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Learn from leaders in healthy living.

Boss Mare #1: Margaret Burns Vap

Pictured above with her horse Dude Boy, Margaret is the founder of Big Sky Yoga Retreats and creator of Cowgirl Yoga. Her relationship with yoga began over a decade ago, in a bid to combat a hectic New York City lifestyle and a corporate career with cosmetics giant L’Oreal. A few years and several hundred down dogs later, Margaret knew that the corporate world no longer held her future, so switching her designer duds for comfy pants - and NYC for Washington DC - she combined her business know-how with her passion for yoga and created Georgetown Yoga, one of DC's most popular yoga studios in the early 2000s.

Margaret brings that same recipe for yoga success to Montana. She combines her fresh approach to teaching with a unique ability to create a nurturing, safe space in which to learn yoga. Her teaching will leave you calm and refreshed after a vigorous flowing practice, putting you in touch with your true potential and transforming your health and well being in the process.

Margaret began her practice at Jivamukti Yoga in NYC, and recently deepened it at Jivamukti London, while her family was living in the UK for six months. She has studied Ashtanga Yoga with Richard Freeman, David Swenson, and Dave Oliver. Margaret completed a 200-hour teacher training intensive with Yoga Works; this training was the result of a partnership between her studio Georgetown Yoga in Washington, DC and the renowned CA-NY based YW. She has also traveled to Hawaii for Baron Baptiste’s Level 1 teacher training bootcamp. Margaret is a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) with Yoga Alliance. Her yoga students have included celebrities and DC luminaries, seniors practicing yoga in chairs, beginner yogis, yogis who have been practicing for many lifetimes, and everyone in between.

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Margaret represents companies she believes in: she was an Athleta sponsored athlete in 2008 (picture at left from the spring '08 catalog photographed in Big Sky) and has written over 25 yoga tutorials (and counting!) for their Chi blog. She is thrilled to be working with the Boulder-based Tea Spot as their first Tea Spot Yogini. Margaret has been asked to speak on career transition (read the article she wrote for Yogi Times on her own) and, of course, yoga; she presented as a "Made in Montana" success story at the 2012 Women's Small Business Opportunity Workshop put on by Montana's Senator Tester. She has been featured on lifebyme.com, and authors a blog called Cowgirl Yoga: Montana musings on life under the Big Sky, motherhood, food, horses, and last but not least, yoga.

Margaret holds a BS from Georgetown University and an MBA from Thunderbird, the American Graduate School of International Management. She speaks French, Spanish, and a little Italian and has lived abroad on numerous occasions. Margaret is mom to Morgane Sienna, who is nine and loves yoga poses named after animals. In early 2007, Margaret, her husband David, Morgane and their two Boston Terriers Lola and Rocco all packed up and moved to Bozeman, Montana. They enjoy an active outdoor lifestyle in their mountain home. Margaret continues her life’s work of sharing yoga, while watching Morgane grow up learning to ski and horseback ride. Margaret and Morgane were featured as Cowgirl Yoginis in a 2009 JADE Yoga ad (at left).

 

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Boss Mare #2: Janice Cartwright

Janice is the head wrangler for Cowgirl Yoga and founder of Montana Horse Sense. Originally from Pittsburgh, Janice attended the University of Pittsburgh as a Health, Physical Education and Recreation major.

Her family spent every free minute at their private boy’s camp in Ohio; there she was able to discover and nourish her love for horses. She started teaching horsemanship when she was 12 years old; she's always been a teacher by nature. She chooses to teach through her horses - lucky her. After moving to Atlanta in 1981, Janice managed to continue with her love of horses and teaching while raising 3 daughters and starting a new business, Roswell Bicycles. Her introduction to Montana was on a vacation in 2001, and she immediately related to this special place. After all, she had always felt she was born in boots and jeans! After her last daughter graduated from high school, the move was made. Having lived here for the past 7 years, Janice has thoroughly enjoyed getting to know this beautiful place and the friendly people she's met, usually from the back of a horse.

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Upon arriving in Montana, Janice joined the Back Country Horsemen. This organization works with the US Forest Service to maintain the trails that she was so eager to discover. She was immediately immersed and became Vice President and a board director. Given her teaching background, the yearly Defensive Horsemanship Clinics dealing with safety on and around horses in all situations became her responsibility. Janice also met a wonderful man with some cows so...thus her cowgirl instruction began. Just because you ride a quarter horse does not mean it automatically knows what to do with a cow.

