The Beautiful Healing Power of Nature

A Yogic Lifestyle Off the Grid

As a culture and as individuals we may feel separate from nature. Even like we are existing against one another when storms, droughts, and natural disasters strike. In fact the cyclic patterns of human beings very much reflects the cyclic patterns of the nature we are part of.

After growing up in a suburb of Boston, I promptly moved to the city at 18 to attend nursing school. I embraced the city life hustle and the intensity of working as a pediatric critical care nurse. Off-setting that high energy, I connected back inwards through the waves of life through Yoga in studios throughout Boston and later San Francisco. I noticed during these years that barefoot walks on the beach would leave me feeling similarly grounded and relaxed.

Nature has always called me, as I think it does all humans. It’s just a matter of answering the call to notice that. We may feel the integration with nature when we’re walking barefoot on the earth, watching the rain fall on the leaves, or smelling a flower.

In 2015 I experienced burnout despite my best efforts to off-set it. I continued to find solace on my Yoga mat, but sought more of a lifestyle change. Not knowing what that change was, I quit my job and traveled Central and South America, and from there my life took quite the unexpected turn.

I met someone longing for change as well. We fell in love, and ended up moving to Portugal at the beginning of 2017 to embark on the journey of building what is now Cara Creek Eco Lodge. It has been challenging but fulfilling to build from scratch an off grid and sustainable retreat centre in the foothills of the Serra da Estrela mountain range of Central Portugal.

Finding a connection through nature all of a sudden had a new meaning when we moved into a tent on our river front property with no facilities.

We experienced the beauty of nature like the morning fog that settles on the valley, the warm sunshine after a cool night, the birdsong of the morning, and so much more. We experienced the intensity of nature too like flooding, fires, extreme heat, cold, rain, drought.

Truth is, it stripped me down to the basic bones. It taught me a lot about my essence. It helped me unite myself as a part of nature. Yoga means union. And this was a new level of it that I had not experienced on my mat.

Living so integrated with the elements has allowed me to embrace the cyclical elements within myself. The ride of emotions, thoughts, physical sensations, and breath both on and off my yoga mat.

We now live in a rustic little house and offer comfortable yet close-to-nature accommodations for our guests. We love to share the space at Cara Creek Eco Lodge with retreat participants and those who register for Off Grid Yoga School’s 21 Day 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training. Those who come have the opportunity to unplug, practice yoga in nature and truly embrace the elements and the cycle of being part of nature.

I genuinely hope that after reading these words, you’ll consider a barefoot walk outdoors, a slow mindful walk in the park, a moment to realize that you are an integral and amazing part of nature and this awe-inspiring universe. All we need to do is take the moment to notice.

Who is Ashley?

Ashley is yoga teacher and director of the Off Grid Yoga School in Portugal. 


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Reviews of students

Georgiana November 1st, 2022

I met Julia at a retreat and she is an amazing teacher and a really lovely human. I loved how she didn't rush through the process and we really went back to basics, while at the same time learning a wide variety of things about yoga, from how to do a certain asana to yogic wisdom. It was obvious that Julia knows a lot and she is also really good at sharing it with others. She redefined in my mind what a good yoga teacher is.

Eve January 22nd, 2020

Julia is one of the most precious yoga teacher I’ve ever had! I would recommend all her practices with a special mention for her yoga nidra. I got so relaxed and so deeply calmed down by her voice during each session, she helped me letting it go towards either a tight sleep or for restful nap. Very powerful experience and human being. thank you Warrior Princess!

Agnieszka January 21st, 2020

I have had the most relaxing beautiful experience in the yoga Nidra class. Thank you so much 🙏. You are so knowledgeable and your voice so soothing

Sarah February 14th, 2020

Julia ably and effortlessly led a vinyasa class with clear instruction and really helpful assists. She spoke about philosophy just the right amount, there was still plenty of space and quiet to really get into the practice. Thank you Julia!! I loved it

Majbritt May 3rd, 2020

The best yoga in Copenhagen. They are very skilled at Hatha yoga, Yin, and yoga nidra. Julia has a good personality, an she is one of my favorite instructor.

Kim April 1st, 2020

Julia is an amazing teacher. I have had three classes with her so far and she already improved my asanas a lot. I appreciate her hands on experience and eye for detail. Thank you Julia. Big hug! (by the way: her guided meditations are the best!)