The Girlvana Yoga Spring Break Retreat - Day 3 Guest Post

Written by Girlvana girl Marley Beckett

Waking up to the sound of frogs and the sun poking in through the crack in the cotton curtains, there was only one word to describe the feeling that overwhelmed me from the core out: blessed. Blessed to have had the previous experiences that we have. Blessed to know that I am safe. Blessed to be in this beautiful place with so many outstanding young women. 

As the morning furthered, we met in the lodge for a delicious breakfast of scrambled eggs, hash browns, fresh avocado toast, and the famous Bodega Ridge granola. With our bellies and hearts full, we migrated into the yoga room for a morning of sharing. Together, we sat and held space as we anticipated that magic was brewing in the air. Today’s mantra, as offered by Ally, was “I trust myself.” Intuition is a part of us that we often ignore. We search our surroundings for an answer, when many times it is acutely already there. 

The question “If you really knew me you would know…” was presented to us. I won’t lie, I was scared. I was scared to open my heart to new possibilities and to break down the walls that I have spent so much time building in order to protect myself. However, as soon as my sisters in the room began to share the deepest and most authentic parts of themselves, I knew that I was safe. I knew that I was here for a purpose, and that I will always remember the moments.

After sharing, we headed down to the ocean for some of us to take a quick dip and refresh our minds. As we held hands, we quieted our voices to honour those women who swam before us in our “goddess dip”. The cold water stung the skin on our legs, but it felt right - it felt needed in a moment like this. 

The afternoon sun began to set in, and we were given free time to rest, digest, and relax after a morning of opening our hearts in ways that many of us have never experienced before. Naps were had, hummus and pita chips were ingested, and the surrounding property was explored. 

As a group, we met before dinner to set our intentions for the upcoming spring — to let go of something in order to bring in something new. We each set new intentions in pieces of nature—fir, pine, rosemary, lavender sprigs—and wrapped them in a prayer bundle. As we watched the prayer bundle burn, we held onto our sisters' hands, and I knew I was safe. This is a moment that will forever be imprinted in my heart. 

Ash and Jess lead us through a beautiful “Feelosophy” practice. We spent countless breaths in each pose as the two of them massaged our legs, arms and backs to a point of extreme presence and relaxation. Touch is something that we are often scared of, but many of us learned how powerful it can be if it comes from a place of care, compassion, and utmost LOVE. 

Dinner: a meal I will never forget. We ate a beautiful spread of roasted root vegetables, oyster mushrooms, dandelion and squash salad, and miso gravy that filled each of out stomachs to the brim. I don't remember a time that I have laughed and smiled as much as dinner that night. Impromptu dance performances were witnessed, and though provoking questions were asked.

After dinner, some of us gathered in the yoga room to watch “Moana” on the projector screen, however others went to bed after a long and eventful day. 

I ended the day exactly as I started it — feeling blessed. I can’t describe the feelings that have emerged from the retreat, other than it is like nothing I have ever felt before. As I glance around the room, I see powerful, strong and beautiful women. After knowing them for three days, I already feel a connection to them that I can’t describe, and that is the Girlvana magic. 

The Girlvana Spring Break Retreat 2017 - Day 2 Guest Post

Written by Girlvana girl Lacey Koughan

Day one.

Waking up with a view of the mountains, the ocean and the sun as my first sight gave me no option other than to smile to myself. Being so far away from home actually feels very freeing to me.

When I got up, I headed into the lodge where I drank not one, not two, but three coffees within the hour. I think I was doing it to calm my nerves a bit. We were told the night before to interview our cabin mate and ask them what they are most proud of. My cabin mate and I decided to have our conversation in the morning instead. I found myself opening up very deeply, very quickly. I felt so much comfort and support from this girl and I had never even spoken to her before. I’m not sure what exactly it was, but I left the conversation feeling incredibly inspired and like I had just met a longtime friend.

After breakfast (which was an amazing vegan dish) we had a conversation about our bodies and how we treat them. We all shared something we wanted our bodies to forgive us for, and then went on to write a letter to our body from us, asking for forgiveness. This was really difficult for me, as I have been trying to cover up my true feelings towards my body for a while now. After writing my honest feelings out, and getting those thoughts out of my head, I started crying. It felt like I had just let go of something that was holding me down for so long. We all burned these letters in the fire, watching them literally go up in flames. This was incredibly powerful and really made me feel a huge sense of release. I took a few moments after burning my letter to go for a walk and let it sink in. Since that moment, I haven’t once thought about my body negatively. In fact, it’s been the complete opposite.

We had an incredible yoga practice after our session, where I really felt my body and its strength for the first time in a long time. I was fully present in the movements and my breath, it felt amazing. I didn’t care that my belly was hanging out when I went into downward dog, and that is a big thing for someone who has been so self-conscious for so long.

The practice ended with a song that really spoke to me. The lyrics were “You can’t rush your healing.” Probably the truest statement I have ever heard, and it was exactly what I needed to hear. I find that in our society, there are so many people and companies preaching these instant fixes, in almost everything, but I have come to learn that you truly cannot rush your healing. It is going to take time and patience for you to become fully healed. I couldn’t have ended the yoga practice in a better way.

