We hear the word freedom quite a bit at this time of year. We celebrate our country’s independence on July Fourth, but what about celebrating freedom in our personal lives?
You’ll often hear yoga instructors expressing this idea in class: clear your mind, let go. And in letting go, we can find freedom. This might seem like a very broad concept, so it’s helpful to hone in on what exactly you’re looking to let go of: self-doubt, negative self-talk, attachment to the past, attachment to any ideas of what the future “should” look like, and so on.
For me personally, the journey of letting go is something I must be intentional about. It’s easy to get off track. Here are ideas on how to do just that:
Let go of self-doubt. As women, we play many different roles in our lives: friend, employee, boss, mother, sister, wife; the list goes on. With all the hats we wear, it can be easy to doubt how we are “performing” in any given role. We might wonder if we’re good enough, or if we’re doing enough. The reality is that we are doing the best we can—and that is always enough.
Let go of negative self-talk. Our thoughts have the power to create our reality. At one time or another, we may find ourselves in a cycle of negative self-talk, focusing on the things we see as flaws or negatives about ourselves or ruminating on mistakes we have made. Let go of fixation on the negative. Focus your attention and energy on what you love about yourself, and positivity will follow.
You are either now here, or nowhere.” Baron Baptiste
Let go of attachment to the past and the future. This quote sums up the importance of being present for me. A significant element of the practice of yoga is learning through breath, meditation, and movement to be present. When we focus too much on events of the past—which are already done and gone—we prevent ourselves from moving forward into growth. On the other side of the coin, worrying about the future creates anxiety, which is essentially a fear of something that has only happened in our minds, but not in reality. Let go of what happened in the past and the need to control what happens in the future. You’ll find the freedom to be present, and to live and love the moment you are in.
Learning to let go is one step toward finding freedom from the things that hold you back in your personal life. At Retreat in the Pines, we create a safe, relaxing space for you to step away from the worries of your daily life and give yourself an opportunity to focus on letting go. We’d love for you to join one of our upcoming retreats to find freedom during a weekend away that is just for you. Check out our schedule of upcoming retreats to learn more.
This cool and healthy salad is the perfect way to keep your cool this summer. Enjoy it as a side dish, or add protein such as chicken or salmon, for an easy and delicious main dish.
In the heat of Summer, the best way to stay cool is to eat cooling foods, avoiding hot food (in flavor and temperature). Cooling foods such as melons, cucumbers, cherries and zucchini will definitely help you keep your cool as the temperature creeps up. Here’s a list on what fruits and vegetables to enjoy and what to avoid.
Wild rice is packed with protein (more than quinoa), low in fat and gluten free. The slightly nutty flavor and texture is a great base for any salad or just sprinkled on greens.
- 2 Cloves garlic, minced
- Olive Oil
- 1 cup of Wild Rice
- 1 cup chicken or veggie broth
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup Dried Cranberries
- 1 cup Slivered Almonds
- ¼ cup chopped fresh mint
- ¼ cup chopped fresh thyme (or parsley, sage or even chives)
- 1 lemon
- Salt & Pepper
- Rinse rice thouroghly
- Saute garlic in olive oil
- Add rice let cook for 5 minutes
- Add all liquid
- Add cranberries
- Bring to boil over high heat.
- Reduce to low, simmer and cover for 45 minutes.
- After cooking, add thyme, mint and almonds.
- Squeeze lemon over top
- Fluff with fork.
- Refrigerate before serving.
When I began my own digital detox, over a year ago, there was an immediate sense of relief. I started by turning off the notifications on my phone. With that first step, I realized, I’m in charge again! Not my phone! I recently deleted social media apps that were distracting me. At first there was a sense of what do I do now? Then I realized I had much more time in my day to engage with those around me. My dining table has always been a screen-free zone and I have memories of great meals and conversations with loved ones and friends over the years.
Many women come to Retreat in the Pines seeking a way to “unplug” from their daily lives. Often just getting away to a place where the focus is relaxation and the only thing you really have to do is breathe, is enough to get grounded, settle into a clear headspace and calm emotional state. If you’re in need of a get-away, book a retreat with us.
