Welcome to Gaia Gals Retreat…
held at the extraordinary Laurel Hill Farm & Preserve where we will be celebrating self-care and connection - connecting to our true authentic selves, connecting to one another and finding a deeper connection to our Mother Earth. The enchanted 240 acre property has been calling forth a gathering such as this; astounding all its visitors with beauty, tranquility, revitalization and wonder. Now is our time to honor Mother Nature’s beckon call and open the private property to a small gathering of women intent on living their best life and sharing that life with others. And no better time than this, the retreat will take place during peak leaf-peeping season when the trees display the grandeur of colors signifying transformation and a shedding away of old to make way for the new.
Wander the 5 miles of carefully built and well-marked trails. Sit beneath the majestic giants of the old growth hardwood forest or ponder the existence of one of the largest populations of North Carolina threatened tree species, Bigleaf Magnolia. Dip your toes in the cool water of meandering Long Creek or read a book in one of the hammocks to the sound of the trickling water. Wherever you choose to explore the property, Gaia will meet you there, inviting you to slow down, listen, breathe, and acknowledge your intrinsic worthiness and participation in the universe.
If animals are more your things there will be no shortage of entertainment and snuggles from the 10 farm dogs, 15 surprisingly affectionate Nubian goats, 2 majestic and wise retired horses, 2 farm cats and countless chickens and guinea hens.
What to Expect for the Weekend…
Check-in: Friday, Oct. 25 12pm - Check-out: Monday, Oct. 28 1pm
Guests will arrive on the afternoon of Friday, October 25 and check-in to their requested accommodations. Glamping accommodations will be provided by Solid Ground Shelters. (solidgroundshelters.com) Go to the Shop button here or in the top right corner of this page to see specific options and pricing.
FRIDAY Oct. 25
12pm – Guests arrive
1pm-2pm - Farm Tour - Amy Nason
1:07 Solar Noon
2pm-3pm - Flower Essences Workshop - Mary Beth Bender
3:15pm-5pm - Journaling Workshop - Shawn Buxton Bowers
5:15pm-6:45pm - Restorative Yoga with Thai Assist -Kassi Yancey & Kristian Bosko
8:01pm Twilight End
8pm-9:30pm - Laughter Yoga & Community Circles - Jessica Richmond
9:30pm-11pm Night Owl Firepit Conversations
SATURDAY Oct. 26
7am Rise - Coffee/Tea Served
7:30am - 8:30am - Rise'n'Shine Slow Flow with Goats Yoga - Kassi Yancey
8:30am - 9:30am – Breakfast
9:30am - 11am - Wild Edible & Medicinal Plant ID Hike - Ryley Harris
11:15am – 12:15pm - Yogastrology® - Mary Beth Bender
12:30pm-1:30pm - Lunch
1:07 Solar Noon
1:30pm - 2:30pm - Essential Oils Workshop – Shawn Buxton Bowers
2:45pm - 4:15pm - Chakra Yoga Class & Workshop - Shona Baldoni
4:15pm - 7pm - Group Energy Wave Motion with Singing Bowls - Jillian Frazin and Cheryl Murphy
7pm - 8pm - Dinner
8pm Twilight End
8pm-10pm - Intuitive Dance - Jennifer Harkins
10pm-11pm - Night Owl Firepit Conversations
SUNDAY Oct. 27
7 am Rise - Coffee/Tea Served
7:30am - 8:30am - Sunrise Forest Meditation - Kassi Yancey
8:30am-9:30am – Breakfast
9:30am -10:30am – Free time to explore the property or your inner self
10:30am - 12:30pm - Ayurvedic Fall Seasonal Workshop - Rachael Harper
12:30pm-1:30pm - Lunch
1:07 Solar Noon
1:30pm - 3:30pm - Plant Spirit Medicine Hike and Workshop - Dr. Stephanie Mottola & Ryley Harris
3:45pm - 5pm - Unity Yoga - Martha Blanchard
5pm-6:30pm - Singing Bowl Workshop & Group Healing Sound Journey – Cheryl Murphy
6:30-7:30pm - Dinner
7pm - 9pm - Live Music – Yes Ma’am NC
7:59pm Twilight Ends
9:00pm-11pm - Night Owl Firepit Conversations
MONDAY Oct. 28
7am Rise - Coffee/Tea Served
7:30am - 8:15am - Rise'n'Shine Slow Flow Yoga - Martha Blanchard
8:30am-9:30am - Breakfast
9:30am - 10:30am - Love Energy Circle - Kristian Bosko
10:45am -1pm - Wild Mushroom Foray - Allein Stanley
The intention of the retreat is that each and every gal get what they individually need, so if that means skipping a class to take a hike, nap in a hammock, or gather your new-found friends by the stream for conversation then you are supported by all. Bring a book, write in your journal, participate or don’t, you are loved and supported regardless.
