Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Silent Retreats: One New Yorkers Quiet Reflection

November 17, 2013 by  
Filed under ESCAPES, Featured, Latest

While I used to live for the busy streets of New York, after-work industry parties and large street fairs or events, these days I crave silence. I never thought it could happen, and hope my need for slowing down has nothing to do with fact that I’m approaching the big 4-0…um, in a few years. It does help that I moved out to the river town of Hastings on Hudson. And while I can see the beautiful NewYork skyline from the edge of our town, I welcome the distance.

All this quiet got me interested in signing up for a three silent retreat at the Ananda ashram, an pretty yoga retreat and spiritual center founded by Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati, only 40 minutes from where I live. Most people think they would go mad not talking for days long. Speaking is everything to many people, and if you notice most people have a lot to say about very little. But no judgement there! I’m guilty.

So I drove up to the ashram and silent retreat lead by this guru lady Joan Suval. Joan looked like a nun to me, wearing an all white robe and with white hair pinned back. But instead, she turned out to be an old Jewish woman who studied with the guru Sarasvati since the age of 30. She was wise, spiritual, open minded and funny at the same time. Not your average Jewish grandmother! I was drawn to her instantly and called the “Mother of the Ashram” I could tell everyone felt the same way.

Although we weren’t allowed to talk, we took yoga classes, meditated, watched a movie, walked through the woods and around a lake, saw a traditional Indian concert at night, chanted and had big vegetarian buffets for meals. (which was one of my fav parts. I wondered how staying silent could make someone so ravenous!)

Joan also gave us talks about life and philosophical teachings from the guru that eased our worries and lifted our spirit. Here were some of the points I remembered jotted down in my note book:

  • Our ego is like a drunken monkey with a loaded gun — don’t give into it.
  • The more people disturb us, the more you advance. — meaning every person or situation that upsets us is only there to be our teacher and bring new knowledge. Welcome the challenges, they are our biggest teacher. You can be happy with every problem if you know it will advance you in self realization.
  • It’s only through the quiet and calm that we make the most progress. When our mind is busy, we have no clarity and no wisdom. Quiet is the gateway to clarity and progress…

I was feeling pretty calm during the weekend…and happy. From a distance, my life seemed perfect and exactly in line.

Though when I first got home, I told myself a different story. All of a sudden, I started to feel stress creeping into my senses, and things and people were weighing to me. Joan’s teachings weren’t helping me in my new moments and the transition from silence to life felt a little drastic. How could I feel so great and then feel so bad? (And it wasn’t even that time of the month!)

But after a couple of days and some patience, I got it together and found my silent center again. Life is funny that way. Things always work out on their own, with time and without much effort. These days I know the ashram is always only 40 minutes if I need to get quiet and create that peaceful state again — a vacation from the mind. Then again, I can always put that “In Silence” button on and wear at around my home and work. I’m sure no one would mind. They might even welcome it!

This Weekend: Experience Fall Five Different Ways

October 5, 2013 by  
Filed under ESCAPES, Featured, Fitness, Latest

Five Fun Fall Activities This October Has In Store:

Apples & Pumpkins

What better way to spend a Saturday or Sunday with the fam, your man or even a good group of girlfriends (apple pie baking fest, anyone?) than to hop in the car and head outside the city for a few hours and stock up on all of fall’s most natural and favorite treats? For you Long Islanders, be sure to check out Fink’s Farm for a bevy of fall related activities, like going through the 7 acre maze or having a bite of some delicious roasted corn. Or there’s Wilklow Orchards in Highland NY, complete with its own little roadside stand filled with all the fresh fall baked goods your heart desires. For those headed to New Jersey, there’s also Riamede Farms which offers 34 varieties of apples from the classics to even a few specialties. All in all, New York and beyond is in no way short on delivering in the pumpkin and apple department this fall!

Movie Time

With the weather changing, although it’s fun to get outside for a few hours and enjoy the crisp temperatures, sometimes it’s just as fun to head inside and curl up with a good movie. The 49th New York Film Festival is the perfect excuse to get inside on one of these upcoming rainy days (they’re inevitable, let’s face it), have some popcorn and enjoy a cinematic masterpiece. With classics playing like Ben Hur to some of the most buzzed about films of the season like The Descendants (George Clooney? Sign me up!) and My Week with Marilyn, it’s sure to be every movie lovers dream come true!


