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

REFLECTION FROM A LIFE OF YOGA AND TRAVEL BETWEEN THE U.S. AND COSTA RICA

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

 

Growing

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.

Enjoy!

Dave Larot Yoga YogaWorks Interview

 

Name:

Dave Larot

Hometown:

San Francisco

Profession:

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!

 

 

Valentina Rose Marin County Yoga Blog
Blog, Life

Five Ways to Live a Drama-Free Life

Do you know that peaceful feeling you get from being around someone who is calm and isn’t bothered by a thing? Who doesn’t sweat the small stuff?

I love me some drama-free people. People who don’t take themselves too seriously, stay calm, don’t freak out, who speak less, reflect more, and use some good ol’ common sense. If you know what I’m taking about, You have experienced the drama free-zone.

“So how do I become a drama-free person you ask?”

Well first, you  have to understand what drama is. If you are overreacting, getting agitated at everything and talking about it way too much then and you’re caught in the drama zone. If people around you are doing the same and you happen to be on the other end, listening, having to intervene  and even participating actively, you have also made it to the drama zone.  And generally speaking you feel yourself getting tense, anxious, bothered and resentful? Only to realize that the whole situation is pointless and could have easily been avoided??  That’s drama right there.

Drama can be caused by ourselves directly or by people we choose to let into our lives.

And now ask yourself: Are you going to fuel that surge of drama, or are you going to let it plummet onto its death bed?

if you choose the second, or at lest know deep inside yourself that it was the right answer, you are ready for this blog post.

Here are some basic tips on how to live a drama free life, rather filled with quality time, solid  people, self worth,  peace of mind and zen-like sleep.

Valentina Rose Marin County Yoga Blog
Photo Credit: David Yaugo http://yaugo.com

1. Don’t gossip

For as much as discussing other people’s lives can be gratifying in the short term, you know you always feel crappy after you said it. And it didn’t do any good. Actually you might have just spread a rumor. And it’s going to be twisted, taken out of context, and before you know it you’re talking sh** about someone you actually consider a friend.

Instead, when you hold back the “Oh my gosh you know what so-and-so did???!!” you are going to feel so much better about yourself, so much more mature and yes, even superior, because you are not lowering yourself to the standards of someone who needs to talk about others to enrich their own lives.

2. Don’t make it a big deal

It’s the half-empty or half full glass attitude. It you tell yourself it’s not a big deal, it won’t be. But if you make a big fuss, then I guarantee you it will be. For example, today you got a parking ticket. Yes, it could potentially be enough to put you in a bad mood and start an avalanche of negative self-predicament. Which in turn will give you license to say you had “a bad day” and lick your wounds in sorrow at home.  Instead, just say, “It’s not  a big deal, it’s only a parking ticket” and  pay it right away (or contest it 😉  and move on, drama free. After all, it could have ben worse! Remember: you have the power to DECIDE that that parking ticket isn’t ruining your day. You just won’t let it, because it’s mind over matter situation.

Valentina Rose Yoga Blog MArin County
Photo Credit: David Yaugo http://yaugo.com

3. Be reliable

As far as I’ve known, reliability never causes drama. Flakiness on the other hand does because it’s direspecuful and causes misunderstandings. There’s nothing more annoying than the person who can never commit to making plans.  (many of those in California by the way) “Let’s play it by ear..I might see you there, but not sure yet, let’s talk as that date gets closer and see how we feel, let’s go with the flow”

What flow? I’m busy, so are you, and unless we actually make plans we’re never going to get together, and I will eventually stop making time for you. So commit, be bold once in a while and pencil me into your calendar please. The friend who is never available to hang out except for when it’s convenient for them is lousy, so you owe it to yourself to get that person out of your life STAT.

Keep in mind that friendship is based on mutual efforts which include values such as reliability. If someone can’t be reliable enough to make time for you and stick to the plans then they are not your friend but are bound to bring a whole lotta dramaaaaa.

