Yoga Retreats

7 Happy New You! Yoga Retreat Highlights // Panama 2016

The  Happy New You Yoga Retreat week, the last one of 2016, was hands down my favorite week of the year. Why, you ask? Because two words: GOOD VIBES. Good vibes that restored my faith in humanity, life, my yoga practice, allowed me to laugh at myself, to share stories with others, to experience several good hearted laughs, experience far flung tropical locales, meet cool, smart, inspiring people, remind me of my purpose in life, and to be warm and relax. It’s’s hard to beat.

Here are some highlights. Enjoy! See you again in 341 days!  But who’s counting? 😉

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1. We Yogad Three Times A Day


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2. We Rang In The New Year With Paper Lanterns, A Bonfire And Fireworks!


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3. We Savored Every Bit Of Sansara


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4. We Explored Beautiful Landscapes


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Sunrise Tidepools Panama Happy New You! 2017 Cambutal Sansara Yoga and Spa .jpg



5. We Surfed Like Pros


Lisa and Kenny Surfing Panama Happy New You! 2017 Cambutal Sansara Yoga and Spa .jpg

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6. We Made New Friends And Bonded With Those We Already Knew



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7. We Visited Panama City, Casco Viejo and The Canal


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Casco Viejo Church Panama Happy New You! 2017 Cambutal Sansara Yoga and Spa .jpg




Photo credits: Mike Phillips, Susan C. Hines


Break-Ups Hurt

Sometimes life has a way of pulling the rug from under your feet that leaves you…breathless.

A relationship in my life that I thought as fundamental, stable and thriving has just ended after a few confusing months.

The emotions that have been going through me during this process are endless.

A mix of sadness, fear, more sadness, regret, guilt, anger, jealousy, over-thinking, helplessness, frustration and more.

I’ve noticed these feelings seem heightened at night and in the mornings.



I have had my fair share of complicated relationships in the past. I used to go from one long relationship to another.

Then I started dating, and it was quite disastrous.  I did the Tinder thing.

Then I finally decided to spend a whole year alone to understand I needed to respect and love myself  before anyone else.

I always thought that my ideal man was blonde, blue eyed, tall, a world traveler, older, and with a college degree.

Instead, I ended up falling in love with someone who is shorter than me (but so so handsome!), brown eyed, dark haired,  younger but more mature  and confident than any guy I’ve ever dated  and with the purest soul I’ve ever encountered.

With him I slowly stripped down all expectations of what I had decided I wanted and I arrived at a place of appreciation of this unexpected gift life had put on my path. I had to distinguish between what made ME happy versus what society thought was right for me. 

I found in him an unfazed, strong and honest companion. There were good hearted laughs, interesting conversation and an authentic, sweet connection that didn’t need to be explained.We have fun together with the simplest of things.




The relationship began long distance all the way from California. This relationship defied everybody’s (including my) expectations and lasted for a year and a half of broken-up phone calls with bad reception, endless texts and a few fun trips in between.

Last year,I finally took the plunge and moved to Costa Rica during the rainy season. And it was hard. The relationship became strained. But there was never a doubt in my mind we would make it through it. Following that, there were ups and down, just like any other relationship. But it was all so new. Living together, and especially  living together in the jungle was something neither of us had done before.

And then things took a turn for the worse. Lack of communication, lack of respect, and just the daily grind making us forget about how special it all was. Making us forget about the big picture and what really matters.

In Italy, in California,  everyone is asking about him. Everybody I know loves him. And I do too.




I am aware I can only control my feelings, my intentions and my behavior. Not his.

I am also aware that self- love is the biggest form of love.

I realize It takes courage and strength to keep believing in a relationship when the other person is doubting it.

I understand that most people I speak to in regards to this matter have an opinion about it, and it’s not always easy nor heathy for me to hear it.

I realize that loving someone sometimes means giving them space to thrive and experience on their own.

I realize that love evolves. The feeling of falling in love we have in the beginning  changes overtime and transforms.

I realize that sometimes overthinking leads to complete madness. Feeling is a much better way to go.

I realize that communication with another person is always confusing, especially in second languages. We think we are being clear, but the other person is most likely interpreting our message as something completely different.

I believe in being completely honest and transparent in what I feel and what I want. It is very important to voice one’s wants even if that means putting ego aside.

I realize that fear plays a big role. Fear of the unknown, the what-ifs- and thinking the worse.

I am aware that this process is making me evolve. I have had to evaluate some of my actions and behaviors and learn from my mistakes. I am learning to be vulnerable in the process, show when I am sad or hurt instead of get angry.

I realize as humans we hurt each other, purposefully or unconsciously. Only when we are able to surpass that hurt are we then able to find that below all the fights, the social media BS, the things said, there might still be something valuable.

I realize relationships happen by means of compatibility,  love,  timing, priorities  and a will to work on them.

I realize that break ups are hard and confusing and frustrating and sad and maddening and, and, and. AND, I know I will survive this and thrive even though it does not feel like it right now (and that’s not to minimize the current pain).

This moment calls for stepping back, releasing control over all the plans that I so carefully lined up, and letting the individual process unravel:   taking this time for me and making myself happy and healthy. Pressing the reset button. Taking a mental break.  Finding peace of mind. Getting away from everybody. Being selfish. When my heart will be fully happy and healed, I will be thinking very differently than now. At that point, my heart will just know.


Valentina Rose Yoga Break-up Hurts Hands in Prayer

Panama Cambutal New Year's Eve yoga retreat 2016
Yoga Retreats

Sansara Scouting Trip For Happy New You!

One of the best experiences I’ve had so far this year has been to visit Sansara Yoga and Spa in Cambutal, Panama.