One of my favorite fall activities is hitting the stores looking for the perfect sweater. Sure, summer has its perks with all the fun skirts and tank tops to choose from, but a true New Yorker should know the art of stocking your closet filled with a unique sweater for every occasion. With fashion heavy weight DVF going modern with an exaggerated (and ultra forgiving) turtleneck that’s perfect for a fun night out, to truly affordable everyday fashion with The Gap’s striped cable-knit, there is certainly a lot to look at and try on before you make up your mind on which sweater suits you best!

Scare Me Please

Come October, not only are the stores chock full of candy and treats galore, but there’s also an endless amount of Halloween related activities around the city to choose from.

Something fun for the whole family is the Halloween Pumpkin Parade and Sail in Central Park. Be sure to wear your costume and bring your most prized carved Jack O’Lantern to take part in NYC’s largest pumpkin flotilla at twilight.

New York Botanical Garden plays host to the Haunted Pumpkin Garden October 1st – 30th. Although this is another great activity to check out with the kids, it’s not lacking in the scare department. With spooky scarecrows, spiders and snakes at every turn and an after dark nighttime adventure in the garden, remember to bring your flashlight and best creepy costume to really get in the Halloween spirit!

Parade Me Around

Fall is definitely the season of parades, and quite frankly, we’ll take ‘em! With the annual Columbus Day parade bringing 35,000 marchers, bands and floats all making their way down Fifth Avenue, this is one spectacle not to be missed!

For some parade fun you can take part in yourself, NYC’s Village Halloween Parade is definitely one to check out. All those in costume are invited to join hundreds of puppets, 53 bands, dancers and artists on the trek down Sixth Avenue on the night of the 31st.

All in all ladies, let’s make this the season of the 3 F’s: Fall Festive Fun!

City Escape: Farm Time In Gansevoort, NY

August 22, 2013 by  
Filed under ESCAPES, Featured, Latest

family vk nycUntil recently when I heard the name Gansevoort my only association was the trendy NYC hotel chain where I would sip cocktails rooftop or work them off at Exhale.  I came to find out, Gansevoort is also a town about 3 hours north of the city (near Saratoga Springs) which would become the destination of our very first road trip with little Miss A.

Gansevoort NY vkI had found a sweet little cabin on a farm on airbnb and since Aria is obsessed with animals I thought it would be an adventure. And, adventure it was since the cabin was without electricity or running water (I totally knew this going in), and although a very slight inconvenience at times, it totally added to the experience.

The cabin itself was gorgeous (beautiful wood interior from floor to ceiling and tons of windows) and the location was perfect for unwinding. We would wake in the mornings to total silence, except for the occasional distant whinny of one of the horses (Aria’s first word in the morning was always an exuberant “Horsey!”).  Each day we  would go for walks and wander down and see the animals.  Evenings consisted of watching the sun go down, cooking out ( on the fire pit/dutch oven, propane burners or charcoal grill) and sitting on the front stoop star gazing and using lanterns to light our way inside.  We throughly enjoyed “roughing it” and the beauty, serenity and fun we found there.

photo-1Although we could have easily stayed put and enjoyed the weekend without ever leaving the property, we ventured off and found some great local spots. On Saturday I dropped Aria’s dad to golf, and she and I hit Lake George State Park, a lovely spot with several little beaches, a very touristy beach main street and trails and campsite (we snuck in a hot shower there). On Sunday we all hit Saratoga Springs, which, much to my surprise, I loved. It has a great main street, cosmopolitan restaurants and a whole lot of charm. Of course, Saratoga is known for the horse race track so on the way back we checked out the ponies and placed a few bets which was good fun.

All around it was a winning weekend, and one I’d totally recommend for any urbanite looking to shake off the city and get back to the basics.




mommy logoa & film

Check out more of my musings on motherhood and more on MommyhoodTake1.com

V’s Corner: Yoga Teacher Training Week One (hola from Mexico!)

