I made the trek from Ann Arbor to Elk Rapids on a Thursday evening at the beginning of May. When I arrived, the town and lakes were quiet and the air was calm and cool. I slept soundly, though in eager anticipation of hosting my first yoga retreat. My Friday morning began with a Vinyasa class at Yen Yoga in Traverse City, after which I completed my grocery list, including freshly made tofu (really the best I have ever had), at Oryana Food Cooperative. The rest of the afternoon I spent setting up the cabin to suit the retreat and preparing snacks for when my participants arrived.
Between five & 9:00 pm, arriving participants enjoyed homemade hummus, raw carrots and beets, Michigan maple syrup & sea-salted pecans, peanuts and pumpkin seeds and Lake Michigan Sand Cookies (a sugar cookie adaptation). At 9 o’clock I shared the healing benefits of pranayama breathing, and we welcomed the setting sun with moon salutations and a restorative flow that ended in candle light. I began this first session by asking a few questions that helped me to frame the remaining classes for the weekend, which meant I was up late planning the morning class after everyone else was snuggled into their beds. For the future I will chat with folks ahead of time and create general outline for my classes to allow for a little more precious zzzzz’s of my own!
Early Saturday I began whipping up Quinoa-Beet-Pancake Mix, Lavender-Lemon Yogurt, fresh Kale, fruit & veggie juices and hot coffee while I waited for the crew to awake. We looked over the lake and practiced focusing on our breathing and greeted the day with Suryanamascar A and the intention to joyfully play in our practice on our mats. Brunch was delightful, our first full meal together after class in the sunny yoga room that doubled as a dining space. It sure was a balancing act playing yoga teacher and chef! I would love to have an assistant next time:)
After eating some rested and walked, another ran along Lake Michigan, another caught up on work that could not be left behind. I prepared the Black-Eyed Pea & Kale soup and a Spring Salad from Mother Earth Living along with fresh Baguettes with olive oil, black pepper, sage & rosemary for dipping.
Our afternoon class was more invigorating. We work-shopped Adho Muka Svanasana (downward facing dog) and spent an optional 10-20 minutes in meditation to close. I began introducing meditative concepts in the first class and we built our time in seated silence throughout the weekend. After dinner, while I prepared ginger-sea salt chocolates & homemade chai, the puzzle of a marina and sailboats became the evening entertainment.
Sunday morning, with refreshed minds and bodies anew, the class gathered for one final collective practice at the lake. Partner stretches to open shoulders, side-bodies, and hamstrings, followed by a deepening of the suryanamascar asanas (positions/postures) and a final unguided meditation sent us all into one final meal together: Sun-Dried Tomato and Pesto Quinoa, Rosemary and Tumeric Scrambled Tofu, Cherry-Ginger-Lemon Scones, Fresh Juice, Coffee and Tea. One participant commented: “Scones are the bomb! Also loved the quinoa salad. The quinoa pancakes were awesome as were the juices. Loved it all,” so it seems the food was a home-run!
After cleaning, my mom insisted on a few yoga photos poses of me. So here they are. I know, my feet are out of alignment in Urdhva Dhanurasana (full wheel)! It was a beautiful place to teach, practice, share food, conversation and rest!
I returned to Yen Yoga to take restorative class for myself and rounded out the weekend with a latte for the sunny ride home!
All in all, this was a marvelous experience. Participants described it as relaxing, peaceful, calming and delicious…what more could I ask for?! Below are some more of their comments:
“Your yoga retreat was super, and I think back to the lovely time we all had. Many of your little tips have made a big difference in my daily work out. I hear you say “look out [in front of you],” and as I look at the bookshelves I think ‘it was much better looking out onto that glorious lake.'”
“My goal was to connect more with my body and experience immersion in yoga. Also to enjoy the beauty of Northern Michigan. The trip has exceeded expectations on all fronts.”
“I learned more about yoga poses that I could incorporate into home workouts. The emphasis on importance of breathing techniques was a key take-away.”
“My goal was to rest and de-stress my body and the retreat definitely exceeded my expectations. The balance of practice and meals and free time was great.”
I learned so much from my first 4 yogini retreaters and really do look forward to the opportunity to do this again! My parents opened their home for me to host my first retreat, but I am also eager to hosting them elsewhere. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in a retreat at your place! One of my retreat participants commented:
“I would like to have an opportunity to experience this more often! Are you planning any local, one day retreats?,” asked one participant. So I imagine you are, too!