Winter Retreat Blog Series: Setting an Intention & MUCH MORE with Julia!

Our retreat will kick off with an intentional gemstone bracelet making session with Julia!

Our retreat will kick off with an intentional gemstone bracelet making session with Julia!

Many people sign up for retreat during this time of year because of the natural tendency to go inward and dream. It’s perfect after the rush of the holiday season to pack your bags and bring the focus back home to the self—to settle into the quiet and restful energy of winter and be.

Everything that happens in the universe begins with intention.  The sages of India observed thousands of years ago that our destiny is ultimately shaped by our deepest intentions and desires. The classic Vedic text known as the Upanishads declares, “You are what your deepest desire is. As your desire is, so is your intention. As your intention is, so is your will. As your will is, so is your deed. As your deed is, so is your destiny.” - From Julia’s website

This time of the year calls for the work that needs to happen before we plant the seeds of intention. To set the scene for what’s to come ahead. The good news is that the “work” looks less like work and more like resting, taking good care and not doing too much. Though there will be plenty of sessions available to keep you inspired, nothing is mandatory. It’s all a matter of choice. It’s your time, and we recommend you take a slower pace.

Each retreat we like to send participants home with a little gift. According to the Vedas, Gemstones are crystals of power that have a specific ability to aid a person in aligning their energy with the Universal energy. This year the offering will be a lovely gemstone bracelet infused with your energy, empowered within a community practice guided by Julia.

Julia is a woman who I respect so much as another human on the path devoted to her practice and living her yoga. She will be joining us for her second year teaching at the retreat. I first met Julia in 2012 when I was in a prenatal yoga teacher training. A pregnant woman doing a headstand caught the corner of my eye and her fiery spirit and outgoing attitude drew me in to eventually grab lunch with her over the weekend training. With both of us having familial ties overseas to different cultures and a strong sense of desire to share with the greater community, I felt an immediate bond to this sister. Over the next 5 years we would spontaneously run into each other in various yoga teacher workshops until we made our meetings intentional.

Our professional collaboration began when Julia came to my wellness space before it was a yoga studio (in my upstairs office), and we held two different mala making sessions that were SO MUCH FUN! Her knowledge of gemstones and Vedic Astrology is so deep! I so enjoyed having her in our space and engaging in creative process. We all learned so much.

Then flash forward to her signing up for our last winter retreat (this past January). I was so honored to see she was taking time for herself and felt drawn to our offering. Knowing how extensive her background is in yoga (and beyond) I couldn’t not ask her to be a guest teacher...and now the rest is history! I am so excited for what she will bring to the retreat this time around and couldn’t feel more supported to teach alongside this woman.

Sharing about “Om” in our group chanting session, ARC Retreat Center, January 2018

Sharing about “Om” in our group chanting session, ARC Retreat Center, January 2018

Crystal bowl sound bath to close the session, ARC Retreat Center, January 2018

Crystal bowl sound bath to close the session, ARC Retreat Center, January 2018

It doesn’t get much sweeter than nestling into the deep woods of Wisconsin, setting your intentions for 2019 while nourishing your mind, body, spirit and heart. Though, we tend to be a bit biased.

Stay tuned for next week’s blog about Suzanne and her Ayurvedic Self Care Practice she will offer at the retreat. Be sure to sign up soon, we are filling up fast! Like, as in, only a couple spots left.

Have a great week!


At the retreat in addition to leading the group creative practice Friday evening, Julia will share a morning yoga nidra practice on Saturday and a special sound healing practice co-taught with Kali on Sunday. Julia will also be available to offer a few private Vedic Astrology Birth Charts + Custom Mala orders. Please make sure you reach out to for booking information.

Moonbeams: Meeting Moon River's Maria Hermann

This blog is the second of a collection called, "Moonbeams: Illuminating what happens here" curated by local writer and community member, Kim Thompson and other guest writers. We hope to offer this "column" 1-2 times a month, sharing about what goes on at the studio to inspire you to come check us out for yourself. This week's post is about one of our teachers, Maria Hermann. We hope you enjoy!

Mindfulness Student Quote

Maria Hermann doesn’t just teach a yoga class. Instead, she welcomes people to gather at the sacred space of Moon River, to witness their growth in a communal experience and soak in the colorful drops of wisdom she is honored to share. Moon River, by the way, is a lovely little slice of paradise and Maria proudly extols its virtues.

When I first met Maria I felt safe with her immediately, and from there, things just got better. Her 75-minute class Mindfulness Yoga and Meditation, which is currently taught at 7 pm on Wednesday evenings, is not intended to control the outcomes of each person’s experience. Rather, nature will organically plant a rich and compelling seed, a new tool procured. She is satisfied with being one of many influences in their personal wellness.

Originally, a back injury and resulting chronic pain initiated her into “body trauma” and the much needed practice of healing. She is, therefore, sensitive to what the body needs and what actually, truly works. Yoga and meditation have become her way of life; she is a great role model for successful repair.

