True Nature Travels Blog

1.   You’ve been to Kalymnos before; what are your favorite things about climbing on and traveling to this stunning Greek island? 

Coming to Kalymnos as a rock climber is like discovering Nirvana. It’s a little island off the coast of mainland Greece and it might have the highest concentration of sport climbing routes anywhere in the world. The style of the rock climbing is varied but often very steep and three-dimensional. Many times I’ve found myself in an ocean of stalactites sticking out from the rock walls wondering which way to face my body. The broad variety of the difficulty of the climbing makes this place fun for climbers at all levels. You can often see people who are climbing for the first time in their life and elite level climbers at the same crag.

During the high season you’ve got climbers migrating here from every corner of the world and you can be guarantied to meet new people and reconnect with old friends. The climbing community is a quite interesting group of people. We are almost like different species of migrating birds who, year round, are chasing the weather for the best climbing condition. We all have different preferences of what temperatures we like to climb in. Some people prefer to spend their holiday in the sun and don’t mind the hot temperatures, and others, myself included, seek out the dry, cold and crisp conditions to optimize our performance. This makes it very likely to run into the same people in different countries year after year, and to bond with people from across the world. We all come from different backgrounds with different stories, but with a common intention in mind: to play on rock.

Not to mention the food. The Kalymnians like their Greek food. They put pride in their meals made from local ingredients. Everything is so fresh, and you can hand pick grapes, oranges, olives, lemons, figs and clementines. It’s not that hard to eat a meal that is completely local.

2.   How did you find your way to climbing? When did you know it was more than just a hobby? 

A famous Norwegian philosopher and mountaineer named Arne Næss summed it up by saying that when he was a kid, he didn’t start climbing – everyone else just stopped.

My older brother, a great climber, bought me climbing shoes for my 16th birthday, and brought me along, and my stubbornness kept me going until I got hooked. I was not one of those wonder kids who are born rock stars; I actually sucked when I started. But I loved being outside in the mountains and I loved the challenges and the adventures. For some reason I get really inspired when things feels hard for me. And climbing never seem to get easy, so I keep on trying hard!

Some years later, my idol at the time said while we were at the bouldering gym, “If you had only started earlier you could have become a professional climber.” Those words planted a seed in me, and in my stubborn mind I ignored the first part of what he said and left the gym with a smile. After seven years and hundreds of hours climbing on rocks around the world, I got my first sponsors.    

3.   What is one thing people don’t realize about being a rock climber? 

New climbers are often scared of the equipment, and they are hesitant to trust their lives to it. The thing is, few beginners realize how over engineered the gear is. The bolts and carabiners are so strong that you can hang a car off them! “What about the skinny rope?” they ask. Those skinny ropes can hold a few thousand pounds, and even more amazing, they stretch a lot in order to absorb the force of a fall – so in a way they are like big bungee cords.   

4.   Who has been your greatest influence and why? 

I don’t have a big legend that I look up to. It’s more a constant stream of climbing partners over the years that have influenced and inspired me. In the beginning, my brother and his group of friends were a huge inspiration to me. They were fascinating people who shared the same values as me: they’re passionate about nature, they’re creative, active, happy, and incredibly psyched. Amazingly, these traits are pretty common in many of the climbers I meet along the way.

Later on as I got more into climbing, I got more and more interested in exploring my potential and I met a lot of people who influenced me and inspired me to push myself closer to that limit. Stian Christophersen is a good example – he is my trainer and coach in Norway and has been instrumental in helping me get closer and closer to my limit. I knew a lot about training before I worked with him, but I realized that he saw me as an individual. He showed me how to customize my training to target my own weaknesses, when to climb through some injuries, and when to rest through others.

5.   In 2012 you broke your back, both your ankles, your pelvis, and your elbow. Did you ever doubt whether you would get back on the rock? What did you have to overcome (mentally and physically) to get back in climbing shape? 

In the days after the accident, I doubted a lot – I doubted that I was even going to be able to walk again. Once it became clear that I was going to be able to walk, I still wondered if climbing would be so scary or unenjoyable that I wouldn’t be able to find the same flow feeling I had always enjoyed about the sport. I decided early on that if it wasn’t enjoyable, I wasn’t going to force it or push it, and I’d find something else to do.

To get back into climbing shape, I had to overcome a lot of obstacles both physically and mentally. I was in a wheelchair for about three months and had almost no leg muscles at all. I had awful balance, terrible flexibility in my back, and I was weak and tired all the time. I still have skin damage on my big toe and climbing shoes can be super painful even years later.

I was in constant pain and had to understand what sorts of aches to listen to and what sorts of aches to ignore. In the first year after the accident, it was crazy painful to just rest my feet on the floor while I was sitting in bed. Walking to the crag hurt and I needed to use walking sticks.

