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Let Nature Be a Container for Health and Healing

Hosted by the Living Earth School and Nature of Mind-Body, this immersive three-day, two-night workshop is for attendees who want to learn and practice science-backed tools to incorporate resetting the mind and body into their everyday lifestyle to better their wellbeing.

This retreat is open to backpackers of all levels, from the beginner to the experienced. Content and approach is found at the intersection of science, nature, and mindfulness. Guided by two health professionals specializing in outdoor holistic interventions, lectures on the scientific ground-breaking research of nature and mindfulness will be integrated through your own experience of backpacking, yoga, mindfulness, and nature reflections.

What you will you take home with you:

  • Polyvagal Theory
  • Introduction to the Nervous System
  • Sense-Based Nature Connection
  • Reflective Journaling
  • Therapeutic Yoga
  • Personal Goal Setting
  • Evidence-Based Meditation Techniques
  • Introductory Backpacking Knowledge and Skills

Research in the developing field of eco-psychology has shown that time in nature helps alleviate many unfavorable symptoms of mental disorders including PTSD, anxiety, and depression. Evidence shows getting outside reduces blood pressure, regulates and reduces stress hormone levels, lowers nervous system arousal, enhances immune system function, increases self-esteem, and boosts mood. In a recent study, psychiatric unit researchers found that being in nature reduces feelings of isolation, promotes feelings of calm, and lifts mood among patients studied.

The first day will consist of a mellow 2-3 mile hike to establish our base camp. The following days will feature shorter day hikes. You will have the option to borrow Living Earth School’s camping gear at no extra charge to be best prepared to camp under the vast night sky in the heart of Appalachia as you reset your mind and body. Financial aid will be available as an option to participants who express an interest.

For safety reasons, participant’s should be able to comfortably hike up to 6 miles a day. Also, if you have recent or upcoming surgical procedures or medical complications, please disclose information to the instructors or to the LES office so that we can ensure your safety and the safety of others during the retreat!

**If there are any concerns or if we would like further clarification, one of our guides may reach out to you individually prior to to start of the trip. **

Meet your guides

You will be guided by two instructors over the course of our long weekend together. Both instructors are licensed healthcare professionals, trained wilderness guides, and certified yoga instructors that bring their full heart into their work.

Jayme Vance, MOT, OTR-L, RYT, WFA

Jayme is an Occupational Therapist, yoga teacher, and outdoor guide. As an occupational therapist for over a decade, she has worked with a variety of demographics including Veterans with PTSD and traumatic brain injuries, cancer patients undergoing treatment, as well as struggling adolescents and young adults. She is currently working through Duke University’s Health System towards her certification as a Health and Wellbeing Coach, to combine her professional background and personal passions. As a yoga teacher since 2009, Jayme has received specialty training in trauma-sensitive approaches, and has been trained in therapeutic modalities that are incorporated into her practice. Jayme recognizes the innate healing power of nature. In addition to working as a guide for wilderness therapy, she has personally completed two long-distance thru hikes and has hundreds of days in the backcountry and counting.

Stephanie Ray, LCSW, RYT, WFR

Stephanie is a psychotherapist, yoga teacher, and outdoor guide who specializes in the intersection of mental health and nature. She has guided folks in the back country for over a decade in both recreational and wilderness therapy expeditions, and continues to “keep her foot in the door”. She’s worked at a yoga and mindfulness group psychotherapy practice and continues to incorporate similar modalities into her current approach to mental health. Stephanie founded, developed, and directed a non-profit wilderness therapy program that supported adopted adolescent girls who experienced significant trauma. She is certified in Poly-Vagal Somatic Therapy and has written a research paper on the neurology and physiology of PTSD and how yoga can help from a scientific stance. Steph has found healing and meaning in her continued and profound awe of nature, and finds purpose in guiding others to this connection. Between her career in wilderness therapy, recreational guiding, and personal backpacking trips, she has north of 2,000 days in the backcountry.

Details & Registration

  • May 17-19, 2024 @ Blue Ridge Mountains, VA

    Workshop begins on Friday at 8 am and will finish at 4 pm on Sunday

    Guided backpacking retreat where all gear, equipment, and food will be hiked into the camping spot.

  • Ages: 18+

  • $450 – Financial aid is available for this workshop. Please fill out this form and our staff will be in touch about your request.

    Registration includes all meals (can accommodate vegan and gluten-free) and gear rentals if needed (backpack, tent, sleeping pad).

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