There & Back Again: A yoga retreat to Middle Earth

October 25-28, 2018

McGrath, Minnesota

Join the creators of Body Positive Yoga and YogaQuest for a magical, 4-day, 3-night yoga retreat. Using the engaging narratives of J.R.R. Tolkien, this retreat will allow you to escape into fantasy while simultaneously embodying your own life and body even more fully.

There & Back Again: A yoga retreat to Middle Earth
Shire in the Woods, McGrath, Minnesota

Summer Camp

Remember what bilbo baggins used to say…

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

It can also feel dangerous to step into your own body and your own story, so why go alone? Join our fellowship!

Just like those brave hobbits, we will be going on an adventure, reflecting on our own stories, and rewriting old narratives that no longer serve us.

Using the engaging narratives of J.R.R. Tolkien (specifically The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings Trilogy), this retreat will allow you to escape into fantasy while simultaneously embodying your own life and body even more fully.

Join Amber Karnes (creator of Body Positive Yoga) and Justine Mastin (creator of YogaQuest) for this magical weekend unlike any other.

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

What to expect

Fun, unique, body-affirming yoga classes
Relaxing with a good book in front of a fireplace
Taking a stroll in the beautiful woods
Time for writing, journaling, sketching, or crafting
Transformative workshops to help you reframe thoughts & tell a new story
Plenty of nature time, hanging out with the Shire’s animal friends
Cozy indoor spaces when you need refuge
Laughter, geekery, and new friends
Nourishing, delicious meals
Judgment-free, low-pressure hangouts with likeminded folks
Plenty of Tolkien puns, plus nightly viewing of the Lord of the Rings trilogy

This retreat is for you if…

You aren’t sure if this whole yoga thing is for you, but you’re curious
You are ready to let go of stories about yourself and your history that no longer serve you
You’re looking for a supportive fellowship on this journey
You’re a geek who wants to hang out with other geeks for a magical weekend
You want to feel better in your body in a judgment-free space
You want time away from the hectic pace of life to rejuvenate in the woods

You want to bring whimsy into your life

You believe in the power of stories to heal

You’ve felt like an outsider in traditional wellness environments
You’re a Tolkien geek (duh.)

What they’re saying…

There aren’t words for how much I love YogaQuest, they have developed a fantastic community, provide deeply satisfying (and interesting!) yoga, and I always leave feeling better than when I arrived, inside & out.”

– Rose, YogaQuest student

“YogaQuest Mpls is the most inclusive, non-judgmental, and accepting yoga studio at which I have ever practiced. I am so grateful for my experience there.”

– Carrie, YogaQuest student

Our Schedule

Thursday, October 25

2:00pm
Charter Bus Departs Minneapolis-St. Paul airport

4:00pm
Get settled

5:30pm
Dinner

6:30pm
Meditation, opening circle & introductions

8:00pm
Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (extended edition movie viewing in Bag End)

Friday, October 26

8:30am
Breakfast

9:30am
Meditation and Assessing current narratives
What are the narratives you accept to be true in your life?
Have you inquired whether or not they serve you?

11:00am
Body Positive Yoga Practice with Amber

12:00pm
Lunch

1:00pm
Shifting narratives
How to change negative stories or thought spirals

2:30pm
Free Time at the Shire

5:30pm
YogaQuest Yoga class with Justine

6:30pm
Dinner

8:00pm
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (extended edition film viewing in Bag End)

Saturday, October 27

8:30am
Breakfast

9:30am
Meditation and rewriting narratives
Putting the skills of self-compassion into practice

11:00am
Body Positive Yoga Practice with Amber

12:00pm
Lunch

1:00pm
Integrating new narratives
Practical steps to integrate new narratives into your life
Plus troubleshooting and Q&A

2:30pm
Free Time at the Shire

5:30pm
YogaQuest Yoga class with Justine

6:30pm
Dinner

8:00pm
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (extended edition film viewing in Bag End)

Sunday, October 28

8:30am
Gentle morning yoga practice

9:15am
Breakfast

10:15am
Closing circle & goodbyes

12:30pm
Bus departs for Minneapolis

What they’re saying…

“I was pretty skeptical about what to expect, despite having signed up on a last minute whim. I deal with social anxiety and struggle to step out of my comfort zone when it comes to meeting new people. This was a great opportunity to challenge my own insecurities and do so in a supportive environment with other women who face the same internal conflicts.”

