Last weekend I went to my first yoga retreat with South Hills Power Yoga. It was hosted at Lakehouse Inn & Winery in Geneva-on-the-Lake with teachers from the SHPY studio. SHPY was my first yoga “home” in the Burgh, before a studio finally opened up on the north side this year (although I still keep a few sessions loaded up in my account and travel back for special classes). I traveled with a fellow yoga-loving friend, who was also attending her first retreat AND also celebrating her birthday in May. Geneva is an easy 2.5 hour drive from Pittsburgh.

lake erie hotel ohio b&B

The B&B grounds were gorgeous and RIGHT on the lake.

Check-in was late Friday afternoon, and the yoga studio provided each of us with a bag full of goodies upon arrival. Our first two-hour session was soon after check-in with LA Finfinger, former instructor from SHPY who sadly moved away to Baltimore. She embodies a lot of what I love about yoga, and I’ve probably felt more connected to her style because she was my first regular teacher. She oozes warmth and authenticity and has that spiritual connection to the practice that I long to, well, practice. Her practices make me think about much more than just yoga and much more than getting a workout. I feel truly self-aware and present when she teaches. Seriously, her classes are transformative.

The restaurant did a fantastic job in tailoring meals for my (and my friend’s) dietary restrictions, given that food was included in the cost of the retreat. I got to eat gluten-free manicotti for dinner #1 — topped with a pesto sauce and filled with asparagus, spring onions and mushrooms. It was fantastic. And yes, naturally since we were at a winery, we had some wine.

We skipped the “optional” thai massage yoga in the evening, since we planned to wake up early for the lakefront sitting meditation in the morning. Which was incredible. Man, I miss the lake so much.

sunset lake erie ohio beach

Seriously. The BEST sunsets ever.

Saturday we started with the meditation and the day included two additional two-hour sessions on the schedule, with a nice break in the afternoon to explore The Strip. Our morning class was led by LA again, and she’s just so inspirational. She left us each a card at our mats to take with us to continue our practice.

yoga card responsibility

Preach.

GOTL is a weird place if you’ve never been; it’s nostalgic for me, but I’m always disheartened that it couldn’t be so much more because the setting on the lake is just beautiful and makes you feel as if you’re a hundred miles away from home.

tattoo studio geneva ohio

This is where I got my first tattoo at age 16. Yeah, my mom was mad. (I think she still might be.)

GOTL outdoor patios

Outdoor bar on The Strip.

The afternoon class started outside, but as the thunderstorms rolled in, we rolled up our mats and went indoors. This was my first class led by Darcy Lyle and she is adorable — I would definitely attend more of her classes. She has a more playful style and encouraged us to take some chances with advancing our practice. It was in that class that I FINALLY was able to balance for a few breaths in Crow.

big waves lake erie ohio

The lake was angry Sunday morning.

Our Sunday morning class was only an hour-and-a-half, but man was I tired and sweaty. Stacey really focused on powering us through that last session — and I even attempted a float out of crow (I belly-flopped and it was hilarious). Like Darcy, Stacey empowers us through advancing our movements and supports the learning and practicing (and failing) side of yoga with encouragement and laughter. She brings out the fun in yoga, which we all need to balance (pun intended) our practice.

After breakfast, it was time to check out and head back home to Pittsburgh. I totally sold my friend on Madsen donuts, and she grabbed a box to take home with her (just as a line was growing outside). I was fine with a contact high from the delicious smells.

I’m excited to hear about a fall retreat in Cook’s Forest… I might have to add that to my agenda for this year as a graduation present to myself.

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