DESERT ALCHEMY
DESERT ALCHEMY
YOGA + HUMAN CONNECTION + PLAY

YOGA +

HUMAN CONNECTION +

PLAY

 

Northern New Mexico

September 12-18, 2020

 
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Come to New Mexico! 

We invite you to the (comfy) wilds of the southwest for six nights of yoga, meditation, playful (and profound) human connection, hot springs, walks, and plain old restoration and relaxation. Led by therapist/yogi Ashley King, and yoga teacher/artist Elliot Polinsky, this retreat aims to leave you feeling energetically renewed, mentally stimulated, and emotionally nourished. It is our hope that you’ll experientially taste and integrate personal maps of what it feels like to interact dynamically with yourself and the world around you. This journey is all about releasing stress and making space for the very real magic that we all carry.

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What to Expect

We aim for a balance between inner work, peaceful relaxation, and basic fun. 

Each day we’ll practice yoga in the morning; then we’ll eat a delicious breakfast and have time to shower and relax. On “stay at home” days, we’ll then move into an Authentic Relating session featuring a range of playful connection exercises and relational practices.

After that we’ll have lunch. Generally, afternoons will be flexible. You’ll have the option to do your session in the floatation tank, hang out in the hot tub, hike on and around the property, visit with the horses, lounge in a hammock, read, journal, nap, connect with fellow participants, or schedule a private session with Ashley or Elliot (available a la carte are professional photo shoots, somatic sessions, private yoga, and individual relational practices).

In the evening we’ll share dinner, followed by hang time or a group activity; depending on the night, we may do some Circling (a group meditation practice), have a bonfire, journey into Yoga Nidra, gaze at the vast field of stars through our telescope, or play some connection games.

We’ll take two day trips during the week; one to some local hot springs and the other to Santa Fe, where we’ll visit Meow Wolf, the immersive, multimedia art playground. We’ll also enjoy a couple of meals out, and we’ll build in some time for strolling.

Some days will have a good deal of free time built into them (others less so). You are, of course, always free to opt in or out of any activity. Our hope is that you will leave New Mexico feeling utterly restored and renewed, more in touch with yourself, and more aware of how you relate to the whole of your life and the people in it. 

Not to mention that the cache of gorgeous southwest sights might just stick around with you forever.

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Who We Are

Ashley King

M.S.Ed., Ed.M., LPC

Ashley King, M.S.Ed., Ed.M., LPC is an integrative and somatic psychotherapist with a private practice in Center City, Philadelphia where she works with individuals, couples, families, and groups. She is trained in the Hakomi Method (a method of mindful, somatic therapy) and AEDP (Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy). In addition, she is a certified Circling facilitator (Circling is an interpersonal meditation practice), a trained coach, a meditation instructor, an intuitive energy healer and Reiki Master, and a certified yoga teacher with 500+ hours of training. As a writer and former English teacher, Ashley brings an artful poise to her facilitation, and her body of work, more largely, is about the poetics of embodied relationship. Over the last decade she has led workshops, run groups, and given talks on myriad topics including yoga, meditation, energy medicine, somatic therapy, Authentic Relating, Circling, mindful communication, women’s sexuality, writing as a spiritual practice, and more. Once hailed, “A catalytic invitation into vulnerability and connection,” Ashley is deeply passionate about the intersection of dynamic embodiment and relational practice. You can find out more about her at her website: www.psychoalchemy.com .

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Elliot Polinsky

M.A., E-RYT 500

Elliot Polinsky, M.A., E-RYT-500 is a yoga teacher, photographer, and writer based in Philadelphia. He is trained in a range of approaches to yoga, from therapeutic to passive, active, and restorative, runs a monthly yoga guided meditation at an art gallery in Center City Philadelphia, and has co-led a retreat in the mountains of Southern France. For the past six years he’s taught weekly classes and periodic workshops at studios, fitness centers, private homes, and small companies. Before immersing in yoga, Elliot studied early American literature and tutored kids in creative writing. Now, in his yoga, he finds poetry in the alchemy of helping people to shift the stress of life into something more graceful, thoughtful, and beautiful. His yoga website is yogawithelliot.com and you can see some of his image work at www.elliotpolinsky.com .

