Riding the Wave: How Margaret Burns Vap Revolutionized the Yoga Retreat Experience

Riding the Wave: How Margaret Burns Vap Revolutionized the Yoga Retreat Experience

In the huge expanse of Montana&#8217s rugged landscape, Margaret Burns Vap carved out her niche long in advance of yoga retreats became a pattern. In 2007, she ventured into uncharted territory, blending the tranquility of yoga with the untamed spirit of the West. Minor did she know, her brainchild, Cowgirl Yoga, would gallop into the hearts of wellness seekers worldwide, embodying the essence of adventure, mindfulness, and connection.

At the heart of Cowgirl Yoga lies an ground breaking approach: mixing equine companionship with aware motion. &#8220Our biggest and very best supplying has been Cowgirl Yoga, which brings together yoga with horses,&#8221 Margaret points out. &#8220But not yoga ON horses!&#8221 In its place, Cowgirl Yoga fosters the brain-overall body-horse connection, a unique synergy that transcends traditional yoga practices. &#8220Our motto is Include a small Yeehaw to your Namaste,&#8221 she quips, encapsulating the spirit of adventure and introspection that defines Cowgirl Yoga.

For Margaret, Cowgirl Yoga isn&#8217t just a company undertaking it&#8217s a passion project deeply rooted in loved ones values. &#8220My daughter and I have equally expert how substantially yoga and horses have aided our neurodivergent issues,&#8221 she shares. &#8220She hopes to significant in psychology and animal actions &#8211 I&#8217d like to consider I had a thing to do with that.&#8221 As a mom and entrepreneur, Margaret finds fulfillment in nurturing both of those her organization and her spouse and children&#8217s dreams.

Can you elaborate on the evolution of Cowgirl Yoga and how you have strategically positioned it in the marketplace, specially looking at the uniqueness of combining yoga with horses?

I desire I could take credit for “strategically positioning” Cowgirl Yoga in the yoga retreat marketplace! Back when we launched it in 2008, I understood it was a distinctive combination…but what I didn’t know is how accurate my intention would continue on to be around time. 

You can go someplace that offers both driving and yoga but how several sites truly join them, so you can encounter how considerably they compliment each other? That is the essence of what I do. Just about every working day on a Cowgirl Yoga retreat is exclusive, but the themes are recurring: nurturing the horse-human link, and connecting what we do on the yoga mat to our time with the horses. Just about every working day has yoga as perfectly as horse time, and each and every follow feeds the other. On the yoga mat, we shell out time not only getting ready our bodies for the physical factors of driving, but also making ready our hearts and minds to be open up and receptive to the horse’s energy. We bring back the feelings and sensations from our horse interaction to our mats, for processing in new methods. It’s a cycle with a beautiful rhythm, that encourages sudden own discoveries.

I like to get in touch with a horse a “moving yoga mat”. There are so many parallels to what we follow with the horses and our yoga practice. Building that link between horse and human goes hand in hand with cultivating link to self, and eventually many others, on your yoga mat. It’s a new twist on your yoga observe, that retains individuals coming again for additional (and, not just twice &#8211 we have retreaters that arrive back again every single calendar year and are on their 8th, 9th, 10th Cowgirl Yoga retreat!). I generally say that the ideal detail about horses and yoga is that you’re under no circumstances finished mastering with both that offers the prospect for a loaded wide range of experiences. It is never ever the exact same detail twice. 

Can you share insights into the organization facets of incorporating equine coaching into Cowgirl Yoga? How do you imagine increasing this software, and what impression do you hope it will have, particularly in supporting neurodivergent people today?

Equine coaching was a content accident that type of fell into my lap, and I right away identified it as an additional modality to connect yoga and horses. Considering that then, I have noticed some of the most potent horse-human connections come about in the spherical pen. This is exactly where you hook up with a horse on the floor vs. on his back. This is where you develop a head-physique-horse link, with some suggestions from me. I like to consider of it as supplying the horse the added benefits of your yoga practice. This is the position wherever that type of alchemy is achievable, for the reason that it is about presenting your genuine electricity to the horse, and permitting him to respond to it. People today normally talk to me if Cowgirl Yoga is carrying out yoga on a horse – definitely not! It goes way further than that, and the biggest  “success stories” we have from our Cowgirl Yoga retreats never materialize whilst riding. 

Both equally my daughter and I have ADHD, and our diagnoses had been lifestyle-shifting. It’s effortless to see that animals can mend individuals &#8211 but when you slim that lens to what animals can do for neurodivergent persons, it is intellect-blowing. I have been lucky plenty of to experience it myself, and it lends deeper levels to what I can offer by way of equine coaching. The probability and likely to assistance someone who is having difficulties with the troubles of neurodiversity, with a horse associate, is far more than I could have at any time asked for in this venture. 