Throughout all her time with horses, Janice has come to understand that to be as safe as possible around these wonderful creatures we must understand how they think. Their instincts are what drive them and the more we learn about them, the safer we can keep ourselves and our mounts. She has enjoyed the journey of helping others down this path. Check out the Interview with a Horsewoman on the Cowgirl Yoga blog.

 

Autumn Benedetti

Autumn began a personal practice in grade school, and pursued a deeper understanding of yoga after moving to Bozeman, Montana in 2006. Upon completing a 200 hour teacher training and numerous workshops in and out of the country she began to teach yoga in the Bozeman area. Autumn's passion for the art and practice of yoga stems from the continued inspiration, challenge and understanding involved. She encourages her students to connect with their own breath and inner wisdom to create a practice that truly resonates with their aspirations, on and off the mat.

Autumn was born and raised in Montana, resulting in her enthusiasm for the outdoors. She enjoys everything from snowboarding, mountain biking, wakeboarding, rafting, and hiking with her reliable pup Toby. Additionally Autumn enjoys cooking savory dishes, photography, dance, the turning of the seasons and traveling the world! She graduated from Montana State University with a Bachelor's degree in Health and Human Development. She spends time working with various non-profits in the community, doing outreach with domestic violence, crisis, and at risk-youth. She thrives on the spontaneity, adventure, and energy that life in Montana offers. Visit Autumn's website, and like her on Facebook. *Autumn in currently traveling the world and will start graduate school out east in mid-2014. While we will miss her, we are thrilled for her (but still might be counting the days til she is back in Bozeman).


Caitlin Kelly

Caitlin's yoga practice began by accident 14 years ago. The class she had planned on taking at the gym was canceled, so she decided to give yoga a try. With her best friend by her side, she giggled through the asanas, wondered what the heck savasana was, and where it had been all her life! Caitlin began a regular yoga practice. She fell in love with the way yoga made her physically strong, emotionally balanced, and how it opened up spiritual connections that she never thought possible.

Caitlin completed a Vinyasa Yoga certification program at YogaLove in Yardley, Pennsylvania in 2010, and went on to complete a Yin Yoga certification in 2013. While deepening her meditation practice during trainings, she began creating mala necklaces, which are used for meditation and prayer. Caitlin opened up a small online shop, in which she sells custom, handmade, unique prayer beads. Each piece is created from the heart, which is what inspired Caitlin to name her shop after the sanskrit name for "heart". Anahata Mala can be found on Etsy.com.

Caitlin lives and works in Philadelphia, PA, where she teaches elementary school Health and Physical Education, and coaches middle/high school sports. Teaching is Caitlin's passion, and she strives to create a loving, safe space for all of her students to learn and grow. She is honored to be able to share her experiences, knowledge and love for movement and yoga with anyone willing to open their hearts and minds and give it a try. Caitlin will join us on our B-LUXE Cowgirl Yoga in July & August 2015, teaching yoga and a Montana mala making workshop.


Vi Huffman

Vi, a long time band director with multiple degrees in music performance and education, fell in love with the field of massage therapy following a spinal injury in 2004.

After 3 years as the Education Director for Bozeman’s massage school, Health Works Institute, Vi returned to the classroom, completing her degree in Massage Therapy in 2008. Following graduation, she returned to the public schools, once again in the role of band director and music educator. In 2011, after teaching for the better part of 28 years, Vi left the field and now devotes herself full-time to massage therapy through her Touch of Sense Massage.

Long a believer in continuing education and the value of expanding her knowledge base, Vi has invested in advanced training in Neuromuscular Therapy, Myofascial Release, CranioSacral Therapy and Lymphatic Drainage.

Like many people who call Bozeman “home,” Vi spends a great deal of time outside. Having grown up on a horse, one of the first questions asked after her spine surgery was whether or not she could safely ride again. The answer was an unequivocal “Yes.” In 2006, Vi discovered Montana Horse Sense run by Janice Cartwright. Making the switch from Quarter Horses to Tennessee Walkers; riding once again became a part of her life. Like skiers who head to the slopes on a gorgeous day in winter, you’ll find Vi outside, in the company of horses on those magical summer evenings when the twilight seems to last forever. Vi joins us on our Winter Wonderland & Wellness and Cowgirls vs. Cancer retreats, and is available for massage appointments after all our other retreats.

