Since we left San Francisco, George and I have had the opportunity to pursue our separate passions, one of mine being yoga. Even though we move around quite a bit, I had been trying to find time most mornings to practice, and George and I have started daily meditation. Yoga teacher training is something that has always been in the back of my mind. I love training and helping others, and to be honest, my personal yoga practice was getting a little stale, and I felt I could really use the additional training to keep growing. With the time that we have set aside for this trip, I knew that I would regret not taking advantage of the opportunity to have 3 weeks to do a 200 hour yoga teacher training.
So began the research to find a good program that also happened to fit with our travel schedule (not such an easy task). I ended up coming across Hari-Om, which is an Italian based Hatha-Vinyasa style school with a yoga teacher training on the caribbean coast of Costa Rica a couple times a year. I followed up and it turned out to be the perfect fit (not to mention it ended the day before my parents scheduled visit to Costa Rica – perfecto!).
All I had to do to pull off this dream of mine was the following:
1) Convince husband that while already on a budget, we should definitely consider sending me to yoga teacher training, leaving said husband alone in a central american country for three weeks to fend for himself with our huge baby (Titus). Turns out all I had to do was show George the schedule for the yoga teacher training, beginning at 6am every day and consisting of 4 hours of yoga practice and 5 hours of lecture a day…for three weeks straight… with no days off! And did I mention going vegetarian for those three weeks? He was convinced that if I was willing to put myself intentionally through that, then I must be serious.
2) By the time I finalized booking my yoga teacher training we were coming to the end of our time in Mexico, which meant we would need to hustle through 4 countries in a little over a month for me to make my May 9th start date in Costa Rica. We ended up deciding to do just 2 weeks in Guatemala, 2 weeks in El Salvador, and then beeline through Honduras (an epic 2 border crossings in one day) to Nicaragua where I would spend 2 days before catching a bus by myself to Costa Rica. I am so lucky to have a travel partner who was willing to sacrifice some time in these awesome places. Here are a couple pics from our 2-in-1 day border crossings and my few days in Nicaragua:
So there I was on May 8th taking an 8 hour bus from Granada, Nicaragua, to San Jose Costa Rica, then a 4 hour shuttle the next day to Puerto Viejo on the beautiful Caribbean coast, where the Samasati Nature Retreat sits high on a hill amongst an intense, dense, rain forest.
The experience wasn’t exactly what I pictured going in, but it was wholly worth it and rewarding, and went something like this:
13 students, 3 instructors, mediation hall, meditation, practice, jungle noises, laughing, crying, new friends for life, challenges, quieting the mind, overcoming fears, digestive bacterial infection or parasite?, bowel movement discussions with strangers, group dynamics, building muscle, getting sick, losing muscle, frustration, getting healthy, seeking self discovery, motivation for self study, books, ayurvedic medicine, pranayama, just breathe, bananas, other-worldly insects, monkeys, sloths, huge plants, huge bugs, spiders, snakes, rain, rain, mold, wet, cold, hot, sweat, study, practice, teach, learn, grow.
The emphasis in the training was on self practice and the idea that being a “yogi” doesn’t mean just doing asanas (yoga poses) with perfect alignment, and being able to do handstands (although I really hope to get there one day). It’s a way of life, and overall approach to everyday living. We did learn proper alignment for the basic asanas, how to sequence a class, and practiced teaching, but what I take away is much more than that. I learned about breath and quieting your mind, which is particularly helpful on really stressful days, or days when you have thoughts playing on rerun through your head. And I learned to try and let go of preconceived expectations; sometimes you just have to live in the moment, which is so hard for so many of us. I also learned the importance of practicing yoga every day and daily meditation as a means to achieving those ends. I will continue to learn and grow, and for all this, I am eternally grateful.
Here are some great photos from my time at Samasati Nature Retreat. I still haven’t seen the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica, but I can currently say that the jungle at Samasati was the wildest jungle I’ve ever seen, with creatures I didn’t even know existed. I only wish I could’ve captured it better on camera. Next post, George talks about the surf report during his time in Nicaragua…