Cabuya, Costa Rica Yoga Retreat – June 2019
Be at home wherever you are
Costa Rica has built a beautiful reputation for itself as a yoga destination with an abundance of yoga retreats each year. In addition, most of the tourist destinations now have yoga studios offering year-round, daily classes with fantastic teachers from all over the globe.
Staying in Cabuya recently, at the eco-friendly Calala Lodge and away from the tourists track, I wanted my group of yogis to experience the amazing natural beauty of the Jungle (think of the sound of nature waking all around you, sunrise practice overlooking the ocean, a haven for calm, yoga and deep meditation). My aim for this trip was not only to make them as comfortable as possible in new surroundings, but at the same time encourage a glimpse of themselves without the burden of having to conform to what they have always done and most importantly to learn to be at home wherever we are, in perfect Alignment within ourselves and all that’s around us.
When newcomers attend my classes, I always invite them to roll out their mats anywhere they chose and settle down comfortably. Sometimes, though, it causes irritation when regular students turn up to find ‘their’ place taken by a stranger. Sometimes, there are good reasons to work in the same spot every session: perhaps in meditation to create a special space of sanctuary or to be sure of hearing what’s going on. But how much of this is simply habit? And if where we put our mat is habit, how much of the class is done on autopilot? And how much of our lives is also experienced in this way?
Let go of the conditioning and the habit patterns of the Mind
We continue to develop these habits in our lives, so much so that when something we regards as unpleasant occurs, our conditioning habit patterns automatically clicks in and we have a strong reaction. Yoga practice provides us with a way to no longer invest our reactions with so much absolute truth, we can see our interpretations and our opinions as just that – individual interpretations and opinions. We no longer have to be under their control or have them colour everything we think and do. Strong reactions will continue to arise, just the way the weather changes. But each of us can develop our ability to not escalate the emotions so that they become a nightmare and increase our suffering. To contribute to this process, no two classes of mine is ever the same, nor are the retreats I organise, forever challenging my fellow yogis to embrace the adventure and what it means to live and breathe ‘Yoga’.
My yoga practice has spanned years, countries, time zones. It’s held me together through drastic changes in my career, home and personal life. It’s slowed or sped my pace, depending on the situation. The rhythm of my breathing provided the playlist, hard or fast, shallow or deep, it’s always in focus. But it wasn’t until I learnt to relax, until I knew stillness, its silent awareness, and the pristine peace, limitless love and joy that it contains that I decided to stop ‘doing’ and encourage ‘being’. And for 8 days and 7 nights, completely surrounded by tropical forest, engulfed in the sounds, sights and smells of the forest and ocean, I shared this experience with my fellow yogis so that they may reap the benefits of ‘stopping’, relaxing and relishing the pause. From the songs of the tropical birds and monkeys, to the sight of the waves lapping on the beach, to the smell of ocean and tropical flowers, the atmosphere to gently let go of the reactions. Of course, this is easier said than done. ‘Habits and associated reactions die hard’, but this is where the yogic path – one of discipline, perseverance and patience – can help us to bring our lives back into Alignment.
Simplify your life
Of course, 8 days is certainly a very short time in which to penetrate the deepest levels of our Minds and learn how to eradicate the complexes lying there. But a retreat, as a time of solitude, a time to reflect, provides us with the awareness of how much time is taken up managing a complicated life, so much so that we can end up chasing our own tale. These complexities and the habits formed end up burning our bodies, busying our minds and suppressing our spirits. Supported by the Calala Lodge hosts and Sunflower Retreats team, my fellow yogis were encouraged to embrace this process of re-Alignment through the series of Yoga practices I had planned for them, and to switch off all electronic devices, eat real food that is free from man-made extras, drink more water and fresh juices, less stimulants and alcohol, and Do absolutely nothing for 8 days.
There’s room in the jungle for all the animals.
These strategies which all form part of the Yoga process, add up to a calmer mind and body and leave space for our spirit to rise, for unless we take the time to understand that a truly rich life is one that is savoured in the ‘moment’, then no fun or fulfilment is possible if we continue to drive ourselves and everything else around us so hard that we have no time or space to enjoy what we have. Quite simply, there’s room in the jungle for all the animals. Taking time to savour whomever we are with or whatever we are doing can be profound and the key to the abundance that life has to offer. To truly grasp this concept, be at home wherever you are.
Special thanks to Sunflower Retreats & Calala Lodge Team
For information on future yoga retreats with Fatoumata, visit www.inside-yoga.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org