Journals

Cowgirl Getaway to Breitenbush

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Now that Cowgirl Cash has "Winter Hours" and is only open Wednesday-Saturday until Spring break. It was time to let the recuperation begin. I started with the Breitenbush Hot Springs web site. There it was... a listing for a Bikram yoga retreat. Sunday check-in, Wednesday departure. I've done Bikram Yoga enough to know it's a series of poses, done over 90 minutes, designed to stretch and strengthen the entire body, including your organs. I also remembered it was done in an extremely hot room.

I took a leap of faith and called the instructors from the Alberta St. Bikram studio in NE Portland and signed up. The week before I left I received an itinerary. Meditation the first night. Two sessions of Bikram the first day, yoga and the opportunity to participate in a Native American sweat lodge on day two. The night before I left, I sat down with my 13 year old son and told him exactly what I was doing. I knew that even though I'd mentioned I was leaving for four days, he hadn't really processed it. I gave him the run down of my plans, and he said, "Mom, your weird." I took it as a compliment.

2013-01-14 09.58.29As I drove to Detroit Lake, I began to wonder who could attend a yoga retreat in the middle of the week like this? I was soon to find out.

The ten mile road from Detroit Lake up to Breitenbush is a slow go. It is windy, narrow and was solid ice. I followed a trail of fuel efficient cars ill prepared for winter driving 20 miles per hour up the road. It's the slowest part of the trip, but as you enter an isolated winter wonderland, in a dense snow covered forest, you start to relax. I pulled into the parking area and glanced at my phone. No service. No service for the next 3 days.

2013-01-15 10.50.02I checked into my cabin and roamed the property for an hour. The Breitenbush river flows down one side and rustic yurts, and cabins, and lodges, and structures covering hot pools dot the rest. Dinner was at 6. The food at Breitenbush is served at 8,1, and 6. A buffet of organic vegetarian, with options for each type of food allergy. The food is nurturing, warm, flavorful, and satisfying. I eat meat, but I didn't miss it.

The Bikram group met for the first time at the River Yurt at 7:30 pm Sunday. It was a small group. Seven of us, plus the instructors. 5 of the seven practiced at the Alberta Street Studio. Myself, and my roommate for the next three nights were both 46 year old women, with two kids, who found the retreat on the world wide web. Heidi drove from Olympia Washington. We became fast friends.

Day one was just what I had hoped for. Breakfast, sauna, Yoga, soaking in hotpools, lunch, 2 hour nap, yoga, soaking in hotpools, dinner, group meditation, bed.

Day two was much of the same, except that I had to forgo the 2 hour nap and head to the sweat lodge by the river.

2013-01-14 10.08.372013-01-15 14.32.51 renamed 29018The Inipi Ceremony was performed by a Lakota man who the ceremony had been passed down to. I arrived at a huge fire. Buried deep in the fire were many round river rocks. My group and I began assembling the sweat lodge. We covered a domed frame made of tree branches with 20 or more wool blankets, and then covered that with four large heavy tarps. When we were done the sweat lodge was to mimic our mothers womb. Pitch dark and very hot. I struggle with claustrophobia.It doesn't impair me until I get on an airplane. I was nervous about the ceremony and placed myself next to our leader. As soon as the flap went down, I grabbed him and said "my tiny voice is speaking very loudly". He instructed me to hold his hand and when he started to sing to sing loud right along with him. I clutched him, my new friend next to me and sang like 2013-01-16 09.00.02 renamed 31084I'd known that Lakota sweat lodge song since birth. We prayed, we sweated, we healed our bones with intense heat, we talked to our grandparents, and we sang. It was very powerful, and I highly recommend it.

The sweat lodge was exhausting and emotional. I went to bed at 9, and awoke the next day at 7:30, hungry and ready for one last session of yoga.

Before class on Wednesday morning, I soaked in a mineral pool and reflected on my time at Breitenbush. I was happy I had taken the trip for myself. I remembered two messages from the Inipi Ceremony. "Choose Life", and "Brave -Up". Messages that will serve me well in finding the work, life balance.

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