Kathy Nolan

Yoga Retreat Leader

Yoga Retreat Leader

Meet Kathy Nolan, originally from Garden City, New York. Lover of horses and adventure travel, especially when paired together. Yoga & Barre instructor, mother of three adult human males and one small Icelandic mare. Foodie and wine enthusiast. Collector of beautiful memories and believer that it’s never too late to become who you might have been. 

Kathy started riding horses at summer camp at age 10, and at age 16 she discovered a life-long passion ~ the Icelandic Horse ~ while volunteering with a therapeutic riding program for disabled riders, The New Riders of the Viking Horse. More about horses later, but trust that they are a major theme in Kathy’s life.  

Kathy graduated from Denison University with a degree in Spanish Language & Literature, having studied for a year in Granada, Spain. Culinary school came next (The NY Restaurant School) and led to 10 years working in NYC as a food editor, recipe developer and food stylist. During those 10 years, Kathy made equine travel adventures her preferred getaway experiences: Iceland, the Loire Valley, Andalusia, the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in Colorado and TX Cattle Ranch in Montana, to name a few phenomenal destinations. Then, marriage and those 3 aforementioned boys precipitated changes in home location and career goals. After moving to the suburbs and several years of full-time motherhood, Kathy received her yoga and aerial yoga teaching certifications and began teaching yoga and working as a Thai Massage practitioner, all from her home studio on Long Island.

Sometime around that time, Kathy spied an ad for Jade Yoga mats in Yoga Journal magazine, featuring a young mom and her daughter on horseback. Mentioned in the fine print of the ad was the woman’s name, Margaret Burns Vap, and her company name: Big Sky Yoga Retreats. She saw that ad and thought to herself, “One day, I’m going to ride with Margaret in Montana.”… and the plot thickens. 

In 2018, Kathy and her husband, Chris, relocated from NY to Healdsburg, California in Sonoma wine country. What made two born-and-raised New Yorkers to move across the country to rural Northern California? The lifestyle, the scenery, the food & wine. Kathy hoped there would be more opportunity to ride in California, and MAYBE she could find Icelandic horses nearby!  Kathy did find a studio in Healdsburg and began teaching yoga and barre classes to a whole new community of students on the west coast.

2020 came along and brought all kinds of challenges. At the end of 2020, a difficult year for many reasons and knowing it was time to focus on her own well-being, Kathy finally contacted Margaret after all those years, and booked what turned out to be a life-changing retreat in Montana in May 2021. As a direct result of that retreat and the deep connection she felt with the horses and with Margaret, Kathy immediately began volunteering for another therapeutic riding program for people with disabilities, and shortly thereafter, she purchased her beloved Icelandic horse, Tulpa. 

In March 2024, Kathy travelled to Patagonia with Margaret and an inspiring group of like-minded outdoorswomen. The retreat, and the unbelievably beautiful add-on time spent at Estancia Los Potreros outside of Córdoba, made for yet another life & perspective-shifting experience with Margaret. The people, the language, the horses, the food & wine, and the ability to connect so profoundly with the group of women, the land we rode on, and the opportunity to teach yoga in such a magnificent setting ~ unforgettable.

Kathy will be joining Margaret on the 2025 Cowgirl Yoga Argentina retreat to Los Potreros, an opportunity to fuse three loves of her life: Spanish language, teaching yoga & horses. Kathy teaches yoga classes that vary in style from restorative to vinyasa flow, always with emphasis on alignment and connection with the breath. She speaks Spanish with less fluidity than she once did but it doesn’t seem to matter! She spends time with horses for the joy of connecting with such a beautiful animal, for the feeling of sharing their energy and intuition and for what they are able to teach us about ourselves if we’re quiet enough to listen. Yeehaw & Namaste!