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Love Yourself First

Love Yourself First at a Yoga Retreat

Why should Valentine’s Day be reserved for couples? All else aside, if you’re not loving yourself, you’ve got work to do. Only by taking care of yourself, are you able to do all those things you want and need to do. Somehow, somewhere, we’ve overcomplicated our lives with busyness, thinking this somehow makes us a better person. We trick ourselves into believing if we eliminate “me” time we will have more time for other things. That’s simply untrue. Running ourselves ragged leaves us exhausted, with neither the time or inclination to take care of anybody or anything. Including ourselves.

Through self-care – physical, mental and emotional – your immune system and energy levels stay strong. YOU deserve the gift of self-love and self-acceptance!

Join us for our Love Yourself Retreat on February 11-14 and find the empowerment, self-love and self-acceptance you deserve through yoga, workshops and the support and encouragement of other women. You will learn to truly love and accept yourself, exactly as you are. Or choose from Meditation, Detox & Yoga and Yoga Nurture (our most popular) retreat,  great for all levels–including beginners–and at a price to fit your budget. View all upcoming retreats. If you’ve experienced one of our retreats, you already know that a retreat is truly a gift of self love to yourself.

Self-Love Starts with Self-Care

Self-love begins with self-care. It’s learning to say no to many things, so you can say yes to you.  aromatherapy at yoga retreat

I’ve started the following habits over the last few years and I’m healthy and full of energy. I have three grown children (if you have young children – you are blissfully unaware of the stress of grown children), a growing business and I’m enduring (don’t know if I can say enjoying) the horrors of online dating. I’ve found when I commit to myself through these habits, I change my life, my attitude and how I feel. All for the better.

Most of these habits are simple and cost nothing! A little bit of practice will make them part of your life. I invite you to take the first step towards self-love, by incorporating the following simple self-care tips into your life.

Plenty of sleep – I make sure I get a good night’s sleep no matter what else is going on in my life. Sleep trumps all else: yoga, meditation, time at the gym, etc. Good sleep is crucial to good mental, emotional and physical health. This is the time when your body repairs itself and your brain stores memories. If you have trouble sleeping, turn off electronics several hours before bed. Try breathing, meditation or a warm bath before bed. Your body and mind need the chance to wind down. If you have trouble falling asleep or you wake up periodically during the night, your body and mind have gotten into the habit, which like any habit, you can change. Sometimes our bodies wake up in the middle of the night because we are hungry, if you’re like me and don’t eat a lot in the evening, this is especially true. Try a couple of spoonfuls of peanut or almond butter before bed.

Drink Water– Specifically water that is room temperature, or even warm. Ice water slows down your digestive system. Ice water in the winter makes you cold. I used to love ice, now I never miss it. When your digestive system is sluggish, you feel sluggish and lack energy.

Eating for the SeasonsOur bodies naturally crave the foods of the season. Hearty stews and soups and root vegetables in the winter to warm us from the inside out. Salads, fruit, lighter meals in the summer to keep us cooler.

JournalingWriting down your thoughts is a great a tool to process emotions. I usually journal several times a week, sometimes not as often when things are going smoothly. I have journaled frequently since my divorce 6 years ago. I believe this, as well as the help of the right therapist, allowed me to process my divorce and get back to living.

Indulge – A little dark chocolate, a little red wine, a long soak in a bubble bath and a Netflix binge. There’s no harm in a few guilty pleasures. Researchers have found dark chocolate and red wine are actually good for your heart. I love to combine the first three with a novel I’m reading and press pause on my life for an hour.

Yoga & Meditation at Yoga Retreat

Yoga and Meditation – Yoga and meditation isn’t complicated or time consuming. Yoga can be simply breathing and moving mindfully for ten minutes. Meditation is any mindfulness practice and can be as simple as sitting in stillness or taking a walk. Several times per week is ideal, but do what works best for your schedule.

Ginger Tea – Every morning I warm up a mug of homemade ginger tea, add a little local honey and fresh lemon and enjoy a soothing cup of goodness that is healthy for the digestive system, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and detoxifying for the kidneys. 

Oil Pulling – I practice this every evening while watching Netflix. Take a spoonful of oil (I prefer coconut oil) and swish for 20 minutes. I floss first, oil pull, then rinse with water and brush my teeth. I love this because it detoxifies my mouth, keeps my gums healthy and my teeth white. You can also add a little bit of essential oil if you’d like. Plus, once I oil pull, I’m done eating for the night. Preventing the late night munchies!

Trees at the Yoga Retreat

Time in NatureStudies have shown that nature is healing. The colors, the smells, the sounds. Emerge yourself in a bath of nature by walking through the park or simply spending time in your backyard. And let the healing begin.

Physical Activity – Yoga, walking, bicycling – any activity that gets the blood flowing and increases your heart rate is ideal. It doesn’t have to be an hour long Zumba or spin class. Strength training is especially important for women to keep our muscles and bones strong. You can use light hand weights or do Pilates or yoga. Know that as women, we won’t bulk up, but will instead have nicely toned (and strong!) muscles. And it feels good.

