Costa Rica: Nature, Connection & Yoga
July 13, 2015
By: Lauren Eckstrom (Retreat Leader & International Yoga Instructor)
If you love both yoga and travel, yoga retreats and destination trainings provide unique opportunities to delve into local culture, experience healthy cuisine and expand your awareness of world culture. The Costa Rica Yoga Resort and Spa, where we are currently hosting our 200 hour Holistic Yoga Flow international teacher training, employs local chefs, organic farmers, retreat hosts and full time staff.
In the last year, Fabian, an organic farmer with a background in perma culture and garden design, created a stunning, expansive garden complete with healing herbs, luscious greens, healthy soil and a composting area. Fabian was born in the highlands of Costa Rica where the soil is rich and growing just about anything comes with ease. But here on the coast in Nosara, the soil was not prepared for such abundant growth. Fabian worked hard to cultivate the perfect combination of horse manure and active, healthy bacteria until the soil was ready for planting. As he prepared the soil he simultaneously worked with a team of local gardeners to build the square mandala shape of the garden outlined with rocks for wide planting beds. Using zero chemicals and only natural pest repellent created with ingredients such as hot pepper oil and cayenne, anyone visiting the retreat center can now enjoy a plentiful, organic garden. Salads with fresh arugula, green chard or kale decorate the tables daily. Fabian added beautiful flowering plants throughout the garden to attract pollinators, which are critical to the success of flourishing plant life. A tour through the garden gives you aromatic experiences of lavender, coriander and more. As he teaches you to gently run your fingers across the leaves, almost caressing their fragile frames, stunning scents waft across your fingertips. Fabian delicately hands visitors leaves pulled straight from the plants to taste, chew and experience each plants’ full flavor and possibility. Many of the plants he tends possess powerful healing properties to ease the pain of ear aches, calm the discomfort of urinary tract infections and eliminate the pangs of digestive issues that visitors might face while away from home. Fabian’s desire is to inspire visitors to return home ready to plant their own garden because as he passionately explains, “nothing tastes better than food from your own backyard.”
Many of the hosts at the retreat center were born and raised in the bustling capital city of San Jose. Eduardo passionately gazes into your eyes with a warm greeting upon arrival and without hesitation tells you “we are already family.” Each morning he greets everyone with a hug and warm embrace, ready to make their day reminiscent of home. Eduardo left a high paying job in the field of electric energy design to pursue life closer to nature. He reflects on days spent in front of four large computers where the only sense of the outdoors came from screen savers of the ocean. He became wildly disenchanted with the illusion, or what in yoga we call maya, of the San Jose party scene, materialistic accumulation and a life of indulgence so he headed to Nosara with the intention of reclaiming the human need for connection to nature and simplicity. Daily he prepares magical tumeric and ginger teas for helping worn yogis decrease bodily inflammation and energetically rejuvenate. Eduardo’s love of yoga, healing arts and being of service to others gives each person visiting a sense of being fully taken care of, seen and loved. He hopes visitors leave inspired to care for nature through energy conservation, recycling and sustainable living.
Luxurious yoga retreat centers can sometimes take us further away from local culture rather than closer to it. Working with retreat centers that invest in the local community, employ locals and empower the surrounding area is both inspiring and positive. Making sure that our visits help to keep the local economy healthy and vibrant is part of our responsibility as traveling yoga teachers and students. As you take your practice on the road, make sure to visit local craftsmen and women, restaurants, healers and cultural centers. If the retreat you are on is separate from the local community, make time in your schedule to explore the beautiful people around you. Even if you do not speak the local language well (or at all) learn a few key words such as a warm greeting and please or thank you. Every effort to be part of the community is noticed and appreciated.
Travel. Without question experiences are the best spent money in the world. Travel with care, a desire to learn and grow, a passion to serve and an understanding that we are a very small part of this wide, incredible and amazing world. There is so much the world community has to offer, so many diverse people and places; do not hesitate to step outside of your comfort zone. What you will find is that we are on the same journey, we are one human family and if you let yourself, people all over the world will welcome you with open arms.
Something Big Around the Bend
April 29th, 2015
By: Tony Audin
It’s another typical Wednesday morning here at the Costa Rica Yoga Spa. We were blessed with rain last night, the jungle looks fresh, clean and green and the birds and lizards are out celebrating. The air smells of wet dirt and trees and although the morning’s almost gone, there’s still a fresh breeze lingering about from a cool early morning. Seems like just another day in paradise; but there is more. Lane, my fellow compatriot, and I are both holding onto a deeper sort of excitement, a slow burning furnace of passion – a powerful stoke indeed. Weird, but what is fueling this furnace you ask? Well if you take a second and open up your trusty global weather, wind, and waves charts what you’ll most likely notice right off the bat is a big purple blob circling around the South Pacific. What is that ominous treacherous swirling death blob you ask? Well, that is a storm. And it is single-handedly fueling every living cell of these two surf hungry beach bandits. In short, that big purple blob means Nosara is going XXL in the wave department. Yes, Nosara always has waves – whether you’re surfing long rides at Guiones, getting worked at Ostional, getting weird at Pelada, or getting shacked at Marbella, you’re getting waves. True. But it’s not always triple overhead. And as we speak, all that turbulence in the South Pacific is being organized into waves which in turn are making their way here, to Nosara, Costa Rica at speeds of about 60knots (70mph). They will get here in about three days and we are going to get stand-up barrels left and right backwards and forwards. That fact alone is enough to keep us pumped until these big beauties get here… and well after they’ve left…
It’s just another example of how so many things are connected in so many ways and yet so often overlooked – from storm to stoke, nothing beats it.
Empowered and Responsible
March 30, 2015
By: Benito Hill
Living at the Costa Rica Yoga Spa the many years that Jill, Darin and I have is in many ways rewarding and fulfilling. Each day has its special projects and today is one of those; this weekend I was handed the care of our Totally Organic vegetable garden. Fabian, our fantastic permaculturalist from Cartago, CR, has gone home for the weekend. Friday at noon he and a friend boarded the Alfaro Bus and by the time he arrives in Cartago I will have already finished my afternoon watering (around 5:30 pm) as everyone is settling in for another fantastic sunset!
The first session is a breeze! Everything is in great order- the arugula, carrots, basil, chives, lechuga (oops sorry, lettuce!) are getting ready for some harvesting and the new tomatoes, beets, pineapple and more basil we just planted are doing wonderful…. All is in order and with no worries I sit to enjoy dinner and visit for a while with our guests from New York, Canada and Washington DC. Then it’s straight to bed for a great night’s sleep and an early wake up to the call of the Howler monkeys wishing me good morning.
Wow that was quick and refreshing!! But oh my gosh! The Armadillo has gotten into the ‘Garden of Eating’ and had a field day all night long! That large walking rock has been digging up the garden at night looking for worms, and at the same time uprooted many little babies and some of the plants ready for harvest. Fabian usually handles this and comes to breakfast with his chin down and now I understand his sadness and frustration firsthand.
We know that there are lots of fruits and veggies that we grow which will be absorbed by different elements of the jungle but still it takes lots of work to make it up. Since I have been given the responsibility to care for the garden and I have the power to make a difference, I will. On Monday I'm getting some chicken wire to wrap around the garden area to keep the little varmints out so we have more fresh, organic goodness for our guests who arrive from Palo Alto , Ca. and Montreal, Canada to join our existing friends. Fabian will be back around noon and we will get to hanging the barrier around the Garden. Fresh Organic Veggies every day is our dream and goal right here in paradise.
Working-- if you can really call it that-- is pretty tough here with the beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean and an occasional ship or sail boat on the horizon. Lol, it hardly is a sad work environment!
Come taste the difference!
Yoga Retreat Season Has Begun!
February 5, 2015
By: Benito Hill
Wow! what a month at the Costa Rica Yoga Spa. We started out with a 5 Rhythm retreat with Amber Ryan and Kevin Courtney into the most beautiful New Year's Eve party ever with live dj's, Santos and Zurdo, Sofia Thom, fire dancing the night away with amazing food and drink, with Naked Foods serving up special concoctions all night under a red moon over the Ostional ocean. Over 200 people attended and had the night of their lives. People came from Blue Spirit, Pacha Mama, Nosara Yoga Institute, Iboga Love, The Iboga House and all over the country and the world. The theme this year was Bridging The Gap's and expressed by our swinging bridge and permaculture gardens, where we built an indigenous Indian village in honor of the local Chorotega Indians who are buried on this land. It was a great success and Amber and Kevin have just announced this New Year's Eve celebration to be an annual event.
We then moved into a yoga disconnect retreat with Cyntia Gamarra and Alyssa Arroyo which included zipline tours, beach trips, Playa Guiones surf lessons,
SUP, kayaking on the Rio Nosara and lots of dancing. What a great crew and talk about transformation, they got it!
Then the famous, Coby Koslowski, led a powerful 2- week life coach training that could not have been better. This is one of my favorites of the year as the Cobinator is absolutely amazing with what she does and always warms the place up and this group took time to learn some gardening tips, yoga, dance and surfing amongst many other things such as Franklins organic snack den and people from as far away as Berlin. We are very honored to have Coby come here every year for her life coaching workshops indeed.
Moving to the present we have Jennifer Bluestone's reconnect and restore yoga retreat which is filled with lovely people about to blast off an amazing week of fun and yoga in the sun! Happy New Year's from all of here at the Costa Rica Yoga Spa. We are extremely proud of our team right now and the vibe is contagious and delicious!
The Ultimate Spa Pedicure Experience
September 26, 2014
By: Valerie Hopson
Last week I was privileged enough to experience a pedicure here at the Costa Rica Yoga Spa under the gentle, holistically trained hands of Vero Steele. It, to say the least, was my absolute pleasure. Never had I known before that a pedicure could be so relaxing and peaceful, and I have had my share of pedicures—in Costa Rica and abroad.
Surprisingly, the Nosara afternoon was rainless at 4:00pm when my spa session began. I could hear the voices of the nearby birds blend with the pounding of distant waves and the soothing tones of the music Vero was playing. Sometime during the two-plus hour treatment a soft rain began and that is what I woke up to—yes woke-up to—when everything was over.
In an open-air spa treatment room with flowing white drapes and soft breezes blowing through, Vero began a light conversation with me while my feet relaxed in a warm soapy bath. She removed my polish and showed me my many current fresh color options in quality enamel. I had never seen a pedicurist don a magnifiying lamp on their forehead, but it was definitely an indication of things to come and the precision of her talent. After what seemed like no time at all, but was probably closer to forty minutes, Vero indicated with her right hand that I was to lay down on the massage bed set up in the middle of the room. I was clearly confused and she must have read it on my face. Were we pausing the pedicure to throw in a massage?? No, Vero explained, this is simply the next step in the epic pedicure event I was enjoying.
I lay down as instructed and felt my stresses fall away to the tune of the music and the surrounding cacophony of nature. I drifted in and out of light dreams and musings for the next hour or more as Vero diligently, softly, and with a light leg massage, finished her awesome work. When I awoke it was to the finished product and a whole new perspective on the art of pedicures! Thank you to Vero for the gift of your touch and care, I look forward to the next time!
MORE about IBOGA YOGA at COSTA RICA YOGA SPA
by: Scott McClelland
Darin McBratney, founder of the Iboga Yoga Retreat and owner of the Costa Rica Yoga Spa talks briefly on his personal experiences with Iboga, as well as his pioneering treatment methods and his partner Ashley Ludman’s integration of music, meditation, yoga asanas and breath work designed specifically to be paired with the Iboga experience.
In 2005 Darin McBratney became deathly ill after surfing one day, there was 22 others within his small community of Nosara, Costa Rica that became mysteriously ill as well. After having lost two people to the deadly disease Darin recognized the urgency of his situation. Over the next three years Darin spent his time in agonizing pain, dealing with near death experiences, light and sound sensitivity, and began to lose hope. Darin having no insurance went on to spend a fortune, countless amount of time and energy trying to find a diagnosis. After three years of searching around the world, and traveling to numerous different countries, doctors continuously misdiagnosed him and he was constantly also diagnosed with a disease known as chronic fatigue or the male version of fibromyalgia as Darin calls it, this diagnoses is basically throwing the patient into a waste paper basket, over twenty times, as well as encephalitis once. Doctors began suggesting treatments such as pain relievers and antidepressants, and antibiotics which Darin immediately threw away time after time. Darin, however, was not convinced. After an unsettling encounter involving an overheard conversation between his doctor and his secretary, Darin decided to leave the world of western medicine. The doctor had been heard stating that the he was not concerned about Darin's health, and wasn't dedicated to helping him. In that moment, Darin had given up hope.
Several months later Darin was directed by a friend to Dr. Anno, a kinesiologist and chiropractor, who he claimed had cured his friend of cancer. By chance Darins friend got Dr. Anno on the phone and she was able to see him that afternoon. This chance encounter is what saved his life. After meeting with Darin, Dr. Anno diagnosed him with Ciguatera, better known as Red Tide Sickness which is a harmful algae bloom which releases a dynoflagulent that produces a severe nerve toxin. The correct diagnosis had been given within five minutes of meeting each other. Without looking at Darin's medical file, Dr. Anno was able to do what so many other doctors around the world had failed to do, correctly diagnose him. After the session with Dr. Anno Darin had further tests run which solidified Dr. Anno, and proved that she was, in fact, correct.
They began treatment shortly after. This treatment, however, was not your average method and Darin did something no one had ever done with Dr. Anno after finding out there was no cure for his ailment although Dr. Anno’s kiniesiology session’s made him feel much better. He then printed out every herb known to mankind and they together using this list and kiniesiology came up with a cure. Then Darin created a questionnaire including all supplements, and healthy activities and all of the alternative modes of healing that exist. Darin's new questionnaire paired with Dr. Anno's work led them to create a way to work with people by allowing them to listen to their bodies.
After developing this healing modality, Darin found Iboga. The success of the treatments in the Iboga yoga program Darin contributes to Dr. Anno’s screening and dosage recommendation which has proven 100% accurate to date. A consultation with Dr. Anno is the first requirement to your treatment at the spa and it isn’t just a consultation but a healing session as well. She is world renown for her long distance diagnoses and healing sessions. The suggested treatment methods may seem obscure to many, but is in fact one of the most natural and pure ways of healing. Asking your body what it needs is actually the simplest and most honest way to treat yourself. Tabernanthe Iboga is a native rainforest shrub and is indigenous to Central Africa. The plant is described as having many different beneficial uses both pharmacological and ritualistic. Iboga is most popularly known in the western world due to its active alkaloid known as Ibogaine. Ibogaine works by stimulating the central nervous system. The active alkaloid, Ibogaine, is a naturally occurring psychoactive substance found not only in Tabernanthe Iboga, but also in Voacanga Africana and Tabernaemontana Undulata.
Despite being illegal in some countries, it is used by many more in psychotherapy and addiction treatment. Patients struggling with addiction to substances such as heroin, alcohol, cocaine, methadone, methamphetamines, steroids, tobacco, and caffeine have responded well to treatment. Darin, while recognizing the benefits of Ibogaine and addiction treatments is far more concerned with the ability of the plant to heal people of illnesses. He says that Iboga can be used to cure anyone of anything. Iboga has been known to completely erase people of their symptoms from varying diseases including but not limited to lupus, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, candida, and so many others.