Ewa and I had spotted this gem some time ago when we decided to host our forth annual New Year’s Eve yoga retreat called Happy New you! In the spirit of discovering new locales and broadening our horizons, we decided to explore a new part of Central America.

Sansara Magic- Our Scouting Trip To Cambutal, Panama For Happy New You! Yoga Retreat- group photo

This retreat will offer similar tropical climate, similar fun, lighthearted and vibrant concept, but wait ’till you see the incredible place we have chosen!

We are so excited to share it with you. For this mini-scouting trip it we put together a group of six friends and ventured out for Panama City.

For the record, organizing a trip between as few as us was NOT EASY. Between logistics, flights,  timing preferences, lengths of stay…it really made us appreciate the idea of going on a yoga retreat where all the logistics are already taken care of for you.

Panama Cambutal New Year's Eve yoga retreat 2016

The vibes are high at Sansara. The staff is uber friendly, the owners Mike and Janel are super inspiring (with a  baby on the way!) and the chefs so talented.

Some of us arrived early in Panama City and spent some time in Casco Viejo, enjoying the beautiful historic part of the city, its alleyways and the stark contrast between old and the modern parts.

Sansara Magic- Our Scouting Trip To Cambutal, Panama For Happy New You! Yoga Retreat- Panama City

Past Panama City, the drive becomes lush, beautiful and green.

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The first thing that hit me when I arrived in Cambutal at Sansara was just how beautiful the property was. Sansara emanates a mediterranean feel with little thatched roofs staked with adorned walls and stylish details everywhere.

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Upon arriving some of us had already decided to hop on a cruiser bike and explore the lush and serene countryside, whereas some of us barely had any time to drop off our bags before getting whisked away by Mike, the owner for a rad surf session with the locals.

Sansara Magic- Our Scouting Trip To Cambutal, Panama For Happy New You! Yoga Retreat- Ewa- Fania-riding cruiser bikes

Sansara Magic- Our Scouting Trip To Cambutal, Panama For Happy New You! Yoga Retreat

Group sunrise yoga was stupendous on the elegant moroccan inspired yoga deck, and the beach in the morning creates a surreal mirror-like effect that will leave you in complete awe.

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My favorite parts of the trips perhaps were the mornings. Getting together with friends in the cool morning breeze, sipping tea, chatting and laughing, airdropping photos, trying all sorts of chia-seed puddings, whole wheat waffles, poached eggs over rooted vegetables.

The other thing I loved was hanging by the pool and getting smoothies delivered and snacks while kicking it in the sun with our group.

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Sansara Magic- Our Scouting Trip To Cambutal, Panama For Happy New You! Yoga Retreat- pool side lounge

If the surf was incredible, the surf instructor Nick is even more. Ewa could not be happier about his through, two and a half hour session where he shared literally all his passion and knowledge. Ewa is now completely hooked on surfing! For the non surfers, stand-up paddle boarding and snorkeling were a great and more chill alternative.

Sansara Magic- Our Scouting Trip To Cambutal, Panama For Happy New You! Yoga Retreat- surf

And did I mention the rooms? And the beds????? Because Sansara is practically brand new, everything is in pristine shape. The beds are soft white clouds and the aromatherapy makes you feel like you’re in heaven upon entering the room.

All the stone work was done by Mike, the owner, as well as the wood work. Stone showers and big slabs of wood as bed frames make the look of the rooms dramatic, stylish and edgy.

Overall, we absolutely adored the vibrant, chill and healthy energy of Sansara and cannot wait to get back and share it with all of you.

We are about half-way booked up for the retreat. Contact us at to reserve your spot or book below.

Dec 28, 2016 – Jan 3, 2017, Sansara, Cambutal, Panama.




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10 Things to Do in the Matapalo Area // Osa Peninsula // Costa Rica

Even though I did say once I didn’t want anyone to go to Matapalo 😉 I created this blog post with all my favorite things to do in the area for those who have asked.  Enjoy!

Photo Credit: Charles Knox

1. Hit The Beach

Some of the best things in life and simple and free. The Matapalo area has three main beaches that offer three levels of swimmability and perks.

PAN DULCE: The fist one you’ll come up to from the main road is Pan Dulce, the safest for swimming, the one where you will surf  beginner waves, SUP and kayak. It has a little parking, lots of shade, perfect for reading a book and bringing kids.

BACKWASH: The second one coming up (also with a tiny “parking lot”) is Backwash beach, my personal favorite. The water on this beach tends to be more turquoise than the other beaches, and with the right tide (high) and (small) swell you can have a great swim. On high tide you won’t have much room to lay out through.  Keep in mind the name backwash implies that the waves suck you in right at the ear of the water (like- take-your-bikini bottoms-off-type-of-backwash), so pay attention when navigating the entrance and exit from the water and go with the waves rather than against. Swim is safest near the rocks on the opposite side of Pan Dulce (so towards Matapalo). If you’ve gone past the steep hill on the road, you’ve passed backwash beach.

MATAPALO: The third beach you’ll find, where the road basically dead ends is Matapalo. There is no safe swimming here, but sunsets are best and also it’s where the action is if you want to watch surfers. 

***Tidepools: since the Matapalo area is not so swimmer friendly you can intelligently take advantage of the low tide and find tidepools to soak in. Between Pan Dulce and Backwash there are some tide pools and in Matapalo, right in front of the beach also.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Hokklo
Photo Credit: Charles Knox

2. Surf And Get Active In The Water

If  you’re at the beach and craving more action ,surfing, kayaking and stand up paddle boarding are right at your fingers tips. Please be respectful of other surfers in the water. While the locals are friendly and laid back, they don’t tolerate a group of foreigners coming in and dropping in on everyone. Be humble, know your etiquette and share the waves. 