ALL MEALS WILL BE PROVIDED, prepared by our professional in-house chef, Jacque (pronounced like Jackie).
Jacque is a talented chef accustomed to retreat and event food preparation. She will prepare healthy and delicious farm-fresh food with close attention paid to special dietary needs. The following is a schedule of meals provided: Friday - Dinner, Saturday – Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner, Sunday – Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner, Monday – Breakfast.
Where are we?
Only 20 minutes West of Charlotte Douglas International Airport, Laurel Hill is easy to get to but hard to leave. A cheap Lyft, Uber or taxi will get you right from your plane to the farm. An exact address will be provided upon registration.
What is the bathroom situation?
Four stalls of indoor private bathrooms, each with a flush toilet, shower, hot running water and electricity! No porta potties here. We raised the “glam” from glamping to a whole new level! Glambathing, perhaps?!?
Who will be leading the retreat…
Dr. Stephanie Mottola, ND
Leading: Plant Spirit Medicine Hike
Dr. Mottola is a Naturopathic Doctor (ND) and Plant Spirit Medicine Healer based in Charlotte NC, though she supports clients worldwide. At the heart of Dr. Mottola’s work is a deeply rooted belief (and experience) that symptoms and dis-ease are our body’s best attempt at healing and that with care, education, commitment, connection (with Self/Community/Nature) and professional guidance when needed, our bodies can be supported through any healing process in a way that leads to trust, growth, resilience and greater balance and joy.
Dr. Mottola grew up in the suburbs of Philly and at the time had little interest in plants or spending time in nature. During her undergraduate education pursuing her bachelors of science in biology, she had her first experience of healthcare done differently when she was nominated to travel to China with a group of pre-med students and medical doctors to study the philosophy and practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine. A few year later she met an ND for the first time and after learning about the philosophy of naturopathic medicine she realized that she had found her next step, a career that combined so many of her interests, values and passions. She went on to earn her Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine from The National University of Natural Medicine (NUNM) in Portland OR, the nation's oldest nationally accredited four year post-graduate level naturopathic medical school. While at NUNM she met Eliot Cowan, author of Plant Spirit Medicine and did her first plant journey which opened a door to a world that she had never experienced before and would never forget. Her path would bring her back to Eliot and Plant Spirit Medicine (PSM) 10 years down the road, after several years of clinical practice and personal challenges led her to seek a different kind of support than Naturopathic Medicine alone provides. After a year of experiencing the profound shifts possible with PSM herself, she decided to enroll in the rigorous and heart-affirming two year training program to become a Plant Spirit Medicine Healer herself. She is so excited to spend time with retreat participants and the plants in this heart-full way!
Shawn Bowers Buxton, M.F.A.
Leading: Journaling Workshop and Essential Oils Workshop
Shawn Bowers Buxton is an English Professor at Queens University in Charlotte, North Carolina, as well as a lover of nature and a student of the Earth. She has published poetry under the pen name, Anita Cantillo. Her work has appeared in Convergence, Iodine Poetry Journal and Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review. She will be bringing her passion for self-expression through written word to Gaia Gals Retreat in the format of a Creative Writing Workshop in which a discussion of self-care will lend way to the invitation of freestyle writing, allowing for the opening and calling forth of our internal wisdom. The body knows what it needs. The heart speaks to us in whispers. Shawn’s writing workshop will create the space for us to listen and receive the messages.
Shawn will also share her practice of intentional essential oil use. She enjoys using essential oils in a holistic approach to deepen ones connection with and knowledge of self. Her work using enneagram personality identification in conjunction with oils paired specific to personality type has helped many learn more about what makes them tick as well as find ways to support their individuality. At Gaia Gals Retreat Shawn will offer a workshop educating us on the essential oils used to aid in specific-to-the-individual self-care and renewal practices. We all need different things and Shawn is here to help you hone in on and support your personal needs.
