frequently asked questions

Q: Why should I take a course?

A: Balanced Rock courses are a wonderful opportunity for celebration, retreat, renewal, and/or conscious life transition. Our programs offer an opportunity to begin or deepen your own yoga or meditation practice, explore your creative art skills, or develop competent and confident wilderness travel skills. All of our courses weave creative expression and contemplative practice into the magic and majesty of Yosemite National Park. Think about enrolling with a friend or two-Balanced Rock courses are also a great way to spend time with friends or family in a stimulating and educational environment.


Q: What is your cancellation and refund policy?

A: You may cancel your registration and receive a full refund minus a $50 registration fee 30 days or more before the start date of your course. Cancellation made less than 30 days prior to the program receives no refund on tuition.

We encourage you to purchase trip insurance. We do understand that emergencies may arise, but as we are a small non-profit organization we are not able to make exceptions to this refund policy.

Balanced Rock reserves the right to cancel a course for force majeure or any other circumstances beyond our control such as fire, flood, or trail closure. We also reserve the right to cancel any trip if sign-up is inadequate to make the trip economically feasible for us to operate. If this happens, we give a full refund of tuition. However, Balanced Rock Foundation is not responsible for additional expenses incurred by you in preparing for the trip (e.g., non-refundable air tickets, gear or medical expenses). You may consider purchasing additional trip insurance. Courses run rain or shine.


Q: What course types do you offer?

A: We offer a wide range of courses blending contemplative practice, creative expression, and the wild beauty of Yosemite National Park. Each course offers a particular area of focus – yoga, meditation, Ayurveda, self-care, art, creative writing, music, and more. This area of focus is complemented by Balanced Rock’s core curriculum of: wilderness travel and camping skills, reflective and creative writing, Sierra Nevada ecology and natural history.

You can also look at our course offerings by how you want to engage with the Yosemite landscape. On our backpacking retreats, we sleep in the wilderness under the stars. With trips running 4-7 days, our backpack retreats offer a chance to really dive in to self-reflection, nature, and getting away from it all. On our weekend camping retreats, we still camp in tents or under the stars, but the courses can fit into your weekend schedule, and the campground accommodations may offer more amenities than backpacking. Our workshops are generally 1-day events that are more flexible and allow you to arrange your own accommodations.

A unique in-depth program is our WildYoga Teacher Training, which is offered in the stunning landscapes in and around Yosemite, and focuses on the union of yoga and ecology. Balanced Rock is a Yoga Alliance Registered Yoga School offering accredited 100-hr Advanced Study Immersions, and 200-hr WildYoga Teacher Trainings. These programs are exceptionally empowering because we delve deeply into the transformative study of yoga in remarkable, transcendental wilderness settings. To our knowledge it is the only yoga teacher training in the world that involves going backpacking!


Q: How do I enroll in a Balanced Rock course?

A: When you choose the course you would like to take, click the “Book Now” button at the top of the course page. This will take you to our secure shopping cart where you can register and pay for your course. As soon as we receive your registration we will send you confirmation and more information to help you prepare for your course.

A deposit is due upon registering for any course. Full balance is due 30 days before the course or prior to course start date if registration takes place within 30 days of start date. Credit cards will be charged 30 days before the course to pay any outstanding balance. Balanced Rock will send a courtesy email letting you know that your card will be charged 24 hours before hand.

If you’re not sure which course is right for you, or you would prefer to register by phone, give us a call or email. We’d be happy to discuss the details and answer any question you may have at 209-379-9453 or via email at info@balancedrock.org.


Q: Every Balanced Rock courses has a component of mindfulness practice-what is mindfulness or contemplative practice?

A: Mindfulness has many definitions but in the context of Balanced Rock courses is non-judgmental awareness of one’s thoughts, actions or motives. Engaging in a mindfulness practice allows us to cultivate an awareness of ourselves in the present moment. This process helps bring us stillness and peace so that we may have a clear understanding of our present situation.


Q: Do I need to be a yoga or meditation practitioner to take a Balanced Rock course?

A: No. All of our courses are open to beginners, while still offering stimulation and instruction for seasoned practitioners. The small group size allows for individual instruction and guidance. We encourage all participants to try new experiences and to embrace the ‘beginner’s mind’.


Q: I already have a meditation and yoga practice. How would it be different on this trip?

