By: Sawyer Smith
“The minute we step outside, we are fully supported… Our brains know what to do. We just have to put ourselves there.”
Melanie Webb told me this when I asked what people can expect from her river rafting and stargazing trip through Desolation Canyon. We were about mid-way through our conversation, but already it was clear to me just how much being out in nature meant to this wildlife biologist turned yogi and fitness instructor.
But Melanie has worn many hats over the years. In addition to her work as a biologist, she’s also been an outdoor guide on numerous wilderness retreats, she’s a human physiologist, and now she’s even dipped her toe into the world of app development.
The common thread that runs through each of these endeavors, however, is Melanie’s desire “to help people optimize their health and wellbeing,” and that’s what her river trip is all about.
An Outdoor Office
After spending some time working and living in Washington DC, Melanie started to miss the great outdoors and practicing yoga in nature. She began running wilderness retreats and eventually moved back to her home state, Utah, and has been striving to be outdoors as much as possible ever since.
When asked about practicing yoga and meditation outside versus in a studio, Melanie stated simply that nature is “the most natural yoga setting that could possibly be.” She described the river specifically as an “extension of her office” and reflected on how the “pink noise of nature” gives her a boost in reaching a peaceful state of mind.
In the studio, you’re crammed in like sardines with other sweaty people, and even though the room itself is crowded, Melanie thinks there is a lot more space for comparisons and distractions in a place like that. But in nature, the “peace and quiet is already just kind of there, you just step right into it when you’re outside.”
What To Expect On the Trip
For those of you worried about signing up for the trip because you’re insecure about your yoga abilities or fitness levels, fret not. Melanie is a personal trainer first and foremost, which means she understands “we are not built the same way.” She not only knows that every person’s body is different, but she’s also not setting out on this trip with the goal of making sure every attendee can do a perfect headstand by the end.
“I’m not a strict yogi,” she told me. “I love yoga, I studied it a lot, I’ve done it all over the world, but I’m also a wildlife biologist and fitness instructor deeply immersed in breathwork… I look forward to sharing my love of that practice and mixing it with other tools, and expanding others’ views of what wellness means and the role that nature plays in their wellbeing.”
She wants to introduce you to the “joys of moving outdoors,” and open your eyes to the “mental and emotional side of health and wellness,” through not only yoga but also meditation and breathwork.
“Every morning, we’ll start with some movement, and set an intention for the day. Then enter the river mindfully and with our bodies ready to move… Be one with our environment and have a fantastic and fun time.”
When I asked Melanie what she herself was looking forward to the most about facilitating this trip, she had two answers for me.
First, she said she was “selfishly” looking forward to getting away from the daily grind of computer and office work. “As a new app developer,” she told me. “I really need a break. I really value just being outdoors completely and simplifying life, not worrying about the socials and comparisons.”
Her second answer to my question, which she deemed her ‘altruistic’ response, was that she was “really looking forward to meeting the people coming on the trip, they’re always fabulous.”
Personally, I think both her answers are altruistic. It’s important, especially for those of us who clock in long hours behind a computer screen, to be reminded to take a break occasionally, to step away from the 9-5, or pull back from the hustle. I don’t find Melanie’s desire to disconnect from the chaos of daily life selfish at all, in fact, I find it very relatable, as I’m sure many of you reading this will too.
So, if you’re someone who’s also been suffering from screen headaches, email fatigue, or just need to get away from your desk for a bit, maybe consider joining Melanie on this fun, relaxing escape.
Where to Connect with Melanie Outside of the Trip
If you can’t make her river rafting trip, but you’re still interested in learning more about Melanie’s practice, her philosophies regarding movement, and meditation, or if you just jive with her thoughts on Mother Nature, there are many places you can connect with her.
As she mentioned in the interview, Melanie has been working on an app called WebbWell, which is in the early stages of development but she’d still love for you to check it out. Not only does the app feature some of her movement and wellness instruction, but she also plans on opening it up as a platform where you can access content from her large network of fitness and wildlife colleagues.
She also has a community page where you can engage with her directly as well as others on their own wellness journeys. You can check out her book, Adventures in Mother Nature’s Gym, and learn more about her and her work in general on her website, WebbWell.com.
But the best place to connect with Melanie is probably somewhere in nature, so if you can’t sign up for the trip, maybe try looking for her where she feels most like herself.
“I feel at one with life when I’m in the backcountry of Zion National Park,” she told me, but she wouldn’t give me any more details regarding her favorite hiking spots, and who could blame her? Sacred places are best kept sacred by being kept secret.
Sawyer Smith is a Utah native currently residing in St. Louis, Missouri. When she isn’t working as a freelance writer or hiking through sections of the Mark Twain National Forest, she is planning trips in her head back to her beloved state to once again climb on the red rocks and ski down the snowy mountains.