4. Tell it like it is

When you are faking it, everyone knows it. And eventually someone is going to call you out on it and it’s going to lead to a whole lot of drama. Don’t pretend you like my dress if you don’t. Just be smart and don’t say anything, or work up a little personality to say it in funny way that will make me not care. If something bothers you, say something right away. I know it’s hard, but the longer you wait, the more complicated it will become. And when issues aren’t discussed resentment builds and someone will blow up. So talk it out. Say it with a smile if you can. Do it kindly. You will feel so much lighter afterwards.

5. Avoid drama people

And lastly, you could be sitting here reading this post and thinking :”I’m good, I don’t do any of this stuff! I am a totally drama free person! But but….there is such a thing as not being drama yourself but making the fatal mistake of letting drama people into your life. (been there, done that) Which, you guessed it, causes more unnecessary drama.

You know that friend of yours who is permanently jobless, still crying over her ex who treated her like shit, and emotionally unstable, somewhat mysterious about parts of her life, but at the time kind of needy? She screams drama! And guess what? Drama attracts more drama. So you will invevitably be dragged into it. Because some people thrive in drama. But you hopefully don’t.

So stay away.  Don’t let them crash at your house. Don’t lend them stuff with the assumption that one day they will return the favor. Don’t listen to them for hours on the phone late at night while you should be going to sleep instead. Don’t even bother. Some people just don’t get it, will never fully appreciate it and one day, when you need something from them, they won’t show up for the occasion. Because if they were sensible people in the first place they would know better than rely on someone else so heavily.  

It’s always better to be alone and drama free than to hang around a bunch of drama queens.

✏✏✏✏✏✏✏✏✏✏✏✏✏✏✏✏✏✏✏✏✏✏✏✏✏

Hope this helps! Go on and live your drama free life!

Do you have any other advice on living drama free?

I am very interested.

Drop me a line!

Blog, The Interview Series

Interview With Shanti Tilling: Sweat Play Live Founder

Have you ever met someone who completely inspires you to want to be like them? I first met Shanti seven years ago at the Bay Club. From the instant I took her kickboxing class I was blown away by her confidence, her skills and her overall badassery.

She’s insanely fit, gorgeous, and a super talented instructor. She now lives the dream life splitting her time between Mexico and the U.S. and leading successful action packed  retreats that include mountain biking, beach bootcamps, surfing, yoga and end with an exotic margarita at the end of the day.

Check her out!

Shanti Tilling Sweating, Playing and Living it up in Nayarit Mexico from Darrin Polischuk on Vimeo.

Name

Shanti Tilling

Hometown

Punta de Mita (9 months), Park City Utah (3 months)

Profession

Fitness Trainer, Fitness Retreat Leader

Favorite Book

Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

Favorite Movie

Love Actually

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

Who doesn’t want to fly! Any migrating bird. I would love to be able to cover great distances.. maybe it is the traveler in me. 🙂

65298_10151259688529345_186977807_n

Do you have a guilty pleasure you can share?

I have a major sweet tooth – Pie (my favorite), cake, brownies, caramel apples, and gelato… My husband, Mack,  is a gelatiere, so gelato is a food group in our house.

Vegan Banana Pineapple Coconut muffins
Vegan Banana Pineapple Coconut muffins that Shanti made

You are an avid world traveler. What’s your favorite place you’ve travelled to and why?

This is a tuffy… Thailand for the people, culture, and food (and $3 thai massages), but the Daintree Rain Forest in Australia was fascinating for the plants and different wildlife. Diving up there on the Great Barrier Reef was incredible too.

We went to Ladahk, India this summer for the Kalachakra – it is the highest initiation ceremony for buddhist monks (we are not Buddhist monks). It was 7 days of meditation and chanting led by the Dalai Lama. 200,000 beautiful people all gathered to embody compassion and love, surrounded by the majestic Himalayas. WOW.

11024659_10153134582589808_5516258382657833430_n

What sparked your transition from Bay Area,California to part-time Mexico and now Utah?