For more information on surfing see my comprehensive surfing guide.

Photo Credit: Charles Knox

Contact Aaron for lessons and tours.

Email him at:

Check out his Instagram:


Photo Credit: Charles Knox


3. Hike Boque Del Cabo

If you are into hiking, nature, solitude and peace Bosque del Cabo is right for you. You can hike from Matapalo to Bosque up the mountain on a trail called Gulfo Dulce, or drive up to Bosque and hike the Pacific Trail for breathtaking views of cliffs over the ocean, the Zaino trail to see the real jungle. Don’t forget to try the refreshing ginger lemonade at the Boa Bar and take a walk on the suspension bridge.

Keep in mind Bosque’s trails and technically private so it would be best to consume something or purchase one of their services to feel legitimate on their property.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Hokklo

4.  Lunch at Lapa Rios

Lapa Rios  offers breathtaking views and a delicious, affordable lunch menu. The fish tacos are excellent, so is the burger and the pulled pork sandwich. Buen provecho! After lunch you may take a short hike to the waterfall and take  a dip if you wish. 


Photo Credit: Jonathan Hokklo
Photo Credit: Jonathan Hokklo

5. Treat Yourself to Yoga or Massage at Encanta La Vida

Encanta la Vida is your casual and fun hang out spot, where you can have a great smoothie by the pool or drop-in as a guest for a yoga class or massage. Inquire at the reception for their yoga schedule or at least take a walk to the beautiful yoga deck that extends over Pad Dulce beach. Ask for Lynn or Kate for divine massages


6. Horse Back Ride

From expert to beginner, you can horseback ride on the beach, or up a mountain to (another) waterfall. Contact Rancho Tropical to see about their tours and enjoy a visit to an old-school ranch with lots of (angry) cattle.

Photo Credit: Maria Hillier

7. Tree Climbing & Waterfall Rappelling

For some real jungle action rappel a 45 feet and a 100 feet waterfall and then get roped to  an enormous strangler fig tree (Matapalo) and freefall back down attached to ropes. Contact Everyday Adventures with Andy to schedule your tour.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Hokklo

Photo Credit: Maria Hillier

8. Martina’s On Fridays

Martina’s is the little restaurant will see before crossing the bigger river. An adorable locale with  jungle flare, brightly colored walls and  pirate vibes. On Friday night you can go there early to check out the farmer’s market, sample the incredible Osa Natural organic beauty products, eat Barbara’s home made ice cream, and then dance your head off starting 9pm into the night.

They also claim to have beer colder than you ex’s heart 😉

Photo Credit: Charles Knox

10. Drive to Carate

Driving to Carate is always fascinating because you venture into a less travelled, more hidden and completely different Osa Peninsula. The drive alone will  take you through thick greenery, buffalo ranches and pastures. You’ll end up at Carate beach and from there can check out Luna Lodge, nestled on a hilltop with a killer view. (ps: the driveway is also killer).

Photo Credit: Jonathan Hokklo

9. Corcovado National Park

For the intrepid at heart and the real adventurers  you will love this trip deep into one of the most bio-diverse and ecologically intense places on Earth. If crossing rivers Indiana Jones style, hiking Kilometers on beaches and spotting tapirs sounds fun to you then contact Corcovado Hiking Tours with Rodolfo, one of the best guides in the area for a customized tour.




***Bonus: Look Up! Look Down!

Anywhere in the Matapalo area whether you see it or not, you are surrounded by wildlife. Walking is by far the best way to spot moneys, sloths, toucans, frogs, snakes, birds, armadillos and the likes. 🙂

Photo Credit: Charles Knox










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Why You Should Start A Home Yoga Practice

About a year ago I started practicing yoga on my own. Before, I was never one to practice alone. After all, why should I stay home and practice by myself when I can go to YogaWorks?

You might be one of those people who also doesn’t want to miss out on the social vibe of public classes, and I don’t blame you.

Or maybe you don’t feel like you know enough of yoga sequencing and alignment to be on your own. In that case, you can either take mental note of what you see in class and replicate it, or read up a sequence online. Even though safety is still priority, if you are looking for a simple, solid home practice you can figure a few poses out work for you specifically and get all the benefits of a self-imposed structure.

All Photos Taken By: David Yaugo

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When I started refining my alignment in postures it became apparent that a public class wasn’t going to cut it. I needed to work on opening my shoulders and refining my lunges, so what happened if I went to a fast paced class that focused mostly on hip openers?

That’s when I began the arduous but rewarding journey of self-practice. And let me tell you, it is not easy. For a procrastinator like myself, all it took was a text message to blow my whole practice over. Sometimes I would just sit on the couch and stare at my mat for hours until I gave up.

I remember Erin Cookston saying: “Once you start self-practice, you’re jamming”. And I thought: “Yeah right. It’s so difficult. How do I push myself out of my comfort zone when I’m alone?”

If I hate backbends then will my self-practice be all about of forward folds? As it turns out, the practice is so balanced and intuitive that it will bring both what you like and what you need.




Set A Time And A Place

I slowly began to set a time and a duration. I realized that depending on where I am, specifically California or Costa Rica, there are different times that are best suited for my self-practice. In California, it was late at night, when everyone is asleep and I no longer had obligations for the day. The house was quiet and I could summon my leftover  energy to dedicate an hour to myself. In Costa Rica, it’s the early morning. No mosquitos and a cool breeze.

