Living in Colorado for almost 12 years now, I’m still a little amazed by how infrequently I make my way into the mountains. While I love to look at them and love to see them on my daily commute to Boulder, I’m so much a city girl.
True story: I’ve only done a handful of overnights up there since I’ve lived here. I’m like one of those people that live near the ocean, but never go.
Well, last November, I spotted a unique yoga retreat in the high country and signed up for that very reason. These beautiful mountains are RIGHT HERE, and I need to be in them more often.
I’ve been following Kady Lafferty of Big Booty Yoga on Instagram for a long time – – follow her here, y’all! She’s an amazing Denver yoga instructor that you might have run into at Athleta-hosted events. She’s also led Yoga on the Rocks at Red Rocks, and she’s just a lovely human to follow – – body positive, vivacious, and with tremendously positive energy.
When Kady posted that she was hosting a Retreat Yo’Self event in the mountains in the spring with her friend Steph Winsor, I knew immediately that I wanted to go. Mindfulness and Yoga in a beautiful setting with like-minded people? Oh, and for a VERY reasonable weekend fee of just $300 for two nights, five meals, and tons of classes? Yes, please.
Before signing up, I paused for a moment in contemplation of whether or not I wanted to go alone. I’d done a few retreats on my own in the past, and I always find them to be a way for me to meet other people and get exactly what I need out of a retreat. Very naturally, when you go to an event with a friend, you end up with a very shared experience. Sometimes, I want things to be curated just for me, and for some reason, I felt like going alone was a good call on this one. I signed up, and added the date to my calendar.
Fast forward 6 months…
So much in my life had changed since I’d bought this ticket. I’d quit my work-from-home job, I’d found another (in an office), I’d even bought a new car… a lot of the “grounding” things in my life had changed. I was two weeks into the new job when the retreat rolled around. The day before: I considered not going.
When I start a new job, I find myself to be a little exhausted in the beginning. Being “on” every day, meeting so many new people, even getting used to your new surroundings, it’s all a little draining. When Thursday rolled around during week two, I really didn’t know if I was up for a big weekend with strangers. I packed a bag, put it in my car, and fully gave myself permission to make the call as the day went on. I also knew that I was going to need to be late. The retreat started at 4pm in the mountains, but I knew that there was no way I would leave work early on week two. Being a newbie still, I didn’t feel comfortable doing it.
The end of the day arrived and I got in the car just as a crazy Colorado spring thunderstorm started. You know, the kind where there’s so much hail that it looks like it snowed. Needless to say, it took me triple the time to get to Jefferson than expected… but I made it! If you end up signing up for this retreat (and I hope you do!), there is definitely a long dirt road right before you arrive at the cabin. Keep going… and the cows will welcome you along the way.
When I arrived at the house, it was just as lovely as the pictures (perhaps moreso, as it was filled with the most lovely ladies and great energy.) Hilariously, when I walked in the entire room of 25 women greeted me with a round of applause, and such a warm welcome. They were all so kind about my tardiness, the latest of the late.
The hostesses quickly got me settled into a room, assigning me a bunk and encouraging me to join the group for an amazing dinner that was underway. You guys. They had a LEGIT chef preparing the most colorfully deliciously healthy meals all weekend. I felt so well nourished, both physically and mentally the entire trip.
After dinner, Kady led us in a grounding yoga class that was incredible and just what the doctor ordered. I needed a way to decompress after this long week, the long drive, and in the dimly lit room amongst beautiful yogis, it was perfection. I wrapped the evening up sharing a bottle of rosé with a new friend and headed to bed.
