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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! Read More

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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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.

How to Have 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 Thanksgivng 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. If you happen to beavailable December 9 to 11, give yourself the gift of a relaxing retreat weekend at Retreat in the Pines. 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.

Coming Back for More

Most of the guests at the October retreat had been to Retreat in the Pines before, two were even back for a third time. It was an amazing weekend.  There were guests Yoga from San Antonio, the Dallas area and Houston.

I am honored and humbled by the comments and appreciation. I am living my passion, which is to give women a place to escape their busy lives and take time for themselves…to nurture themselves…through the healing power of yoga and nature, the kindness and compassion of other women, the comfort of good food, wine and laughter.

The first comment below is from a first time attendee, the second comment is from a woman who was here in July and came back.

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Loved It!

There is a common theme among guests who come to a Yoga Nurture Retreat weekend and take the time to write a comment in the guest book. Most say they loved it and can’t wait to come back. Here are some comments from the very happy guests.

Playing games after dinner

“Thank you so much for a great, relaxing weekend. Our ladies gym group got even closer and learned some great yoga moves. That’s all because ‘what happens in the pines, stays in the pines’.” Donna, Mansfield, Texas

 “Thank you so much for this amazing weekend! I had no idea of the wonderful yoga, food and memories you had in store for us. Thank you for opening your home and heart for us!” Leeann, Rockwall, Texas

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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

I tell my students all the time, “Just breathe through the discomfort…let your breath keep you anchored in the present moment…only breath…letting the sound of your breath calm your mind.” Oh the list goes on.

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 problems…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.

Comfortable?!! How about not freaking out?

Give me one of those hip stretches, where I feel like I’m a wishbone and my only wish is to come out of it…not this mess that I have to figure out. Give me two hours of dripping wet yoga, where I collapse at the end into a beautiful savasana, feeling like a sopping wet dishrag…not this feeling that these problems are bigger than me.

When things get hard for me, the only place I can find solace is on my mat. It’s my time…. away from the train wreck that it seems like I’m facing.

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.

My Dream of a Yoga Retreat

My dream 8 years ago was to provide a yoga retreat for all levels and all practitioners. A retreat that’s as much about relaxing, laughing, enjoying my favorite things (coffee, wine and chocolate) and visiting with other women, as it is about yoga. I want my retreats to be accessible to all, physically, financially and socially. Attendees enjoy coffee and wine, and healthy, but equally delicious meals; practice yoga and meditation, but not so much that there’s no down time;  enjoy massages and free time to shop, nap in the hammock, read, visit with friends, and so much more. It’s complete bliss!

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Retreat in the Pines: The Beginning

Main House

The Main House was the Only Building on the Property

It was a chilly February morning in 2004. My family and I made the trip from Dallas to the town of Mineola to look at the property now known as Retreat in the Pines. Driving down the long and winding driveway through the trees, we had no idea what to expect. Suddenly we were in a clearing, and directly in front of us was a log house, smoke gently curling out of the chimney, the lights on beckoning us inside.

It looked like home.

We stepped out of the car into the stillness of the trees, inhaling the fresh air gently scented with pine, only the sound of the wind in the pine trees breaking the silence. No planes flying overhead, no traffic in the distance, just glorious blissful peace. We fell in love.

We had been to the area several times before to stay at Lake Fork and had really enjoyed all the charms that Mineola had to offer. The property was being sold by Lori, a fellow yoga instructor and her husband Bill, and they liked the idea of another yoga instructor taking over their property. They had searched all over the state for a place to build a weekend home and had chosen this property, 30 acres  covered in pine trees and hardwoods, except for the driveway and the clearing for the house, which had been cleared to drill for oil. Luckily there was no oil.

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