The process alone of figuring out which time is best for self- practice is huge because it will force you to break through mental patterns. I always labelled myself as a “mid-day” practitioner, someone who is too stiff to practice in the morning, who doesn’t have enough energy at night. And here I am, adapting and making space for something important like my yoga practice.

As far as the place, anywhere goes. Once again, you might find yourself thinking limiting thoughts. I can’t practice on the grass because of ants. The sand is too soft. The tiles in my house are too hard. There is no such thing. You can practice anywhere you choose. It’s part of the practice to adapt to your surroundings and make them work. 

For the longest time I was convinced I could ONLY do inversions on the grass because I wasn’t afraid to fall, only to realize most balance postures are actually easier on a harder surface.

Motivation and Discipline

Once you’ve got your time and place figured out, you gotta find what motivates you. Determine the duration of practice to  stay motivated. My rule is one hour. Even on the worse days, I know an hour is not that long so I’ll push through it.

So you can stop, get a drink of water, answer a text message, right? NO. During that time, phone is on do not disturb mode and you got stay focused.  (puppy kisses are okay though).  When I’m feeling really sluggish, it’s half an hour. As long as I am on my mat for one hour every day, I am satisfied about my progress.

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Make Your Own Rules

The catch for me is, there are no rules of what needs to happen on my mat for that one hour. There have been times when I have spent the entire hour laying around, but it still served its purpose.  There have also been times when the hour became a sweaty two hours.

The beautiful thing of self practice is, no one is telling you what to do, so you have to get smart. Figure out how to  bring both challenge and ease. It becomes a process of self-gaging. Your body is intelligent and it knows what it needs. Your mind can then help determine how long a hold will be, the sequencing, the number of repetitions, when to rest. You’re in constant communication with yourself.

And really, where else do you get the chance to choose exactly what suits you? Hold it for as long as you like? Play the music you wish? The luxury of a tailored practice is not to be underestimated.




The Rewards

The bigger gift you’ll receive from self-practice is more confidence and a stronger will power. If you can get up every day at the crack o’ dawn to do yoga, you bet you can accomplish X Y Z.

During my 200 hour teacher training at Green Monkey in Miami Beach my teacher Paul Toliuszis gave us the assignment of practicing a set of Pranayama exercises  every day for a month, and said:  “This will give you the confidence to be teaching”.  I though “How would practicing a bunch of breathing exercises translate into me feeling comfortable getting up in front of a group of people?”

Now, three years later I finally understand what he meant. Because I have enough discipline to do it myself, I can “talk the walk”.  

The other way in which self practice will benefit you is that you’ll able to practice anywhere. You’ll no longer depend on a yoga studio and you can keep your practice going even in the remote jungle. 😉








Traveling to Costa Rica Without a Yellow Fever Vaccine Valentina and Aaron in Punta Hermosa Lima Peru

Traveling to Costa Rica Without a Yellow Fever Vaccine

I recently traveled to Peru for a week’s vacation and upon returning was not let into Costa Rica because I did not have a yellow fever vaccine.

 There is a surprisingly little amount of information on the web about this particular topic. Because yellow fever is not a disease risk in Costa Rica, the government requires travelers arriving from countries where yellow fever is a risk to present proof of yellow fever vaccination so that yellow fever won’t be brought into Costa Rica.

Most places in Africa and South America (except Argentina) are considered at risk.

The vaccine has to have been administered AT LEAST 10 DAYS prior to you entering the country at risk.

If you are coming from one of risk countries (Peru was one of them) and do not have a current vaccination certificate, two things can happen:

  •  you will be denied boarding on flights to Costa Rica from your airport of origin – so for me, would have been Lima, Peru.
  • you might make it all the way to Costa Rica like I did and then be turned away

Note that the restriction doesn’t just apply to extensive travel in the risk countries, but also if traveling through them for longer than 12 hours.


Click HERE for the full list of countries as risk.


Traveling to Costa Rica Without a Yellow Fever Vaccine Valentina and Aaron in Punta Hermosa Lima Peru

All photos taken by Miguel Irurita

The Details

The safest way to avoid complications if you are traveling to most of the countries in South America and Africa is probably to get the vaccine and carry proof with you (it lasts 10 years).

The yellow fever vaccine booklet is very unique in that it is yellow and internationally recognized, so there’s no way around it. My medical card is in Italy, and I perhaps even already have the shot even though I don’t remember ( I travelled to Africa a bunch as a kid). I offered to have my medical record scanned and emailed, but to no avail.

If you don’t have proof of YF vaccine , you will NOT be let into Costa Rica and you will be forced to exit the country. They might also threaten to send you back on the same flight you just came from as they did to me.

At that point it’s super important to keep in mind you are not being detained (even though it feels like it) and are able to CHOOSE where you will go when you leave their country. You are not obligated to board the plane back to where you came from. ( hopefully you have enough saved up for an impromptu flight).


Traveling to Costa Rica Without a Yellow Fever Vaccine Valentina Rose Blog in Punta Hermosa Lima Peru


My Story

Upon finding out that the Costa Rican officers were being serious about not letting in the country, I chose to book a flight to Miami because it’s a short and relatively cheap.

For all of 20 hours I was held in the airport for the Miami flight with a security guard by my side. The security guard confiscated my passport and kept track of my every move, including bathroom trips. 

While hanging in the grey zone of the airport, you are a responsibility -and a liability- of the airline which flew you (for me it was Avianca). They are the ones who “mistakenly” brought you over so now they have to deal with you.  My security guard (appointed by airport) was working with Avianca airlines to manage me until I would leave the country.(not a pleasant experience, believe me).

Avianca handed me a few food coupons but other than that there weren’t any other niceties. I paid for the VIP room one-day-pass myself ($28).