Acupuncture – I get an acupuncture treatment at least once a month. My acupuncturist works with me on all aspects of my life, asking me questions about my stress levels, my eating and sleeping, my allergies and any other physical ailments. I walk out of there feeling mentally, physically and emotionally balanced. It is an amazing feeling. Acupuncture can help you with everything from depression to joint pain and so much more. Some insurance plans cover Acupuncture and you can also itemize from your taxes as a medical expense. While some people are skeptical, more and more research has shown that acupuncture is effective, especially as a way of reducing inflammation in the body.

I can’t remember the last time I was sick. And some weeks are better than others for fitting it all in. If I fall off the wagon and don’t do everything on my list every week, I forgive myself and move on.

Life isn’t all rainbows and unicorns, I have my moments. But I have lots of energy, I’m loving life and I’m so happy to share these tips with you.

I’m wishing you a Happy Valentine’s Day full of Self-Love. And the gift of treating yourself with love, kindness, respect and compassion all year long.

The Power of Not Making Resolutions

Be Yourself Quote by Oscar WildeIt’s so tempting to get bit by the bug of self improvement at this time of year.

  • Get Organized
  • Lose Weight
  • Stop a Bad Habit
  • Start a Good Habit
  • Save Money
  • Get a Better Job
  • Find Love

Not only are these all really overwhelming…some are just simply unattainable. Plus, New Year’s Resolutions are known to fail. Don’t set yourself up to fail.

If you are unhealthy I encourage you to get healthier, taking baby steps.

Whatever you do, don’t try this at home: eat only vegetables, stop drinking and run 5 miles a day. I guarantee you will probably eat a lot of junk, drink MORE and you won’t want to walk anywhere, let alone run. Baby steps would be add more veggies to your diet, drink only on certain occasions and walk out the front door and keep going. And if you relapse by staying in bed all day and eating potato chips (close to a vegetable!) and drinking wine (staying in bed can qualify as an occasion, right?), don’t be too hard on yourself.

Start again the next day. Don’t give up on yourself after getting off course one time.

In 2016, live life. Joyfully. Passionately. Confidently. Just as you are. Because you are wonderful and lovely and perfectly imperfect.

Happy 2016. May this be the year of YOU!



Ayurvedic Crockpot Steel Cut Oatmeal

blueberries-531209_1280Winter is officially here, but if you’re in Texas you wouldn’t know it. I promise I’m not complaining. The 70 degree days don’t really fit with the holiday festivities, but with February right around the corner I know I won’t be the only Texan missing these blue sky, balmy days of early winter.

According to Ayurvedic principles, Winter is the season that our digestive fire is the strongest. To maintain balance in our bodies during the winter months, Ayurvedic principles encourage eating foods that are warm, cooked, slightly oily, and well spiced. With our bodies being naturally inclined towards heavier foods during this season, oatmeal makes the perfect meal to begin those cold, winter mornings.
If you’re interested in learning more about Ayurvedic principles, read this: Winter Guide. We also share Ayurvedic Cooking & Eating Tips at our Detox Retreats. 

Crockpot Steel Cut Oatmeal

1 cup steel cut oats
1 can (14.5 oz) full fat coconut milk*
2 1/4 cups water
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp cardamom
1 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp clove
1 tsp vanilla or almond extract
handful of dried fruit
handful of pecans or walnuts

Stir together all ingredients in a medium to large crockpot. Cover, set to “warm,” and cook for 8 hours. If cooking longer than 8 hours, stir at least once during cooking. Serve warm with fresh blueberries, sliced bananas, and/or shredded coconut if desired. Enjoy!

*I recommend using canned coconut milk because it is much creamier (and pure) than what you will find in the carton. This will make for a creamier end result.

Easy Essential Oil Holiday Gifts

IMG_2973Here are a few easy DIY essential oil recipes that make great homemade gifts for the holidays!

Uplifting Holiday Essential Oil Blend

14 drops grapefruit essential oil
6 drops peppermint essential oil
4 drops sage essential oil

Use as a blend for any of these fun and easy DIY gift recipes! (You can also find other blends here.)

Soothing Bath Salts

1 cup coarse sea salt
½ cup epsom salts
3 tbsp baking soda
10-15 drops essential oil blend of your choice

In a large bowl, mix together salts and baking soda. Add in essential oil and combine. Store in a tightly sealed container to keep out moisture.

Coconut Oil Sugar Scrub

½ cup coconut oil, melted but not hot
1 ½ cups sugar
10-20 drops of essential oil blend of your choice

Mix coconut oil and sugar until desired consistency, and stir in essential oils of your choice.

Linen Spray

10 oz mist sprayer bottle
distilled water
25 drops of your favorite essential oil or blend

Add essential oil to bottle and fill with water. Shake to blend. Use on yoga mats, sheets, bath towels, cloth sofas, and more!

Hope Quotes

With gratefulness in our hearts, our thoughts turn to hope…hope for the future, for the world, for each one of you – that you may find exactly what you need in this season of peace and joy.

May your holiday season be filled with love, light and hope.

Hope is stronger


hopes not hurts



Gratitude for Our Gratitude Retreat

Gratitude stoneIt never ceases to thrill me the amazing and wonderful women who visit Retreat in the Pines. Our recent Three Night Gratitude Retreat was no exception. The group bonded immediately, and we were sharing laughter and tears right away.