 

Lisa Laird

Lisa was introduced to yoga at a young age by her parents, who practiced Ashtanga yoga. She attended classes with them, seeing it as a way to complement her studies in ballet. However, a dance injury brought Lisa onto her mat full-time. She quickly began to see how transformational yoga was and became hooked. Yoga really helped her heal, understand and respect her body. She might not be practicing ballet but still loves to dance, viewing sun salutations as a true dance of self-expression.

In 2005 she attended her first teacher training at The White Lotus Foundation. The following year she began teaching in Green Bay, Wisconsin where she was born and raised. In 2008 she received her 200 hour training from Kripalu Center of Yoga. Lisa's humor and playful teaching style resonates with all ages, abilities and backgrounds.

Upon graduating from The University of Wisconsin - Green Bay with a Bachelor's degree in Arts Management, she packed up and moved west to Bozeman, Montana. She currently teaches yoga throughout the community and offers a donation based yoga class once a week; each week she chooses a different non-profit organization or local charitable cause. Lisa believes that personal awareness trickles directly into community awareness and that through yoga, one breath at a time, people can positively change their lives and the world. Visit Lisa's website, and like her on Facebook. Lisa will co-lead retreats with Margaret in 2014, and is our Cowgirls vs. Cancer coordinator. She was recently chosen as a 2014 KiraGrace warrior, for her exemplary commitment to the teachings of yoga, active involvement in her community, and dedication for building a more caring and compassionate world. She was featured in Mantra Yoga + Health Magazine in October 2014. Lisa is trying her hand at beekeeping, in honor of her grandfather that was a beekeeper.

 

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Kate Huston

Kate is the founder of Waywardraven Farms and Kate's Catering in Bozeman, combining the growing of produce at her farm with her cooking talents. Waywardraven Farms produces gourmet lettuce mixes for the Community Food Co-Op and local restaurants, along with providing produce for several families in Gallatin County. Her personal chef business was derived from a need for locally grown, nutritious meals for people with special dietary needs. Meals are generally cooked with what's in season, using produce straight from her garden; she also outsources to other local growers and ranchers. Kate joins our Cowgirls vs. Cancer, LUXE Cowgirl Yoga,Yoga & Hiking, and Winter Wonderland & Wellness retreats as our private chef. We savor healthy, local gourmet meals with Kate, who also gives a talk on being a farmer, along with tips for eating sustainably no matter where you live. Kate will also lead our Wildflowers & Wellness workshop on the August 2014 Yoga & Hiking retreat, sharing her extensive knowledge of Montana's flora. Check out the Interview with a Grower & Cook on the Cowgirl Yoga blog. We are all anxiously awaiting Kate's first cookbook.

 

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Ron Laden

Ron was born in Dillon, Montana to a ranching family. His first school had 10 students in attendance. Although they always had horses around, his attitude was, ride only if there is a reason to ride, never for pleasure. At Montana State University in Bozeman, he received his degree in Ag Business.

When Janice met Ron he was horseless. imagine that! He made the statement, "No women with horses." Well...that sure changed. Now, as the lone Cowboy at Cowgirl Yoga (besides Mike), he's an integral part of our CY retreats, adding a balancing Y chromosome to all of those Xs running/riding around. (Not to mention his yummy homemade biscuits and that great smile.) Ron has also entered the world of horse ownership by partnering up with RC. Now...he gets it...this horse thing. Lucky for us! And we're working on the yoga thing.

 

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Larry Stanley

Larry has taken photos for Big Sky Yoga Retreats since Margaret first called him and asked him if he might be game to try shooting yoga and horses. He also runs a wedding photography business called Montana Wedding Photographer, although we have taken to calling him "Montana Yoga Photographer". Larry takes outdoor "glam shots" on our Cowgirl Yoga retreats, to capture the experience for our retreaters. He and Margaret collaborated in a new way when they combined forces for their first Cowgirl Yogatography retreat in the fall of 2013. He completed Engineering studies at the University of Missouri at Kansas City, and Photography studies at The Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California.

In Larry's words:“Through a circuitous route of living, studies and travel in Missouri, Colorado, California, Hawaii, Australia, the Philippines, China and Tibet, I have made my home in Livingston, Montana; constantly in search of 'beauty... as it occurs naturally'. This phrase defines my view as a professional photographer and as a human being. Seeing and capturing the naturally arising moments of life with my camera has become more than just a profession, it’s my way of life. There are special moments in life that we see daily, often during the most pressed issues of our practical lives, as well as during a lifetime event such as a wedding (or yoga retreat!). They are fleeting yet poignant. They are meaningful yet illusive. They are my life breath. I take refuge in them.”

Photo of Larry by Margaret Burns Vap!