This Gangsta Goddess retreat is really shaping up to be spectacular…and while we don’t want to give every detail away know that we will start each morning with a period of silence (no talking) that we will hold from waking until lunch time. This practice of Noble Silence is very healing and will allow the silence and the calmness of the space and our place in it to penetrate deep into our flesh and bones. The spontaneous joy and peace of the natural environment – the trees, the wind, the water, the sky and one another’s quiet company – will be able to penetrate our body and mind.

For some, the thought of purposefully staying in silence can be challenging – mostly because it is a new and unfamiliar experience. This is especially true when a person’s primary associations with silence are uncomfortable—for example, when the only experience of social silence has been one of interpersonal discomfort, loneliness, or exclusion – and yet, we will be cultivating a nourishing atmosphere of stillness that will help you to get beyond those first few moments of awkwardness. You may find that you quickly come to cherish it and look forward to it rather than fear it.


Retreating to the river within the woods isn’t the only thing that we will be doing on the weekend of May 2nd. Our last blog discussed our plans for daily forest bathing and this blog will unveil our plans for doing a nidra on the daily! I started the research for this blog by looking up the origins of the words treat and retreat and here’s what I found (which is perfect!):

One definition of treat is: to give medical care or attention to; try to heal or cure. And a second is: an event or item that is out of the ordinary and gives great pleasure. So beautiful…The definition of the word retreat only builds on this…Retreat can be defined as a condition of being safe or sheltered from pursuit, danger, or trouble. Or as a quiet or secluded place in which one can rest and relax. And finally, as a period of seclusion for the purposes of prayer and meditation.

Well there who doesn’t want some to all of that! So how do you like me now? And if you haven’t ever heard of yoga nidra and/or practiced it before read on…by the time you are done you’ll know why you want to practice it (especially in the context of a retreat)!  (more…)

Need another reason to sign up for a weekend away? Let me give you a glimpse of but one reason why you should get your name on the Gangsta Goddess list…Forest Bathing Baby! It’s going to happen each and every day that we are in retreat.

Go to a Forest. Walk slowly. Breathe. Open all your senses.
This is the healing way of Shinrin-yoku Forest Therapy,
the medicine of simply being in the forest.

More than ever before, society promotes a culture of connection and though connection seems to be valued more than ever, staying connected to ourselves and putting away our devices is more challenging than ever. I’ll grant you that digital devices have made it easier than ever to stay on top of what’s happening, to do work anywhere and to see into the lives of our friends and family at any given moment. And yet, while this at-our-fingertips lifestyle enables us to easily find almost any information we’re looking for, it also inundates us with content we might not always be seeking. Whether you’re introverted or extroverted, everyone needs time to rest the body, mind and brain.


Meet Michele Zivkov

April 3, 2019


Michelle Zivkov was drawn to teaching yoga after nine years as an elementary school teacher. Always an avid traveler and learner, she was inspired to take a break from teaching to travel the world and deepen her yoga practice by completing her yoga teacher training with Zuna Yoga while in Bail, Indonesia.


Carrie’s journey with yoga began in 2008 at the ripe age of 14. A lifelong equestrian, she was determined to reach her toes and combat hips that seemed to be permanently locked into place. As she noticed the shifts in her gaining mobility and the peace she seemed to find with every yoga class, she ventured to the Lotus Pond school of yoga teacher training in Tampa to complete her 200 hr YTT in 2012 at the age of 18. 

In Carrie’s words, “I love teaching yoga because I want to share with others the joy and abilities that yoga has given me. We all have big goals whether be fitness, flexibility, or otherwise but with yoga you can reach your goals with the compassion and safety of the practice.” And yet, like so many of us, “I originally started teaching just because I wanted to touch my toes. I was so embarrassed of my lack of mobility so shame motivated me but that began to change. I soon practiced because it made me happy. My hips loosened up and so did my tight ass mindset. It made me feel free so I kept coming back.”

Always full of energy, Carrie’s classes are powerful and fun. She seeks through her love of meditation and literature to find ease of mind and spirit while bringing strength and kindness to our bodies. Her classes are alignment focused using active flexibility to build strength and prevent injury.

While keeping a full-time job and doing volunteer work over the weekend she also knows that, “I’m happiest in the sunshine with good company. I go very few places without my dog and when I’m not working or yogaing, I’m probably taking a nap!”

Look for Carrie’s name on the roster as she has a strong personal practice that is guided by her love of life and sharing the joy of yoga! 

Dana Kaplan is the leader & co-founder of the Orlando-based Kirtan band, To Bring Devotion. Kirtan is an age-old practice of Bhakti Yoga, the yogic path of unconditional love. In this call & response form of musical chanting, our minds soften & focus, while our hearts open to the Divine light that resides within us all. The Names & mantras chanted carry great transformative, vibrational power. As Krishna Das says: “With chanting, the music is the syrup and the Divine Names are the medicine.”

To Bring Devotion’s dharma is to bring people together in love & joy. They beautifully blend Western rock & pop music with ancient, Eastern mantras. One of Dana’s favorite past-times is to “mash-up” positive rock/pop songs into her original music. To Bring Devotion has been delighted to play at the Lovelight Music &Arts Festival for the last 3 years in Maryland. Most recently they played at the beautiful & intimate Goddess Rising: A Shakti Kirtan Celebration in Orlando.

You may have also seen them at the Zen Awakening Festival and at the Faerie Earth Festival, both in Florida, as well as at yoga studios throughout the Sunshine State.