“Being in a community of intelligent, authentic and like minded, yet diverse women is exceptionally empowering. To know there are others out there that you can identify with, learn from, and share community with is so impactful and can be carried with you in everyday life wherever you go.”

Our location: Shire in the woods

At Shire in the Woods, the natural surroundings will nourish and rejuvenate your soul! Located 18 miles east of northern Mille Lacs Lake, Minnesota, our retreat center is tucked away at the heart of the Solana State Forest and have the Soo Line South Trail running right alongside us.

Relax with a good book in front of a fireplace or take a stroll in the beautiful woods. In addition to our wonderful cabin spaces for lodging, we’ve got a community space for yoga practice, a library, screened-in gazebo, wood burning sauna, 5 miles of groomed trails, a rose garden, a labyrinth, a beaver pond, a frog and turtle pond, tree swings and hammock, outdoor fire pits, and indoor fireplaces

Enjoy access to the Soo Line Trail, many miles of trails in the Solana State Forest, and much more including our horses, a miniature donkey, and a miniature horse. As a guest, you can experience their antics and social systems, pet them, and with prior arrangements have guided interactions or feed them treats.

Accommodations

All lodging is first come first served, so register early to ensure your preferred space! You’ll select your preferred cabin or bed type when you register. If the lodging is shown below, it’s available.

Shared Cabins

The Prancing POny

 9 single beds, 2 full beds, 1 queen futon
$795 per bed (bed choice is first-come, first-served)

The Prancing Pony is a unique place surrounded by decks and porches. It is built into a hill with the east and north sides facing into the forest and the other sides facing into an open southerly view.

The main floor is vaulted and has a large, open kitchen with a full-size gas stove with oven, full refrigerator/freezer, coffee pot, crock pot, toaster oven, coffee grinder, and all the necessary utensils, pots and pans, and dinnerware. We’ll be eating our meals here, or you can take your meals outside during a beautiful Shire day or night. The north-facing deck is accessible through the kitchen which allows convenient access to the grill. There are views out into the woods and Shire lawns.

Gondor

4 single beds, 1 full bed, 1 queen bed
$795
 per bed (bed choice is first-come, first-served)

Gondor is nestled away in the forest and has lots of space in its dual level design. On the lower level, there is a large living/dining room with two rocking chairs next to a wood burning fireplace. Next to a large picture window which looks out into the forest is a full-sized bed. On the east side of Gondor, you enter through a side door into a full length screened in porch which faces out into the forest. The kitchen has a two-burner cooktop, two small refrigerators (one with a freezer), a microwave, crock pot, coffee maker, a large toaster oven, and all the necessary kitchen utensils and dinnerware. Also on the lower level is a bathroom with a shower.

The upper level has a smaller living room with a queen-sized bed isolated with a privacy screen on the south side. There is a sink with a large vanity mirror on the east side. Two additional bedrooms each have two single beds and a spectacular view out into the forest. A bathroom with a shower is located on this level too.

A CD/cassette player, outdoor fire pit, picnic table, table fans as well as ceiling fans, air conditioning, Wi-Fi, additional oil filled space heater, off peak electric storage heater, base board heaters, and a larger outdoor grill are also available.

Bag End

4 single beds on upper level; our yoga space is on the lower level
$795
 per bed (bed choice is first-come, first-served)

Bag End is one of our most unique structures. The grand space can be fully experienced once you enter the large vaulted main room. This room is our yoga space, and we’ll be watching the Lord of the Rings movies here each night as well on the 120″ projection screen.

The exterior of Bag End is surrounded by a wraparound deck with south and north facing seating areas which can be accessed from large, sliding, glass doors from the main room or from a side door off of the kitchen. These areas are perfect for grilling or setting up tables and chairs for outdoor dining.