One of the hardest things to overcome was the fear of never getting back to where I was, not just as a climber, but as a lover of wild places. I thrive on being out there in the woods, alone. Would I ever be able to hike deep into the backcountry again?

Perhaps the single hardest thing was to learn the importance of not using the accident as an excuse. My feet hurt, my back hurt, my elbow hurt, I was weak, and I was petrified of falling – I’m still struggling with that fear – but early on I made a conscious choice to start from scratch with a different body and mind. I didn’t want to blame any shortcomings on the accident. I just wanted to deal with them and overcome them.

6.   What are some of your passions other than rock climbing? Will these be explored during your retreat at all?

There are so many things I love: trail running, animals, coffee, food, music, yoga, and scuba diving. Kalymnos is one of the most beautiful places on the planet and it’s a great place for trail running, ocean sports and yoga. The focus of the trip will be climbing but there is certainly room for participants to explore other activities.

Learn more and sign up for Rannveig’s Kalymnos Climbing Retreat by clicking on the photo below:

True Nature Travels Blog

1. How did you decide on the theme of Movement and Mobility? How will this theme be explored during your retreat?

I teach a couple of clinics each year which usually focus on introducing people how to crack climb and place traditional gear. With this clinic being held in Kalymnos, it lends itself to being more about moving on the rock as the routes are bolted and range in angle from slabs to the steeps. With the variety in angle also comes a variety in technique’s employed to move up these rocks and it just seemed natural to make that the focus.
During the retreat we will visit various crags and test ourselves on the styles available to us; each day we climb will be focused on learning movement techniques and how to rest along the way; demonstrating and employing things like drop knees, knee bars, chicken wings, hanging on the rams rather than pulling in to rest, slab skills, dynamic movements, stemming, etc.

2. How did you find your way to climbing? When did you know it was more than just a hobby?

The summer I was 15 I worked at a camp in North Carolina as a Junior Counselor. This meant I worked in exchange for room and board and also had to pick an activity to help the counselors in my bunk with. On the tour of the campus I had seen a wooden climbing wall set back in the woods and watched in wonder as kids scrambled up this 35 ft wall on top ropes. It seemed amazing. I inquired a little about it, learning that they also took climbing trips outside to real rocks as well as backpacking. That summer I learned how to climb and I was pretty much sold on it then and there. I immediately knew that was what I wanted to do with my life.

3. What is one thing people don’t realize about being a rock climber?

That we aren’t that extreme and that we aren’t out here risking our lives every day. While “inherently” dangerous, it’s pretty darn safe, especially if you follow all protocol carefully and thoughtfully.

4. Who has been your greatest influence and why?

I’ve had a lot of influences through my 21 years of climbing but two people stand out the most. Ron Kauk, a legendary climber from Yosemite, has been a long-time partner and mentor of mine. Helping me with footwork, technique, and a mindful approach to climbing. He’s shared with me through his own 45 years of climbing how to use climbing as a practice like martial arts, that what we are seeking to do is master our own selves. The other is without a doubt my husband, Ben Ditto. He is a phenomenal climber and someone who has taught me so much as far as systems for big wall climbing, how to train better, how to work hard regardless of outcome and to always keep in mind that overall we do it for the love of climbing.

5. You often teach climbing clinics in the Sierra Nevadas. What have you learned from teaching climbing to others? How do you think learning to climb can change someone’s life?

I value the experiences of teaching others to climb because I inevitably learn something from every clinic and lesson; wether it be about how to explain things better or better movement techniques, or just being more efficient and aware of what others need. Generally speaking, people just want to have fun and feel safe while learning some pointers and so it’s always good for me to remember that and that we aren’t necessarily preparing for Olympic competition all the time. Some of the most rewarding times have been working with individuals over a long period of time to reach their goals. I also really enjoy hearing other’s story about how they got into climbing or how they decided to take my clinics.

Learning to climb definitely changed my life and I know it has the potential to change others. I was your typical, disgruntled teen who was doing bad in school, was unhappy at home, and just felt aimless and rebellious. Climbing gave me purpose and as a result structure. It was my own passion and something I wanted to do well at, so I worked for it, any chance I could. I am still that way and as a result it has given me my husband, my mentors, my friends and my work. It also gave me a great respect and appreciation for our environment and made me more aware of our part in the natural world. It has essentially defined who I am and how I live my life and I am very fortunate for that. I feel that if given the opportunity, others can benefit just as much from climbing as I have.

6. What are some of your passions other than rock climbing? Will these be explored during your retreat at all?

I find a lot of value in health and wellbeing so, I’m really excited that we will be working with Alix Northup; she will be teaching a daily yoga class on this trip. I also work as a Nutritionist, providing Nutritional Therapy to clients in my home of Bishop, Ca and also remotely. I will absolutely be sharing my knowledge and experience on proper nutrition for climbing and day to day life during this clinic.