A: All Balanced Rock courses offer yoga and meditation instruction by certified local facilitators with deep passion for the practice. For those who have not experienced contemplative practice in an outside setting, there is no better “studio” than the wild landscapes of Yosemite. Drawing on the energy and inspiration of the high peaks or the stillness of alpine lakes, we find our practice strengthened by these natural forces, drawing the wild beauty of the wilderness into ourselves. Working and playing collectively deepens our group connection, which can revitalize or enhance our personal yoga or meditation practice.


Q: Is Balanced Rock associated with any specific spiritual tradition or lineage?

A: Balanced Rock courses are playful and non-dogmatic, respectfully drawing on wisdom traditions from across many cultures. If we were to identify one central teacher it would be nature herself. We encourage you to bring your own beliefs and spiritual traditions in order to share those and allow them to flourish in an outdoor setting. Balanced Rock instructors do the same; sharing their own expertise and faith in an open and non-intrusive way.


Q: Yosemite is the size of the state of Rhode Island–where in the Park are the courses?

A: Each course explores a different region of the Park. With our staff of resident Yosemite experts, we specialize in visiting less crowded, yet stunningly beautiful corners of the Park. We have decades of collective experience in exploring Yosemite National Park, and have a wide range of hidden sanctuaries, secluded lakes, outdoor granite-slab yoga “studios”, and comfortable campsites in our routes and itineraries. If you want to also see some of the more popular icons and destinations, there is ample time at the beginning and end of each course.

Once you complete your registration for a course, we will send you detailed directions and a map to the meeting place for your course. This will usually be a campground inside the park boundary on the Tioga Pass Road.


Q: Isn’t backpacking dangerous? How do I know I will be safe?

A: Backpacking is actually one of the safest and most intimate ways to experience the wild beauty of Yosemite National Park. Our instructional staff holds years of experience teaching and leading backpacking courses as well as certification in emergency wilderness medicine. On every trip we carry first aid kits and methods for communication with National Park Service rangers. Our foremost goal is to provide a safe space for exploration, and our instructional staff is trained in risk management, and advised by Balanced Rock’s medical advisor. Additionally, we check in with each participant prior to and during the course regarding individual needs, concerns, or requests.


Q: I don’t own any camping equipment. Do I have to buy a lot of gear to attend a course?

A: One of the central values of Balanced Rock is to embrace simplicity. Balanced Rock provides all group gear including bear canisters, water filtration, group-cooking gear, and sleeping shelters. Most of the clothes you will need for a course you will find in your closet, at your local outdoor store, or at the thrift store. If you are interested in a backpacking or camping course, and need a sleeping bag or backpack, you could borrow one from a friend, or rent them for the course. Balanced Rock also has a limited amount of extra gear for trip use–feel free to ask what we have available. All REI stores have an excellent rental program. To find the store nearest you and what items are available to rent, go to www.rei.com.


Q: I’d like to bring my kids. Are there age restrictions on a Balanced Rock trip?

A: Our curriculum and programs are generally geared towards adults. In general, for our open-enrollment programs, participants must be 18 years or older to attend. High-school-aged students may be allowed to attend contingent on an interview with Balanced Rock staff and dependent upon the skill set of the guide/course instructor. Exceptions to this policy include custom trips, family trips, and our Yosemite Youth Expedition.


Q: What is the minimum number of participants needed for a custom trip?

A: Balanced Rock can craft a custom trip for any number of participants. A trip designed for one or two people can be specially tailored for individual needs; however trips of 4 or more people are more economically feasible. Group sizes of 5-12 people are the “sweet spot” for creating a great shared community experience. If you organize seven people to attend any course, your own tuition is free. Click here for more information on creating a custom trip.


Q: Are you hiring? How do I find work with Balanced Rock?

A: We are always looking for skilled outdoor guides & instructors with Wilderness First Responder & CPR certification, professional yoga & meditation teachers, and talented artists to lead our journeys.
Instructors are generally hired as independent contractors on a course-by-course basis with most programs occurring between April and September. Course schedules for the upcoming year are usually determined at the end of the previous year. We offer a competitive pay scale and great opportunities for personal and professional development. We also often have volunteer or internship opportunities that can serve as a gateway into the organization.

If you are interested in working with Balanced Rock, please send a inquiry to info@balancedrock.org describing your interest in working with us, as well as any specific program, teaching, or guiding experiences you would like to propose to teach.


Q: Will I have fun on my Balanced Rock course?

A: That’s up to you, but we sure hope so. Wide open spaces tend to make room for a lot of laughter.