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Tree Warriors Needed! An Earth Day Fundraiser

Tree Warriors Needed! An Earth Day Fundraiser

It takes a community to protect a forest

Last March, 200 acres of pristine forest adjacent to Gray Bear Lodge, the holistic retreat center in Tennessee where we've held past retreats, were slated to be cleared cut.

This pristine area is home to dogwood, hickory, red oak, and maple trees, beautiful streams, majestic waterfalls, tall pines, wild turkey nesting grounds, inspiring cliff faces, and fields of wildflowers. Gray Bear's goal is to purchase the land and preserve its silent sanctuaries--the bamboo meditation gardens, the hiking trails, and the abundant wildlife. Preserving this adjacent forest will help ensure a place to listen to the exotic woodpecker calls, to take in glorious sunrises and sunsets, and to watch starry night skies.

Pose with a Purpose

We hope you'll strike a tree pose and help us sponsor Grey Bear's Earth Day Fundraiser. Our goal is to raise $1008 through April 30, 2018 to preserve 1 acre of forest. 

Donation Levels

  • Donate $25 (Tree Warrior) and a picture of yourself in a tree pose (or hugging a tree), and Gray Bear will add you to their digital forest mosaic
  • Donate $108 (Tree Protector) received by April 30, 2018, and a picture of yourself in a tree pose (or hugging a tree), and you will also be entered to win a R&R weekend at Gray Bear!

Your payment can be made in several ways.

  • Cash or check— (payable to Friends of Gray Bear) and drop off at Yoga Among Friends
  • Paypal— you can use the app on your phone and send payment to paygb@graybear.org or click here.
  • Apple Pay—use your Apple device and the messages app to send a message to paygb@icloud.com Please note you need to have Apple Pay set-up on your Apple device.
  • Venmo—you can use the app on your phone and send payment to paygb@graybear.org. Learn more about Venmo.

Don't forget to send us your tree pose submission. Include your first and last name, email, and if desired, indicate "in memory of"
or we can take your photo for you when you drop off your payment.

If we can collectively raise the $1008 by April 30, our studio be entered to win a R&R weekend!

Earth Day Yoga

New! Laura Jane will be leading a benefit Earth Day yoga class on Sunday, April 22 with all proceeds going to Gray Bear's forest preservation project. Learn more and join us on Earth day!

Tapping into your Internal GPS

Tapping into your Internal GPS

Sometimes in life we get lucky and actually get to hear the voice of our inner intelligence—some call it the voice of the soul. I experienced this as an internal GPS, offering me a clear message of direction that has nothing to do with my learned mind as a familiar road map. In fact, my little mind will often find every way to dispute the message with thoughts of doubt and fear shouting louder than the quiet inner vibration of “knowing”.  Many times that inner quality has no language other than a fierce opening in my heart and the simple words "DO IT". 

In 1988, I was deep in my pain of not knowing. I found myself on my knees and suffering with confusion as I cried out for help. It is in those profound moments of surrender that the true self is revealed. On the floor in a puddle of tears, I heard the words ”yoga retreat”.  What? What the heck is a yoga retreat??  Late in the 80s, yoga was not the fitness industry that is is today. Somehow, I thought I was being called to an ashram. I asked my wonderful former husband at the time, who kindly answered with a touch of sarcasm, "if you can find a yoga retreat, go on a yoga retreat”.

The beauty of my story unfolded when the very next day, I picked up a local LA newspaper, opened it and right in the center of the paper in bold black and white lettering “Yoga Retreat”!! My intellect could not make sense of this amazing connection but my inner intelligence was speaking through my soul. At the time, I would never have imagined I would be become a yoga teacher for I was clearly on my destined path of acting, and my ego was only concerned with attaining fame and fortune! Besides in the 1980s there was no career path for being a yogi!


However, the story unfolded with even greater mystery. I immediately called the yoga center which today is the world renown, The White Lotus Foundation, in Santa Barbara, CA. I called Ganga and said I was coming. I was told the price and choked. It was beyond my meager funds as a broke actress with limited paychecks. In my fake bravo voice, I agreed to mail my deposit and became committed to finding a way to get there! My intention was set and yet I had no idea how I was going to raise what at the time was a huge amount of money that I didn’t have!  

A few nights prior to the start of the retreat I was still short of funds. I will never forget the moment my life changed when my phone rang. It was Ganga, and immediately I knew he wanted the rest of the money. My hiding self felt shame and regret since I knew I would have to tell him my situation, but then something of a miracle happened.

He started by sharing that this was the first yoga retreat they had ever decided to do since they usually only had teacher trainings. It was also the first time they had ever advertised. They had put ads all up the west coast from San Diego to Washington State. Only I and one other man from Seattle had signed up. Ganga then shared that since I was so enthusicatic with my desire to come, and since there were not enough for a true retreat to happen, he would just teach us privately, give me my own yurt, have a vegetarian chef prepare meals, and he would lower the price by half!  I was silent, confused, overwhelmed and deeply grateful. As I hung up the phone, my emotional tears spoke a deep thank you to the universe. In that moment, I felt heard and seen. Yes, there is a source greater than me. 

That retreat changed my life. I never wanted to be a yoga teacher. When Ganga and Tracey Rich asked me to return for teacher training, I was insulted and resisted what they must have seen in that lost woman. However, two weeks back in LA, the voice spoke again in the back of my car. DO IT!

I wanted to learn more and decided to take up the offer, but my ego was not actually going to teach! The story unfolded in such a profound way. My inner GPS guided me into places and roles that my little mind could never have imagined. I entered the world of teaching kicking and screaming until I finally dropped the resistance and said YES. 

Life will often give us such road blocks, pot holes and dangerous conditions of weather. When we let go of the steering wheel and listen to the true guidance which is quietly waiting for us to say, “I don’t know how to do this anymore,” it will surprise us with the miracle to a new path. It is not understood by my intellect, but in that moment on the floor, my new life was beginning.

Today, these many years later, I still go to my knees in practice and ask. My fears and doubts will still resist the changes in living on a path that requires deep listening. In a practice that demands commitment, I stay present as I invoke a strength that allows me to move forward through my heart. I just remember my first moment of hearing those sweet words and how life presented itself.

Enjoy each day with love and light,
Laura Jane

Free Information Session for YAF's Summer Yoga Retreat in Greece


FREE Yoga Retreat Information Session


Join Laura Jane Mellencamp-Murphy for a FREE sneak peek about her upcoming summer yoga retreat in Amorgos, Greece. Laura will share details of retreat and optional site seeing excursions while answering any questions that you may have.

Laura Jane will be hosting a like minded community on her retreat, Going Into the Light: Cultivate an Inner Sense of Well-Being through Yoga, in Amorgos, Greece, July 7-13, 2018. 

Interested, but can't make the meeting...  No worries! Contact Laura to get your questions answered. 


Be sure to register and benefit from the $300 savings. Early bird pricing ends on March 15, so don’t miss out on the offer!