yoga retreat

Liberated Heart Costa Rica Retreat 2018

I didn't know what to expect from my first trip to Costa Rica. I had consciously released any expectations I was building to allow a full unbiased experience to develop. My partners, Alana Roach and Alana Quattro, and I began working on our curriculum for the retreat months prior. As we began planning our material everything seemed to come together so fluidly. As I looked at the days we had planned there were underlying themes of transformation, collaboration, and guidance; I felt eager to see how it would all unfold. I could not have been happier with how the retreat went. Each day's theme would build upon the following day creating a constant direction of development and reflection.

I'm still very new to traveling, so I still get a bit anxious as the time to board the plane gets closer. Getting on a plane and flying is one of the fastest ways to see how grounded and secure you are.  It seemed like the further I got away from Northern Virginia the more I realized I had placed different parts of my security in forms of materialism.  Once we are stripped of those cords we get to see what really makes us secure or insecure. When I finally landed in Costa Rica, I was emotionally drained and very tired. 

The next morning it didn't take long for me to appreciate where I was and start to take in the beauty of everything.  After I had jumped into the ocean and meditated for a bit I began to feel the slow pace and the lightness of the area kick in. I also started to realize just how dense and thick the energetic atmosphere of Northern Virginia is. Just being away from home was beginning to feel better and better. We were on the coastline of Montezuma, Costa Rica in a resort that's right on the border of the jungle; lush greenery, tropical flowers, and the sound of the ocean crashing was always part of our new surroundings. The way in which the sunlight reflected off the ocean was one of the highlights of the trip for me.  The picturesque scene was stunning, mesmerizing, calming and utterly peaceful to gaze at.

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Every morning, the group and I walked about two blocks down the lone dirt road to a hotel café that would serve us breakfast every morning. We would all eat a bowl of fresh mixed fruit accompanied by a glass of fresh juice and something off of the menu including omelettes, eggs, toast, or some other breakfast food. Since I'm vegan I would have a peanut butter and banana sandwich. The café where we were sitting was exposed with the ceiling being the hotel above us. We would have the wind blowing through, tropical birds and flowers all around us. The most beautiful part was being able to see the ocean from where we were eating. It was one of the best views I've had for eating breakfast. After everyone was finished eating we would have a few hours of free time before the first workshop at 2 PM. At times I would go to the ocean, sit in a hammock, or just meditate and relax.

Before 2 PM, Alana Quattro and I would meet up and go over the day's workshop, discussing what we wanted to accomplish with everyone. On the first day, it was very important to get everyone cleared from the stress of travel so they could form a proper and meaningful intention for the week. I thought it would be perfect to highlight the benefits and proper process of clearing one's energy; we did this in a few different ways I have learned through my healing practice. After we had everyone cleared and relaxed Alana discussed what the meaning of Sankulpa is.  Sankulpa is the Sanskrit word for meaningful intention formed by the heart. Everyone was able to journal about the goals they wished to accomplish and set their intentions for the week.

The next day I wanted to discuss the importance and my understanding of ways our shadow comes to the surface. Knowing that traveling can bring up insecurities, it's best to address these issues head on. Understanding that these insecurities our actually providing us with crucial opportunities to grow. These shadows provide us with direction and insight which can lead us to reclaiming more of our power. This workshop was important because it revealed deeper aspects of our subconscious. When we address the sometimes difficult or challenging emotions in ourselves; understanding can occur and then healing can begin its process. Once understanding is met about a particular shadow behavior or issue, we can then integrate this energy through positive affirmations and self acceptance. The challenges of this workshop allowed us to have a positive propulsion towards integration. The ultimate goal of addressing the shadow self is that each shadow integrated allows us to liberate the heart. The heart has its own ways of understanding and perceiving which can lead us to a state of harmony.

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Another aspect of the trip I was really grateful for was getting up at 6:30 every morning for yoga.  Yoga this early for me was peaceful, beautiful, and exactly what my body needed. The yoga sessions were beautifully led by Alana Roach. She's a powerful speaker and guide which kept us all on the same page as we were led through the poses. Her thought out yoga classes were also intertwined with the themes Alana Quattro and I were teaching about that day. There was a variety of different types of yoga and meditation for all levels of practitioners. I couldn't have been happier with how amazing the yoga was. As we made new understandings in the workshops and released thought patterns the yoga every morning would help create new space for our power to flow through. The yoga was essentially what strengthened us every day and allowed this new power to become active.

After every workshop we would have a few hours before dinner at 6:30 PM. I was a little worried about dinner because of my dietary restrictions being vegan. Little did I know, I was going to be eating better than I would as if I was in the States! We ate at a restaurant that had been voted one of the top restaurants in the country. The restaurant was just a three or four minute walk down the road every night. Upon entering the restaurant you walk through a gate, pass big palm trees in lush foliage as you wound your way around the back of the building. Nearing the enclosure, you could hear the ocean and see the first tables that were facing the water. The ocean was maybe 200-300 yards away, possibly closer. The ground was sand and the tables wood, candles supplying the light for the evening; it really was a magical environment to be eating in every night. Not only were they able to prepare specially made vegan meals for me but they even went as far as to making sure I had my own vegan appetizers as well. They went above and beyond accommodating everyone's need, not just myself. During dinner we all had the chance to get to know each other a little more and we all sat in different seats each night so we could enjoy everyone's company. 

 After dinner, we would have a few hours to chat or to walk into town which was only a five or ten minute walk. There was a grocery store that seemed to have everything you could need including fresh vegetables, water, and all types of snacks. There were street vendors selling handcrafted jewelry and other items and all the locals were really nice and didn't come off as too pushy. On some trips I've been on, the vendors can come off as aggressive but that wasn't the case here in Costa Rica. All of us agreed that we felt safe walking around the small town. On Thursday, everyone had an open day to go on any excursions that they had interested them. A few of us went to what's known as Tortuga Island. It was a 45 minute boat ride to this island where we went snorkeling for an hour, then met on the beach and had a fresh meal prepared for us. Following that, we relaxed in the sun for a few hours. There was even a domesticated boar that would walk around and plop down next to groups of people awaiting the inevitable affection everyone would bestow upon her. She was so sweet and would even start shaking her leg if you scratched her belly.

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As the trip was winding down, I was coming to the reality that I would be back home soon. It's so important for people to travel when they can to feel the different paces of life throughout the world. It provides reflection, insight, and realization to who we are and how we identify ourselves. Identity and security are some of the most important aspects of our consciousness. Security is the root and foundation of all our other forms of consciousness including joy and happiness, mental clarity, how we relate to others, how we express ourselves, and ultimately the divinity inside ourselves.

Alana Roach and Alana Quattro and I are already thinking of how we can make this trip even better for next year. Developing even stronger catalysts for growth and development while seamlessly flowing from theme to theme. I can't wait to have more of my family and friends join me for next year because rest assured, you'll be a changed person glowing brighter than you were before.  Costa Rica is a beautiful  part of the world that I would love to share with everyone.

Joey