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News from the Retreat

Refreshing Watermelon-Feta Salad with Fresh Basil and Mint

watermelon-feta saladLooking for a little bit of refreshment in the mid-day heat of summer? This watermelon-feta salad with fresh basil and mint has you covered. Plus, with the sweet benefits of basil and health benefits of mint, it’s a healthy snack to add to your day!

Watermelon-Feta Salad with Fresh Basil and Mint

  • ½ large watermelon
  • 1 cup feta
  • fresh basil, thinly sliced
  • fresh mint, thinly sliced
  • 1 large jicama
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 2 tbsp honey
  1. Use melon baller to scoop out watermelon.
  2. Peel jicama and dice into ½ inch cubes.
  3. Whisk together lime juice and honey.
  4. Toss everything to combine; chill until serving.

Five Reasons Why YOU Need a Vacation

Vacation at the Beach

Vacation at the Beach

You’re busy. I’m busy. We’re all busy…busy bragging about how busy we are (and it’s one of the 25 Things We Need to Stop Doing). It’s the world we live in. You might think you are too busy to take time away for yourself. But the truth is, you are too busy to NOT take time away.

You NEED a vacation, a retreat, a getaway. Whatever you choose to call it. It can be a day, a weekend, a week or even longer. It’s a necessity not a luxury. You need time to reset, regroup, relax, recharge.

Take time away with your family, partner, best friend or go solo. And if you really want the full benefit of a vacation, there’s no work allowed. Really. Don’t bring it with you. Get some tips on how to prepare yourself for a smooth transition between work and vacation. I promise your co-workers will be able to handle it.

Vacation in the Mountains

Vacation in the Mountains

I’m rethinking my vacation, based on this article. This summer I am planning a vacation, where I won’t be working. At all. I’m going to enjoy free time – yoga, relaxing, wine, laughter…all of my favorite things.

Taking time away without work allows you to:

  • Be happier before you leave home.
    • Dutch scientists discovered that anticipating a trip increases happiness.
  • Have a positive outlook in general.
    • A 2009 study in Psychosomatic Medicine showed that vacations lead to a more positive outlook and lower levels of depression.
  • Improve the quality of your relationship.
    • According to the Rural Women’s Health Study, the more time a woman took off the happier she is at home.
  • Boost your productivity – at work and at home.
    • Time off is crucial for stress recovery which is key to improving well-being and job performance.
  • Extend your life.
    • 17% lower risk of death from any cause. This is just good news!

What are you waiting for? Start planning your vacation today! There are vacations for all budgets….from a luxurious hotel stay to an airbnb stay in the next town over. If you haven’t tried airbnb yet, I highly recommend it. It’s the only way I travel.

Hammocks at Retreat in the Pines

Vacation at Retreat in the Pines

As always, we’d love to have you  join us for a yoga retreat. We have several summer retreats with openings. It’s not too early to start planning your fall getaway. Enjoy the view of the treetops and the beautiful blue sky from one of our three hammocks. It’s an amazing view and an even more amazing experience.

Find a yoga retreat that works for your budget and schedule.


Summer Solstice – Grow Toward the Light

This post is a “Featured Guest Post” from Sync Yoga, a “Studio we Love” 

girl running into the sunsetAs the days grow longer, the sun becomes the focus of life. Trees barren for months of winter now stretch and unfold into the light. Everything is reaching up toward the source of heat and giving into the inevitability of change and growth.

Maybe that is a good metaphor for humans in this season of the cycle. Where is the source of heat in your life right now? Maybe living in tune with that heat, letting it pull you out of your dull patterns could create just the kind of renaissance you have been needing. Remember, change is inevitable, growth is optional.

Bill O’Hanlon, a psychotherapist, author, and speaker, was very interested in hypnosis. He wanted to study with the eminent Milton Erickson but could not afford the expense. Erickson allowed O’Hanlon to work as his gardener in return for his training.

Do you have a similar desire or interest that you haven’t been able to accomplish? Try getting closer to the heat of your interest and excitement! Get creative with your limitations and talk about them with creative people who can help you imagine new possibilities.

