Equinox in Ixtapa Retreat


Writing & Yoga


MARCH 21 - 28, 2020

dive deep into the rhythms of your own voice on the shores of the Pacific …


… with an award-winning writer to guide you at one of the world’s top 25 wellness centers. The equinox is a time of struggle between light and dark. We must write ourselves into that struggle, embracing both light and dark on the page and seeking balance in the art as well as in our bodies and breath. We will lean over the edge of doubt, where new things come from, and crack open a space for the unexpected. We will be challenged and inspired … and laugh – a lot! – while becoming vessels for creativity and breaking new creative ground. Inquire soon, as space is limited. For all levels and genres, including beginners.


about the retreat

Elephant Rock writing retreats are highly unique. People tell us year after year that no matter how many writing workshops or retreats they’ve attended, Elephant Rock is different. We build creatively intense spaces that are also deeply nurturing. This helps to open and challenge every writer at every level to go further into the work, see new angles, discover sharper facets. Our intentional workshops lead you toward unfolding and connecting, discovering and uncovering. We use precise writing exercises to guide us to the page in ways we never imagined. Language comes alive again, grows more elastic and expands with possibility. We welcome writers of all levels and all genres. And we take your work as seriously as we take our own. Many writers find this work life-changing. Read what some have said here.


This retreat is held at the gorgeous, secluded Present Moment in Ixtapa, Mexico. Present Moment, nestled right on the edge of the Pacific, is one of the world’s top 25 wellness centers. This exclusive oceanfront boutique hotel and yoga retreat is situated on a quiet, serene beach in Troncones, thirty minutes up the coast from Ixtapa, Zihuatanejo, Mexico. This center offers a breathtaking setting with wellness classes, yoga by the sea, meditation, qigong, dance classes, spa treatments, as well as local adventures such as sunset horseback riding, eco tours, waterfall hiking, kayaking, surf-yoga excursions, surf lessons, and exploring the village.


During our retreat, morning and afternoon writing workshops free up your thinking about words and loosen the binds on your creative process in unexpected ways. Your inner critic will fall away as you surrender to your innate ability to imagine the unknown.

With the ocean at equinox as our backdrop, we will explore themes of water, rhythm, rebirth, and balance in our writing and in the yoga/meditation. We will make full use of our environment to infuse our writing with what can only be found where we are.Writing workshops will include innovative writing exercises that engage powerful aspects of writing craft, including the senses, imagery, dialogue, and sound, among others. For writers with specific goals and projects, fireside chats will provide a space to talk shop and seek advice on specific projects as well as universal challenges of the writing life. Finally, select multi-sensory immersion activities and artistic work will echo and amplify the themes of the writing sessions. Writing workshops will include time for both new writing and revision, and, in the evening, a chance to share and discuss work in progress. Writers will also have the option to receive feedback from Jeannine on up to 7 double-spaced manuscript pages before or after the retreat.


You will end the week with new work in hand, substantial revisioning of a work in progress, or both. You can also expect to come away with many new inroads to your creative practice as well as an array of new craft tools and insights to apply to your work after the retreat is over. Our creative work will be supported by daily yoga and meditation structured specifically to foster and support creative synergy. As you connect your body, mind, and senses through movement and stillness, you release tension and cultivate insight and balance. Ultimately, you hear your own fierce, original voice again, and find exciting new portals through which you can bring that voice to the page.


Writing workshops guided by Jeannine Ouellette
Yoga and meditation by Zoe Kingman

All are welcome, regardless of previous experience with writing or yoga! Elephant Rock does not discriminate against anyone, regardless of age, color of skin, national origin, race, ethnicity, religion, disability, gender expression or identity, sexual orientation, or anything else. We expect the same from participants.


