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News from the Retreat

Surrender to Your Discomfort

Believe in YourselfSix years ago I filed for divorce. Walking into that attorney’s office was very uncomfortable. I wanted – I tried – to make it work with my ex but he didn’t want to take responsibility, let alone apologize, for hurting me and our children when he had an affair. I could give you all of the details, but I believe that gives the story power, and while that experience is a part of my story, I’m no longer willing to let that experience be what defines me.

Discomfort is inevitable. No matter how wonderful anyone’s life looks from the outside, know that we are all in the struggle together. I am like most people, I hate discomfort. I used to think it would be better to numb it. Wine, shopping, busy-ness…anything to take my mind off of feeling a particular emotion. Until I got to the point that I was so numb, numbing my feelings was no longer an option.

“I wonder if pain comes from surrendering or resisting.” Donna Lynn Hope

I chose to resist feeling and expressing my emotions, because I believed I was weak if I surrendered to my emotions. I fought surrender with everything I had. “Don’t give in to it – you’re stronger than that.” Now I know that holding on to emotions, to anything really, is weak. Not only is it harder, but it takes away your strength and leaves you powerless. Pain, for me, came from resisting.

Ever since the moment six years ago I’ve been taking steps out of my comfort zone. Sometimes a giant leap, sometimes my baby toe dips in. My life has never been better. Oh of course there were moments of misery (actually days, weeks, and months of misery) but I survived, moment by moment. And now I know to surrender to the misery, to the discomfort, to whatever emotion I’m trying to stifle. I feel it, I express it, then I let it go.

I’ve learned when I TRY to shove the emotion down and not acknowledge or express it, that’s a guarantee it’s going to hold onto me. And it colors every action, every word, every encounter I have. That’s not a way to live.

Physical discomfort may be awful, but for me, mental and emotional discomfort takes it to a whole new level. I don’t want to feel this way. I don’t even want to open the door to that emotion, I’m afraid it will take me over and knock me off my feet. Through my yoga practice, sitting with the discomfort in my physical body in a particular pose, I’ve learned to sit with a whole hell of a lot of mental and emotional pain. And I’m still standing.

When we open the Pandora’s Box, the scary thoughts and emotions flying out can be overwhelming. But the feelings you’ve tried to shove down, NEVER go away. They just sit. Mixing together into a toxic brew that is damaging to our body, mind and spirit. What we’ve been determined to push away, finally combusts and blows the lid right off of the box, it’s not pretty. And I can assure you there will be casualties. The research on the ill effects on your health of holding onto our emotions is powerful.

With the super moon and the lunar eclipse, there has been a lot of talk of changing course and moving forward. The planets are lined up to usher us into a new way of being, thinking, living. From what I’ve read this is the time to choose to grow or stay stuck in the past. While I’m no astrology expert, what I do know for sure is that we must take advantage of every opportunity to grow.  Because growth is the only way to move forward.

How to Surrender to Your Discomfort

Allow the Feeling

Fear, anger, grief whatever it is allow it to bubble up to the surface, and feel it. Try it for 30 seconds. Then maybe a minute, then even longer. See what happens. When it becomes too much. Take a break and try again later.

Sit Still and Examine the Emotion

Without judging yourself for what it looks like or what it feels like or what sort of crazy thoughts are flying through your brain, just examine. Let that crap go. Be still, listen, and feel.


Write or draw what the sensations feel like. Again, without judgment. Trace the feeling to the root, maybe it’s a straight line, maybe it’s more complicated. Maybe you figure it out immediately, maybe you make peace with not knowing the cause right now or ever.

Practice YogaRetreat Guests in our Yoga Studio

The beauty of a yoga practice is you can train your mind to be completely present in every moment. Allow those thoughts to take a back seat to the sound of your breath, the sense of your body moving from pose to pose, the physical sensations as you hold a pose. Let your yoga practice be a moving meditation. Notice how good you feel in final rest as you realize you’ve given yourself a break from your thoughts. Maybe they all come flooding back to you and that’s ok. Let the gratitude for your body, your breath, your practice overwhelm everything else for a moment. Or longer.