Learn more about Katie Lambert and her upcoming retreat:

http://truenaturetravels.com/retreats/climbing-greece-katie

True Nature Travels Blog

From September 23-29, 2018, we’re headed to Amorgos, Greece with Julie Hruska for a week of yoga to unplug from the outside world and reconnect with your spirit. Below, Julie tells us what inspired the theme of her “Awaken Your Inner Goddess in Greece” Retreat, who her greatest yoga influences have been, what quotes inspire her practice, and more! Meet Julie and find out what you can expect on her retreat by checking out our exclusive interview below!

1. How does the idea of “Awaken Your Inner Goddess”  play into your upcoming Yoga Retreat, and what themes do you see coming up throughout the journey?

The theme of my upcoming retreat “Awaken Your Inner Goddess” is about empowering women to awaken or reawaken their divine feminine energy and to encourage women to realize how amazing they truly are. Women have so many facets to their character and take on a lot of responsibilities. Throughout their relationships, career, parenting, and other roles, women often lose parts of their identity. These incredible women focus so much on helping others that they forget to take care and nurture themselves. Many of us fall into a stagnate role of going through the motions each day, sleepwalking through life. At this retreat, we will break away from the monotony of daily life. I will help them awaken to the present moment, tapping into their unique beauty and powerful spirit. By the end of the retreat, guests will leave with renewed vitality and confidence that enables them to live joyously in the present moment.

2. Who has been your greatest influence and why?

I have never been a big fan of yoga celebrities or gurus. They are people, just like you and me. When we place people on a pedestal, they become god-like and their abilities seem unattainable. I have learned so much from many incredible people, but to chose one doesn’t feel authentic to me. I am greatly influenced by all my teachers, mentors, books and other teachings; they’ve become part of who I am. What influences and inspires me is empowering others. I am inspired by people who overcome challenging circumstances. During my life, I have been faced with many challenges, from parenting a child with learning difficulties to facing crippling anxiety, from financial hardships to the daily struggles of being a single parent. When I meet people who have faced and conquered their challenges, I am in awe. Reflecting on my journey thus far, I seek to help others become the hero of their own story; stop looking beyond yourself and realize everything you need is within. 

3. If there was a yoga pose or meditation practice that described you – what would it be and why? 

Urdhva Dhanurasana, also known as wheel pose, best describes me. It is a heart opening pose that symbolizes my heart being wide open, filled with love, compassion and acceptance for all. In this posture, your chakras are fully aligned, which represents clarity and equanimity. When I am clear and balanced, I function as my highest self, able to be of service to my students. 

4. Other than yoga and meditation – what are some of your passions? Will these be explored in your retreat?

I love to travel!!! Traveling opens my eyes to new people, places and culture. I am a student of the world, learning from every where I go and from everyone I meet. I once read, “travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.” When I travel, I become a more compassionate member of this beautiful world we are blessed to be a part of. 

By traveling to Greece for the retreat, those who attend will meet new people from Greece and around the world. They will also gain exposure to new places, food and culture. I’ll encourage everyone to participate in daily island explorations and we will engage in a karma yoga service project, working to help local people overcome some of the challenges they are facing. 

5. What is on your “Greece bucket list” and what are you most excited about?

I am most excited about gathering an incredible group of women on the amazing island of Amorgos! I’m looking forward to hiking on the breath-taking mountain to sea trails, exploring the picturesque villages and experiencing relaxation at the on-site spa. 

6.   Is there a saying or quote that really resonates with you and your upcoming retreat?

Yes, there are so many empowering quotes that I’ll bring into our retreat. One that is currently resonating with me states: A goddess is “a woman who is in the process of learning to know, accept and love herself on all levels: mind, body, spirit. A woman who, because she focuses on personal growth and self-awareness, experiences a life increasingly filled with peace, love, joy, passion and fun. A woman who understands she has an unlimited capacity to make her life anything she wants. A woman who is inspired to give to those around her because of her own sense of gratitude and abundance.” ~unknown.

To me, a goddess is just this, not an unattainable statue but an authentic woman in touch with herself.

Learn more about Julie and her upcoming retreat: http://truenaturetravels.com/retreats/yoga-greece-julie/

True Nature Travels Blog

In February 2018 we are heading to Costa Rica with Carmel Calcagno for a week of yoga and connecting with nature. Below, Carmel tells us what inspired the theme of her “Pulsating with Nature” Costa Rica Yoga Retreat, who her greatest yoga influences have been, what quotes inspire her practice, and more! Meet Carmel and find out what you can expect on her retreat by checking out our exclusive interview below!

Meet True Nature Leader Carmel Calcagno

1. HOW DOES THE IDEA OF “PULSATING IN NATURE” PLAY INTO THIS RETREAT? WHAT THEMES DO YOU SEE COMING UP THROUGHOUT THE JOURNEY?