May 5, 2013 by  
Filed under ESCAPES, Featured, Latest, Self

One week through my Yoga Teacher Training here at the beautiful Present Moment Retreat in Troncones Mexico. Our first week was filled with fun, introspection, surf, sand,  practice, poses, meditation, and lots of OMs!

This first week there were plenty of asanas (poses) but the real focus was on the spiritual aspect of yoga. Yoga after all means connection– connection to breath, connection to others, and connection to what lies within us. For many the physical practice is what allows us then to really relax–to quiet the business in their head and just “be”.  I know for me this is why I fell in love with yoga. It was one of the few things were I could quiet my chatty mind and let go of all that was going on there, and really connect in to what I know is true and important. Sometimes in the craziness of life (especially in a frantic city like NY) we get caught up in our thoughts, our issues, and in all the incidentals in our life, and lose focus on what’s truly important.

Cleansing also came into play this week— physically, mentally and emotionally. We discussed things like letting go and giving up the things that don’t serve us, for these cover our truth and only through shedding layers can it truly and fully experienced. School Yoga Institute uses the Sadhana Yoga tradition which focuses on spiritual practice and was what attracted me to this training program. We’ve delved into a variety of meditation practices, chanted and talked all about methods that can help us further turn inward.

A physical cleanse also went along with it all, and I experienced my first “raw” cleanse (only taking in foods that are uncooked and pure–no preservatives, etc). Luckily for this crunchy, salad eating, hummus loving yogi, it wasn’t at all jilting. Sure I gave up my coffee with cream and brown rice and cooked veggies, but there were SO many delicious, creative dishes here at Present Moment that I never felt like I was missing out. Big tropical fruit plates, coconut salads, sprouted quinoa and a plethora of made-to-order smoothies and healthy juices. I certainly never felt deprived, and I was amazed at how light and bright and energetic I was. GO raw! Aside from the clay drink we also took down twice daily, I would do it again in a heartbeat.

So, all in all it was a great week. I’ll chat more about what’s happening on the mat next post. I’ve got my first “test” tomorrow, and a 6am daily wake up so this yogi must go to bed. It’s all good though, and I am actually amazed at how much I already know about the different poses, alignments and adjustments. It’s definitely already deepened my practiced and I can’t believe that I’ve learned a whole hatha sequence (class) in less than a week! It’s definitely been a riguourous program, but one that has been so worth the investment.

Until next week…



V’s Corner: I’m Headed To Yoga Teacher Training (and an essential tip for the new yogi)!

April 21, 2013 by  
Filed under ESCAPES

So among my latest decisions, was the one to do a yoga teacher training in Mexico this spring. Becoming a yoga instructor was never part of my plan or on the “to-do” list, but, as with most things I’ve experienced, the road of life simply lead me there.

I’ve been enamored with yoga since my first downward dog, and through the years my love affair with it (and extreme appreciation for it) has only grown deeper.  I could go on and on about all the benefits– especially those beyond the physical, but I’ll save that for another post.

What I do tell everyone who thinks about getting on the mat for the first time, or giving it a second or third shot, is to find a style and a teacher who you connect with. This is essential. There are SO many different types of yoga, from a more athletic ashtanga to a more gentle restorative practice, and even within each style, every instructor has their own twist (pun intended). To connect with the instructor and find one that “speaks your language” both physically and spiritually, is essential– especially for those just starting out.

The same goes for yoga teacher trainings. There are a plethora out there, each with it’s own unique style, location, and duration. All 200 hr courses require just that, but the allocation of those hours varies drastically.The programs also vary on how the execute the Yoga Alliance requirements.  I investigated local trainings in NYC, many spreading the course over 4-6 months and taking place mainly on weekends or after weekday evenings. But for me, a more intensive program– one where I was immersed completely for 3 weeks straight– eating, breathing and living the yogic lifestyle 24/7, was more my style. Of course, it also didn’t hurt that that the School Yoga Institute training that I choose took place at Present Moment Retreat — a boutique hotel and yoga spa on the Pacific Riviera complete with bungalows and spiritual gardens.


So, indeed, come early summer I will be certified to teach the art of yoga. I’ve yet to decide in what capacity that will be, but I know this experience will be one of my best yet, even if I decide never to teach. For, like many things in yoga and life alike, the journey is just as important (if not more) than the destination. I know that this program will bring a wealth of knowledge and benefits, new strength and wisdom, and, as with all the great adventures in life, bring about change for the better by broadening my perspective and appreciation.

