Finding Freedom in the Forest
I originally wrote this post on another platform and decided to house it here instead. It was written just as I came back from this trip on the Fall Equinox of last year. I thought it timely to share given that our upcoming yoga retreat will be spent at this incredible retreat space, on the Fall Equinox of this year.
The overgrown toenails and chipped polish were a clear indication of how bad I needed this trip. I put my tea kettle on to make my morning cup of green tea and searched the Costco website for a rental car while it heated up. bingo. Just $65 from Friday through Monday — I booked it without a second guess.
As I walked over to prepare my tea, pulling out my Hawaiian honey for a touch of sweetness, the conversation I had with a friend the night before lingered in my mind. Nevada City... I sat back down at my laptop and opened a new tab to Airbnb. I typed in “Nevada City” and started searching places. No, no, too small, not sure, ohhhh shit. I landed on this magical place at $129/night. I immediately booked it.
It had nothing but 5 star reviews and the most amazing amenities. all of which I couldn’t stop thinking about for the next 24 hrs before I left. In my mind I kept thinking about the moment I would be sitting in this outdoor clawfoot bathtub. In just skin. surrounded by the forest. Feeling free that there was no need to be anything to anyone.
N O R T H E R N H O S P I T A L I T Y
The moment I arrived I was greeted by a young woman named Gabrielle. She kindly welcomed me and let me know she was on her way out. “Just walk down to your right and follow the steps down, you’ll see a spiral staircase that will take you up to the studio. To get to the deck you just keep walking down, pass the fruit and veggies garden and the ganja garden. Pick as many apples and figs as you want. If you need anything just call or text me.” I felt that wave of laid back northern hospitality flow through me and took it all in…
I grabbed my bags and took a deep breath of gratitude as she walked away. Everything in my soul felt so light and good. I was happy. I followed her instructions and walked up the narrow spiral staircase that had a lovely little balcony overlooking the grounds with a table and two chairs. “Perfect,” I thought to myself. I can sip my tea here later.
The studio apartment invited feelings of serenity and ease. I put my bags down, realizing in that moment that I had overpacked. This place embodied simplicity and gave me permission to let go.
Realizing I was tired, I took the time to rest. I laid down and took a nap. by the time I woke up it was close to sunset. I decided I would make some tea, sit down on the balcony and just breathe. Later that night I would sit in the mineral hot tub and gaze at the stars. I sighed... “Thank you God, this is just what i needed.”
S A L T B A T H F O R T H E S O U L
Weeks ago I had my yoga crew over at the house. we talked about the things we’d been working on and the upcoming projects we had. We checked in, celebrated wins with each other, laughed and nodded in agreement as we listened and resonated with the words spoken.
I was just coming off a trip I took to Spain a couple of weeks prior and wanted to show some love for all the support they’d been giving me. So I whipped out some french lavender and herbs de provence (imported in my suitcase). Epsom salts came out and my wide array of essential oils made their appearance too.
I gave each of them a glass jar I had purchased for them to make some healing bath salts. I opened a bottle of wine, turned on some cool jams and we sat around my kitchen nook, smiling, smelling oils and enjoying each others company.
I kept me jar knowing I would use it at a special time although I wasn’t sure when that time would come. When I packed my bags for my trip, I swiftly grabbed up my jar of salts, complete with french lavender, herbs de provence, jasmin, cedarwood and lemon essential oils.
F E E L I N G S O F F R E E D O M
The description of the deck in the Airbnb listing said “clothing optional.” I was thrilled about this and couldn’t wait to take advantage of the opportunity to really be in a pure state. No clothing to decorate me and no shame of being naked. It was incredibly freeing.
There was a couple in a cozy attic unit just above the sauna that overlooked the whole deck. i could hear the faint sounds of them laughing and talking. I wondered if they could see me and if the girlfriend felt uneasy about my very naked and unapologetic presence.
It felt incredibly powerful to take up that space in such an unconventional way. A way that not everyone accepts or agrees with. I sat there, enjoying that scorching hot bath in the wild, feeling free and wild myself.
I made no attempts to rush or to accommodate anyone else. When i got out and started draining the bath, I wrapped a towel around myself and heard the footsteps of them coming down the narrow wooden ladder back to the deck. I knew they had been giving me space to enjoy and i silently appreciated it.
I scrubbed the bathtub, tossed the lavender that got stuck in the drain and walked over to the outdoor shower. I washed my hair and stood under the rainfall shower head, looking at the trees and trying my best to hold on to the memory so i could return to it later.
C L E A N S E D & P U R I F I E D
After coming up from my bath and returning to my studio, I sat outside and drank some water. A very laid back dude working on a new bathroom asked me, “Did anyone tell you how to get to the river?” “No,” I said. He took the time to explain the exact directions to arrive, it was only 10 minutes away.
“It’ll feel longer your first time, well, depending on how fast you drive.” I quickly grabbed my towel, water and sunglasses, hopped in the car and headed out. It was about 2 hours before checkout time. It was perfect. the windy road did feel a bit long as he said, but i tried to take each curve with grace and slow down to enjoy the journey.
When I saw an old wooden bridge and some cars parked on the side, I knew I had arrived. I grabbed my things and made my way down some nice sized rocks, using my hands to anchor me as I scaled barefooted to walk down to the river.
A young man was naked on the other side but was finishing up his swim. by the time I got down there he was gone and I had all that beauty to myself.
When i arrived at the water I took a look around. seeing that the coast was clear I followed the trend of being naked and stripped down to my bathing suit bottoms. didn’t have quite that much courage.
I was in awe of the beauty of this nook. I looked to my left + my right and felt completely protected by the forest that surrounded me. free by the water that was running and vibrant from the sun that was shining.
It took me awhile before I finally got in. The crystal clear (and cold) water revealed some good sized fish I was a little freaked out to swim with. I waved my feet in the water to create ripples and watched to see if they would disperse. they did, but then a thought ball came to me and said, “This is their home, why would they leave?”
“Fuck it,” I decided. I inched myself in and took a quick plunge rather than a swim. I still wasn’t fully convinced about the fish. I sat down on a warm rock and let the sun kiss me. I was having such an intimate moment with nature and felt so incredibly nurtured, purified and supported.
I also felt beautiful. My skin browning in the sun, my hair drying in the wind and this cool water that calmed my temperature and made me feel free as fuck. I sat there until I felt my experience was complete. I started gathering my things and just as i put my shirt back on a mother and child walked down on the opposite bank. Perfect timing, yet again.
I got back to my room with 30 minutes left to check out. I used the bathroom, drank some water and gathered my things. Before I walked away I stopped and took in the views one last time. I was desperately trying to hold on to what I had experienced there. All that I had received and somewhere in my mind figuring out how I could keep it all as i made my way back to the city.
I took a deep breath, thanked Ezra (who sent me to the river) and waked back up to the car. I was so sad to be leaving and yet felt that something in my mind had changed. I felt that in that time I had experienced a transformation.
When I looked at my phone and saw the date, I realized it was the Fall Equinox, September 22nd. Everything had been so perfectly and divinely timed for me, I thought.
If you’d like to join us at the Afro Yoga Fall Equinox Yoga Retreat, we would be honored to have you. We will be staying in this majestic, healing place tucked away in the forest and near the pristine waters of the South Yuba River. We look forward to having you.
Namaste ya’ll — Angie