I once heard Bill talking about each person having a “calling.” I had often heard people talking about their calling with regard to religious duty or ministry. But Bill suggested that everyone has a calling. Life calls to us, inviting us deeper, higher and wider. What calls us usually shows up in how we feel – as Bill put it, when we feel “blissed or pissed.”

As the summer solstice approaches, may we join with all of life around us in moving closer to the source of heat and light. May we listen to our anger over injustice and move to create reconciliation and peace. May we follow the bliss of our intuition and have the courage to live what we love.

Charles Gaby, MA, LPC
Sync Yoga & Wellbeing Director of Wellbeing

About Sync Yoga & Wellbeing (

Sync Yoga & Wellbeing is a premier yoga studio and wellbeing center in Dallas located at Sylvan | Thirty (1888 Sylvan Ave. #250). Sync offers a variety of classes, workshops and wellbeing options, including yoga, massage, life coaching, kids/family yoga, pre/post natal yoga, and other experiences to enhance physical, emotional, mental, spiritual and relational wellbeing.

About Charles Gaby, Director of Wellbeing at Sync (

Charles Gaby is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) with over 20 years of experience counseling individuals, couples and families. Currently, he sees clients in Dallas and Fort Worth. He is the creator of Roots of Change, a ten week group process for uncovering emotional dynamics that keep us stuck. Charles works with companies, faith groups, non-profits and schools to create healthy, productive environments with a rich communication matrix and effective systems for discipline, accountability and expression of community values.

Easy to Make Natural Mosquito Repellent – Chemical Free

lavender-733874_1280Do you ever wonder exactly what kind of poisons you’re putting on your skin – just to enjoy the outdoors without being eaten alive? Do you really want to smell like a chemical factory?  Due to a very rainy spring season, most of us are having to fend off even more mosquitoes than usual this summer.

Here’s an easy recipe to keep the mosquitoes at bay:

You’ll need:

  • 4 oz spray bottle
  • 30 drops of citronella essential oil*
  • 15 drops of tea tree essential oil*
  • 25 drops of peppermint essential oil*
  • 10 drops of lavender essential oil*

* Use therapeutic grade oil only.

  1. Fill 1/2 way with distilled or boiled water.
  2. Add essential oils.
  3. Add witch hazel to fill.

Test a small amount on skin first to make sure there’s no irritability.

Find Inner Peace – Guided Meditation

Begin the meditation. Sit in a comfortable spot, close your eyes and find your inner peace.

Guided Meditation – Rain from Theresa Polley on Vimeo.

This guided meditation is from our Sunday morning meditation practice at a recent yoga retreat. It was another rainy morning in the Pines. Usually we meditate on our Yoga Platform, but the rain kept us inside.

Meditation isn’t so much about clearing your mind, but simply training the “monkey mind” to stay in the moment. You can meditate while walking, eating, drinking your morning cup of coffee or simply sitting in a comfortable seated position. Meditation can relieve stress and depression, help you relax and find more joy with family and friends and allow you to get a better night’s sleep.

For more information on how how to meditate on your own, see our recent blog.

Spend a weekend learning how to be mindful in your life and begin your own meditation practice at our Mindfulness & Meditation Retreat. 

Celebrating You!

While May is traditionally known as the time to honor Mothers, we’d like to mix it up a little. We’d like to honor ALL women. Regardless of roles, labels, accomplishments or setbacks… one thing we know for sure: YOU are an incredible woman.

Yoga RetreatAs women, we’ve enjoyed the good times. The joy of getting together with friends laughing so intensely we’re snorting, the exhilaration of a new haircut and getting dressed up for a night out, the empowerment of using our gifts and talents, the rush of doing what we love – playing sports, writing, practicing yoga, building, teaching – whatever feeds our souls.

And we’ve endured the bad times. Starting our period at the most inopportune time, a bad hair day or a giant pimple on the day we see our crush, an outfit we just knew we were rocking that, in retrospect, was a clothing faux pas, finding toilet paper stuck to our super cute shoes. You know those moments.

Through the good times and the bad, being a woman can be so freeing. No need to worry about adjusting our parts (unlike some men who even adjust in public), no judgement for finding blessed silence in bathroom breaks (from children, work, spouse!), no awkwardness in crying, hugging or discussing our feelings. This is what we do!