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Leaping Deer Ranch

Leaping Deer Ranch is a luxury guest ranch sprawling over 186 acres in Northern New Mexico. It boasts well-appointed rooms, plenty of space, a brand new lavish hot tub, large covered porch decks, hammocks, horses, a sensory deprivation flotation tank, the largest labyrinth in the state, and beautiful scenery. We’ll have the whole place to ourselves. The owner, Colin, is a kind guy who used to teach yoga and enjoys providing space for retreats.

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In keeping with our theme of fostering connection, all accomodations are shared. We’ll ask about any needs or night habits you might have so as to coordinate sleeping arrangements to facilitate the best possible experience for each guest.

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A sample day at the ranch…

6:30 - 7:00

Early Morning Meditation

If you’re up for it, Ashley or Elliot will hold space each day for a half hour’s silent meditation. You’re welcome to sit, work on morning pages, or do anything else that makes sense in this peaceful setting.

7:15 - 8:30

Yoga Practice

Elliot will lead us through a well-crafted 90 minute class; expect to move around and work-up a bit of a sweat.

9:00 - 9:45

Breakfast

A healthy, delicious breakfast made on site by our retreat chef.

10:00 - 12:00

Authentic Relating Practice

Ashley will lead us through a dynamic session of human connection games and exercises.

— 

12:15 - 1:15

Lunch

Another delicious meal by our retreat chef.

1:30 - 3:30

Free Time

Stroll the grounds, check out the horses, nap in a hammock, schedule your (optional) sensory deprivation flotation session or a one-on-one session with Elliot or Ashley, or anything else that suits you.

4:00 - 5:00

Yoga Nidra

A low key guided meditation led by Elliot and designed to help you find deep release and potentially amazing catharsis.

5:00 - 6:00

Free time

See above ^ .

6:00 - 7:00

Dinner

Another amazing meal by our chef.

7:30 >>

Bonfire, storytelling

Options abound for more low key relating games, board games, chatting, a bonfire, evening walks, or more alone time if that’s what would serve you best.


WHEN IT GETS DARK:

Stargazing

We’ve got an excellent telescope and there will always be the option at night to look at the stars.

 

A sample day-trip day…

6:30 - 7:00

Early Morning Meditation

If you’re up for it, Ashley or Elliot will hold space each day for a half hour’s silent meditation. You’re welcome to sit, work on morning pages, or do anything else that makes sense in this peaceful setting.

7:00 - 8:30

Yoga Practice

Elliot will lead us through a well-crafted 90 minute class; expect to move around and work-up a bit of a sweat.

9:00 - 9:45

Breakfast

A healthy, delicious breakfast made on site by our retreat chef.

10:15 - 8:00

Meow Wolf and Santa Fe

We’ll head to Meow Wolf followed by dinner and a stroll in Santa Fe.

8:00 >>

Day’s debrief

We’ll gather briefly though intentionally to share the harvests of the day.

How to Sign Up / The Details

Cost

. $1990: if you register and pay in full before December 31, 2019.

. $2185: the early bird rate. To reserve this rate, sign up by Feb 1, 2020 with a $500 deposit.

. $2450: full price, after the early bird period ends.

* Please note: the $500 deposit that reserves your spot is non-refundable. For all participants, the full amount is due by May 1, 2020. Less your deposit, we allow for a refunded cancellation within 40 days of your initial registration, assuming those 40 days end prior to May 1, 2020. Please let us know if you’d like to attend and could use an alternate payment schedule— we are happy to arrange a monthly or otherwise-tailored payment schedule upon request.