How has the advancement of yoga retreats and wellness tourism in general affected your small business, and what procedures do you have in place to remain impressive and competitive in this dynamic sector?

It is often validating to see that you ended up on craze with a thing I bear in mind when I had to clarify to persons where Montana was, and why they would at any time want to appear in this article on a yoga retreat. 

We’re holding it straightforward, and being correct to our initial intention: combining damn very good yoga with authentic ordeals, as well as a generous sprinkle of acquiring outside in mother nature. 

There’s been a ton of bells and whistles added to yoga currently. It pains me, simply because I’m a bit of a yoga purist. Some thing so inherently fantastic currently does not need even more embellishment. Yoga has stayed pertinent for hundreds of many years &#8211 it does not require our contemporary urge to decorate it. Yoga can stand on its personal. Inspite of my previous marketing job that integrated predicting developments in the elegance market and my appreciation for creativity…I will undertaking this is the just one matter that does not demand adjust, innovation, whatever you want to get in touch with it, to get superior. So we’re sticking with effectively aligned, nicely sequenced, damn very good yoga. Get on your mat and do the exercise. It’s certainly classy in its timeless simplicity.

One particular of our key themes is authentic activities. We’ve diligently cultivated retreat locations that aren’t regular. Of course, we had great retreats in Costa Rica and Tuscany…but then I realized heading more off-the-beaten yoga route sparked some thing new and new. On our retreat in Argentina, we meditate and practice yoga, and on the identical working day experience horses with gauchos. On our French Alps retreat, it’s yoga followed by a helicopter trip all over the iconic Mont Blanc, that provides up so much emotion you are in tears. In Montana, we host our retreat at a operating Dude Ranch that breeds Appaloosa horses, a horse whose history is immediately connected to that of the land. Individuals types of combinations give our yoga a depth that doesn’t materialize when you just roll your mat out in an unique locale, without the need of doing anything to participate in the place you are aspect of for a little bit. Yoga enhances the impact of these once-in-a-life time experiences. 

Final but not the very least, Character. I recently read through a little something about therapists starting to have periods with their clientele outside and in neighborhood parks. And I puzzled what is taken this extended. Mother nature is treatment. We have missing our connection to it in so lots of techniques &#8211 but it’s simple ample to repair. Just go outdoors. Transferring to Montana reawakened my soul on this level, and I realized how highly effective combining getting outside the house with yoga could be. Each and every retreat combines yoga with an outdoor exercise &#8211 horses, climbing, and on our Yoga and Vineyard retreat in Sicily, exploring farms, vineyards, and historical sites (not to point out yoga in vineyards!).

As a business chief in the wellness sector, what developments do you foresee shaping the potential of holistic overall health and how do you program to position Cowgirl Yoga to capitalize on these developments?

Two words: Slowing down.  

We have put in yrs declaring that we’re pressured, that we want to prevent speeding all the time still, the current traits I’ve found in yoga is rapid sequencing to do additional poses, hotter than sizzling yoga, yoga sculpt with weights, really a great deal in no way slowing down, but in its place often incorporating extra. Then we’re heading to yoga to DO Much more, specifically what we’re hoping to get away from. How can you concentration on alignment and breath, two of the best positive aspects of yoga, when you are pushing so tough and shifting much too speedy? Spoiler notify: you just can’t. 

Individuals on retreat will question me: what are we performing from X o’clock to Y o’clock? When I say, nothing planned, which is down time, I see the worry in their eyes. We have to get more relaxed with rest, restoration, not generally accomplishing a little something, if we are to get healthier. One of my favored cues when teaching yoga is, “find the relaxation between the work”. We’ve attached fake price to generally executing. A single of our most preferred the latest retreats is termed Restore and Reboot &#8211 no electric power yoga allowed, only yin, restorative, and meditation. So, some folks are starting up to observe how appealing slowing down is, in our tradition of currently being busy all the time. 

With regards to Cowgirl Yoga, you have to gradual down to truly hook up with horses. In groundwork, I normally convey to people that the far more you press for “it” to occur, the much less anything at all will take place. And nothing may well take place &#8211 or almost nothing that is promptly noticeable. Horses benefit rest. That is their reward. So when we halt striving so really hard they frequently satisfy us there, in stunning and gratifying means. Horses are going to back again me up on this slowing down point. 

Presented your daughter&#8217s involvement in Cowgirl Yoga and her curiosity in psychology and animal actions, how has remaining a mother affected your approach to jogging a company that is deeply rooted in household values?

