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Yosemite Conservancy Naturalist Paola Arboleda reflects on her experiences co leading the Yosemite Womxn’s Wellness Weekend which was held in September 2023 in Yosemite Valley. The event was hosted by Yosemite Wellness Coalition and Latino Outdoors Fresno,  with support from Yosemite Conservancy, and the Zero Landfill Initiative.  

The wellness weekend featured morning yoga and intention setting with Paola Arboleda, printmaking with Santiago Palacio of Caminarte Print Press, sustainability with Tina Goerhing, Yosemite Conservancy’s Zero Landfill Initiative coordinator, mindful eating with Regina Hill, and dimensions of wellness by Jamie Gonzales, the safety, health and wellness coordinator for Yosemite National Park. The weekend was open to anyone who identifies as a woman and is a member of the Yosemite community or Latino Outdoors.  

Yoga participants practice wellness within view of Yosemite Falls in the distance.

Paola Arboleda led a yoga and intention setting session with participants with Yosemite Falls.

A weekend of wellness: In her own words

It was such an honor for me to take part in and co lead this event for a few reasons. The Womxn’s Wellness Weekend encompassed workshops that provided great value for the community both inside and outside the park.

Having an opportunity to come together to represent these important organizations, alongside coming together as a community of Hispanic women to share, connect, and celebrate our heritage in these outdoor spaces was such a meaningful experience.  

Our wellness weekend was such a special time. Some highlights for me included leading morning meditation and yoga bilingual style! Leading a class in my native language of Spanish was really special. To be able to share the practice in that way was very impactful for me, not only as a teacher, but being able to share back with my community was also invaluable.  

Jamie Gonzales, the safety, health and wellness coordinator for Yosemite National Park, led a wonderful wellness wheel workshop for all of us. The idea of the wellness wheel describes the integration of 7 dimensions of wellness: emotional, environmental, intellectual, occupational, physical, social and spiritual. The space she held was beautiful and powerful. She gave us an opportunity to share our thoughts and feelings on wellness in a safe, caring and supportive environment. We were able to be our most authentic selves and that was a powerful thing to be a part of.  

Victoria Ramirez, co-regional program coordinator for Latino Outdoors – Fresno, who poured so much of her time and energy into organizing this — made sure that everyone had what they needed with gear to be out for the special weekend. This level of care and detail truly showed how invested she is in making these awesome events happen for the community and the people.  

Women of the Wellness Weekend posing with a Latino Outdoors Flag in nature. Yosemite Falls is in the background.

The joyful participants of the wellness weekend in view of Yosemite Falls.

We celebrated our stories around a hot toasty campfire and laughed really hard under the stars. Stories of life, stories of home, stories of why we love the outdoors and of course, a side conversation about Bad Bunny. We walked together through the Valley, taking in all the beauty surrounding us, and all the small details along the way, learning from each other and the majestic landscape. All of us feeling immense gratitude to be able to spend time in Yosemite and with each other.  

To have been a part of this collaboration, both representing Yosemite Conservancy and my Hispanic heritage was beyond exciting and impactful. For this wellness retreat was not only about how I represent the park, but how we are able to cultivate and foster community connections into the future.  

This retreat was a wonderful opportunity to give back, most of all it allowed me to remember what it felt like to have a piece of home here in Yosemite. 



Photo Credits:
Hero Image of participants volunteering in Ahwahnee Meadow by Brenda Beza.
Image of participants taking yoga with Paola Arboleda by Adriana Becerra.
Image of group with Latino Outdoors flag in front of Yosemite Falls by Paola Arboleda.