** This is a small group retreat; we’ll be capped at twelve people.

What’s Included

. Six nights of shared accommodations at the gorgeous Leaping Deer Ranch

. All meals except for the two dinners and one lunch that we’ll eat at restaurants during our day trips

. Use of the full grounds, including as much time as you like in the geyser hot tub

. One (optional) 60 minute session in the flotation tank

. A(n optional) complimentary professional portrait

. Airpot transportation from the Albuquerque, NM airport to the Leaping Deer Ranch* + return transport on Friday September 18

. All transportation during the week

* assuming you arrive by 5pm on Saturday, September 12

What’s Not

. Airfare to New Mexico

. One lunch and two dinners at restaurants during our daytrips

. Optional a la carte sessions with Elliot or Ashley: photography, private yoga, private somatic sessions, individual relational practices

. Tickets to Meow Wolf and the hot springs

How to Reserve Your Spot:

. We accept payment through Venmo, cash, personal check, or money order. The non-refundable $500 deposit holds your spot.

. You can send Venmo payment directly to Ashley here: @Ashley-King-280 or please send her an email at ashley@ashleykingtherapy.com to arrange payment by check, or to organize a payment schedule.

. If you have questions, please feel free to contact Ashley at ashley@ashleykingtherapy.com or Elliot at elliotpo@gmail.com.

 

Directions

 

About Northern New Mexico

The Land of Enchantment! If you’ve never been, get ready to be amazed by the subtle (and not so subtle) magic of the desert. We will be up around six thousand feet above sea level, so it will likely be a bit cooler than down below. September is a lovely time to visit.


Suggested Travel Route

Most flights will wind up in Albuquerque, as Santa Fe is only a regional airport. If you prefer another route of entry (or will be there ahead of time on a personal trip), you can, of course, meet us at the Leaping Deer Ranch. Otherwise, plan to arrive into Albuquerque by Saturday late afternoon and we’ll connect there for the drive into the mountains.

Extending Your Southwest Stay?

Please reach out if you’d like advice about places to go and see once the retreat is over. Both Ashley and Elliot are familiar with the Southwest and the host of Leaping Deer Ranch is also a wonderful resource. We are more than happy to help direct you to possibilities to explore on your own if you don’t plan to come back immediately following the retreat.

 

More about our approach to Authentic Relating…

"We are each other's destiny." — Mary Oliver

Intentional human connection practices are about deliberately (and exuberantly) carving out a heartful path toward affiliative sustenance by becoming profoundly present...to ourselves and to each other. 

In a WiFi world where being plugged in and rapidly “connected” so often co-exists with loneliness and deep distraction, choosing to stay relationally present can be a jubilant and nourishing act of rebellion.

We tend to think of connection as something we simply stumble into (or don’t)—that is, we treat it as an act of fortuitous happenstance when it occurs. But it is, in fact, a skill; it is something we can cultivate. To that end, we will nimbly approach relating as the intentional art that it is.

So we’ll practice and play, employing unique social exercises that foster personal awareness, greater empathy, emotional intelligence, relational capacity, and deep embodiment in service of greater collective freedom and radical aliveness.

We’ll also explore a relational meditation practice that is about dropping into “we space” by becoming exquisitely present--to our bodies, to our emotions, to the shared field we create--such that an organic intelligence arises and leads the way. 

These practices are ultimately about seeing, being seen, and giving and receiving the kind of generative attention that changes lives and allows us all to become more dynamically possible.

…and to yoga

Doing yoga feels good. Quite often we look for our practice when we need to renew our sense of ease and synchronicity. Beyond that, though, the inner change that takes place during mindful motion affords us a pretty neat chance to observe how we exist in the world more generally. In turn, those changes may begin to influence our greater spheres of interpersonal action.

From one perspective, yoga describes a process of wakeful self-study. As we let ourselves pause in the space of various postures, we see the motion of our mind (as well as our body) on a subtler level. With time, even a vigorous physical practice becomes more graceful and intentional. Feelings of deep-rootedness grow here. If we dwell in this sort of calm, our practice acts as a stabilizing force that can support a more generously robust frame of mind. When we carry this energy into the world, yoga becomes a socially transformative act.