Darin describes one situation, which was confirmed by many other staff members at the spa, involving a guest with a rare, undiagnosed skin disorder. One of the guests had a skin condition that was seemingly untreatable. He had been struggling with this for his entire life, and it had continuously held him back in so many different ways. The disease was affecting his looks and self esteem. Aside from being unsightly, it was also very painful. After the one treatment his life long skin disorder had been completely wiped out overnight. This is just one of the many stories of Iboga completely wiping out a disease previously thought to be incurable, such as Tourette’s and lupus.
Almost identical stories can be found here at Costa Rica Yoga Spa's Iboga Yoga Retreat. Various participants within the treatment described first hand as being free from addiction, mental and emotional disorders (i.e. post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety) and in Darin's case especially physical ailments. In an interview held with Darin McBratney on July 29th of 2014, he stated that his symptoms were taken away instantaneously, as opposed to a slow gradual healing process. He claims that after taking Tabernanthe Iboga he was immediately healed of all ailments related to his illness.
Since then Darin has healed not only himself, but also the other members of his community who had fallen ill. After seeing the benefits he went on to continue treating the ill, and has now helped hundreds here at Costa Rica Yoga Spa. McBratney reports that all of his guests report having a positive and beneficial experience that has led to significant, lasting improvements on their lives.
Alongside the use of Tabernanthe Iboga, Darin began to look at taking a very holistic approach to his health and started studying nutrition along with various methods to raise your frequency etc. Eventually, Darin, Ashley Ludman, Sarah Kopinya Dr. Anno, and a few of his close coworkers developed something called Iboga Yoga. Iboga Yoga was an original idea created in order to help prepare your body for the Iboga experience, as well help your body to deal with the physical and energetic repercussions of processing the raw root bark. Darin described the asanas as grounding postures to help keep you centered as well as deal with some of the mental symptoms you may be experiencing as a result of engaging in a new experience such as anxiety, nervousness, uncertainty, fear. The asanas were also designed to help with digestion due to the sometimes harsh, short lasting nausea caused to the digestive tract. Some short-term side effects may include nausea, vomiting, and vertigo, which the Iboga Yoga was designed specifically to alleviate.
Darin emphasizes that the medically supervised experience at his retreat is neither like those found in treatment clinics, which look at the experience from a predominantly medical standpoint, or like those of the Bwiti Tribes of Africa, which use the bark from the Tabernanthe Iboga plant as a ritualistic rite of passage and healings. Instead he describes his retreat as "somewhere in between." He says that the medically supervised Iboga Yoga Retreat at Costa Rica Yoga Spa is best described as "going home to find yourself." He emphasizes that the people coming here for treatment are not patients but rather guests who should feel as though they're at home with their family. When I asked the guests to describe their experience all of them were sure to include how helpful and comforting the staff involved in the ceremony were. One guest even admitted "I'm not sure if I could have done it without them."
Guests of the spa have also claimed that the Iboga had revealed something to them. After the Iboga ceremony Darin asks his guests to describe their experience in one word. Guests are reported to have said things such as "truth," "knowledge," and "discipline." Darin is sure to ask his guests if they believe they were shown anything but the truth during their experience with Iboga, and out of everyone he's treated, all of the guests believe the experience to be one-hundred percent truthful, and helpful in all aspects of their lives.
Aside from the comforting atmosphere, Costa Rica Yoga Spa also incorporates other activities into their retreat such as the above-mentioned Iboga Yoga, beach trips, canopy tours, surfing lessons, bodywork and massage acupuncture, counseling and love. During the Iboga Yoga retreats at Costa Rica Yoga Spa you are consuming the plant in its natural form including all of the alkaloids, you may consume the root bark by ingesting it in vegetarian capsules or Darin’s original ginger iboga smoothie.
Aside from the physical and mental benefits of Iboga, Tabernanthe Iboga is also used for the purposes of spiritual development. This is also something that Costa Rica Yoga Spa embraces. They are very excited to be helping people along on their healing, spiritual journey. Darin speaks of Iboga in a very high regard, stating, "I respect this sacred plant to the utmost degree, and understand its intelligence." Here at Costa Rica Yoga Spa true healing is not something that comes from alkaloids designed to physically and mentally reset your system, but instead a whole being transformation using all of the holistic tools they have including outstanding organic meals. The Iboga Retreat and staff incorporates the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects of healing, making the retreat a well-rounded approach to reaching the goal of total, positive transformation. They are very proud of their track record of helping people to achieve their intentions and the safety protocols they have set in stone will make you feel at home and cared for in every way. This revolutionary Iboga Yoga therapy that this crew developed is truly something new in the way of Iboga therapy. Darin likes to refer to the therapy and plant and “very universal” and this shows through in the ceremonial world music that pumps through the amazing sound system while in the “spaceship” which is a very large traditional Costa Rican ranchito. The experience and the staff that helped me while staying there I am forever grateful too. I will say along with the rest of the group I underwent this experience with that it was the best experience of our lives. We all feel reborn and aligned with the universe. I can see clearly now how well Iboga works with the yoga practice. I do have my homework to do as we all have but now I have the truth to carry me forward.
September 16 , 2014
I scanned my surroundings in awe. My field of vision was filled almost completely of the color green. The hard rain fell and hit the surface of the leaves, like tiny waves crashing on the beach. Despite it being rainy season, Nosara was still just as beautiful. I wondered if it were maybe even more romantic than the high season. I smiled as I felt the same appreciation for the rain that the plants were.
Here in Nosara there are 500,000 different types of plant species, almost all of which can be used for some sort of natural healing remedy. Costa Rica has one of the largest biodiversity in plant species, and many places here in Nosara do not take this for granted. You can numerous local shops selling homemade remedies for everything from bug bites to poor digestion. Cures for sunburn, dry skin, muscle cramps, headaches, fevers, and the list could potentially continue until every ailment is covered.
Aside from using herbs for remedies the people here in Nosara, Costa Rica also believe in the idea “let thy food be thy medicine.” That’s why most places here are very conscious of what foods they’re eating. At the Costa Rica Yoga Spa, in Nosara Costa Rica, they are sure to use local, organic produce for the three meals that they serve to all guests. They also are known for making concoctions in order to help with various different things. For example, the owner of the spa, Darin McBratney, can be found almost every morning whipping up his well known “hair ball” which is good in the morning to kick start your metabolism, help with digestion, and help your circulatory system. Everyone here in Nosara, especially here at the Costa Rica Yoga Spa, are very generous, and believe that everyone around them should be experiencing the same benefits as they are. With that said be ready to experience a number of different natural healing mixtures all of which will be offered to you just because they really are interested in helping you reach your full potential in terms of health and wellness.
Turmeric Tea and Micro Dosing
August 1, 2014
The day began like any other at the Costa Rica Yoga Spa. I awoke with the rising sun and watched as pure daylight reached the tops of the surrounding trees. I walked out to the Rancho, the place I felt most connected to. I took a moment to give thanks for the opportunity of one more day before embracing my yoga practice with enthusiasm and vigor.
From there I headed down to the office to type an article I had written about Darin and his work here with the medicinal plant Tabernanthe Iboga. As I walked into his office he mumbled something I couldn't quite make out before handing me four capsules filled with what looked like shredded root bark. I accepted them with curiosity. I knew this was a small dose, and I've never been one for fear. "Will this negatively affect my writing?" I questioned. I was very focused following my yoga practice and felt strongly about this article. I was worried I'd find myself tripping out, unable to focus on anything other than the geometric patterns flashing before my open eyes. He laughed and told me I probably wouldn't even feel it. "Pay attention to your inner dialogue," was all he said.
As I sat at his desk, I realized his good intentions. I let his energy flow through me as I typed the essay. I felt a little lifted, but definitely not "high." I felt focused. My ideas came easily and were strangely organized. I had some trouble with my spelling and also found myself forgetting certain words, but other than that my ability to write was seemingly unaffected, perhaps even enhanced.
I began to feel a slight tingling sensation through my physical body. "Pay attention to your inner dialogue" I said to myself mentally. I laughed at how clear I sounded. My voice echoed in my own head.
After the paper I returned upstairs and sat outside for a while. I just wanted to be around the plants. I wished that we could clearly communicate. I had so many questions.
Ideas came and went; sometimes I'd stop to focus on one if I thought it had the potential to become a profound revelation. Sorting through my thoughts has never come with such ease. I was amazed at how calm I felt, how my thoughts felt free yet organized. I appreciated my ability to think. I thanked the universe for allowing me to embrace my creativity. My thoughts suddenly stopped on their own and I sat quietly, focused on nothing other than my own breath.
I spent the rest of the day talking to my new boss about the process of fermenting the Noni that we had harvested the day before in order to create a probiotic. My senses were heightened, I felt more aware, more conscious. I learned about a few other plants and headed back to the spa.
In the kitchen Ben was making turmeric tea. His warm smile and inviting energy drew me towards him as he offered me some, which I eagerly accepted. He explained to me the benefits of the tea as he mixed the ingredients together. Turmeric paste, ginger, cayenne pepper, black pepper, a little bit of honey, and hot water are the ingredients. It's good for joints and arthritis pain, as well as your digestion. Turmeric is known to increase blood circulation and reduce inflammation. Ben explained that the black pepper increases the beneficial results of the turmeric by 2000%. I giggled, not fully believing it.
The first sip of hot tea warmed the back of my throat and I experienced a feeling similar to love. "How simple " I thought to myself, "That something like exploring the benefits of medicinal tea with a genuine, new friend can help me experience love." After the tea, I felt the difference almost immediately. My body felt lighter, I could move more easily and freely. I went to the Rancho to practice for a second time, this time with my new body.
Later that night I found myself discussing the beauty of life, the practice of yoga, and the ways of the universe with a friend as we watched the moon. The stars seemed to be dancing a slow, familiar dance. I wondered what the Earth looked like from a star. I fell asleep outside, holding closely one of the resident dogs. Andrew Bird played through the speakers as I drifted off to sleep, hoping something would come to me in a dream.
One man's introduction to Iboga
July 29, 2014
I left orientation with a quick exchange of words and a firm handshake shared between Darin and I. His introduction to the Iboga treatment felt comfortable, yet professional. You could clearly see that his experience and profound love for this medicinal plant was very pure and real. He genuinely believed that the experience could cure anyone of any disease whether it be physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual. There was an intense feeling of truth, as if I had never heard someone be so honest. The people around him who had undergone the Iboga treatment previous to this were also very convincing. They not only solidified everything Darin said, but also included their own personal experiences.
Darin had undergone eight Iboga treatments. His experimentation with Iboga first began when he and several other people within his town had become suddenly ill. Darin spent thousands of dollars and countless amounts of time and energy trying to find the correct diagnosis, in hopes of saving his life, and the lives of those within his community.
After years of searching he was eventually diagnosed with chronic fatigue. Darin, however, was not convinced. He continued to travel around until he fatefully found a kinesiologist who diagnosed him immediately. She suggested that he take Iboga in order to heal. Without hesitation he agreed, realizing that this very well may be his last hope. The disease had already taken the lives of two others within the town, and he knew he had no other option.
After taking Iboga his symptoms disappeared, and his life was no longer at risk of being taken. In the end Darin had saved not only his own life but the lives of his community as well.
Since then Darin has continued to use this medicinal plant to cure a number of other people from varying illnesses. The plant is most commonly known in the scientific medical world to help aide in the battle against addiction, but beyond just physical healing the plant is thought to take you on a profound spiritual journey, making the healing go much deeper than one can imagine.
"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving" - Lao Tzu
July 25, 2014
Chapter one of the Tao Te Ching, written by Lao Tzu reads,
"The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao
The name that can be named is not the eternal name..."
The interpretation according to Derek Lin reads like so,
"The Tao that can be completely expressed in words is not the constant, eternally changing and true Tao... Names did not exist prior to Creation. The nameless Tao is therefore the source of the universe."
As I sit at the small table at the top of the hill I cannot help but wonder if that's why it feels almost impossible to find the right words. What exactly is the Tao? The original source from which all things stem from, the center, the universal vibration, I imagine everything and also nothing. My thoughts feel scattered while I begin to think on the differences between Prana and Qi. The only thing that came to mind was the idea that they were the same philosophies that were just given different names. If you truly believe in God, do you attempt to name it?
A gecko began to chirp and I realized I was listening to my thoughts. I began to chant a single Om to help wipe my mind of other distractions. The vibrations quickly helped release more and more tension simultaneously throughout my mind and body.
As I deepened my breath I felt the abundance of life around me. From directly ahead a group of cows communicated while grazing. To my left a family of monkeys howled. Birds sang so closely behind me I almost felt as if they were on my shoulders. I realized how closely I was with so many different species. The trees danced in the wind and I knew we were all coexisting.
The idea of Taoism is to try to become one with the Tao. To live in harmony with the Tao, the way, the path, the driving force behind all that exists. To go with the flow. My best teacher has always been nature. I focus on my Dan Tien and feel one with the surrounding life. I breath the same breathe as everything and truly believe I understand what it feels like to be connected.
I bow my head slightly deeper, expressing gratitude for my surroundings. Costa Rica Yoga Spa has provided me with an incredible atmosphere, and truly immersed me into a place where self reflection comes so easily. My thoughts drift away slowly and with ease.
July 25, 2014
Inspired by my tour, I believe that people and tourism are my thing. I took the early morning bus to Nosara from San Jose, asking the universe to manifest all of its abundance in this new journey that I just started. So there are mixed feelings, new feelings that you haven’t felt before but they feel totally great. All noise from the city is left behind to heal near one of the richest parts of the Pacific Coast, surrounded by the pure water of two magical rivers.
A new horizon for a job opportunity is arising and I questioned myself, how in the world did I get here? So all that noise from the city was converted into peaceful silence and the best view I have ever seen from Ostional National Park, reminding me of childhood feelings, great emotional blissful feelings that I knew were there but lost and now found again. This is a place of pure infinite consciousness. I feel like I'm home, this is where I have and want to be.
I was invited to join a lesson for the Yoga Teacher Training with beautiful people. At first I didn’t know who was part of the staff and who was a student or a hotel guest, of course I didn’t care at all, my mind still questioning everything, I feel very secure in harmony and ready to mediate, I bow to the jungle to become stronger and wiser, but to be simple and work hard, to be dedicated, to learn new duties and be part of the eternal nature, this collective immersive sound that creates from all nature as our breath at the Yoga Rancho is uplifting.
I’m more than grateful with this place, home of all grace shouting at us to come together, as a community, with our greatest power so we can destroy all the world problems, calamities, and sufferings. We humans have expressed wild phenomena completely capable of whatever we dream to do with our lives. I've been wandering and feeling lost, like whirlwind I couldn't figure out a thing. Until this light beam came crashing in seconds like warm ocean waves soaked in some magic of awareness screaming that anything at this moment is lacking.
"A Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins with a Single Step."