Honestly, moving to Mexico was a surprise Christmas present from Mack. We were in Bali for the holidays (which I thought was my actual xmas present) and he gives me a card. At the bottom was a Mexican address.

I thought it was another trip – woohoo! He said he had rented us a place in Punta de Mita the following month and was hoping I would want to try living down here! I had a 10 second “oh shit” moment and then got SUPER EXCITED!

We had always talked about living in another country and he knew I loved Punta de Mita because I had already been leading fitness retreats here for 3 years at that time. People thought we were crazy. I gave up all of my personal training clients (some of which I had for over 13 years) and all of my classes, I figured we could always move back to Marin if it didn’t work out.

But we are still here 3 years later! We go to Park City, Utah for the summers to escape the heat and humidity, and also to get our mountain biking fix.

1014102_10151751378804808_626563878_n
Shanti and her husband Mack

This is a bit more of a practical question, but I always wonder- how have you adjusted to your various transitions in dealing with new communities, new housing, all your belongings?

We meet people through our interests – fitness, surfing, and road and mountain biking. Both communities are very outdoorsy, which in my opinion attracts cool, easy going, down to earth people.

We pack and move a lot. That is not the fun part, but I think it is so worth it. We have downsized quite a bit. I have Mexico clothes and a few bags of Park City clothes …more jeans, jackets, boots, etc. We do not buy nearly as much “stuff” as we used to.

Here in Mexico, especially, you see how little people live with. I keep a give-away bag in the corner of my bedroom, and am constantly adding to it. And, I have a new policy that if I buy an article of clothing, I have to give up two.

What has been your favorite aspect of creating and managing your company Sweat Play Live?

I literally created SPL after looking for a retreat to do all of my favorite things, but could not find one. So every day of my retreat is my favorite day! I LOVE getting people outside and sharing new experiences with them.

When people do things they never thought they were strong enough to – like stand up on a surf board, or climb to a high peak – and you see this new confidence and light in their eyes… that is just the best feeling in the world for me.

Shanti leading a beach group class in Sayulita, Mexico
Shanti leading a beach group class in Sayulita, Mexico

You juggle a lot- fitness, yoga and mountain biking retreats, daily classes, private clients..how do you find balance between all those things in your life? Do you have any tips on how to stay productive while still maintaining time for your personal life and relax?

Finding balance is a day to day process. I used to be the trainer who taught 3 classes a day, trained 3 clients and then went for a 2-hour mtn bike ride followed by yoga. I am definitely more balanced since moving down to Mexico.

My husband and I both work from home, so we see each other quite a bit. Since we both enjoy cycling and surfing, we are able to do those together.

I generally like to get my own workouts in early, then have the luxury of planning my computer work and clients around our outdoor adventures. I also started a regular meditation practice this year. Only 10-15minutes most days a week.

After dealing with some pretty serious health issues 10 years ago, I decided to put myself first. I make my marriage, health, and personal time a priority. I keep a written weekly schedule, and scheduling work, meetings, workouts, dates, relax time, etc. keeps my life more balanced. I can open up my organizer and see my whole (balanced) week laid out in front of me.

10888839_10153012312014808_8791571872549517691_n

What is your most vivid memory of any race you’ve competed in?

Fun question! Mountain bike racing, especially stage racing, is incredibly physically demanding and brings up crazy emotions. When we raced TransPortugal I was sick before we even started and got heat stroke the first day – I pulled out after 6 hours of riding. They let me continue “racing” the week and on the last day (day 8), after literally riding across the country, I was 5 miles from the finish when the ocean came into view. I was so physically and emotionally drained that I started sobbing.

I had spent hours and hours everyday with only my thoughts – I learned during that race that I used mountain bike racing as my way to feel that I was “good enough. I couldn’t be a “good, strong” human being without that title of mountain bike racer. I still love mountain biking and have raced since then, but now because I want to, not because I “need” to.

