• Allison Grippe

Why My First Yoga Retreat Won't Be My Last

(Insert exhale) I'm back! I'm at ease after attending my first all-women's yoga retreat in St. Joseph Minnesota (a place I used to call home)! I don't know if you've ever experienced a yoga weekend with the ladies, but it's amazingly therapeutic. I joined 9 other women at The Life Alchemy and Aryuveda Retreat and we all stayed at the St. John's House of Prayer -- a cozy cobblestone cottage in the woods near Lake Sagatagan. This retreat was made special because of the setting we found ourselves in. Waking up everyday to the sights and sounds of Lake Sag and falling asleep every night after quiet meditation in the prayer room made a huge impact on my own mindfulness. After taking it all in, I'm back home and I feel honored to share my positive experiences with you.

First and foremost, I didn't attend this retreat alone! Amber Cuypers was my remarkable roommate for the weekend; it had been years since I last saw Amber and I’m so thankful she reached out to me on Instagram after I posted about the retreat on my story. On Saturday we had two free hours where we were able to catch up and indulge in sweet treats from The Local Blend. We both slowly sipped our iced chai's on the beach of Lake Sag. It was nice to return to these comforting spots with a renewed perception and an old friend.

I also had a blast meeting the other women at the retreat. There were women of all ages, skill-levels, and walks of life that came to attend this retreat! Everyone was so lovely and accepting of one another -- making it comfortable to learn and ask questions. Within the first hour of the retreat we were asked "What does Life Alchemy mean to you?" This question led us to some creative discussions right off the bat! It was fascinating to hear everyone's perception, whether they were another yoga teacher or just a student of the practice.

On Saturday morning, a small group of us woke up for the optional hike to the chapel led by Andrea Paradis. The Sacred Heart trail is a lush trail that encompasses the shores of Lake Sag. The predominantly tree covered trail lends itself to incredible views and provides an excellent start to the day...after dousing ourselves with bug spray of course! Those dang Minnesota skeeterz!

After the hike we returned to the House Of Prayer where we joined the rest of the group for a discussion on The 4 Desires by Rod Stryker. Jen Demaio of Two Turtles Acupuncture Center led us through an exercise and meditation that helped us define our Sankalpa. Sankalpa is defined as an intention formed by the mind and heart. This practice was incredible. I ordered the book and am eager to read it!

Andrea Paradis led us through several yoga practices, taught us about Aryuvedic cleanliness, and brought ingredients for us to DIY some self-care goodies! I left with a lot of fun homemade health products including Whipped Ghee and a Sugar Scrub! I recently used the sugar scrub, and trust me, I'll be making more! It smelt and felt amazing!

Overall this yoga retreat left me feeling refreshed and loved. From the mantra's, to the food and the feminine community, I couldn't have asked for a more enjoyable first experience at a yoga retreat. If you've ever thought about going to a retreat, do it (and invite me)! You never know who you will meet, what you will learn, and what you'll take home with you. I honestly can't wait to go on my next retreat!

My Biggest Take Away:

I took home the new belief that yoga is a way of life. It is much more than what the mainstream media showcases. It is the food you eat, the products you use, the physical movement you use to prepare yourself for meditation, the intentions you set, the thoughts you pursue, and the essence of your being. Mind, Body, and Soul come together to bring about Life and you can connect to your life through the beautiful practices of yoga! There is something there for all of us. Thank you Andrea Paradis and Jen DeMaio for a life awakening weekend. Time to "depart."

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