Leading: Singing Bowl Workshop & Group Healing Sound Journey
Cheryl Murphy (Follow Your Bliss Sound Healing) is a Level IV Certified Sound Practitioner (Atma Buti Sound and Vibrational School, Boulder, CO). She conducts both private and group sound meditation sessions and workshops and also brings these services to select yoga and wellness retreats throughout the year. Sound Healing Meditation enhances relaxation and effortlessly allows the body to activate self-healing. The soft, soothing tones of the singing bowls open the flow of energy in the body for physical, emotional, mental and spiritual transformation. Cheryl incorporates warm water therapy, aromatherapy, crystals, and more into her sessions. Individual sound healing sessions are tailored to each client based on effective, ancient singing bowl protocols. During the session, the client lies on a mat in a comfortable position while the bowls are gently invited and rubbed to create a soothing “singing” sound and vibration. When placed around or on the body, the effect is a restorative full body sound experience.
Additionally, Cheryl is a jewelry designer and owns and operates Follow Your Bliss Bracelets (www.fybbracelets.com). Her designs have evolved to reflect many of her own personal interests including yoga, meditation, spirituality, nature and aromatherapy. Cheryl’s focus is on creating original and inspiring jewelry that is a reflection of the wearer’s own story, through thoughtful combinations of high quality, semi-precious gemstones, crystals, and symbolic charms. Each piece is unique and mindfully handcrafted with the highest intention for the wearer.
Cheryl is a certified aromatherapist and has over 500 hours of formal training through Sedona Aromatherapy and Stillpoint Studies in Sedona, AZ. She owns and operates Essential Bliss, which offers a variety of aromatherapy products, private consultations, and essential oil education. She is a Regional Director for the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy and a regular contributor to the NAHA Professional Journal.
Cheryl holds a BS in Education from Radford University and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Hollins University. She is an adjunct professor at Virginia Western Community College in Roanoke, VA.
A lifelong learner, Cheryl resides in Botetourt County, VA where she enjoys life on her mini homestead growing her own herbs, flowers and vegetables and raising a flock of backyard chickens.
Leading: Restorative Yoga with Thai Assist, Rise’n’Shine Slow Flow with Goats Yoga, & Sunrise Forest Meditation
Kassi is a certified yoga instructor and has been teaching throughout the Gaston County community since the spring of 2013. For many years before her certificate training, she was a student, gleaning as much as possible through classes, workshops and yoga conferences while living in Colorado.
While searching for a deeper knowing of herself, she developed a love for yoga through the experiences she had while on her mat, and because of those blissful moments of clarity, strength, compassion and peace, she was able to learn how to be still, how to heal, how to trust and most recently, how to listen and pray. Her seeking through yoga has brought her full circle back into the loving presence of the Holy Spirit.
Kassi’s classes are nurturing; she focuses on mindful alignment, mostly gentle and slow, but effective, as she serves to empower her students in ultimately becoming their own best teachers, who are mindfully guided from within. She believes yoga is not a practice of attainment, but an unending process of self-discovery and transformation.
Leading: Group Energy Wave Motion with Singing Bowls (Waves of Self Love)
After having been a psychotherapist for 20 years specializing in trauma, Jillian now works solely as a Spiritual Healer and Coach providing energy healing sessions and teachings in restorative wave motion, sacred dance, and life alignment coaching for individuals, couples and groups. Through her deep connection to the Divine Feminine, her mission is to serve soul evolution and the clearing of karmic patterns that hold us back from the embodiment of our greatest selves and Divinity.
All great journeys require guidance. Spiritual energy healing can help put you on the right path. Jillian works with you to become present, grounded and take responsibility for your own energy field, so that you can live an empowered life. Through the use of various exercises she will show you how to tap into the divine energy within yourself, and how to use it to improve the quality of your personal relationships and more. Aligning one’s chakras with the sacred energy of mother earth will enable you to reach higher levels of enlightenment in your daily life.