Shanti MTBiking with her husband
Shanti MTBiking with her husband

What is the most challenging experience you’ve had in​ your​
​athletic career? ​

I would say it would be how I started my fitness career teaching Taebo, back in 1997. I was actually painfully shy – like, not-look-you-in-the-eye shy. I moved up to Marin to help my boyfriend open up a Tae Kwon Do studio.. his Grand Master was great friends with Billy Blanks (Taebo creator) and I was going to be teaching the first classes in SF Bay Area.

I had never taught anything and had only taken my first Taebo class months before. I trained for hours and hours everyday learning proper technique and putting together that first class. The day I had to teach, I threw up twice and when I got in front of the class to demonstrate the punches and kicks, my arms and legs were literally shaking out of control.

I wanted to cry. BUT, instead of crying, I raised my voice (to cover up it cracking) and just totally faked it. Spiritual people would call that “Acting as if.” I called it, faking it – and faking it worked. I threw up before every class (2 classes a day) for 6 months. That’s what it took for me to become comfortable teaching, and now over 10,000 fitness classes later, I still can get nervous. That was such a huge learning experience for me. I still try to do things that scare me everyday, because that is how I have grown and will continue to grow throughout my life.

10949709_10153045152094808_126497558033739141_n

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

I currently teach beach bootcamps, boxing, and my own athletic flow class, Move Your Asana, that I co-created with my friend Heather McKenzie. Here in Mexico, I ride outside only once a week and get on my spin bike 2 times a week. I have picked up the surfing bug, so we are chasing waves 2-5 times a week depending on the swell.

In Park City, it is all about mountain biking. Almost everyday. I also go to the gym and box on the heavy bags, take kickboxing, and go to yoga twice a week. I love mixing it up – that is how I keep my body feeling balanced.

11403359_10153410813844808_7510586752093680020_n

Check out Shanti’s retreats and more info about her HERE

Find Sweat Play Live on Facebook

and Instagram

Urban Yoga in Costa Rica at the bomba in Puerto Jimenez, Osa Peninsula while I was staying at Blue Osa
Blog, Travel

I Need to Travel: Here’s Why

In my world, travel is a need rather than a privilege.

When your life is routine based it can become monotonous. You’ll have to do something to stir it up, like Bob Marley said. (I used to listen to a ton of Bob in high school).

Urban Yoga in Costa Rica at the bomba in Puerto Jimenez, Osa Peninsula while I was staying at Blue Osa
Having fun exploring the town of Puerto Jimenez

And when you start to become ritualistic on your morning baguette with marmalade , get sad at the thought of spending a night away from your cozy blanket and you get OCD over the colors of your laundry, it’s time to take a trip.

Book a flight.

No excuses.

Don’t have enough money?

Make the trip as cheap as you can.

Not enough time?

Find a holiday weekend, swap shifts with your cousin or call in sick.

Not enough guts?

I guarantee it will be worth it.

IMG_1664

Besides all the superficial Club Med benefits, travel offers something so much more profound than a pretty beach to relax and let loose. It provides perspective and breaks you free of your routine and mental patters. When you come back to your life after taking a travel break, everything will be different. All of a sudden you’ll be having fruit for breakfast, want to organize a camping trip and do all your laundry mixed together.

Travel reminds you that there is something else out there in the world far more exciting than getting territorial over your Whole Foods parking spot and far more interesting than getting annoyed at the same lady in yoga class who always lays her mat too close to yours.
I am a big advocate of travel as a learning tool and a mean of self discovery. I’ve noticed some cultures encourage travel much more than others. I can’t really say travel is engrained in the Italian culture, but somehow there are a lot of Italians living abroad. But I digress. For as much as my Italian clan thinks of me as someone who simply vacations too much, I can’t stress enough how important travel is to me.

