I spent the past week at a yoga retreat tucked away in the hillside of Costa Rica at El Sabanero Eco-Lodge. If you know me at all, you might be a bit confused by that last sentence due to the word “yoga“. Prior to this past week I believe I have attended one, maybe two, yoga classes in my life. It has never been my thing, but when the opportunity presents itself to go on a yoga retreat with a group of people you don’t know to Costa Rica, you absolutley take it. Pura vida!
Early Thursday morning I caught my first flight to Miami where disaster ensued. There was a series of getting on the plane, then off, then told no international flights, back on, back off, sit on the runway and so forth. During this song and dance fiasco, my fellow plane-goers and I chatted, shared life stories, and got to know one another. This is one of my favorite things. I promise I am not the seat mate that won’t shut up the entire plane ride, but I love hearing a little about their story, where they are going, or where they are coming back from. I challenge you to learn a fact or two about your seat mate and I promise they will surprise you. On this particular plane ride stories ranged from growing up in South America, a mom studying for her doctorate who decided three weeks ago to move to Costa Rica on a whim to teach, a fitness trainer based in NYC who is highly competitive in weightlifting thinking about giving it all up to run a restaurant in Tamarindo, and a mom and son heading to a wedding but discussing just how exited he was to start first grade. Seriously, get to know your neighbor, and then get ready to want to travel the world, teach in other countries, run restaurants, and figure out how to lift heavy weights. I digress.
I finally arrived and goodness it was stunning. Rain forest vibes with greenery and colors flowing in every direction. After I dropped my bag in my lodge, the sky changed from purple to orange to pink to dark blue in a matter of minutes. Stunning.
We finished the evening with restorative yoga before indulging in the start of the best meals of my life. Everything was homemade, fresh, colorful, and flavorful. The menu was always filled with salads, homemade breads, sauces, vegetables, soups, and meats. We easily all ate our weight each meal and no one was complaining. Exhausted, we called it an early night. My body never caught on to the time change so I was up each morning around 5. I figured there was no use in trying to fall back asleep when I could watch the sun rise and fog fade swinging in the hammock below.
Around 6:30 each morning was desayuno número uno of fresh mango, passion fruit, papaya, pineapple, and watermelon, and the best Costa Rican coffee.
Off for yoga in the studio down the path. Friday morning was all levels yoga (which really just felt like hot yoga). Needless to say, I always stopped at level 1 with an occasional try at level 2. Several others continued on to pretzel their bodies into crazy poses. I applaud you all.
After an hour to an hour and a half of yoga, sweaty and hungry we went back up to the lodge for desayuno número dos. This time, fresh eggs, beans and rice, fruit juice, and obviously refills on coffee were involved.
Around 11 or so we hopped in the van to head to Tamarindo to the beach to enjoy surfing, margaritas, and naps on the beach.
Later in the afternoon it was back to the lodge for a Moroccan style dinner and yoga nidra which I learned is practically sleepy-time yoga.
Saturday morning followed the same routine with an early rise, breakfasts, and yoga.
Let’s all appreciate this view below. Goodness if I could continue to wake up to that view and pool with coffee in hand I would in a heartbeat.
Saturday afternoon we took a taxi back to Tamarindo for a Catamaran Cruise. I thought my seasick days were in the past and hoped the keyword was “cruise”. Instead, I chugged ginger ale like it was my saving grace, popped Dramamine, and focused intensely on the horizon. Seasickness aside, the views were unbelievable. We did a little whale sighting and chasing and even came across a few massive turtles.
I was overjoyed when the boat finally stopped at our little island destination to hop in the water with my floaty while others paddle boarded and kayaked.
I have no idea where they pulled this lunch from on the boat but it was a feast. Banana bread was even involved.
The sunset painted the most beautiful backdrop as we cruised back to shore.
It may have topped my sunset charts.
Sunday morning coffee rituals.
After yoga and breakfast we ventured to Playa Avellanas and grabbed a table at Lola’s where THEY HAD A PIG.
This beachside restaurant was a dream. Palm trees, flowers, hammocks, fruity drinks, and views of the beach were all in one place.
Mastering my tree pose here.
Everyone attempted headstands, handstands, and crazy yoga poses with the safety of the soft sand. Your girl over here mastered a handstand.
After a day in the sun it was back to the lodge for another divine dinner and evening yoga.
Monday most of the group went on a volcano/hiking/rafting adventure but a few of us stayed behind. My biggest worry of the day was whether to sit in the pool or the hammock. All was well.
Easily one of the most relaxing days.
The night ended with yoga nidra where I managed to not fall asleep five minutes into it. It is rainy season in Costa Rica and each night thunderstorms would roll in as we did yoga. A few nights the lighting and thunder were out of control and we are all confident the lodge was struck by lighting. Occasionally this made it harder to “relax” in yoga, but most nights it worked in our favor. The sound of rain falling on the roof and lighting illuminating the sky creating silhouetted palm trees set the most relaxing mood. Even the most non-yoga person would appreciate yoga in those conditions.
The week was more than I could ask for. If you ever have the chance to try something new, do it, and don’t second guess yourself. Go on a whim, take a trip, sign up for a new class or event, and challenge yourself. Whether it be a new place, new friends, or a new activity it is always worth it. I gained an appreciation for yoga, met new friends, explored a new country, and took a break from life in one of the most beautiful settings.
P.S.: If you haven’t checked out Trip Tribe, you 100% should!