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Natural Awakenings Westchester / Putnam / Dutchess New York

Yoga in the Adirondacks: As a yoga shala, Yoga in the Adirondacks (YitA) is place for education, not just exercise

Yoga in the Adirondacks at The Divine Acres

There’s a distinction between a yoga studio, which for many people is a place for exercise, and a yoga shala, which is a place for education. 

Rhodella Hughes—who along with her husband, Patrick, owns Yoga in the Adirondacks and its associated sustainable family farm, The Divine Acres—says they’ve redefined YitA as a yoga shala.

“Many of us go to yoga studios for exercise,” Rhodella says. “Physical movement is a tool for education about the self. A shala is a home where yoga is shared and experienced. It supports and increases our toolbox of knowledge. As our intention develops awareness of the internal self, we find ways to bring that knowledge with us everywhere we go.”

She says the ancient practice of yoga is best described in the Bhagavad Gita: “Yoga is a journey of the self, through the self, to the self.” 

The self-practice is not about weight loss, muscle gain or cardio fitness—although all those can be byproducts of yoga, Hughes says. It is also not about competition or comparison.  

“No one class is better than another,” she says. “The distinction is in the focus of the class intention. We might learn skills for exercise, but development of the internal self is the objective. That said, any reason to begin a yoga practice is a good one.”

      As a yoga shala, YitA is about showing up to find and become an improved person through the teachings, Hughes says. 

     “As a place of self-improvement and reflection, we do not indulge your individual needs. The individual experience belongs to you and to your journey of reform. It is a safe, sacred personal space for those showing up to learn. As a true yoga student, you have the ability to become the observer of your own behaviors. The windows and doors open within the self as you continue to show up in your own practice—the practice of life, of self-empowerment. It doesn’t stop when you leave the space.”

‘Where Yoga Embraces Nature’

YitA at The Divine Acres is located in Bakers Mills, a historical valley of the Adirondack State Park, a place where people coexist with wildlife. It has barn animals and more than 200 acres of private hiking trails. The natural setting plays an important role in YitA’s seasonal retreats. (While September’s Autumn Transformation retreat is full, there’s still availability for the next retreat, Falling into Winter, set for January 14 to 16, 2022.) 

With such breathtaking panoramas, it only makes sense that pranamaya, or breath work, is essential to YitA’s educational mission. 

“The first thing we do when we come into this human form is take a breath, and the last thing we will do is take a breath,” Hughes says. “At YitA, you’ll learn to sharpen your breath that carries you through life one inhale and exhale at a time, as involuntary flow of air exchange.”
The ultimate lesson to be learned is that “there is nothing to fear in God’s creation,” she says.  “Believe in who you are and you will find a healthier, more prosperous journey. You’ll find resolve, peace and calm and trust in what is meant to be. Everything is going as God intended. The work is learning to get out of our own way.” 

Yoga in the Adirondacks is located at 2 Coulter Rd., Bakers Mills, NY. For more info, call 518.251.3015, email [email protected] or visit