I should be able to recall the last time I took it easy. After all, the holidays were only a short few weeks ago, and ringing in 2019 just happened, right? But when I actually look at the calendar and realize that January passed me by in the blink of an eye, I wonder where that first month of the new year went, and all those goals and dedications along with it?
I think this is a relatable feeling for most. We take a moment to reflect if we are able to, which ends up typically being on the weekend for me. But then Monday rolls around and the next thing we know, we’re back in the rhythm of the 9 to 5. Although we care about our jobs, our families, and our close friends, it’s important to remember that through it all, we need to take time for ourselves.
In the region of Headwaters, making the choice to attend a KaBa Kamp yoga retreat weekend at the beautifully cozy and warm Forks of the Credit Inn was exactly the thing I needed. Named for the owners of the inn, Karey Emmett and Bart Murphy (Ka + Ba), this weekend retreat infuses Karey’s passion for yoga with Bart’s passion for hospitality. Although Karey wasn’t the leader during our weekend, we were privileged to have the kind and mindful Lindsay Vandenhurk, a local yoga instructor and retreat leader facilitating our weekend for us.
On the first evening of KaBa Kamp, Chris and I ate with our intimate group of fellow retreaters for the weekend, getting to know them: a business owner finding time between demanding contracts at work, a parent transitioning to life as an “empty nester”, a pregnant mom-to-be, and two friends of twenty some-odd years who found KaBa Kamp a few years ago. These friends make this retreat their annual place to spend time together somewhere between Toronto and London, leaving their families and kids at home. Despite our differences, it was clear we all shared the collective need to relax, reflect, and restore ourselves to get the “city” off that was still left on us when we walked in. (I would take credit for that metaphor, but I’ll have to give full credit to Bart!)
Our KaBa Kamp weekend ran for 3 nights and 2 days (Friday to Sunday), but I’ve been told they also offer some longer retreats as well. Whatever time you can make work, it’s worth it. After dinner on the first night, we were taken through an intensely relaxing session of restorative yoga with Lindsay. As our practice came to a close, we were all surprised when she quietly informed us that it was a little later than expected, since we’d gone 30 minutes over the scheduled hour long session. We all laughed and shared in the fact that it was obviously much needed. We slowly left our mats and were tasked with the difficult chore of going upstairs to our rooms for bed. In all honesty, I cannot think of a better position to be in than to rise from a sleepy restorative yoga session, temples soothed with a dreamy blend of essential oils, and to only have to walk upstairs to your cozy bed in your home away from home to end the day.
With the relaxation of yesterday trickling into Saturday, we started the morning by going snowshoeing in Forks of the Credit Provincial Park, which I’m sure you can believe is literally across the street. We were fortunate that there had been heavy snow earlier that week coupled with extremely cold temperatures, so the snow was still fresh for our taking. It is a very scenic park in the Caledon Hills, with the charming river at the base and rolling hills to climb up for stunning views of the region from above. After walking around scenic Sumac- and Pine Tree-lined trails, we paused on a bridge over the river with Lindsay as she led us through our morning outdoor session of yoga in the snow, which has since formidably been referred to as “Snow-ga”. I have practiced yoga in some pretty memorable places in the past, but I don’t recall such a quiet, serene and peaceful setting as that one over top of the half-frozen river on a cold winter’s day.
After lunch, we set off for some local exploring in the area. We began at Alton Mills Arts Centre, a charming and historic old mill site in Alton, which has since been converted into inspiring local artists’ studios in the top half, and shops of local crafts and artwork, plus a cafe in the lower half. I was impressed by the amount of creativity brimming from the building, but with that Credit River only a short distance away, I could come to understand how one would be inspired to produce such beauty in this region. From Alton Mills we headed to the newly opened GoodLot Farmstead Brewing Co., a hop-producing farm since 2011, which has recently opened its doors as a proper brewery. No less creative than Alton Mills, their range of flavours is an excellent representation of Caledon Mountain, and since their hops are all grown on site, you can see the hops for yourself thoughtfully growing next to the serving area like wine grapes at a vineyard. This is a sight you don’t often see in Ontario, which filled me with a sense of pride for how much goodness grows here. Feeling satisfied, we came back to the inn for the remainder of the evening with an excellent and lengthy practice of yoga and meditation, followed by a delicious dinner and late night conversations around the dinner table.
To finish this weekend of mindfulness and meditation, we had a two hour session with Andrea Moyah, a Shamanic Healer. Andrea was absolutely incredible. She shared that her ancestral background is in indigenous healing and medicine, and she led a session with us to connect with our ancestors to heal us. Despite your potential level of skepticism, I think that respecting this craft and its historical and cultural significance is paramount here. Furthermore, it isn’t really possible for me to explain Andrea’s effectiveness and astute perception of each person (or spirit) she encounters through her craft, so for me to say that her sessions are powerful, thought-provoking and deeply sentimental will have to serve for now. Finishing off our weekend with Andrea was a perfect cherry on top of a great retreat.
Although it was never discussed, freedom from screens was at a paramount during KaBa Kamp. Instead, our time was largely filled with conversations between fellow retreaters, or time spent napping or reading when we were on our own. Coming to realize the community that we’d formed by the end of the weekend with each other as participants, with Bart or with Lindsay, was truly special. It can be hard to lose sight of what you need most in the balance of Monday to Friday versus yourself, but creating the time for a weekend like this at KaBa Kamp retreat won’t be one you’ll regret.
Written by: Bri Mitchell
Bri Mitchell is a freelance travel and lifestyle writer. She has travelled to over 50 countries, and doesn’t have plans of stopping anytime soon. Bri currently lives in Toronto with her partner in life and travel, Christopher Mitchell (travelingmitch.com), and their Turkish street cat turned Prince of the Great White North, Kotu. You can follow her travels and meanderings around Ontario and beyond on Instagram @mstravelingmitch.