If you are a beginner to yoga, this blog post by Nina may help you. Our Yoga Retreats are perfect for beginners. Allow yourself to get out of you comfort zone in a safe and sacred space. See a schedule of upcoming retreats here.

Move Through It

Once you know what you need to surrender to, you encounter the working part of the process. When you’re on this road, realize it’s going straight through that emotion. Not over or above or around. Realize your mind will want to take you a different way. You’ll want to get back to the mindless avoidances… a glass of wine, social media, shopping. Avoid  prolonging your suffering with those distractions, in the long run, it will only make it worse.

Spend Time OutsideTrees at our Yoga Retreat

Being in nature is a powerful healing force if we allow it. Focus on the sun, the trees, the flowers and grass, whatever is in your little patch of the world. Maybe you’re lucky enough to live in a place with breathtaking views, or near a nature preserve or city park, or maybe you enjoy the beauty of a single flower or cloud. Breathe out your emotions and the fear. Breathe in peace, joy, gratitude, freedom.


I believe that meditation is one of the most powerful tools that every person on this planet has access to. Its free, you can do it anywhere…yet what’s stopping us from accessing it? There are meditations books, videos, podcasts and more if you’re not ready to begin on your own. Here’s one from a recent retreat, the rain sounds are so nice!

I like to visualize myself walking through a tunnel, at each step I’m letting go of thoughts or emotions that I’m holding onto so tightly. When I get to the other side of the tunnel, I have a sensation of peace and freedom. I imagine my favorite place in nature and turn my face up to the sun and close my eyes and breathe in the clean fresh air.

Finally, Thank Yourself

You’ve embarked on the journey of surrender. Continue to walk through your journey of discomfort, whatever it is for you… Fear. Grief. Anxiety. Control. Perfection. Anger.

Then, find what is waiting for you in that space that is now free. Love. Peace. Joy. Forgiveness. Freedom. Contentment. Self-Acceptance. Compassion. LIFE.

Seek Professional Help

If you follow all of these steps and you still feel like your stuck, find a competent therapist. I have used several in my life and they allowed me to see parts of myself that I couldn’t see. An outside source can give you a different perspective and allow you to find the peace you deserve. From my experience it’s worth every penny, and nowadays, many insurance plans will cover the costs. Get started here.

Sometimes the thought of surrendering seems impossible. It seems easier to just lay in bed all day and give up. Give up hope, give up opportunities, and give up living. Giving up isn’t the same as surrendering. To surrender takes courage. To surrender provides hope. 

I’m moving forward with hope. Won’t you join me?



Red Thai Curry with Chicken & Vegetables

If you’re intimidated by making more exotic dishes, fear not! This Thai Red Curry recipe is simple and delicious, and only requires a few obscure ingredients. I’ve found jars of Thai Red Curry Paste and fish sauce at various supermarkets in their ethnic foods section. And as far as the Thai Red Curry Spice (loose seasoning), I picked that and the sesame seeds up at Central Market in their bulk spice section.

Oh, and if you like cooking (or if you think you don’t like cooking), I highly recommend the article  Why I Cook, written by Dr. Andrew Weil.


What You’ll Need

  • coconut oil
  • 1 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into strips (leftover roasted chicken works well, too)
  • 1 can coconut milk (well shaken)
  • jar of Thai red curry paste
  • 1 zucchini, cut into 2 inch strips
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 2 sweet yellow onions, sliced
  • 1 cup sliced sweet or bell peppers
  • 1 package mushrooms, cut into quarters
  • garlic
  • fish sauce
  • 2 limes
  • sesame seeds
  • thai red curry spice (loose seasoning)
  • ginger
  • turmeric
  • cumin
  • Himalayan salt
  • fresh cracked pepper
  • nutmeg
  • fresh cilantro
  • 1.5 cups brown rice (uncooked)
  • 3 cups water or chicken broth

Read More

Chocolate Chip Coconut Oil No-Bake Cookie Bars

Healthy, No-Bake Coconut Oil Chocolate Cookie barsI don’t know about you, but I love having a sweet treat to come home to; something that’s sweet enough to satisfy my craving, without making me feel guilty. These easy, no-bake cookie bars are safe enough to have around the house (because if you’re anything like me, there are days when half of the pan will disappear), and they’re made with coconut oil–which is receiving so much praise for it’s health benefits!