After lunch, we went for a hike - my first hike ever. Which is crazy, but true. Hiking was another way for me to recognize the strength and ability in my body. Hiking up was honestly a bit of a struggle at some points, but the conversations that I had and the view at the top were so worth it. When we reached the top, the view was absolutely beautiful. Most of the girls were taking photos on their phones of the view, but I decided yesterday morning that I was going to turn off my phone for the entire retreat, so that I could fully experience everything without any distractions. I took tons of mental pictures throughout the hike that will last forever. On the hike back down, I had an incredibly inspiring and reassuring conversation with one of the mentors. We talked the entire way down, holding back the group a little bit, but it was so worth it. I knew I was going to connect with this mentor from the start, and I was right. Having real conversations with other girls and women is something very special.

After the hike, we threw on the BEST playlist and drove back to the Ridge, where we were given some time to ourselves before dinner. I used this time to reflect through writing as well as vlogging – video blogging. I turned on my camera and just talked (to myself I guess) about everything that I was feeling. Speaking my thoughts out loud was very clarifying.

We had TACOS for dinner, which I have never had before - crazy, I know. Never hiked and never had tacos… well, I enjoyed both very much!

The evening for me was pretty relaxing. I didn’t say much, but decided to listen more. It was such an incredibly inspiring day full of tons of emotions, that all I wanted to do was sit and let it all sink in.

SO many inspiring ladies and work being done, and it had only been ONE DAY. I cannot even process that. I feel so close to these girls already and I cannot wait to see where these friendships take me.

Best #spraaangbreak yet. 

Girlvana Around the Globe

Wondering if any Girlvana Yoga classes or programs are being held in your city? Read below to see all the programs currently being offered. 

If you don't see your city email to train to become a Girlvana Yoga teacher and bring it to your own community!

Location : Studio b Yoga & More Chilliwack BC 

What:  6 Week Intro to Girlvana 

When: Mondays November 14- December 19th 4-5pm 

More Info:

Location: Brennan Park Recreation Centre. Squamish BC

What: Free Girlvana Open House

When: November 30th 6:45pm-8:15pm

Location: One Yoga Saskatoon

What: Girlvana led by Molly Schikosky

When: Friday’s until December 16th / Ages 13-15 : 730-830 PM

Ages 16-18 : 830-930 PM 

More Info: 

Location: On the Mat studio in Halifax, NS

What: Girlvana 4 week series with Beth Downie

When: Saturday @ 12:30 pm - Starts November 5th

More Info: to register 

Location: Another Space, Vancouver BC (1523 East Pender St.)

What: Girlvana Yoga Progressive Series - Raine Gmoser

When: Tuesdays 4:15-5:15pm, November 22-December 13

More Info:

The Girlvana Summer Retreat: Day 4

Each day holds so much possibility. When day four rolls around, it's nearly impossible to focus on staying in the moment and drinking in everything the day has to offer when we know it's a lot of 'lasts'. But we knew there was more to experience and more memories to make - and the day did NOT disappoint.

girlvana yoga assists

We started the morning off with banana pancakes and watermelon sprinkled in lime zest then headed down to the yoga room for a very special practice. The essential oils came out and the yoga poses were supported by loving hands-on assists; picture peppermint oil being pressed into your shoulders while a gentle piano ballad fills the room. Pure magic.

We talked about the metaphor of our pain being a thorn. We do a lot to protect this thorn by building contraptions to protect it, letting no one close to it because it's too painful when it gets touched. This contraption gets heavy, unbearable to carry around. Pretty soon we don't want to go anywhere; we can't bear the weight of our pain-protective mechanisms. All along, we could have pulled this thorn out, we could have let ourselves bleed. We could have trusted our bodies to create the scar and heal us. This is our opportunity. Yoga allows us to pull out thorns: address our pain, bleed (aka FEEL), then let the wound heal and close up. 

We lightened it up in the afternoon with a hike to Mount Galiano. We made it to the top by practicing our rendition of Drake 'One Dance' set to our newly written lyrics. The views were absolutely stunning (peep the Instagram for some stellar yoga and Gulf Island situations). We made it down just in time before the rain came. 

We kept the afternoon cozy by foraging for flowers and forest finds to make nature crowns. We donned our finest indigo tie dye shirts, put our crowns on and sat for our last dinner together. 

girlvana yoga letters

The true highlight was our talent showcase after dinner where girls sang, displayed art and shared a very special spoken word and dance performance that brought us all to tears. We ended the night by reading the love letters we wrote to one another. We sat in a circle silently with a few sniffles and laughs while we all took in the beautiful words others wrote about us.

There is so much power in truly being seen for who you are. The letters reiterated what others made us feel in the last four days and how we so easily went from strangers to family. These are keepsakes we will have forever to open on our darkest days and remember who we were when we took our masks off and let people in.