Finding My Zen

Earlier this year I did something I’ve always wanted to do in a place I’ve never been: a yoga retreat in  Costa Rica! I was so thrilled to go for a number of reasons.

  1. I had never traveled to an exotic, rain forest-y place before and had been longing to do it. My sister went once, years ago, and told me how beautiful and amazing it was to zip line through the tall, tropical trees, spotting monkeys here and there. So, yeah, monkeys.
  2. I know a lot of people who have done yoga retreats and they seem to be stress-free for years on their return. Everything about them screams ‘At peace with myself’ when they return and I was needing that in the worst way.
  3. 99.9% of my trips out of town are for/with family and sometimes work. Yes, I go to Mexico every year. Yes, I go to California multiple times a year. These trips are great, they really are, but they are to the same place in a very comfortable setting. It was time I acted like a 32 year old and went somewhere new and different. This is not to say that I’ve ever had a bad time with my family, just a bit lackluster.
  4. Yoga is a newer hobby/passion/exercise/practice for me that 10 years ago I would have excelled at, but over time, my body is not as flexible. I like to be good at the things I enjoy doing. Two, 2-hour classes a day seemed like the best, most efficient way to improve.
  5. Also, I was in desperate need to clear my head and find my happy place again. Someone close to me had been dealing with addiction and I was letting it affect me and take me to some really dark, terrible places. I had lost my Zen, my patience, my sanity, and I really wanted it all back.
Costa Rica Travel

Heading to Costa Rica!

The trip was amazing and fulfilled everything I was hoping it would. The RAINFOREST is absolutely stunning. Just the exotic sounds constantly coming from it was enough to make me catch my breath frequently. The cicadas were doing their annual noise making, pretty much drowning out any attempt at conversation three times a day. You could set your clock to their schedule. And we did during our yoga practice. By the time we settled into Savasana the bug’s song would be going at full-volume, creating an intense aural pattern that deepened my meditation.

Yoga-ing in the jungle

Yoga-ing in the jungle

When I wasn’t doing yoga or resting in my tent, I was checking out the other amazing things to do in the area. The first adventure we went on was a hike not far from where we were staying. It was guided by one of the gardeners at the retreat and he pointed out flowers and small animals for us. One of my favorites was a blue shrimp in the freshwater stream.

Blue Shrimp in Costa Rica

It was humid and hot, but gorgeous and green. There was a very refreshing waterfall at the end of the trip too.

Waterfall in Costa Rica

Photographer Kristen Cheatwood was kind enough to capture us all in this heaven.

I did end up zip lining, which was so scary, but beautiful. I would like to go again because I was focusing so hard on not scaring myself or running into the poor guy waiting for me, that I didn’t have a chance to really enjoy my surroundings. Being so high up in the trees though, that was an emotion in itself. You could feel the movement of the giants as we each landed on the platforms and hear so many different, unfamiliar sounds around us. The family who owned and operated company was wonderful. Each guy was incredibly nice and obviously loved what they did, and where they lived.

Costa Rica Zip Line

Me being so dainty while zip lining.

The last, & most terrifying, take-off platform.

The last, & most terrifying, take-off platform.

The other adventure I went on was probably my favorite. Four of us went horse back riding up a trail into the jungle where our guide pointed out the super-cool Golden Orb Spider, so named for making beautiful golden webs that can be used to make Kevlar material. To prove it, our guide took a little bit of web, spun it a bit, and had us try to tear through the string. It was impossible. We also saw toucans and a very sleepy monkey hanging in trees. At the end of the trail was a beautiful, secluded waterfall that we had to take a dip in.

Waterfall

Perfect to cool off

My friend Val, a fantastic architect out of Tucson, was kind enough to pose for me.

ValWaterfall

Tree in a Waterfall

After the hike, we took the horses through a field with those beautiful white, soft-looking cows that you see in these parts of the world. This guy was very curious about my horse Colibri and I.

CostaCow

And moo are you?

We ended the ride by galloping on the beach, just like the movies, or a cheesy cliche. It was amazing.

OntheBeach

That’s my way-too-excited face.

That day, I skipped the afternoon yoga class while Kristin {photographer extraordinaire} and I hung out at the little cantina and learned more about the locale. I felt more alive and empowered that day than I had in a long time. I was nervous about the horse back riding because of the galloping that I knew was coming. But I did it, and I did it very well, and I couldn’t have been more proud of myself.

There were only two more days of this amazing trip, and they were equally eye opening and special. I spent time in town with an old friend and we talked about everything, and that night I welcomed the evening yoga class to focus inwardly. Dinner was delicious as usual, and the evening was left for us all to talk about our wonderful experiences, what we had learned and what the future held for us.

CostaDinenr

The dining room

The trip home was long and arduous, as it always is when traveling to and from Sun Valley, but it gave me time to reflect on what I had learned and experienced, and how I wanted to live my life from that moment on. I still do yoga, when I can, and have recently gotten back into CrossFit. I try to not let the little things get to me and to not judge others so harshly.

My life is still complicated, but thankfully not nearly as much as before this life-changing trip. Knowing that I have the ability to find calm and peace in the chaos that can be around me makes life that much easier. Namaste bitches, and thank you Beth, Patrick & Carling for the unforgettable experience.

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One thought on “Finding My Zen

  1. Sounds and looks like so much fun! A yoga retreat is on my to do list for sure. I don’t have the money of time to do it though. I’m surprised you went zip lining, and how was the food? I’m guessing you had to bring some of your own since you were camping.

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