Coconut oil, if you’re not familiar with it, is basically like a miracle in a bottle. You can Google “benefits of coconut oil” and see that even WebMD lists “Uses and Effectiveness” of coconut oil for heart disease, high cholesterol, dry skin, Alzheimer’s, IBS, and more.

Coconut Oil No-Bake Cookie Bars Read More

10 Reasons to Start a Yoga Practice Today

nina yoga colorado 2014

Who knew I’d be able to balance on a rock and do “dancer” pose? Not me.

Yoga is intimidating. Even after the first couple of classes it can be intimidating. You may not think yoga is for you, I certainly didn’t think it was for me. But that’s where I was wrong.

Five years ago if you would have invited me to a yoga class, I would have laughed and replied, “You’re kidding, right? I can’t even touch my toes.” I thought I knew what it took to do yoga, and I was certain I had none of it. I was wrong.

Four years ago I attended my first class at Black Swan Yoga in Austin, Texas. I was convinced that every single person in that room knew what they were doing… and then there was me. A wobbly, sweaty chick who was obviously out of sync, frantically looking around, and completely clueless as to what was going on… and I was trying to look like I knew what I was doing! As I lay in Savasana (also called Final Relaxation, the final pose where you are, blissfully, just laying there), drenched in sweat with limbs that felt like jello, I wanted more. Even though that hour was incredibly long, challenging, uncomfortable, and embarrassing, I’d experienced a major shift and realized that I was actually capable of more as opposed to less.

This, my friends, is the true beauty of yoga. By setting aside what you think you know and opening yourself up to the idea of trying, I know you will find that you are capable of so much more than yoga.

I hope my experience has resonated with you and you’re eager to run out the door and catch a class, but just in case you need a little more convincing here are ten reasons why you should start your yoga practice today:

  1. Yoga relieves stress and helps you to manage stress.
  2. Yoga helps you experience deeper sleep (plus you’ll find it easier to fall asleep!)
  3. Yoga increases physical strength and flexibility.
  4. Yoga changes the way you think (neuroplasticity).
  5. Yoga boosts immunity and eases pain.
  6. Yoga eases depression.
  7. Yoga builds self-esteem.
  8. Yoga helps you disconnect and find peace of mind.
  9. Yoga cultivates self care.
  10. Yoga increases awareness.

Want to know some secrets I wish someone would have told me when I first started?

Yoga Class at Yoga Retreat

Students of All Levels at a Recent Yoga Retreat

BREATHE. Whatever you do, do not hold your breath. This makes everything a thousand times harder.

Stop worrying about doing it “right” and listen to what your teacher is saying. Right is what’s right for your body, exactly where you are at that particular point in time. This changes! What you can do “wrong” is hurt yourself (this usually happens if you try to overdo it in a pose your body isn’t ready for, or ignore what the teacher is showing or telling you).

It’s okay to be where you are. You don’t have to keep up with everyone else’s pace, your poses don’t have to look exactly like your neighbor’s or the teacher’s, and child’s pose is always available.

Yoga is more about listening and less about looking. Listen to what the teacher is saying, and more importantly listen to your body, pain is your body’s way of saying STOP. Discomfort means breathe deeper. You’ll learn the difference.

No one is paying attention to what you’re doing on your mat. And if they are, they’re probably looking at you to try and figure out what’s going on–ignore it. People who practice yoga regularly are focused on breathing and strengthening their own practice.

Teachers want to help you. This means you don’t have to pretend to know how to do poses you don’t know how to do.

Most of our Yoga Retreats are for all levels. We’d love to help you start your yoga practice.

Learn more here.

