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News from the Retreat

Author Archives: Theresa Polley


Over the last seven years, I’ve had the joy to witness several meaningful connections between guests of Retreat in the Pines. This past weekend was especially inspirational!

Yoga Retreat

Tree Pose in the Beautiful Piney Woods of East Texas

This group of incredible women shared a love of books, yoga and dogs. Their ages ranged from 20 something to 60 something, and all ages in between. Their careers were varied as well: an American Airlines employee for over 35 years; an assistant district attorney for Harris county; a defense attorney , a mother and daughter who are school nurses and more.

“I enjoyed SO much meeting you all…it’s as though we were all ‘hand-picked’ to come together. Theresa…the food and hospitality were incredible (as usual)!” Mary Beth who comes annually with her sister and sister-in-law, in an e-mail to the rest of the group.

For more than half of the women, this was their third journey to Retreat in the Pines. The first time visitors were just as enamored with the peace, serenity and pine trees. They are already eagerly planning their next trip to the pines…in the Fall!

Healthy Yoga Retreat Breakfast

Enjoying Breakfast and Friendship at a Yoga Retreat

So often connections made at Retreat in the Pines, turn into life long friendships. Mary and Susan met at a retreat in the summer and returned together for a retreat in the fall. Elishia met Inga and Jenny in the fall, they all just returned from a birthday celebration in Key West. Heather and Kathy met in November…Kathy is recovering from foot surgery and Heather is bringing her dinner.

These are just a few of the many stories of shared connections and inspirations. Plan your Yoga Nurture Retreat today…you’ll enjoy the peace and healing of nature; you’ll meet amazing women; you’ll love the healthy and delicous food, the wine and the yoga. You won’t want to leave, but you will and you’ll come back to your life refreshed, renewed and ready for reality.

Today Matters

This post is written by Kay, who recently found relief from a chronic headache at a Yoga Nurture Retreat. She’s since been back several times.

“Inside that lit stillness
we drank in the swelling breath that would
unfold on its own for months.”
from “Quiet of the Mind” by Naomi Shihab Nye

An acquaintance of mine recently returned from a two-week overseas trip that most of us would consider a dream vacation. When I asked her about it, she said, “Well, it was really nice, but I’m just so tired. We all got pretty cranky because we just had so much to do, and we had so many friends to buy things for, and it just was so stressful.”

Finding Peace

Preparing for Meditation at Yoga Retreat


But isn’t that the way many of us—and by “us” I mean Americans—live our lives?  We tend to plan events so that we can “check in” on Facebook, take pictures, and say we were there. Sometimes we’re so focused on taking the picture that we forget to actually experience the thing we’re photographing. Once our event is thoroughly photographed and Facebooked, we move on to plan the next one.

The lines quoted above come from a beautiful poem about enjoying a moment and letting it carry you through months of everyday life and stress. It’s easier said than done.

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Resolve to Take Care of You

The following post is written by Tonya Caudoro.

Tonya - Taking Care of Myself Does Matter

Tonya – Taking Care of Myself Does Matter

This morning, as I lay in quiet Savasana, I thought about how well I treated myself during 2011. What I was really thinking was that I could treat myself better.

Sure, I went on a few yoga retreats to the beautiful piney woods of East Texas. I’d also trained all year for triathlons, pushing my body to new limits. I’ve stopped to enjoy some stillness but I’ll also admit that December flew by in a rush, leaving my head spinning and illness looming.

I used to be that person who did yoga 3 – 5 times a week. I used to be that person who ate more vegetables, meditated often, got massages and dry brushed my skin to make sure my lymph nodes kept my body toxin free. As I struggled through my yoga practice this morning, I recognized the effects of pushing myself too hard and neglecting the healthy practices I used to do diligently. I’ve been fighting illness for the second time in two months. I’m weak, achy and sore. My mind has been so scattered that I’ve had trouble concentrating.

On my mat, I slowed down to start 2012… or at least the 2nd day of the year. I let go of thoughts of a lingering To-Do list. I breathed in the peace and breathed out the stress of 2011.

