Post written by Ava.
Ava is a yogi and a traveller with many inspiring stories to share. Recently she visited the yoga retreat center Selva Armonia in the middle of the jungle in Costa Rica, and offered to share her experience with us. Avi is an experienced yogi so of course I took the opportunity to pick her brain about yoga, retreats, and recommendations for beginners.
“For a starter yogi (super beginner), I wouldn’t recommend going on a yoga retreat. I think it might be a little intense for someone and could possibly deter them from completely immersing themselves in a practice after the fact. A lot of people I know that go on yoga retreats are intermediate to advanced and while I think it’s an amazing experience, I worry that a beginner might get discouraged at a retreat where there are more advanced students. When first starting yoga, I definitely came from an ego-driven place (as I think a lot of people do) and I feel discovering your own practice at a studio in your community is the best way for a beginner to start. Once they’ve created a practice of their own, finding a retreat would be ideal.
And for someone really wanting to learn (yay!), yoga is absolutely incredible. For every part of you. Seriously, every part. It will change your life if you let it. You have to be vulnerable, you have to be devoted, and you have to like sweat. Haha. But really, find a studio in your community that is like locally owned (I personally avoid chains) and start taking classes. Go to as many different teachers as possible until you find someone that makes you go “holy shit, this is what I’ve been missing out on?!” From there, you’ll be hooked. I promise :)”
Traveling to Costa Rica is like being plucked out of reality and placed into a jungle fairytale that I used to daydream of. From the mountainous jungles to the emerald ocean on the West Coast, it’s a country in which you can connect back to source. As in, a yogi’s dream for disconnecting from the mainstream and finding solace and serenity in a natural wonderland.
Across the country, you won’t be hardpressed to find yoga studios and retreat centers, but what makes one stand out from the next? We each have a yoga practice for a different reason, but we tend to all lean towards retreats for the same: peace and an exploration of our mind, body, and soul through movement and meditation.
While many flock to what has become the “Americanized” Nicoya Peninsula – known as the “yoga and surf heaven,” I opted to go off the beaten path and take a trip down the West Coast to find even more seclusion. What I found made me fall in love with my practice all over again. Compared to spots like Malpais which have more retreat centers than I can count on two hands, Uvita only holds one fully dedicated retreat center, Selva Armonia, making for the perfect destination for self exploration.
Connecting To Source
When you arrive at Selva Armonia, you can feel it’s magical gravitation pulling you in as if they’ve connected instantaneously to your heart strings. Three hours south of the international airport in San Jose, getting to Selva Armonia is as easy as taking a shuttle, bus, or taxi. Once you get there, you feel as if you’ve been transported into another world filled with permaculture, family, and unlimited yoga. Sitting in the Casa Grande, you feel connected to the wood beneath your bare feet, the gentle cooling breeze and the synchronized song of the jungle’s inhabitants. The energy pulsating through the ground, into the buildings, and out of their staff is what immediately relaxes and rejuvenates your spirit upon entrance.
The property itself has nine intimate rooms, an azure saltwater pool, gardens filled with exotic fruits, spices and vegetables, and a yoga deck overlooking emerald foliage and the famous whale’s tail of Uvita. The structures are made using the wattle and daub technique with sacred geometry and zodiac maps carved into the sides. The Casa Grande, made of thick bamboo, is said to be one of the largest bamboo structures in all of Costa Rica. Every element of the property – the bathrooms, showers, kitchen – was built with sustainable consciousness and an intention to continue cultivating a connection with nature.
On the day of our arrival, we were excited to find that the property would be hosting their first community pool party. As guests from the community of Uvita and Dominical arrived, it quickly became clear that Selva Armonia is a hub for the big hearted and conscious-living in the area. Locals flocked to their saltwater pool to enjoy freshly made cocktails, live acoustic music, and smiling faces. “Community” became family as we met new friends, swam until sunset and enjoyed appetizers prepared by Yeti, Selva Armonia’s talented chef.
This magical retreat space oozes with positive vibrations and gives guests a glimpse of what it’s like to live in an eco-paradise and connect with nature in ways that one can only dream of. It’s hard to not go to Selva Armonia and share the same enthusiasm that their team does about the community they’ve created.
Nourishment of Mind & Body
Farm to table is a buzzword flying around the world right now and Selva Armonia might just be the idealistic representation of this style of cuisine done impeccably. With gardens strewn throughout the entire property, daily vegan meals are curated to perfection with seasonal vegetables and fruits.
After a tour around the property, it became clear that all the abundant greenery surrounding us is not just another lush plant – Selva Armonia is a home for international herbs, vegetables, spices, and fruits. The entire menu offered is grown within the 35 acres of land that Selva Armonia sits upon.
With the yoga deck open for guests to use and plans for ongoing yoga classes, Selva Armonia stole my heart through the act of asana. When the sun begins to set, lighting up the honey-colored wood of the yoga deck, it’s impossible to not feel at ease. With every minute, the jungle becomes more and more alive, humming it’s harmony and serenading my practice. I was exactly where I needed to be.
Selva Armonia offers a variety of retreats in which you can find on their website. If you’re a teacher, they are also welcoming of new retreats at their center where they can share their lifestyle with the community each teacher brings. From beginner to advanced retreats as well as a 200-hr yoga teacher training, it is a hub for all yogis to visit and enjoy the pura vida lifestyle.
Much like yoga, taking a vacation means finding an opportunity to check out and relax. While much of Costa Rica has been taken over by America’s grandiose tourist industry, Selva Armonia has remained untouched, holding space for yogis and travelers alike to wander off the beaten path and nourish their mind, body, and spirit.