My daughter does not know this, but she is the co-creator of Cowgirl Yoga. Starting to be a mother was like a lightning bolt to my drive. We often want far more for our youngsters I required her to have what I so deeply longed for in my possess childhood &#8211 horses. When she was born, yoga had currently accomplished so significantly for my effectively-currently being, and with possessing a yoga studio in Washington DC, I presently had a toe dipped in yoga entrepreneurship. With my family’s transfer to Montana when she was not even 2 many years aged, I went immediately after my childhood aspiration and dove into horses, not very knowing exactly where it would direct. And voilà &#8211 shortly after, Cowgirl Yoga was born. 

She grew up with horses, finding out to trip, discovering to take treatment of them, and constantly getting them there &#8211 1000+  lbs of huge, comfortable, warm, physical and psychological aid. It is that final part that seriously does it. She’s noticed how horses support men and women she’s lived it. Our ADHD ordeals and diagnoses ignited the spark for her curiosity in pursuing psychology experiments &#8211 and the horses are together for that trip. I desire I could significant in each psychology and animal actions, by her facet &#8211 but I will keep on to mine the commitment she has specified me considering the fact that the day she was born, and perhaps a person day we will combine our operate. My coronary heart is crammed with satisfaction that she is using the specialist and personalized everyday living I created for myself, in her possess distinctive route. It tends to make me sense massively achieved as the two an entrepreneur and as a mother. 

In what approaches has the exercise of yoga and your link with horses impacted your properly-getting, and how do you integrate these experiences into your management fashion and choice-building as a business operator? 

The factors that have made me come to feel most connected to my entire world have been yoga, meditation, being outside, and animals. Precisely, horses. When I can blend these – for case in point, meditating outdoor around my horses – my power shifts appreciably. This is what I want to share with folks. These are the critical features of my yoga retreats – investing time in mother nature and with horses, working towards yoga and meditation. Certainly, I can educate you yoga indoors on your mat – but what elevates the practice to a higher vibration is taking what we do with yoga and connecting it to how we interact with horses as sentient beings. 

Horses give people wisdom past words. They reconnect us with a deep internal figuring out that we’ve lost touch with above millennia of getting to be much more “civilized”. They are genuine and reside in the moment. Yoga teaches us to be in the existing, not obsessed with the earlier or fearful about the long run. Horses do that way too. Horses really do not take psychological incongruity – consider pretending you are not fearful of them, when you might be just a small fearful. As prey animals, hiding what you’re experience is perceived as a danger to them – it doesn’t smell appropriate and they will explain to you so. They make an invaluable option for us to be genuine and emotionally straightforward. 

My job surely does not incorporate the choice to basically “go by means of the motions” I need to have to direct from an genuine spot in get to supply what I do. So lots of careers need folks to be somebody they are not I’m extremely fortunate that I really do not need to fake anything. Yoga and horses have specified me the reward of a business that truly will come from the coronary heart.

How do you preserve a perform-lifetime balance, primarily taking into consideration the mother nature of primary retreats in a variety of areas and handling a organization that is so intertwined with individual passions and experiences?

My mantra for a lot of many years has been: self-treatment is non negotiable. It appears so simple – still can be so, so challenging. By some means our society has shaped us to think that the past man or woman we should really acquire treatment of is ourselves. As ladies, we have a ton of guilt about self-care – it’s too highly-priced, I just can’t get that time off operate, I have relatives obligations. Sometimes we have to pick out ourselves, and not really feel selfish about doing so. I intention to exercise what I preach. 

Nevertheless, it can be a really hard line to draw considering that my function IS training function-lifetime balance. I do know that when I&#8217m depleted, I can&#8217t do that. So getting care of myself and being aware of when I have to have a crack is integral to what I do. I also figure out that I just can’t instruct yoga or horses without having my own non-function, non-instructing ordeals to attract from, so making confident I apply yoga on a regular basis and cultivate my passion for horses away from my retreats is my “continuing education”, that fuels my possess lifetime harmony. 

Reflecting on your journey, what suggestions would you give to aspiring business people, especially individuals looking to merge particular passions with organization ventures?

  1. Whichever small business you get started &#8211 be genuine. Own passion simply cannot turn into small business if you are not authentic. Keep genuine to your vision &#8211 if new suggestions stray way too considerably from that, they finally received&#8217t support growth.
  2. Be patient &#8211 you can&#8217t hurry good results. Just take the time to construct your enterprise with a strong and reliable basis, vs. having shortcuts that falsely assure to accelerate results. Getting followers on social media is nowhere around as useful as a lesser quantity of followers who are truly fascinated in what you provide. 
  3. Seem for synergy with other small firms. That has been 1 of the greatest approaches I&#8217ve nurtured my enterprise and made community alongside the way. It feels great to support other business people and lead to their good results, alongside with your have. There are so several amazing women of all ages organization homeowners out there &#8211 we can keep each other up, and enable just about every other realize achievement. 

Yeehaw & Namaste. 

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