And while we are still breaking free of expectations, limitations and judgements (sometimes we are our own harshest critics), there are so many wonderful things to celebrate about being women. It’s an incredible time for us, and we are making steps forward in every aspect of our lives – personally, professionally, socially and globally. It feels good doesn’t it?!

We celebrate all of you, all of our guests, our potential guests, Jan (the best massage therapist, ever) and Kaycee (preparing delicious and healthy meals for you); our instructors: Jamie, Kelly, Laurie, Yoga RetreatShannon, Star, Stephanie and Tara. The most amazing women that I know!

Announcing our Celebrating You contest. Share a photo of you, by yourself or with a group of friends, and tell us what you LOVE about being a woman. The winner will receive a Yoga Nurture Retreat.

Then take time to celebrate you – your accomplishments, your life, your loves, your challenges. Join us for a retreat and share your story with us. We’d love to hear it.  View Upcoming Retreats or Register.

Jalapeño-Blueberry Cornmeal Pancakes

jalapeno-blueberry cornmeal pancakesHello, love at first bite!

So, this recipe sounds a little weird but I promise it’s amazing if you love sweet and savory combos. This idea came one morning when I had a lot of random things on hand, and no idea what to make. I’d recently visited a local brunch spot that served a pecan waffle with blue cheese-cayenne butter (and moonshine syrup which I actually ate with my spoon at some point during the meal) – it was amazing to say the least – and somehow I ended up with one of my favorite kitchen creations: the jalapeño-blueberry cornmeal pancake.

PS. I “measured” out the cinnamon for you in the recipe, but I never actually measure cinnamon. I’ve learned that with pancakes it takes a lot of spice for the flavor to really shine through, so be generous with the cinnamon if you like it.

Happy kitchen experimenting!


What You’ll Need  Read More

Spring is Blooming in the Pines – Photo Tour

As the days are getting longer, the weather warmer, my heart yearns to be outside.

Walking through the pine trees, enjoying a glass of wine on the deck, spending a lazy day in the hammock. What about you?

Join me on my recent journey.

Plan your spring getaway to one of our upcoming retreats.

The Sun Rise through the Pines

Sun Rise through the Pines

Trees Bloom to Life

Trees Bloom to Life

View From the Hammock

View From the Hammock

Spring Beauty - Dogwood

Spring Beauty – Dogwood


Moth outside Yoga Studio

Spring Everywhere

Spring Everywhere


Zesty LemonBerry Coffee Cake

lemonberry coffee cake 2A few weeks ago my roommate and I decided that it would be fun to host a housewarming brunch. Being the procrastinator that I am, of course I didn’t think about how much work it would be… until about four days prior. As I was preparing, I shared with mom what I was making: her amazing sausage gravy, that simple apple crisp I love, and my favorite kitchen sink frittata… and of course something new! I found a recipe for sticky lemon rolls that just looked and sounded so delicious, but being the wise woman that mom is she gently encouraged me to refrain from making anything that might stress me out. Which led to the discovery of my new favorite kitchen creation: LemonBerry Coffee Cake. I discovered this recipe, and made some tweaks (like decreasing the amount of sugar, swapping coconut oil for butter, and adding more zest) and it’s a huge hit at retreats.

Even if you’re the most inexperienced cook in the world, you can make this – I believe in you! Let go of any prejudice you have towards cooking (thoughts like “I’m not good enough” or “I haven’t spent enough time in the kitchen” or whatever negative thought might be creeping into your mind) and just give it a shot. Maybe you’ll mess it up… but cooking is a like yoga – it’s a practice. You can’t get any better without giving it a fair shot. You got this, girl.


for the zesty crumb topping

  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup whole wheat flour
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • zest of a lemon (if you don’t have a lemon zester, use a small-grate cheese grater)

for the cake

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup softened coconut oil (you can also go big and substitute softened butter here)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • splash o’ vanilla extract
  • ½ cup milk
  • zest of a lemon
  • 1 handful blueberries
  • 1 handful raspberries

