Holly Twining combines yoga with hiking, fat biking, rock climbing and more with Maine Yoga Adventures
It was a fluke, really. Holly Twining had no intention of becoming a yogi. She was working as a naturalist and communications coordinator at Fields Pond Audubon Center in Holden when a couple of volunteers from the center approached her. They’d been participating in a weekly class in Bangor with certified yoga teacher Barbara Lyons, but Lyons was moving away. Wanting to keep their yoga practice going, the volunteers suggested Twining take the helm.
“They told me their teacher was leaving town and I should just be their teacher,” Twining laughs. Her first thought: Why not? So the novice started leading a yoga class at Fields Pond Audubon Center and soon realized she wanted to learn more and gain training. What ensued was a career change and the eventual birth of Maine Yoga Adventures, a company she founded in 2015 that combines yoga with other activities, ranging from rock climbing and hiking to paddleboarding, theatrical performances and brewery tours.
Twining leads day trips and weekend getaways in Maine and week-long retreats in places like Costa Rica, Iceland and Tuscany. Each event incorporates some variety of yoga (think poses in a snowy field while wearing snowshoes or a hike in the woods that includes pausing under the trees for a few minutes of flow). The yoga style, and her adventures, are intended to be open to all levels of yogis and adventurers.
“Maine Yoga Adventures is all about bringing people together and getting them outside,” she says.
And always, Twining leads her adventures with a personality that is as colorful as her apparel (she’s always decked out in bright colors, from her socks to her nail polish). She is, underneath it all, a performer. While living in New York over a decade ago, Twining was a dancer and performer for an experimental theater company. A knee injury forced her to change her priorities. “It was so bad…I had to choose between dancing and walking,” she says. Common sense prevailed. A nature lover, she earned an interdisciplinary master’s degree focusing on environmental ethics and literature from New York University. After 10 years in the city, she and her husband decided it was time to trade traffic jams and honking horns for woodland trails and birdsong.
Since Twining and her husband, Travis Baker, are both New Englanders (Twining is originally from Rhode Island) they decided to move to familiar territory. They settled in Orono, where Baker earned his master’s degree in creative writing at the University of Maine, and Twining joined the Fields Pond Audubon Center. After finding success in her “yoga club,” she became a certified yoga teacher in 2011 and left Maine Audubon in 2015 when she launched Maine Yoga Adventures. She also teaches weekly studio classes at Om Land Yoga in Bangor.
Ideas for her trips come from her participants as well as her own research and desires. Often times she creates an adventure around a place she wants to go or something she wants to try—like fat biking or ascending Mount Katahdin in the winter or happy hour at a local pub. Partnering with local businesses is important to Twining, as is living a vegetarian life. A personal chef creates a strict vegan or vegetarian getaway for all her participants on the longer adventures. “Eating this way is a lot lighter on the planet,” she says.
Danielle Dorrie of Hampden has attended a few of Twining’s adventures. “They give me the opportunity to engage with others who have similar interests that I wouldn’t know otherwise, doing things I wouldn’t do otherwise,” Dorrie says. “Holly brings people together from all walks of life and makes you feel super comfortable. It’s a lot of work doing what she does!”
Currently, Maine Yoga Adventures runs two adventures a month. Upcoming events include a hiking and paddling day-long adventure in the Amherst Mountains Community Forest, a day-long goat yoga experience at Lone Spruce Farm in Dedham and an overnight seaside retreat in Penobscot. “I can’t believe how quickly people signed up for that goat yoga,” Twining says. “People have been begging me to do it!”
Twining herself likes to push boundaries and try new things. And she thinks it’s important for others to get off the couch, get outside and do the same. “I feel like there’s such a payback when you do something you don’t necessarily want to do,” she says. “Because when you do it, it’s ‘Hells yeah!’ High five! It’s energizing. For a lot of people, Maine Yoga Adventures is something that’s easy to do…they just have to show up and try.”
But how does yoga practice change when you have a paddle (or beer) in your hand? How does it differ from a traditional studio setting to the beach or a mountain trail? “It’s not as formal, and the exercise is a little shorter,” Twining explains. “There is just something about practicing outside that gets people all….ahhhhhhhhh.”