Valentina Rose I need To Travel to Costa Rica right Now
One of the best part about travel: impromptu friend and puppy beach hang out

It has helped me figured out who I am, prove to myself that I can be independent beyond my own belief, it has provided some of the most romantic times of my life and also broken my heart, it has tested my social abilities, forced me to be more social when I didn’t want to and never regret it. It has helped me understand how simply and much more happily some people can live, how not everyone does everything the same way. How it’s not okay to laugh at other cultures’ habits because to them my habits are just as ridiculous. How even though authentic Italian food is great not everyone cooks Italian in the same way. It has made me appreciate the comforts of my home, miss my family , made me realize my frustrations seem so minuscule compared to real problems, and I’ve always come back centered, inspired, appreciative and feeling more alive than ever.

If you’re someone who has not experienced much travel before for one reason or the other, or is considering a trip but is on the fence, I hope this will encourage you to embark on a journey. Any journey, even a roadtrip outside of town.

Valentina Rose Costa Rica Osa Peninsula Just Be Yourself
Blog, Life

Unapologetically You

Growing  over time allows you to observe behaviors, patterns and tendencies that make you unique and special. I could sit here all day and tell  you about how I’m active, social bla bla..but let’s get to the details. What makes you interesting and memorable are the subtleties in your personality, your corks and quirks, not your overall traits that you would list on a gym waiver. The juicy stuff.  Let’s embrace those qualities that set us apart and make us unique, and find people in our lives who will laugh with us about those imperfections. And if people are laughing at you and not with you, let them laugh. At least they’ll have stories to tell 🙂

Valentina Rose Costa Rica Osa Peninsula Just Be Yourself

For example, I am super active. But I don’t like to walk.

As my close friends will testify, I will go to  great efforts to ensure I park my car as close as possible to the store/restaurant/post office. Even If I have to cirle around the parking lot a few times like a crocodile in a moat and stalk patrons who are about to enter their car. And give them the death stare while they apply lipstick and adjust their hair before getting out of MY parking spot.  So yes I run for miles in the woods and then I refuse to walk to Whole Foods. I love the comforts of my car and the U.S. driving culture and big parking lots. ‘MERICA!!!!

I consider myself a very social person, but I love to be alone.

And especially eat alone. Even though in the Italian culture eating alone is considered to be a sad and undesirable  occurrence, I’m so stoked when I  get to be home by myself and enjoy a meal  while watching an episode of Family Guy or America’s Next Top Model. That way I get to eat whatever I want, as much as I want to,  chew as loudly as I wish and not have to talk to anyone. Ha!

I can backpack through Central America  no problem. Move every week? Check. But a lot of people would still call me high maintenance.

I have to have my luxuries wherever I am. Like cozy blankets in the jungle and good smelling lotions while camping and painted toenails everywhere. And my toothbrush. That’s my ultimate must.  I need to brush my teeth after every meal. That’s why I carry a toothbrush and toohpaste with me at all times. I’ll brush my teeth in the airplane bathroom during turbulence if I have to.

One thing I hate most is being forced into group activities.

Do not try to force me into participating to a sharades game. HOLDING HANDS IN A CIRCLE? FORGET IT. Thanksgiving at your aunt’s? I will resent you for a long time. Don’t even think about making me participate in your billiard tournament. No. No. No. Don’t make me go around a circle and say stuff. Ever. I stand my ground. I really don’t believe into forcing people to do things.Or insisting. Good to know right?

My meat eating habits are something that confuses people a lot. I don’t eat birds.

Because I think they are disgusting. The usual reaction I get is: “But If you hate birds, wouldn’t you want to eat them?”. No. But I eat steak. And pork cutlets and tenderloin. Appalled face. “So you eat red meat but not chicken?” OH MY GOD! But I don’ eat lamb, boar, elk, buffalo either. And I don’t eat meat at Thai restaurants, Indian, or anything else but a steak house. But I like rabbit. And I don’t need to explain why. I’m sure the meat conversation is long and drawn-out for everyone who is vegetarian/vegan/pescatarian. But seriously, who cares.

I also cant’ stand garlic.

