My Yoga Jungle in Costa Rica

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.


Because no good story ever started with...

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:
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.


Our crazy schedule


This is the meditation hall. A lovely space to spend 9 hours a day (in case you didn't notice, there are no chairs...anywhere...for 9 hours a day)

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:


Titus is cleared to enter Honduras!


Getting serenaded in Granada, Nicaragua on my only night in town


I'm off to become a yogi!

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 view of Puerto Viejo and the Caribbean from Samasati Nature Retreat. You can see the rain in the distance!

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 whole crew! We did it together. Miss these guys

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.



I did it! Completed 200 hours of teacher training

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…


Samasati Nature Retreat - Bungalow #4 was my home for 3 weeks!


Bungalow #4 from the inside


One of the rare days when it wasn't raining... did I mention that May is the beginning of rainy season?


A fabulous couple, Lauren and Zach, and the only guy in our teacher training. He really dealt with 12 ladies like it was no sweat


My roommate Megan and friend Gabie. I can't thank them enough for their support when I got super sick with the stomach bug that was going around. Go figure after living in a van for 8 months I get sick staying at a resort.


The house cat Stella, perched for the best insect and bird watching. She would sit there for hours


These tiny red frogs were EVERYWHERE, including our shower. I was always afraid I was going to step on them! Look at their size compared to the nail on that step


Another good shot of the tiny red frogs. They almost look like plastic...nature is amazing


Our crazy schedule


This is the meditation hall where we spent 9 hours a day (in case you didn't notice, there are no chairs...anywhere...for 9 hours a day)




This 3 inch grasshopper, along with his purple/black and red/black friends greeted us each morning before class. Another example of the crazy insects and wildlife in the jungle.


There were so many howler monkeys and white-faced monkeys "monkeying" about in the trees (and waking us up at 5am with their howls).


The view of Puerto Viejo and the Caribbean from Samasati Nature Retreat. You can see the rain in the distance!


This is one of the many geckos that run around. There must have been at least a dozen different varieties. This one almost blends in if it wasn't for his half bright yellow, half bright green stripe.


We also witnessed about a dozen different types of ants. Bullet ants (ouch!), small ants, big ants, red ants, ants with white or blue name it, we probably saw them.


Going for a hike to the waterfall during our lunch break with Chelsey, Megan, Gabie, and Brieann.


I tried to avoid walking into these while on my hike... this guy was about the size of my hand. The good news is that he was busy eating an insect, so had no interest in me.


Waterfall territory


We made it!


I really should have had a person in this picture for comparison... I'm pretty sure I am shorter than where those roots meet the trunk. I felt so small in this giant jungle.


Kudos to Brieann for spotting the sloth! He got scared and hid behind a branch...only took him 2 minutes to slowly move there...


Beautiful banana trees with awesome "feed me seymour" flowers.


Another interesting spider (did I mention my fear of spiders?)


Having fun in the meditation hall with Brieann and Acacia!


Because no good story ever started with... (first time venturing out of Samasati and this is what I find)


Lunch in town with some of the girls! I might have cheated on the whole vegetarian thing... do fish tacos really count?


Playa Cocles on one of two outings outside of Samasati in three weeks!


Partner yoga! Jun and Piera, two of our instructors demonstrating


There's me and Gabie during partner yoga!


Lauren and Zach - nailed it!


I tried about 5 times to get a good shot of this incredibly active flying bug. So beautiful


Partner yoga again. That's me in the bottom left corner!


On my outing to town I brought back contraband chocolate for everyone. Everyone ate a quarter of a truffle and was giddy


The meditation hall from the outside. You can see some people looking at our grasshopper friends on their way to practice


Teaching practice!


Celebration dinner on our last night!


Max and Jun - two of our instructors and mentors. Awesome people


Chelsey being chelsey 🙂


Hannah our in-house acro-yogi


Zach jamming with the band on our celebration night


Happy Birthday Acacia! Her birthday was on the last day of classes


Not a bad way to exit the meditation hall for the last time. Hannah, Alia and Zach doing Bakasana crow pose. Hasta Luego Max!


The whole crew! Miss these guys


I did it! Completed 200 hours of teacher training


I feel so good I could fly


One last photo of a crazy gecko that made it into our bungalow. His head is a different color than his body! Unbelievable


Saying goodbye on the last day to two wonderful ladies. Till we meet again!

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15 comments on “My Yoga Jungle in Costa Rica
  1. Karie says:

    So impressive. You will have to teach me how to meditate and to simon how to be quiet. 🙂

  2. paula says:

    Wow. Wow! Congrats, Jenine. What an experience. Can’t wait to meet up with you on the road and get some free yoga classes!! cheers to you!

    • Jenine says:

      Yes! Free yoga for you, meditation for Karie, and “quieting of the mind” for the boys 😉 Have you crossed into Guatemala yet? I wanted to suggest the El Ceibo border in Chiapas (or is it technically Tabasco?). Sooooo low key, no helpers or hawkers, friendly staff.

  3. Tami says:

    You are so awesome! So are you planning on being a yoga instructor when you get back to the states?

  4. Patty says:

    Congratulations to you Jenine! Wow! Going off on your own to get your 200 hours of teacher training. You continue to amaze me. And George…3 weeks on your own? Wow! I am looking forward to that blog.
    We love you both,
    Aunt Patty

  5. Shawna says:

    Sounds like overall a great experience with some personal struggles too! You found out some more about your own inner strength. Congratulations. I LOVE that photo of the ants! My favorite, along with the one of you “flying” on your partner’s feet.

    • Jenine says:

      I almost didnt include the pic of the ants but I loved it so much too! And yes, finding inner strength was huge.

  6. Jane says:

    I’m in the queue, too, for a class from the Bodhisatva in the making! xo

  7. TimmR says:

    Awesome work Jenine! So impressed and I’m definitely signing up for your first class in SF!

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