I look forward to sharing the experience with you and will be sure to post updates from time to time as I go through 3 week program. It’s an intensive 200 hour program, but I know it will be blissful and life-changing. If anyone wants to join me for enlightenment south of the border, there is still room (and a special HSNY discount to boot– see below!)

 See you in Mexico!

City Escape: Islamorada’s Cheeca Lodge

April 14, 2013 by  
Filed under ESCAPES, Featured, Latest

Luxury might not be the first word that comes to mind when you think of the Florida Keys. In fact, the string of islands that extends from Key Largo to Key West is known for having a no-pretense, laid-back attitude where sand between the toes and good times take precedence. Kitschy motels and beach front dives are around every turn, offering no-frills accommodations and little more.

Yet, we found a place that holds onto the essence of the keys, while offering first class accommodations, five star service, and an amazing array of amenities. Yes, luxury is not lost in Islamorada. Cheeca Lodge has been serving it up for decades, attracting everyone from former presidents to celebrities, and after a 30 million dollar renovation, is better than ever.

Located on 27 lush acres, the grandeur of this resort can be felt within the first steps. The beautiful entrance courtyard and open air lobby instantly welcome guests, and the 214 guest rooms, bungalows and suites impress with west indian style decor that exudes tropical luxury. Premiere suites go beyond, with expansive ocean front balconies complete with whirlpool tubs, and glassed in rain showers that allow bather’s to gaze out over the sea. Cheeca’s 1100 feet of private beachfront (enormous considering many key’s resorts can barely claim a beach) offers guests the perfect place to soak in the sun or stroll under towering palm trees. Unique features like the resort’s private lagoon and impressive 525 wooden fishing pier get guests face to face with tropical fish, and paddleboards and kayaks are on standby for those seeking a closer encounter.

For those looking to stay on land the resort also offers up six lighted tennis courts and a Jack Nicklaus designed 9-hole par 3 golf course, with clubs rentals included in your stay. Guests also have access to beach cruisers and young and old alike can be seen biking throughout the gardens and resort beachfront. “Family friendly” is an understatement at Cheeca, and kids 5-12 can experience “Camp Cheeca”, a day camp that reveals the natural wonders of the Florida Keys (and gives mom and dad a chance to truly relax).

Accommodating to all, Cheeca offers a gorgeous adult-only pool complete with plush chaise lounges and butler serviced cabanas. The spa completes the relaxation factor offering services with a tropical flair including sea plant wraps and signature hot lava shell massages. Beachfront sunrise yoga and an array of fitness classes are on the resort’s menu as well.

Speaking of which, three on-site restaurants and a wood-thatched tiki bar cater to all culinary tastes, and make ever having to leave the resort unnecessary. Outdoor and beachfront dining give guests the opportunity to indulge on delicious fare and a stunning backdrop.

From dawn ‘til dusk, Cheeca provides the perfect place to enjoy the fullness of the Florida Keys. A tropical playground and relaxing oasis, it’s a all in one resort with top tier amenities and a laid back, island vibe. It’s luxury at it’s best…no shoes required.




City Escape: La Playa Resort & Spa

February 15, 2013 by  
Filed under ESCAPES, Featured, Latest


Looking out from some of the oceanfront rooms at La Playa Resort, you may mistake the view for one aboard a cruise ship, not a land bound luxury resort. Turquoise waters stretch out as far as the eye can see, rhythmic waves greet you each morning, and sparkling sunsets serenade at night. It’s not until you step out onto the balcony that you actually realize that you are on indeed on land and powdery white sands stretch out below the hotel’s feet.

It’s proximity to the Gulf is just one of the features that make La Playa Beach Resort special. Just 33 steps from the beach, it is one of Florida’s only resorts to provide guests with instant access to surf, sand and miles of beautiful coastline. Located just south of one of Florida’s state parks, it also gives guests the opportunity to enjoy unspoiled beaches and get a glance of the west coast’s natural ecosystem.

