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News from the Retreat

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 healthy, 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.

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. 

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!


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