We take the word *practice* to imply a creative, exploratory space. Here, whatever one finds is of value. Functionally our classes offer effective alignment cues inside thoughtfully-paced, accessible sequences. Poems and other readings help to orient the mind toward a spacious curiosity. At bottom, the invitation is to discover oneself more deeply, while safely and playfully pushing any desired edges. 

From there, perhaps we find ourselves able to embrace the kind of relating that feels right, and to access the creativity and strength needed to express our real desires in the larger world. Inner work can be incredibly difficult, yet we do always find our way back to the joy that comes from showing up as our most relaxed, most energetic selves.


****Important Note: Our yoga is body-inclusive and accessible. We welcome all bodies and levels of practice and will happily accommodate with modifications if/when needed or desired.**

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What People Are Saying

 

On Ashley as a Facilitator

“Ashley’s impact wakes me up. She’s an extraordinary guide with profound heart, who is both a thinker and a feeler. Her articulation, whether of idea or sentiment, sears with clarity.” —poet and workshop participant 


“Ashley holds an exquisite kind of space and reverently places people in the spotlight of their own experiences.” —psychotherapist and workshop participant


“The world needs more of Ashley’s courageous spirit, her healing energy, and her incredible ability to communicate and connect. She was meant to lead.” —artist and workshop participant

On Authentic Relating Events

“I realized that you are providing the ‘how’ to answer the call of Timothy Leary's quote, ‘Find the others...’ It's like a mosh pit of awareness, pushing our threshold of vulnerability, trusting in our intuitive ability, honestly expressing ourselves. You're providing a space for people to ‘take a chance.’ This is a very real solution to the world's biggest problem, more people than ever, feeling more isolated than ever.”—medical professional and workshop participant 


“Your workshop had a profound effect on me. I was broken open in a way that I never expected to be. I left feeling far more connected to myself, to others, and to the larger world.” —mindfulness educator and workshop participant


“Your event restored my faith in the redemptive power of human connection.” —consultant and workshop participant

On Elliot as Yoga Teacher

“Elliot is the best yoga teacher I’ve ever had, and I’ve had some good ones.  He gently challenges you to challenge yourself, while at the same time nurturing those who have physical pain or emotional stops to feeling good about what their bodies can accomplish.  His wide range of knowledge from literature to the history of yoga to physiology, and his excitement about the same, undergird but do not overwhelm his teaching.” —mom and yoga student

“Elliot is, above all else, a calming force. Even if I’ve been off the yoga mat for months, I feel welcome and capable. Elliot doesn’t push, but guides you to your best practice, exploring new poses or deepening them, whether you are advanced or a beginner. My favorite classes are ones when he incorporates poetry throughout, and especially during savasana.” —artist, mom, and yoga student

“Elliot is a gentle and welcoming instructor and movement practitioner.  He brings extensive experience and deep knowledge to his classes, and he is incredibly passionate about exploring how our bodies move while offering clear instructions and appropriate adjustments and modifications as needed, for me to fully connect and become intimately aware of each moment of my practice. So sincere in his offerings and so gifted in his ability to inspire me to move on my mat in a way I never thought possible, which makes it so accessible and satisfying.  I feel more peaceful and relaxed after leaving his class, which always creates a bit of heartbreak for me, as I never really want to leave after taking his class.” —yoga teacher


“When I was injured, Elliot helped me to understand how I could practice safely. I felt like he gave yoga back to me!”—lawyer and yoga student

On Elliot’s Yoga Nidra Workshops and Travel Retreats

“Elliot's yoga nidra is a light in the dark leading through forests of memory and healing. His image sequences are fresh and authentic, his voice soothing. It's a beautiful practice and a gift to attend.” —performer and workshop participant

“I experienced a deep physical connection & an emotional catharsis that left me feeling light and connected to myself for days.” —yoga teacher and retreat participant in Southern France

“Elliot! Your nidra class left me incredibly centered and with a wonderful sense of calm. The imagery you shared created that perfect meditative space.” —fashion designer and workshop participant