Last weekend I traveled to picturesque Ojai, California for a relaxing weekend retreat of yoga and wine (I know, it is a perfect combination). The weekend was hosted by the lovely and inspiring Ryan Brewer on the beautiful 54-acre Casa Barranca winery and estate. Casa Barranca is the first organic certified winery in the Central Coast region of CA. The wines are handcrafted with sustainably farmed and organically grown grapes using old world wine making techniques. The estate was beautiful – a serene mountain escape from reality.
Nestled amongst the beautiful landscape was our stand-alone yoga studio, decorated with antique Tibetan furniture, a built-in fireplace, and overlooking the mountains, it could not have been a more perfect place to practice yoga.
In addition to yoga, we got to experience Kirtan with Ryan. Kirtan is a form of devotional yoga where you chant Sanskrit mantras repeatedly in a call and response format. So Ryan would sing and play the harmonium and we would sing back. Ryan calls it a yoga sing-a-long!
To make the weekend even more fantastic, we were treated to delicious vegetarian meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This was a delight to me, being a vegetarian for the past 15 years, I loved being able to eat everything being served — I felt like the chef was cooking just for me! Caspar Poyck, a “culinary therapist,” was our amazing chef and could not have been more perfect for the job. Originally from Europe and the son of yoga teachers, Caspar shared with us a unique viewpoint on food and life. He made fantastic, hearty, and delicious vegetarian food and entertained with great conversation.
Below is Caspar in the kitchen and to the left is his Quinoa Pot Pie — so good. I can’t wait to recreate that dish for myself.
I went with the intention of spending girl-time with two old friends and getting away from the stress of my busy life – and I returned having met an amazing group of people with whom I shared an experience of reflection and thoughtfulness about life and love. It’s difficult to explain how yoga can change you – even if just for a weekend – but it does. I am truly grateful for the experience.
Besides all the good food, interesting people, and beautiful surroundings, I also returned home having learned my own life lesson. For me, living in the moment is kind of a struggle. I’m always thinking about what’s next. My weekend taught me this way of being steals from me; it takes from me something I can’t get back. So, when I catch myself not living in the present, I will remember to breath, let go, and appreciate the only moment that I have for sure — the moment I am in.