By Casey Murphy
Tyler Morning Telegraph, Texas.
Theresa Polley knows she is living the dream.
“I’m not sure how that happened,” she said.
Ms. Polley is celebrating her 10th anniversary in business, offering relaxing yoga retreats to women from all over the country.
Retreat in the Pines sits on 30 acres of trees, about a 10-minute drive from downtown Mineola.
She studied journalism and worked in advertising and marketing for nearly 20 years. Originally from Ohio, Ms. Polley lives in Dallas and goes to Mineola most weekends to host the yoga retreats.
The 51 year old started offering yoga retreats in 2004 after leaving disappointed from a yoga fitness retreat she attended. The retreat didn’t allow her to have coffee, sugar, wine or chocolate, among other things, and it seemed more like a boot camp.
To her, the word retreat sounds calming and relaxing, but it’s also about “treating yourselves to the things you love and enjoy,” she said.
At Retreat in the Pines, they focus on healthy cooking, but allow women to treat themselves with things, such as wine and dark chocolate. She believes she has created the perfect retreat.
“I’ve met so many amazing women. … It’s a nice community we’ve created,” Ms. Polley said.
She started the business small but has since expanded it to a full-time operation.
“It has absolutely been a journey,” she said, adding that she has made wrong decisions along the way and learned from them. “I learned by fire,” she added.
Ms. Polley was teaching other fitness classes when she tried yoga in 2003 while going through a devastating time after losing her mother and job in a two-week span.
“It was one of those transformative things” for Ms. Polley, who said yoga helps people become healthier physically and emotionally. It allowed her to find her way.
Yoga continues to be an important part of her life and allows her to forget about her stresses. “I feel complete peace when I do that. … I want others to be able to find that,” she said.
Her retreats are low key and relaxing. She and her daughter, Nina Herndon, cook the meals, serve wine and offer free time for the guests to take a jaunt to Mineola or other nearby towns to shop and explore.
She has had clients come from as far away as Boston, Chicago, Seattle, Louisiana and New Orleans, as well as all over Texas. She has women in their 20s and their 80s, but they always find some sort of common ground with each other.
“To me, the connection is life changing too,” she said, adding that the yoga, connection and nature all come together for the whole experience.
Polley teaches the yoga retreats two to three weekends per month and works on the business out of her home office during the week. She still lives in Dallas while her son finishes high school, but she is toying with the idea of building a cabin on the retreat to live in someday. She believes there is nothing better than waking up to the pine trees, the quiet and the beauty.
“I think East Texas is the best place on earth,” she said.
BUILDING A BUSINESS
She and her now ex-husband bought the property in 2004 as a second home. She has since added a second log cabin there and rents out the two homes that can sleep 18 people. She also rents out the facility for weddings and other events.
She said she is moving toward hiring others to help her expand the business, and her goal is to have a booked calendar. She is getting close.
Her retreats in October and November are sold out, but she has some slots available for December. Next year, she only has eight weekends that are not planned for retreats.
Yoga retreats usually are held from Friday afternoon through Sunday morning. Some women come in groups, while others come alone.
She has had a group of women from Ukraine come, while one woman recently drove by herself from Minnesota, she said.
Ms. Polley sees women who have never done yoga before to those who have been doing it for years. She teaches mixed levels and offers several different types of retreats, including Detox and Yoga, Yoga Nurture, Yoga and Zumba and Yoga and Crossfit.
“I’m trying to make it appeal to everybody,” she said.
Her daughter wants to get her yoga teaching certificate, but for now helps her out by cooking and assisting with other various aspects of the business.
After college, Ms. Herndon came into the business with fresh eyes and fresh ideas. Ms. Polley said she and her daughter work great together and she plans to someday leave the business to her.
“We’re a really good fit,” she said.
Retreat in the Pines is having a contest on social media to celebrate its anniversary. People can submit photos, inspirational quotes and other things to win “10 prizes for 10 years,” which include free retreats, bath goods and clothes. For more, visit retreatinthepines.com.