Where we’re at: I’m recapping my travels in 2020, including this Wander Women Cabarete Retreat in the Dominican Republic in January. Interested in aerials? I’ve got two exciting announcements! (1) We still have space in or High Flying Tel Aviv Retreat in Israel this June! (2) Good Karma’s next Aerial Yoga Teacher Training is coming up this February, and you can use the discount code TEACHERSARE100 to get $100 off the training. Or consider joining me for a restorative aerial yoga training that’s coming up soon as well!
When I started running Wander Women Retreats and thinking about the feedback I would get, I thought everyone would love the beautiful healthy meals, the creatively sequenced yoga classes, the unique and sublime settings, and on-brand activities.
What I didn’t anticipate? Some of the most consistent feedback we get is something I can claim no direct credit for: our guests love getting to know the other women on the trip. And I can see why — I don’t know how I got so lucky, but we attract an incredible crew.
As I sat down for breakfast with them on the third morning of our trip, I was overwhelmed with gratitude that once again, we’d landed such a great bunch — some Wander Women veterans who have been on multiple trips, some siblings and friends of past cherished Wander Women, some brand new to the family, even one who’d gotten her passport to come on this very trip.
If you missed my first recap, catch up on it here. We started off that morning with our first split lyra and silks workshop. Breaking everyone into two groups based on experience level, half the group started working with the aerial lyra, or hoop, and the other half were introduced to silks (the next day, they’d swap.)
Since I can only assist in aerial classes, I also brought on my friend and lyra teacher Sarah, who I’d worked with in private sessions in Martha’s Vineyard and who was conveniently spending the winter in Cabarete. With my friend Emma, who I know from Koh Tao and who was also in the area to train in trapeze, taking photos for the retreat, it was truly a fantastic team.
It was in breaking into these smaller groups that I felt like everyone really began to shine. I loved seeing the girls coach each other through various new moves, and start to develop preferences for various apparatuses.
What drew me to the aerial arts in the first place is the light-hearted curiosity you have to bring to each class. So rarely as adults do we simply… play! And in this case you build strength and feel uniquely magical while doing so. What a gift.
Emma and I hopped between the groups, assisting and photographing, while Jess and Sarah helped everyone achieve incredible feats in what was the very first time on a lyra or silk for many.
I have to admit that part of the reason this recap is broken down into three parts was I just could not narrow down the photos. But sorry not sorry — they fill me with so much pride and joy to look back on. The smiles! The poses! The friendship and camaraderie!
And after we wrapped and the girls headed back to their rooms to get rest and get ready for the next adventure of the day, we couldn’t help but hop on and have a little play session of our own!
Watching Jess and Sarah flow together was next-level inspiring. This is why I train!
It’s quite rare that we do something on a retreat that I haven’t tried and tested for myself. Actually, the control freak that I am, it gives me anxiety to do so! But every so often, something comes up in planning that just sounds like such a perfect fit I can’t resist, despite having logistically not been able to try it out first.
Our tour of Taino Organic Farm fell into that category. The partner farm of our retreat center, I loved that they supplied the majority of the produce we were eating each day at breakfast and dinner, and the values they extolled and shared with our accommodation.
This was our most aggressively green trip we’ve ever run, and this afternoon encompassed all of it: a tour of the amazingly innovative hydroponics-based farm, followed by a fresh organic lunch, followed by tubing down a remote river after polishing off freshly cracked coconuts with a few cheeky pours of local rum inside, Dominican style.
Another retreat leader I know who runs trips in this area had warned me that her group hadn’t really vibed with the tour, which gave me some hesitation. However, it just sounded so good! I’m glad I went with my gut because our group loved walking the farm grounds and learning about their cutting edge water management systems, vermiculture, aquaculture, and all kinds of other -cultures I didn’t even know existed.
And dang, was the food good. I’d till the fields myself for the opportunity to have more of that banana bread, dang.
The girls were a little suspicious as post-lunch, we paraded through a rural neighborhood with inner tubes, local guys from the neighborhood showing us the way. But once we reached the Yasica River, with its peaceful nature soundtrack and stunning scenery, all was right in the world. We shrieked with joy through the tiny rapids and laughed while our local guides splashed around and showed off, bottle of rum tucked safely in their waistbands for emergency swigs.
