How My Yoga Retreat in Costa Rica Healed My Heart and Soul
Author: Wendie V, WellnessGrind.com
When you travel with the intent of working on your wellness, you are committing to get out of your daily routine and live more mindfully. Travel is an immediate reset for my mind and soul. When I travel, I have time to relax, learn a new culture, and see beautiful places. That’s why (in my book) yoga and travel go hand in hand.
On most trips I set aside time to do yoga in my hotel room. Sometimes I’ll take a yoga class at a local studio or find a spot outside to practice. This doesn’t always work out because of how many sights there are to see during a trip, but I try my best to keep my fitness routine while I’m galavanting around the world.
I stumbled upon the idea that you can travel with the intent of doing yoga and still see all the sights. Brilliant! On top of that there are tons of yoga retreats in beautiful places across the globe. The only problem is, which one do you choose?
This story is all about how I healed my heart after ending a four-year relationship by taking a chance on a yoga and running retreat in Costa Rica. Read more and you’ll find out why I highly recommend an international yoga retreat.
If you are considering joining Maureen for the September 2020 yoga retreat in Uvita, Costa Rica, do it! You won’t regret your decision.
Pushing Pause After a Break-up
In 2014 I ended a four-year relationship with someone I cared deeply for, but knew I fell out of love with. I was battling how to say no to having this person in my life any longer because I knew how much he loved me and wanted to stay together. I also knew that I wouldn’t be living a truthful life if I remained in the relationship.
One month post break-up I was very confused and waffled back and forth about getting back together. I didn’t have a great reason for the break-up, it was mostly intuition that there was a better connection out there for me somewhere. I struggled mentally with being alone in a house we had shared for 2 years and felt lonely.
My friend in Rochester, Josie, was a great support at this time. She would text me every day, checking in to see how I was doing living alone. I told her how lonely I felt and how confused I was about what I really wanted. She helped me process my emotions via text daily.
One day she sent me a link and said she had booked a trip to Costa Rica with a group called Run Like A Girl (RLAG). I knew nothing about RLAG at the time, I had no idea how big their following was or who the three girls were who ran the blog and social media channels.
Josie said someone had cancelled at the last minute and they had one space open. If I was interested, I had to act FAST. So, I did. I immediately emailed Courtney Burt and asked her for the last spot. I felt like the price was reasonable for what was included in the trip and she was happy to have the last spot on the trip filled.
When you’re a solo-female traveler, you have to pick your wellness trips wisely. Safety comes first. This trip was perfect for me to hop on as a newly single woman because the group was almost entirely women and I was able to bunk with my friend, Josie. Being with the group meant I could see all the sights and not worry about my safety. (I later found out that Costa Rica is super safe, and I didn’t have to worry about that).
I didn’t know what to anticipate, all I knew was that I needed to start running more.
Running + Healing
Running has been one of the most therapeutic healing techniques I discovered as an adult. I completed a full marathon in 2008, several half marathons, 10Ks and 5Ks. Any time I felt mentally challenged, I would grab my running shoes and head outdoors.
I had been trail running for 8 years at this point. I mistakenly assumed the trails in Maryland would be similar to the trails in Costa Rica. I only had about 2 months before the trip to start clocking serious mileage.
The longest run on the itinerary for the RLAG trip was 36 km. I was probably road running about 8 miles max at the time. Nowhere near 22 miles of trails on the longest trek.
I started getting serious about my training and added 2 miles a week until the trip. I was able to successfully get my mileage up to a half marathon in just a few weeks. All while working on my mental health.
I allowed myself to spend those hours running processing my relationship. The physical exhaustion helped me stop ruminating negative thoughts and helped me focus on positive thoughts. Like “You can do THIS!” or “Run until you run out of things to think about” or “Your body is amazing, it won’t fail you, keep going!”.
Suddenly, I didn’t feel lonely when I was by myself anymore. I started feeling free. Like I could do anything that I wanted and booking a trip to Costa Rica on a whim was a great example of how free I was.
The Healing Magic of Costa Rica
I always set a budget for my wellness trips. I knew that the destinations, transfers across the country to the different locations, lodging, and food for the price of the trip was a great deal to see Costa Rica. What I didn’t know was how much healing I would do during the trip.
Costa Rica is a magical country. It’s as green as Uganda, where I lived long ago and dream of often. The beaches are beautiful and every time we took a long drive across the winding roads, I saw more and more gorgeous places I wanted to come back to visit. The forest is magical and full of breathtaking views. I never imagined how much I would fall in love with Costa Rica.
The itinerary included a visit to a caldera on the first day in Costa Rica. Followed by a drive to Chakra Eco Lodge to stay in a three-sided platform in the jungle for 5 days. The Chakra Lodge is located on a hillside looking at Mount Chirripo with a waterfall and hiking trails on property. We slept in three sided huts with a tin roof and a huge main platform where we did sunrise or sunset yoga daily. Every day included a run, fitness activity or a community project followed by a 2-day stay at the beach.