Maria’s class isn’t just about one’s physique; although, the body’s health is certainly a vessel worthy of attention. This is also a time for going within, gaining a deeper understanding of our personal self and what it is we are energetically carrying, the way stretching our limbs allows breath to enter, the way holding a pose builds empowerment.

What to expect

In class action shot

Maria likes to create a casual and open atmosphere. It is important to her that people feel relaxed and authentic, without regard for rigid formality. She shared that she “holds space for inner exploration, healing, and transformation in body and spirit. Arrive as you are and discover the gifts of yoga.”  There is intentional time to settle and connect before they “breathe together.” It is common to then practice a mix of Yin and Hatha yoga.

Yin encourages the slower movements and longer-held poses which apply moderate stress to the connective tissues of the body and increase circulation. This meditative approach cultivates awareness of inner silence – or the realization of a need to purge all that toxic noise and clutter! Hatha helps balance the strengths and weaknesses of the physical body to enable energy and awareness to flow freely.

Likewise, Maria infuses her knowledge of Vipassana meditation throughout the class, since it also promotes a way of “seeing”, developing clarity of mind. When one is able to allow their thoughts to flow freely, not judging them but gently releasing them, it effectively conditions a calm that helps us master the meditative experience. Maria understands and guides this possibility. There is no unrealistic need to force a blank mind. Thanks for that, Maria.  

Maria suggests her class is a time to detox from our electronics, to retreat from draining demands, to manifest what happens when we stop and allow restoration, meaning and a kindred peace.

While it sometimes requires true effort to venture out on a wintery darkened evening, one can benefit greatly from the group encounter awaiting them at Moon River.  Maria’s students embrace the nurturing energy of their peers. They learn that vulnerability brings insight and the blessings of communal support. We are people, after all, and people need people.

Now, doesn’t that sound nice?

Written by Kim Thompson 

Kim is a mother of three sons, a Stillwater High School English teacher, local columnist, and freelancer for community interests. Kim is a voracious reader and student of metaphysics and ancient tribal spirituality, gardener and foodie, a motorcyclist, and a poet. Her family has resided in Stillwater for six generations.  She is passionately invested in community relationships that promote the health of body, mind and soul. 

One week!!!

And we are just one week away from our New Studio Open House. Wow. I'm going to say it again, "Wow." 

So much gratitude and awe for this process is bubbling here. So much learning happening. Letting go and having faith and allowing. Remembering to have fun and take care of ourselves through it all. Breathing through those moments of anxiety and noticing those painful choices we make again and again when we are under stress and pressure. Being gentle in those moments and sometimes choosing a different path instead--one with less suffering.

We have no idea what to expect from here other than to know that it's out of our hands. We can set our intentions for the best and put our wishes out into the world, but now it's the community's turn to respond.  While fliers still need to be hung (doing that today) and policies and procedures still need to be written (doing that tomorrow), I know something far greater and bigger is at work here; I know that no one person could do this "thing" alone and for that I'm thankful for all the helpers--seen and unseen. 

A lot has happened in the past two weeks. Our floor was finished 2 weekends ago, just 4 days before our Ayurvedic Self Care Rituals class with Anna Wiens. The night was lovely. We had 11 women sitting in circle reconnecting to our bodies and souls. I brought some of my leftover oils home from class and shared the oil massage practice with my daughter. It is part of our bedtime routine now. Everyone had such a great time--it was just what we needed. We look forward to welcoming Anna back for another class come Winter. After being in the space, we are even more excited for the possibilities this new place holds!

The set up for Ayurvedic Self Care Rituals before we dimmed the lights on the new floors! 

The set up for Ayurvedic Self Care Rituals before we dimmed the lights on the new floors! 

Self-care is fun and is best when shared with others!

Self-care is fun and is best when shared with others!

After a wonderful night of self-care-- I packed up my bags and flew out to Seattle for a retreat that was on my calendar for months. It was my first trip away from my youngest daughter, and while I was torn about going, I am still unpacking the insight and clarity that came through from my time away. 

I recently saw a meme that said, "Solitude is a catalyst for innovation." I truly believe from my heart that this notion is true. However, for me, this solitude happens within a community context. This retreat was my 4th Circle of Trust Retreat and my first experience being a focus person of the "Circle of Trust." I was held in circle for 2 hours as I worked through my question and sat with my soul. It was not only healing but life affirming. It is my hope to bring this Courage work to our new studio, and I am starting the application process to do so, in the mean time. If I am accepted into the program, it will require some time away from the studio for the training, so I will keep you posted on where we land there.

Retreat participants of Courage for Center & Renewal's Gateway Retreat, 2017 @ Bainbridge Island, WA.

Retreat participants of Courage for Center & Renewal's Gateway Retreat, 2017 @ Bainbridge Island, WA.

