There was a little girl of six, who emigrated from England to New England over thirty five years ago and fell in love with nature and the great outdoors. Now a grown woman, she is still madly in love with the wilderness and is leading other women on adventures that combine yoga, hiking, white-water rafting, cross-country skiing and/or snow-shoeing at Yosemite National Park, Big Sur, Sequoia National Park, Gold Mountain, Idaho and Todos Santos, Mexico. Her name is Belinda Ordonez and her company is aptly called Wild Moon Yoga.
Belinda says, “I remember roaming the woods surrounding our home in Connecticut and the small wonders happening all around me; the sounds of bird’s chirping, deer graciously leaping through the trees and the beautiful chorus of crickets. Something magical happens every time I step into the wilderness. It is the place where my heart expands. There is an immense sense of freedom and potential.”
Intertwined with her pull towards nature was Ms. Ordonez attraction to yoga, which she also started at a young age. She was 15 years old when she recalls coming across a book titled “Richard Hittleman’s Yoga: 28 Day Exercise Plan”. She used that book to develop a daily practice as a teenager and as an adult has trained in the Ashtanga style of yoga as taught by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. She has studied under some of his top students and sought out many yoga teachers around the world.
Yoga comes from the Sanskrit word “yuj” which means to yoke or bind and is often translated in English as “union”. Ashtanga Yoga is an ancient form of yoga which uses vinyasas (movements) to link postures (poses) and breath, to form sequences. Ashtanga is a Sanskrit term which means “eight limbed” or “eightfold path” to self-understanding.
Her trips combing wilderness travel and yoga usually fill up quickly, as she only takes a small number per outing, but only women need apply. “Women need an outlet to help them break free of their daily routines to nurture themselves,” Belinda explains. “Many women I meet are overworked, overloaded and exhausted from work, responsibilities and caring for others. Something very precious and nurturing happens when women get together. I remember witnessing one woman being moved to tears by the beauty of an incredible rainbow in Yosemite National Park and many others reconnecting with mother earth and feeling her magic.” Anga Gonzales, who has taken several trip with Ms. Ordonez adds, “Belinda is very reassuring and grounded. She allowed a person like me to relax and play.”
Lucy McCullough went on a Wild Moon Yoga trip to Yosemite National Park that included snowshoeing, yoga and meditation. She says, “The memory of that full moon lighting up the snow on those granite peaks took my breath away.” Another participant, Donna Burr, exclaims, “It was an amazing weekend trekking into the heart of Big Sur. Belinda’s knowledge and confidence on the trail helped to make the trip enjoyable and memorable. Her love and enthusiasm for nature and all its splendor is certainly contagious.”
The trips that Ms. Ordonez arranges often involve transportation and always include accommodations, park entrance and equipment fees, guide, yoga/mediation classes, gourmet meals and snacks. The majority are 2 to 4 day excursions that are planned throughout the year. The costs are reasonable and everything possible is done to accommodate special needs and circumstances. She says her yoga and meditation instruction are fit for any level of experience and none of the excursions are overly strenuous or designed for advanced hikers. A few of the professions represented by her travelers are teachers, therapists, business owners and nurses from every age group.
When it comes to life experience, Ms. Ordonez has been around the block a few times. She is not a new babe in the woods who suddenly decided to take women into the wilderness and bay at the moon. She holds a degree in psychology from the University of California, Santa Cruz; has advanced training in wilderness first aid and is a certified yoga instructor. Her background includes her work as a massage therapist, sports medicine, high school coach, career counselor and human resources. For over six years she worked with people living with life-threatening illness at a local hospice.
It appears that there is nothing that Belinda loves more (besides her dogs Max and Maya) than leading women up mountain tops, through valleys, down rivers and in meadows to practice yoga, mediation and even the occasional English High Tea. You can take a little girl out of Yorkshire England, but evidently not entirely remove her British sensibilities. Belinda laughs, “Even though I’ve lived and traveled throughout the world and lived in America most of my adult life, I still enjoy a spot of tea”.
Another former Brit, Stephanie Sandish, who joined in one of Belinda’s retreats in Sandpoint, Idaho, sums up her experience stating, “I found peace in the wilderness, healing in the holiness of nature and new found friends.”