Yes, I know. How is it possible that I am italian and I don’t like garlic?? It’s a profanity! It’s like saying that you’re American and you don’t like the U.S. flag for God’s sake! All I can tell you is that if you want to be my friend you can’t eat garlic around me.

Hello Kitty.

That’s pretty self explanatory. I just love Hello Kitty so much. Did you know she’s 5 apples tall and weighs 3 apples?

Adam Hello Kitty
My friend Adam seeking approval on his next Hello Kitty purchase

Don’t feel pressured to act according to a preconceived notion of  your quality. Like: “I consider myself social, so I really should go to that New Year’s Eve Party even though I don’t feel like it.” Instead,you should think “I won’t go to that overly expensive/obnoxious NYE party and I’m not worried about it because I KNOW I will be social when I want to be.”

Once you know your preferences,  be proud of them. Don’t apologize or make up excuses.  Don’t say “Sorry  I can’t  play mini golf  because I’m tired and It’s too hot out and I’m broke and I’m really not that good at it…etc etc ”  NO. Just be you. Don’t play mini golf because you think it’s ridiculous and leave it at that.

You don’t owe it to anybody to be consistent in YOUR personality. Yes, you should be coherent in your actions and be consistent in how you communicate because otherwise it will be difficult to have successful relationships. But you don’t need to be rational and logical in your personality because you’re human and part of being human is to be  irrational and unexplained.  Consistency in your personality is as boring as the girl on the cover of Cosmopolitan who likes lemon drops, the beach, puppies and date nights.

 Not everyone is adventurous the same. Not everyone is independent the same. You could be adventurous but still be afraid of bugs and lizards and birds and bears (guilty). You could be independent but  have your mom ship you cookies and deodorant from Italy (also guilty).

Just be you, outside the box. Be unapologetically you, be bold and shine.

Pincha Mayurasana Peakock Pose Yoga Costa Rica Blue Osa
Blog, Yoga

To Lengthen and Strengthen in Yoga

My journey in yoga lately has been leading me to throughly analyze the way postures work. In other words, alignment.

Lately I’ve been asking myself: what is the balance between strength and flexibility? Does a body party or muscle group need to be strong in order to be flexible?

Pincha Mayurasana Peakock Pose Yoga Costa Rica Blue Osa
You guessed it, I am more strong than flexible. It’s a work in progress! 🙂 Photocred: Jonathan Hokklo Pants by: Black Milk Clothing

1. Are you strong or flexible?

While we all ideally strive to become both strong and flexible in our yoga practice, I’ve often found that we are born with either one or the other. People who are flexible are lacking in strength and vice versa.

Without getting too much into it, there is a lot more than genetics that determine your level of flexibility. Tendons, ligaments and muscle fascia also play a great part in the flexibility game.

Tendons transmit force by connecting bones to muscle. They are relatively stiff, and they need to be to facilitate fine motor coordination. They have very little tolerance to stretching.

Ligaments can safely stretch a bit more than tendons—but not much. Ligaments bind bone to bone inside joint capsules. It is generally recommended that you avoid stretching them.  That’s why you hear instructors in class say to flex your knees slightly—rather than hyperextending them.

Muscle fascia is the third connective tissue that affects flexibility, and by far the most important. Fascia makes up as much as 30 percent of a muscle’s total mass. Fascia is the stuff that separates individual muscle fibers and bundles them into working units, providing structure and transmitting force.

So because of genetics, conditioning and other factors, we all find ourselves needing to work on either strengthening or lengthening a good deal in our yoga practice.

2. A tight muscle is not necessarily a strong muscle

But then there’s also tightness. Tightness is different than strength.  Muscle tension is caused when a muscle contracts and does not release, which is not a healthy condition. Muscle tension can be caused by overuse or stress. One can (and should) have a strong, lean muscle without it being tense.