Private Cabins

Crickhollow // 1 king day bed

share with a friend, $995 each
have it all to yourself, 
$1195

Crickhollow has a single level, one-room design which is very open and expansive in its design. It overlooks the meadows of the Shire main grounds. You enter Crickhollow through the screened-in porch and then into the kitchen. Off to the left are two rocking chairs with foot stools in front of the free standing wood burning fireplace. Ahead sits the dining table in front of the large, south-facing, viewing windows. It is a very cozy and warm atmosphere especially in the colder months. Against the west wall lies a king-size daybed. Also on the first floor is a bathroom with a shower. The Kitchen has a small refrigerator with a freezer, two-burner cook top, microwave, coffee pot, crock pot, toaster oven, and a stool with a small dining area. A CD player, air conditioner, floor/table fans as well as ceiling fans, off peak electric storage heater, Wi-Fi, and an outdoor grill are also available. 

Rivendell // 1 queen bed

share with a friend, $995 each
have it all to yourself, 
$1195

Rivendell cabin is tucked away in the woods. It is the most isolated, private dwelling. It has a comfortable and cozy queen-size bed.

It has a screened-in porch off of the front entryway. The one level, one-room design features a dining space with large, corner viewing windows that face out into the forest. There is a bathroom with a shower directly off of the bedroom area. A freestanding fireplace is located in one corner in front of the couch. The kitchen has a small refrigerator with a freezer, a two-burner cooktop, a microwave, a coffee pot, crock pot, a large toaster oven, and all the necessary kitchen utensils and dinnerware. A CD player, air conditioner, floor/table fans as well as ceiling fans, additional oil filled heater, off peak electric storage heater, an outdoor grill, Wi-Fi, and an outdoor fire pit are also available.

Lothlorien // 2 single beds

share with a friend, $995 each
have it all to yourself, 
$1195

Lothlorien is set amongst a circle of trees next to the entrance to the Blueberry Trail. It receives some welcome southern sunshine in the winter through the big living room/dining room windows.

You enter Lothlorien through a wraparound screened-in porch and then into the kitchen. Off to the left are two rocking chairs with foot stools in front of the free standing wood burning fireplace. Ahead sits the dining table in front of the large, south-facing, viewing windows. Also on the first floor is a ½ bath. You ascend up the spiral staircase to the loft where two single beds reside. The Kitchen has a small refrigerator with a freezer, a two-burner cook top, microwave, coffee pot, crock pot, and a toaster oven. A CD player, air conditioner, floor/table fans as well as ceiling fans, Wi-Fi, and an outdoor grill are also available. Outside by a large tree, there is a firepit and a tree swing.

What they’re saying

I’d recommend this retreat to a friend because it was such a nourishing experience – I felt my body and soul get stronger, I felt my intentions take a more meaningful shape, I felt refueled. Plus, all the lovely people there are so supportive and made me feel like I had found a new community. Rose

I felt like my world opened up and I was not limited by my body. I learned to make my body work for me and it was liberating. I also made lasting friendships and shared a lot of laughs! Megan

Meet Amber

Amber Karnes is the creator of Body Positive Yoga. She’s a ruckus-maker, figure-it-out-yourself-er, pretty decent cook, knitter, and total Tolkien geek.

Amber says… “Yoga has been an integral part of my decade-long journey toward self-acceptance and body positivity – making peace with my body and helping others to do the same. I believe that through joyful movement and self-care, we can learn radical self-acceptance and positively experience our bodies, no matter our shape, size, age, or ability.

“In my yoga teaching, I emphasize safe alignment and mindful transitions, and help you give yourself permission to honor the body you bring to the mat today, while also being empowered to learn about the body’s intelligence and power. I infuse my classes, workshops, and retreats with the foundational principles of inclusivity, agency, consent, body positivity, and self-acceptance.

“I’ve been leading sold out, body-positive retreats all over the country and have been amazed and so grateful to see the transformations that take place when folks feel empowered in their bodies and confident in their minds and hearts.”