for the lemon-honey drizzle

  • 2-3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2-3 tbsp local honey
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and coat a 9×13 glass baking dish with a thin layer of coconut oil (or butter).
  2. In a small bowl, prepare the zesty crumb topping and set aside (seriously, the extra zest here is what makes this near perfect, in my humble opinion).
  3. In a medium bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, beat together softened coconut oil and sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla extract, milk, and eggs. Mix in lemon zest. Add flour mixture and mix until just combined. Fold in berries.
  5. Spread batter evenly into the baking dish (batter will be thick). Sprinkle with crumb topping/
  6. Bake for 25 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
  7. While the cake is cooling* (allow to cool for at least 10 minutes), prepare the tart drizzle. In a saucepan, whisk together lemon juice (beware of those seeds – this simple juicer is my best friend when it comes to juicing lemons) and honey over medium low heat. Turn off heat once bubbly.
  8. Cut cake into squares, and drizzle evenly with the warm lemon-honey.

lemonberry coffee cake*When I make this for a retreat, I cook the cake in the evening and allow to cool overnight because it’s much easier to serve. I make the lemon-honey drizzle just before serving, so it has a little bit of warmth but it isn’t falling all over the place like it would fresh out of the oven.

How to Meditate: Find Your New Beginning

Suffering quote

Suffering. While it is something that we all must endure as human beings, there is something so baffling about the way we hold onto, and create, suffering that is familiar. I don’t like to think that I’ve created suffering for myself, but if I’m being completely honest I realize that I have. Maybe you’ve done this… gone over and over something in your head, trying to figure out what went wrong, what you could have done differently, wishing you could go back in time and fix it. By worrying, we needlessly create suffering for ourselves. We know there is no going back, only the here and now, and only the hope of another day to go forward… yet we continue to allow the mind to worry, giving the only thing that we actually possess – the present moment – away to the power of fear.

Thoughts and feelings are complex parts of our human makeup, and we can easily make the mistake of taking them as truth or being consumed by them. But the truth is, you can control your thoughts and you don’t have to let them control you. Meditation can help.

I recently came back from spending almost a month at Kalani, an amazing retreat center near the ocean on the big island of Hawaii. If you haven’t been to Hawaii…what are you waiting for? It’s absolutely breathtaking and there is so much to see. There’s this thing called Hawaiian time…it’s at a much slower pace than Dallas time. Things get done when they get done, there is no sense of hurry and urgency. It’s refreshing to not feel pressured or rushed. Before I left for Hawaii I felt weighed down by life, mostly past experiences and choices. Coming back home, I feel light, hopeful and optimistic. I learned to go with the flow (something I thought I already knew how to do).


My Favorite Meditation Spot in Hawaii

While in Hawaii I spent a lot of time meditating and practicing letting go. If you’ve been to any of my retreats you know that letting go is one of my favorite topics; I believe that letting go of anything (good, bad, indifferent) makes room in your life for new possibilities and opportunities…for exactly what it is you need. Eyes open, watching the waves pound the lava rocks noticing the brilliant blue of the sky and the mesmerizing action of the water, I was completely present and aware. Eyes closed, I would meditate on the things in my life that I needed to let go of, I found awareness of the suffering I had been creating for myself.

Meditation is a powerful tool and there are many physical and mental benefits. It is a practice that is simple and easy to incorporate into your life. It doesn’t require any special equipment or any great skill. It simply requires you.

How to Begin Your Meditation Practice

    Find a quiet place at home, work or outside (my favorite)
    Set the timer on your phone for five minutes…gradually working up to longer….or not.
    Sit comfortably, move and adjust your position if you need to.
    Focus on a word, color, mantra (phrase), prayer.
    When you get distracted, bring yourself back to your breath and then refocus.
    When the timer goes off, ease back to your routine, taking the sense of peace, calm and focus you discovered.

Other Meditation Ideas

Maybe a walking meditation works better for you, where you focus on your surroundings. Maybe you get a meditation app or use another tool. Maybe your yoga practice is your meditation. Use what works for you. The key is to be present and aware. When distractions present themselves, practice letting them go and bringing your awareness back to the present moment without frustration, judgment or discouragement. If you notice that you are stumbling over obstacles in your meditation practice, here are some tips.

This spring, find your new beginning by embarking on a journey of meditation. You’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.

If you need help beginning your meditation practice, we’re here to help, check out our first Meditation Retreat on June 26-28. We also practice meditation at all of our retreats, view our upcoming retreats to see what works for your schedule.

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