats, I’ve made a lot of amazing friendships in adulthood. I’ve also strengthened a lot of old friendships through yoga. I’ve met knew, amazing people, like yourself as well.  I absolutely LOVE being surrounded by people who love yoga. It is so darn special. Pinch me. I am very grateful for the people in my life. THANK YOU for loving yoga, being who you are, coming to share space at a weekend retreat, and sharing your special self with us.

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Stacy’s 2 cents:

The February retreat is, and always will be, my favorite. The snow, the fireplaces, the great hall yoga room- melt my heart!  I have such cabin fever by the time February comes around the weekend yoga retreat is always what I need. I can't help but feel revived afterward. I get a charge, I get inspiration, I get motivation, I get emotional, and gosh darn it I am so HAPPY to be there. I am happy to be with my friends and meeting new people. I am definitely finding out I am an extrovert. I feel refreshed and recharged when I am around people. Don't get me wrong, I love being a homebody but sometimes I need to get out!!!

My high from the yoga retreats was definitely snowshoeing. Though I’ve been to Deep Portage in February for the past two years, I never made it outside to snowshoe or cross country ski. This year I was able to do one of my favorite winter activities at my favorite place and it was AMAZING.

Another high for me was recognizing my body getting stronger during yoga. I am hard on myself because I struggle with weight but it felt really GOOD to notice that feeling of strength.

Another high- working with three of the most amazing women I’ve ever met. I feel so honored I to work with them and better yet, they have become the bestest friends I have ever had.

Okay one more high… watching Rachel paint was pretty powerful... Like wow that girl can paint. I saw her feel our energy while doing yoga, and watched as she put that energy into her painting. It was pretty cool, and I had a front row seat.  I also thought it was cool she didn't bring water for her paints, so she used coffee. I love a good resourceful person!!!

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Amanda’s perspective:

For me, the best part of the weekend is when we share creative writing exercises. It is thrilling to watch as someone timidly shares something they wrote with a look of shy confidence- a face that says, "I can't believe I wrote this, this came out of me!"

There are ordinary moments of joy and complexity and a distinct voice within each of us. When we stop and listen, sometimes we genuinely surprise ourselves. It's in these moments at retreats when I am able to see people. In a moment of honesty someone may share a truth about who they are, what they value, what they've been through. The moments are fleeting and yet suspended, a moment between writer and listener that is full of integrity and respect. These days we are exposed to a lot of NOISE- things can often feel a bit shallow to me.  I crave these moments of deep connection. I find myself smiling about them for weeks and months after we are together. Haikus are a great example- they cut to the quick of whatever the writer is experiencing. In a few short words I can see someone more clearly than if they chatted with me for an hour. I wish I had more time to build relationships and friendships with retreaters, but I’ve learned to be thankful for the moments of connection we share and to carry those close.

Since we embarked on this endeavor, we have all evolved and honed in on what feels genuine to each of us. For me, teaching creative writing is the piece that feels the most like me. Of course, I also love to teach silly classes. This time swordplay was a last minute addition. I did sort of miss teaching yoga sculpt in the boiler room though…

I had many highs, here are just a few:

·        Group cross-country ski (snowy birch tree bliss!!!!)

·        Sharing creative writing aloud

·        Per usual, being taken away via Joella’s sound bowls

·        Luxurious and nourishing movements in Bryana’s restorative classes

·        Seeing Rachel fulfill a dream she came up with on our very first retreat together (!!!!) to host painting workshops AND she even did a live painting during our final class together.

Original Artwork by Rachel Eisenmann - painted during our final yoga session together

Original Artwork by Rachel Eisenmann - painted during our final yoga session together


FYI in case you didn’t know…. Someone did purchase Rachel’s gorgeous painting, filled with our loving vibes from the weekend and final session together.  The funds from the artwork will be going toward a future yoga retreat scholarship! We have always wanted a self-care weekend away to be as accessible and affordable as possible.  Even though we try our very best to offer affordable options and payment plans, we know that retreats are sometimes inaccessible financially, yet so needed. Therefore, we offer scholarships to those who are experiencing financial stress with the added burden of emotional turmoil, grief, loss, and more.  Thank you so much to the omie that bought Rachel’s painting. She does not want to be publicly recognized, but we want her to know we appreciate her. We know she will enjoy that original artwork in her home, filled with all of your breath, love, and community awesomeness.

WRITING- Thanks for sharing with us Omies.

nurturing father

arms wrapped around his daughter

safe, warm, together


Shovel poem:

Never will I keep a hold.

Be free to run as fast

as feet will carry you to dreams.



Butter tastes so good.

Creamy, melty, smooth as silk.

Taste buds sing and dance.

- Kerry Johnson

In defense of tired

You look tired- those three words that can make a woman cringe. To touch her face or smooth down her hair in defense. You look tired- in comparison to how you normally glow. You look tired because I know you had a rough night- the baby didn’t sleep- he kept you up. You look tired because while other moms and dads fight to get a little sleep in between feedings- you have to listen to machines and beeps and breathing. Is he breathing? What if it stops? You look tired because you are pouring out your being- your soul into your child. Your child who is alive against all odd. You look tired because warriors are fierce and don’t rest much- you need sleep, but that will come later- when machines are gone and he is safe. You look tired and my precious daughter- tired is beautiful on you.

-Jessica Baumhofer

Lastly, a retreater shared this video with us and well… we love it.

Amanda ThoeComment