In retrospect, I could have tried asking Avianca to cover my Costa Rica exit ticket, but I ended up using my JetBlue miles to fly to Miami instead. I have a feeling that they would only boarded back to Peru free of charge.

Note that even if you are stuck at the airport in Costa Rica your passport will not get stamped, because in theory you never entered the country of Costa Rica.


Traveling to Costa Rica Without a Yellow Fever Vaccine Valentina Rose Blog Aaron Garcia looking at waves in Punta Hermosa Lima Peru


If You Are A Costa Rica Citizen

If you are a Costa Rica resident or citizen you will not have any problem entering the country if don’t have the vaccine. This is because per law Costa Rica cannot turn away their own citizens.

Which makes zero sense since being a citizen does not make you immune to yellow fever.

On the other hand, I hear that the yellow fever vaccine requirement becomes very strict especially when it comes to US passport holders (not sure why).

What If

As fate wants it, my stars that day were not aligned.

If someone had caught the non-vaccine issue in Lima, I would have had 4 hours to deal with it before boarding.

If I had entered Costa Rica with my Italian passport, maybe it would have been different.

If the woman at the passport check point hadn’t been such a ranging b***, maybe they would have let me in.

I have no idea.

When dealing with immigration you have to remember you are at the complete mercy of your “official”. Maybe he’s having a bad day and you end up paying the consequences.  It’s all very random and unforeseeable.


Traveling to Costa Rica Without a Yellow Fever Vaccine Valentina Rose Blog Beach Sunset in Punta Hermosa Lima Peru


Slipping Through The Cracks

As I said before you will normally be turned away when departing  Peru, or countries such as  Colombia, Brazil, if you can’t provide proof of vaccination before boarding the plane to Costa Rica.

I’ve heard many stories of people frantically looking for a clinic nearby or even inside their  airport where they could get the shot, pay a little more to have it backdated by a few years, or pay even more to have a straight-out fake one made. I wish I could have taken that route.

But because I did online check in and didn’t check a luggage I slipped through the cracks. No one in Lima  seemed to care even to do as little as check my boarding pass.

So there I was, in Costa Rica, ready to head to the hotel in San Jose for the night after a long two days of travel, and unable to do so because of a stupid vaccine.

The Catch

The alternative to having the vaccine done is to wait to enter Costa Rica for six days or more. You can do so in a country that is not considered at risk, such as Panama, U.S. and most countries in the Northern Hemisphere and Europe.

I happen to be one of the people who would rather wait it out rather than get the vaccine. (one of the reasons: the cost of vaccine in U.S. ranges anywhere between $100 and $250).

Technically  you need to wait AT LEAST 6 days (the amount of time yellow fever would require to manifest) and then you can be let back in Costa Rica.

I waited eight days in Miami before going back and attempting to re-enter Costa Rica.  Even this time I was questioned a bunch and almost thought I wouldn’t be let in.

The immigration officer at the booth could see that I had attempted to enter Costa Rica recently and was turned away for lack of the yellow fever vaccine. He was insisting I show proof of vaccination but I explained to him that the law requires you to wait six days or longer and then I would be in the clear.

So he let me in, but not for what seemed interminable minutes of reading something on his screen and flipping though my passport.


Traveling to Costa Rica Without a Yellow Fever Vaccine Valentina Rose Blog Pizzeria on the Beach in Punta Hermosa Lima Peru


The Bottom Line

The yellow fever vaccine requirement should be clearly stated on the ticket issued by the airlines.

But, for the time being, don’t make the same mistake as me and be informed before you go.

To be clear, you are not required to have a yellow fever vaccine to enter Costa Rica from the U.S., Canada or Europe. You only need the vaccine IF you have visited countries at risk PRIOR TO entering Costa Rica.

The thing is, some countries that have cases of yellow fever will let you enter without the vaccination, but then the next country you travel to will require the vaccination as a result of your previous destination. For example, I didn’t need proof of yellow fever vaccination to enter Peru, but I couldn’t travel  to Costa Rica without it after leaving Peru.








Blog, Yoga Retreats

Powerful Costa Rica Yoga Retreat Testimonial

How many times do you see a description of a yoga retreat deemed “transformative” and “life changing?”

Let’s be honest, unless the retreat is specific to deep personal work, aimed towards a spiritual path or incorporated into a well established program, it won’t and shouldn’t claim to be transformative.

Early on, Ewa and I  thought about the kind of market we wanted to cater to and what kind of retreat we wanted to create at Blue Osa.

We decided something fun, light and vacation-like was best suited for our collaboration and style during our last Happy New You! Yoga Retreat.

Click here to see more of a typical day on the retreat.

Happy New You Yoga Retreat Testimonial Valentina Rose Blog Costa Rica Temple Ritual
Photo Credit: Jonathan Hokklo


We were both amazed, however, at how powerful our last yoga retreat turned out to be for one of our participants.

While we all had a grand time, and will always remember this week as very meaningful, for some of us the week turned out to have deeper effects.

In all of my yoga career, this is the most powerful feedback I have ever received. I am honored to have been part of this positive transformation, and hope for many more to come.

This feed back is also an important reminder that even from fun, simple and lighthearted times deeper transformation can occur.

We are keeping this post anonymous for privacy reasons.


“Hi Ewa and Valentina,

Just wanted to check in and say hello!  I miss you guys!  I can’t believe it’s been one month since our fire/lantern ceremony and super fun night at Martina’s.  In some ways, the time has gone by so quickly and in other ways, mainly because I feel so different, it seems like a really long time ago. 

