On my Frontier flight back from Colorado. This past week was such a joy with Sadie and all the delightful students of the Estes Park Yoga Journal Conference. Though I am really tempted to say every conference I’ve been to has been a delight, let me enumerate some of the aspects that made this one so special.
Upon arrival the first thing you notice is how suddenly out of shape you’ve become. At ~ 8,500 ft, the thin oxygen precipitates panting in the simplest jobs, like carrying bags to your room. This takes a few days to get used to, and we were grateful to the kind woman from the Oxygen Sanctuary in the market who offered us a free 30-minute treatment. I gotta say it was pretty fun, sitting in the ‘anxiety-free’ old puffy chairs with a respirator up our noses, huffing away and leaving with a giddy, floating sensation that accompanied us for at least a few hours afterwards.
There were the grounds of the lovely and spacious of the YMCA of the Rockies, where the event took place. Spreading its toes in a bucolic setting at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, this was an ideal space to get away and immerse oneself in the crisp clean air and waters in the clarifying atmosphere and peaceful space that has been establishing a peaceful co-habitation with its natural surroundings for well over a hundred years.
In fact, the nature often came to us – every morning I would awake and exclaim at the small packs of deer, grazing in the playground across from our room, or a pair of elk languidly butting horns. These creatures roamed freely, and prolifically – everywhere you went you’d see some cute pack of deer loitering about with their big ol’ Dumbo ears. So inured, in fact, were these creatures to the human presence, that I was able to at one point get within 10 feet of a fully grown male replete with two feet of majestic horns! It was a magical experience to encounter these large creatures with such an open trust and lack of fear; which really added to the overall experience of healing and connectedness to life we felt.
Teaching was so fun! Students receptive, interactive, and just wonderful. We co-taught the first day intensive, then Sadie taught the ‘Core Strength Transformer’ and I taught the fascinating ‘Yoga for the Masculine’. We then co-taught the ‘Yoga of Success (Message, Marketing and Money), all to rave reviews! We also got to experience a Bo Forbes workshop, ‘Yoga for Empaths’ – which was especially helpful for Sadie.
… On the day after the vast majority of the human yogis departed, the animals really began to reclaim the home that was clearly theirs to begin with. The elks began their funny-yet-enchanting ‘bugling’ — a sound not dissimilar from a young girl screaming at the top of her lungs; quite similar in fact to the noise Sadie’d regularly used to torture her family with when she was a card holding member of this tribe, and in fact, could still replicate with enough accuracy to get callbacks from our furry friendly buglers.
Just a few minutes away was the fantastically quaint yet surprisingly vivacious feeder town of Estes Park. What at first struck me as a simply touristy and banal burg actually won us over with its diversity, quality, and awesomeness. One night, ravenous and in search of a meal, we stumbled upon the Grubsteak restaurant, and were escorted to the bar in the far back of the establishment. Within moments of our arrival the bespectacled gentleman sitting next to Sadie removed his hat to display – his OWN shock-pink full-on mohawk! The bartender, who had, by his own admission seen nothing like it in all his days, quickly became our mutual friend, after displaying his Hawkeye tattoo, and fellow Iowa bad-assness to Sadie. Besides the delicious drinks, we both sampled our first taste of a yummy Yak burger.
(Sadie interviewed by Waylon Lewis of Elephant Journal. )
Besides the Sadie-salvational Starbucks, there were other awesome spots: a baller coffee shop, Kind Coffee, with seating directly next to a gorgeous flowing rocky stream; one of the best organically-oriented restaurants with one of the biggest breakfast cuisine selections I’ve ever seen Notchtop Bakery; the delightfully quirky and comfy old mountain restaurant Nicky’s, and the quirky old Italian hovel Dunraven Inn wallpapered with ~16,000 $1 bills, delicious food and a bartender with exceptional inkage who happened to daylight as a bi-costal DJ between NYC and San Francisco… I could go on. OH!! And- a “Donut Haus“. Need I say more. . .?
Our last couple days we decided to venture out into the vast pristine Rocky Mountain National Park that surrounded us. One day taking a drive up the Trail Ridge Road, through the rain and clouds above the tree line to almost 12,000 feet! The next day we went to Bear Lake, a truly spectacular natural enclave of pine trees, aspen and dramatic rock formations with dramatic peaks gathering round and resounding with an almost unearthly beauty that brought on an unexpected quietude, peace and subtle joy that manifest as a pleasurable vibration through your whole being… It was an exceptional end to a wonderful week.