truly remarkable

Jeannine was an excellent facilitator: open, sensitive, warm, and sharing of her expert knowledge. She treated each one of us as a unique individual and created a bond with us on that individual basis. This I found truly remarkable. Patricia Wylie, drama teacher and theatre director of Sierra Madre Playhouse, Sierra Madre, California, retreat participant

eyes open and flame alight

 The  retreat was truly a life-changing experience.  I'm so much more attuned to the world around me and beginning to see myself as an artist. I already miss yoga three times a day. Hoping to keep my eyes open and my flame alight. Allison Coffelt , author of Maps are Lines We Draw, retreat participant

Jeannine writing at night in her studio at Millay Colony, 2018

Jeannine writing at night in her studio at Millay Colony, 2018

About the instructors


Jeannine is an award-winning writer of memoir, essay, creative nonfiction, and narrative journalism. She is the author of several nonfiction books as well as a children’s picture book, and her writing has appeared widely in literary journals and magazines and been supported by Millay Colony for the Arts, Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts, and Tin House, and recognized in many contests including those sponsored by The Iowa Review, Bellingham Review, Masters Review, Narrative, Chattahoochee Review, Fairy Tale Review, Orison, December, Cutthroat, Tiferet, New South Review, and others. Jeannine has been writing, editing, and teaching for more than twenty years and is a writing mentor and instructor with the Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop and the Association of Writers & Writing Programs. She also mentors students at the University of Minnesota, where she works as a writer and editor. Jeannine earned her MFA in Fiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and recently completed her first novel. She is the founder of Elephant Rock. You can read her full bio here.

Zoe enjoying two of her loves: yoga and nature

Zoe enjoying two of her loves: yoga and nature


Zoe has a bachelor's degree in Traditional Eastern Arts with a focus in Yoga Studies from Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, where she also completed her 1,000-hour Yoga Teacher Certification. She focuses on the contemplative study of yoga, with a teaching style rooted in the cultural and historical context of the tradition while remaining relevant to today's lived experiences. Yoga is more than asana (yogic postures). It is the cultivation of connection between mind, body, and spirit. Yoga has been a powerful healing force in Zoe's life and she is excited to share it. Many of us spend very little time in an embodied state. Zoe knows personally how difficult true embodiment can be. Personal experience has led her to teach in ways sensitive to traumas that might arise during embodiment practices including physical yoga, intentional breath work, guided meditation, and non-denominational chanting. Zoe invites you to come as you are and move into all aspects of your being.


retreat schedule

Our Equinox retreat opens with Saturday afternoon with a casual welcome reception as participants arrive at the retreat center. Depending on your flight time, you will have some open space for settling into your rooms and exploring the grounds before our welcome circle and dinner. The daily schedule includes writing workshops, yoga and meditation, outdoor adventures, evening fireside chats, and readings and discussions. Plus time for beach combing, conversing with other writers, and working on your manuscripts.

A detailed schedule will be presented the first evening of the retreat.


retreat includes

  • Oceanside lodging at beautiful Present Moment Retreat (7 nights)

  • Ground transportation from Ixtapa airport to Present Moment Retreat Center

  • All meals (healthy, fresh, gourmet cuisine). Definitely included is our celebratory closing dinner on our last night—you might want to bring something “ beach fancy” to wear, whatever that means to you!

  • Daily writing workshops & yoga and meditation classes

  • Individualized written feedback from an award-winning writer/teacher

  • Writing presentations

  • Evening entertainment (music, dance, etc.)

  • Special session for candlelight yoga and intention setting

Not Included: Transportation to Ixtapa. Alcohol (it is available but not included; if you choose to enjoy, please do so responsibly and not during scheduled programming). Incidental fees, damages, or optional excursions or spa services while on the island.


retreat fee

$2950 tuition for early bird registration (Nov 15 deadline, $3100 after Nov 15) includes 7-nights in a shared double bungalow, 7 gourmet breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, ground transportation to/from Ixtapa airport, daily writing workshops, daily yoga and meditation classes, evening entertainment, readings, and more.