I chose Pulsating wCosta Rica – Caribbean Coast Eco-Resort and Yoga Centerith Nature as my theme because every day we have the opportunity to align with the “spanda” of the universe in our practice. In Costa Rica we will be surrounded by the beauty of this country, so we will connect to the 5 Elements each day, hoping to feel each element and it’s offering to us so that we can then take with us after we leave this retreat. To envelop ourselves to understand that everything we need is already within us.

 

2. WHO HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST INFLUENCE AND WHY?

I would have to begin with my first yoga teacher in 1989 who introduced me to all this practice has to offer, teaching me to live my life on and off the mat with integrity and truth. Being a Certified Anusara Teacher since 2003, I have to say that John Friend was the greatest influence because as my teacher he taught me to offer and share all about the beauty of this practice with my students as he did.

3. IF THERE WAS A YOGA POSE OR MEDITATION PRACTICE THAT DESCRIBED YOU – WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?

My meditation practice is a part of every day in my life and we will start each day on this retreat with meditation. My favorite pose is hard to say because I have many, but I love inversions and Ardha Chandra Chipasana.

4. OTHER THAN YOGA AND MEDITATION – WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR PASSIONS? WILL THESE BE EXPLORED IN YOUR RETREAT?

Nature calls me and I love to be surrounded by it.  I am called to be near water, the ocean is my favorite. Practicing Yoga outside, walking, hiking and laughing.  Being Happy, which we will hopefully practice every day.

5. WHAT IS ON YOUR “COSTA RICA BUCKET LIST” AND WHAT ARE YOU MOST EXCITED ABOUT?

Practicing together outside, waterfalls, rainforest and learning from each other.

6. IS THERE A SAYING OR QUOTE THAT REALLY RESONATES WITH YOU AND YOUR UPCOMING RETREAT?

“Seek the Wisdom that will untie the knot
seek the path that demands your whole being
Leave that which is not, but appears to be
seek that which is, but is not apparent.”
Rumi

Learn more about Carmel and her upcoming retreat at http://truenaturetravels.com/retreats/yoga-costarica-carmel/

True Nature Travels Blog

Carly Mahon will be leading a “Rooted and Radiant Warrior” yoga and reiki retreat in Costa Rica next June! Read on in this exclusive interview to learn how the idea of the rooted and radiant warrior plays into her retreat and to learn more about Carly’s greatest influences and passions.

Carly is a RYT200 Yoga Teacher, Reiki Healer, and Self Love Coach from San Diego, CA. Carly intertwines guided meditation, mindful flows, and a passion for the transformation that can happen on your mat to make yoga accessible for everyone. Join her in Costa Rica from June 2-June 9, 2018!

Meet True Nature Leader Carly Mahon

1. How does the idea of the rooted and radiant warrior play into your upcoming Yoga Retreat, and what themes do you see coming up?

I believe in living a warrior life – but what does that mean? Tapping in to the warrior that resides in all of us. Our lives can be so hectic, stressful, and overly stimulated – I want everyone I work with to feel the power and presence in being rooted in to themselves and the present moment. Having a powerful connection to yourself opens the doors for more transformation and that’s what I hope to instill with the Rooted Warrior Retreat. I definitely see an ELECTRIC Warrior Retreat coming up too – wild, vibrant and FUN! I want everyone I work with to be ecstatic about self love and living a wholehearted warrior life.

2. Who has been your greatest influence and why?

Ah this is so hard to pick! I try to draw inspiration from everyone I meet, work with and learn from. I think we all have the potential to be our most powerful teachers. I’d have to say my dad has been a huge influence for me. He took a leap to ditch a corporate job that wasn’t suiting his happiness, travel around the US and make a new life for himself. I think I have definitely followed suit. He always taught me to take risks, be proud of myself and to love love love. I try every day to live by those lessons and values. Loving myself wholly so that I can bring love to my community and students.

3. If there was a yoga pose or meditation practice that described you – what would it be and why?

Wild thing! It’s a radical heart opener and I feel like the baddest rockstar when I connect with that pose. I try to live my life in that way – open hearted, free and fearless. There’s quite a bit of trust involved in flipping yourself over and opening your heart to the sky. I’ve learned some of my best lessons about myself in heart openers.

4. Other than yoga and meditation – what are some of your passions? Will these be explored in your retreat?

I have a great passion for how food and movement impact our physical bodies and emotional bodies. It’s a big reason why I chose the retreat location at the Finca Luna Nueva Ecoresort because they have a sacred seed sanctuary on grounds. I love learning about nutrition, health, and food can be used as medicine. These themes will be woven in to the retreat for sure.

5. What is on your “Costa Rica bucket list” and what are you most excited about?

Costa Rica has been on my list for a long time, and I’m so excited to finally be able to  experience Pura Vida! Seeing some sloths is definitely #1 on the bucket list. I’d also love to explore the rainforest, learn more about the sacred seed sanctuary and be out in nature. My favorite adventures are the ones that happen spontaneously and organically. I’m looking forward to all that Costa Rica has to offer (including the coffee!)