La Playa is truly geared towards escaping the hustle and bustle, and focusing on rest and relaxation. Sand between the toes and sun on the skin becomes part of the daily routine, and to-do lists now include scouring the beach for shells or just gazing out trying to find where the water actually meets the horizon.

Each of the 198 guest rooms is beautifully decorated in a classic yet modern island motif.  All have a bright airy feel about them, and unique features like four post beds and well-selected art add to the aesthetic appeal. If you’re lucky enough to stay in one of their 9 luxury suites, be prepared to be impressed.  Those that face the gulf are blessed with those unprecedented water views and, even while enjoying your shower, you can gaze out over the sea.

The resort also provides guests with a full array of amenities to satisfy every need. There are multiple pools to play in, access to beach and water sports and a great golf course for those looking to hit the greens. Those seeking pure relaxation can head to Spa Terre, the on-site boutique spa, and indulge in signature services like the Tropical Essence Massage and Island Fresh Scrub.

Perhaps the most spectacular time at La Playa is sunset. Guests gather everywhere from balconies to the beach to take it in. La Playa’s restaurant and bar, Baleen, also provides a perfect place to sit outside (there’s even a beach fire pit) and sip a cocktail and enjoy the show. Stick around for dinner though, because Baleen serves deliciously inventive cuisine and is accompanied by impeccable service. The locally caught grouper is a house favorite and the extensive wine list keeps connoisseurs coming back.

La Playa is the perfect place to discover new beauty, indulge the senses and truly relax and rejuvenate. It is saturated in sunshine and southern hospitality and gives guests luxury with a smile, making them want to return before they’ve even left!

For more information on La Playa Resort head to www.laplayaresort.com.



City Escapes: Get Me To The Pumpkins, Apples, Wine, & Foliage!

October 13, 2012 by  
Filed under ESCAPES, Featured, Latest

I love fall. Brightly colored leaves, crisp sunny days, comfy sweaters, pumpkins, cider and all the other fun stuff that goes along with it. The leaves are almost at their peak, so the next few weekends are perfect time to escape the city and enjoy.

If taking a Sunday drive is your style, jump in a zip car and head north to see the brightly colored leaves. Roads like the Saw Mill & Taconic State Parkway (especially further north) are popular routes. If you are looking for a destination, one of my favorites is Blue Hill At Stone Barns and Rockefeller Park. Make sure to take a walk through the lakeside trails (wave to the cows at pasture!), check out the organic cafe (line out the door is worth it), and enjoy the farmer’s market and other fall events that are happening. Trust me, it’s so worth the drive.

Another drive option is the North Fork of Long Island. Do a day of wine tasting and farm hopping as you drive along 25A. There are so many beautiful wineries, not to mention countless pumpkin patches and fun farms to pick up fresh veggies. If wineries are what you are looking for head to Peconic Bay for tastings and live music (Saturday & Sunday afternoons), sip in the beauty at Bendell, or make it a family affair at Martha Clara and enjoy wine, hay rides for the kids, and beautiful flower fields. No matter where you end up, make sure to stop Briermere Farms on the way home, and pick up an apple pie to share with your city friends.

Speaking of apples, what is fall without a great apple orchard or pumpkin patch? Whether a kid (or or kid at heart) here are a few tri-state area farms where you can get your fill of fall fun.

Finks Farm: For the Long Island bound, this family owned and operated farm has been a favorite for 50 years. Hayrides, 7-acre corn maze, U-pick pumpkins, kiddy train rides, combine slide and much more. I hear their “corn cannon” is something to look out for!  Food and refreshments are available, including roasted corn, or pack your own picnic and enjoy their picnic area. Explore the farm stand, filled with fresh local vegetables, fruits, potatoes, corn stalks, holiday decorations and more.

Wilklow Orchards in Highland, NY

Wilklow Orchards is family owned farm that has been running since 1855 (Wow!). It’s pick-your-own style with over a dozen variety of apples. They’re open daily from 9-5 until Halloween. There’s also a quaint little road stand that sells apples, baked goods and various other apple related goodies. Also, you can feel free to bring a lunch to enjoy out on their farm in their picnic area.