July 23, 2014
I started in a small town in Costa Rica known as Samara. The amount of beauty and positive vibes throughout the town made me initially feel as though I never wanted to leave but when the opportunity arose to visit Nosara I felt as though I was being guided by something too complex to put into words. I packed my bag, slung it over my shoulder, and without hesitation headed for the bus stop.
Before walking too long a local stopped me along the way and asked where I was headed. For a moment I froze, I wasn't entirely sure. "Somewhere in Nosara." A smile poured over his face, and the next thing I knew I was in the passenger seat of a truck being taxied by new friend Manuel.
Manuel was very friendly, as all people in Costa Rica are. It's near impossible to be in a bad mood while living in such a beautiful place. He initially explained to me that he spoke very little English, but we somehow managed to converse the entire ride. As we began driving down the dirt road he told me that during rainy season you sometimes couldn't pass the river. Although it was currently the rainy season, Manuel continued to drive in the direction of the river. "Hey, it's not raining now right?!" we both laughed as he drove towards the bank.
We pulled up to the river. Manuel looked to me with raised eyebrows as if to ask my permission. I smiled and nodded, excited to see where this ride would take me. All of the sudden were in the river. The entire tires of the truck were immersed in water. I wasn't afraid, Manuel's energy was calming. An adorable brindle puppy jumps in the river from the other side and begins prancing and leaping through the water. Part of me wishes I could get out and play with the pup but I know we can't stop here.
After making it across the river we then entered what felt like a jungle safari ride. The only thing surrounding us is exotic wildlife. Flourishing green plants take over the path and were driving through the jungle. The windows are down, the crisp air gently meets my skin. I feel more aware of my sensations with each foot closer to the resort. I take a deep inhalation and it feels like the first true breath I've ever taken.
As the journey continues, the beauty only increases. Monarch butterflies glide by and I can feel their peacefulness. Tropical birds let out sounds that are so song like that there's no need for radio. As we continue to get closer to Nosara I can't help but experience an overwhelming feeling of gratitude. The natural beauty of my surroundings is so abundant that I begin to question how I got so lucky. But being here does not feel like luck. The deeper, spiritual appreciation and connection to the land explains to me that it is less about luck and more about fate.
We slow down until we come to a complete stop. We haven't reached our destination, or even pulled over for that matter. Manuel has come to a complete stand still in the middle of the road. He's staring at the ocean, taking in the vast openness and beauty to his left. Even a native, who drives through these towns everyday is still taken aback by the immense beauty here. We share what feels like a holy moment as we both feel a sudden rush of appreciation. He turns to me and smiles, and without a word we continue on our jungle safari.
After about an hour of exploring the back roads of Nosara, before even reaching Costa Rica Yoga Spa, I feel refreshed, renewed. As we slowly pull into the driveway of the retreat I begin to feel a slight wave of sadness knowing that my journey with Manuel is coming to an end, but more predominantly I feel grateful that it ever existed. As I grab my bag he pats me on the back. "Come back to Samara soon" he says, as if understanding that the beauty of Nosara alone, is enough to convince me to never leave.
I stepped out of the car and once again filled my lungs with clean, fresh air. It's one of the deepest breaths my lungs have ever known, and my body thanks me immediately. I look around once more to appreciate my surroundings and in that moment I knew that I was home.
Right Place at the Right Time
July 22, 2014
I was sitting at Rancho Tico in Nosara, Costa Rica at 10 AM on Sunday for what turns out to be the Best international highlight of my long life. It is the World Cup soccer match placing Costa Rica against Greece with 200 or so friends dripping wet on a surprisingly warm and humid day during what we refer to as rainy season. A packed house with the pizza oven blaring and the Bar-B-Q smoking of fresh caught Ahi Tuna on the grill and the local band playing their hearts out for the boys on the big screen TV, while Leo ( the owner) and his excellent crew rush around making sure our beers don't get emptied without a new one on the way. Remember we are all friends and friends don't let friends drink warm beer, Imperial, Cervesamas fina!
Emmie our waitress moves so smoothly like the well trained defense men playing against Greece this day's opponent. The first half is a blur, back and forth like two middle weight boxers throwing everything but the kitchen sink but not doing any damage. Half time is a perfect time to order a pizza or the famous Hambergesa de pollo and of course another beer and Mojito (Jill's favorite and Stephanie, the Bar tender is the best) . About three bites into the second half I am looking up at the TV and watch a move is happening and SCOOOOOOOOOOOOORE Rancho Tico explodes with cheers and whistles and horns and a constant scream of joy hopping up and down hand slapping as if I was the one who kicked the round football into the biggest goal possible for the biggest prize The Cup. One to nothing Costa Rica is ahead!!!
Settling back down to my lunch and realizing that the game has gone on and we need to now be defensive and keep Greece from scoring as I have finished my sandwich and fries time is running down then SCOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORE! OH MY GOD Greece has scored and now it is all tied up 1-1 How crazy and how nervous is everyone at Rancho Tico. Leo's shirt looks like he has played the entire 90 minutes but so is mine and everyone here it is so hot but nothing can dampen the enthusiasm.
It is now time for a shoot out, 5 players take turns kicking against the opposing goalie, back and forth, one by one. Finally a block by Costa Rican goalie Navas, the crowd goes wild all over again. Now, the next Tico player comes up and stares at the Greek goalie, and places the ball just right on the spot the ref pointed to, then backs up, stares once more, and then off he goes as fast as he can kicks. The goalie moves right, but the ball goes the other right and once again SCOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORE!
The game is over, Costa Rica wins, Costa Rica Wins, COSTA RICA WINS!
Nosara is nuts, Rancho Tico is a wild crazy party that goes on for more than three more hours and into the night. Remember we all started warming up before the game started at 10 AM.
This is the first time Costa Rica has advanced to the Knockout round, and this, with a team that just barely qualified. Now, they are on top of the world and so in love with their country, so proud of their country. Proud to be a Tico or Tica, and Jill and I were so proud to be here in Nosara, celebrating for them and congratulating them on the accomplishments of their country. To witness our friends happiness and joy is like a visa commercial, Priceless. For today, their little country has done something many other larger nations didn't. We were in the right place at the right time.
July 20, 2014
I am still quite confused about the reasons that I signed up for this yoga course. Personal development, self-study or escape? After 10 days feeling frustrated with postures I can't do, vows I can't keep, promises to self that I can't commit to, breathing exercises that make me feel more anxious than relaxed, I still keep going.
As I feel a great sense of trust and gratitude towards my teachers and the rest of my group, I get deeper and deeper into this journey of finding the confidence to be me, the clarity to see and accept who I am but also harness the skill of relating to others. Yes, I think this is the reason I am here. At least for now! Maybe in a week's time a deeper and more truthful realization becomes more obvious. Just hanging on there...curious, looking forward to the possibilities. Exploration... not fear of the unknown.
The surroundings and the set-up are perfect for this. CRYS standing on the top of a hill, right in the heart of the jungle, away from distractions but most connected to the rest of the world than any other place I have been to with its community, the people, the pets, the plants and animals have been embracing me in my thoughts since the first time I've been here and gently guiding me to who I am meant to be.
As my receptivity grows and becomes more acute and alive I feel really lucky and blessed to receive what is being offered.
July 20, 2014
It was not my intent to come to YTT at CRYS to soften the armor around my body and my heart. The intent was exposed to me during the first few days, during a Clarity workshop in the "spaceship", a gorgeous spot where students at the yoga spa practice and meditate.
Here at CRYS, I have been introduced to my Solar Plexus for the very first time after 50 years of life! Every day learning something new about my mind-body under the exquisite teaching of Ashley Ludman and Rebecca Kovacs.
The surroundings at CRYS have offered me so much peace for study and for contemplation. Nourishment of the highest Chi value served up three times a day has fed my body and my soul.
I am over whelmed with gratitude for finding this lovely jewel in the mountains of Costa Rica.
July 20, 2014
For as long as I can remember, I have had a wondering mind and remaining present during my yoga practice has proven to be the toughest yogic challenge. Throughout each pose I would move without connecting my breath with my movement. Not to mention mentally writing my grocery list or planning the rest of the day during shavasana. Thus, my intention for my time in Costa Rica, every yoga practice, as well as day in and day out, has been to be present.
It has been 10 days since I've arrived at the CRYS and I have to admit I was a bit worried about my primary intention. Now I will admit, my mind has wondered from time to time but I have never felt so in tune with my surroundings. Perhaps, the ability to remain present has something to do with the breathtaking views of the ocean and sunsets from every angle of the studio space. Perhaps, it has something to do with the delicious and nutritious meals that are prepared with local, organic ingredients and so much love you can taste it. Or perhaps, the ease of practicing here is due to the support and energy from all of the wonderful people I have been blessed to meet. Either way, I am ever so grateful for this experience and how this land is transforming my senses.
The real question is, will my ability to remain present remain when I return to the States? I will let you know!
Franklin's Super Foods
July 17, 2014
I first met Franklin last March. After everything I heard about him, I had to go see him for myself. Just a short walk down the hill that Costa Rica Yoga Spa is located on, I came to his rasta-painted gate. As I walked down his driveway I noticed his yard was a garden full of turmeric plants, cacao, pineapple, mango trees, and coconut palms to name a few.
A couple of large glass cases full of neatly placed jars and handcrafted jewelry rested outside of his door. The jars contained all sorts of goodies, from raw organic honey, marmalade, to spices and hydrated fruits. I thought I saw it all until I walked through his front door. First, I noticed a large table made from a large sliver of a very old tree, with a couple of people chatting and drinking some sort of yellow concoction. When my attention averted to the rest of his place, I was taken back by the variety of raw foods and ingredients he had on display. Large glass cases separated the patron area to the back of his store, which contained dozens of well organized glass jars each with a unique raw fruit or spice. Even more jars perfectly lined the shelves that were located behind the cases. To the right were a couple of refrigerators displaying different colored beverages, which radiated health and wellbeing.
I could tell whoever owned this shop, took great pride and care to what he was doing. This is the guy to talk to about super foods, and for the next hour I would be his pupil. Franklin shortly appeared from the kitchen, wearing a Bob Marley shirt and a big smile. There was a jovial kindness to him. He was someone you wanted to listen to and learn from.
Franklin began telling me how he got started in raw foods and how many of his ingredients are homegrown organically and dehydrated at the raw temperature. I asked him what his favorite things to make and eat were. He began telling me about a snack he calls a fruit sushi roll. Of course, there is no fish involved, just dried fruits and spices. He starts the roll with a square sheet of pressed and dried mango usually and then adds slivers of papaya, banana, coconut, and pineapple. He likes to top off the roll with some cacao and a dash of cayenne to accentuate the flavors and help with absorption. I put the roll in my mouth and immediately thought of a fruit roll-up with a hint of chocolate aftertaste. It was delicious and of course very healthy and nutritious.
After leaving Franklin’s I felt inspired and even a little lighter. He peaked my interest about a raw food diet and how great they can taste when they are paired correctly. I have since been back to Franklin’s and always learn something new each time I visit. If you ever find yourself in Nosara, I would highly recommend making a trip to Franklin’s located at the bottom of the mountain of Costa Rica Yoga Spa, just south of Playa Ostional.
Morning Practice in Paradise
July 1, 2014
I woke up this morning in the peacefulness of the jungle, so grateful for this beautiful day ahead of me. I opened the door to the balcony, felt the fresh breeze, gazed at the ocean behind the green lush jungel reflecting the light of the rising sun, and I thought; "What a blessing to find myself in the best spot in the world to do my yoga practice this morning". As I thought that, a couple of butterflies passed by, the breeze was carrying a wonderful smell of flowers mixed with the smell of the strawberry-banana pancakes from the kitchen, the birds were singing to each other. I told myself, "This must be Paradise". Starting my practice with this positive mindset, things only kept getting better: a hummingbird and sweet yellow bird were watching me practice from the papaya tree in front of me, my ipod on shuffle mode was playing all my favorite songs, a heart-shaped leaf fell off on my side and so on... Was the universe responding to my positive energy ten-fold, or was I just more aware of all these beautiful things because my energy was leading me to keep feeing myself with positive energy? I think it was both.
This blissful moment made me realize how life-changing the power of gratitude in our life can be. Have you ever noticed how great your day always turns out when you start it by expression of gratitude? I encourage everyone to try this: As soon as you wake up in the morning, name ten things for which you're grateful for and observe how your day goes! Namaste
New Month, New Moon Coming, New Me
July 1, 2014
Since stepping foot on this accepting land of Nosara, Guanacaste, Costa Rica; I have been in a blissful state of transformation. The incredible insights from nature and love of the people and land here never cease to amaze me. One of my friends mentioned at our Manifestation Meeting a couple weeks ago, "How in the Heck did I get Here?" I have been asking myself this questions multiple times throughout my daily life in paradise.
While riding my quad through the beautiful prana of the jungle trees, only to come to the traffic of an ox cart pulling my neighbors and their treasures, seeing a herd of wild horses come out of now where to join my ride, or safely slowing down for the zappo(frog) that hops across my path, I ask "How in the Heck did I get Here." Blessings stacked upon blessings surround my days, while both 'working' and playing. I have been making it to the ocean daily as often as possible. My favorite spots to stop by are the local organic shop, Organico in Guiones, and Robin's near by them. When I go north to Ostional, my favorite beach here, I get to visit with my friends that own the Tortuga Lodge, and when timing is right, my other friends the turtles will meet us along their journey. If it is a day for me to stay close to the Spa, then I walk down the hill to our coconut oasis of Franklyn's Superfood Shop. In the jungle, never do I feel alone, as the creatures, pets, and even stars keep me company. Living in a Blue Zone, has been an absolute pleasure, and opportunity of health, that I receive constantly! Pura Vida
Bike Ride to the Beach
July 1, 2014
Last week, I bought a mountain bike. It's white with bright green trim, front shocks, and disc brakes. Although it's a 24 speed, due to the wear and tear, it's really more like a 16 speed. The chain starts slipping if I pedal too fast, and it sounds like the sprockets might fall off if I'm not careful when changing gears, but it's all good. And it makes for a great ride to the beach.
Last Friday was it's maiden voyage, and I decided to take a ride to Playa Ostional. This beach is best known for the Ostional Wildlife Refuge where visitors can see the famous sea turtle hatchings every 45 days. But, this wasn't the right time for turtles, instead I was interested in a scenic bike ride and a shade tree on the beach where I can spend the day watching the waves, reading, and being in the moment.
As I rode my bike on the long dirt road passing by groves of mango trees, cattle farms, and horse pastures I felt completely at peace. I crossed over a few bridges and through a small creek when I heard a voice coming from what sounded like a megaphone, "fruits, bananas, mangos, papayas…." The next thing I know, a pick-up truck with a large megaphone attached to the roof was pulling behind me. I waved the driver down and bought a couple of bananas for the beach then continued on my way.
I arrived in the small town of Ostional a short while later and parked my bike next to a tree on the beach. Looking out at the vast blue ocean and down the miles of beach I felt a sense of belonging. With hardly anyone else around, I continued down the beach, found a nice shade tree and laid down underneath it. The rest of the afternoon, I watched the waves, meditated on the moment, read, and took a short nap before my bike ride back to Costa Rica Yoga Spa.