Dana studies traditional Indian music and voice under the tutelage of her Guruji, Pandit Nandkishor Muley. As a vocalist, she has had the honor to sing with some of her favorite sacred music artists & inspirations, including Girish, Wynne Paris, Lee Mirabai Harrington, Yvette Om, Mirabai Moon, Amah Devi, Johanna Beekman, Rick Franz “Graced Kirtan” & others. Dana also puts her heart & soul into building a richer Bhakti community in Central Florida by inviting, hosting, promoting & supporting other kirtan artists as they tour the country.

Come and use your voice (and/or silence if you just want to receive the vibration) we will explore the delicate balance between contributing to and receiving from the collective in a meaningful way.

Meet Michelle! She joins the Kodawari teaching Krewe today! She has a love for yoga and whether it’s an event close to home, a class or a yoga retreat far away, Michelle feels inspired to create opportunities for others to re-connect with themselves and others. In her words, “These experiences (of reconnection) are moments that change us and stay in or hearts forever. I hope to provide these opportunities to as many people as possible. Reach for the stars friends!”

Why I love to teach: Once you discover the power of yoga , you just want to share it with every one. It is such a beautiful thing to share personal experiences with others and see that they too, have been in the same boat. I love that in our busy lives, yoga class is the best part of the day for most people. To come to a place where we can all let go of the cares of the world for an hour together brings so much happiness and positive energy … I love being able to provide that space for others.

Why I have a passion for yoga: Like many people, I was curious about yoga because I wanted to be physically fit. I admit, I took a few classes and wasn’t in love…yet. Finally, I discovered hot yoga and was hooked. The pain from a serious back injury was finally gone and after many years of not feeling “myself” I began to feel on track in my personal life. Yoga began to teach me that once you work on yourself on the inside, everything on the outside falls into place.

On the Goddess Network, Local Events & International Retreats : Many people ask how/why am I inspired to give back to the world in this way. Looking back on my life, each time I went through a heart break or rough time, taking a trip helped me to find myself again. I would come home with a fresh outlook on life and a new level of self-love. To me, travel is the ultimate form of yoga because it is all about living in the present moment: savoring every taste, sight and sound. Visiting a new place gives us a fresh outlook on how other people live, bringing cultural understanding which our world needs so much more of. It has been a dream come true to intertwine my love for yoga + travel over the past three years leading International Retreats to the Caribbean, Thailand and Dubai. Watching travelers come home with a fresh perspective on life is just magical beyond words.

It’s certainly true that you don’t have to fly to the other side of the globe to experience a major shift in your life. I remember sitting on my porch a few years ago, mimosa in hand, scrolling through FaceBook and witnessed so many amazing women promoting their businesses and incredible projects online. I sensed a little bit of competition and thought to myself, “If only these ladies knew each other! Big things could happen.” I knew we all needed to get off our phones and get in person to share our dreams and passions. This is how the Goddess Network was born. We host yoga & mimosa events at high end venues in Tampa. Complete with brunch, DJs, henna artists and entertainment – these events have not only created a one-of-a-kind party experience for ladies but have been the source of lots of new businesses forming, new friendships made and happy memories to be shared in our community. I also love hosting events where men can come too! It’s great to spend a few hours on a weekend letting loose in a party atmosphere while connecting with like-minded positive people.

If you are interested in practicing with Michelle she’s teaching Hot and Heated Power on Tuesday and Fridays! Make it to the mat for a connection that you won’t forget!



My name is Chelsey Quiñones, I am a twenty-seven-year-old from the sunshine state of FL. I recently moved back from Colorado Springs, Colorado where I was, among other things, a yoga instructor at CorePower Yoga. Since three years old, dancing has always been in my blood. And at 19, things came to a slight halt after having a stroke.


When you think about floating – do you think about floating in water or air? Well, if you want crazy health benefits you will want to think about floating in super salty water! And after you read this blog you’ll want to stop thinking about it and just do it! Because besides being peaceful and a great way to unplug for a bit of time did you know that regular sessions in the float tank could help combat magnesium deficiencies? Here’s the kicker…since magnesium deficiency may play a part in hypertension, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and migraine headaches, just to name a few why wouldn’t you want to combat that!?

An article published on the alternative medicine website, The Chamomile, posits that “According to Dr. Norman Shealy, a world-renowned neuroscientist and founder of the Shealy Institute, every known ailment is associated with a magnesium deficiency.


Richard, one of our most recent additions to the Kodawari community, has been teaching yoga since 2000. He started studying yoga in 1998 when he was doing a lot of business travel. He wanted to be able to do something healthy for himself even if the hotel had no fitness facility. Yoga was the perfect fit as it was something he could do in a hotel room or even in airport.

He completed his first 200 RYT in 2003, from Balance Point Yoga in Tampa. While initially his intention was to simply learn enough to deepen his practice and to be able to practice on his own, he continued on in 2011 to do an Anusara Teacher training at Garden of the Heart. 

The result is a great teacher teaching a happy mixture of styles; Anusara, Iyengar, and Ashtanga.  His style tends to be energetic and strong though one of his gifts is to teach and modify to whomever is in front of him so that the yoga is accessible to everyone!

He’s got a great sense of humor and he lends a healthy sense of play to his class you will find that his class will vary, some will have arm balances and inversions while others will be a bit more relaxed…

Richard’s primary influences are Tony Nenov (Ashtanga), Jaye Martin, Betsy Dowling & Desiree Rumbaugh (Anusara) and Karen Stephan (Iyengar).

Richard can found teaching at Kodawari throughout the week! He offers a Power Flow on Tuesdays 12-1pm, a Vinyasa Flow 1/2 on Wednesday at 5 to 6pm and Saturday mornings at 8:45 to 9:45am. In addition Richard has volunteered teaching yoga at the Hillsborough county jails and taught for 5 year at a local residential rehab facility. Join him on the mat and lighten up your life.