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.