Resolutions, I find, are usually broken. I’d rather commit instead of comply to something I feel I have to do. So, instead of resolving that I HAVE to take better care of myself, I will commit to myself and my family that I will get back to what makes me feel good. When I take care of me, I am better at taking care of my children, my house, and my business. It’s all connected.

Bring on 2012. And bring on the warmth of a healthy body, glowing skin and many more mini-retreats in the day-to-day busy-ness of life.

Thank you for the stillness of my yoga mat to remind me that quiet moments are when the good stuff happens.

Winter Care for Your Body, Mind & Spirit

Yoga Retreat in the Winter

Winter in the Pines

Self Care and Changing of the Seasons

As we step into the season of winter, take a moment to acknowledge the changing of the seasons. Today, the shortest day of the year, begins the season of going inside (mentally and physically) to prepare our bodies and minds for the more active months of the year. This day marks the point of reversal of lengthening nights and shortening days. If you can,  take a quiet moment today to contemplate the changing of the seasons, and what winter means to you.

As we settle in for winter, its the perfect opportunity to prepare our bodies for the season.  Begin by practicing the Ayurvedic methods of increasing immunity to avoid illness.

Winter is the season where nature actually nurtures us. Our appetites automatically increase in winter, and by eating the right foods you can digest foods better and give your body more nourishment…thereby increasing your immunity.

Afternoon Wine Time

Relaxation at a Yoga Retreat

Ayurvedic Care Through Food and Lifestyle

Foods that are hard to digest should be avoided in winter, things such as processed foods, frozen, canned and packaged. Fresh organic foods are best…root vegetables, fruits, whole grains and olive oil or ghee (clarified butter) are ideal. Sweet, salty and sour are the tastes of the season. And red wine (yes!) is encouraged during the winter season, as is hot tea.

Your lifestyle is an important factor in building immunity. Avoid working and partying late into the evening or even just staying up late. Irregular mealtimes and sleeping during  inactivity can contribute to a suppressed immune system. Our bodies need more rest in the winter (now you have an excuse to turn in early!) so go to bed earlier…notice how much better you feel in the morning. Yoga is also an important part of Ayurvedic winter self care. A more restorative practice is ideal with lots of twists to massage the digestive organs, as well as restful poses and stretches.

Journaling is a nice addition to an Ayurvedic self care routine. As you look back over 2011, remember those special moments with gratitude, acknowledge the pain and fears you may have encountered and finally let the joy of the holiday season fill your heart.

Begin to honor your bodies natural rhythms and you will be amazed at the change….in your body, mind and spirit.

Recipe for a Peaceful and Joyful Holiday

RelaxingGive yourself the gift of peace and simplicity this holiday season. By making room, by letting go…you open yourself up to something new. And wouldn’t it be nice to anticipate the holiday season with something akin to joy, as opposed to complete terror?

As we find ourselves preparing for a busy holiday season, the inclination is to do more…adding more to our already packed calendars and already full to do lists. This year, by doing less, you can open yourself to the true peace and joy of the holidays. Pick the traditions and activities that are most meaningful to you…and let go of the ones that you do because “you have to.”

What can you let go of?

  • Is it participating in the holiday cookie exchange with coworkers (do you really want to eat all of those cookies anyways?) that makes you crazy? Instead make some cookies with your family or a friend, some deliciously decadent ones, have a few and give the rest away.Winter Relaxation
  • Is it writing that long Christmas newsletter and sending cards to people you haven’t seen in years? Instead send a Christmas e-mail or post a Christmas greeting on your Facebook page. The etiquette experts might not agree with it, but it will free up some time for you.
  • Maybe its decorating your house, inside and out, so that it looks better than your neighbor’s. Really? This year, simplify…maybe just a tree and some stockings. Do your kids really care about your collection of vintage Santas, do you? Does your husband really enjoy spending the day after Thanksgiving on the roof? Maybe you send him there, so you can shop.
  • Speaking of shopping, just cut back your list. Buy less and spend less. Does every person in your extended family really need (or want) a gift? Use that money to treat yourself! You’re worth it!