Meet Justine

Justine Mastin (aka JustiniYogini) is the creator and fearless leader of YogaQuest, a yoga business that blends narratives with yoga for a truly unique and engaging experience. Narratives are profoundly meaningful to Justine and she uses a predominantly narrative therapy approach in her work as the owner/founder of Blue Box Counseling, a private practice in Minneapolis. Justine is passionate about working with underserved populations, and specializes in working with clients who self-identify as being outside the mainstream – such as those in the geek, secular, and LGBTQIA communities.

In addition to her work in the office/studio, Justine appears at pop culture conventions around the country where she teaches yoga and speaks on geek wellness topics. Justine has most notably appeared at New York Comic Con, Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo and Emerald City Comic Con.

In her copious free time, Justine also enjoys writing. She has contributed chapters to Supernatural Psychology: Roads Less Traveled and the upcoming book Daredevil Psychology: The Devil You Know in the Popular Culture Psychology Series. She also contributed to the upcoming book The Psychology of Zelda. Justine takes a holistic approach to healing: mind, body, and fandom.

REGISTER NOW!

Space is limited and we anticipate a sold-out retreat!

PRICING
$795: any bed in our shared lodges
or book a private cabin: share with a friend, $995 each or have it all to yourself, $1195

Prices include round trip transportation to the retreat center (private bus from Minneapolis-St. Paul International airport), lodging, meals, and all activities. We’ll reserve your spot with a non-refundable deposit of $350.

Please carefully read the cancellation policy below before registering.

Cancellation Policy

  • Deposit of $350 is due upon booking. This deposit is non-refundable. 
  • The remaining balance is due in full on September 15, 2018. Flexible payment plans are available. Once your deposit is paid, we’ll contact you to arrange payments.
  • Through August 15, 2018, if you must cancel, we will refund any amount paid minus your $350 non-refundable deposit.
  • After August 15, 2018, there are no refunds, but you may transfer your paid spot to another person, sending a friend or family member to the retreat in your place for a $50 admin fee (to be paid by original attendee).
  • After September 15, 2018, no refunds or transfers.

Frequently Asked Questions

I'm an introvert. Help!

Don’t worry – we aren’t planning to make you do trust falls with the group or bare your most embarrassing secret to “build trust”. We will be facilitating group experiences that hopefully feel safe, low-pressure, and judgment-free, but there’s also plenty of opportunities for alone time, or to take a breather.

We will have a designated quiet space if you’re feeling overstimulated, and our group activities are designed to be “opt-in” to sharing and connecting with others. Introverts, we’ve got your back!

I've never been to a yoga retreat and I'm worried I won't fit in.
If you’ve never been to a retreat, it might seem intimidating, but we’re working extra hard to make sure this retreat is a safe, judgment-free, fun space for everyone! All bodies will be celebrated and accommodated, and you’ll be sharing space with other likeminded, geeky folks who are interested in self-acceptance, self care, yoga, nature, creative thought, and body positivity. 
I don't know anyone who's attending. Should I still come?

Yes! Most of our retreat participants travel solo and arrive not knowing anyone else. In our experience, even shy folks quickly find someone who feels like a friend they’ve known a long time. And some of our retreat participants who met at the event have stayed friends for years!

What if I’m not a Tolkien geek, will I still get something out of this?

Absolutely! This retreat encourages you to take what works for you and give yourself permission to leave the rest behind. Whether you’re a Tolkien geek, or not, you’ll get the opportunity for a weekend full of yoga, writing, and self-reflection. Who knows, maybe you’ll come out of it a Tolkien geek though!

I've never done yoga before and I'm freaked out.

This retreat is beginner-friendly and you will likely not be the only yoga newcomer. Amber and Justine are skilled at teaching to all body sizes, shapes, and levels of ability, and will make sure that the yoga fits you, instead of trying to get you to fit the yoga.

What do people wear to stuff like this?

Despite what advertisers would have you believe, you can move your body in whatever apparel you’re most comfortable in. So there’s no need to fret and drop a ton of cash on fancy “yoga clothes.” Just wear what helps you feel the most at ease in your own body. And pack along some “street clothes” too for hiking around the Shire. Check the weather closer to time.