B.A. in Psychology and Philosophy from University of Wisconsin-Madison Wisconsin
Masters Degree in Clinical Social Work from Loyola University
Jin Shin Do-Chinese Medicine with Justin Pomeroy-Life Gate Center
Post-graduate training in Shiatsu with Mari Richko, LPC
Certificate in Internal Family Systems from the Center for Self Leadership
Certificate in EMDR from the EMDR Institute and post-graduate training in Brain-spotting and Neuro-kinesiology.
Level II Certification in TRE™(tension/trauma release exercises) with Chris Balsley – Landenworks.
Extensive Post-graduate training with Emily Conrad in Continuum Movement and the Wellsprings Program.
Extensive Post-graduate training in Life Alignment Coaching with Jeff Levine and David Pasikov.
Certified Life Alignment Practitioner (Energy Healing / Coaching Modality founded by Dr. Jeff Levin).
Extensive Post-graduate training in Mystery School studies, Energy Medicine and Spiritual Growth with Rosalyn Bruyere, Nikki Sachi, and Sai Maa Lakshmi Devi
Check out her website at blessingsofjasmine.com
Leading: Ayurvedic Fall Seasonal Workshop
Rachael first fell in love with Ayurveda in 2009 and was drawn more deeply into the teachings when she began experiencing chronic headaches and minor digestive issues in late 2011. With John Immel of Joyful Belly Ayurveda as her teacher and mentor, she learned how to heal her own body and design her habits to live a life of better health and greater ease. Further studies over the years with teachers like Hillary Garivaltis, Kristen Cooper-Gulak, Noelle Cavenaugh, and Cate Stillman helped her to create a well-rounded curriculum to share with students, teachers, and loved ones.
In 2019, Rachael completed Joyful Belly’s Fundamentals of Ayurvedic Medicine Certification.She is pleased to offer an Ayurveda Fall Seasonal Workshop at Gaia Gals Retreat to help guests optimize their health and live an authentic, balanced life.
Mary Beth Bender
Leading: Yogastrology® and Flower Essences Workshop
Mary Beth is passionate about living a healthy and mindful life, which is something that she also enjoys sharing with others. The yoga & astrology practices that she has been using over the years have also given her the healing that she’s needed in times of loss, grief & struggles.
Mary Beth is one of the only certified Yogastrology® instructors in the entire Charlotte, NC area, having completed the intensive program designed and trademarked by Diane Booth Gilliam. During this training Mary Beth gained a deeper understanding of the connection we have with our bodies in relation to the sky as well as Mother Earth. She will impart us with her knowledge during a part workshop part Yogastrology® flow class incorporating practices best aligned with the positioning of the moon and planets during the retreat.
Mary Beth also blends other holistic modalities into her work as she’s been a lifelong seeker and finder of “what works” for her. She will share with us her knowledge about flower essences in leading our opening ceremony. She looks forward to sharing her love and light at Gaia Gals Retreat.
Leading: Chakra Yoga Class & Workshop
Shona (ERYT-500, RCYT, YACEP) is an experienced yoga teacher in Charlotte, NC. She has been sharing her love and passion for yoga with all ages since completing her first yoga teacher training (200 hours) 10 years ago. Since that time she has continued to study and delve deeper into the science of yoga, subsequently completing her 500 hour yoga teacher training in 2013 and 95 hour kids yoga teacher training in 2014. Ever a student who craves knowledge and growth, Shona has studied with many amazing teachers over the years. That desire to learn drew her to the study of the chakra system. She’s honored to call Anodea Judith, the western authority of the chakras, her mentor and guide on that journey. Shona offers teacher trainings and workshops to help others dive deeper into their yoga and to connect deeper with themselves. She is a lead trainer and partner in Twist Kids Yoga, a Yoga Alliance registered yoga school and teaches regular adult and kids classes in and around the Charlotte area. Shona enjoys creating beautiful sequences that bring a sense of balance to her students. In her classes you will find laughter and smiles, but also guidance on how to consciously create each posture and transverse each movement, taking your practice to a deeper place. She will challenge you with encouragement and kindness. Inspired by the mindfulness movement, she introduces the more introspective aspects of yoga to take it beyond the physical. You will leave her classes feeling grounded and calm; feeling strong and flexible; feeling rejuvenated yet, relaxed.
