The most common thing I’ve heard from retreaters since we’ve been back is: “It was so quiet when I returned home.”
To be clear, we aren’t referring to how loud we were as a group, but rather the rhythmic jungle sounds that lulled us to sleep every single night from the day we arrived. There was something magical about Tierra de Sueños that Saturday night. The environment was calm and peaceful and when Ana, Tierra’s front desk assistant, guided us individually through the lush jungle towards our rooms, I knew that yes, in fact, we were in a land of dreams. I would have sworn that the sounds had been recorded and set up as a way to win us over. I’d never slept surrounded by so much noise while still finding it to be the most beautiful ‘quiet’ I’d ever heard. It was easy to fall asleep to on the first night and every single one after.
The days flew by too quickly if you ask me. Every morning, Frances or I taught an active yoga class and later in the day, we would guide a restorative class. We were lucky to spend the week with a group of vibrant people who each, in their own way, added a little spice to the dynamic.
The morning after our arrival, we found out that activities in the area were abundant and so were the beaches. Every day was a challenge to choose what we’d do as a group or what we’d do individually. It was difficult for me to decide whether I’d snorkel first, scuba second, surf every day, bike every day, eat chocolate every day, hike, and so on. It was a never-ending amount of possibilities and, at first, it felt overwhelming. My mind is accustomed to running at 100 mph so it didn’t feel like I’d be slowing down anytime soon during the retreat.
However, on the Sunday, we decided to all go to Cocles beach together to surf. Some had taken a surf lesson and others had just gone head first into the waves. We were so fortunate to have wonderful, calm waves that were easy to catch. Nothing too small and nothing too big for those of us that were still unaccustomed to surfing. It was easy to sit on your board and just look out at the scenery. Vast ocean behind me and a never-ending coastline ahead. Behind us was a tiny island I never got to explore but saw almost every single day from the shore.
The second day is when the real vacation vibes kicked in because I had a little scuffle with a surfboard in the water. But that didn’t deter me. It just made me realize that I had to slow down. Perhaps filling my days with one activity after another wasn’t what I needed at that moment in time. Instead, I chose to pay more attention to the delicious vegan meals that the Costa Rican chefs would make for us every single day. Not once did we have the same plate presented to us. Each meal was made with so much consideration for every one of our needs and we definitely appreciated that.
Food was only one of the very many things that won my heart over. I’d prepare to bet right now that if you asked Frances what about the retreat swept her away, she’d tell you it was the sloth that lived outside her bedroom door. Every morning for the first few days, we could see Simone the Sloth (yeah, we named her) hanging high up in the tree right outside our cabana door. She wasn’t the only visitor. We had howler monkeys visit, toucans, lizards, spiders, and local cats and dogs. It was beautiful to see.
Although I spent most of my days just relaxing on the beaches, many in the group participated in activities such as: snorkelling, hiking to hidden waterfalls, zip-lining, kayaking, night hikes through the jungly to see the wildlife, and even going on a cacao tour. Luckily for me, Nick, my partner, went on that tour and brought back 50 grams of chocolate that I ate within a 48 hours. Self-control is my middle name.
My favourite part though was when we dug out a tunnel (canal) for a water pipe at a local community center. Volunteers from our group including myself and Frances arrived on site at 8:30 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. I’d been to Costa Rica before and spent a few weeks doing exactly that, so it brought back lots of memories. It felt good to get to work both physically and mentally. The team had fun and we worked well together. It took a lot more strength than we expected but we did it, and by the end, we’d completely dug out the canal! I was really proud of us.
Leading this year’s and last year’s yoga retreat, especially with an amazing partner, mentor and manager Frances, has been an absolute privilege. I love meeting new people and getting to know them, even if just a little. Creating memories that last a lifetime is usually what I’m after but having people to share the experience with, well that’s where the magic really happens. I absolutely cannot wait to lead another retreat. Where to next? We aren’t sure but that doesn’t mean we aren’t already planning!
Stay tuned for information about Luna Yoga’s 2020 Yoga & Surf retreat. I hope to see you there and share the priceless moments, laughs, and community love with you!