The weather had started to take a major turn that day and I so appreciated that the girls cheered when the sun was shining and laughed when the rain was pouring. January is meant to be very reliable for weather in this part of the Dominican Republic, part of the reason I had chosen it for the trip. But, Mother Nature has a mind of her own.
It’s one of my favorite memories from the trip — and I can’t wait to do it again someday.
You know what I said about this being an easygoing crew? Well, that was about to get tested. On the way back to the retreat center, I was surprised when no one on the staff was replying to my messages letting them know we were incoming and inquiring if the aerial space was set up for our restorative class that evening.
When we arrived, I saw why. I couldn’t seem at first to make my brain accept what my eyes were seeing — the roof had blown off the aerial space entirely. The rain we’d danced in up at the river translated to wild winds down at the beach. Wild enough to take a roof off.
Quickly and calmly pivoting — lol, it was more like a scramble — we arranged for a bachata and merengue teacher, Nina from Alma Libre Dance School, to come to the yoga treehouse after dinner and run a private class for us instead. It was hilarious, and she was not shy about singling me out and telling me not to drop her name on the dance floor ’cause she did not want her good name tarnished by my terrible dancing. What can I say? I’m a natural. And sometimes, Plan B is beautiful — Nina was hilarious and so much fun, and what could be better than learning bachata and merengue in their motherland?
After, Emma let us in on the secret that there was a Full Moon Party going on down the street at Kite Club, and who could resist that? So a few of us slapped on glitter and took our new moves down to the beach, where I absolutely under no circumstances credited Nina with any of my grooves.
The next morning, while the girls enjoyed another farm-fresh breakfast — and for some, a healthy heaping of coffee to erase the previous night’s adventures! — Jess and I had been down in the aerial loft since dawn, trying to get it ready to get back on our schedule.
Unfortunately, things had worsened overnight — the emergency roofing material hadn’t been completely finished by sunset, and overnight, rain had collected in the tarps that were thrown over. While we were on our hands and knees desperately scrubbing moisture away, Emma came to survey the situation and looked up to realize one of the tarps was full of water and starting to dangerously sag.
The timing was uncanny. The moment we looked up, we grabbed everything and ran — and seconds later a tsunami-like wave of overnight rain collection had flooded the space once again.
Plan B — beach day!
We’d actually been slated to head over to Encuentro Beach, where the girls could opt for either taking surf lessons or being surf bums, that afternoon. But due to winds, they’d actually closed the entire beach — it consists of little more than a few shacks, so when those are closed, there’s nada reason to go.
But our glass-half-full crew was more than happy to walk down to Cabarete Beach and make the best of a breezy morning of beach chairs, umbrella drinks, and rest.
And wow, I have never seen a metaphorical glass fuller than the one I cheers-ed with upon returning to our retreat center and seeing it all set up for an afternoon class!
After a group warm up and meditation, the teams swapped off and got to try their hand — or, whole body rather — at the apparatus they hadn’t tried before.
This was a blast — having now tried hammock, silks, and lyra, the girls could really start to identify what apparatus made them soar. I loved seeing who gravitated towards what!
Part of what I love about aerials is simply how empowering it is. So often women are bombarded with these messages of fitness as a punishment — work off what you ate, suffer at the gym, ugh, yuck — but here is a way to celebrate creativity, movement, and community all while doing something good for your mind, body and soul.
And we really saw the community aspect come to life before our eyes this sweet and silly afternoon. The girls decided, impromptu, to have a little “aerial battle” — really, it was just a cheer-filled performance where we blasted music and each group sent up whoever to show off their favorite new moves.
It was SO fun. Sometimes, the best moments can’t be planned. They just happen.
I could not have been prouder.
That night, we finally did get that sublime restorative aerial class taught by Jess. This is one of her passions as a teacher — and I’m beyond excited to be taking her teacher training in it this March. (Hit us up if you’re interested in joining!) It combines principles used in physical therapy with movements from a restorative yoga class to totally reset the body. With the stars out above and the sound of the ocean in the background, I can’t think of a more peaceful setting for it.
In that moment, these chicas had earned it.
I’ve got one final retreat recap coming your way — thanks for joining on this joyful trip down memory lane.
Up next: our final aerial adventures, including a palm tree photoshoot!