In the last month, I’ve found myself reflecting so much on how much the yoga retreat has meant to me.  I really believe in synergy and life alignment – and I believe that there was something out there directing us all to Blue Osa this year.  Coming to a yoga retreat is (or, probably more correctly, was) a bit out of my comfort zone, but the internet help us find the two of you and I am so much better for it.

Although this sounds like a serious email, the retreat was PURE JOY, FUN AND PLAY and I think that this is what caused (somehow imperceptibly) this big change in me.  During the week, I became re-connected with my physical self.  I like to thing that I’m fairly in touch with my emotional self (we do a lot of work on that in the field of work that I’m in), but during this process I think I became a bit stuck in my head and disconnected from the rest of me.  During the retreat, through yoga and surfing and swimming and trying handstands and doing cartwheels, I remembered what it felt like to be in touch with me.  Throw in some delicious, whole, and fresh food, great conversations, and new friendships, and I do feel like a new me.

More than that, since coming home, this feeling has grown and developed further rather than faded.  And I think there’s been positive feedback on my mental/emotional self through this connection.  I’m happier and more content, confident, and willing to be vulnerable in relationships and try new things.  I’ve been doing lots of yoga – I finally joined the studio that I having been thinking about joining for years, but was a bit afraid to commit to because I didn’t think I was fit or good enough.  I’ve been cooking more, sleeping better, and taking more time for myself and the relationships that are super important to me. 

I’ve been trying to journal a bit and this is the type of private thing I might write in there, but I also thought it was so important for the two of you to know the impact of the retreat.  I believe that lives of people often cross paths at just the right time, when you’re open and willing to recognize these moments.  That’s how I feel about you.  

So thank you for being just as you are, being brave enough to organize retreats like this, and opening your heart me and all of us!”


Happy New You Yoga Retreat Testimonial Valentina Rose Blog Costa Rica Tadasana
Photo Credit: Jonathan Hokklo


Are you ready for our next retreat?

Happy New You 2016!

December 28th 2016- January 3rd 2017

Sansara Yoga Retreat

Cambutal, Panama


Blog, Life


Today I am lucky to have endless possibilities. I can find jobs online, rent an apartment on Craigslist or Airbnb, hop on a flight, find my way in most cities with GPS and make a living anywhere on the globe.

Sounds easy. So, I just gotta choose, right? In the process of choosing and searching I have encountered many memorable moments, a few challenges, and most importantly, I’ve grown.

Valentina Rose Blog Yoga Travel Abroad In US and Costa Rica
Photo Credit: David Yaugo Photography

The Dilemma

The fact that I have not lived in a permanent place for the past three years is puzzling to my parents.  They consider it highly inappropriate for someone my age to go back and forth between the U.S. and Costa Rica for extended periods of time.  They say :”When are you going to grow up? Quit this silly yoga gig? When will you think about your 401K, settle down somewhere?”

Other people say:”Travel as much as you can. Now is the time. The experiences you gain from traveling are priceless.Don’t ever pull back from an opportunity, or pursuing further education just because you think it’s “too late.”

Some of my friends have settled now. They have kids. They no longer go to Burning Man, they don’t book vacations on a whim. Some of my friends have responsibilities, real stressful jobs that they need to be accountable for. They look at me with a hint of jealousy.

So why is my life so different? Am I just not getting the memo? Am I affected by the Peter Pan syndrome and don’t want to grow up?

Valentina Rose Blog Yoga Travel Abroad In US and Costa Rica Oensive
Photo Credit: David Yaugo Photography


The Responsible Thing To Do

Sometimes I wonder if I should quit my precarious yoga wages and get a grown-up job at Google.  One where I wear a formal -and slightly sexy- outfit for the interview and spend hours on a resume and cover letter.  Finally get some health benefit like an adult.

But what’s not what I want!

I have goals of building my yoga career and pursuing more travel. The only thing is, not living in one place has been translating into precarious financial means.  You see, in this world, in my parent’s eyes, and hell, in mine too, money is success. If you have money, you have something to show for it.

And now that I’m young, it’s okay, that I live out of my car. It’s fun, that I crash with friends. But at what point does it become a little pathetic?

The one thing that keeps me going is the conviction that hard work and hassle always lead somewhere.

But sometimes this conviction gets blown out of proportion from my catholic background.

I hear voices in my head that say: don’t enjoy things excessively, don’t ask for more. You don’t have the funds to live a life jet setting around.  Don’t dream too big, be content, says my mother.

Does that mean I should just settle in one place? Go on vacation once a year like everyone else, deal with cold weather, put away savings,  finally buy a Vitamix? All the Lululemon pants I desire?

But then I think no. The hell with that. I’d trade all the Anthropologie items for the freedom to travel.  If there’s anything the U.S. has taught me, is that anything is possible. There are people who create jobs building apps for dating. There are people that build a career out of selling yoga pants.  If you can think it, you can make it happen.

I CAN study pre-law and then switch gears to become a successful yoga instructor. I CAN be good at any job I choose while traveling. I CAN work in Costa Rica at my dream place.  I CAN sell out international yoga retreats. I CAN have it all, just not all at once.

Because in my case, it’s either stability in a more ordinary life, or uncertainty and freedom.


Valentina Rose Blog Yoga Travel Abroad In US and Costa Rica
Photo Credit: David Yaugo



Meanwhile, I’ve made progress mitigating these two extremes.

I wanted to live everywhere; Israel, Argentina, Belize, Mexico, Arizona, France, Croatia. I thought: “Visiting a place for one week doesn’t do it for me. I need to live in it to really experience it.”

Then I realized that traveling all the time was exhausting. So I started narrowing down my destinations. I’ve sized-down my expectations and I started making lists of priorities.