Relaxation is easy to achieve while away at a retreat. But what about unplugging while in the midst of daily life? Modern society is hyperconnected, and the tools that were designed to make our lives easier can, in some ways, make our lives more complicated. The apps on our phones often distract us from being fully present in the moment. While it’s almost impossible to completely unplug, there is a new trend in managing the overwhelming and nearly constant stream of information at our fingertips: a digital detox.
A digital detox doesn’t have to be as extreme as it sounds. There’s no need to throw away your cell phone or sell your tablet. The following tips will help you find better balance in your life by keeping you more connected – not to your device, but to the present moment.
- Make the dining table a screen-free zone. This is the perfect first step towards a digital detox, and one that’s fairly easy to execute. Whether you’re sitting down for a meal with your family, a significant other, a friend or by yourself, the simple act of putting away your phone allows you to be more present. The dining table is a place for connection and communication – with the people who are there with you. Plus, eating in a relaxed space is an Ayurveda tip for better digestion.
- Clean up your apps. Declutter your digital life by cleaning up your smart phone. Review the apps on your device. Chances are, there are a few you never use. Delete any apps you haven’t used in a month. What might be more difficult (yet even more freeing) is the next level: deleting the apps that distract you the most, including social media and games.
- Turn off your notifications. Few things are more distracting than the ding! of a notification. But how many notifications are relevant to your work or personal life? You can go a few moments longer without being bombarded by your friends on social media and the what’s going on in the world. Fewer email notifications means less of an urge to constantly open your email app. Take it a step further and unsubscribe from marketing emails. Taking this step might even benefit other areas of your life (your bank account!).
- Wake yourself up the old-fashioned way. You may sleep with your phone next to your bed, or at least somewhere in your room. Many of us do this because it doubles as an alarm clock. But it’s also a gateway to the distractions of the outside world and can lead to phone time instead of sleep time. Having an actual alarm clock at your bedside and your phone removed from your sleeping space will help disconnect you from the outside world and, hopefully, help you sleep better at night.
- Take conscious breaks from the digital world. While completely banishing devices from your day-to-day life may be unrealistic, it is possible to take a gradual detox from their use. Start by taking 15 minutes off one day, followed by 30 the next, and so on. Or, select a particularly distracting social media platform and designate one day a week to disconnect from it completely (Facebook Free Fridays, anyone?).
These five small steps can go a long way toward simplifying your day-to-day life. While staying connected digitally has become nearly inescapable, it’s possible to minimize the time we spend in the digital world so that we can maximize the time we spend present in our lives. At Retreat in the Pines, we encourage unplugging as completely as you can and allowing yourself to relax and enjoy life one breath at a time. For more information on upcoming retreats, visit our website or contact us today.
It’s almost time to pick Blueberries in East Texas! Those fresh blueberries combined with a little bit of Rosemary from our garden creates a little bit of heaven for our Sunday Brunch. I tried year after year to grow one of those Rosemary Christmas trees with no luck. Now we have huge rosemary bushes and we have more rosemary than we know what to do with!
We stuff our chickens (sourced from a local farm) with fresh rosemary before roasting. We add rosemary to our famous Breakfast Potatoes and stir a little in to our Chicken and Veggie Soup. Rosemary adds a unique flavor, plus it’s anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and can reduce stress.
Our guests usually can’t get enough of these scones. I’m certainly not a baker, but this recipe is simple and the result is delicious!
- 2 c. flour
- 3 T. sugar
- 1 ½ t. Baking Powder
- 5 T. butter (cold, chunked)
- ½ c. milk
- ½ t. Vanilla
- 1 egg white
- ½ c. fresh blueberrie
- 2 Tbl fresh Rosemary, chopped
- Place flour, sugar & baking powder in food processor.
- Pulse till combined.
- Add butter and pulse until it’s crumbled.
- Place in a medium bowl and set aside.
- In a glass measuring cup whisk together milk, vanilla & egg white.
- Add Blueberries and Rosemary to flour mixture and stir to coat.
- Mix in wet ingredients and stir just until moist.
- Pour out onto a floured surface.
- Knead twice and cut in half.
- Shape each half into a circle ½ inch thick.
- Cut in half and then each ½ into five triangles.
- Place on a cookie sheet and bake at 400 F for 15 mins or until light golden on top.
- Let cool five minutes.