Well, Here we are...
July 1, 2014
Well, here we are in the middle of the rainy season that I adore so much. What a wave of accomplishments we have seen this year. We have seen many Yoga Teacher Trainings, both 200 hr. and 500 hr. We have seen endless transformational retreats. We have seen lots of dancing, and have heard lots of great music.
Costa Rica Yoga Spa sponsored the Caricaco Music Festival that was an amazing event with bands like Passiflora, Donambulo and OJO de Buey. We also have sponsored Xavier Fux, from Mexico City, for a great night of fun at La Luna Restaurant in Playa Pelada,
Costa Rica Yoga Spa has also been making plans for Tree Houses, a solar-powered music recording studio, wellness center, raw food restaurant, natural pools and much more.
Looking forward to a very bliss year in every way, especially our health!
Bring on the rest of rainy season and may Costa Rica win the World Cup.
No Matter What You Do, Do It With Love
June 20, 2014
This morning at the Costa Rica Yoga Spa, I woke up so happy and thankful, thinking about the amazing time I had yesterday with my friends and colleagues, as we spontaneously decided to make a community dinner. In an atmosphere of pure joy, love and fun, everyone contributed in their own way in creating a priceless dinner we couldn’t have had anywhere else in the whole province of Guanacaste, not to say in the world. During our staff meeting this morning, we were talking about it, realizing even more how great everything made with love always is.
When I watch the gardeners taking care of the flowers and plants, the cooks humming as they prepare the meals, the housekeepers laughing together or my colleagues sharing ideas with excitement. I see the underlying joy and love behind what they do and I can tell the result of their actions is pure greatness. Okay, I have to say that being on this blue zone mountain in the middle of river Nosara and river Montaña, you can’t help but smile. But as everyone knows, no matter where we are and what we do, there are always things that needs to be done, no matter if we enjoy doing it or not. However, we always have the choice in the way we approach a task.
Have you ever noticed the difference between saying “I want to” and “I have to”? Can you even feel the difference as you say it to yourself? We can always choose to approach a task or a responsibility with resentment, obligation and stress, or we can turn it around and do it with love and presence. It’s amazing how a really good song can beautifully uplift your motivation most of the time. So whenever you’re about to do something and want the best result from it, remember this: Do it with LOVE, no matter what. That’s one of our mantras at the Costa Rica Yoga Spa.
The Finer Things
June 20, 2014
Living in the jungle doesn't always mean we have to sacrifice some of the "finer" things in life. It's all a matter of perspective and balance and having gratitude for what you have, and also not longing for things you really don't need.
No, we haven't driven on a paved road for almost a month now. And driving on dirt or muddy roads with pot holes the size of an Olive Ridley turtle can be exhausting and challenging. But, along the trail, we have to stop while the local cowboys on their magnificent, highly gaited and beautiful horses move cattle down our main highway. The highway, of course, is the narrow dirt road full of pot holes, but the slow speeds give us a chance to watch the occasional pair of oxen pulling their oxcarts laden with rice or logs. And, we always need to go slow so we don't throw dust or mud on all those who still walk to work, school, market and church. Slow is the pace for here! Time to breathe and enjoy your surroundings. You can't do that on the L.A. freeways! But, it's a way of life here!
No, we don't have a Nordstrom's or a Macy's, but we have talented local artisan's and designers who live in our little town of Nosara who make beautiful, hand-crafted jewelry and clothing. We even boast 2 Gonca Style boutiques - one in Playa Guiones at Harmony Hotel and one at La Luna Restaurant right in Playa Pelada. And, we love having Gonca as a neighbor.
No, we don't have a Nobu or a PF Chang's in all of Costa Rica. But, you can find the best organic, vegetarian/vegan/raw food restaurant in all of Costa Rica right here at Costa Rica Yoga Spa. And, even if you do want to leave our magical mountain and try other local restaurants, there are many to choose from. We took a beautiful sunset drive last week and had dinner at Luna Azul Hotel and Restaurant in Ostional. Last night, we went to Olga's Restaurant in Playa Pelada to grab a beer to enjoy while we walked on the beach and watched another spectacular sunset. And, "yes", there really is such a thing as a green flash when the sun sets, and when the conditions are just right!!! And, then we went on to Playa Guiones for delicious lettuce wraps at the Guilded Iguana.
We always come home and say, "it's good to go out, but there isn't any place better than right here." We never cease to be amazed at the incredible people who work here and many of them live here - and they make this place what it is - a caring, nurturing, loving and healthy place to transform and enlighten our guests. We are so grateful for all that they give and do - not only for our guests and all others, but for mother earth, as well.
No, we may not have a lot of the conveniences and amenities as we did in our previous life, but our life is so much richer and full of purpose without all those things that can burden one down. We live in the jungle, where nature abounds, and are surrounded by incredible and amazing people and get to experience new adventures, animals or insects every day here on our magical mountain, overlooking the untouched Ostional Wildlife Reserve and watch the most spectacular sunsets as they disappear into the Pacific Ocean every night.
I try to keep things in perspective and balance but, I think I've been tipping the scale lately - I am way over on the "Enjoying life in the Jungle" side! This imbalance is feeling really good. YES, Life is Good Up Here!!! Very, very good!
June 16, 2014
Usually my day starts around 6, as the morning light filters through my window. I hear the distant, and not so distant, sounds of roosters crowing, howler monkeys howling and a symphony of birds greeting the day. This is my alarm clock. I open the door to my bedroom and see the vast jungle of the Ostional National Wildlife Refuge below me and the Pacific Ocean of Playa Nosara on the horizon. I am in my version of paradise.
A short walk to the kitchen and dining area, which shares the same view, I greet Eric and Chris as they are getting their first cups of freshly brewed Costa Rican coffee. Eric talks about the surf forecast and contemplates going to the beach. Chris reminisces on the world cup and the debauchery that took place at Rancho Tico the day before. I grabbed my binoculars and we spot a Violaceous Trogan, a Turqoise-Browed Motmot, and a White-Throated Magpie-Jay. MJ joins us and we make a delicious breakfast with fresh fruit, huevos revueltos, garlicky black beans, avocado tostadas, morning glory muffins, and a fruit smoothie with papaya, mango, banana, spirulina, cilantro, and avocado. After a few laughs and stimulating conversation I decide to finish re-stringing the classical guitar, play a few tunes then head to the beach with MJ and Kristen. We load up on Kirsten’s green golf car, appropriately names “artichoke”, with her dog Rayna and head to Playa Guiones.
The sun is shining and the trip is easy on the eyes, we are on our way. The dirt roads are surrounded by jungle, full of tropical flowers, palms, banana, and mango trees to name a few. The Nosara countryside is truly beautiful. After a quick stop at the Organico market to pick up lunch and Robin’s ice cream for a smoothie, we get to the beach. The sun is out and the waves roaring. What’s great about Guiones is there are many open-air huts built high on the beach where you can duck into and get some shade. We found one with a swing and latter where you can go to the roof. I decide to stay in the shade while Kristen and MJ continue their walk. I'm relaxed and admired the view.
After a short swim, making a few friends and watching Rayna run in the water we decide to head back to Costa Rica Yoga Spa. We talk about life and things we’ve learned along the way, how we got here, and the struggles we faced. When we got back, MJ gave me my first ever Thai massage in the rancho overlooking the jungle below and the ocean on the horizon. It’s an incredible journey to have one of MJs Thai massages. I’ve heard a lot about them, but to experience it is another story. At one point with the gentle twisting flow of my limbs, I felt as though they were separate from my being. Deep breathing and meditation during the massage helped me become aware of things in my life I was unsure of, and the deep stretching helped release any tension.
I awoke with various crystals on my chest and in my hands. MJ assured me any negative energy was now gone, and told me about the insights she received about me during my massage. She also gave me some much-needed clarity and guidance, which was very helpful. After our session, we went to the kitchen to find it full of our friends cooking together, laughing, and playing music. We ate and laughed and learned more about each other. The day was nearly over, but the journey had just begun.
June 16, 2014
Woke up got out of bed, dragged a comb across my head (music sounds – The Beatles 1960s).
Of course, it was about 4:45 and the howler monkeys were telling all of us within an earshot of Nosara and Ostional that they are up and awake and ready to seize the day!
The best part of the morning is to walk out onto the porch at Costa Rica Yoga Spa and say hi to the troop and then just sit and watch and listen. The brahma cattle are now tromping across the beautiful green pasture below and a flock of The Costa Rican Air Force (Costa Rica hasn’t had an army since 1998), which are snowy white & cattle egrets in formation looking for the best area to eat and enjoy the day.
Close by the screeching white-fronted parrots race across the sky – six all together criss crossing and screaming telling their story to the four white throated magpie-jay’s sitting on a branch that I could have missed if it wasn’t for getting out of bed and now I’m watching the monkey moms, babies and teenagers swinging from branch to branch on their move to their afternoon napping area – with the alpha male announcing their departure from here and arrival to there. All of this has taken about an hour and 30 minutes as the sun has risen behind me and starting to shine on the Ostional Beach area where Jill and I were yesterday at sunset to watch a mother olive ridley sea turtle swim out of the pacific ocean onto the beach making her way to her birthing place. Her sonar system accurately directing her to where her mom, many years ago accomplished the same ritual. Last night she made her way and started digging first an area as large as her shell & flippers to about 12 inches deep, this takes about 30 minutes and looks exhausting.
She then begins to dig what I refer to as a post hole with her rear flippers one by one reaching down twisting and picking up a flipper full of sand and then pulling it up and flicking it away to the side, then the other side then right; left over and over again back and forth finally reaching down about twenty four inches. It has to be this deep because the dogs on the beach and the buzzards wait, knowing she will be gone in about 45 more minutes and they will try to open the hole and enjoy fresh Tortuga eggs. The locals who have been given government approval to live at the beach, mark the spot and record the date and it is their responsibility to watch over and protect this sacred spot for 45 days until the eggs hatch. Hopefully all of the 100 – 125 eggs in the nest hatch, you can watch babies come crawling up and out of the sand only to rush to the water and swim like hell to get past the reef fish and shallow water predators to finally stop to eat something, all without a mommy or daddy to guide or explain anything “instinct” what a wonderful thing!
We are totally surrounded by nature. We are living in a jungle full of life and stories. Glad I was able to share another story with you!
June 13, 2014
One of things that is very fulfilling for me here is to see the beauty in everyone and everything, empowering and supporting people in their journey, seeing them grow, and making them feel unconditionally loved and appreciated. When I came to the Costa Rica Yoga Spa in Nosara for the first time, I knew this place was very unique and powerful, so special that I immediately made it my home. From the view of Ostional National Park and Playa Nosara to the beautiful sounds of the surrounding wildlife, I was in love.
On top of the very loving, caring, and inspiring people that work here, there is a special energy at The Yoga Spa that contributes to the uniqueness of this piece of paradise. What I've noticed since I've been here, is that every single person that comes to visit us, whether they are on a private vacation, a retreat, or an Iboga healing experience, all go through a unique transformation that is often unexpected, but always beautiful, like if they were in the process of becoming a shining Blue Morpho Butterfly.
Everytime I do a Thai Massage healing session in the Rancho, our sacred spot with the most breath-taking view of the jungle and Pacific Ocean behin, I feel so blessed and blissed to be a part of this magical experience. As I become one with the energy of the land, with nature, with the person in front of me, with the powerful moment itself, I enter a deep meditative state in which the massage becomes a whole journey of a deeper healing process that takes form in a dance-like flow. It always amazes me and reminds me how appreciative I am to have the chance to be a part of people's transformation and to see them glow even more everyday.
A Whole New World
June 9, 2014
What brought me to Costa Rica Yoga Spa was Iboga. I wanted to pick a safe place for my ceremony that was surrounded by serene nature. After seeing pictures on the website and talking with Darin and Ashley, I knew this was the place. I just didn't know how special it really was until I arrived. The view of Playa Nosara, the surrounding nature, and the people welcoming me were reason enough to feel completely at peace. It was a very eye-opening Iboga ceremony, and the entire time I was well taken care of and felt completely safe. The morning after my "gray day", I started off with a delicious breakfast full of healthy organic fruits and vegetables, perfectly cooked scrambled eggs, and fresh fruit juices. The day was off to a great start.
After breakfast, we headed to Playa Guiones for surf lessons and a day at the beach. We drank fresh pipa juice, surfed the waves, and lounged on the beach making new friends. I was in heaven with a whole new perspective. As my time at The Spa went on, my appreciation for it grew along with all the people working there. It was a very special place and I felt grateful to be a part of it.
The next night we went out for an amazing dinner at La Luna. Outdoor seating, sand floor, string lights overhead and the occasional hermit crab passing through. The tuna steak was delicious as well as the pizza, who would have thought. And it's a great place to watch the sunset over the pacific as well.
Although I didn't make it to the Sibu Sanctuary or witness the sea turtle hatching at Playa Ostional, I got my fill of wildlife just by walking around the property. Exotic birds, Iguanas, and monkeys were all over. One of my favorite things to do was lay in one of the hammocks and watch all the nature around me. A truly wonderful time.
June 9, 2014
Last week I learned a new technique to planting and growing pineapples faster and getting fruit sooner, at Costa Rica Yoga Spa. I have been planting cut off pineapple tops whenever I see there’s an abundance.
Two weeks ago we had a retreat with twenty-two guests staying with us at Costa Rica Yoga Spa. Another fifteen that joined in from around the Nosara community for five days. They were doing a five rhythms retreat, some days starting at 6am and finishing at 10pm. Anyway, one morning we cut and served sixteen pineapples between fresh morning fruit, along with papaya and mango and some of the pineapples going into juice smoothies. Well, here I was, sixteen tops to plant and away I went. Digging holes and planting away, then I remembered something I heard about: Remove the large top of the eatable pineapple except for the core then start peeling back the bottom leaves starting with the lowest.
What this will do is expose tiny little brown colored “roots”, hiding between the leaves, waiting to be used as nature supplies. Then set these ornamental babies in a small jar of water for 4 days. You will see the roots come to life and reach out from the cores you will also see small white fibers growing from the core. After four days of soaking go ahead and plant them in an area that will be watered but not flooded. Pineapples don’t like to sit in water. Good drainage soil, rocky, sandy soil with some good natural organic compost is best in twelve to eighteen months.
Your ornamental plant will start to grow a flower and that flower will continue to grow up to be your new delicious pineapple and taste better than any you have ever had, especially if over the last twelve to eighteen months you give it some more friends, lots of love, and water once a week during the dry season. Come to Costa Rica Yoga Spa to see our pineapple plants and watch and taste.
Dream Come True
June 9, 2014
Feeling the breeze on top of the hill, Ostional Refuge view, Nosara sunsets, light blue skies, white puffy clouds dancing around, I’m in heaven. My heart felt free, and at that moment I knew this was the place for me.