6. Is there a saying or quote that really resonates with you and your upcoming retreat?

Be a Warrior not a Worrier. It’s less of a quote and more of a theme. I want attendees to understand what it’s like to feel really good and tap in to wholehearted warrior living during their retreat. As someone who used to struggle significantly with anxiety – I aim to help people to ditch their worries and get to know the warrior within.

True Nature Travels Blog

In July 2018, Jennifer Lenhart and True Nature will be traveling to Costa Rica for a magical retreat full of yoga, adventure, and exploration. Read on as we talk to Jennifer about what inspired her “May All Beings Be Happy and Free” Costa Rica Yoga and Meditation Retreat. But it’s not all about the retreat… we also learned which yoga pose Jennifer most identifies with, what she is passionate about, and what’s on her Costa Rica bucket list!

Meet True Nature Leader Jennifer Lenhart

1. How does the idea of “lokah samastah sukinoh bhavantu”, or “may all beings be happy and free” play into this retreat? What themes do you see coming up throughout the journey?

We’ll explore this mantra in-depth, work on heart-opening asana practices, practice loving-kindness meditation, and immerse ourselves in the great biodiversity of Costa Rica. We’ll work on realizing the illusion of separateness and the ultimate-reality of unity.

2. Who has been your greatest influence and why?

I have been fortunate to have many great influences – I don’t think I can pick just one. There are two teachers I’ve never met in person but whose teachings have been tremendously influential,  life-changing in fact: Ram Dass and Thich Nhat Hanh. My wise and influential teachers also include Sharon Gannon and David Life (founders of the Jivamukti method of yoga), Marni Task, Jules Febre, Krishna Das, and Noah Levine. All have helped to expand my awareness and understanding and have given me invaluable teachings on the path to liberation.

3. If there was a yoga pose or meditation practice that described you – what would it be and why?

Well, I don’t know if it describes me, but it is what I work on developing through practice: Loving-kindness meditation (known as Maitri in Sanskrit and as Metta in Pali). This is a practice that helps me to cultivate compassion for all beings everywhere, which is so much easier said than done!  That’s why we practice.

4. Other than yoga and meditation – what are some of your passions? Will these be explored in your retreat?

I am passionate about veganism, environmentalism, social justice – in other words, compassion for all beings. Yes, these will be explored during our retreat, since the theme is “May All Beings Be Happy and Free.”

5. What is on your “Costa Rica bucket list” and what are you most excited about?

Just going to Costa Rica is on my bucket list! So all the experiences there will be special, and I am excited about whatever comes. National Geographic has called Costa Rica “The most biologically intense place on earth,” and so I look forward to experiencing that great biodiversity.

6. Is there a saying or quote that really resonates with you and your upcoming retreat?

“Do you want to be right, or do you want to be free?” The Guru Neem Karoli Baba gave this teaching to Ram Dass, and I find it to be a very powerful and important teaching. To me it is about freeing ourselves from the ego-driven self, the self with a small “s”. The ego sees only separation; the yoga practices help us to overcome the illusion of separation to remember unity.
Ram Dass writes, “I kept hoping to get esoteric teachings from Maharaj-ji, but when I asked, ‘How can I become enlightened?’ he said things like, ‘Love everybody, serve everybody, and remember God,’ or ‘Feed people.’ When I asked, ‘How can I know God?’ Maharaj-ji said, ‘The best form to worship God is in all forms. God is in everything.’ These simple teachings, to love, serve, and remember, became the guideposts for my life.”
Learn more about Jennifer and her upcoming retreat at http://truenaturetravels.com/retreats/yoga-costarica-jennifer/

True Nature Travels Blog

Next summer, Sarah and Christine are leading “The Ultimate Amalfi Experience: Discover. Explore. Renew.” retreat in Italy. In this exclusive interview with True Nature leaders Sarah and Christine, we discuss yoga influences, favorite poses, passions, and more!

Sarah is a Toronto based yoga teacher that that brings a fun, playful energy to her classes. She believes in focusing on alignment and respecting your body’s needs in every position. Christine focuses on the unique journey of every student and brings creative alignment and thoughtful theming to her classes. Read on to learn more about these True Nature leaders and their upcoming retreat!

Meet True Nature Leaders Sarah and Christine

1. How does the idea of “Discover, Explore, and Renew” play into the retreat? What themes do you see coming up throughout the journey?

True Nature LeadersWhen we thought about hosting a retreat, we wanted to relate it back to who we are, what we love to do, and what we are excited about. These three areas are so vital to who we are as people, and as teachers. Both of us love to discover more about ourselves. We often do this through our surroundings, from discovering something new in the city to exploring, learning, or trying new things. A big aspect of our yoga life relates to renew, as we watch people leave class with a refreshed sense of self. During the retreat, our goal is to guide folks through aspects of “Discover, Explore, Renew”. This might happen through the practice of yoga, the formation of new relationships, the enjoyment of delicious food and wine, exploration of neighborhoods, or through a renewed sense of self. We are so excited to discover, explore and renew with what is sure to be an amazing group!

