Eat, Soak, Yoga

A Circular Mark Used By Early Native Cultures To Direct Wandering Tribes to the Hot Springs

“Arsenic Mineral Pool” the sign reads.  Can that be true?  I am sitting in steaming hot springs, trying to read a posted sign under the light of a shining full moon.  Just to be sure, I slipped from the 105 degree waters to get closer.  Sure enough, the only known one of its kind in North America – possibly for good reason.  But according to the brochure, “Arsenic is a powerful and beneficial element in trace levels, as found in this pool.  It is supposed to help arthritis, rheumatism, burns, eczema, contusions and even stomach ulcers, especially when taken internally (which I did not!). It comes out of the ground at about 113 degrees but cools to about 105 degree in the open-air pool.”  Hmm… I distinctly remember that it was arsenic that did the job on the bad guys in “Arsenic and Old Lace”.  Maybe I’ll just stay in for a few minutes and switch to the “Iron Pool” which I figure worse case will give me Popeye biceps without the spinach.     

The Arsenic and Mud Pools
The Iron Pool

These hot spring mineral waters are just one of the reasons I am here in Ojo Caliente.  Karen Voepel, a friend and yoga instructor invited me to attend her annual yoga/hiking/gourmet food/wonderful women retreat here in the Georgia O’Keefe country of northern New Mexico. 

Sorry guys, but sometimes women like to get away and connect with women friends, practice yoga, hike, cook together, and, get ready for this one….expand our personal universe with some meditative thinking.  If you can do all this in a hot springs spa setting during a full moon among the sandstone cliffs of Northern New Mexico, so much the better.
You probably caught that word, “spa”.  You all know that the word “Spa” and Julie are usually never used in the same sentence.  I buy most of my clothes online from REI or Cabelas type stores and own only one skirt to which I do have matching shoes.  But no, Ojo is my type of spa.  Ojo is not lavish. It has a certain quirkiness that makes you smile and let go of any preconceived notions about what a spa involves. We wore our robe and flip-flops for the short walk from our group adobe lodge to the mineral pools and spa area.  As one of our group said,  “it feels really liberating to go around in public wearing a robe.” 
Yoga In A Yurt

And freedom from all the hectic things we schedule for ourselves is what a women‘s retreat is all about.  Morning yoga practice in the yurt followed by hot spring soaks.  Hikes among the sandstone cliffs and Indian ruins.  Followed by hot spring soaks.  Homemade gourmet dinners with eleven fabulous and fun women.  Yes.  All followed by hot spring soaks.

So much of yoga practice seems to draw directly from nature (common poses are named for animals, trees, mountains and crescent moons), practitioners often say that doing yoga outside allows for deeper connections.  I think it is true – the eleven of us felt like we’d known each other since highschool – though most of us had just met.  Yoga, full moon, hot springs, great connections, gourmet food made by the group….  “Women’s yoga retreat” and Julie will definitely be used in the same sentence again.  Maybe “Spa” too!    

Full Moon Ojo Caliente