About a year ago I planned to stop working at a call center, or any job that doesn’t suit my higher purpose. So I became a Hatha yoga instructor, and tried to follow my heart. But after a year of teaching in San Jose, Costa Rica, I realized I needed a new surrounding that would also fill my soul with joy. But where to go? I love surfing, and there are so many options for good waves in Costa Rica, but I already knew Nosara and Guiones, and it had been calling me for a several years. So I followed the call, found a job in Guiones, it wasn’t my dream job, but took it anyway. Shortly after I began working, I was about to go back home, because I thought I made a huge mistake. Why did I take this job?
When almost all hope was lost, it happened, I found out Costa Rica Yoga Spa was hiring. I hadn’t heard of this place at the time, but I thought, “let’s go”. I was welcomed by a beautiful stone entrance followed by a steep winding road. I thought, I’ve seen this place before, and wondered why it looked so magical. Going up the hill I was greeted by Darin, and he said the magic words, “we don’t do stress here”. Just what I was looking for, a no-stress job. So here I am going on the tour of the property on top of the hill admiring the view, and I hear a voice, “so you’re a yoga instructor, you can teach here at our rancho as well.” It was at that moment, I knew the Universe was listening to me.
Wherever You Go, There You Are
June 9, 2014
Living in Costa Rica the last seven years, I often get the comment, "Wow, you are living in a magical paradise. I want to move here too." My response to that statement? The opening quote."Now don't get me wrong, I do believe I live in paradise. To experience and feel that though, I have to keep releasing the baggage of my mind. This country is very supportive of this process as I have learned so much from the Costa Rican, or "tico", culture." I remember relearning to grocery shop when I first got here: It's not about getting what you need as quick as possible. I received a lot of "tranquillo" (chill) comments from the locals. I relearned that shopping is about being in the moment.
You walk a little slower here. The importance is the connection you make with the people, as you make eye contact and connect passing them in the aisles in the Super Nosara or on the street. Walking to many grocery stores to find each ingredient but joyfully doing so, since time is not important. The other thing that I've learned through shopping is a lesson in attachment. If I get twenty percent of the list it's been a hugely successful mission. I've learned to make do with what's there and not relying on the things I have. That's the magic of this country: I can learn major life lessons in what I used to think was a mundane daily task. I also love that. I can take this lesson and apply it in the busier situations.
Iboga Plant Medicine
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October 25, 2013
By: Costa Rica Yoga Spa -- Iboga
Our Iboga research here at the Costa Rica Yoga Spa has proven to have remarkable effects on our guests. As we utilized the inter-connectivity of yoga, Iboga treatment, relaxation, spa treatments, and a plethora of potential activities such as surfing or zip-lines, we have created an innovative technique unlike any other in the world. This has allowed us to narrow in on maximizing the potential for one to achieve a complete and enlightened transformation. Our extensive research has shown the following:
- 32 year old male from Wales, U.K. found himself 100% healed from severe anxiety in crowds - 1 treatment
- 36 year old female from Boulder, Colorado has been 100% healed from alcoholism - 1 treatment
- 23 year old female from Portland, Oregon has also been 100% healed but from methamphetamine and heroin addiction - 5 treatments
- 53 year old female from Jupiter, Florida suffered from depression and was 100% healed - 1 treatment
- 33 year old female from Toronto, Canada was tormented by black mold until treated. She became 100% healed - 1 treatment
The first Iboga retreat openings for Costa Rica Yoga Spa will start November 16th. Visit the Iboga Facebook page for photos or more information and make sure to "Like" our page!. The link is located above this post and please feel free to message us with any questions, comments, or concerns.
September 26, 2013
When I contacted Costa Rica Yoga Spa for an Iboga session it wasn’t because of an addiction or a deep depression, but a step forward on what is called plant work. Iboga is a medicinal root from a very special plant. If it dissolves the mental patterns that enslave addicts, I wanted to see what it could do for me and the mental patterns that society has laid upon us! And at the same time work on a spiritual journey that started some time ago.
The yoga class before the session was a great way to get started, and the setup, with sage and music included a guided meditation that created an environment that made all fears fade. Darin and Shena are the best and you can tell just how much they love what they do here! My experience was amazing, and once you go from the physical to a deeper stage the night goes smooth into sunrise. Going back to work the next day I had the most productive day I have had all year. I can’t wait to do it again.
200/500 Hour Yoga Teacher Training
July 19, 2013
By Michele Netto
When I was a child, I was a gymnast and dancer. I loved the freedom of movement and meditation. As I grew older, I missed the physical and mental centering that my earlier experiences with gymnastics and dance brought me. Originally, that is what brought me to yoga. I again found that space in both my body and mind. I felt rejuvenated by my practice, but struggled disciplining myself to a daily sadhana. Life became busy and I neglected my practice more and more.
Over the past two years, I have slowly returned to a more conscious practice and thought about doing a yoga teacher training. But I had doubts. I’m not advanced enough. I’m not thin enough. I don’t know enough about the philosophy or anatomy. I thought of every reason under the sun not to do it, even though my heart wanted it.
Once I found the Costa Rica Yoga Spa and The Yoga Paradigm, I knew I had found the program I needed and wanted. It was a cold New England winter day when I sent in my application, dreaming of doing yoga in the gorgeous rancho.
And then I arrived.
It has been everything I have needed it to be and then some. It is an incredibly supportive, educational, and comprehensive program. I feel strong again. I’m remembering what my body can do and how I can let go of the monkey mind and center myself through yoga – opening up channels to both root down and let go. I have been supported and encouraged to reach my full potential. It’s been a beautiful process.
The program has also reminded me that we need others to sometimes shine a light on our truest selves. The community here, including the staff at the Spa, our teachers Rebecca and Ashley, and my fellow teacher trainees, has helped me see myself better. Whether it has been through physical assists, rich conversation or the consciously prepared meals, I have been blessed by my sangha. The love given and received here is energy of the highest power. It illuminates truth in the heart, mind and soul.
It is nearly impossible to define a singular highlight of my training because each day, each hour, brings new moments of joy and discovery. When I leave, I know that each of these discoveries has served a unified purpose: to reveal my truth so that I may live my dharma. There is no greater highlight than being given the time and space surrounded by the beauty of nature and each other to refine my highest truth. For that I have infinite gratitude.
If you want to learn to control your thoughts, control your breath.
Truth is one, the paths are many. Everyone gets to the top of the mountain in his or her own way. Once there, the view is the same.
Relationships renegotiate themselves all the time.
Holding on to anger is like holding a hot coal – you’re the only one getting hurt.
Slow down. See. Have a bigger vision. Take action. Create change.
High Lights of the Yoga Paradigm YTT
July 19, 2013
By: Marie-Joelle Gosselin
Even if I love yoga, I wasn't really thinking about doing a yoga teacher training few months ago. As I was having an amazing time at the Costa Rica Yoga Spa two months ago, I heard about the Yoga Paradigm Teacher training with Ashley and Rebecca and I immediately knew in my heart it was the next step for me to take. It was also a perfect opportunity for me to go back to the Yoga Spa , a very special place where the energy, the people and the land are so unique and awesome that it makes you feel at home as soon as you put your feet there.
Here I am, two months later, and I realize now that the decision I made that day was actually the best gift I could have give to myself. To describe this training in one word, I would say "Powerful". This experience is life-changing. It helped me to use my words and my presence as an inspirational tool to share the light I have inside of me and help others to ignite their own. It helped me to become not only a yoga teacher, but a Teacher with a capital T. More specifically, the breath work meditation and the Pranayama practices we did was a big highlight for me. It allowed me to experience and embrace the healing power of the breath and be grateful for this unlimited and most effective remedy that is always available to anyone. Finally, I would say that, on top of the wonderful location of this training that goes beyond all expectations (even beyond those you're going to have after reading this post), the duo Ashley and Rebecca definitely makes the Yoga Paradigm a unique and incredible experience. They put all their heart and wisdom in their teaching and they know how to enlight the sparkling and juicy side in everyone. The schedule is so well balanced and in tune with the group that the experience is a bliss from start to end. I'm so grateful. Namaste :)
A Clear Choice
July 4, 2013
By: Erik Snyder
Sometimes the path forward is clear. Other times we're not so lucky. So, when I awoke this morning to the beautiful arco iris outside my door I knew immediately there was one less decision I would have to make in the long string of decisions that determines one's path through the day.
This morning the first choice of the day was clear. Actually, more iridescent than clear. No doubt about it, we were going to surf the end of the rainbow at Ostional! True to light, of course, solid glassy surf awaited us in Osti.
Do You Have The Discipline To Be A Free Spirit?
June 11, 2013
By: Justin Blackburn
Here at the idyllic Costa Rica Yoga Spa we are grateful to have an expansive variety of yoga retreats come through- everything from Kundalini Yoga with Sat Devbir Singh which will be from July 27th to August 3rd to a Yoga Adventure retreat with Sarah Plummer and Lisa Schlelein which will be from July 20th to July 26th as well as the highly anticipated yoga teacher training where yoga devotees will be receiving their 200/500 hour Yoga Alliance certified yoga teacher training certificates. We also open our intuitive, verdant grounds to any fresh, exciting ground breaking experience we find awakening and inspiring. Last week’s 5 Rhythms workshop with Amber Ryan and Kate Shela here brought its own unique, awakened wide-eyed inspiration.
If you are unfamiliar with 5 Rhythms do yourself a favor, look it up and go get your groove on! 5 Rhythms is a movement meditation practice developed by Gabrielle Roth in the late 1970’s. Roth describes the practice as a soul journey, and says that by moving the body, releasing the heart, and freeing the mind, one can connect to the essence of the soul, the source of inspiration in which an individual has unlimited possibility and potential. Here at the Costa Rica Yoga Spa we so appreciated Amber and Kate, day and night, dancing forty or so guests into the source of their inspiration. As a result, we felt the unlimited potential of every single beautiful being who stayed and danced with us.
A beautiful new friend I met named Angela opened up about the retreat, “This retreat opened my heart immensely and helped me feel more connected to the people around me and to spirit! It took me back to my center and allowed me to shine!” And that shine definitely poured from every pore in her body as we hugged goodbye on the final day. It is so powerful to be able to witness the spirit and oneness that these retreats provide for the souls who embark on these great journeys. It is one of those things you cannot explain to someone until they experience it. For Jenna, another 5 Rhythms guest, coming to the retreat was much more of a calling than a choice; “I felt called to be here and I answered the call of my soul and now I feel more alive in every cell of my being!”
With all the strict tasks and routines we humans inflict upon ourselves and each other, it is so refreshing to see a mode of spirited jubilation that is all about just being yourself in whatever forms that manifests. Michael, a very sweet gentlemen who attended the retreat, put it perfectly:
“The beautiful thing about Five Rhythms as a moving meditation practice is that we not only acknowledge the feelings that arise like you would in a sitting meditation practice but also embody them by giving them a shape, a repetition, a dance. So whatever you are processing, you are processing with your whole being.”
Wow! It feels like I have some dancing to do. What about you?
Ibogaine Therapy Interview With Certified Iboga Facilitator Darin McBratney Continued...
June 10, 2013
By: Justin Blackburn
Justin – Tell us a little bit about what people can expect when they arrive?
Darin – Well I like to make sure everyone who comes here for Ibogaine Therapy is calm and grounded. I like to start everyone off with a colonics with a small microdose of Iboga. It helps the person relax. I take them right over to Divinity Spa where a registered nurse will provide a colonic for them. She definitely notices when a person is on Iboga and when one is not. She now kind of requires the person to be on Iboga when she gives them a colonic because the cleansing results are much better. I am also working on trademarking a new type of Yoga called Iboga Yoga which is all detoxing poses and twists. We are really trying bring out the blocks here. When my natural path doctor, Shena, arrives she will be helping me develop this new program as well.
Justin- So let us know a little more about your own experience with Ibogaine Therapy?
Darin – After taking my dosage up to 14 grams, which was all I needed, I purged and laid back down with my eye blind on. The next thing I know I entered on a spiritual journey. At first you definitely feel at peace. I do not want ever want to refer to this plant as a drug or as a hallucinogen because I don’t think it is either. I journeyed to another realm that’s not on this plane. I was flying through the universe, dimensional traveling through the universe. At the same time I am completely able to narrate the whole scene which is what is so completely cool about this. People can travel into these other realms and have conversations with other beings from these realms and I can hear their side of the conversation and they can narrate everything to me. So I went journeying which didn’t seem to last long, but at the same time you are not aware of time. There are a lot of different terms for how people feel while they are on Iboga and I do not really like the terms but you are very wobbly, you need help to the bathroom but at the same time you can also be reliving different parts of your childhood which are meant to give you lessons. There are also other visions which are all beneficial and cleansing for you if you can take it in. Also it is like a google search engine where every question you have will be answered. People take Ibogaine Therapy for two reasons: healing or spiritual. Either way you take it, every answer you need to anything you have ever wondered is right there. Iboga basically puts you in front of a mirror and shows you who you are while it also gives you your true purpose in life. So basically you are on this spiritual journey for three hours and your intellect is through the roof, all of your questions are being answered and some of it might not make sense to you but it is all for a reason. Iboga doesn’t waste any of your time at all.
Join us next time for more on this incredible medicine and all the infinite healing possibilities it helps us access.
Follow-Up With Our Guest and Dear Friend Ruth
June 9, 2013
By: Justin Blackburn
A couple weeks ago I posted a blog about The Costa Rica Yoga Spa’s dear friend Ruth. If you can remember, Ruth stayed with us at the Costa Rica Yoga for a whole month. Not only did Ruth come to enjoy Costa Rica Yoga Spa’s lovely facilities, she also came here with a mission: a goal in mind to generate well-being so she could be in tip top shape for an upcoming diving expedition she desired to embark upon. The last blog I wrote about Ruth was to discuss with her the intentions she set for her time here. Today’s blog is all about the results!!!
Justin – So Ruth straight to the point, did you meet your goals?
Ruth – Yes, I have achieved what I set out to do and definitely on the way to continue them by putting these good habits into place.
Now if you care to join me, say “Hip, Hip Hooray” and celebrate the wonderful manifestation this beautiful woman created in her life! For all of us who have goals, we know how satiated we feel in our souls when we successfully accomplish what we set out to do. From all of us at Costa Rica Yoga Spa – Congratulations Ruth!
From my perspective Ruth is an inspiration to all. I am also grateful to be able to witness someone work so diligently. No matter how many yoga classes we had a day- Ruth was there. Every pilates class- Ruth was there. Even the Five-Rhythms Sweat Your Prayers we host on Sundays in the Yoga Rancho- Ruth was there. Every workout with our personal trainer Kristen- Ruth was there. Ruth even helped out on the Finca! Yes, Ruth intentionally spent some of her time helping us by picking up rocks, helping build a sweat lodge, and working in the new greenhouse. How awesome is that when the guest takes her free time to help out the place where she is staying!? It was actions like that, going above and beyond, that led Ruth to realizing her goals.
But it wasn’t all hard work for Ruth, she took the appropriate time to rest and play by relaxing and taking full advantage of all the wonderful activities we offer at the Costa Rica Yoga Spa. During her time here, Ruth joined on a Miss Sky Canopy Tour, a night tour to Ostional Turtle Nesting Beach, Surf Lessons, a waterfall hike into the jungle, a Monkey Tour, a trip to San Juanillo’s magical beaches and much much more. The waterfall tour was Ruth’s favorite.
