This April we are excited to host our first yoga retreats.
Learn more about Kristina Sandi and her yoga retreat Art of Letting Go.
We hope you can join us.
Who are you?
I am an appreciator of beauty and aesthetic. Someone who finds magic in the details and a nature lover through and through. I feel happiest when my life seems to flow with the landscape around me. I require frequent interaction with rugged, untouched wilderness and am fascinated with finding harmonious ways to explore and live among it.
I feel strongly connected with the wisdom of my body and use gut instinct to guide me a lot of the time. I’m a total dreamer. I have big dreamy dreams that make feel like I’m constantly searching. Sometimes I think that comes off as a bit wishy-washy, but I enjoy the way my mind works because it’s never boring. I’m half Costa Rican and half American and have struggled with the identity of being from multiple cultures. As I’ve grown, I have learned to appreciate my unique background and embrace its fluidness, although sometimes I still feel like I’m feel neither here nor there. Yoga helps me to feel rooted in everything that I am.
I am a committed student of the human experience. I am relentlessly curious about people, and the experiences and histories that shape them. Travel and exploration are integral to my happiness. My soul is fed by road trips down lonely highways, along winding backroads and through sleepy old towns. I am elated when I meet people who are strong characters and reflect an un-yielding sense of place. In college I studied Sociology and Anthropology. Though it’s not what I’ve pursed career-wise, my studies permanently shaped the way I think and continue to influence my perspective on the world. My adoration with the Appalachian landscape and culture is something that I struggle to put into words, but feels integral to who I am.
I’m a 1000 hr. trained yoga instructor currently living in Salt Lake City, Utah but my heart is still inextricably tied to the Appalachian Mountains. I grew up in Maryland, not far from Harpers Ferry, and moved to Morgantown for college after driving through the town and feeling the distinct sensation of being cradled by the rolling hills.
Various factors led me to end up in the Rocky mountains, where I've grown immensely and developed a whole new skill set guiding others toward physical and emotional well being. The past few years, however, I’ve been dreaming of creating a dual life for myself between East/West and finding a way to utilize the tools I’ve learned out here (yoga, outdoor recreation and leadership, sustainable tourism) to enhance the health and well-being of West Virginia communities while perhaps even driving some tourism.
While the Utah landscape is certainly inspiring, it doesn’t hold me in the way the Appalachians do. I’ve always told people out here that the Rockies are like a snazzy new pair of jeans, but the Appalachians are the old cozy/soft pair that you enjoy wearing the most.
I trained in a branch of yoga known as yoga therapy, which emphasizes the healing properties of a mindfulness and movement practice that considers the unique background and circumstance of each individual practitioner.
This retreat is a creative expression of what feeds and drives me. It’s built around self-healing techniques that will guide people closer to themselves, while leading them closer to the rich and biodiverse ecosystem of West Virginia. I want nothing more than to create beauty in the world and help people find their power. To do it in West Virginia, is the dream of all dreams.
Would you tell us more about the program you are presenting?
“The Art of Letting Go” is both a yoga retreat and nature immersion, focused on exploring techniques for stress relief and self-healing. Participants will be exposed to various yogic practices (breathwork, postures, meditation etc.), as well as an array of writing and outdoor learning workshops in a nurturing and non-intimidating environment.
This is an opportunity for participants to slow down and reflect. To step out of the momentum of everyday life and get closer with themselves, their community and the natural world. We will learn to let go of harmful thought pattern and treat our bodies, our minds and our environment with care.
How has yoga made a difference in your life?
Yoga brought peace to my life. I spent years running from and numbing the things that caused me emotional suffering. I had traumatic experiences, as many of us do. Heavy, tragic and 100% out of my control. And that’s the thing with life, we don’t always get a say in how it treats us. For so long I felt like I had a sort of fire or poison inside of me. I didn’t know how to get rid of it so it would come out in my interactions with the world and in my relationship with myself and others. I was disconnected to my body and quick to lash out. Overall I just felt sort of…untethered.
Finding a consistent yoga practice brought me back to myself. It grounded me. I learned that by paying attention to my body, I could gain a better understanding of my feelings and emotions. I could start to acknowledge and move through difficult experiences rather than shutting down. Yoga taught me that my power lies not in preventing struggle, but in softening my reaction to it.
Will you describe a time you were inspired being outdoors?
To be honest, I feel like almost every outdoor adventure I go on ends up smacking me in the face with some sort of life metaphor. Truly, it’s the nature of it. When go out into areas of true wilderness, you are resigning yourself to be 100% out of control of the elements around you. It can be an opportunity to practice struggle in a tangible way. The more you practice struggle, the easier it is to practice it gracefully when you’re confronted with challenge in your everyday life.
Outdoor recreation is a pillar of the life I’ve built for myself, and I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to participate in outdoor adventure on a regular basis. But in trying to recount an outdoor experience that was particularly inspiring, it’s not necessarily the most picturesque sunset or a relaxing sea breeze that comes to mind. It’s the struggle and the effort of an encounter with nature that didn’t go as planned. It’s the time I got frostbite on my toe while snowboarding, which truly stretched my capacity for what I consider to be uncomfortable. It’s one of the first times I went rock climbing, things took longer then expected and it got dark while I was standing on a ledge hundreds of feet off the ground. I met a sort of primal fear that made the everyday variety of stress pale in comparison. It’s the time I was living in a shack in the jungle of Costa Rica. Nature in the jungle always finds a way to take over. I unknowingly dropped a peanut in my bed and an army of red ants came to put me in my place and bite the s*** out of my leg. It’s really quite alarming when a tiny little ant can remind you to sit down and be humble. It’s not the world's priority to make things easier for you.
The outdoors teaches life resilience. Sometimes you either go with the flow or you’re going to have a bad time. The outdoors has taught me to how to appreciate and even love the imperfect experience. I truly believe that the more we practice letting go of the need to control our surroundings, the happier we will be. The outdoors constantly inspires me to find beauty in the most unlikely of places.
What do you hope participants will get out of the retreat?
I hope that by the end of the weekend, participants will feel as though they’re armed with a toolbox of yoga techniques they can pull from when they need help coping or feeling balanced. The mission here is individual empowerment! My number one goal as a teacher is to help students feel comfortable taking yoga home with them.
Beyond that, I hope that the beauty of the Appalachian Mountains, and the culture of the YEW will become a part of them. I hope that for the entire weekend, or even for just a split second, participants will be able to feel themselves as an integral part of the landscape, and that West Virginia will seep into their bones like it has for me.