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Southlake Style

Nature and Namaste

Jul 05, 2016 10:23AM ● By Ashley Pape

While staying faithful to your yoga class routine is advised, there’s no rule that states yogis must stay indoors. However, practicing yoga outdoors in the suburbs comes with many distractions. Buzzing bugs or whizzing lawn equipment in your neighbor’s backyard can easily throw a kink in the links between your chakras. The best atmosphere in which to center your mind and body is one where nature and Namaste unite. These three American yoga foundations and retreat centers provide the ideal setting to get Zen. Unplug from the world and reconnect with your inner spirit.


Feathered Pipe Ranch, Montana

The wide-open spaces of Montana still undisturbed by strip malls and pavement make for an ideal spot for a meditation and yoga retreat center. City smog is replaced with the smell of pine trees emanating from the forest that surrounds Feathered Pipe Ranch in the state’s capital, Helena. Far from the city’s center, the 40-year-old ranch sits right in the middle of the Montana Rockies and hosts yoga retreats for the mind, body and soul.


Known for its variety of summer retreats, Feathered Pipe Ranch brings in special guest teachers and leaders in addition to its onsite staff to guide meditation and yoga classes. A typical summer yoga retreat includes two classes, specific to the retreat’s theme, lasting two to three hours each. These classes include practicing yoga and other forms of meditation. An optional guided morning walk and evening activity is also offered.


Your stay includes breakfast, lunch and dinner each day. With access to organic produce and meats, the menu includes a variety of healthy dishes for each meal. In addition, vegetarian and fish or chicken alternatives are available at most workshops. Indoor accommodations at the ranch include four-bed rooms in the Main Lodge and six double rooms with private shared baths at the Ranch Chalet. A cabin and condo are also available. If you’d like to be immersed in nature, outdoor accommodations include yurts, tipis and tents. Foam pads, lightweight sleeping bags, pillows, blankets and small camp lights are


Kalani Big Island Retreat Center, Hawaii

The 120-acre Kalani Retreat Center campus, located in the Puna District, sits along the southeast coast of the island. Natural attractions include Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes. Cliffs created from the lava offer breathtaking views of the Kalani coast and a perfect spot for yoga and meditation. Not only is the retreat a mecca for yogis, Kalani is a nonprofit organization that serves as a model for implementing best practices in permaculture and sustainability. Attending a yoga or meditation retreat here means you’ll be doing good things for Mother Earth.


The six-day, seven-night “Introduction to Yoga” retreat at Kalani is an opportunity for beginning yogis to get out of the classroom at home and explore what yoga can do for the mind and body in a natural setting. Attendees will review the basic principles of Hatha (physical) yoga and develop the spiritual and physical connection with their bodies and yoga practice.


The retreat package includes accommodations, meals, group classes and two 1.5-hour private yoga classes as well as access to Kalani’s facilities, which include a pool, hot tub and sauna. Living quarters include cottages, lofts, tree houses, bungalows and Hale lodges—traditional Hawaiian two-level houses. Bear in mind there is no air conditioning or heating. But since you are next to the coast, wouldn’t you rather experience island breezes than the hum of a heating or cooling unit? That sounds good to us. Kalani’s dining lanai and kitchen offer cuisine that includes the flavors of Thai, Indian and Italian fare. Local tropical fruits and vegetables, along with freshly caught fish, make for a refreshing menu of healthy and enjoyable meals.


White Lotus Foundation, California

A hidden gem along the central coast of California, the White Lotus Foundation mountain retreat center sits on 40 acres in the San Marcos Pass. Located on a steep canyon, the retreat overlooks Santa Barbara, the Pacific Ocean and Channel Islands. If you’re looking for calming waters, search no farther than the bottom of the canyon where the San Jose creek flows year-round. The natural surroundings of the yoga and meditation center not only include fresh mountain air and spring water, but also sandstone swimming holes and hiking trails. 


The foundation hosts various yoga retreats throughout the year, which typically fall on weekends. These retreats follow simple schedules of yoga classes, meals, self-reflection hikes or other solo activities, group meditation and pranayama (a breathing practice of Hindu yoga). Yogis have the opportunity to attend a more specific retreat at White Lotus, which varies in theme each year. The latest one to take place focused on pranayama, giving attendees an in-depth look at the ancient practice. Yoga instructors have the opportunity to attend training retreats at the center, as well. 


Whether you choose to spend the night in a loft or outdoors in yurts or camping tents, there are plenty of secluded places for silent reflection. Other facilities at the White Lotus retreat center include a large yoga meeting room, a kitchen and dining room serving gourmet vegetarian cuisine, and an underground Hopi-style "Kiva” temple.