Justin- Were there any challenging aspects to the experience?
Ruth – Yeah, making the mental change but Kristen’s (the Costa Rica Yoga Spa personal trainer) advice really helped when she said “1,2,3 do it!” It is much easier to put things in motion here than to do it by myself.
Justin – Any last words about your Costa Rica Yoga Spa experience?
Ruth - I will miss the people and the food the most. Everyone treated me so kindly and invited me in as one of the family. I really love the family style supportive friendly atmosphere. I am also blessed to learn the skill of yoga and all the amicable other guests I met here too. Darin is really blessed to have gathered all these people from all over the world. It is great fruition that all these wonderful people have come together at the same place.
Ruth most definitely became part of the family and we are all going to miss her dearly but the inspiration she gave us all will live with us forever.
Interview With Certified Ibogaine Therapy Facilitator Darin McBratney (Continued)
June 3, 2013
By: Justin Blackburn
Justin – Please tell us about your first experience with Iboga?
Darin – My first experience was about six o’clock at night at sunset. Now you want to do Ibogaine Therapy in the evening because you are up all night. It lasts for about 23 hours.
Justin – Is Iboga really intense for 23 hours?
Darin – No, Iboga is really intense for three hours.
Justin – How much Iboga do you administer?
Darin – What I do in Ibogaine Therapy is I adminster 2 to 4 grams. 14 to 24 is a clinical dose. What I do is microdose 1 to 2 grams of Iboga at the beginning to make sure one does not have an allergic reaction to Iboga and they are comfortable. Then I take them up to 4 to 5 grams to let them experience the full feelings of the Iboga, to allow them to experience enlightenment, to let them experience feeling like God, to be bursting with the feeling of God and warmth radiating out of your body. That is the sensation you get. So I let that feeling set in and let people ride that feeling for a little bit.
Justin – So do you ever stop there? Do you ever give someone just the microdose?
Darin – oh yes, a lot. Ibogaine Therapy really helps with people who have anxiety or depression. My mother for example has anxiety and I give her a microdose and everyone around notices what a huge difference it does for her. It makes her much more calm and relaxed.
And when it comes to the dosing I do everything through kinesiology so it takes all the guess work out. So far the accuracy has been 100 percent. Most people are anywhere from 14 to 26 grams. I only had to take 14 grams. I didn’t need anymore. I will not go over 26 grams.
Check back in the next few days for more on Ibogaine Therapy with Darin McBratney and what you can expect upon arrival and the first treatment. Thank you for joining us.
The Healing Laughter Of Comedy Night at the Yoga Spa
May 31, 2013
By: Justin Blackburn
One of the beauties of the Costa Rica Yoga Spa is never knowing what can happen, which was most definitely the case for Lisa of Amsterdamn. Who would have thought upon arriving for a delightful stay at a yoga spa that you might also have the chance to fulfill a lifelong dream of performing stand up comedy? This is what happened for Lisa!
Here at the Costa Rica Yoga Spa our goal is to create the best vacation ever for all of our unique guests, so we offer a variety of fun loving activities. Anything from flying though the skies on the Canopy Tour to observing the miracle of the Turtles Nesting at Ostional to chilling with the monkeys at the Sebu Sanctuary in Norsara, we are all about giving you the experience of a lifetime!
I ma glad to announce the newest addition to the adventure menu: A Comedy Night. Before I came to the beautiful Costa Rica Yoga Spa I performed stand up comedy around the US so the terrific people here at the Costa Rica Yoga Spa gave me a chance to perform in the Yoga Rancho. When Lisa of Amsterdam found out about this she became ecstatic with joy, explaining to me how she has always dreamed of performing stand up. And even though at first she was a little nervous, she quickly allowed to let go of doubts through the positive vibrations of the folks at the Yoga Spa. Lisa was hilarious and seemed at ease- a natural! Lisa puts it in her own words:
“It was awesome even though it was a little nerve racking to stand up in front of about 15 people I barely knew and try to make at least one of them laugh. I wasn't sure it would work out well but Justin really gave me a lot of confidence from his encouragement and brilliant advice. Once I got into it, I realized I was having heaps of fun and wished I tried doing this ages ago! If you feel you might be able to do it - you probably can! Coming here, I expected to find a place of peace, ground myself -- do some yoga and eat great food. Never thought I'd get the chance to perform standup!”
As human beings in this world we can allow life to get pretty heavy sometimes but if we permit ourselves the healing powers of yoga or laughter (or laughter yoga!), there is no limit to the great mountains we can climb and the fascinating galaxy we can orbit. Lisa also felt that creating jokes from real-life experiences felt really therapeutic, granting her silly seeds of new perspectives. And when we are able see these new perspectives, we can create that new life we all desire.
Even though she had to leave the Yoga Spa last week, I am asking all of you to look out for Lisa from Amsterdam because she is absolutely hilarious and now that she knows the power of her humor, she can inspire people in comedy clubs everywhere to take life a little less serious and have more fun laughing!
Take a visit to the Costa Rica Yoga Spa; you never know what dreams will be fulfilled here as we are whole heartedly dedicated to co-creating the greatest vacation of your life!
La Cabeza de Agua
May 28, 2013
By: Justin Blackburn
Hola beautiful people! Today at Costa Rica Yoga Spa we are celebrating Cabeza Del Agua, or Head of Water, and what could be more appropriate than us celebrating it in the abundance of rain! Cabeza Del Agua commemorates the dawning of rainy season. Some people could look at the rainy season here in Nosara as a disappointing time that keeps you inside with fewer tourists coming to appreciate the beautiful land. But here at Costa Rica Yoga Spa we embrace the rain and allow it to expand our points of attraction. The universe is constantly showing us the stream of abundance everywhere but if we are stuck in our own little box hiding from the ‘rain’, it can be difficult to see clearly the limitless the flow of the universe. Here in Nosara during the rainy season all the Costa Rica Yoga Spa-iens and I give thanks to the Great Mother Earth and the abundance she provides for us all.
The rain also grants us with an abundance of introspection. Last night for example, at the delicious Rancho Tico there were notably fewer tourists while accustomed locals braved the downpour for delicious local food and drink with a smaller crowd. And there is nothing much more relaxing than resting in savasana in The Yoga Rancho after a full body-opening yoga class as the rain gently pitters upon the thatch roof.
Perhaps counterintuitive to sun-seeking vacationers, I suggest one coming to the Costa Rica Spa during the rainy season and dancing in the wealth of rain; feeling a soul satisfying tranquility to expand throughout your being as you gain a deeper understanding of this damp abundance.
A Brief History of Iboga
May 26, 2013
By: Justin Blackburn
Hola beautiful people! I hope you are feeling fully the divine nature that we are in every one of your cells. If you are, thank you! If you are not, maybe my this piece of my extensive interview with Certified Ibogaine Therapy Facilitator and Administrator Darren McBratney can help place those feelings into fruition.
Justin – Tell us the history of this plant?
Darren – Thousands of years ago a Shaman from the pygmy village in Gabon, Africa killed a porcupine. His wife cooked it up and he felt all these healing effects from it. He went and tracked down where he killed it and found out it was eating this Iboga plant. This is where the legend starts. They began using for twelve year old boys as rites of passage. They used it in small doses to heighten their senses as they went out hunting. They also used it for healing purposes. Then it made its way into the Bitwi tribe which is 3 or 4 million strong in Gabon, Africa and they started using as rites of passage and for different rituals and what not. Even the president of Gabon is an advocate of Iboga. Its been in Gabon as well as different parts of Africa. It has to grow for four years to become potent. The use of Iboga is in the bark and the roots. I use the Iboga root bark. The traditional way is to take this bark and wrap it in honey and make little balls of it and then the Iboga is ingested then they have the ritual. I grind it down into a powder and mix it with ginger and water and honey. I always like the person to drink a little bit at first and if they can’t handle the bitter taste of it I place the Iboga in little gel capsules. First of all person must be checked out be checked out for medical reasons. They must have a good heart and a good liver. Because it does bring your heart beat up and it does flush toxins out of your liver which can corrupt the liver for a little bit. It is the Godfather of all plant medicine that I know of in my research. I have tried others like Illusaka which is a distant cousin of Iboga but nothing wants to cure you more than Iboga. It goes directly to areas in the body in need of healing. It is a neurotransmitter resetter. It resets you to before you had the problem, be it drug addiction or the ailment, arthritis, lupus, the list goes on and on for what Iboga actually does treat. I can’t think of an ailment in which Iboga would not benefit someone. I am still doing research for it. Other people are doing research for it. I work with Gita. I work with Maps, a group that does research out of Santa Cruz, California. I am gathering research for these two entities as well as myself. And as for my own experience I had a devastating case of Ciguatera and I took the Iboga plant for the first time right here at the Costa Rica Yoga Spa not knowing what to expect. I took it with a facilitator next to me and my experience was so profound which is why I do the treatments for it. My experience with Ibogaine Therapy was not just natural it was supernatural, with Iboga you might think you need to go to a Shaman or something but the plant itself is the Shaman. The Shaman is in the plant. What we do in here at the Costa Rica Yoga Spa with our Ibogaine Therapy retreats is we let the plant do its work. We are here to make the guest comfortable in everyway but we allow the plant to do its work because that is Iboga’s destiny I believe.
Stay tuned for more experiences from Certified Ibogaine Therapist Leader Darren McBratney from here at the Costa Rica Yoga Spa as well as other experiences from others as we learn the inner workings of this powerful master that we know as Iboga as well as the inner workings of ourselves.
A Special Guest Poetry Piece
May 24, 2013
By: Jeanie Bazela
The following poem was written and inspired by guest Jeanie Bazela's experience here at the Costa Rica Yoga Spa during her weeklong yoga retreat Experience the Magic with Jeannie Laslo Douglas. As you read, we invite you to share the experience she expresses through her delicate words.
New Moon Near Rio Montana (5.9.2013)
Namaste to begin the day
The howlers Howell waves and follow
And the birds competion song, rooster and gecco along
And a moo or two
As the night lightens and the sky brightens.
White flocks relocate
And we notice the living lands mandate,
To smile and meditate.
Coffee strong to move along,
To join this life in our own song
--- ohm, ohm, ohm.
Ohm Shanti Shanti.
Thank you, Jeanie, for sharing your beautiful experience with us!
The Iboga Experience: Hosted at the Costa Rica Yoga Spa
May 22, 2013
By: Justin Blackburn
We are blessed to be hosting Ibogaine Therapy Retreats at the Costa Rica Yoga Spa this September with our esteemed licensed Iboga retreat leader Darren McBratney. Sometimes hailed as the ‘stern father of plant medicine’ due to its blunt manner of giving one what they need rather than what they want, Iboga (also known as Ibogaine) has been used for centuries in West Central African cultures such as the Bwiti to take one much deeper into the mystery of life and answer any questions one might have within themselves.
Iboga shamans speak of using Iboga to go deeper, not farther. They believe their plant medicine journey is not just a passageway to the spirit realm, rather a complete journey into the infinite nature of the God soul within us: that which connects us all to our perfect divinity. Iboga is known as the most unique medicine on Planet Earth because of its ability to cleanse anyone of even the most deep-rooted habits, beliefs, and addictions. Although it is impossible to describe the Iboga experience in words, many people who have experienced it explain it as coming face-to-face with your Self in a state of whole-hearted honesty that allows one to release all blockages to living out their fullest, highest calling.
Iboga is also an incredible medicine to help with drug addiction. It hosts an incredible 93% success rate with treating heroin addicts. A large majority of serious addicts never relapse after just one Iboga treatment. Iboga achieves this by clearly calling upon and bringing up the ‘dark’ parts of oneself from which users are trying to hide with drug use. Iboga acts as a guide to show and cleanse us of the deep-rooted causes for our harmful patterns. Iboga has also been known to cure everything from Cancer to Diabetes to Post Tramuatic Stress Disorder and so much in between.
In upcoming posts, we will explore our own Darin McBratney’s personal journey with Iboga in which he was cured of a disease after years of hopeless searching through western medicine. Stay tuned!
Spreading the Love: Living, Working and Sharing Our Personal Practice
May 18, 2013
By: Justin Blackburn
Living and working as a part of the Costa Rica Yoga Spa team provides a unique opportunity to practice awareness and consideration of our fellow human beings’ needs and feelings. Our family like atmosphere consisting of guests and staff alike requires everyone to tread lightly and act with consideration of the delicate balance of needs that are always present here. Because we genuinely care about one another’s personal, professional and spiritual needs, there exists a natural desire to keep the ship running smoothly for everyone. We live and work in close proximity and all of our work is closely inter-related so we notice when someone is having an off day, feeling overwhelmed or in need of some time away. Whether it is an act as simple as cleaning off the yoga mats after practice, returning a glass from our room to the kitchen, covering someone’s shift or letting someone know how much we truly appreciate them, we do everything we can to let each other know we are loved and cared for. This attitude of appreciate for the unique gifts that each member of the CRYS family brings to the table is what preserves and magnifies the magical retreat-style paradise of our beloved yoga center in Costa Rica.
One of the many wonderful things about exuding love and compassion is that we all want and needs it yet we all experience it, give it and receive it differently. Some people are very boisterous and ready to hug it out with anyone while others are more subdued; expressing loving behavior in quiet, action based ways. From the chefs’ daily manifestations of nurturing our physical bodies, to the permaculture team who show love to the land, to our hosts and hostesses who are on-call to make sure that every guest feels like a cherished part of our family, it is our mission to understand the beautiful, unique workings of every human being and do our best to create harmony on all levels. Resident yoga instructor and staff member Katherine sums it up well:
“I love to see the transition from when guests first arrive as strangers to when they leave as extensions of our family. This is what sets Costa Rica Yoga Spa apart from other prestigious yoga retreat centers around the world. We are smaller than many places, and we have limited resources with which we have to orchestrate what I would consider small miracles (at times). We have faith in each other and the guests see that, they can’t help but want to join in.”
We hope that you will come to experience our magical and miraculous home soon for a yoga retreat or a simply relaxing holiday in Costa Rica. If you haven’t checked out our events page recently, take a minute to see what’s happening: we are very excited to be hosting our first ever family yoga retreat from June 15- 21st. If you have a family and enjoy a healthy lifestyle of well-being, yoga and outdoor activities, this is perfect for you!
Transformation At The Costa Rica Yoga Spa
May 17, 2013
By: Justin Blackburn
Nestled on a high mountain peak after miles upon miles of dirt roads hidden from view by lush jungle growth, Costa Rica Yoga Spa guests find themselves a world away from any remnant of chaos. Upon arrival the luscious beauty, flowering abundance, tranquility and positive energy contained on this land begin to saturate one’s whole being.
