I had never been on a yoga retreat before, but the thought of the blissful serenity of being in a remote location, eating healthy foods and doing yoga twice a day was right up my alley. My friend, Jennifer, told me about one she was thinking about attending, with an instructor she had taken before, so we finally made the time and booked it for September in Ojai, California. I’m a fairly open-minded individual, but I had no idea what to expect and that was all part of the excitement. I just prayed they had wine!

I took a half-day from work Friday and headed out for the 2 hour drive from Santa Monica, blasting fun tunes and self-help CD’s to get myself in the mood. After a few twists and turns up the mountains of Ojai off the 101 Freeway, I saw the trail leading up to the yurts (round, semi-permanent tents, usually covered with some type of canvas) that house nomads like us yogis for sleep and yoga workouts. Serene and remote were definitely the way to describe this beautiful location in the Ojai mountains. 

The grass leading up to the main house was green and lush, despite a hot summer, and even the pebbled drive was delicate as I walked up the pathway to go inside. There was a screened-in porch housing comfy couches with Buddha’s and lotus plants placed perfectly throughout. As I walked further inside, I immediately hit a wide-open, hardwood floor kitchen with a beautiful island where hors d’oeuvre’s were being prepped by a chef. A long wooden table held a plethora of red wine (my prayers were answered) and friendly faces were all around. I wasn’t sure who knew who, but was ready to meet like-minded people and make new friends. 

Claudia, the massage therapist on-site, introduced herself and walked me around the grounds for a quick tour. We headed outside to an amphitheater with a fire pit, then around a bend to a steam room and outdoor showers (I took a mental note to wear my bathing suit and shower outside just in case the communal bathrooms by my sleep yurt were not as nice). Gazing left, there was a jacuzzi with two women already floating in pure bliss, introducing themselves as the yoga instructors hosting the weekend. “It’s gnat-o’clock!” said Kate, a petite and bubbly soul, as tiny insects floated above the steaming tub and glasses of chilled white wine. Laughing, Claudia and I walked off to the last step of our tour, the bathrooms.

The communal restrooms, for those of us staying in the sleep yurts, were cleaner than expected and better than what I thought we would have to use. Claudia showed me how to maneuver using the toilet with a couple of steps: open contraption, put paper down regardless of going #1 or #2, do your business, then flush with foot by stepping on a pedal at the base of the toilet. No big deal. I’ve been to camp. A port-a-pottie would be worse. Claudia left and I realize how badly I needed to go after the long drive. I tried to remember the steps… #1 open, #2 paper down, #3 pee, #4 stand up, #5 step on pedal… WHOOSH! A fiery breath spews out and engulfs my paper sack of pee, leaving a tiny cloud of smoke and the smell of a burning campfire! Holy shit! That was a surprise!

I left the bathroom laughing and walked over to my sleep yurt to unpack and write about my already crazy adventure. My new yurt-mate, Lauren, asked how the bathrooms were. “Funny you ask,” I say, “I’ve gone to the bathroom in port-a-potties, outside in the bushes, even in a lake, but this was like nothing I’ve ever experienced… there’s fire in the toilet!” Lauren jumps up and yells, “No way! I’m grabbing my camera!” as she does just that and races out the door. I like this place already.

INTENTION: Try new things. You never know what you will learn.

xo, Kaitlin

Kaitlin Delaney

Kaitlin Delaney

Kaitlin is the co-founder of Your Beautiful Story. After many jobs she feels she has finally found her passion. Check her out on Instagram @kaitdel or the YBS team @BeYoutiful_Story.


As a friend of Kaitlin and experiencing so many aspects of life with her; jobs, relationships, workouts and mimosa after mimosa, I would go almost anywhere with her.  In recent years, Kaitlin has begun to learn the importance of the soul and mind for your health and spirit. I have always looked up to her for this and continuously want to soak up any spiritual and inspirational vibes that I can learn from her. 

