A Yoga Nature Retreat!
Art: Miles Parnell
When was the last time you treated yourself to something really special? You know … a mind, body and spirit kind of energizing experience? Have you ever considered attending a yoga retreat? If not, maybe it’s about time.
There are several good spa and yoga retreats in the Intermountain West and I know first hand of one fine gem not far from Park City. The activities encompassed in this particular retreat (The Ranch Yoga Retreat) are designed to be held outdoors as much as possible since being outside with Mother Nature is so energizing. This powerful four-day weekend experience has participants returning again and again because it addresses what’s most important in their lives and helps people figure out what they want to accomplish next.
Participants at this retreat practice yoga with Scott Moore. Scott is a charismatic and gifted instructor, who has designed several of these ranch retreats. Each succeeding event is a little bit different and more challenging than the one before. Scott is well prepared and always presents something new and exciting. His yoga sessions utilize different core exercises that strengthen, stretch and relax the entire body.
Scott practices a range of Hatha yoga from gentle restorative yoga to flowing Vinpasa yoga. “I focus on anatomical and energetic principles, or the mental and philosophical principles outlined in yoga texts. Nothing is so esoteric or challenging that we don’t all come away feeling invigorated, rejuvenated, and ready to live our lives more fully,” Scott says. “I value the retreats as an opportunity to work with people over the span of a couple of days. It gives us the opportunity to get away from the stress of everyday life in order to have an experience that tunes us back into what is most essential. I like to organize the retreats around principles: anatomical principles regarding yoga postures as well as the principles of opening to the core conversation of the yoga of everyday living, mindfulness and meaning. This way every participant, each with a different body type and ability level, can benefit. A perfect posture or complete enlightenment is not the goal, however. Learning and moving into greater awareness is our goal.”
But the retreat is not about yoga alone. At mealtimes, participants prepare a variety of wholesome, organic meals together, and the quality is always impressive. On the first full day of the retreat, several work projects are designed for the participants to get to know each other and contribute to the ranch upkeep. The projects might include painting the log fencing around the pastures, raking the yard, cleaning up the corrals, grooming the horses, preparing the campfire circle, or sweeping the large deck for the yoga sessions.
Throughout the weekend, guests can sign up to get an excellent Swedish massage with a hot rock and essential oil treatment while listening to soothing music in a cozy log cabin room. In the afternoons, they can venture out on educational nature hikes with me as their guide. They not only learn about the flora and fauna of the area, but more importantly, are able to slow down, look around and feel the power, beauty and connection with the earth. In the evenings, they’ll share campfire stories and music and maybe roast an apple on a stick. Scott will sometimes play his clarinet or saxophone, enthralling the crowd.
On the last evening of the retreat, participants will experience a carefully conducted Native American sweat. For an hour, participants sit inside a closed-in dome shelter made from layers of canvas. In the center of a circle, in a hole in the ground, water is spilled over hot rocks, which creates steam. When everyone is sufficiently heated up, they emerge out into the open and are anointed by a refreshing splash of cold water.
As I observe Scott working his magic on the participants, I find myself feeling humbled by their efforts and proud of their accomplishments. After four days, at the final wrap-up session when guests give us feedback about the retreat, I hear some of the most beautiful stories about what their time together has meant to them. Some have clarified new insights, while others are awakened to their next challenge. When sharing goodbye hugs, I can see in their happy faces that all the effort in creating this retreat has been more than worth it. I too have been enriched.
As Scott says,” I don’t see these retreats as an escape, but as a chance to replenish the source [inner strength] so that when we go back to the heat of everyday living, we can address our problems with renewed clarity and energy.”
Now doesn’t that sound good to you? If so, I encourage you to find the best retreat for your most important needs and enroll. Your heart will soon be soaring high. Good luck and Namaste.
Chas Rauch is a long-time mountain man who has lived in Utah for 22 years. He is the Wilderness Guide and Naturalist for the Talisker Club in Park City.