Detoxing the Spirit at a Vegan Yoga Retreat in Puerto Rico


As I bravely approach the beginning of a new decade in my life, I decided to treat myself to a yoga retreat run by my friend, Liz Patnode. This would be the sixth occasion that I have made self-care my ultimate priority and put everything else aside. 

I attended my first retreat with Liz in Vermont during the summer of 2011, and my life changed. I fell deeper in love with the practice of hot yoga, and decided to test the boundaries of my pescatarian diet by going vegan. And here we are, seven years later.  I ventured to Rincon, Puerto Rico, to usher in a new year of my life with great intention (and with Liz) once again.


When I think about True North Yoga, my immediate association is a cleansing of the mind, body and soul, and ultimately a detoxification of the spirit. I know that I will be able to return to my true self. It is a multi-pronged approach that is seamlessly woven for the ultimate in self-renewal. 


We began each day with a fabulous workout (or work in) that included back-to-back Pilates and 26x2 classes, or a vinyasa flow class. Our days included surf lessons, hiking, swimming in a waterfall, and a bit of a sunbathing. Each day concluded with a yin yoga class, and sometimes a yoga nidra session. We also had the opportunity to engage in additional meditation sessions.  This activity electrified the body and calmed the mind—the perfect blending of yin and yang.

I couldn’t talk about this experience without getting into the food: Liz is a master chef, and takes the world of raw vegan dining to a level that even meat eaters can appreciate. She puts so much care and love into the preparation of our food, and how it tastes—amazing. I really felt my body wake up and energize eating live plant based foods that were filling, satisfying and nourishing. 

Liz spoke to us about food combining, and what order to consume foods in so that digestion would not be challenging but as intended. She even took the time to provide recipes for her delicious dishes from sauces to entrees and desserts. If she publishes a cookbook one day, I see it becoming a best-seller.

We also tried to take the time each day to watch the sunset and just admire the beauty of nature. Sometimes the simplest things can have the greatest impact on us. Sitting on the beach, admiring the stunning sky, the setting sun, and the waves crashing—everything just comes to a soft and simple pace. We take a moment to breathe and to be grateful for that moment of communion with nature.

From the beginner to the experienced yogi, to the person looking to disconnect from chaos and reconnect with the Self, I highly recommend True North. With love and light, Om Shanti Namaste.   


Mandy B is a woman who wears many hats.  She has been a longtime veteran of the ad tech field, and was recently acknowledged as one the organization's leading "inspiring" women. One of her greatest loves and passions is hot yoga, which she religiously practices and now teaches. She is constantly striving to make the world a better place through her ongoing activism around human rights, with a focus on education and creating awareness around domestic violence and human trafficking. She is the proud mama to a beautiful rescue pastel calico cat named Savannah.