2. Who has been your greatest influence and why?

Sarah: I have definitely thought about this question a lot as it seems to be one that comes up frequently. I feel very connected to my family, and I truly feel that my greatest influence was my nonna (my father’s mother, my grandmother). I feel like if you asked me this question when I was younger I may have not mentioned her, but as I age, I see how much influence she has had on my life; from the person I am, to the person I want to be, and how I see myself. This is another reason I am so excited to head back to Italy – my grandparents emigrated from Italy in the 1950’s to Canada – as I feel so connected to them every time I return!

3. If there was a yoga pose or meditation practice that described you – what would it be and why?

Sarah: In this moment, my favorite pose is 100%, Downward Facing Dog. I would say that each “stage” of my life has been a different pose. I remember different times when I would have said Side Plank, or Warrior II, but for awhile now it’s been Downward Facing Dog. I love this pose as I am a very extroverted person, and have a hard time focusing in on the present. This pose allows me to focus inward on myself, on my practice, and serves as a reminder to tune-in. I can feel so much going on in my body as I make even the smallest movements or adjustments. I also love working with this posture from a teaching perspective as this pose and variations of it can do so much for the body (especially in a world where we are sitting, typing, texting, etc. and our spine can become very compressed). Ahh, I have so much love for Downward Facing Dog! 🙂

Christine: Ooh, this is a great question! And surprisingly, one that I have not been asked before! My current favorite pose is Mountain Pose (Tadasana). This basic pose is often overlooked, as people are often searching for more challenging, sexier, Instagram-able poses. However, really engaging all of your muscles, rooting through your feet and rising up through your head, is a lot of work! Allowing yourself to get back to the basics with Tadasana – the pose from which all poses stem – can have a tremendous impact on many areas of both your yoga practice and your life outside of yoga.

4. Other than yoga and meditation – what are some of your passions? Will these be explored in your retreat?

Christine: Aside from yoga and meditation, I enjoy eating, drinking wine, and connecting with people. All three things will surely be incorporated into the retreat; we’re in Italy, after all! The passion and simplicity that Italians infuse into their food is something magical to experience. Add local wine and it elevates this experience to the next level. For me, the memories that are created over sharing a meal and savoring a glass (or two!) of wine, are some of my most treasured.

5. What is on your “Italy bucket list” and what are you most excited about?

Sarah: I know I cannot wait to have some delicious food, wine, coffee, gelato, and more (nom nom nom to all the things). What I am truly ecstatic about is sharing this experience with others, and the opportunity to do yoga in a space that is so beautiful.

Christine: I agree with Sarah, as exploring different flavors of gelato is pretty high on my list! I am also excited to bring a group of people to a place that I truly love, and to create a space for us to connect, discover, explore, and renew.

6. Is there a saying or quote that really resonates with you and your upcoming retreat?

We were inspired by the Dalai Lama quote, “Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.” These words apply to so many different aspects of the retreat, be it traveling to a new country, exploring a new type of yoga, or discovering a new food. Pushing boundaries leads to new discoveries, and this retreat will provide a safe and welcoming environment to make that happen.

Learn more about these two incredible True Nature leaders and sign up for their retreat today at http://truenaturetravels.com/retreats/yoga-italy-sarah-christine.

 

True Nature Travels Blog

This fall, True Nature is heading to Peru with Kyle Weiger and Kaitlin Honeycutt of Ra Yoga. We’re offering an exclusive interview so you can get to know these incredible yogis and learn more about their upcoming retreat. 

Interview with Kyle Weiger of Ra Yoga

 

1. How does the idea of community and connection play into the retreat? What themes do you see coming up throughout the journey?

The Ra family is one of the best communities, if not the best community, that I’ve ever been part of. This retreat is about deepening our connection to each other and accomplishing something amazing together by climbing to the top of Machu Picchu. It’s going to be a team effort, with everyone supporting one another along the way.

2. Who has been your greatest influence and why? 

My best friend, Clayton Olson. He turned me onto yoga, mindfulness, and self-development many years ago. He’s had the single greatest influence on my life by showing me practices that have shaped who I am as an adult. My positive mindset, determination, and constant state of gratitude all stem from my friendship with him.

3. If there was a yoga pose or mediation practice that described you – what would it be and why? 

Wild Thing. It’s fun and playful yet requires balance, strength, and a little bit of faith in the unseen. It’s just one of those feel-good postures where you can’t help but smile!