3. Reciprocal inhibition (they work the opposite)

It’s important to know that strength is about engaging just as much as it is about extending; it’s a yin and yang relationship. When you engage your bicep your triceps loosens and when you extend your arm your triceps activates. In forward folds you engage your quadriceps to release your hamstrings. Whenever one set of muscles (the agonists) contracts, this built-in feature of the autonomic nervous system causes the opposing muscles (the antagonists) to release. If done correctly in yoga, when you strengthen one part of your body, you automatically lengthen its counterpart.

4. You can’t have one without the other

In conclusion, there should be equal emphasis on both strength and flexibility. If we only have flexibility in our practice we might not have enough stability to keep our joints safe. On the other hand, being only strong means we have short muscles that can’t fully expand in postures.

“Sthira Sukham Asanam” is a popular quote from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. It means a yoga posture should be steady, firm and stable, yet also comfortable and light.

Sthira refers to stability and strength. Sukha refers to comfort, ease and openness.

If you have too much sukha in your body, you are mostly flexible and open, in which case you should improve your strength to balance your flexibility .If you have more sthira, you will probably be stiffer and you will have to work on your flexibility for a well rounded practice.

On our yoga mat, as in our lives, we are looking to balance flexibility (freedom and ease) with strength (stability).

Retreat in Paradise 5 reasons you should go on this yoga retreat
Blog, Travel, Yoga Retreats

5 Reasons You Should Go on The Blue Wave Yoga Retreat

Are you on the fence about booking your plane tickets? Maybe wondering if this is really the vacation for you? Never been on the Blue Wave Surf & Yoga Retreat before? Here are five reasons you should commit and book- no regrets!

Retreat in Paradise 5 reasons you should go on this yoga retreat

1. To vacation without the stress of vacationing

With this yoga retreat, you get to see a new place without having to hassle to figure out all the details. You will get to experience new landscapes and adventures without having to do insane amounts of research on your Lonely Planet. We have it all figured out for you! Just book a flight ticket and we got the rest covered 🙂


Practcing yoga

2. To experience yoga in a whole new way

Have you ever had that feeling that an hour of yoga doesn’t give you enough time to really unwind? Or you have all those questions about a certain pose that you never get a chance to ask? Driving to class and rushing into class has you feeling a little stressed? This yoga retreat is for you. Yoga classes will take place conveniently near your doorsteps, and in front of the ocean. And several times a day. Need we say more?

*Not as into yoga? Not a problem. There will be plenty of opportunities to surf, on the Boca Sombrero break right in front of the resort.

_B0A9449

3. To meet cool people

The great thing about the Blue Wave yoga retreat is that everyone who attends is awesome. You will find yourself connecting with people from all walks all life, from different countries and of all different personalities. You will be pleasantly surprised.

4. To leave with a lighter load

Whether you are seeking resolution or not, it is guaranteed that you will emerge from this yoga retreat with new perspectives. Many times we need to walk away from our daily routine, our problem, stress and frustrations so that we can distract ourselves and then come back with a clearer outlook on life. Or maybe. after you take some time “off”, the problems you had before don’t seem as challenging anymore 🙂

_B0A9479

5. To establish healthier habits

We want you to be healthy, and we want you to know how that feels so you can continue doing it back at home. We have gourmet healthy meals prepared for you. We want you to know what it feels like to get restful sleep. To unplug. To have the opportunity to read a book in peace. To hear the sounds of the jungle. And to be inspired to seek those quality lifestyle adjustments once you return home. Click here for a typical day on the yoga retreat.

Got more questions?

Contact bluedreamyogaretreat@gmail.com

BDYR studio group shot

Surfing the Osa Costa Rica
Blog, Travel, Yoga Retreats

Surfing the Matapalo // Osa Peninsula //- A Guide

The Osa peninsula is known for many things, and among them, some world class waves. Whether you’re an experienced surfer or a beginner wanting to learn, you will find just what you need in the Osa.

Note that all the surf spots in Matapalo are point breaks.