Maine Yoga Adventures will celebrate its fourth anniversary this July. Twining is looking forward to pushing the boundaries of her adventures in the near future by introducing an element of volunteerism into the repertoire. One idea is partnering with Earthwatch, a conservation group that uses citizen scientists on their research projects. Twining envisions a longer adventure trip that coincides with one of Earthwatch’s ongoing projects. “I want to pull my conservation training into this, to do more with Maine Yoga Adventures than help people feel good being outside. To help make a difference.”
Upcoming Maine Yoga Adventures
Overnight Seaside Adventure
Private residence, Penobscot
What to expect: Enjoy yoga, nature explorations, healthy food, wine, stargazing and an outdoor fire. A fun weekend for all levels.
Bold Coast Adventure
West Quoddy Station, Lubec
Cost: $400/king; $350/queen; $325/queen sofa bed; $300/twin cot
What to expect: A weekend at beautiful West Quoddy Station filled with yoga, hiking and food.
August 11, 9 a.m.to 3 p.m.
Hiking & Baking Adventure
Baker Hill, Sullivan
What to expect: A day trip to Baker Hill, Long Ledges Preserve and Flanders Bay to hike, bake bread, play on the shore and soak in a hot tub.
For more info and upcoming events with Maine Yoga Adventures, go to:
More upcoming yoga retreats
June 17–20 & July 1–4
Paddle Board Yoga with Tina Fish
Sewall House, Island Falls
Cost: $50 (does not include accommodations)
What to expect: Learn how to practice paddle board yoga and knit!
YOLO Adventure Retreats: Acadia National Park Camp, Hike, SUP, Yoga Weekend Retreat, KOA Oceanside Campground, Bar Harbor
Cost: $445 (shared cabin); $320 (tent site for 2 people)
What to expect: All that MDI has to offer! Lobster bake, bonfire, hiking, paddle boarding, Rise & Shine yoga classes and lots of exploring at Acadia National park. (sup-yo.com/retreats)
Windjammer Angelique: Yoga & Wellness Cruise
What to expect: A restorative and relaxing 4-night sail. This is an all-levels yoga, meditation, breathwork and sailing experience. (sailangelique.com)
Sewall House, Island Falls
Cost: $100 (does not include accommodations)
What to expect: An immersive writing retreat fueled by yoga practice and Maine nature. There will be structured writing exercises, individual writing time and set intentions during yoga practice. Open to all writers. (sewallhouse.com)
Forever Wild Yoga: Allagash River Yoga & Canoeing
Allagash River Waterway
Cost: $1,000 before June 30; $1,100 after June 30
What to expect: This retreat includes canoe instruction, daily yoga classes and exploratory adventures through natural wonders.
Forever Wild Yoga: SUP Yoga Retreat
Red Quill Cabin, Rangeley
Cost: $550 before August 1; $600 after August 1
What to expect: Learn to SUP, deepen your yoga practice and enjoy the outdoors. Each day there will be 2–3 yoga practices as well as time to journal, meditate and relax.
Radiance-Embodying the Divine Feminine Women’s Transformational Full Moon Meditation, Breathwork, & Yoga Retreat
Rolling Meadows, Brooks
What to expect: A sacred space to expand consciousness and self-awareness. Blending yoga asana, silent and guided meditations, sacred movement, infinite light breath work and time in the natural world. This is a highly experimental retreat.
Cost: $699; Early Bird Special: $639 if you register by July 15
What to expect: A weekend with a relaxed plan. Trail running, hiking, yoga, campfire chats, guest speakers, good company and feel good food and drinks. (disconnectionretreats.com)
Living From our Sacred Self Meditation, Breathwork, & Yoga Retreat
Rolling Meadows, Brooks
What to expect: The practices of meditation, breath work, yoga asana, yin yoga, pranayama, meditative movement, yoga Nidra, restorative poses, silence and free time in the natural world. (rollingmeadowsretreat.com)