As Kaitlin continues to prove to me on a daily basis how important a connection with your soul is, I recently agreed to attend a health class with her at a spiritual health store in our neighborhood.  She told me she had found this store one day while walking her dog and stopped in.  The floor was so cool and they have all these weird things you know I love.  You have to see it!  When Kaitlin asked me to attend the health class with her at this store, the first thing I thought was, Free healthy food? Im in!

It was Saturday afternoon as we walked into the seemingly abandoned warehouse where we were greeted by a lady at the door handing us blue slip-covers to put on our shoes.  Time out I cant walk around the store with my own shoes? We grab a seat and begin to listen to the teacher.  She must have taught this free health class about a hundred times.  She started the class by discussing common health issues in America, how we should be treating ourselves (body and soul), and some of the health and beauty products to be incorporating into our lives. 

Shortly into the class, the teacher started to show the dynamic difference between a toxin and a nutrient.  Broccoli, nutrient. Cheeseburger, toxin.  Fair enough.  But, as the class continued, it quickly turned into a rant of the various foods that may seem healthy but are actually chemically induced with toxins or may say organic and raw, but are actually pasteurized and contaminated instead.  I began to question every superfood Ive been advised to eat, every raw almond Ive consumed, and the toxins that are crawling in my bed right now because I didnt use my own homemade laundry detergent.  Is it time for that free kale quinoa sun-dried tomato sample to be passed out yet?  What do you mean my almonds are only acceptable if theyre sprouted and all organic health food stores I shop at are not good enough? Can I take off these weird cloth wraps from my feet yet?  Why would Kaitlin bring me here and where are we? Where am I, heaven?

Three hours into the class, I wasnt sure if I was enlightened or just angry that everything I thought I had been taught about nutrition, superfoods, health and the right products to use had gone down the drain.  I felt like I needed to figure out a way to grow my own garden (on the balcony of my apartment since I dont have a yard) and spend hours at home creating my own shampoo, conditioner, soap and laundry detergent.  I glanced at Kaitlin and immediately saw the fear in her eyes as well.  She was on my page too, thank god.  

As the class finished up and our classmates and I cringed in fear that the shirt on our backs were filled with toxins because we leaned back on that public bench we sat on this morning, I started to think about how this class could benefit me rather than just scare me straight. 

Everything in life should occur in balance.  Is it okay to splurge on a new pair of shoes because you just cant live without them? Absolutely.   Can we have French fries if we want to?  Sure.   Does this mean we can always order that extra appetizer of cheese fries and consistently head to the department store when each Spring collection reaches the shelves? Not necessarily.

As Kaitlin and I left the class and walked home, we were silent, digesting everything we had just been overwhelmed with.  Once we were able to muster up a few words, I realized the underlying importance of why we were supposed to attend that class.  This taught me to think more about the types of toxins I may not even realize I use on a daily basis and look further into picking the right type of products within reason.  Maybe I shouldnt just buy the product that is dirt cheap because I want to spend my money on an extra glass of wine at dinner but rather keep a happy medium and educate myself on what is actually in the products I use. 

Taking the time to read the ingredients of products and knowing the types of things you are using is very important.   I knew there was a reason that lady was put into our lives: to teach us what works best for her, how important she feels about these issues and I appreciate learning her perspective.  I may not be able to follow exactly what she taught, but I am now more aware and merely think further about what Im using on a daily basis.  Thank you for dragging me in Kaitlin.  Now lets just not mention to the teacher about the burger and fries we had for dinner that night. 

INTENTION: Life is all about balance. 

xo, Stacey

On a typical weekend, you'll find Stacey playing on the beach, laughing with friends or jogging the strand of her Southern California neighborhood.  As a co-founder of Your Beautiful story, Stacey loves to appreciate all the beautiful things in life, mimosas included.  Follow her adventures with @staceylthomas or her passion to inspire the world with @beYOUtiful_story on Instagram.