Riamede Farms in Chester, NJ
Riamede Farm welcomes groups, schools, parents and children to come take a hayride to their apple orchard and pumpkin patch. Riamede features 34 varieties of apples from traditional classics to specialties. They believe they are one of the first pick-your-own apple orchards in New Jersey. They pride themselves on being a “quiet, peaceful olde-time apple orchard with a pumpkin field out back.”

Masker Orchards in Warwick, NY
This 200 acre farm is open daily throughout the season until early November. It’s an orchard full of fun for the whole family with pony rides, face painting, an apple maze and haunted house taking place on weekends. Their website features a handy ripening schedule that you can check before your visit to make sure your favorites are ripe and ready for picking!

Top Photo: flickr

HSNY Fall Retreat: A Time For Change (City Escape!)

September 22, 2012 by  
Filed under ESCAPES, Featured, Latest

Fall is a time of change. Change in weather, changing colors on the trees, a shift to crisp, fresh air. With this change in seasons, we cannot help but reflect upon our own life – the transitions we’re making and the change we want to manifest.  Real change is often a difficult task for many of us, whether in realm of relationships, jobs, or personal action and habits. Now is the perfect time to learn about the power of change, and how we can create the life we’ve always wanted.

Join HealthyStyleNY.com Founder, Vanessa Alfano, and Positive Psychology Coach, Carin Rockind, for HSNY’s first day retreat, “A Time For Change.” Held in a gorgeous lakeside setting in Garrison, NY, the day will focus on positive change and creating a happier, healthier life. Learn valuable techniques to create the change you want, and enjoy the beauty of the season and the natural change happening all around us.

In this one-day retreat we will:

*Learn about the science of happiness & consider: What fills your life with meaning &  joy?
*Reflect on our lives and what changes we want to make: How can we enhance our lives?
*Discuss changes we want to make in life and envision: What would life look like if everything unfolded exactly as we hope for?

Be pampered with nourishing food, empowered with valuable information, inspired by the natural surroundings, & encouraged by like minded women. This will be a primarily outdoor event, so please dress accordingly.

When: Saturday October 13, 2012
Arrival in the 11 o’clock hour/Departure in 5 o’clock hour

Where: Lake Celeste  Garrison, NY
*Driving Directions available upon registration

*Transportation provided for those arriving on Metro North (Peekskill Station)




About the venue: Located just over one hour from NYC (and accesible by Metro North), the venue is a picturesque lake community in Garrison, NY. The lakefront private home provides the perfect place to reflect, relax, and start on a journey of change. Not only will attendess enjoy stunning views and natural beauty from the deck and catherdral ceilinged porch, but all are  also encouraged to explore the area. Babbling brooks, waterfalls, unpaved roads,  fall foliage, and plenty of stunning scenery await.

About HSNY: HealthyStyleNY.com is designed to help women live a healthier, happier life. Focused on a holistic approach, the online magazine contains content on everything from nutrition and fitness, to relationships and career advice. HSNY is devoted to helping NYC women access to valuable information and be guided to all the healthy finds NYC has to offer.

About Carin: Carin Rockind is an expert coach, motivational speaker and professor in Positive Psychology, the scientific study of happiness. A “cheerleader” at heart and previously a Fortune 500 marketing exec, Carin left Corporate America to pursue her passion of encouraging women to pursue their dreams. Her philosophy is simple: We each have a unique purpose and we’d be happier if we were living it. She frequently speaks to companies and groups nationally, including Avon, Ernst & Young, Alcoa, SAY Media and Morgan Stanley Smith Barney. Carin is one of only 250 people in the world with her masters degree in Positive Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. She received her Bachelors from the University of Michigan and has certification in Gestalt therapy.



City Escape: Yoga Supper At Growing Heart Farm

August 16, 2012 by  
Filed under ESCAPES, Featured, Latest

This week we’re sharing a true city escape. Growing Heart Farm in Pauling, NY is only a couple hours from the big city, but a world away in so many ways. This small farm which harvest fruits and veggies for local sale and CSAs is just 75 miles north of NYC, making it an easy, accesible escape. Metro North drops city dwellers a short walk (15m or so) from the farm, making a day-trip a very easy option.

