COSTA RICA: Two Wings of a Bird Surf and Yoga retreat

 1re·treat noun \ri-ˈtrēt\

2: a place of privacy or safety

3: a period of group withdrawal for prayer, meditation, study, or instruction under a director

My definition of re-treat: verb–to do [that wonderful thing] over and over, and again and again… I’m new to the whole retreat thing, but I am happy to report that this will (hopefully) be the first of many. I didn’t even know how much I needed it until I came home and even the stomach virus working its way through the house couldn’t wipe away my impermeable grin. Whether you think you need it or not, I hope this post offers you a virtual escape and some inspiration to find something so gratifying that you’ll want an encore–and then some.

Where: Blue Spirit in Nosara, Costa Rica (www.bluespiritcostarica.com

What’s so amazing about this place, besides the gorgeous views from the peninsula overlooking the (warm and welcoming) Pacific, is that it’s a longevity “hot spot” called Blue Zone. This concept grew out of much demographic research pinpointing where and why certain civilizations live the longest. Some of the common characteristics amongst these centenarians are 1.) family being put ahead of other concerns, 2.) no smoking, 3.) constant moderate physical activity, 4.) eating a plant-based diet, 5.) being socially active, 6). and consuming large amounts of legumes. Pura Vida aside, there’s no doubt this place is magical: not once did I feel tired, sore (even after a daily double-dose of yoga and surfing), or hungover (the wine here is delish!). For more info on Blue Zones check out (www.bluezones.com).

OUR VIEW OF THE PACIFIC FROM BLUE SPIRIT. NOT PICTURED: HOWLING MONKEYS

Who: Jenna and (coach) Jimmy Minardi–the retreat “directors” (www.Minarditraining.com)

GODDESS JENNA AND COACH JIMMY

This dynamic duo from East Hampton, NY are the epitome of Yin and Yang. Jenna’s mind- and- body-nurturing practice coupled with coach Jimmy’s get-out-of-your-comfort-zone Surfer Yoga is consummate for finding balance and equanimity. My goal, strongly suggested by team Minardi, was to encourage harmony between my male and female side. Let’s just say it has been a work in progress…

HERE'S ME EMBRACING MY FEMININE SIDE (NOT!). IT'S NOT A STUBBORN GENE FOR NOTHING.

But it’s not all serious in the Minardi universe: part of their principle is pleasure through play and tapping into your primal side. (The Howler monkeys in constant howling mode around campus sure got a kick out of this.) When Jenna broke out into a very lovely rendition of “Let it Be” during a rejuvenation yoga session but forgot the words and improvised, I knew I was in the right place. There is nothing quite as restorative as a good laugh. And acting childlike was not only tolerated but encouraged, as witnessed here by my best friend and prankster Sarah A. goofing around with a piece of premeditated tp poking out of her pants.

I LEAST I KNOW WHERE SHE'S BEEN. OR DO I? Photo courtesy of Jimmy Minardi

Of course, we had to earn the right to pull pranks. Coach Jimmy demanded 100 percent effort, 100 percent of the time–and he has eyes in the back of his head. There are no slackers in Surfer Yoga because maximum effort yields quick results: we could all hold our up as(s)anas at least 3 times longer by the end of the week. This helped launch my emerging surfing skill to a whole new level. I’m sure having the perfect break everyday didn’t hurt either. My two favorite Minardi-isms (and there are many): Effortless Effort; and It’s Not What Happens, It’s How You Deal With It. These are my new mantras.

WORKING OVERTIME ON THAT "EFFORTLESS EFFORT" THING. Photo courtesy of Jenna Minardi

The Finds: Of course a sound mind and body wasn’t the only thing I brought back from Costa Rica. Handmade dresses, one-of-a-kind patchwork bags, sexy stay-put bikinis, yoga clothes that make you feel like you’re naked, deliciously organic skin-loving soaps…these are just a few of the fabulous finds from the beach town of Playa Guiones. The best part was hitting the shops after surfing, clad in only a wet bathing suit, bare feet, and wild hair. A must-stop shop: The Bazaar at the Harmony Hotel. Our credit cards got a really great workout here. That’s effortless effort at its best!

A few of my favorite things:

CUTIE SANDALS. TOE-RIFIC!

ONE-OF-A-KIND. IT'S MINE NOW

MY SKIN IS ADDICTED TO THESE LUSCIOUSLY NATURAL SOAPS. GUESS I'LL JUST HAVE TO GO BACK TO GET MORE

PACKABLE AND PRETTY, THIS HANDMADE LYCRA DRESS FEELS LIKE AIR. (THIS IS ONE OF MANY NOW IN MY WARDROBE)

THE LACK OF CUTE SUITS FOR BEACH ATHLETES IS MADDENING BUT THIS ONE MAKES ME SMILE (NOTICE THE DRAWSTRING? NO MORE DROOPY DRAWERS FOR ME)

I JUST LOVE THE CONCEPT OF THESE RENEWABLE BAMBOO STRAWS SO I BOUGHT A LOT.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Food: A great trip should always include fabulous local fare and Blue Spirit didn’t disappoint. Each meal consisted of fresh fruits, greens, beans, and grains along with “cleanse appropriate” vegan choices for anyone on a strict diet or detox regimen, as well as other palate-pleasing plates that used oil, dairy, spices and herbs to liven things up. For me, the raw, homemade soups and dressings took the cake. I managed to sneak one recipe from a very friendly but uninformed staffer. I later found out why all the hush-hush about the recipes and ingredients. There’s a Blue Spirit recipe book due out later this year!

***Carrot-Coconut SOUP: Bliss in a Bowl***

I’m not sure about all of the measurements so make small batches until you get the taste where you want it.

In a VitaMix or blender, add chopped carrots, bell peppers, 1/2 cup of orange juice, 1/2 cup of coconut water, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.

PICTURE THIS ON A HOT SUMMER DAY OR AFTER A HARD WORKOUT. REFRESHING TO SAY THE LEAST.

A couple of nights we went off campus to watch the amazing sunset at La Luna restaurant, a local hot-spot right on the beach. It has great food but the real attraction is it’s hip but low-key surfer vibe–there wasn’t a Manolo in site.

WHEN I RETURN, RIDING ON THE BEACH AT SUNSET WILL BE AT THE TOP OF THE MUST-DO LIST.

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