Hally Marlino played a pivotal role in my life while I lived in Madison. I first met Hally when I was working the front desk at Inner Fire Yoga, and she was teaching. Hally is a self-proclaimed “Blue Collar Yoga Teacher.” She loves beer & cheese. She radiates a gentle confidence, and has an undeniable aura of authenticity. And she is a regular writer for Yoganonymous – because she is a word wizard. I knew Hally was my kind of person right when I met her. When it comes to my criteria for idols – Hally hits every nail on the head.
I religiously attended her classes on Monday mornings. And every other class I could attend. I was also working for lululemon at the time, and Hally was conveniently a lululemon ambassador that year. Her weekly visits to the store were always a joy – as we’d spend longer than my manager appreciated talking about our love of yoga, bike riding, blogging, and stretchy pants.
Leaving Madison was tough, because I felt like an integral part of the yoga community – one that included so many admirable teachers, now turned friends. I’ve done my best to stay in touch, whether attending a class when I am in town, or stalking via social media. Hally makes the stalking easy because of her active presence online – which is how I stumbled upon the most glorious event in the history of events. Coachella has nothing on this.
A day retreat in Mauston, WI. A trail ride on horses, followed by lake-side yoga, followed by beers and barbeque. It’s like Hally combined everything I love into one Super Day. I cleared my schedule and immediately signed up.
My trek from the cities was a bit longer than those of my comrades from Madison. But I watched the sunrise as I drove south east, drank a large hazelnut iced coffee, and listened to “The Best of the 90’s” on the radio.
I passed my favorite Wisconsin landmark. The “CHEESE food” sign. The CHEESE sign – double the size of the Food sign below it. Signifying what I still love most about Wisconsin. Cheese is it’s own category, and it takes priority.
I pulled into Woodside Ranch just after 9 AM – where Hally’s husband and son were waiting with vegan breakfast cookies and cinnamon rolls. I expected nothing less.
First task was choosing a horse. My eyes were fixed on the tall stud, last in the row. His coloring looked like a peanut butter & vanilla parfait. I inquired about his manner. “Oh, Apache? He’s got some zip to him. You’ll have a good ride.”
And so Apache and I spent the next ten minutes bonding and taking #horseselfies. He didn’t seem to mind.
Not a cloud in the sky, 72 degrees. A day destined to be perfect from the start. With the exception of the flatulence contest that seemed to be taking place between Apache and his comrade Spitball.
After a serene ride through the woods, we laid out our yoga mats for a “Hally Special” as I like to call it. A completely blissful slow-flow vinyasa practice, with essential oils and aromatherapy. Hally had brought chilled spearmint & chamomile cloths, to lay across our foreheads while in savasana. Seriously Hally? Was there anything you didn’t think of?
And perfectly timed, waiting for us across the way, was a gourmet barbecue provided by Woodside Ranch. Burgers, Brats, Cucumber Salad, Macaroni Salad, Potato Salad, Baked beans – and complimentary beer. Some of us had ventured there with partners in crime, and others of us had ventured there solo, because of a mutual love for yoga, horses, and Hally. So the picnic table conversations were not just pleasant – they were real. And easy. And fascinating. It’s like I was right back at the Inner Fire yoga desk, being blessed by the presence of other like-minded individuals that honor the divine spark in everyone they meet. AKA Namaste.
Namaste Hally! And thank you for a day that lifted my spirits and scratched an adventure itch. It was a day of doing exactly what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it. And I am so glad that simultaneously aligned with your dream day. I hope this is the beginning of an amazing event series that will grow and flourish beyond your wildest dreams.
If anyone is interested in participating in a Yoga + Horse day retreat, I think there may be a couple spots left for a July and August session. Check out all the details at http://yoga-beast.com/