I reflected about what I need and want. I realized that despite my craving for travel, I thrive on routine and  stable relationships. But when I have those, I get antsy.

I look at Instagram and see pictures of Miami, Hawaii, Joshua Tree, and the grass all of a sudden becomes SO green on that side. I get restless and want to throw my stuff out the window, reach for my passport and book the first flight somewhere.

But I’ve realized that travel and stability can both be achieved if I only spend longer times in my chosen destinations. And if I keep going back to places where I already have connections.

Who said it’s not possible?

 I learned not to give social media too much weight. I realized that Miami, Tulum, Sedona aren’t better than San Francisco,just different, and not necessarily easier.

Two years ago I didn’t pay my credit card. Now I’m paying it every month. Two years ago I wanted to live everywhere. Now I want to live in Costa Rica and the U.S. That’s progress. My mom doesn’t believe me, but it is.

I have faith in myself, in my abilities and that everything is going to work out. So I keep on moving, experiencing, and every month miraculously making my credit card payments.


Valentina Rose Blog Yoga Travel Abroad In US and Costa Rica Goodbye
Photo Credit: David Yaugo Photography
Dave Larot Yoga YogaWorks Interview
Blog, The Interview Series

Interview With Dave Larot

You know all those things you want to know about your yoga instructor but don’t dare to ask? I had the privilege to ask those questions to Dave Larot, one of my favorite instructors at YogaWorks.

Dave’s teaching style could be described as smooth, calm, profound and very meditative.

His presence sets the tone for the practice – he’s, grounded, positive, and creates a safe place for the practice to evolve.

I usually have a hard time relating to male yoga instructors- their ego can become so inflated. I never once felt that with Dave.

Overall a super cool dude,  and a skater boy at heart, Dave is also a very hard worker. A former ATT employee, Dave pulled a 180 and changed his life around to being a successful yoga instructor who commutes all over the Bay Area.

Check out his schedule here

Also don’t miss Dave’s yoga retreat in Yemaya, a dreamy resort in Little Corn Island in the Nicaraguan Caribbean. More  here.


Dave Larot Yoga YogaWorks Interview



Dave Larot


San Francisco


Yoga Teacher

Favorite Book:

“Oneness” by Rasha

Favorite Movie:

 “Good Will Hunting”


Dave Larot Yoga YogaWorks Interview

If you were an animal, what would you be and why?

An Orca, I love the ocean. Talk about exploring a whole other world, the ocean is so massive it would be awesome to be in. Or a Dolphin, any reason to surf all day.

​What’s your favorite yoga pose​ and why​?​​

Trikonasana, because you’re opening in all directions.


If your house were on fire and you could only take one thing, what would it be?

    My ipod, gotta have my music!


Dave Larot Yoga YogaWorks Interview


Along with yoga, what would you say are your two other passions in life?

     Art and shredding( skateboarding, surfing & snowboarding)


What is your biggest relationship regret?

     Being selfish with my time.


What in life has given you the most strength to get through difficult times?

I used to write a lot in my journal, it gave me a sense of freedom and release. All you really need is a pen and paper and you can say anything you want, vent out any frustrations that you may have been feeling or experiencing.

Sometimes I would write just to write, nothing in particular but just jotting down my thoughts. I would go back and read all of this and just trip out, it was also a way to look at myself in a deeper sense.

This was all way before I started practicing yoga. One night while high on cocaine, I stayed up all night just writing, a few days later I went back and read it and was blown away from all the crazy shit I wrote, couldn’t tell you what it was, mostly intense gibberish.  

Dave Larot Yoga YogaWorks Interview

What has yoga taught you about life?

   Aww man where do I start? My practice has taught me so much, how to be in my body, take the backseat during those intense moments and just observe, being kinder to to myself not just in a physical sense but also spiritually.

It taught me how to be my own best friend, where as before I could be so hard on myself physically and mentally. Sometimes I think I’ve chilled out way too much though.


What is the most challenging experience you’ve had in your yoga journey?

    In the fall of 2009 I enrolled in the 300hr Teacher Training with Yogaworks, at the time I was working for AT&T as a field technician. It was a very physically demanding job, especially during the winter where we were forced to work 12hr shifts throughout the week. Doing the training and working a full time job was probably the most challenging and intense times in my life.


Tell me about your personal practice. How often do you practice, for how long, where?​

 I have a morning and evening meditation practice where I’ll sit quietly anywhere from 10-30min, and sometimes during the day between classes. My physical practice I love taking my time and moving slow, holding shapes to go deeper.

Lately my schedule has been scattered throughout the week, so my asana practice will run anywhere from 15min to an hour at home in the living room. I wish I had hardwood floors, the carpet sucks.

Dave Larot Yoga YogaWorks Interview

Thanks Dave for sharing! See you around!



Valentin Rose Blog Nutriton Tips Yoga Costa Rica

Nutrition Confessions From a Glutton

I never thought this would happen, but here I am writing a blog post on nutrition as per request by my Instafriend Black Bird Chronicles. I am a huge fan of hers.

To start, I am not gluten-free, I am not dairy free, I am not vegetarian, nor vegan.


Valentin Rose Blog Nutriton Tips Yoga Costa Rica
Photo Credit: Jonathan Hokklo


My Nutrition Stance:

  • I believe in a healthy, wholesome diet that doesn’t try to re-invent the wheel.
  • Many times when we go out of our way to find alternatives we end up ingesting too much of another food category.
  • Everything in moderation is the key to a healthy and balanced lifestyle.
  • Strict regimens often hinder sustainable eating habits and frequently don’t allow us to choose appropriately on a daily basis.
  • Being in touch with our own bodies and thinking smartly and informatively about nutrition will always ring truer than following a fad.
  • It’s still important to respect other people’s way of eating, whatever that might encompass.