I love being a woman, but there are definitely challenging seasons. I have survived challenges in my life by consistently taking time for myself on my yoga mat. My favorite pose Savasana, final rest, is even sweeter with Zoe. Our retreats are for ALL women – no yoga experience is needed. Discover the power of yoga, when you join us for a retreat.
Krystle Sangillo, social media expert and Yoga Instructor, shares the benefits of a Yoga Practice to women.
As women, there are many ways to approach living a healthier lifestyle. Developing a consistent yoga practice is one of them. For those of us who have already begun our yoga journey, we rolled out our mats for the first time for various, and often very personal, reasons. For some women, the practice begins as physical: we need to add movement and activity to our lives or have a tangible, physiological goal in mind. For others, we’d been advised that yoga can help alleviate stress, promote better sleep, or reduce anxiety.
Whether you’re in the early stages of your yoga journey or have been practicing daily for 10 years, the practice has the power to positively impact your health and well-being in many ways.
Relief from Stress and Anxiety
Women who practice yoga on a consistent basis may notice, over time, a general reduction in their overall level of stress. In a clinical study on the effects of yoga on depression and anxiety in women, results showed that practicing yoga for 90 minutes, twice a week, for just two months resulted in a significant reduction in anxiety. For those of us who struggle with anxiety, this can be a powerful, simple, and natural way to manage it.
Balancing Out the Effects of Hormones
While all women are affected differently by their menstrual cycles or menopause, the effects of yoga during times of hormonal fluctuation are positive. Some women may experience only physical changes during times of hormonal imbalance – cramping, fatigue, and hot flashes, to name a few – while others may find themselves dealing with mood swings, unpredictably high and low energy levels, and even insomnia.
The simple act of breathing through physical and emotional discomfort related to hormonal fluctuations can reduce negative effects.
The mental focus and clarity from a yoga practice may help women find peace during times that feel overwhelming, tumultuous, or out of control.”
Stress relief and emotional health alone are two powerful reasons to develop a consistent yoga practice. The physical benefits – improved strength, balance, and flexibility – are life changing. A consistent practice helps develop heightened body awareness, which naturally leads to better posture – something many people (not just women!) struggle with in the modern environment of sitting in front of computers for most of the work day.
For those with concerns about maintaining healthy weight, scientific research has shown practicing yoga at least once a week for a minimum of four years can minimize weight gain during middle age. While not all styles of yoga burn large amounts of calories, developing a mindful approach to health (eating habits, sleep, physical activity and more) is a result of practicing any form of yoga.
For women seeking healthy and more balanced lives, a consistent yoga practice is a great way to address both the physical and mental challenges that we face throughout life.
At Retreat in the Pines, we love to share the power of a yoga practice with our guests, in hopes they too will discover the amazing health benefits of yoga for themselves. Contact us today if you’d like to learn more, or for information about any of our upcoming retreats.
My recent Cooking Class at Central Market was focused on all of the wonderful things you can do with chocolate. While I didn’t care for the Chocolate Marinara Sauce, it even sounds bad, I loved the Chocolate Chunk & Cherry Biscotti, the Chocolate Bark with Cranberries and Almonds, but my favorite was the Chocolate Truffles. So decadent!
- 16 ounces of Ghiradelli Chocolate Chips (you’ll need two bags)
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp cinnamon
You can also use fresh mint, almond extract or if you want more decadence – cook down 1 cup of Red Wine. Any of these ingredients can be used in place of the cinnamon and vanilla.
- Heat cream to simmer.
- Add vanilla and cinnamon (or other flavoring).
- Remove cream from heat.
- Add chocolate to cream and stir.
- Allow chocolate to set two hours in refrigerator.
- Scoop out with a spoon and roll into balls with your hands. (This is the tricky – and messy – part!)
- Chill overnight.
- Roll into mixture of 3 tbsp cocoa powder with 1 tsp cinnamon.
These are perfect for a Mindful Eating Exercise. Enjoy!
Chantel Carlson, recently attended the January Detox & Yoga Retreat, as well as a Yoga Nurture Retreat in June. I had the pleasure of visiting with her on both occasions. This is her story.
