A Quality Life Community: A Mountain Retreat

This entry was posted on Apr 17, 2012 by Charlotte Bell.
A Quality Life Community:  Yoga for Cancer and So Much More

The Uinta Mountains are a little-known jewel in northeastern Utah. Eclipsed in popularity by the far more popular Wasatch Range, home to such iconic ski areas as Snowbird, Alta and Deer Valley, the Uintas are actually the largest east-west running mountain range in the U.S. The Uintas are home to Utah’s highest mountain, King’s Peak. Largely undeveloped, the Uintas provide crisp, high altitude air; both gentle and challenging hiking; and true solitude.

The area surrounding the Uintas is both remote and accessible. A little more than an hour from Salt Lake City, the Uintas and the surrounding area are perfect for a weekend getaway—not too far away, but remote and pristine all the same. This is likely why A Quality Life Community (QLC) chose to hold their annual retreat for cancer survivors at a rustic ranch not far from the Uintas, for its ease and serenity.

In early February, an intimate group of people—seven cancer survivors and eight facilitators—gathered at Wolf Creek Outpost to share a weekend of healing and friendship. According to QLC’s founder, Amy Putney Conn, none of the participants had met before the retreat began, but when they sat down for their first dinner together, they already felt like family. “The whole thing felt effortless,” she says.

Thanks to your support of Hugger Mugger Yoga Products, even the financial aspect of attending the retreat—often a barrier to participation—was effortless. Donations from our non-profit program allowed participants to attend the retreat for free. “Everything constricts in cancer,” says Amy, a cancer survivor. “At this retreat, we all got to spend time expanding and opening. Knowing the bottom isn’t going to fall out because of a lack of funding definitely contributed to our ability to expand. When you can go forward without restriction, it’s a real gift.”

A Recipe for Healing

The QLC retreat fed participants—body, mind and soul—with a rich and varied palette of modalities. Yoga is the centerpiece of QLC’s cancer survivor support programs, along with diet and lifestyle support. In addition to Amy’s yoga classes at the retreat, participants got to enjoy nutritious cooked-from-scratch meals, provided by Kathleen Smith Ferdon, who also doubled as a dream analysis consultant.Timothy Lewis, a certified Ayurvedic practitioner, gave participants guidance into their ayurvedic type and the diet that would best suit their constitutions.

Saturday was a perfect, crystalline day for a hike. Wolf Creek’s owner, Chas Rauch, led participants on a backcountry snowshoe tour, after which three massage therapists from EagleGate, led by Blayne Wiley, helped hikers work out their tensions. Sonya Richins, documentary filmmaker, wild horse advocate and founder of HorsesVoice.org/ReinFree.org, teamed up with Idaho-based horse whisperer/intuitive Roxanne Hunt and George the horse to give participants insight into their healing paths. Sonya is currently working on a new documentary titled The Healing Power of Horses, a power to which retreat participants can attest (including me!). Footage from the QLC retreat may appear in the film.

KK Baker, a Salt Lake-based intuitive provided Tarot readings. KK also serves as development director for QLC. She has originated the creation of the Breast Wellness House, providing ongoing support groups and education throughout the year. QLC is increasing its reach with partnerships with the Huntsman Cancer Center and Utah Cancer Specialists. QLC is committed to bringing QLC programs to hospitals within the Salt Lake valley.

Amy says the family-style dinners were truly like family. “We were talking as if we’d always known each other.” One participant, she says, told her, “I haven’t felt this calm in a year,” since her cancer diagnosis.

“This environment feeds the soul,” says Amy. She says the group didn’t need to formally process with each other. The mountains, food, healing modalities and friendship came together to create a respite from the stresses of living with cancer. People who hadn’t previously met left the retreat as friends. Says Amy, “This is the environment we want to create with QLC.”


About Charlotte Bell
Charlotte Bell discovered yoga in 1982 and began teaching in 1986. Charlotte is the author of Mindful Yoga, Mindful Life: A Guide for Everyday Practice and Yoga for Meditators, both published by Rodmell Press. Her third book is titled Hip-Healthy Asana: The Yoga Practitioner’s Guide to Protecting the Hips and Avoiding SI Joint Pain (Shambhala Publications). She writes a monthly column for CATALYST Magazine and serves as editor for Yoga U Online. Charlotte is a founding board member for GreenTREE Yoga, a non-profit that brings yoga to underserved populations. A lifelong musician, Charlotte plays oboe and English horn in the Salt Lake Symphony and folk sextet Red Rock Rondo, whose DVD won two Emmy awards in 2010.

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