True Nature Travels Blog

True Nature was able to spend some time getting to know Yoga Teacher, Shaman, and Spiritual Teacher, Alyssa Snow. Take a glimpse into her upcoming retreat in Guatemala.

alyssa snow

TN: How does the idea of “Uncovering Your Essence” play into your upcoming Yoga Retreat, and what themes do you see coming up throughout the journey?

A: We live in such intense times. Oftentimes experiencing information overload and not even realizing it. We become immersed in the roles we play in life. The role we play at home as mother, father, brother, daughter, etc. The role we play in our professional life. Then we layer on top of that our own expectations and ideas of those roles and our emotional experiences that we may express or not express. These become the layers of our being.

And we can feel bogged down with layers that we are not even aware of. They are just part of life.

This yoga retreat is about unraveling those layers. What if we were able to just drop our ideas about who we are, what life should be for us, what people expect of us? What if we just let that go and experienced BEING?

The themes that may come up this week are what makes up these layers?  What gets in the way of us experiencing just being? What gets in the way of us experiencing ourselves as Divine? What gets in the way of us experiencing joy?  Can we look those themes in the eye and bid them goodbye?

That’s the journey.

guatemala yoga retreat

TN: Who has been your greatest influence and why?
A: I have had too many to list. I’ll say my mother.  She’s my best friend. She has given me the experience of being unconditionally loved from my mother. This experience has shaped who I am as a woman and as a mother to my own four children. It has shaped who I am as teacher of the heart. Her love and capacity to hold space for me in every phase of my life thus far has been one of my life’s greatest gifts. One that I hope to pass on to my own daughters.
TN: If there was a yoga pose or meditation practice that described you – what would it be and why?yoga retreat

A: Breath of fire.  Because it’s intense, active and fiery yet neutral and balancing in it’s effect.

TN: Other than yoga and meditation – what are some of your passions? Will these be explored in your retreat?
A: Shamanism has become a great area of study for me. I’ve been teaching yoga for about 17 years and practicing for a little over 20. Shamanism, drumming, journeying and connecting to my spirit guides and masters has become a deep part of my spiritual practice.  YES for sure they will be explored during the retreat!

TN: What is on your “Guatemala list” and what are you most excited about?
A: I’m not sure I have a “Guatemala list” but I know I am excited about experiencing the vibration of Lake Atitlan and the indigenous shamanic practices of the local healers. I live in NYC so I’m also extremely excited to immerse in somewhere slower and more quiet.

TN: Is there a saying or quote that really resonates with you and your upcoming retreat?
A: This culture we have, this social media culture and images…I invite you to go deeper. I invite you to become aware of you, your life and how you want to live it.

We invite you to join us in a weeklong exploration to deepen your connection to your highest self and open to love. In this magnificent retreat on Lake Atitlán, we will learn how to shift that balance. Located in the homeland of the indigenous Maya, Lake Atitlán is a magical setting referred to as the belly button of the earth – the center of the universe where God’s seeds of mankind evolved. Immersed in this vibration, you will experience kundalini yoga, hatha yoga, vinyasa yoga, shamanic drumming, and led sharing circles. In all of this, Alyssa will guide you to unravel the patterns that do not serve you so that you can open to the magic of the light within you.

Uncovering Your Essence: A Spiritual Yoga Retreat in Guatemala with Alyssa Snow
July 22 – July 28, 2019
Lake Atitlán, Guatemala
Find out more: HERE


Alyssa snowAlyssa Snow is a passionate spiritual mentor, yoga teacher and shamanic energy healer with more than 20 years of experience in the field of mind-body therapeutics. Over the course of her career, she has helped thousands of clients discover greater alignment within themselves, within their relationships with others, and within the landscapes of their lives.

Alyssa combines her academic background in accounting and finance and her corporate operations experience with her life roles as a mother, a business owner, yoga teacher, healer and a human being to offer clients a unique, real-world approach to spiritual exploration.

She is the founder of MindBodySoul Yoga Studio in New York City and the author of Yoga and the Process of Awakening. She is the lead creator in MindBodySoul Yoga’s 200-hour teacher training and is the host of Mind Body Soul Radio.

Alyssa is a highly skilled yoga teacher and also offers tremendous heart and the deeply practiced skills of space holding, shamanic journeying, mentorship, intuition, leadership, teaching, empowerment, and facilitation in all of her encounters.

True Nature Travels Blog

True Nature was able to spend some time getting to know Yoga Teacher Amanda Cooley. Take a glimpse into her upcoming retreat in Costa Rica; Align and Refine…



TN: How does the idea of “Align and Refine”  play into your upcoming Yoga Retreat, and what themes do you see coming up throughout the journey?