In May 2016 I made a difficult decision about my health. I was 43-years-old, and I had spent almost 30 years of my life suffering from the debilitating effects of endometriosis. After the latest round of hormone therapy failed me (yet again), I made an appointment to see my gynecologist. When she walked into the exam room, she sat down in front of me and said, “It’s time.” And even though I knew the time for a hysterectomy had come, it was still an emotional journey. I had accepted the fact that I wasn’t going to have any children of my own long before I met my husband, but knowing I was having my uterus, cervix, and one ovary removed was still difficult to imagine – it’s so much of who we are as women. What defines us. But I also knew what defined me was living a meaningful life without pain, and to me, that outweighed the negatives.
It took a full year to get used to my new body, and to be honest, the healing process was not as easy as I had hoped. My friends who had taken this journey told me to be patient and also said that one day I would wake up and forget my surgery had happened.
A year later that time came, and I began to think about my body in a different way. With the “diseased” parts removed, I wanted to honor and celebrate this new beginning, but I wasn’t sure how. I thought about a retreat, so I began doing random Google searches, not really knowing exactly what I was looking for. All I knew is I wanted a place focused on women – not just moms, not just single women, not just divorcees.
I wanted a retreat where women would gather in support of one another…gather in celebration of who we are. In celebration of where we are in our lives no matter what that looked like.
My passion in life has always been to make a difference in the world, specifically with women. I’d dreamed for years of creating a life of empowerment for myself and all women. When my dream became a reality in 2004, I was thrilled. But I had no idea what I was getting into!
When I opened the doors, there were very few retreat centers in the state of Texas. As the yoga industry boomed, so did the retreat business. While I have seen many retreat businesses come and go, I’m proud to say Retreat in the Pines (formerly Yoga in the Pines) is still growing strong. And while Yoga and Meditation are certainly an important part of our retreats, the sharing of stories, laughter and tears while gathered around our community table is the real essence of our retreats.
I was inspired to begin hosting yoga retreats when I was invited to teach at a fitness retreat in 2004. While I was disappointed at the “un-retreat” like weekend – non-existent free time, very little sleep, and highly restrictive meals – I was also inspired. I wanted to create a more “retreat like” experience, inviting women to indulge in some of my (and hopefully their!) favorite things – wine, coffee, chocolate and delicious meals cooked from scratch – all as a complement to yoga. More importantly, I imagined a getaway that would be accessible to women of all sizes, ages, levels of yoga experience and budgets. Focused on that idea, my first retreat was priced ridiculously low at $199! In order to continue to reach more women and cover the costs of doing business, I’ve gradually had to raise the retreat prices. Prices now range from $399 to $499 for two night retreats and $649 (Love Yourself Retreat – a four day life changing retreat). The Retreat Assistance Program allows ALL women to attend a retreat.
I don’t believe in making New Year’s Resolutions. I’ve felt the stress and disappointment when I failed to keep my resolutions too many times. It’s like a diet – knowing I can’t eat something makes me want it even more! I allow myself to eat what I want and my intention each and every year is to treat myself with the love, respect and compassion I deserve. Life is too short to start the New Year any other way.
By intentionally vowing to be good to myself, I’ve found acceptance for who I am in this moment and where I am in my life. By finding acceptance, I’ve discovered peace, contentment and joy.
My practice of being good to myself has allowed the life I’ve envisioned for myself to fall into place.
It’s as if once I believe I’m worthy of living my dream, my dream comes true.
Begin this year with a vow to be good to yourself. Start by joining us for a retreat.
I’m grateful to all of the Retreat in the Pines guests who’ve visited us since 2004. Here’s a sampling of our reviews from the last few years.
“Theresa has worked along with nature to create such a beautiful place. The trees, the sounds, the smells…everything combines to create a perfect space. I highly recommend this to anyone who has never done any yoga (like me)! It was the best introduction!! There is no judgement here. I am different than when I arrived.” ~ Kristen, July 2017
“Never had any idea this place was so close to home. It’s been open over 10 years. I would highly recommend it to ladies who want to recharge and have a wonderful girls weekend. Absolutely wonderful! And the food is great!!! The yoga and the fellowship were fantastic! Can’t wait to go back.” ~ Stephanie, July 2017
“Well worth the 3+ hour drive to the beautiful property. Michelle was awesome and so welcoming and caring. Heather’s food (and that cinnamon coffee!!) was absolutely perfect. The yoga sessions were great, I loved the yoga nidra session (it was my first). This was my very first retreat, and all other retreats will have to live up to this. I will be making a return trip to the pines.” ~ Christi, July 2017