4. Other than yoga and meditation – what are some of your passions? Will these be explored in your retreat? 

I love learning about the brain and why it does what it does. I’m curious about how it’s evolved over millions of years and gotten us to our current place. We probably won’t get too nerdy about the brain on this retreat but I will definitely look forward to exploring movement and how it’s tied to the brain 🙂

5. What is on your “Peru bucket list” and what are you most excited about? 

Aside from the obvious trip to Machu Picchu, I’m most excited for morning yoga in the shalas followed by breakfast with the entire retreat group. I love sitting around conversing after yoga and hearing about everyone’s experience and just generally bonding as a team.

6.   Is there a saying or quote that really resonates with you and your upcoming retreat? 

Don’t try hard. Try easy.

Interview with Kaitlin Honeycutt of Ra Yoga

 

1. How does the idea of community and connection play into the retreat? What themes do you see coming up throughout the journey?

Community and connection in my vision of our retreat is the entire essence of what we are trying to cultivate – bringing our community together to unify each other through the common bond we share of yoga. Our hope is to enable each other to find vulnerability within themselves and with the group to create an atmosphere that allows for radical self-exploration, relationship building and an evolutionary experience and that will last a lifetime.

2. Who has been your greatest influence and why? 

I feel as though there are too many teachers who have come across my path that have influenced every part of me that is unreasonable to list just one person. So much of my life has been given to me by the influence, inspiration and motivation from others – Jenny Vande Hei, Sarah Tagge, Michelle Christensen and many other yogis enabled me to pursue my passion of teaching yoga and allowed me to be their shadow to gain as much knowledge as I could. Melayne and Cameron Shayne lit a fire in me when I was presented with the opportunity to take a Budokon class as well as their teacher training which transformed my yoga practice entirely. Molly Felix and Chelsea Morter and many other women at lululemon ahtletica in South Coast Plaza provided me with the opportunity to try different fitness outlets which sparked my love for indoor cycling and love for CrossFit. Dani Wellbrock-Gallinger inspires me every single day and reminds me that I can be whoever I want to be and not apologize for it. My father whom has since now passed continues to remind me every day that I can do whatever is that I want to do because he always believed in me. So much of everyone else has made me who I am today.

3. If there was a yoga pose or mediation practice that described you – what would it be and why? 

If Vinyasa yoga and Budokon had a baby, that would be the practice that describes me. Fluid and graceful meets strict precision and focus. Every movement and transition having an intention creating a footprint for the next moment to come. I get emotional just thinking about how beautiful it would be. I feel as though this describes how I like my life to be – simple yet challenging, inspired and with everything done having a reason.

4. Other than yoga and meditation – what are some of your passions? Will these be explored in your retreat? 

Will these be explored in your retreat? As I mentioned earlier, I also teach indoor cycling and I coach CrossFit at a non-profit for people who are in recovery from substance and alcohol abuse. My passions involve any opportunity to allow someone else to achieve a better version of themselves through fitness and self care. During the retreat there will be opportunities for self care that are less vigorous as indoor cycling and CrossFit which are high on my priority list as well, like meditation, restorative yoga, self reflection with journaling and sitting in silence, as well as much needed nap time.

5. What is on your “Peru bucket list” and what are you most excited about? 

I am most excited about our hike to the top of Machu Picchu. I am very eager to see the beauty of South America and to have a new experience to take home with me unlike anything I have witnessed before. I am excited to see the culture of Peru and how the people there live their lives, and how different it is from the way we live ours.

6.   Is there a saying or quote that really resonates with you and your upcoming retreat? 

I read this quote the other day and I found it rather fitting: “attract what you want by being what you want”. My hope for this retreat is to create light within others and a passion for yoga that has been lit in me, but I must first allow this to be what shines through me to others first if I have the hope to give that away. If I want goodness and gratitude for this retreat, I must be that. If I want kindness and love, I must be that. Everything I want this retreat to embody I must first

This fall Kyle, Kaitlin, and True Nature will be heading to Peru for a mystical week of yoga and an optional tour of Machu Picchu. You can sign up to join this once-in-a-lifetime adventure at http://truenaturetravels.com/retreats/yoga-peru-kyle-kaitlin/ 

True Nature Travels Blog

Meet Susan Urquhart-Brown and Christopher Brown, two of True Nature’s incredible retreat leaders! 

Meet True Nature Instructors Susan Urquhart-Brown and Christopher BrownThis fall, Susan and Christopher are leading the “Power of Presence” retreat in Peru’s Sacred Valley. In our exclusive interview with Susan and Christopher, we discussed yogic influences, passions, and the true power of presence!

Susan is a yoga, meditation, and mindfulness inquiry teacher. Susan’s nurturing style combines Body, Mind, and Spirit to facilitate bringing presence to all aspects of Life. Christopher is a mindfulness inquiry teacher and speaker who has been on a journey of awakening for 30 years. He is passionate about individual transformation and facilitating others in their awakening process.