No two retreats are the same, but there is often a shared feeling or theme that connects everyone who is present for the retreat. In this particular group, our common theme seemed to be transition. Women moving on from ending long term relationships. Women beginning new career directions. Women becoming strong and confident.

One guest, whose wonderful open heart shows up in her smile, inspired us with her recent decision to pursue her dream business (visit her jewelry website). Another guest, who has been struggling with working too much and not taking enough time for herself, shared her contagious laugh all weekend. Another shared her vulnerability and opened up to us about challenges she is facing with her family. And Heather, who recently moved back from Oregon, is transitioning from a career in the insurance industry to cooking meals for our guests. Read her bio here.

This weekend these women found “the magic” (as many of our guests have called it):  a special combination of peace, Yoga Class at Yoga Retreathealing and the courage to go on knowing they are not alone in their struggle. After sharing four days together in an intimate and safe space it seemed impossible to venture back to reality without the support of each other, we hugged each other and made plans to gather for lunch.

The defining moment of our weekend was when one guest inadvertently pulled off the gravel road and her truck sank in the mud. She was ready to get home quickly to see her sick dog. We had to work together to come up with a solution; doing what we knew to do, we placed wood under the tires, and watched the tires spin as she sank deeper.  Then, someone suggested we push the truck backwards. I have to admit, I was skeptical. But we did it! The energy in that moment was incredible. We gathered together, we used our strength in numbers, and we pushed her out of the mud, cheering in victory.

And that seems to me like a metaphor for women and life. One of us gets stuck, spinning our wheels trying to get out, but instead, digging deeper into a hole. When we come together to aid women (friends, family, acquaintances, women in different countries and situations), we find strength in our numbers and WE support women everywhere when we help one.

Whatever challenge you’re facing in your life, a retreat will change your perspective. Learn more about our upcoming yoga and wellness retreats and sign up for a retreat that fits your schedule and budget.

Sweet Potato Pecan Muffins

Sweet Potato Pecan MuffinsIt’s fall and that means it’s sweet potato season! Sweet potatoes are hands down one of my favorite veggies. Did you know that sweet potatoes are superfoods packed full of health benefits? Make these muffins for your friends and family over the holidays, or make them on a Sunday evening to enjoy for breakfast all week! If you have leftover mashed sweet potatoes, you can do what I did which is replace the sweet potatoes and milk with leftover mashed sweet potatoes.


For the muffins:
2 large sweet potatoes (about 14oz), cut in half (skins on)
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar (optional)
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup milk
zest of a small orange
3/4 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

For the topping:
2 tbs. sugar
1 tbs. cinnamon

Makes 12 muffins.


  1. In a small bowl, mix the sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.
  2. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the sweet potatoes and cook until tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat, drain well, and set aside to cool. Once the potatoes are cool enough for handling, squeeze the potatoes out of their skin and into a food processor (or blender) and pulse until slightly fluffy. Scrape the sweet potatoes into a bowl and let cool to room temperature.
  3. Preheat an oven to 400°F. Grease 12 standard muffin cups with cooking oil.
  4. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder and salt.
  5. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, oil, milk and orange zest. Whisk vigorously for 1 minute. Add the mashed sweet potatoes and beat until completely blended. Add the flour mixture and stir until just evenly moistened. (It’s okay if the batter is slightly lumpy, you don’t want to overmix). Using a large rubber spatula, fold in the pecans until just evenly distributed, no more than a few strokes.
  6. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling them three-fourths full.
  7. Sprinkle with the topping, dividing evenly.
  8. Bake until the muffins are golden, dry and springy to the touch, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes.
  9. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes.
  10. Serve them warm, with coconut oil or butter.

Congratulations to our Anniversary Giveaway Winners!

Yoga Retreat on DeckThank you to everyone who participated in our 11th Anniversary Celebration & Giveaway! We loved seeing all your comments and we so appreciate you sharing your inspiration, memories, and love with us.

If you participated in our giveaway, via Facebook or email, please review the following list for your name. If you won, email to claim your prize!

Today (October 28, 2015) only, take 10% off of any Retreat Registration. Cannot be applied to previous registration. Explore our retreats here. Here’s information on our scholarship program.

Congratulations to our Winners!

  • Kimberley Hearne – Yoga Nurture Retreat
  • Vivian Revesz – 1/2 Price Yoga Nurture Retreat for You & A Friend
  • Julie Price – $100 Gift Certificate
  • Chelsea Meyer – $100 Gift Certificate
  • Sarah Schild – $100 Gift Certificate
  • Barbara Boulet – $50 Gift Certificate
  • Ramona Docken – $50 Gift Certificate
  • Nelida Lewis – $50 Gift Certificate
  • Miz Ruiz – $50 Gift Certificate
  • Dionna Dalzel – $50 Gift Certificate
  • Pam Rutledge – Hoodie

These Gift Certificates can’t be combined with any other offer.

Please contact us by November 1, 2015 to get your prize.


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 NeedMushrooms for Curry

  • 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

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