By Caitlin Brown
As I sit here and ponder my recent two-week sojourn in Costa Rica, my breaths are calm, long, and steady. I have yet to unpack, so I’m dressed for the beach almost willing myself to be back amongst the howling monkeys, soaking in the majestic Pacific Ocean in between yoga sessions, partaking of out-of-this-world deep tissue massages, and devouring healthy meals so richly satisfying they could make a vegetarian out of anyone.
This was my first retreat. Surprising, for a seasoned yogi with a penchant for self-discovery.
I arrived at Blue Spirit Yoga Retreat in Nosara, unsure of what to expect and, admittedly, a bit shell-shocked from the two-and-a-half-hour drive over a dirt road. Three of us — all on the same flight and members of the same yoga Kula — shared a private van there.
We arrived before our rooms were ready, hungry, tired, and dragging, but the place was quick to brighten our mood. There was an immediate internal re-set, almost as if a voice was whispering: You are here, now breathe.
Blue Spirit sits on top of a hillside overlooking a three-mile-long white sand beach that is protected as a turtle refuge, providing the perfect setting to plug out, and essentially plug in.
First thing on the agenda: Rummage through my suitcase to find a book and a swimsuit and head to the pool. Soon after my eco cottage was ready, it was dinner time. I was a little unsure about committing to vegetarian eating for a week, but after that first meal (I had seconds, and then thirds… it was incredible), wow, it was so good I looked at my phone to see how long it was to the next meal (that trend continued… for all of us). I brought their cookbook home with me and have already recreated several recipes.
On the first morning, the group — about fourteen of us, mostly from the same area and members/teachers at Kaia Yoga (Greenwich, Darien, Westport, New Canaan, Wallingford, Mamaroneck), but some from Colorado and other parts of the country) went around in a circle and introduced ourselves. This was special and beautiful. Each of us went a bit deeper, allowing ourselves to be vulnerable as the others in the room held the space for them. New friendships were immediately forged.
Each day we got to know each other better under the guidance of Gina Norman, owner of Kaia Yoga and leader of the retreat. Every day began at sunrise with meditation (we started with ten minutes and, by the end, reached 30 minutes), followed by a fabulous breakfast of spectacular produce and coffee (thankfully, coffee was not off-limits) and hot offerings with a small break before two hours of yoga.
Excitement was palpable for meal two, and then there was free time for rest and relaxation at the pool or beach, a massage. The massages were special; I had the best massage of my life at Blue Spirit. After learning about the various treatments, each of us had the chance to book three for the week, which, luckily, I quickly did, because they were completely booked by afternoon.
We dined al fresco starting just before sunset every night. There was just enough time to digest before our nightly restorative yoga, which was gentle, deeply relaxing, and nurturing, followed by a meditation, setting each guest up for a perfect night’s sleep to the sounds of the jungle. Pure bliss.
When the retreat came to a close, I was sad to say goodbye, but I left feeling awakened, grateful for new friendships, and excited to use new life tools once I got home.
This was my first time traveling since Covid closed our frontiers, so it was extra special for that reason alone. To find yourself out of the country in the loving embrace of a retreat is something I will cherish for the rest of my life.
A Day at the Retreat
6 am: Sunrise meditation on the beach
6:30-7:30 am: Breakfast
8:30-10:30 am: Vinyasa class
Free time: Most of us spent the time getting deep tissue massages, Thai massages, or lounging by the infinity pool or at the seemingly private beach).
12 pm: Lunch
Free time: treatments, pool, beach, surfing lessons
6 pm: Dinner
8 pm: Restorative yoga
And then to bed.