Martha Laquidara- Blanchard
Leading: Unity Yoga and Rise’n’Shine Slow Flow Yoga
Martha Laquidara- Blanchard, ERYT 230/RYT 500 came to the mat in 2009, the physical, mental and spiritual aspects of yoga were life changing and she received her first few Yoga Alliance Certifications (230 yoga therapy and vinyasa flow) with Stephanie Keach and her staff at Asheville Yoga Center in 2012. Martha spent years learning the principals of and building a strong personal foundation of Anusara yoga with Sarah Faircloth in Charlotte, NC. Sarah’s teachings inspired Martha to continue her journey for knowledge, and searching for a teacher with a strong spiritual connection and a strong foundationally based practice, Martha found Mara Healy, and Universal (Unity) Yoga. Martha completed Advanced Yoga Training in 2017 with Mara Healy at BE Yoga in Charlotte, expanding her knowledge to include the Principals of Universal Yoga, spirituality, and mysticism. Martha has a solid background in Functional Anatomy, due to a teacher-patient- student relationship with Dr. Nevin Markel of Performance Rehab in Charlotte, NC. Martha is a Reiki practitioner. She has also studied Sanskrit with Zoe Mae of the American Sanskrit Institute, trained with Andre Lappa, Gary Kratskow, Douglass Brooks, and various other masterful teachers. Martha has a strong weekly personal practice, seeking out local Charlotte teachers who challenge her in mind, body and soul. This ongoing process of learning is what provides the fresh insights that inspire her teaching. Martha’s teaching style blends the principals of Unity Yoga, functional anatomy and universal energy in a dynamic mandala flow. Healthy breathing, alignment, and balanced sequences are consistent points of focus in her classes. An alignment based teaching style is intuitive and nourishes the hidden strengths of her students while challenging them to reach beyond their perceived limitations. Her descriptive posture placements help the student create more space in their yoga practice, hopefully transforming their way of thinking off the mat. You will leave her classes feeling enlivened and renewed.
Offering: Therapeutic Massage
Massage therapy has been an important part of most of Christina’s life. She specializes in therapeutic work that truly helps people feel on point. Her pressure ranges from relaxing to deep tissue. Hot stone, TMJ, lymphatic, and sports massage are available. Being a martial artist, with a passion for anatomy, and the art of healing, gives her a wide range of understanding of the body. She looks forward to your presence on her massage table. NC License #15020
About the Farm Folk…
Amy & Ron
Current stewards of the remarkable property of Laurel Hill are Amy and her husband Ron. Ron is the muscle, responsible for putting action to Amy’s dreams and Amy is the visionary. She has taste like no other and her ability to create beauty where function is necessary is just shy of magic. Every inch of the property has carefully been crafted by the ultimate design artist, Mother Nature herself, tastefully accompanied by human elements envisioned by Amy. Ron and Amy recognize the uniqueness of the property and have shifted their relationship with it from being “land owners” to “temporary and very fortunate stewards of the property”. It’s been their dream to share their gift with others and open the doors of Laurel Hill to those who too can benefit from all it has to teach.
It was love at first sight for Jessica upon initial entry through the gates of Laurel Hill. Immediately she could sense she was entering another dimension, a world unlike the one she had come to know the Piedmont region of North Carolina as. By finding any excuse to return to the property again and again, Jessica developed a relationship with Amy and Ron that led to the invitation of first ever live-in farm-hand. For the next year and a half, life at Laurel Hill inspired Jessica to continue listening to the guidance of her heart, teaching her that this path leads to joy, knowledge, love and light. Gaia Gals Retreat is born of this inspiration.
Contact Jessica at email@example.com if you have questions about the retreat.
YES, the same gal as listed above! Laurel Hill has its own resident yogi!
Kassi’s involvement in Laurel Hill was written in the stars with a connection to the people long before her presence on the property. At the age of 12, Kassi babysat Amy’s 2 young daughters, decades before Amy’s introduction to Laurel Hill. Fast forward 20+ years, with 11 of those years spent in the Colorado Rockies, Kassi has found her way back home and back to her roots where she now has taken over where Jessica left off as farm hand. Kassi is a yoga instructor, seeker, lover of life and adds a gentle yin touch to balance out the yang tendencies of farm life. Kassi’s involvement in the local community of consciousness is invaluable to the creation of Gaia Gals Retreat. Birds of a feather flock together, and Kassi is Mama bird!