Aaron surfing pan dulce Blue Osa Costa Rica

 Surfing the Osa

Pandulce 1

Location: Cabo Mata Palo. Drive past the little jungle bar of Martinas, cross the river and take the first left into the road that takes to Cabo Matapalo. Pass casa Bambu, Casa Pina and Casa Dulce on your left and then turn left on a little road that will take you to a tiny parking lot. Lock your vehicles and keep all valuables with you!

Difficulty level: easy. This is a forgiving wave and the best one to learn surfing on.  (this spot is also known by the locals as “Pussy Point”, because it’s one the most beginner surf spots in the area.

Wave direction: Right

Barrels?  Yes, usually smaller ones.

Best part about it: this spot has a fun right wave with a good speed which can make for fun sessions.

Good to surf during: low tide

Crowded? Yes

Watch out for:  When you go in at low tide you will need to walk on some flat rock as you enter the water, which can be a bit slippery. Also sting rays sometimes hang out in the sandy bottoms, so shuffle your feet as you walk in.

Pandulce 2

Location: Cabo Mata Palo. This spot is still Pan Dulce, but a bit further down on the Matapalo road. You can enter from a few different points. You can get to it by walking on a little trail from PanDulce 1 at low tide on your right. You can also go from the Encanta la Vida yoga deck and then take a right on the trail. You’ll see a few benches.

Difficulty level: intermediate

Wave direction: Right

Barrels? yes

Best part about it: all the waves here are great for ripping

Good to surf during: When there’s a big swell you can surf both tides, the high and low, but when the waves are small you want to surf at high tide.

Crowded? Usually yes

Watch out for: rocks

Surfing the Osa Costa Rica

Backwash

Location: Cabo Mata Palo. Once again take the main Matapalo road and continue until you get to the Backwash parking lot right before a little river. If you passed a steep hill you’ve gone too far.

Difficulty Level: fairly Difficult. Definitely for people who can already surf, not for beginners.

Wave direction: Both rights and lefts

Barrels? yes

Best part about it: All the waves there are good, there’s a good drop and good sections for its airs and maneuvers!

Good to surf during: low tide

Crowded? sometimes

Watch out for: Water currents and rocks. The rocks that divide Backwash from PanDulce 2 are surrounded by strong currents, so make sure you don’t go in/get out from there.

Matapalo

Location: Cabo Mata Palo. Drive all the way to end of the Matapalo road. The beach will be right in front of you.

Difficulty Level: difficult. Experienced surfers only.

Wave direction: right

Barrels? yes. Good barrels

Best part about it: the drop

Good to surf during: low/medium tide

Crowded? it depends on the swell and the season. During the low season you could find only locals surfing there.

Watch out for: rocks underwater and currents during big swells that push towards the rocks. Go in front the right side, not from dead center.

Sunset Watch Matapalo Costa Rica
Photo Credit: Jonathan Hokklo

The rest of the beaches below are NOT located in Cabo Matapalo, but rather in the surrounding area.

 Germany Beach

Location: playa sombrero, right in front of Boca Sombrero. It’s a beach break.

Difficulty level: easy wave

Wave direction: both lefts and rights

Barrels? yes, small ones

Best part about it: it’s a short break, close to the beach. good sessions for barrels

Good to surf during: high tide

Crowded? no

Watch out for: rocks

Playa Tamales

Location: before Blue Osa, while you are driving from Puerto Jimenez. It’s right in front of the  river mouth

Difficulty level: intermediate

Wave direction: left

Barrels? yes

Good to surf during: high tide

Crowded? no

Watch out for: crocodiles and sometimes sharks

Carate

Location: Playa Carate. Instead of driving towards Matapalo keep going towards Park Corcovado.

Difficulty level: Not recommended for surfing

Wave direction: both left and right

Barrels? yes

Crowded? no

Watch out for: dangerous currents, crocodiles and sharks.

Surf Lessons

Aaron Garcia lezcano Surf Costa Rica Osa Peninsula

For surf lessons or a private surf guide contact Aaron Garcia, local pro surfer.

Email him at: aaronjg91@gmail.com

Check out his Instagram: https://instagram.com/aaronmatapalo/