The native Ojibwa called it Lake Giche-Gami, which translates into Great Sea. French explorers later renamed it Lac Supérieur, and today we refer to it as Lake Superior. As a child, I often visited the lake with family. I had a kind of fearful respect for Lake Superior after hearing tales of children who disappeared in its waters, 20-foot swells and listening to the haunting lyrics of Gordon Lightfoot’s, The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. The lake was often cold in the middle of July and it waters always held a dark mystery for me. Beautiful, but a bit scary. Having only experienced Lake Superior from the shores of Superior and Duluth, I had no idea it could be so captivating, healing, and not quite as cold as I remembered from childhood.
There is nothing like being lulled into savasana by the waves beneath you, while the sun warms your skin
Our hostesses, Christy Wandrei, and Ellen Sundell-Madden nailed every detail from the family style dinners catered by Cafe Seiche made with fresh, local and organic food, to the welcome bags complete with a journal and a beautiful bracelet made with sacred Rudraksha seeds. Christy resides on the island during the summer and has been teaching yoga on Madeline daily since 2008. Ellen has been sailing the Apostle Islands since 2000 and teaches yoga in the Twin Cities.
Our lodgings at the Sunset Bay Lodge overlooked beautiful Lake Giche-Gami with stunning views. The waters here did not appear dark and foreboding. Up close, they were crystal clear, and from a distance, they reflected a deep blue that would give The Mediterranean a run for its money. One of my favorite parts of the retreat was a group sail to one of the many uninhabited Apostle Islands. There is nothing like being lulled into savasana by the waves beneath you, while the sun warms your skin. Many of us took the exhilarating plunge from the boat into the lake and swam ashore to explore.
We were yogis of all ages and abilities. We ranged in age from early 20s to post-retirement. Each of us seeking something different. Peace, clarity, relaxation, and connection with kindred spirits.
Enter our instructor, Pradeep Teotia. Pradeep is a San Francisco-based instructor, who was born and raised in India. He was also a presenter at the very first Minneapolis Yoga Conference. He teaches and inspires around the world. Pradeep will captivate you with his twinkling eyes and infectious laugh. The practices were challenging yet simple. He sprinkled warm anecdotes inspired by his teacher and late grandmother that helped us withstand the longest of pose holds. His teaching style is authentic, lacks the pretense that sometimes abounds in the western culture of yoga, and is infused with his love for the practice, nature, and people. He affirms, “By doing what you love, you inspire and awaken the hearts of others.” Indeed. However, my favorite Pradeep-ism is “Welcome Home,” because it captures what yoga means to me personally. To feel connected, one with God, and whole – mind, body, and soul: to feel “at home” within my own skin.
Pradeep and Christy will do it all again next year. With my new appreciation of Lake Superior and all of its glory, I hope to as well.
To learn more about Pradeep and his retreats, visit pradeepyoga.com
To learn more about yoga and future retreats on Madeline Island with Christy, visit yogaontherock.com
Photo by Joe Longo