Some come to dedicate their energy to the Yoga Spa’s diverse array of yoga instructors who guide them deeper daily into their mind, body, and spirit. Some come to surf off of the many nearby Pacific facing beaches. From the consistent, inviting waves of Playa Guiones where beginner to advanced surfers hit the waves daily; to the wickedly foreboding challenge that is right off shore from the black sands of Ostional. Some come to deepen their personal practice through a yoga teacher training just like The Yoga Paradigm 200/500 Hour Teacher Training Program coming up from June 29th to July 20th. Some come for a family retreat in Costa Rica to really discover the pleasantries of family bonding in such a heavenly environment. Others come to relax, feet in the sky, smile on their face, eyes gazing gently to the sea, waiting for the deliciously nutritious meals that our homegrown Costa Rican chefs have to serve up. Yes, people come to the Costa Rica Yoga Spa for many different reasons and to name them all would never do everyone’s’ intentions justice.
This week, I sat down with our month-long guest and friend Ruth on the way to the beach, to find out about what brought her here. Since before she even arrived boarded her flight from Sydney, Austrailia, Ruth made it clear that she was coming for a personal transformation. Wow, that feels good just to write - to go somewhere with the intention to truly transform. That is something only a brave, courageous soul who has a heart-strong will would even begin to contemplate.
“My mining project got shelved so I decided to take a year off to do what I wanted for myself. So I Googled ‘wellness ad health” and Costa Rica Yoga Spa came up in the Central American Region. I read the Trip Advisers Reviews and they were excellent.”
Another amazing thing about Ruth is she had never done yoga before. To want transformation is brave but to use an avenue such as yoga without ever trying it before is total downright warrior pose in my book. Ruth informed me that the yoga is definitely helping her in reaching her goals and she is noticing a difference everyday, “I am not a pretzel like some people, but this morning I went straight out from cobra to downward dog without going to my knees.” Ruth’s statement encompasses the wonder of the transformation process: noticing the little changes that add up to the full transformation of mind, body, and spirit.
Not only this conversation, but many with Ruth have brought a smile to my face. Any time anyone is answering the call of their heart I can’t help but feeling moved and inspired. Ruth, you are an inspiration to me. Thank you. And the way you let me know how your stress levels have dropped significantly in the 2 weeks you’ve been here, I can’t help but feel you are also an inspiration to yourself!
Ruth is here for a month, so we will check back in with her soon to continue to see the process flow. Thank you all.
Early Morning Beach Blitz At The Costa Rica Yoga Spa
May 14, 2013
By: Justin Blackburn
Hola beautiful! I truly hope you are feeling the blessing of your beating heart just as we are here at the Costa Rica Yoga Spa. Today has already been such a wonderful adventure and I am smiling from the inside out... and it is only 10:30am!
This morning bright and early at 6:30 the taxi came and all the guests and staff piled off together to enjoy a morning beach trip that included a TRX workout led by Kristin and surf lessons at Playa Guiones with Tony as YY taught the invaluable lesson of giving a top-notch surf report. Due to last night’s dinner table consensus surrounding this week’s signature Surf, Sun and Yoga theme, the Beach Blitz became a collective AM excursion for everyone here. With no yoga or surf retreat groups checked-in at the moment, we have re-instated our popular community yoga classes led by our in-house and local instructors. After yesterday’s blissfully restorative yin yoga with Lisa followed in the evening by vigorous flow yoga with Katherine, there was no better way to stretch and greet the day today than by going to Mother Nature’s pure liquid gift of regeneration. Riding through Guiones viewing the plentiful flora growing abundantly fresh and green from every inch of this gorgeous Costa Rican land is enough to make any human being want to return to the delicate arms of Mother Earth.
Around 7am we arrived at the harmonious presence that is Playa Guiones. Everyone emerged from the taxis wide-eyed and open-armed ready to experience whatever our hearts desired. Some took off toward the swells surfboards in hand and took straight to riding the waves. Some leaped into the mouth of the ocean to allow the healing wisdom of old ancient being to saturate our beings. Others walked lightly down the beach to enjoy the relaxing pace of one gentle foot in front of the other. While another group of ladies took off to get some cross-training fitness instruction from Kristin, I went a little ways down the road to check out the local Organic Farmers Market where the locals sell an array of their homegrown and homemade goodies for all the guests and people of Nosara to enjoy. More than a marketplace, the market is a meeting place of the minds, bodies and spirits that create the soul of our beloved Nosara. I experienced some veggie pies, some homemade bread, and coconut water from a straw straight inside the coconut. What a gift it was to see all the smiling people sharing their creations and what they grew.
After nibbling around the Organic Farmers Market I went back to Playa Guiones to get my feet in the water. Soon the taxi ushered us all back to the Costa Rica Yoga Spa where our blessed chef Nieves was making her famous banana pancakes. Yum!
Love and Blessings,
Mother's Day Yoga Love
May 12, 2013
By: Justin Blackburn
Today is a special day where all around the world we dedicate ourselves to remembering and giving the utmost appreciation (even more than usual) to our mothers. The mother carries life into existence so every time one gives appreciation to any form of life they are ultimately giving appreciation to the beautiful mother. When we go straight to the source of all life, we inherently go to the mother life-bearing and nurturing energy. How beautiful is that?
If you care to join me, please take a moment to breathe life deeply in, and give appreciation to your mother. We can allow life to get pretty confusing and parent relationships can summon up a lot of that confusion, even anger. But if we take time each day to appreciate the blessings in our lives and the mothers behind each one of us, I guarantee extra soul bursts of happiness will continue to pop up for you all day. Thank you mothers.
Last week at the Costa Rica Yoga Spa we were blessed by some beautiful mother-daughter pairs. One of which Anne, was joined by her beautiful daughter Linda. During our time together, I took some time to interview them to get some insight into their relationship and what brought them here together. When I approached them for the interview they were relaxing by the pool after dinner discussing how unnecessarily complicated we as society have made things for ourselves over the years. “What a great mother daughter conversation to walk into.” I said as they chuckled a bit. “So Anne, what made you come on the Costa Rica yoga spa retreat?”
“Well,” Anne replied smiling a gracious motherly smile. “to be honest Linda just asked me to come and I accepted immediately. Linda and I live far apart so we don’t get to spend much time together so the moment she asked I was thrilled to obliged her. My daughter, yoga, and a retreat in Costa Rica- what could be better than that?”
“Wow, that is so sweet? How has the week been?”
“It has been a magical, fabulous wonderful week of quality time with my daughter. Plus this place is gorgeous, Jeanne’s classes have been amazing. I have felt nothing but bliss here the whole time.” Then Anne started singing “Zippety Do Da” as three fireflies flew around her. It was a pretty amazing moment if I can so myself.
“Yes, I agree.” Said Linda. “It has been perfect. This place has definitely exceeded our expectations.” Linda smiled at her mother. “My only regret is freaking out when that firefly flew into my shirt. I wish I would have just let him do his thing.” The mother and daughter shared a special, intimate laugh together only mother and daughter can share. I joined in with my own chuckle, thinking about the numerous guests who arrive here fighting with the bugs and by the time they depart, have made peace with them.
“Do you feel like the Yoga has brought you closer together?” I asked.
“Yes, I taught Linda yoga had a young age and it has continuously brought us together. Yoga brings you closer to yourself which can bring you closer to the ones you love especially if you are on the same path. Also Linda just completed her yoga teacher training course and I couldn’t be more proud of her.”
“Oh sweet Linda, congratulations! Do you think you'll lead a retreat here soon?”
“I'd love to, but one step at a time.” Linda replied.
“Well if you do you know I will be the first one to sign up!” Anne spoke purely from the beauty of her motherly heart.
The Blessing We Receive From The People We Meet
May 11, 2013
By: Justin Blackburn
Here at the Costa Rica Yoga Spa we are very blessed by the consistent coming and going of an array of wonderful and inspirational guests. Each person possesses a heart, a love, a unique personality, and a passionate fireside story only they could tell. Sometimes the interactions with these people come to a close upon their departure but if you can hold closely in your heart the blessings that each of these people bestow upon you, you realize they are never far away. You realize the love and appreciation you share with them only deepens with time and opens your heart even wider.
Today’s heart expanding guest who touched a lot of souls during her two week stay at the Costa Rica Yoga Spa is a hilariously, interesting, no holds bar, personality flaring woman named Carol. Carol’s humor and love for the art of storytelling made every person here laugh. Now I am not talking about a chuckle; the kind of laugh Carol sparks is a knee-slapping belly laugh that makes you come up for oxygen as if you have been submerged underwater. Whether a wild story from her 33 years as a flight attended or one of her many Carol-isms that range from the wise: “You always think life is greener on the other side of the fence but you never think about the septic tank that is about to explode over there and all the maintenance work you are going to have to put in,” to the cryptic: “I go to sleep when I go to sleep.” Needless to say everyone loves Carol and deeply appreciates all that she shares.
Not only is Carol an inspiration through her words but through her actions as well. She is always the first to help whoever she could and never minded doing the little things like taking a plate to the sink or coming by and giving you a sweet back rub. Another way I was inspired by this lovely woman was during our trip to the waterfall. Carol caught a bit of a bug and had been under the weather for a couple of days but that did not stop her from being the first out of all the people on the trip to summit the waterfall. Her fearless footsteps inspired me to climb the waterfall even though at first I was a bit reluctant. Upon joining her at the top, I looked down so grateful for Carol, so grateful for the beauty of this world, and so grateful of my choice to take the climb.
After all this inspiration Carol granted us, I decided to ask Carol what her time at the yoga spa did for her: “Wow, well I just loved it. The yoga was amazing, my breathing is much fuller, my lungs feel more open, and I have much more energy. The massage from Lisa, the acupuncture from Javier, and the medicine man were phenomenal and I know will have a lasting impact on my well-being. You know they say there is an energy about this place but I also think there is an energy about these people here.”
I followed by asking Carol what makes her such an amazing person to which she humbly replied:
“Well, you know life is an experience. Every day you can greet the sunshine and appreciate this wonderful world we live in, so I say why not? I feel blessed to be able to do that. Cause each of us wake up in the morning with things we think we need to do; but I feel like all we need is that one goal every day: to do for ourselves to make our life count.”
Thanks for reminding us how much our lives count, Carol. We will miss you very much and you will always be welcomed here with open arms and warm smiles!
A Costa Rica Yoga Spa Perspective
May 9, 2013
By: Justin Blackburn
As the taxi arrives on this lovely, luxurious Thursday Costa Rica Yoga Spa morning, Tony the surf instructor spiritedly yells “All aboard,” and the joyous guests pile in the car ready for a beach adventure. Some are going to take surf lessons to learn the external art of riding the cosmic waves while others are going to simply enjoy the essence of one of the most beautiful beaches Planet Earth has to offer.
But this morning after a fabulously thought provoking yoga class with yoga retreat leader Jeannie Laslo Douglas, I decided to stay behind, to breathe deep into life, and mediate on a Costa Rica Yoga Spa perspective. In life we tend to become transfixed by the hustle and bustle, by the do’s and don’ts, by the should haves and could haves, by other peoples’ needs and wants. So much so that we forget about ourselves and allow our true selves to be pulled apart by the engulfing rat race always running right at our doorstep. We start to think that we are these confused, depressed people with no possible way to ever fulfill our deepest dreams but in actuality we are incredibly beautiful and powerful beings who can accomplish anything our hearts desire. Yet somewhere along the line we forgot to take time for peaceful reflection due to the chaotic speed of life.
And this is where the practice of Yoga comes so powerfully into play. It is in the delicate mixture of the poses and the breath where we learn to remain poised and balanced no matter what position the world has to offer us. It is the constant reminder of our true selves! Balance of breath, body and mind is so much easier when we remain at peace and in control; aware of our true nature as we dissolve any negativity that the outside world is unconsciously throwing in our direction.
It is here at the Costa Rica Yoga Spa where the scenery dramatically changes into the aliveness of a tropical jungle land which leads our inner world into a possible new paradigm of different thoughts; thoughts that are rich and deeply drenched in the aliveness of life. Yes of course the family-like staff and all the different adventures we offer make for an exciting environment for a yoga and surf retreat or vacation. But when we take the time for self-reflection and meditation, we also reel in the ancient wisdom of this healing land and take our-Selves so much deeper.
Thank you. I love and appreciate you.
The Animals' Song
May 8, 2013
By: Justin Blackburn
One of the many extraordinary blessings of coming to the Costa Rica Yoga Spa is the tremendous aliveness of the Costa Rican land and the valuable lessons the land itself has to offer us if we listen. This morning during yoga retreat leader Jeannie Lasslo Douglas’s yoga class the aliveness of the land was in full circle. Monkeys were calling out to join life’s precious dance, birds were singing from the soul of the earth, the wind was gently purring, and even the moo’s of the cows were uniquely powerful. As the yoga class was coming to a close and we were awakening from being guided deep within through yoga nidra, Jeannie mentioned her gratitude to all the animals that joined us with their voices and how we could offer our voice back to them. Jeannie suggested we all “Om” a response. The fifteen or so of us took a deep breath and called out from the natural, ancient vibration deep within. We were centered, balanced, and together as one expression exclaiming our eternal appreciation for life and all the wonders of experience.
As we rolled up our mats smiling humbly and put our blankets and blocks up, we noticed something unique to this day: a cow from the beloved pasture below had passed away. A herd of cattle were gathered around the body as if to be paying their final respects to the precious life this cow experienced. Then one by one they calmly walked away as if they were leaving ceremonial farewell.
A humble devotional feeling for all of life possessed my being. A newfound respect filled my inner terrain. I took my own personal moment to appreciate the life of the cow and then like the rest of the cows I went on my way.
Gentle appreciation is the way of yoga. Even for our guests who may initially be drawn here for the “Yoga and Spa in Costa Rica” experience, we come together on this land to be reminded of how to truly appreciate the journey. We learn that whatever happens we can breathe into it, lean on loved ones and appreciate every moment that we have here.
Thank you Yoga. Thank you cows. Thank you.
Mother and Daughter Bond Over Yoga
May 6, 2013
By: Justin Blackburn
After last night’s powerful but refreshing downpour as everyone was preparing for bed, the sun now shines ever so welcoming as the breeze blows through the vibrant green leaves.
We are so blessed to have Jeannie Laslo Douglas from Oregon here this week leading a yoga retreat group of 6 women. Not only does Jeanie’s loving yoga guidance through her gentle Hatha style classes inspire students on the mat, the dynamics of this group is unique and inspirational in itself. With Mother’s Day coming up, Jeannie’s mother Mary, a beginning yogi, showed her love and support by agreeing to take part in this magical yoga retreat in Costa Rica with her daughter.
I took some time over lunch to interview the lovely lady duo on their hesitations, experiences and revelations on teaching and learning yoga from loved ones. Feel free to set your heart stations to feel good Mother-Daughter love and take a listen.
Sunday's Little Miracles
May 5, 2013
By: Justin Blackburn
Hola beautiful people! It is another gorgeous day here at the Costa Rica Yoga Spa! It is just before noon as I lightly gaze out over the vibrant, green, fertile land that is Costa Rica. The magnificence of the sun radiates off every atom of existence as the gentle breeze relaxes it all into beauty. After a gentle Hatha yoga class at 7am taught by retreat leader Jeannie Haslo, the Sunday energy crept in to magnify the already tranquil pace of life around the grounds: guests and staff alike curl up with books in hammocks or dip in the crystalline pool as if to say, “Let there be rest!”