Costa Rica is committed to being the first country that is carbon neutral by 2021. That means that everything we did as tourists needed to be environmentally friendly and contribute towards offsetting carbon emissions. I loved this aspect of the trip and I wish that the U.S. would set a similar goal. This meant that all the beautiful jungles will be preserved for future generations to enjoy.
Costa Rica’s Activity Options
Unfortunately, the weather in Costa Rica is unpredictable. Our November adventure camp was scheduled after the rainy season, but the weather had other plans. The rains persisted when we arrived making the camp muddy and the trail running conditions slippery. I also hadn’t trained as much as I needed to and didn’t complete the longest of the trail runs to the top of Mount Ena.
Despite the rain, I enjoyed several of the shorter runs, outdoor activities, and had time to relax at the main lodge. The huge wooden platform that serves as the main lodge was our shared space for yoga, building community, eating healthy food and enjoying hammock relaxation time.
Costa Rica’s rich tourist industry makes it a beautiful country to enjoy a wide variety of activities. While our adventure camp offered tree climbing, trail running, morning and sunset yoga, and rock repelling in a waterfall…other group trips offered different activities. Costa Rica has places to zipline, stand-up paddle board, surf, rock climb, and the list goes on and on.
When booking a trip to Costa Rica it’s important to know what you are looking for. For my trip, I was looking for a place to relax, connect with nature, run in the jungle, and enjoy yoga daily. Your trip may look vastly different depending on your tour and your goals.
Benefits of Outdoor Yoga
I truly believe in the healing power of meditation and yoga. As I’ve come to the mat over the years, yoga has turned from an exercise to a form of being. A space where I challenge myself to focus my balance, attention, intention, breathing, and mind. Yoga brings me peace, gratitude, and connection to my higher consciousness.
Outdoor yoga intensifies the connection between mind and body. Feeling the breeze, sun, moon, heat, or cool while you are doing yoga outside can transform your practice from the mat to another reality. You can get lost in the flow and beauty of the world around you.
I was so excited about the RLAG camp because of the daily sunrise or sunset yoga. During these sessions we practiced both invigorating and relaxing yoga. The sunrise yoga flows set our intention for the day by awaking our inner fire and helping our muscles get warm for the intense runs or activities the day would bring. The evening candlelit sessions brought relaxation and inner peace, so our bodies were ready for the evening’s respite and restoration.
Our yoga teacher, Maria, is a native of Costa Rica and is a gifted healer. She brought more than meditation to our practice every day. She told us stories and allegories for life that connected us to the land, our yoga practice, and the beautiful spirit of the Costa Rican jungle.
Maria guided our meditation and our practice every day with visualizations, songs, and encouraging us to set our intentions. Integrating yoga and meditation into our day made this trip different from a traditional vacation. Instead of being tourists in a foreign land, we were encouraged to connect with nature in an intimate way. This helped us become part of the jungle so we could truly appreciate the beauty and magic of Costa Rica.
Costa Rica’s beaches are just as beautiful as the jungle. With a wide variety of beach areas on both coasts, you can always find a yoga retreat or adventure travel trip that includes beach time. The RLAG trip included two days in Manuel Antonio Beach where we were able to enjoy the national park and beach activities. This was a beautiful addition to the trip. It served as time for reflection after our time in the jungle and helped the group build stronger bonds over meals and shared activities.
Being able to enjoy the jungle and the beach in the same country is one of the unique gifts that Costa Rica has to offer. With so many beautiful locations, it’s impossible to see all of the beauty across the country in one trip.
The healing properties of the Costa Rican land and environment will make you want to come back time and time again. It definitely calls to me any time I see a wellness trip or eco tour to Costa Rica.
After my break-up I needed a lot of healing. I was glad that I took the impromptu trip to Costa Rica to learn more about myself and connect with nature. I look back on my wellness trip as a time that I needed to regroup and rediscover my true self outside of my long-term relationship.
I was able to enjoy all the activities I loved. I meet new amazing people from all around the world. I laughed and cried with strangers. I ate nutrient dense organic foods. I practiced my Spanish. I even had some down time where I was able to be alone and enjoy my surroundings.
Costa Rica was the perfect destination for a wellness trip.
What are you waiting for?!
By now I hope you are ready for your own transformative Costa Rica trip! Lucky for you, Clarksburg Yoga and Wellness has an upcoming Costa Rica Yoga Retreat September 26- October 3rd.
This retreat will offer different but just as exciting adventures in the beautiful nature of Costa Rica. Here are a few activities on the list for this wellness trip:
Garden to table cooking demonstration/lesson
2 daily yoga sessions
Daily guided meditation and breath work
Stay in a gorgeous privately booked villa
Breakfast and dinner
Ground transportation from/to airport & 1 trip up/down the mountain per day from the hotel
The best part about the trip is that CYW’s very own Maureen McAllister will be supporting you throughout the trip with the outdoor yoga sessions and mindfulness practices.
So, go ahead and book your spot today! Only 10 amazing people will be on this journey!
Hope you have as wonderful of an adventure in Costa Rica as I did! I may even see you there!