If you attend with two friends or want to share with two people, inquire about a triple bungalow for extra savings! Single occupancy bungalows are extremely limited, and available at an extra cost on a first-come first-serve basis. Inquire early!

payment options

Deposit of $1500 holds your spot; full tuition is due by January 15. Payment by check, money order, Zelle, Venmo, Square, or PayPal. Space is limited. Register soon!

cancellation and refund policy

Elephant Rock is a small, family-run writing program and we regret that due to the fixed costs we incur when booking retreats, refunds are available only if Elephant Rock cancels the retreat—which has never happened. In cases of true hardship cancellation, we might be able to apply a portion of your tuition to a future Elephant Rock offering. We highly recommend travel insurance.


travel info

Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo International Airport (IATA: ZIH, ICAO: MMZH) is an international airport in the state of Guerrero on Mexico's Pacific Ocean coast. It receives thousands of tourists all year to visit beaches and resorts. It handles national and international air traffic for the cities of Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo. Ground transportation between the airport and Present Moment is included in your tuition. If you have travel questions, please contact

register now!

Request forms via email to begin the registration process!


do you need a payment plan?

If you need a payment plan (e.g., four or more smaller payments over a longer time) please email or call. Alternate payment plans may be available depending upon full registration. We want you to be able to attend if possible. More questions? We'd love to hear from you!

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    Q & A

    what if i love the idea of a writing retreat but am deathly afraid of yoga?

    Don't worry. I (Jeannine) was deathly afraid of yoga when I first started practicing in public, and I sometimes still am. It's normal. But remember, yoga is not a competitive sport. It is a spiritual practice, of which the asanas (physical poses) are just one element. Yoga is therefore available to everyone, and there is no such thing as being "good" or "bad" at yoga. You don't have to be super fit or an extra twisty bobcat pretzel or have any extraordinary skills to loosen your body and mind with some gentle yoga postures with meditation and chanting. You'll be in a mixed group of all levels, you can take as many breaks as you wish, and skip as many sessions as you wish, as well. Sit in nature and watch the waves on the ocean if that's what feels right. As poet Mary Oliver would say, you only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. This is your retreat. Just think of it as a chance to pamper your body, loosen your tight muscles, quiet your mind, and inspire your imagination.

    what if i'm a super twisty bobcat pretzel yogi? will i be satisfied by the yoga on this retreat? 

    Yes. You will be able to make this yoga experience entirely your own and will be invited to take poses to the maximum expression available to you. You will also have access to the yoga room throughout the retreat for your individual practice, if desired.

    i've never really thought of myself as a "writer" but i'm really drawn to this retreat. will i fit in? what if i suck?

    You won't suck, or you will, since in fact we all do. Isn't that the point of shitty first drafts (ala Anne Lamott?) You will fit in perfectly! The writing exercises rest on a foundation that is universal, which is our relationship to words, language, expression, the world, and ourselves. Tapping into that essence is equally challenging and inspiring for writers of all levels, we promise. We see it year after year.

    i'm a serious writer trying to make my living at this arduous and competitive craft. will this retreat offer me anything in that regard?

    Yes. First, the writing exercises are truly innovative and will infuse your work with a fresh and unpredictable quality that can't be quantified but can certainly be felt, immediately. These exercises are unlike your typical writing workshop. They take you through the side door of the unexpected. They occupy your rational mind in order that your subconscious can guide you back to your own wildly beating heart. They crack you up and crack you open with fits of laughter and, every year so far, bursts of tears, as well. They sometimes make the hairs on your arms stand on end. Plus, we have craft talks at meals and in the evenings, where you can bring specific questions about the more concrete aspects of writing professionally. Everyone has to pay the bills, and writing is a very fulfilling way to do that.

    hmm, what about this meditation? i want to be able to meditate, i know it's valuable, but whenever i try it just feels like obsessing with my eyes closed.

    So you're human, are you? Seriously, though, isn't this why they call meditation and yoga a "practice?" The wonderful thing about retreat is having the opportunity to meditate in a group--both in silent stillness and as guided by a skillful voice.  I can't wait to feel what magic can happen for all of us the edge of the ocean under the equinox stars!