A conversation with a Madeline Island Yogini


By: Amy Annis

One of the my favorite things about teaching on the island in the summer is the opportunity I have to work with great people. Christy at the top of that list. She is my yoga comrade and I’ve had the great pleasure of working with her, learning from her, and calling her a friend. This summer we will be crossing over into each other businesses again as I have the pleasure of teaching daily classes for her and she leads some of the retreat classes.

Her passion for yoga is inspiring and I look forward to introducing her to the women who join me on the retreats. Recently she answered a few of my questions about her love for Madeline, her growing yoga business, and what we can both look forward to this summer.


Amy: How long have you been coming to the island and what continues to draw you back in:

Christy: While growing up I had visited Madeline on several occasions to camp with my family and friends.  But it wasn’t until my husband and I settled on the idea of a Midwest “destination wedding”, did we truly fall in love.  Ahhh, The ferry ride over pretty much sealed the deal.  Nothing that we looked at prior to that could compare with the feeling you get taking that ferry over and feeling your troubles melt away.  At that time the logistics of planning a large wedding (200 plus) on the island would have possibly deterred the majority of couples but there wasn’t a single island obstacle that could get in our way.  That was 10 years ago and we purchased our summer condo shortly thereafter and have been fortunate enough to call Madeline our summer retreat.

Amy:  You are a yoga teacher and a kayaking aficionado.  What are some of your other passions?

Madeline Island yoga and kayakChristy: Absolutely anything outdoors or travel related.  I love to be outdoors exploring and that is what is so wonderful about Madeline Island and the surrounding Apostle islands (22 in total).  It would take a lifetime to properly explore the other islands and see all the beauty on and around Madeline.  Experiencing yoga in the great outdoors is a treat like no other.  Savasana on the dock with the waves splashing below and cool breeze on your face instantly connects you to all your senses and transports you to present moment awareness.  My family and I also love to spend time on Madeline during the winter months, which opens even more hidden doors.  Every winter the frigid waters of Lake Superior crash up on the shores of sea cliffs.  The ice formations that result are absolutely incredible and each year they take on new beautifully unique forms different from the year before.  Snow shoeing along the State trails in the silence of the off-season is also magical.

Amy: You created Yoga on the Rock as a business that brings daily yoga classes to Madeline Island.  What was your inspiration and how is it going?

Christy: My life quickly shifted after the sudden loss of my biggest fan, my best friend and the man I was proud to call dad at the young age of 52.  The realness of death and the reality that none of us know how long we will be walking this beautiful earth brought me closer to being in touch with THIS present moment because it is all we truly have.  Shortly thereafter I decided that time was more important than money.  With that shift it become even more important to spend that time wisely and with that a dream was born.  I wanted to cherish each and every moment I had with my family and friends doing what I love, yoga in my favorite place in the world, Madeline.

Amy:  What style of yoga do you teach?

Christy: I prefer a vinyasa style, linking each breath with movement, which feels more like a moving meditation for me. It helps to quiet the constant chatter in my mind.  Within that stillness I can clearly see the oneness and beauty all around me.

Amy: How does your yoga practice translate into life off the mat?

Christy: Through the practices of yoga I have been able to cultivate a deep and nurturing relationship to myself and life in general.  For me yoga is three parts consisting of asana (poses), pranayama (breathwork), and meditation.  Through Asana practice I have learned to focus on stillness and ease of body/breath rather than perfection.  Knowing each day that I arrive on my mat that my practice will be distinctively different than the day before.  Through my pranayama practice I have been able to move energy that I never even knew existed within my body and I am increasingly aware of the areas where my prana is stuck or stagnant.  Through my meditation practice I have been introduced to my very own unique all knowing inner light that continues to shine brighter and brighter as I bring more stillness to my mind.   In meditation, my heart speaks to me and I listen.  Most importantly, I know how each moment is fleeting and yoga has taught me presence, so I can fully enjoy living.

When she isn’t busy with her daughters or adventuring the shores of Lake Superior, you can find Christy teaching classes at the Marsh.  Connect with her on Facebook and stay up to date on her classes and workshops. Join Amy and Christy this summer on Madeline Island.

Yoga and Snowshoeing retreat – coming February 2013!






“The human spirit needs places where nature has not been re-arranged by the hand of man.”

dock empty

I spend my summer on Madeline Island and winters in the Twin Cities. 

When I am asked how teaching on the island is different from my studio classes in the cities, it is difficult to answer. I mean, the sequences are the same, my style stays true, and I use the same playlists and themes. So why is it hard to explain? Fortunately, I recently came across a quote which struck a chord (I love quotes, use them in each and every class) and it sums up my feelings on our island classes: 

“The human spirit needs places where nature has not been re- arranged by the hand of man.” – author unknown

Finally the reason WHY I love teaching outdoors so much.  My spirit needs it, craves it and finds peace in these wide open spaces.  

However if you still need more reasons here are some of my own personal experiences as well as those of my students who have shared their outdoor practice with me:

Biking to yoga is the perfect transition to shift from busy mother to calm yogi.

The view of Lake Superior is magnificent. I am mystified by the powers of this body of water. A shift occurs in my soul as I gaze out at the lake while practicing yoga or I’m floating on the water via kayak or SUP. In a supine position my view is the brilliance of green leaves blowing against it’s blue sky backdrop. 

An opening of senses occurs. Moving through asanas as you feel the breeze and sun on your face. During savasana, you listen to waves lap under the dock luring you into a deeper rest. Sometimes we are blessed with bald eagles soaring over us, sand between our toes, or even a gentle summer rain on our skin. 

There is a healthy respect for challenge. Yoga often mimics life and just as challenges arise in our world, they are more apparent in an outdoor practice. Standing on a Stand Up Paddle as a moving yoga mat humbles your practice. Try a new life perspective of the world when you float into down dog on the SUP and quite literally flip your world upside down. 

Simply, there is a deeper freedom experienced when the studio walls are stripped away and natural environment surrounds you. I think it parallels the runner or biker who spends summers on open trails only to have to return to a treadmill or stationary bike once winter hits. Something is missing. It may be a great workout but it can’t even come close to the outdoor experience. 

So, as I wrap up my summer and return to life back home I will longingly look forward to next summer on the island. It is with heart felt gratitude that I thank you for allowing me to guide you through your island yoga experience.