What if I have a mobility aid, use a CPAP, or I need special help?
When you fill out your registration form, please let us know if you have special needs and we will do our very best to accommodate you by getting you into a lodging space that works best for you. That being said, the retreat center is called “Shire in the Woods” and even though the land is flat and the paths and trails well-groomed, you can expect the uneven terrain of nature (it’s not concrete). Let us know your concerns and we’re ready to help!
How do I register?
  • Step 1: Reserve your spot with a non-refundable deposit of $350.
  • Step 2: Fill out a registration form for the retreat.
  • Step 3: Set up a payment plan.
What's included in my ticket price?
Your ticket covers your entrance to the retreat, round trip charter bus service from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport to the retreat center, all yoga classes, workshops, activities, and meals for the 4-day, 3-night retreat.
What's not included in my ticket?
Guided horseback riding, souvenirs or gift shop items, alcohol if you wish to consume, and transportation to the MSP airport before the retreat begins. You need to meet us at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport to catch our charter bus (we will get you to the retreat center from the airport, but you need to get yourself to the airport to meet us).
How do I select my preferred cabin/bed?

After you pay the $350 deposit, you’ll be given a link to our registration form. You fill that out and select your bed, tell us your dietary preferences, and more. We will remove cabins from the page once they fill up, so if you see a cabin or bed and it’s not marked out like this, it’s available.

How do payments & Cancellation work?
  • Deposit of $350 is due upon booking. This deposit is non-refundable. 
  • The remaining balance is due in full on September 15, 2018. Flexible payment plans are available. Once your deposit is paid, we’ll contact you to arrange payments.
  • Through August 15, 2018, if you must cancel, we will refund any amount paid minus your $350 non-refundable deposit.
  • After August 15, 2018, there are no refunds, but you may transfer your paid spot to another person, sending a friend or family member to the retreat in your place for a $50 admin fee (to be paid by original attendee).
  • After September 15, 2018, no refunds or transfers.
How do I get to the retreat center?

View a map of the location. If you live nearby, you’re welcome to drive to the retreat center. We will be operating a charter bus from the Minneapolis-St. Paul International airport, and your ride is included in your ticket price. All you need to do is get to the airport and meet us! Road trip!

What do I need to bring?
 We’ll send you a complete packing list before the retreat, but you don’t need any complicated or fancy items. We’ll be bringing comfortable, casual clothing, a yoga mat, sturdy walking shoes, and stuff we need for the outdoors (like sunscreen and bug repellant). We provide props for the yoga practice and all the supplies you’ll need for our workshops and activities.
Is this retreat open to all genders?
Yes, this retreat is open to all genders. If you aren’t comfortable bunking with folks that aren’t the same gender as you, you can note that on your registration form, and we’ll do our best to accommodate you.

What they’re saying…

I felt more open and free than I’ve ever felt in my life. Never have I felt more comfortable with myself and my surroundings than I did that weekend. I’ve taken this sense of self-acceptance and love with me and have reflected on my experience daily. I’m trying to keep those good vibes alive!”

“Thank you so much, Amber, for organizing such an amazing weekend. The stars aligned and brought so many beautiful souls together in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. I am so thankful for the chance to meet you and all of the other campers – what a wonderful network we’ve created!”

“I enjoyed this retreat immensely. The friendships I made, the yoga I learned, and the experience will stay with me a lifetime. My practice feels more my own now and I feel comfortable continuing what I learned and incorporating it into my current and future practice. Amber is a phenomenal teacher and makes yoga feel like a natural part of life. Your feedback and your guidance made me feel good about yoga and my body. Anne-Marie and Lisa were exceptional and I hope they come back next year. There help and their corrections were key in helping me learn and grow as a yogi!”

I felt extremely safe and the modifications that were given were very helpful to my overall practice. Also, the physical adjustments were key to helping me understand what a pose should truly feel like and I feel that I can now get myself to the correct pose(s) more successfully.”