Let your real holiday dilemma be what to do with your free time. Restore and renew and make way for what will really bring you peace and joy this holiday. Being relaxed enough to enjoy it…not just survive it.

Tomato Feta Dip

This post written by Tonya Caudoro.

As anyone who’s been to a retreat at Retreat in the Pines will tell you, Theresa’s Tomato Feta dip welcomes you as warmly as she does.

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Packing for a Yoga Retreat

The following post was written by Tonya Caudoro.

Yoga pants… Check!

Tank tops… Check!

Comfy PJs… Check!

Flip Flops… Check!

Pema Chodron book to read while lying on a hammock in the woods… Check!


Tonya Enjoying Her Happy Place in the Pines

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The Gift


Beki, Theresa and Deb on Sunday

This post is written by Beki who attended a Yoga Nurture Retreat in May 2011.

I just turned 50 years old this past May.  As a gift to myself for my 50th birthday, I went on a weekend long yoga retreat to Retreat in the Pines in late May.  One of my dear friends, who also happens to be my best yoga buddy, went on the weekend retreat with me.  I think this weekend yoga retreat is probably the best gift I have ever given to myself.

I could go on and on about the food (delicious), the setting (beautiful), the weather that weekend (perfectly gorgeous), my time in the hammock in the woods looking up at the blue sky through the pine trees (sublime), and the yoga classes (just right).  But what has stayed with me is not what I took away from the experience, but rather what I left behind.

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Just Breathe

Some of the things I like to share with my yoga students:

“If you can breathe you can do Yoga.”

“Just breathe through the discomfort”

“Let your breath keep you anchored in the present moment.

“Use the sound of your breath to calm your mind.”

I know from personal experience, my breath is the most important part of my yoga practice.

Now as my life takes another crazy turn, teenagers and their issues (it’s true what they say about small kids, small problems; big kids, big problem, those of you with young children, Enjoy!).

Now I’m faced with problems that I used to believe wouldn’t happen to my kids and now the act of staying calm, seems completely impossible.

Seated cat/cow streatch

My yoga teacher, readily tells our class that yoga is… “Learning to be comfortable in an uncomfortable situation.” That of course applies off the mat, as well as on the mat. I find it much easier to be uncomfortable on the mat than off!

Give me a hip stretch, where I feel like I’m a wishbone and my only wish is to come out of it. Give me two hours of hot yoga, where I collapse at the end into a beautiful savasana, feeling like a sopping wet dishrag.

I’ll take the discomfort of yoga any day over the feeling that my problems are bigger than me.

When things get hard for me, I can always find solace on my mat. It’s my time to breathe, to move, to meditate, to be completely present – where I let the stresses of everyday life fall away. Usually by the end of my practice, I don’t feel as overwhelmed.

My mat…a place to find comfort, calm, peace amidst the storm of my reality.

My practice…a place to just breathe.

My breath…my anchor when I feel overwhelmed.

How does your yoga practice help you get through the ups and downs of your life?

Need help catching your breath? Physically or figuratively? Join us for a retreat and take time for you. You’ll find your breath and so much more. Book here.


The following post was written by guest Tonya Caudoro.

The drive to the yoga retreat this weekend was less than stellar. A massive (read: insane) thunderstorm accompanied me the entire drive east. Rain falling sideways. Almost non-existent visibility. Lightning striking the ground next to me. White knuckles on my steering wheel. Flooded streets. Wind gusts pushing my vehicle from one lane to the next. I laughed, in spite of my fear.

I recalled preparation for Savasana – the final relaxation pose in yoga. Commonly, we go into the final pose by taking each muscle into tension, then relaxation, bit by bit, from the bottom of our feet to the top of our heads.

“Maybe that’s what I’m doing right now,” I said out loud to myself. “I’m completely tensing my body, lungs and heart rate because I’m going to let go of all of this tension when I get there.”

When I arrived, I was greeted with a glass of wine, a plate of freshly prepared, scrumptious dinner, and smiling faces from strangers… who would soon become friends.

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