For me, the land and resources at the Feathered Pipe Ranch are sacred. They create a nurturing environment, promoting relaxation and inspiring a harmonious connection between mind and body (essential on the journey toward overall well-being and personal healing). In many ways, the place makes me feel like a kid again, encouraging me to let go and just play.
What I love about being on retreat at the Ranch, aside from the wonderful amenities, is the opportunity for daily rituals that offer community and give us all permission to receive exactly what we need: tools for self-love, space for an emotional release, playfulness, and igniting joy to live a balanced life. I find a deep sense of inner peace by practicing yoga amongst the lodgepole pines, connecting with breath by the lake, or simply being present under the Big Montana Sky.
Every day on retreat is a gift to live mindfully and embrace a slower lifestyle that leaves the tasks and to-do lists of reality for another time. In many ways, it allows me to be carefree. The kitchen staff supports everyone with nutritious meals of generational recipes rooted in a community-centered dining hall. Dynamic conversation at the dining room or picnic tables are often heartfelt and hilarious confessions offered by open-hearted and intelligent humans.
Combining the practices of mindfulness, ceremony, and time in nature weaves a beautiful framework to support mental health and offers resilience in the face of life’s hardships, heartbreaks, and stressors. Amidst the serene backdrop of a national forest, it allows the mind to find tranquility and the body to embrace rejuvenation – a gateway to a transformative experience.
Permission to Play
My personal practice has been forever influenced by the teachers and students who leave their energetic footprints at the Ranch, where a unique lineage of yoga and spirituality continues to grow. And while many traditions of yoga have been long associated with focus and discipline, one thing I love to find on retreat is the element of play. It not only adds an enjoyable dimension, but also brings many benefits to us as humans.
In my teachings, I’m constantly inspired by my 10 years of teaching children’s yoga, where I learned how to nurture curious mindsets and energetic bodies with grounding yoga postures and relaxing meditation practices. Children let go of the pursuit of perfection and the expectation of how anything should be, instead they take advantage of living in the present moment through play.
Play is a powerful, lighthearted, and spontaneous medium for self discovery. Laughter, an integral part of playful yoga, triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural stress-busters. This approach gives us permission to experience joy in the present moment.
A playful yoga practice is not limited to a set of poses. It inspires a mindset in the practice of life that encourages a non-judgmental acceptance of thoughts, feelings, all people, and yourself. We let down our guard, our seriousness, embrace joyful movement, and are encouraged to explore our bodies with a childlike curiosity, unlocking hidden tensions and promoting a deeper connection with ourselves.
I encourage you to add some play into your yoga practice in any ways you can. It’s a wonderful way to drop harsh expectations of ourselves and enjoy a blissful life as our most genuine selves.
Here are some sample ideas of ways to get started:
1) Let go of what you think your body should look like in each pose, close your eyes and simply be thankful for your amazing body and all it is capable of!
2) Put on a fun song during your practice and let your body move in whatever ways it wants, releasing expectations of what you think a ‘perfect’ yoga practice looks like
3) Practice some yoga with an actual kid and experience how free they are in their body, practice and laughter!
And if you want to fully sink into a feeling of childlike playfulness, and soul soothing fun, all the better to pair a playful practice with the magic of being on retreat at the Feathered Pipe Ranch. It’s the vacation for the soul that we all need.
Join Jess Cartwright, Deneen Pancari and Jen Kossin at the renowned Feathered Pipe Ranch outside of Helena, Montana for an immersive yoga and wild feminine experience under the “Big Sky” for an investment in your well being that allows you to connect to the elements and nourish your wild feminine, May 29 – June 1, 2024, “Wild Feminine Retreat: Yoga, Ceremony & Personal Rejuvenation.”
About Deneen Pancari:
Deneen is a yoga and mindfulness teacher in Bozeman, Montana for the better part of a decade. Her experience is in guided meditations, kids yoga, stand up paddle board yoga, and restorative yoga. Her specialties include making everyone in her class feel playful and relaxed! Her calm, grounding spirit is an unbeatable asset for an event like this, journeying back to yourself.