A: My belief is that in order to create a truly fulfilling life, the deepest desires of our inner world, the feelings that come from our heart, need to “align” with the actions we put out in our external world. We come to the mat to “refine” or get “unstuck”, to move energy and to get clear on how we want to feel, So we can come into alignment and balance in our day to day life.


TN: Who has been your greatest influence and why?

A: I dont have 1 great influence, I have many. Some of them have been brief ships passing by, teaching me hard lessons very quickly. Others have been consistent, surfing beside me on this life wave. I can say that all of these influencers have shown me how to break patterns, to dig deep so I can stand confidently in chaos. They’ve taught me to dream big and believe that I can create a life worth living.


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

A: The first pose that comes to mind is “wild thing” only because I embrace heart openers. I love the idea of always being “wild” – breaking out of your comfort zone, trying new things and going on adventures. Becoming “wild” is about testing your limits and understanding that you can be your own best friend, you can rely on yourself, your heart, for all the right answers for YOU.


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

A: I feel like I could’ve been an oceanographer in a past life. I love anything and everything about water. The creatures “down under”, the unexplored caves and ship wrecks … it intrigues me. I chose to host my retreat on The Ballena Marine Conservation area because of my passion for ocean preservation and I’d LOVE to snorkel or scuba dive while in Costa Rica.


TN: What is on your “Costa Rica bucket list” and what are you most excited about?
A: I wanna see the sea turtles. I swear, they’re my spirit animal. I even have a tattoo of these magnificent creatures.

TN: Is there a saying or quote that really resonates with you and your upcoming retreat?
A:  “Uniting consciousness in the heart.”


Learn more about her upcoming retreat:

Align and Refine
April 6 – April 13, 2019
Playa Uvita, Costa Rica

Details HERE


About Amanda Cooley:

Amanda is the proud owner of Ruby Yoga, located in North Bay, in Canada. She has been practicing yoga for over 14 years and teaching yoga for 10 of those years. Her yoga journey began when she was suffering from the ups and downs of anxiety and depression. Recognizing the immense benefits of her own yoga practice, Amanda wanted to help others achieve a better quality of life through this path.

Studying with teachers from the Iyengar tradition at The Yoga Studio College of Canada, Amanda completed her year-long certification in June 2008. Upon completing her certification, Amanda had dreams of traveling and furthering her education in Yoga. She relocated to Busan, Korea to teach English for 14 months which gave her the opportunity to then study and live at an ashram in India and trek the Himalayan Mountains in Nepal.

After almost 3 years of being away from home, Amanda returned to Canada to visit friends and family. She stayed to open Ruby Yoga in October 2012. Using her studio as a catalyst to expose the tools and teachings of yoga to others, her intention is to continue to help individuals heal through the path of yoga.

True Nature Travels Blog

True Nature was able to spend some time getting to know Yoga Teacher and Massage Therapist, Alix Northup. Take a glimpse into her upcoming retreat in Costa Rica; Connecting to Nature, Inside and Out…



TN: How does the idea of connecting to nature, inside and out, play into your upcoming Yoga Retreat, and what themes do you see coming up throughout the journey?

A: I find solace and inspiration by spending time connecting to nature.  Things go about at their own pace, without rushing.  There is a sense of deep presence and peace throughout as weather comes and goes and beings coexist in harmony.  With yoga, I begin to connect to a similar sense – of being a part of something greater and spacious. During this retreat in Costa Rica, we will “connect to nature inside and out’ both with time spent on the mat in practice and with contemplative time spent in the serenity of nature in our immediate surroundings. Through practices of mindfulness and observation, we can begin to unravel the layers that sometimes obscure this sense of connection and keep us trapped in limited beliefs.  We become explorers, in a sense, of our inner landscape and watch the changing weather inside our own minds and bodies.  By taking time to nourish our inner resources of energy and vitality, we  deepen the connection to ourselves, nature, and the world we relate to.



TN: Who has been your greatest influence and why?

A: Tias Little has been the greatest influence in my practice over the last 7 years .  Tias and his wife Surya created Prajna Yoga, where I did 300 hours of training and continue to study.  Prajna yoga is innovative, blending intelligent and mindful hatha yoga with teachings from Buddhist and Zen traditions.

A lot of the work with meditation, yoga, and gentle unwinding somatic movements we will delve into during this retreat in Costa Rica are inspired by the teachings of Tias. Tias Little is one who truly embodies his work and ‘walks the talk.’