Life continues outside of retreat mode, and this past Monday I returned home to a full week of work. We are getting our new business cards, punch cards and brochures designed and we are already planning a build out for a bigger storage space for props. I firmed up plans with 3 fabulous teachers we now have on the schedule for December (Yoga & Sound Immersion, Stability of Earth: First Chakra Workshop with Chanti and New Moon Tea Ceremony). I was hesistant about so many December offerings, but it is one of those months that call for a lot of extra self-care. We hope to see you at one or two or all of them! I know I plan to go to as many as I am able.

Beyond that some things to note is the schedule for the day for our Open House as well as the schedule for our classes starting November 6. Have you picked out what class you will go to first? Let us know you're coming here.


Well there is not much time to lose--as the first snow falls, the weather reminds us that winter is right around the corner. We hope that in your winter plans you consider making a visit or two with us! We are running a 20% off punch card special at our Open House and will offer some free mini class experiences and demonstrations. The demonstrations and all that will be held in the yoga space in the lower level and the refreshments will be up in Suite 300. To find out more about what we are giving away and who else will be there follow our Facebook Event in the mean time. We hope to see you next Saturday! 

Have a wonderful weekend!

~Kali, Studio Founder



What's happening at the Center?

Hello everyone! Welcome to our first blog! 

First off, thank you for all your support and words of encouragement as we expand. In just a few days of creating our Facebook invitation for our New Studio Open House over 2,100 people were reached without boosting (paying Facebook to advertise) or notifying anyone (inviting people). Your response so far has warmed my heart, and I am grateful for you. The last few weeks have been something else--lots of coordination and meetings, and yet there is a sort of effortlessness that has risen from the process as well. 

I discovered through different jobs and in life--and you may relate, too--that hard work is required for anything you are passionate about, but when things are really in alignment, there is a level of ease that comes into play--some people call it being in "flow." It has been such a joy in the past month to find flow as we ride the waves of uncertainty and see what shows up, holding steady to a vision and a mission. We are committed to co-create a place where people can deepen their inner knowing, spirituality and community relationships with the support of ongoing classes, programs, retreats and workshops focused in cultivating mindfulness and mind-body-spirit connection. In a society where people are glued to electronics, there is a call for more opportunities for genuine connection to both ourselves and to others--and we hope this studio will facilitate more opportunities for people to call in deeper relationships and meaning into their lives. 

It seems that people are on board with this mission as, in just a couple weeks I interviewed 7 yoga and meditation teachers and 5 of them are on board to start in November with me, and the other two may possibly join us for the Winter Schedule. I also started a conversation by chance with local tai chi practitioner and long-time meditation circle leader from our community about how they may be involved with bringing this place to life and look forward to whatever collaboration may form there. It truly takes a village.

As far as progress goes with the physical space--this past weekend we removed the current flooring to give ourselves a fresh start. The floor was well-loved, but we felt compelled to "break ground" in order to re-center and provide a strong base for our intentions and practice. The new floors are ordered, and we will pick them up later this week and install them over the weekend if all goes according to plan. Our family also put a trip on the books to go to Madison, Wisconsin to pick up a special altar and shelf that are being custom made with re-purposed wood by the talented hands and heart of a new friend I made at the Sisters Seekers Gathering. It takes a village.

The teachers bios and class descriptions are slowly being uploaded online so be sure to keep checking back. Also, as of last Friday, we have a working schedule you can take a look at as you plan out your weeks ahead! Of course our least favorite--or mine anyway--is the whole money deal--can this all just be FREE? (Maybe someday?) But for now, I'm getting all those details set up and organized and will hope to have some more information as to what to budget for as we open our doors for classes and how to pay for a class, etc. Patience, patience, patience--a constant practice in my life.

For those wanting to offer some extra support during this time--do yourSELF a favor and sign up for our lovely guest, Anna Wien's Ayurvedic Self Care Rituals workshop, happening Tuesday, October 17. Your mind, body and spirit WILL thank you. Plus, feel good about attending because you are supporting an individual/business/organization that is devoted to ethical practices and care for the land and the greater community.  Did you know Anna only moved to Minnesota a year and a half ago? It was then she met local herbalists in the Twin Cities who explained to her there was no established place for them to get organic herbs--they were harvesting from land laden with toxic chemicals and industrial waste. Compelled to fill a need, she quit her job that December to begin planning a new herb farm. She started planting early last April without really a clue how it would all go--and since then it's history--her work has been so well received by the community this past year she has already sold out of all her bulk supplies. Anna truly embodies the essence of the mindful entrepreneur but most important of a compassionate human being.  Simply being around her grounded energy and presence when I first met her was enough to make me want to encourage her to drive to Stillwater and bring her magic to share with our community. Since she loves offering her work with new people, it wasn't too hard to convince her to come. So, let's give her a warm welcome by attending her workshop. ALSO: an added bonus is you will get to come into the new studio early~a little sneak preview before our open house! Can't wait to see you there :)

Over and out ~