A 24-Hours Retreat just in time for a New Year’s Reboot

A 24-Hours Retreat just in time for New Year’s Reboot and Renewal

Apparently, some people venture out on self-care, all-inclusive, leave-your-troubles-at-home (adventure) retreats regularly. What an incredible idea; I wish I had tried it sooner.

The Jewish New Year and the Days of Awe in general, provide a really good opportunity for introspection, taking stock and navigating a new path forward. Synagogue is OK, but sometimes a walk deep in the forest including a literal Tree Pose has all of the essential ingredients for the renewal of mind – body – soul.

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This year I was fortunate to find myself doing exactly that @ The Yoga Weekend  hosted at  Camp Walden  on Red Pine Lake.

Walden first published in 1854 as Walden; or, Life in the Woods is a book by noted transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau. The text is a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings. Certainly, we can all benefit from this basic notion.

The Yoga Weekend, in its third year was actually scheduled from Friday to Sunday; luckily however, I managed to sneak in a day earlier. Many facilitators, healers, workshops and lots and lots of personal space. Definitely, an opportunity to feel grounded and truly, a warm and welcoming community.

Indeed the ride in and out of our great big city was not smooth sailing: Toronto is a tough town, weekend highway traffic and all. That said, the 24-hours retreat was a powerful boost to recharge my mind, body and soul. As we arrived, the afternoon sun was scorching upon us and we were welcomed with refreshing Kamboucha tea cooled in ice water floating in a canoe and an offering of freshly-baked delicious vegan raisin carrot bites. My overnight glamping gear was promptly delivered directly to my cabin porch, by keen millennial camp staff driving golf karts. Unbeknownst to me, I was booked into my very own cabin: Pink Panthers, in the Comics Unit.

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Actually, I had walked the Comic Hill many years before on July Visitors’ Day as my kids enjoyed their childhood and adolescent summers at summer camp. On previous visits the grounds were packed with enthusiastic campers, barking dogs and doting parents. Indeed, Visitors’ day is euphoric and chaotic. I recall many years ago thinking to myself, what a wonderful place to spend the summer with friends who become like family. On this spectacular September day however, it was me alone, amidst the majestic trees, the clear blue sky and bright end-of-summer sunshine. So much green space and fresh country air all around me. Enveloped by dusk and dawn in calming hues. Paradise.

Inhale. Exhale.

For years, I have received the newsfeed from Camp Walden. This past year I was fortunate to get to know Jen and to learn more about her personal and professional journey including, Camp Walden, mental health, yoga and her brainchild: The Yoga Weekend initiative. It’s one thing to facilitate personal narrative writing, however it’s quite another to experience the person, the place and her magical community. The words printed on paper come to life at The Yoga Weekend.

Jen Birenbaum’s heartfelt personal narrative titled My Self on the Mat about her transformational journey to yoga is published in my series Living Legacies – A Collection of Personal Narratives by Contemporary Canadian Jewish Women – Volume VII (PK Press, 2018). Jen is a relatively quiet and petite woman, and yet, as we get to know her we realize she is indeed a beautiful and bold warrior.

The retreat gave me a clear perspective of Jen’s vision from the recently unveiled Zen dock. Peaceful, quiet, and inspiring. An incredible spot to look within ourselves and gaze out to the surrounding soothing landscape. This sensation is definitely addictive. For most of us, the goal is to hold onto this precious moment of harmony, register the experience so that we may recall the state of internal calm, just being in the moment as they say, on an as-needed basis. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Inhale. Exhale.

The Yoga Weekend offered a plethora of workshops, and camp activities. Some of my favourites included:

  • A much needed Restorative Yoga Tune–Up Class. To quote the veteran instructor: “let’s go deep and delicious, into the sweet spot in the neck, scapulae, or in the buttocks, get right into those gnarly knots!”
  • A stroll through the camp’s vibrant vegetable and fresh herb garden, including a colourful abundance of tomatoes, leafy kale and so much more.

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  • A visit to the swim docks and a relaxing kayak ride around the pristine lake. On the colourful shoreline, the deciduous trees were just beginning to fade from green to golden yellow and autumn orange. Definitely, a late September classic Canadian sight to behold.
  • Meals served camp style in the dining hall: wholesome food including plenty of nutritious vegetarian options to nourish our bodies. I’m sorry I missed the wine service offered the day after my departure.
  • Friendly people of all ages gathered in pursuit of wellness, renewal and community. This is truly diversity and inclusion.
  • Smiling barista in the tuck shop. What an ingenious idea. Herbal teas and freshly brewed coffee at our service. Caffeine boost, or calming herbs, whatever we desire.
  • So many opportunities for strengthening and stretching our selves in and out of our comfort zone. Meditation, Deep and Divine Flow, Body Love, Goddess Flow, Core Flow Wellness Rituals, SUP Yoga….wow the possibilities are endless.
  • Last but not least: a generous bag of self-care treats to take home, including fragrant essential oil and sweet Wild Honey – soft body whip courtesy of  i Smell Great.

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Kudos to this dynamic duo: Jen Birenbaum and Sari Nisker-Fox for this brilliant initiative. The Yoga Weekend has all of the essential ingredients to deliver a feast for our senses and renewal of the body, mind and soul. Definitely, I will be back again next September. Somehow I don’t think I will have a cabin entirely to myself because some of my family and friends would like to join me on this wonderful journey.


Note to self: Next year try The Zipline Adventure and stay for the Live DJ Flow with wine service.

To learn more about The Yoga Weekend visit: The Yoga Weekend

This is your weekend…
to learn, to play, to practice…
to be inspired, to be challenged, to be free…
to make your own…

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To learn more about the Living Legacies Collection visit  PK Press  on Facebook

Everyone Has a Story. What’s Yours? Share Your Story-Leave a Legacy.


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