When you find a teacher, a path, that nourishes your inner knowing, it is no longer a question. You just arrive.  Again and again.



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

A: If there was a yoga pose that best described me, I would say I relate most with the Triangle Pose (trikonasana).  In Triangle, energy is pulled in different directions yet grounded down into the earth through the feet. It can be fiery and energetic and active and also cool and contained and quiet. It strives for symmetry but has a sense of fluidity rather than becoming rigid.  I explore the different sides of myself as I practice this pose from day to day. The triangle shape itself is deep with symbolism in sacred geometry, building a sense of harmony and grace.  I draw from the energy of the triangle pose to find balance in my life, especially when things feel busy or chaotic.



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

A: Other than yoga and meditation, I am passionate about being active and exploring the outdoors.  That is what excited me about this retreat in Costa Rica- that there will be ample time to spend with various outdoor activities  including hiking, swimming, SUP,  and surfing as we connect our practice into nature outside and get into our bodies through physical movement.  I am imaging hiking through the jungle, trying SUP for the first time and surfing in some warmer water (I’ve only surfed on the Oregon coast so far).

I am also passionate about resting and eating well, so there will be plenty of time and opportunity for that too!



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

A: I love the adventure of exploring an area new to me- and as this will be my first visit to Cost Rica it is a new frontier!   I have read that the Pacific Coast of southwestern Costa Rica, where we will stay during the retreat,  is one of the most biologically diverse areas in the world.  As a plant lover, my Costa Rica “bucket list” includes experiencing the rainforest and diversity within Ballena National marine park, visiting the white sand beaches of Playa Uvita and surfing, and whale watching.  Experiencing local community life and enjoying the local fresh cuisine is also something that interests me wherever I go.



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

A: I’m often inspired by the writings of John Muir about our precious connection to the natural world. I think his words are important reminders for our modern day lives. ‘Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.’


Learn more about her upcoming retreat:

Connecting to Nature, Inside and Out: A mindful Yoga Retreat in Costa Rica
February 23 – March 2, 2019
Playa Uvita, Costa Rica

Details HERE

About Alix Northup:

Alix began her study of yoga as a teenager when her mom brought her to her first yoga class after discovering she had scoliosis. She draws from her own experience of finding balance in her body and mind to compassionately assist others on their own unique path of healing and discovery.

A student for over twenty years, Alix has been teaching yoga since 2007. She is registered with the Yoga Alliance at the 500-hour level, recently completing 300 hours of training with her teachers Tias and Surya Little of Prajna Yoga based in Sante Fe, New Mexico. She received her Yoga for Scoliosis Teacher Trainer certification through senior Iyengar teacher Elise Miller, and continues to study yoga for back care and scoliosis with Deborah Wolk from NYC.

As a licensed massage therapist, Alix brings a deep understanding of anatomy and alignment into her teaching and hands-on adjustments. Alix offers group classes, private sessions, retreats, and workshops specializing in yoga therapeutics and back care both locally and internationally.

Alix finds inspiration and solace in nature and spends her free time exploring the outdoors through rock climbing, hiking up mountains, skiing, and surfing. At home, she enjoys gardening, cooking, playing music, and lying in savasana.


True Nature Travels Blog

Susan Urquhart-Brown and Christopher Brown are hosting a “Power of Presence” retreat in Tuscany. In addition to teaching yoga, Susan and Christopher are mindfulness inquiry teachers. They are passionate about individual transformation and facilitating others in their awakening process. This retreat will take you beyond your practice with daily yoga, meditation, and mindfulness workshops. In the evening you will come together for a time of sharing and personal growth. The hilltop Tuscan Villa retreat center is the perfect environment to explore and transform the cherished beliefs and ideas you hold about yourself, others, and the world. Join this dynamic duo in Italy from September 29-October 6 for a transcending journey. Learn more about what the power of presence means to leader, Christopher, and read experts from his writings below!



It seems that life is like dancing with a tiger, one must be a skilled dancer while also staying mindful, so not to miss the subtle cues from this powerful animal. One missed cue, one wrong step, and the tiger can pounce! So perhaps the most important thing to learn is the balance and flow of life. These qualities that are taught by working with the river. Finding that sweet spot where the hydraulics ​carry you between the rocks and not into them. To become completely natural and in tuned, to be one with the tiger.

The question now is this; when is it the time to read a book, to listen to a lecture, or to simply sit with the heartbeat of the tiger?