The whole house were tucked away and nestled in their beds, and of course, we were the last two to go to sleep. Dark rooms are not where I should be wandering about, especially when I have to crawl into the third level bunk (and I’ve had rosé.) There’s a long story about how I crawled into a bunk that had been assigned to another girl and me. Let’s just say, I crawled up and found a huge surprise, woke up the room, and nestled in on a really comfy couch for the night. Also fun, the woman that I woke up was way too kind and we quickly became friends the next day, laughing about the story… You’ll hear more about her here on the blog later this week…
The next morning started off with a beautiful breakfast by our amazing chef. Nutella and banana toast was my choice on Saturday morning, and there were lots of options including flavorful quiche, fresh fruits, and acai bowls.
The morning kicked off with an intense yoga strength class. If you’ve read this blog for any period of time, you likely know that power yoga is not my yoga. I prefer blissful meditative moments on my mat, and thought this would be a REALLY nice time to grab my journal, step outside to meditate, and to capture my thoughts.
Writing is an incredible escape for me, and with this beautiful backdrop, I couldn’t resist. You guys, after a quick meditation, I literally ended up writing for about an hour and a half… and really going deep.
I never take time to do this. When I’m home, I end up moving onto laundry, working on to-do lists, and getting distracted from doing the work. The time I spent with a pen in my hand was truly the best part of the weekend for me, in all due respect to the wonderful classes and programming that was underway. The time I spent in these chairs was long overdue. When the weekend’s hostesses said to make this weekend what you wanted it to be, I took their advice very literally… and I’m so glad I did.
I rejoined the group for lunch, and was amazed to see our chef Randy had nailed it with another amazing meal – – this time, a roasted sweet potato and beet green salad with quinoa and avocado toast. I still need to recreate this salad at home. It was THAT good.
After this divine lunch, Kady led us in a Bhakti Yoga session. Have you heard of Bhakti? I hadn’t either until this moment. It’s referred to as yoga of the heart and it appears to be rooted in chanting. Yes, chanting… but I promise, it’s not awkward and it’s super beautiful. And, for whatever reason, it really resonated for me. Kady peppered the practice with stories of deities that I found to be fascinating as well. Whether Ganesh and his mischief or Shiva the destroyer, I loved learning all about these characters and the beliefs behind them. This session to me was all about trying something new, and opening your heart to a new practice. Truly lovely.
One of the sessions I was looking most forward to was the session led by Steph Winsor on meditation. Steph is another must-follow on Instagram, y’all (click here to follow her page.)
Steph’s area of expertise is neuroscience, which she is studying at Columbia right now! She shared so many scientific details around how and why meditation is helpful to the body and the mind, and walked us through both active and seated meditation practices. Like yoga, meditation is often referenced as a “practice” and I walked away from this session with fun new tools to incorporate into mine.
While there were classes to take, meals to eat, and more, I also loved the fact that there was a lot of open time built into the schedule. Being in the high country and considering it was a (mostly) gorgeous weekend outside, this gave us all an opportunity to take time for meditation (which I indulged in heavily), wander into the wilderness, and make connections with new friends.
I also feel it’s important to mention that there was also a super talented henna instructor who gave each of us our very own henna tattoo and a masseuse onsite offering massages to anyone who signed up. Also, the house was decorated with the most stunning flower arrangements and there was an aromatherapy station set up for all of our essential oil needs. Seriously, the attention to detail made it feel like an all-inclusive getaway and made the weekend even more special.
By the time Sunday morning rolled around, I truly felt that the work I was there to complete had been accomplished. I spent more time thinking, reflecting, and planning this weekend than I have in a long time. I’m never one to be quiet in a group of people, but this weekend, I was and unapologetically so. While my tendency was to try to find a way to connect and be my typical gregarious self, I treasure every moment I spent in silence, in reflection, and the renewed strength that I walked away with.
Thank you, Kady, Steph, and the entire supporting team for a wonderful, wonderful getaway! xo
Do you have interest in participating in a mountain yoga retreat like this? Well, good news for you, Kady and Steph are offering another opportunity for you to Retreat Yo’Self with another session coming up in September! Click here for all the details and follow both Steph and Kady to stay up-to-date on future events!