Read our exclusive interview below and sign up for their Peru retreat here

1. How does the idea of “Power of Presence” play into your retreat? What themes do you see coming up throughout the journey?

The Power of Presence Retreat is focused on reconnecting with the mystery and wonder that we delighted in as children. We use a three-prong approach to dissolve the veil of seriousness to unite with the profound beauty and silence of each moment. We work with the body through yoga, the mind through meditation, and the heart through joyful play and connection.

2. Who has been your greatest influence and why?

Osho, Alan Watts, Adyashanti, and Isacc Shapiro have been our most influential teachers. We honor how each uniquely points to the mystery that knows no comparison.

3. If there was a yoga pose or mediation practice that described you – what would it be and why?Meet True Nature Instructors Susan Urquhart-Brown and Christopher Brown

Peaceful Warrior (Shanti Virbhadrasana). Why? Like the pose, I am flexible in mind and body, calm, strong, and graceful.

4. Other than yoga and meditation – what are some of your passions? Will these be explored in your retreat?

We love to travel, explore, and learn about the countries and cultures we visit.

5. What is on your “Peru bucket list” and what are you most excited about?

On our bucket list in Peru is communion with the mountains, connecting with the culture of the extraordinary Peruvian people, and learning about the ancient Incan culture.

6. Is there a saying or quote that really resonates with you and your upcoming retreat?

“You are what you think having become what you thought.” -Osho

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True Nature Travels Blog

At True Nature, we believe in the magic of movement and the bliss of being. These are things that True Nature retreat leader Adriana Lee loves sharing with others. She’ll be sharing this and more at her upcoming August retreat in Greece. We had the opportunity to ask Adriana a few questions about the retreat and learn more about what it means to awaken in Amorgos.

Sign-up for the retreat today while there are still spots available!

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Awakening in Amorgos: A Yoga Retreat in Greece with Adriana Lee

August 19-August 26

Join Adriana Lee on a week-long journey of discovery. Explore the beauty of Greece while diving deep into the depths of yourself. Leave behind your commitments, your schedule, your to-do lists, and all of the busy-ness of your daily life. Embark on a journey into your soul through your yoga practice, meditation, and allowing yourself to simply be.greeceview

This retreat will include daily yoga, meditation, plenty of sunshine, clear blue waters, renewal in the spa, and free time to explore the beauty and the culture of the Greek Island of Amorgos. Give yourself the gift of rejuvenation, self-discovery, and peace. Take these things with you off of the island and learn to hold this peace within you during the chaos of daily life.

Read our exclusive interview with Adriana below:

True Nature: How does the idea of “Awakening in Amorgos” play into your retreat? What themes do you see coming up throughout the journey?

Adriana: I chose the word awakening because I feel that through our yoga practice we wake up to our life’s purpose and to our own truth. I see a theme of self-discovery happening and a journey towards our true north.

True Nature: Who has been your greatest influence and why?

Yoga_Adriana_Grand_CanyonAdriana: I’ve had so many incredible teachers who have influenced me over the years. I would say my greatest influence has been Heba Saab. She taught me to teach from my own heart, to trust my intuition and my ability to see, and also to find my voice as a teacher. She showed me the importance of ceremony and the importance of fully stepping into the teacher role before each class. A lot of pre-class rituals I have were completely inspired by her. Her guidance has played a pivotal role in shaping the way that I teach.

True Nature: If there was a yoga pose or meditation practice that described you, what would it be and why?

Adriana: Child’s pose. I’m a bit of a dreamer, and for me child’s pose has this dreamy childlike quality to it. It’s a great reminder to not be so serious and so tough all of the time. It’s a sacred space where you can totally tune into your own internal awareness and tune out distractions.

True Nature: Other than yoga and meditation, what are some of your passions? Will these be explored in your retreat?Yoga_with_Adriana_Tree

Adriana: Travel, hiking, and art are my three other passions, and yes we will absolutely explore these! I think traveling is the best thing that you can do for yourself. It opens your mind and your heart and connects you to the whole of humanity in a way that you just can’t connect living in your own little corner of the globe. My hometown is Las Vegas, and a lot of people don’t realize how much nature there is to explore outside of the city. Hiking was definitely always my favorite past time and I am beyond excited to get to hike and go adventuring in Amorgos! As for art, I feel expressing yourself through some creative outlet is truly the best medicine. So I think we’ll definitely explore a bit of that.

True Nature: What is on your “Greece bucket list” and what are you most excited about?

Adriana: Wow, I don’t even know where to begin! I love Greek food so I’m excited to eat! I know I want to do a boat tour and maybe see some caves. Hiking is also top on my list. I haven’t made any rock solid plans, though. I kind of just want to see where this takes me!

True Nature: Is there a saying or quote that really resonates with you and your upcoming retreat?

Adriana: “Stuff your eyes with wonder, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.” -Ray Bradbury

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