If you go

What: Earth Play Retreats acroyoga and rock climbing retreat

When: Saturday, all day

Where: Various locations near and in Boulder

Cost: Starting at $100

More info: http://earthplayretreats.com/

Boulder's Yuki Tsuji-Hoening and Heidi Wirtz, both experienced climbers, outdoorswomen and yogis, realized earlier this spring they could team up and share their connection to the outdoors with others through retreats.

The two began talking in March about creating Earth Play Retreats, a business that blends yoga and other outdoor activities during retreats to help people connect with nature. Earth Play Retreats will host its first acroyoga and rock climbing retreat on Saturday.

Tsuji-Hoening and Wirtz want to help get more people outside, connecting with nature and unplugging from their hectic daily lives. They plan to combine the mindfulness of yoga with activities like journaling, massage, mountain biking, hiking and more to help people of all ages and abilities challenge themselves and reconnect with the earth.

"We'd like to introduce people to the outdoors and do something really playful and fun, but at the same time people are learning and pushing their limits or challenging themselves and experiencing this personal transformation," Tsuji-Hoening said.


Tsuji-Hoening said being in nature makes her feel grounded, because she sees how "grand" the world is and how small humans are in comparison. Part of the mission of the retreats will be to remind people how naturally beautiful the environment is, she said, and how much work still needs to be done on preserving it.

The first retreat will start early in the morning in Boulder Canyon, where participants will climb for the first part of the day before heading back into Boulder for acroyoga, which combines yoga and some acrobatics.

Heidi Wirtz, shown here climbing, has teamed up with Yuki Tsuji-Hoening to create a new outdoor retreat business, Earth Play Retreats.
Heidi Wirtz, shown here climbing, has teamed up with Yuki Tsuji-Hoening to create a new outdoor retreat business, Earth Play Retreats. (Courtesy photo)

During the climbing portion of the retreat, Wirtz and Tsuji-Hoening will help participants engage in the yoga practice of conscious breathing. They plan to meditate before climbing to increase focus and keep participants calm, Tsuji-Hoening said.

"Climbing outdoors can be really scary, so people might be working on their fear of heights or fear of the challenging of rock climbing and the unknown," she said.

For Wirtz, leading adventure retreats has been on her to-do list since her early 20s. Now 42, Wirtz said she hopes the retreats someday span the globe and include skiing, mountaineering, running and more.

Wirtz climbs for The North Face and co-founded nonprofit Girls Education International, which seeks to provide education for girls in undeveloped parts of the world.

She wants to keep the retreats affordable -- Wirtz herself has never been able to attend a retreat because they're so expensive, she said. If you bring your own gear, the first all-day retreat is $100. If you need to borrow gear, it's an extra $15, but Wirtz and Tsuji-Hoening hope that being able to borrow gear makes it less intimidating to beginners.

Eventually, Wirtz wants to create a scholarship program.

"Sometimes these retreats get a little too far outside of normal people's worlds," she said. "Everybody needs this kind of thing. A little break from the stress of being in their everyday life."

The Shoshoni Yoga Retreat, which was founded in the late 1980s, offers similar retreats just south of Nederland. Director of yoga programs Gayatri Devillier said she's seen a rise in popularity of yoga retreats in recent years.

As more people are introduced to yoga and want to spend a weekend "unplugged" from the world, she said, more people have turned to yoga retreats. (Shoshoni itself is located in an area of the county that lacks cell phone service, she said.)

"Yoga in general is becoming more available and it's becoming less demystified because it really is for everybody and we feel really strongly that anyone can practice yoga or meditation," Devillier said.

--Follow Sarah Kuta on Twitter: @SarahKuta.