Select Saturdays this summer and fall (including this one!), Growing Heart hosts a farm-to-table yoga supper.  It includes a day on the farm, a relaxing yoga class, and a delicious “ultra-ganic” farm-to-table meal prepared by their holistic chefs. I checked out the yoga dinner recently, and really enjoyed the full experience. Details of my day are below and more details on the Yoga Supper can be found here.  A worthwhile city escape!

Growing Heart, Growing Mind…

When I first arrived at Growing Heart Farm for their Yoga Supper a couple weeks back, I was in my typical ‘Type-A’ city mode. Sure it was Saturday, but I was listing all the stuff in my head that needed to be done, feeling anxious about the last minute guest I had in town (and in tow), and thoroughly annoyed with the pouring rain that had lengthened my trip up to the farm, and left an absolutely messy day. I had been looking forward to a day of scampering through nature with the sun on my face as I did salutations and tree poses, and had heard that the sunset dinner in the field admist the crops was a highlight of the day.

So when I arrived to the farm which had been drenched by rain, my spirits were dampened and I was wondering if taking the journey was in fact a mistake. I was wet and cold, still connected to my iPhone and in no mood to connect with a wet mother nature or any one else.

At first sight, I wasn’t sure I was at the right place. From the road I had missed any signs or indicators of the farm or supper, and when I did arrive, I wondered if I had stumbled upon some retro-commune instead of a yoga supper catering to city folk. I found my way to the front door and realized I had found the farm, and was greeted by a nice girl holding a clipboard. People were hanging out in the house, chit chatting and milling about the kitchen.

I quickly came to meet Abby (one of the key players in the event) who gave me and my guest a quick tour of the fields and chatted about the crops, as well as the philosophy and background of the people who started it. She was sweet and had a bit of a hippie air about her, pointing out the different varietals of kale and even getting me to try a sour tingly little plant that serves as a natural teeth and mouth cleaner. While we walked through the crops, umbrellas in hand, I caught site of a few others who were barefooted and enjoying the mud between their toes. I suddenly felt like I indeed had been transported back 30 years to a time of bellbottoms and bare feet.  I carefully navigated, avoiding puddles, happy to have worn my thicker fit flops to keep the dirt from underneath my freshly pedicured toes.

My city funk was still on full force when I found out the yoga was to be held in the small loft upstairs.  I thought “oh great, lots of people, small space” (certainly not my usual Equinox experience surrounded by Lululemon.)  But, I had made the trip and the soundscapes class had me intrigued, so I strolled up the stairs and set my mat up amidst the others.

Inside the small skylighted yoga room somewhere between a downward dogs and sun salutation, I began to feel a shift. Sure, my muscles started to loosen and  limbs lengthen, but the greatest shift came in my attitude. Aarona, the instructor, talked us through poses, but, as with all great yoga instructors, she also directed us towards centering. With centering often comes clarity and clearer perspective, and by midway through the class, I realized I was creating my own miserable experience. I was too caught up in all the nonsense in my head that prevented me from experiencing all of the positive of the day. When I realized that, I suddenly could see clearer. I  began to experience the fullness and the beauty of not only the yoga experience, but the totality of my surroundings. Suddenly everything seemed… different. Even the rain, which I had cursed for the last few hours, now played a gentle melody on the roof that was the perfect accompaniment to the live musicians the played. It’s funny what a shift in perspective can do.

I left the small yoga loft feeling re-energized and grateful for the clarity. Suddenly I appreciated the beauty of the farm, the differences in the people, and the connection to the earth and myself. Sometimes what we really need is to get grounded and tune out the noise in our own heads. Sometimes we need to be forced to disconnect, to reconnect. These are the most valuable journeys– those that turn us inward, and have us looking more positively outward.

With new found perspective, I was really able to enjoy the remainder of the day. The vegetarian supper which was moved to inside was one of the most delicious I have had. New flavors and textures filled my mouth and conversations flowed with new friends. I finished the day feeling grateful for the experience and, more so, for the journey. As I walked out to the car, I almost took off my shoes to feel the earth between my toes. Then, on a second thought,  I decided to save that for next time. After all, a good pedicure is still a good pedicure.


Farm-to-table Supper

Dinner in the fields (weather permitting!).
Photos courtesy of Growing Heart Farm




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