That being said, upbringing also has a lot do with diet.

Comfort foods, (mine is Parmigiano Reggiano), style of cooking (Mediterranean), culture, (Italian) and familiar spices (oregano!) all play a huge role.


All photos taken by me and can be found in my Instagram feed. Click here for more.

 Valentina Rose Costa Rica Nutrition Blog



I am usually pretty careful with that I eat first thing in the morning because If I start my day with something heavy I am much more likely to continue on eating in that fashion.

So I’ll have a light breakfast, then plan all my workouts back to back in the middle of the day and then eat a giant meal while watching Family Guy (which is my favorite meal routine EVER).

Choices are:

Just fruit- pear,  peach, or some strawberries, papaya, cantaloupe.

A green smoothie- One type of fruit, spinach or kale, coconut water, and some cashew/almond milk.

Oatmeal- I love oatmeal! My parents think it’s food for pigs.

Plain yogurt with banana, honey and almond butter.

Piece of bread with almond butter and strawberry jam

Scone, croissant, pizza, cake, Nutella with bread, chocolate.


Breakfast Valentina Rose Costa Rica Nutrition Blog


Yogurt and Fruit Valentina Rose Costa Rica Nutrition Blog


Oatmeal Valentina Rose Costa Rica Nutrition Blog


Green Smoothie Valentina Rose Costa Rica Nutrition Blog





I’ve started making these big plates that combine a bunch of veggies, lettuce, cheese and an egg or prosciutto.

Ingredients can range from steamed broccoli, sauteed string beans, baked eggplant, baked Brussels sprouts, sautéed zucchini, shredded carrots, apples, olives, avocado, lentils, quinoa, tomatoes, anything that looks good, and then I’ll fry an egg, slap it on top, or prosciutto on the side, and add a ton of goat cheese or feta cheese.

If I need more substance I’ll make Pasta alla Norma, which is pasta with eggplant and tomato, or pasta with shrimp and zucchini.

Sometimes i’ll have a tamale with beans in it, or I’ll make polenta and bake it until it’s crunchy and golden.

I’ll also sprinkle spoonfuls of hummus or roast potatoes, crackers, bread or tortillas in my lunch platters.



Lunch Valentina Rose Costa Rica Nutrition Blog


Pasta Gamberi Zucchine Valentina Rose Costa Rica Nutrition Blog


Watermelon Valentina Rose Costa Rica Nutrition Blog



I don’t believe in snacking constantly- I prefer bigger and more substantial meals,  but after lunch I often need a sweet pick-me-up.

Strictly – milk – chocolate

Frozen cappuccino.

“Healthy” dessert”- I blend a few pieces of frozen banana, some bittersweet cocoa powder, cashew cream, a splash of cinnamon, a handful of almonds.

If not, I opt for a chocolate milk shake ( can be very addicting).

Crepes with Nutella, gelato, brownies, cake, cookies are all fair game.


Crepe with Nutella Valentina Rose Costa Rica Nutrition Blog


Raspberry Tart Valentina Rose Costa Rica Nutrition Blog


Dessert Valentina Rose Costa Rica Nutrition Blog



I usually keep dinner simple because by nighttime I’m too lazy to cook.

I’ll have some soup.

If I’m hungry I’ll usually have meat or fish. I only read meat, pork and fish.

My favorite meats are pork chop, pulled pork sandwiches, ribs, ground beef in any form. For fish I get something that is easy to make, like Tilapia. I always buy wild fish and grass fed meat.

For vegetables I love leafy greens because they take no time to cook.

When I’m feeling more productive I’ll make pizza from scratch, and put goat cheese on top, mushrooms, olives and arugula or gorgonzola, pears and walnuts.

On a special occasion I’ll  treat myself to home made butter nut squash gnocchi with sage, quiche, or a BaconLettuceTomato sandwich.


Pizza Gorgonzola e Noci Valentina Rose Costa Rica Nutrition Blog


BLT Valentina Rose Costa Rica Nutrition Blog


Burger Valentina Rose Costa Rica Nutrition Blog




I drink water like a camel. Literally, I cannot go anywhere without my water bottle otherwise I freak out.

I used to drink a lot of orange juice, but I stopped because  it was making me eat less fruit. So now I keep it as a special treat.

I like to drink fizzy water, especially Perrier. Sorry Stefano. My cousin is indignant that I prefer the french fizzy water brand over the italian San Pellegrino.

Home-made ice tea. (and I love this!) I make my own Mango or Roobois ice tea in glass jars that I slowly brew in the sun and then refrigerate.

I barely drink alcohol. Sometimes I go weeks without drinking and other times I drink when I go out. My favorite drinks are rose’ wine, Prosecco and Champagne. I won’t turn down a light beer (Blue Moon is my favorite) and I also enjoy cocktails from time to time.


Cocktail Valentina Rose Costa Rica Nutrition Blog


The Takeaway

I believe your body instinctually knows what is good for you to eat.

We all have dietary weirdnesses and those need to be respected within reason.

For example, I can’t eat garlic, onion and peppers. Even though all those things are widely known as health foods, my stomach cannot take them.

Some days I know I can get away with eating french fries, some days I can tell my stomach is too delicate for them. Same with sweets. Some days I really need them, some days I know I need to cut it out.

It’s best not to restrict from an eating experience just because we’ve labelled ourselves a certain way.

And treat food as a delicious experience that can enhance our daily lives and nurture and support us.


Honey and Bees Valentina Rose Costa Rica Nutrition Blog