• Laurel Contributor

Have Yoga Mat, Will Travel

by Mary Abranyi

Mary Abranyi is a Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices and the owner of Cashiers Valley Fusion, a yoga studio and boutique offering a variety of yoga, meditation and Qigong classes, massage services, essential oils, workshops and retreats. Her vision is to provide resources and integrative tools aiding in the support, growth and vitality of our clients and the surrounding community.

In the winter of 2016, I hosted a Women’s Wellness Weekend at my studio and invited several other teachers to help facilitate various classes over the course of the weekend.

One of those teachers was long-time friend Ashby Underwood-Garner, the owner of Yoga Highlands. We quickly realized how much we enjoyed working together and thought of the value we could bring to our local communities through more collaboration.

Having much in common besides just yoga, Ashby and I decided to bring our passions together. We both found great joy in creating community, being in nature and traveling and knew that we were not alone in that bond. It wasn’t long before we knew it was time to take our teaching beyond our local mountain studios and into the world so we began crafting our first retreat to Costa Rica for the winter of 2017.

We offered a variety of yoga/meditation classes and adventures like hiking, kayaking, horseback riding, and surfing. The food was fabulous and we were welcomed with open arms. The highlight for both of us, though, was the bond that was created between those in attendance. There were many heartfelt moments, even some tears and there certainly was no shortage of laughter. In fact, the hotel owner said that she had never had a group visit that laughed so much.

The overall vibe was infectious and we wanted to create that experience over and over again, but soon realized that no two retreats would be the same and we couldn’t be more thrilled by that.

In the winter of 2018 we ventured to Panama and explored the Panama Canal, snorkeled, sailed by catamaran, toured a chocolate farm and, of course, provided daily yoga/meditation sessions. Although the trip itself was different, what remained the same was the camaraderie and laughter.

We knew we were on to something and planned the 2019 winter retreat to Mexico next. The food was superb and, in addition to daily yoga/mediation classes, we ventured by land to visit several nearby towns, then by boat for a whale watching tour that left everyone with feelings of awe for these amazing creatures. There were tears, an abundance of laughter, new friendships made, and old friendships strengthened.

Each of these experiences has exemplified what it means to practice yoga on and off the mat, embracing the elements of discovery and patience, facing fears and finding strength, and creating a stronger relationship with self and others.

Whether it’s a personal journey within or out into the world, there is a lot of magic waiting to be found. Contact Mary at (828) 743-9000 or Ashby at (828) 526-8880 for information on upcoming retreats!

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