Wild Women Yoga Retreat Recap 2019

“Keep your face always toward the sunshine – and shadows will fall behind you.” –Walt Whitman

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What an incredibly warm weekend together. I know I’m still basking in the sunshine and afterglow of such warmth and joy. A few things stood out to me from the weekend. Often I feel exhausted after retreats, especially after Wolf Ridge. To my surprise, this year I felt relaxed and refreshed. The vibe of our group was so mellow, kind, and warm. 

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I believe that I saw and experienced more and deeper connections than a typical retreat. Which is not to say that those connections aren’t made at other retreats, but at this retreat in particular, everyone seemed to jive.  I think part of this may be due to the fact that almost half our attendees arrived solo. Attending a retreat solo is a courageous act of vulnerability. With so many women attending solo, the magic was in the air, connections were waiting to be made. I actually think attending a retreat solo can sometimes provide more growth than coming with a friend. Those who come solo are ready to work, to reflect, and to connect with others. It really is a beautiful thing.

I so enjoyed how open and friendly everyone was throughout the weekend. Thank you, thank you, thank you. As one of my favorite yoga teachers says, “Deep Bows!”

Moon Salutations under the Full Aquarius Moon

On Thursday evening we celebrated the Aquarius Full Moon with Moon Salutations with Joella. For those of you that don’t know, Joella is really into the moon and astrology. So when we learned the Thursday of our retreat was on a full moon in the middle of the Perseid Meteor Shower… we knew it was meant to be! We had to let Joella go full-on-moon! 

In the coming weeks we are planning to share a blog on moon salutations, including a how-to-guide and some writing prompts. Keep your eyes peeled if you are interested in incorporated moon salutations into your home practice. 

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A taste of Katonah Yoga with Jessica Karpinske

Friday morning we enjoyed class with Jessica Karpinske of Rooted in Wellness, based out of Superior, WI. Jessica introduced us to a new style of yoga known as Katonah Yoga where we explored how our bodies fit together in unique shapes. She guided us through a mixture of different salutations such as water salutations, moon salutations, and sun salutations. The variety offered a unique experience while allowing us to step out of our comfort zone within our practice.  


Yoga + Hike = Yike! 

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After our Friday morning yoga class, half of us participated in the high ropes course while the other half joined me on a yike!

The yikers departed for Tettegouche State Park where we walked the Shovel Point Loop, one of my very favorite hikes in Minnesota. I’ve been hoping to teach a class like this for years, but we always decided not to put it on the schedule because we were concerned it would be too much of a rig-a-ma-roll. This year, I got the go-ahead from Bry and Joella and off we went! And I’m so glad we did!  As you can see, we didn’t have any fun! (A highlight: I made everyone try a slow, meditative walk and some hikers got stuck behind us. Finally they got frustrated, turned around, and went back around the loop… only to get stuck behind us again! Haha!)

I wasn’t planning on bringing us down to the water, but we had a few minutes to spare so I asked, “do you want to go down to the water? It involves a looong staircase…” To my surprise, everyone eagerly agreed, they wanted to go to the water. We swam, we frolicked, we ate berries. It was very merry indeed.

After lunch yogis had the option to rock climb or to attend a workshop with Wolf Ridge Staff on Woodland Art, an Ojibwe cultural community activity. Woodland Art is also known as legend painting. This art form uses symbolism to depict the relationships between humans and animals. Our yogis then used this symbolism to create their own story, which ultimately became part of a large collage to tell a story of her choosing. 

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Heart Opening with Nadia

Friday afternoon we enjoyed a heart opening class with Nadia. Whew, Friday was busy eh? 

Nadia combined the Lotus Mudra and heart opening postures to help us invite more love into our practice. Her class was creative, yet challenging, and offered a lovely experience for such a busy Friday. We feel so lucky to know such amazing teachers within the Omie community and to be able to share their talents with all of you at the retreats. 

Nadia holding the moon!

Nadia holding the moon!

Despacho Ceremony

Friday night we had a Despacho Ceremony. We learned the art of Despacho from our mentor and friend Sarah Seidelmann. Sarah calls a Despacho creating a “care package for the Universe.” Read more about Sarah in the footnote at the end of this blog if you are interested in learning more about her work* 

A Despacho Ceremony is a way of actively practicing gratitude for our natural surroundings and all the many blessings abundant in the world around us. In Western Culture, we aren’t great at practicing gratitude. How often do we stop for an hour to just sit in awe and appreciation, to experience gratitude fully and without distraction? 

The Depacho Ceremony comes from the Q’ero lineage of Peru. The Laika, or high shamans and wisdom keepers, have used the ceremony for births, deaths, as an expression of gratitude, and to heal physical and emotional ailments. Lastly, a Despacho can be held to restore balance and harmony. While this sacred tradition used to be secret, the Q’ero decided to share this practice with the world- as they believe this is a time the world is in need of healing.

Sunrise Hike

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On Saturday, we woke up early, put our hiking shoes on and greeted the morning sun at the top of Marshall Mountain, overlooking Lake Superior. We walked the mile up the mountain in silence to embrace the beauty of nature through our five senses. The taste of the fresh air, the smell of autumn on the horizon, the way the dew felt cold on our fingertips, the view of everything around us- it was all too perfect. To the left was the rising of the sun, and to the right was the setting of the moon, this moment was an experience we will never forget.

Below is a poem written by omie Alayna that we think perfectly captures the mystique of sunrise on Marshall Mountain (thank you for sharing with us!)