 “The primary task of a good spiritual teaching is not to answer your questions, but to question your answers. For it is your conscious and unconscious assumptions and beliefs that distort your perception and cause you to see separation and division where there is only unity and completeness. Adyashanti”


 Oneness and the habit of focus

At Power of Presence gatherings, we use the term oneness a lot, but how often do we reflect on just what it is? When we point to the interconnectedness of everything, as Craig Braden has coined in the Divine Matrix, it’s easy to say “yes” we are all connected by air, gravity, DNA, and the sun. So, why don’t we feel connected?

The first thing to consider is the power of language. The divide that is created where no separation is possible. Take fingers and hand, note how language takes this seamless reality and divides it up into 1000 pieces. We believe in the pieces and we miss the whole picture. Fingers cannot exist separately from the hand, nor hands exist separately from the body. Yes, the habit of speaking focuses on the part and not the whole.

 Our language is designed for sharp focus and dividing up reality so that we miss the big picture and forget to use our wide focus.  When we choose wide focus, we take in the whole panorama, not just the pieces.

Taking in the panorama of life, something happens within us. We are silent, relaxed, and fall back into ourselves. When we are truly present, with no side, that the experience of wholeness arises. At first, the experience of oneness and unity cannot be maintained in the mind as it begins to chatter again. Yet, each time we touch this presence, this silence, we form a new habit and a greater appreciation of oneness and begin to focus on how we are connected.

Written by Christopher Brown


Learn more about the Power of Presence Italy Retreat here:

True Nature Travels Blog

From May 12-May 19, 2018, we’re headed to Amorgos, Greece with Anastasia Bobadilla and Laura Green. Below, Anastasia and Laura tell us what inspired their Wellness Playground: Reconnect To Play Retreat, who their greatest yoga influences have been, what quotes inspire their practice, and more! Meet Anastasia and Laura and find out what you can expect on their retreat by checking out our exclusive interview below!

1. How does the idea of the Wellness Playground: Reconnecting to Play” play into your upcoming Yoga Retreat, and what themes do you see coming up?

In our retreats, our aim is to remind people how wonderful it feels to play, to laugh and to enjoy.
We are wired by evolution to PLAY. Allowing ourselves to PLAY not only decreases stress, improves brain function, and boosts creativity; PLAY also helps balance our mood, cope with everyday life decisions, and frees our spirit to bloom with more passion in every day observations.
Especially as an adult, PLAY boosts our immune system and improves our resistance to disease. Whether it’s a soft giggle,  a loud deep belly howl, or a simple smile and a wiggle. Allow yourself to let go, laugh, and take amusement to yourself and those around you.
Don’t take life so seriously.
Free your inner child and allow your sense of PLAY to bubble up inside you.

2. Who has been your greatest influence and why?

Our greatest influences are the people in our community! The people in the Reno/Tahoe and surrounding area have so much diversity and openness. We feel so blessed and supported by our tribe that we continue to teach and share these practices of connection and play. Without this sense of tribe, our playfulness dulls because we strongly believe that the connections, experiences and memories we create in life is what makes our souls shine.

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

Our mantra or meditation is “Namastizzle”: The monkey in me sees and honors the monkey in you. Namastizzle helps us connect with our primal playfullness and honor our innate sense of a monkey mind set. We allow that connection from our inner light to shine through hearts, radiate into our hands, and enrich the world with our inner sense of play.

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

Beyond Yoga & Meditation,  we focus on connection, trust, communication and play. During our week, we will over many different classes, giving our participants a chance to explore all of these things. For example, AcroYoga teaches us how to trust in a partner to support us, to connect to that person physically and feel safe and even empowered. It teaches us how to communicate effectively both verbally and non verbally. The profound connections that develop through AcroYoga are incredible. We love the give this kind of experience to our students.  Our other classes include Aerial Yoga, Laughter Yoga, Movement & Dance, Budokon, Slacklining, and Thai massage. All of these classes are designed to introduce our students to a wide range of play. Students of any age or experience level can come to our retreat and be inspired and empowered by these offerings. All of our classes during the week are optional, so students and pick and choose which classes they are intrigued to try.

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

The top bucket list items that we are most excited about are:
– to swim, float and snorkel in the clear salt water of the Aegean Sea
– learn and immerse ourselves in Greek culture ie. the people, Greek mythology, Greek Cuisine, Greek Spa
– explore the island of Amorgos exploring the unique island ecosystems, animals, and plant life

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

“The body heals with play, the mind heals with laughter, and the spirit heals with joy.”
Learn more and Register for Anastasia and Laura’s Wellness Playground: Reconnect To Play Retreat.

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:

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:

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


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.



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.


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.


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.


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


“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.”

Learn more about Carmel and her upcoming retreat at

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.