Meet an Amazing Woman: Our First Scholarship Recipient – Lisa Ciminelli

Love Yoga Retreats

“Love is Where You Find It” ~ Photo from Lisa’s Guest Room at the Retreat

“Pampering yourself is addictive!” Lisa’s comment following her recent retreat is one that I am grateful to hear. One of the founding ideas behind Retreat in the Pines is my hope that every woman will take the time to pamper and care for herself. It was a lesson I learned the hard way (of course!), but as I type this I’m preparing for my own pampering: a vacation consisting of all the things I love – riding my bike to yoga, walks on the beach, delicious food and good company. I can’t wait; taking care of myself allows me to take care of each one of you when you attend one of our retreats.

My dream is to make yoga retreats available to as many women as possible and with our recently introduced scholarship program we are able to do just that – offer a life changing retreat to women who need some pampering, but lack the financial means to do so. In addition to yoga retreats, we also offer weekends of yoga and Zumba, Detox, Gratitude and other wellness programs.

Meeting Lisa, our first scholarship recipient, was a joy! She is intelligent, compassionate and kind-hearted.

I’ll let Lisa tell you more about herself in her own words.

I am a 52 year old woman who is learning more about myself every day. I have been doing Social Work for over 25 years and I have worked with men and women who are HIV positive, mentally ill, homeless, recently incarcerated or struggling with addictions. My favorite part of my job is I learn something new everyday and the amazing people I meet (some who I’m blessed to call friends). I am currently working with a Dallas organization to help those struggling with poverty.

My personal life has been challenging. In the last 6 months I have had 3 friends die, one of whom was my best friend. I have struggled with depression and I have been brought to my knees by overwhelming grief. I’m challenged daily with an eating disorder. Unfortunately my husband has not worked consistently for over a year and a half and that has added to the challenges.

In spite of all of this, I am doing better day by day. I am in a reduced rate program for my eating disorder. It has saved my life.

My counselor encourages self-care in the form of meditation and movement of some sort. I have been doing yoga since I was about 18, off and on, (more off than on), so I wasn’t  sure that I could keep up with the yoga at Retreat in the Pines.

What was your favorite part of the retreat?

The food was remarkable! As someone with an ED, I’m often fearful of any events where I cannot control the food. That was not the case for me at your retreat. It was clear that Kaycee cooked everything with her heart and soul. Every meal was outstanding and I never worried about one bite! I think a big part of this was I didn’t feel judged by you or any of the other guests, and not just around the food. There was no judgment about our yoga ability, how we spent our time, or what we shared with the group on an emotional level. I felt so spoiled!

What did you get out of the retreat?

I took away the courage to allow positive events to happen in my life. This was a complete group of strangers and

Lisa Retreat in the Pines Scholarship Winner

Lisa with One of Her Fur Babies

after 2 days, I left feeling like I had made several friends.

In the future I will be less apprehensive about this type of adventure, which is a huge step for me.

Would you recommend the retreat to others?

I‘d definitely recommend this retreat to other women. It’s a lovely form of self-care, a way to get closer to nature, to learn about how enjoyable movement can be, to learn more about yourself and to really take the time that you know you deserve to pamper yourself. Part of the beauty of the experience for me personally was getting to know other women, and learning that you are not the only one who struggles with life.

I loved yoga by candle light, cuddling with Zoe (Theresa’s sweet dog), dancing to 80’s music, star gazing, eating the best bread in east Texas, and listening to the most soothing voice ever guiding us in yoga and meditation!

I enjoyed watching Lisa bloom over the weekend. Coming into the weekend, I knew she was compassionate to others and I loved seeing her discover how compassion for herself was just as important. I look forward to welcoming Lisa back to the Pines as her journey of healing continues.

If you know of anyone who needs a retreat in their life and doesn’t have the financial means necessary, please encourage them to apply for one of our scholarships at Or if you know someone who doesn’t need the financial assistance, but just needs to get away and press reset (maybe you!), check out our Upcoming Retreats for 2015/2016. Register here.

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. 

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