The recent weeks have seen the first of many much needed and long-awaited rain showers. Friday night’s sky opened up and showered upon us a boisterous rainfall worlds away from what many may consider to be a Friday evening’s pleasure, but the inhabitants of the CRYS grounds (humans, plants and animals alike) beg to differ. After a full night’s sleep under the moist, warm blanket of all-night showers, guests emerged refreshed, and flowers and bugs alike budded from their temporary hiding spots within the earth.
A tranquil moment spent on the suspension bridge behind the Yoga Rancho creates space to notice trees of all sorts growing from Mother Earth’s loving heart; all bearing nutrients in the form of seeds or fruits to pass onto creatures great and small. Perfect mirrors of the important aspects of samastitihi or tadasana (mountain) pose: strong and centered with roots always digging deeper. A single white cattle egret soars through the sky and lands beside a long eared, fit white cow who rests comfortably on the land.
Awwww, another Sunday’s sun rises and falls over the vast Pacific and I can smell the wafting aroma of Xinia and Mati’s dinner preparations. A gracious humbleness opens my little heart even wider. I take a deep breath from my stomach to feel full of that life-giving prana energy (which is a lot more natural now that I have been doing so much yoga!) and give thanks for the beautiful experience that is everyday here at the Costa Rica Yoga Spa.
Take the Leap!
May 1, 2013
Iboga: A Key of Rebirth Into Conscious Living
April 13, 2013
In life we are given two of the most valuable resources: time and energy. What we choose to do with these resources relates back to our purpose, satisfaction, happiness, and fulfillment. We are all capable of giving life to everything that we do, if we so choose.
How often do we take the opportunity to actively participate in our life as it is, rather than how we think it should be? How many opportunities do we have that give birth to deeper aspects of ourselves? How often do we allow the opportunities in this lifetime to facilitate a rebirth of ourselves?
That’s just what I have experienced. After my arrival in the peaceful town of Nosara at the Costa Rica Yoga Spa, it was as though I was given my life back with greater, lasting clarity than I’ve ever felt. This place is majestic, it radiates love and healing- it was truly inspiring to experience the extraordinary synergy contained at this place and from this land that led me to a state of inner peace. Within the first few hours I began feeling refreshed. Looking back, I realize just how much baggage I had brought down there with me – and I am not referring to my luggage.
At times, all of us hit those low places in life where it feels like nothing is clear; where we think we have a picture of our current projectory, yet continue on- unsatisfied and unfulfilled. I was feeling hopeless, disempowered, impatient, and disconnected. There was a heaviness within me. It was difficult to feel happy, hard to feel love, hard to feel a lot of things. I attributed these feelings to tragic loss, rigorous secondary education, seeing those I love unhappy with current states of health, career, and financial stress. I thought that my burdens were piling up, one after the other, and my only hope was to keep trudging through until I got to some vague place that somehow seemed manageable.
All of this changed for me, faster than I believed possible. Within one week at the Costa Rica Yoga Spa and two Iboga treatments later, I felt as if I had come out on other side – reborn. The plant medicine of Iboga allowed me to journey within myself, which enabled me to participate in my own psychotherapy. This was an empowering experience that assisted me in regaining hope and vitality. Iboga helped me identify just how much I had been compensating for the stressful life I was living, and helped restore balance to each affected energy system through recognition and removal of obstacles.
This plant medicine was directive and supportive. Iboga knew what was weighing on my heart and soul. This psychotropic experience enabled me to lay down the baggage I carried with me; including the pack of cigarettes. Yes, after 10 years of smoking, I quit smoking with not so much as a single craving.
It felt like a detoxification process of my mind, body, and spirit. It was as though the plant went through my entire body and cleansed every cell. It was like it reset me so I could process my life in a better and more health-filled way. It was a mirror to my soul which ushered unmistakable clarity into my life. It inspired me toward self-discipline, self-love, and self-respect followed by the importance of sharing it with others. Most importantly this plant supported me in becoming the best version of myself to date with the intention of living by example in a soulful manner.
I realized how caught up in these trivial stresses I was; constantly worrying and rushing to finish or hurrying to relax. I was always somewhere else dealing with these thousand things it felt like I was doing, never present in the moment. I saw that I was living my life out of habit. In this experience, Nature showed me her wisdom and in that I discovered how to be present in my life – no longer separated from my experience. Through the wisdom of this plant medicine I was reminded to trust in my own wisdom, focus on the beautiful lessons within challenging events, and work to maximize serendipitous opportunity in life.
Using nature as a blueprint, I am inspired to live a more balanced, sustainable life - a life where I live within the integrity of my truth without the distractions of a lifetime of thoughts that were never mine to begin with. Met by shining faces and kind hearts, I experienced the fullness of life around the spa. Just as important as the actual experience was the integration process of being in this place. The coordination of care was essential and critical to the shifts within me. This included: prepping with colonics, massage, practicing yoga, eating clean food prepared with care, heartfelt discussions or just by being in nature. This experience allowed me to become open to lasting changes instead of being held back by physical, structural imbalance.
These were my first steps toward regaining consciousness of myself, balance in my life, and health with the help of natural medicine. I have been brought back- inspired with insights on how to live in the present and experience life in peace without expectations.
This experience was critical in regaining the clarity of thought, feeling, and communication necessary for wellness in all aspects of my life.
With love, respect, & appreciation.
Root down to Rise up
April 11, 2013
By: Lucy St. John
Arriving here at the Costa Rica Yoga Spa, my heart sighs a breath of relief and I immediately feel welcomed by a visionary community. Looking out from the yoga rancho at the top of the hill, my feet seep deep into the Earth and I feel the energy of all the people who have built its foundations. The Yoga Teacher Training in this magical place is the full embodiment of "Root down to Rise up.” Just as my yoga practice starts with an intention, the intention of the forward thinking individuals who created the spa is evident in every aspect of life here. Eating the organic food that is grown on their farm, walking the spacious and well-thought out grounds, and being surrounded by the type of people who live, work and visit here is like standing tall with my community in an effortless Tadasana. I feel blessed to be here at a time when the roots of these actions and intentions have come to fruition. Teachers Ashley and Rebecca both have deep roots in their own traditions and yet their professional union raises their individual gifts to a new plateau and ultimately, this makes us all rise! To me, the people who end up here hold the same pure intention: to wholeheartedly provide and support strong roots for each other for an inspiring and self-sustaining life. I am so grateful to everyone single soul I've met at the Yoga Teacher Training and Spa. Each one has contributed to creating, maintaining and inspiring me to have a firm foundation in which to stand taller and stronger; not only in my practice but also in the purpose of my life. Sat Nam.
Be Easy Breezy and Stress Free
April 9 , 2013
The Costa Rica Yoga Spa is the perfect medium for joining the philosophy and practice of Yoga in an environment nothing short of paradise. Ashley Ludman and Rebecca Kovacs provide instructional Yoga training of the highest quality which has exceeded all expectations. The owners of the Costa Rica Yoga Spa created a healthy and comfortable environment. This easy breezy stress free environment allows oneself to absorb the entire Pura Vida experience. The personal attention one receives during the yoga asana practice assists the individual into proper alignment. Proper alignment allows for a DEEPER experience! It is from this deeper experience of practicing the asanas that one becomes more in line with the spiritual practice of the yoga philosophy.
Instructors and co-directors of The Yoga Paradigm 200 hour YTT Ashley and Rebecca offer an exceptional Teacher Training program. Their combined knowledge creates a synergistic effect that enhances the information being presented to the students. I have since utilized the Philosophy and practice of Yoga being presented by the instructors in a highly integrative way: yoga has become my design for living. Yoga has improved my life to that of a spectacular degree as it can for you (if it hasn’t already). I am extremely grateful to have had the privilege to receive instruction from two amazing Yoga instructors in one of the most beautiful places on earth! The Costa Rica Yoga Spa and The Yoga Paradigm joined forces to create an out of this world Yoga experience. This is definitely a bucket list experience. Yoga has saved my life. I will pay it forward by passing it on to others.
This Week at the Yoga Spa
By: Darin McBratney
April 8, 2013
This week at the Costa Rica Yoga Spa has been another incredible time for us all. We started off with our permaculture meeting that got everyone on board for the upcoming rainy season. We have new designs and have implemented everything we talked about. Instant manifestation. We’ve had outstanding community yoga classes from Yin Yoga with Lisa to flow classes with Marck whose background is diverse in methodologies ranging from Bikram, ashtanga to his own classic flow which is just downright challenging and super fun. We have had Kung-Fu and acupuncture with Javier to Thai massage with other guests.
The weeks’ Sun, Surf and Yoga Retreat has seen perfect waves in Playa Guiones and San Jaunillo to Ostional and even a little bit of Marbella in there. Lauren, our new nutritionist from Nova Scotia, has been making sure that our bodies are nourished and taste buds happy with delicious recipes all locally and organically sourced. We have started our seasonal garden with the building of a new starter greenhouse and have planted every seed. The crew is busy putting in planters around the hotel filled with herbs and veggies. The chefs are excited to share the new garden with us.
There has been plenty of live music featuring some real quality musicians who are joining the Nosara community for shows after their performances at the Envision Festival. The Guilded Iguana, Cafe De Paris, The Fish Bar and Almost Paradise provide the perfect setting for these unique and talented musicans. We are also in the works of planning our very own new music festival here at the Costa Rica Yoga Spa and have plans of building a new amphitheatre, which will provide us with an epic musical experience… dancing included.
We recently had a stellar "bridge party" to celebrate our new suspension bridge- engineered and built by Chris Atcheson from Czech Republic. The bridge is the gateway to our new villas for which we are currently planning and breaking ground. We are also working on our new sweat lodge, which will be ready by June 1st for the Five Rythyms retreat with Amber Ryan.
All in all, there is a lot of excitement in the air! Last night we were glad to host a fantastic demonstration of Biodanza, which originated in Chile and blends a variety of exercises, dancing techniques and body-moving music from all over the world. We had a killer surf session at Punta India where Tony and I were the only ones out surfing with the Olive Ridley turtles. Oh and the we had the naturopathic doctor and her boyfriend from Portland here on an iboga retreat that included colonics, juicing, organic raw food, massage, yoga, iboga yoga, acupuncture, swimming in the ocean and going to La Luna for dinner. Perfect indeed and thanks for the hat Ross! I had an awesome time with these guys and I have a feeling they will be back for more and then some.
This coming year the wellness center will be that much closer to being finished and we are right on track. We are welcoming the vibrant green and humid cloud cover of the rainy season in and saying goodbye to the dry brown foliage. Shifting gears with open arms. Bottom line: an amazing week which will only be topped by the upcoming one as it is action packed with horseback riding, kayaking, stand-up paddle, lot's of yoga, canyoning, canopy tours, magical mystery tours and a river party with bbq and beach time. Please come join us!
Nicoya Peninsula: A Blue Zone
March 11, 2013
By: Katherine Kipps
Have you ever wondered what practices can help you live a fuller, longer, healthier life? Have you ever wondered why people from some parts of the world tend to live longer than others? These were two of the questions that Dan Buettner has dedicated the last 9 years of his life to uncovering. Diving into his research with the aid of a group of scientists and sponsors, they soon discovered that five special regions of the globe were home to more Centarians (people who live to the age of 100) than anywhere else. Those regions were: Ikaria Greece, Okinawa Japan, Loma Linda California, Sardinia Italy and (you guessed it…) The Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica.
The aim of his research wasn't merely to identify and quantify these places for their long-living inhabitants, rather to delve into the real secrets and daily practices that set them apart from the rest of the world. And the results are more intriguing than any diet or exercise regime you've ever encountered. In fact, the secret has less to do with diet or exercise and more to do with the social and physical environment in which people live. Backed by scientific research, Buettner concluded that the following nine powerful practices are the backbone of what keeps the inhabitants of the Blue Zones going longer and stronger… and smiling all the way…
1. Keep Moving: This doesn't mean pumping iron and running marathons or aiming for that cover-model frame. Instead, keep moving as a part of your natural rhythm. Walking instead of driving, doing things by hand instead of depending on machines.
Here at the yoga spa, one learns quickly that if you want something done, you've got to do it yourself. And not only that, but you've probably got to get creative and hands-y in doing so.
2. Find purpose, and pursue it with passion: So often we get lost in our daily routines to the point that our only purpose is that routine! We get stuck as we drift further and further from any kind of passion or inspiration. Known by Nicoyans as a plan de vida, everyday here is dedicated to maintaining an environment that calls everyone to rediscover and pursue his or her passion while feeling that what they do matters. We at the Yoga Spa experience it again and again: if we get too comfortable or ‘stuck’, the land or the locals (or both) find a way to nudge us along, back to that place of passion and appreciation.
3. Slow Down: Work less, rest and take vacations. “Tico time” or “Jungle Time” are some endearing terms for the pace of life in our beautiful home. Why rush? Why stress? This philosophy is deeply engrained into life here. The general feeling of isolation from the rest of the world may be partially responsible, or it could have something to do with the midday sun that beckons anyone still working to find a hammock and cool down, it may also be thanks to the dirt roads that literally keep the pace of life slower than elsewhere. No matter what the reason behind it, we are glad to operate on Tico/Jungle time any day.
4. Stop Eating when you’re 80% full: Ok, this one may seem harder at first glance because as those of you who have experienced the culinary treasures of our chefs already know. But the truth is, that is what naturally happens when we fill our plates with mostly fresh greens and veggies complemented by flavorful and healthy cooked dishes. The traditional dish of Costa Rica, el casado, traditionally consists of a base of maize and beans, one of the best nutritional combinations for longevity the world has ever known.
5. Dine on plants: Eat more veggies and less meat and processed foods. One of the first things our guests notice about the Yoga Spa that sets us apart is our attention to this rule. In fact, even finding processed foods and meat in our kitchen can be a challenge. Every meal is a spread of local, freshly harvested, organic plant goodness. Buen Provecho!
6. Drink red wine: Do it consistently but in moderation. Many of our guests enjoy a glass of red wine with dinner. Call it an indulgence or a health-wise habit; we’ll cheers to that!
7. Join a group: Create a healthy social network. Around here it is common to get visits from neighbors, just stopping by to say hello, share stories from the day and bond over a good laugh. A good social network goes beyond a social life here, it translates to one’s survival, as no phone book or Google search can lead you to a decent carpenter, mechanic or nanny. These
8. Feed your soul: Engage in spiritual activities. Many who join us up here on the Yoga Spa Mountain would agree that simply settling into this potent and powerful land is a spiritual experience within itself. Locals and foreigners alike agree on the deeply felt healing properties contained on this land. And to take it one step further, we have created the Costa Rica Yoga Spa to magnify this energy.
9. Love your tribe: Make family a high priority. We at the Yoga Spa learn from our neighbors, the Nicoyans, to put family first. It is tradition here that many generations live under the same roof; learning and growing from one another. Although our sense of family is a little less traditional, we make it a priority to be more than staff to our guests as we are constantly learning and mutually evolving through our interactions. By prioritizing this tribe-consciousness, we feel more at ease and open to experiencing the present moment to the fullest.
**We would like to thank Dan Buettner and his extraordinary book “Blue Zones.” as well as National Geographic for the facts and framework for this piece.**