Sunrise at Marshall Mountain

The crisp coolness of the air

The safe comfort of the dense woods

The sound of our footsteps like waves 

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The full moon mirrored with a pink sky

The call of a loon

The glimpses of pristine lakes and cliffs

The blanket of clouds rolling in over Superior 

The silence of thirty women, waiting

The fluorescent pink streaks hinting at where the sun will appear

The thought of who else may have stood here

The calming breeze carrying away all that we no longer need

 Alayna Sobieniak 


Hero’s Journey Class aka Kids-Yoga-For-Adults

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On Saturday morning I taught a class I created based on the Hero’s Journey. For those of you unfamiliar with the Hero’s Journey, this is a concept developed by Joseph Campbell in The Hero with a Thousand Faces.  Campbell outlines a theory that all stories throughout time follow the same pattern. The hero hears a call (a letter to Hogwarts, Frodo’s call to adventure by Gandalf). Often, the hero refuses the call and requires a push or a supernatural aid to finally make the leap into the unknown. The hero crosses the threshold from the ordinary world into the world of adventure (leaving the muggle world, leaving the Shire, leaving Tatooine, etc...) Here, the hero encounters challenges and temptations. She finds helpers to aid her on her journey. She is transformed and finally returns to the ordinary world bearing the gifts of transformation. HUGE OVERSIMPLIFICATION, but that’s the general elevator version. 

Within the Hero’s Journey, there are journeys within the journey. It is a spinning circle that continues on and on. For many of us, simply attending a yoga retreat is answering a call to adventure- one that requires getting out of the comfort zone and overcoming obstacles to find transformation. 

Within my class, we embarked on a mini-mini hero’s journey. We fought off dragons and used magic to fight off bad guys. And lastly, we emerged the Goddesses with the Gifts, ready to share our gifts with the world. (-:

My classes at retreat are free and a bit wild. I am not able to teach like this at any other time. At retreats we are open to vulnerability. We are present. We aren’t ashamed of what we look like or how we practice. I so appreciate your willingness to laugh and shoot bows and arrows and dance like seaweed with me. It is truly a GREAT JOY for me. 

If you are looking for inspiration on a career change, one you’re considering or one you’re currently working through, you might love this powerpoint created by Millie Tran of the New York Times. WHAT AM I GOING TO DO WITH MY LIFE?  Whatever came to mind during the Hero’s Journey class, safe travels on your journeys my friends. And don’t forget to make time for PLAY and SILLINESS! 

Special thanks to Deanna for the incredible illustrations!

Special thanks to Deanna for the incredible illustrations!

Yin with Joella and Sonja

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Saturday afternoon many of us headed down to the Wolf Lake for a swim. Wolf Lake sits in a bowl surrounded by cliffs and evergreens. One thing I really loved is that we all wore our swimsuits without any self-consciousness. We were just present, living in the moment, chatting and laughing like old friends. 

We all headed back up the hill (cough, large hill) to get ready for Joella’s class. Sonja’s music combined with yin got us all into noodle-form with very, very droopy eyelids. When we made it to savasana, many of us floated away to the music and zonked right out. Some of us even woke ourselves up with a snore (three times! Haha!)

After yin, the energetic yogis in the bunch went for a Night Hike. A few of us relaxed under the star dome in a Star Lab workshop with Wolf Ridge, and several of us lounged on the deck sharing stories… like how one mother told her kiddos she was going on a work trip! Haha. 

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Closing Circle

I think the poem poem our photographer Samantha shared with us perfect wraps up the whole weekend. Incredibly, she had been reading a page a day from the book “I Am Her Tribe” by Danielle Doby and just happened to open to this poem. 

Wild Woman by Danielle Doby 

the time has come for you to step forward, wild woman. it is time for you to climb + claw your way out from your deepest shadows of hiding.

can’t you hear their call?

you have been deliberately forged from the dreams of your ancestors, wild woman. their legacy has watered the earth you will continue to rise from.

awaken to your voice. your truth. your belonging. let your song make its way to the surface to breathe — for this is an offering that only you can bring forth to the world.

can you meet your courage at its edge?

when all seems lost and suffocating, do not abandon yourself, wild woman. do not abandon your shake or your rumble. your thirst or your hunger. they exist to show you you’ve tried something. loved something. braved something. longed for something worth fighting for.

bring with you your hurt, your sorrow, your burn that you carry. unleash its scorch without fear of what comfort it may challenge. just as you, it does not need permission to exist here.

the time has come for you to work through your aching, wild woman. once you can do this you can sit with the pains of another — and not become them.

your strength is not defined by the heaviness you rest upon your shoulders, wild woman. surrender it outside of yourself, for when the heart is broken open the sweetness makes its way in.

you are anchored to the moon itself. you bring the unveiling with you into the darkness. when the mask falls and the forcing fades, the light pours in and begins to show us the way.

the time has come for you to join hands with your sisters, wild woman. the women of your yesterday, today and tomorrow.

honoring this union, this stretch of wisdom and story that flows throughout time, gives us clues to where we are going. it shows us that when we stand up together, when we step forward out of the shadows, together, our voices become the bridge to a new day’s horizon.

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Thank you Sam!!!

Thank you so much Samantha Whillock of Jack Pine + Thyme Creative Co. for the vibrant energy you brought to the retreat, and for these empowering photos. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Follow her journey and dancing at @jackpineandthyme on instagram. She’s also on facebook and her website is: jackpineandthyme.com.


**A note on Sarah Seidelmann, author, life coach, and shamanic healer. Sarah has been a mentor and inspiration for us. She has written several books, including Swimming with Elephants, a book about her own heroine’s  journey from physician to shaman. If you’ve been called to make a radical career change, this book may be for you! She is also the author of The Book of Beasties, a book full of animal wisdom and wonder. If you loved the Despacho Ceremony, you may love to follow Sarah at www.followyourfeelgood.com. She is full of positivity, inspiration, and wisdom!

Amanda ThoeComment