Margaret Burns Vap

Founder & Boss Mare

Founder, Boss Mare & Chaturanga Cowgirl

“Margaret is the ring leader of this amazing cowgirl circus that I was incredibly fortunate to be a part of.” – Mary, B-LUXE Cowgirl Yogini

“Yoga teacher, horsewoman, and all-around world improver Margaret Burns Vap founded Big Sky Yoga Retreats, through which she runs retreats that combine yoga and horses and the Montana landscape, and turns them into alchemical creations that transcend the sum of their parts.” – Sarah, Cowgirls vs. Cancer 

Margaret is the founder of Big Sky Yoga Retreats and creator of Cowgirl Yoga™. Her relationship with yoga began more than two decades ago, when she began attending Jivamukti Yoga and took up the practice in an attempt to balance her hectic New York City lifestyle and corporate career with cosmetics giant L’Oréal.

A few years and several hundred down dogs later, she traded in her designer duds for yoga pants – and moved to Washington DC to open her own studio. She combined her business background and passion for mindful movement to create Georgetown Yoga, which soon became one of DC’s most popular studios.

She practiced at Jivamukti London when her family relocated to the UK for a short time, and studied Ashtanga Yoga under Richard Freeman, David Swenson, and Dave Oliver. Margaret also completed a training program with renowned California/New York-based Yoga Works, and traveled to Hawaii for Baron Baptiste’s Teacher Training Bootcamp.

Margaret’s students have included celebrities and DC luminaries to wheelchair-bound seniors, beginner to more experienced yogis – and everyone in between.

Her belief that yoga can benefit anyone, anytime was part of what inspired Margaret when her family relocated to Bozeman, Montana in early 2007. Alongside her husband David and daughter Morgane, she quickly embraced the laid-back-yet-vibrant town, its outdoor fitness focus, and breathtaking 360-degree mountain views.

It wasn’t long before Margaret felt called to combine her love of yoga with her new-found love for Montana. Her authentic approach to teaching and natural gift for creating nurturing, safe spaces for people to practice yoga inspired the creation of Big Sky Yoga Retreats. With the help of her close-knit team, Margaret developed a one-of-a-kind retreat experience that welcomes women to enjoy yoga with an unforgettable Montana backdrop. 

Big Sky Yoga Retreats has been featured in numerous publications and has received impressive press coverage since its inception. In addition to Montana, Margaret leads retreats in Argentina, Costa Rica, France, and Italy.

The retreat experience Margaret designed and her vision for the trips is constantly evolving and changing. She and her team are driven to find as many ways as possible to incorporate the connection to yoga and horses, and yoga and nature. The signature retreat experiences include Cowgirl Yoga and yoga and hiking. Most recently, Margaret has pursued training in equine coaching to guide her retreaters on an even deeper journey into the mind-body-horse connection. And just for fun…she offers an occasional retreat or two combining yoga and wine. #namasteandcheers

Her yoga retreat philosophy is Authenticity. The goal is to provide something truly unique that wouldn’t otherwise be discovered on one’s own – whether it’s a deep understanding of how to move in and out of a certain yoga pose, or riding off the beaten path across the wilds of Patagonia.

Margaret earned her B.S. from Georgetown University and her MBA from Thunderbird, the American Graduate School of International Management. She can get by in French and Spanish, and throws out un po d’Italiano when needed. She has traveled extensively, especially when horseback riding and hiking have been involved. (If you can’t get into one of her trips, she highly recommends a riding trip with Eldhestar in Iceland – over-the-top life changing. She is currently trying to figure out how to partner with them!)

She and David make the most of Montana’s endless outdoor activities and have loved watching their daughter Morgane grow up on the ski slope and on horseback – Morgane is now an accomplished ski racer and horse whisperer, and you can often find her assisting with Cowgirl Yoga. Margaret is also proud ‘mom’ to Maine Coon cat Leo, barn cat Loki, and her equine herd – Tennessee Walking Horses Java and Skywalker, and a Rocky Mountain Horse named Atlas. 

Read Riding the Wave: How Margaret Burns Vap Revolutionized the Yoga Retreat Experience, on Women On Topp.

Brands I Love

Women owned businesses that I adore:

Check out Bozeman’s Bang Bang Hats, for a custom cowgirl hat.

Stick & Ball is our Cowgirl Yoga Argentina retreat sponsor.

Trust me, you need The Equestrian scent by Carter + Jane.


Margaret and Morgane were featured as Cowgirl Yoginis in a 2009 JADE Yoga ad (at left).