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  • Yoga Poses for Sleep, Energy, Digestion, and more!

    June 8, 2017
    Yoga has become a very well known practice that can enhance countless aspects of life. Individuals in increasing numbers are engaging in the practice for various physical, spiritual, and overall health benefits. Can’t sleep? Low on energy? Lower back pain? There’s a yoga pose for that! We have compiled a list of yoga poses based on common ailments that many of us face on a daily basis. Whether you’re decompressing from a hard work week or gearing up for an intense workout, yoga can assist you through just about whatever you’re going through! Yoga Poses for a Restful Sleep Some of us hit the pillow and it’s lights out for a full night of sleep. Others may not be so lucky and a restful night of sleep may be harder to come by. Insomnia and sleep related issues are tied to numerous health problems that affect the body’s mental and physical state. Before you give up, try these poses for as little or as long as you like. You can even do them on your bed! Incorporating the following yoga poses into your pre-bedtime routine just may have you well on your way to getting the deep sleep you need. Janu Sirsasana   Thread the Needle Reclined Twist reclined twist yoga pose Yoga Poses for Energy Boost Are you guilty of skimping on the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep per night more often than not? The following yoga poses can help boost energy and ward off that 2PM daytime slump! Next time you’re feeling sleepy, skip the coffee and see if a combination of these poses can get you through the day. Arm pumps Stretch pose stretch pose yoga Back Platform pose back platform yoga pose   Yoga Poses for Stress Relief Chronic stress has been a growing complaint for many in our fast paced society. We have stress relief balls, aromatherapy scents, meditation techniques, and countless other methods centered around relieving stress. There should be no surprise that there are yoga poses for this as well! Many are inspired to begin practicing in order to gain a handle on the mountains of stress that they are facing each day. Chronic stress can lead to a wide array of illnesses and an overall reduced quality of life. Use these poses in a moment of crisis or avidly throughout your week to see how your stress levels can be reduced by this simple, yet effective practice! Child’s pose child pose yoga   Standing forward bend standing forward bend pose Legs up the wall pose yoga pose Yoga Poses for Better Digestion Overate? Ate something you shouldn’t have? Or is digestion an occasional or frequent struggle? Digestion is a process that our body goes through each day but is not without its flaws! Yoga is a great tool to use to aid your body’s natural digestive process. A few simple and easy poses can have your body well on its way to digestive success! Downward Facing Dog downward dog yoga pose Triangle Pose Extended Puppy Pose extended puppy yoga pose Yoga Poses for Effective Workout With limited time that many of us have in our schedule, when we do have the time to work out, we want to make it as effective as possible! Doing a sequence of poses before your workout can get your body warmed up and ready to get the most out of your session. If you’d like to make your workout even more effective, we recommend doing a little extra research into specific poses that aid specific cardio workouts or muscle groups. Reclined Twist Variation Dolphin Pose dolphin pose   Yoga Poses for Back Pain Sitting at a desk for long durations, sitting in a car, maintaining non-perfect posture, an active lifestyle, and other factors lead many to have chronic back pain. Back pain can be pretty miserable if the pain is not managed effectively. Many individuals have turned to yoga in order to help manage this pain and even cross over into a back pain free life! In addition to the below three poses, you can incorporate downward dog and child’s pose to aid in gently stretching your back muscles. Pigeon Pose pigeon pose yoga   Cat and Cow Pose     Upward Forward Bend These are just a few of MANY yoga poses that are beneficial for the areas listed above. These poses as well as countless others are beginner friendly and non-intimidating to those who may have never even tried. Yoga is free, there is nothing to lose, and so much to gain!
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    Sweat Lodges: What You Should Know

    April 29, 2017
    Individuals in increasing numbers are seeking out sweat lodge experiences for various reasons. This comes as no surprise due to the physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits that a sweat lodge can offer! Sweat lodges are an ancient tradition that is found in many cultures all around the world. These traditions certainly vary from each geographical location, but there are common benefits and purposes shared by those who participate. Sweat lodge ceremonies in North America are typically associated with Native American cultures, but other cultural influences can be found as well. If you’re thinking of attending a sweat lodge, it’s important to do your research! Find out how they work, contemplate what you're hoping to accomplish through your experience, and learn about how you can benefit and stay safe!   How does it work? Sweat lodges are typically made from materials such as clay, stone, tree branches, or other natural materials. In some lodges, inorganic materials are incorporated in the structure. Stones are placed in the center of the lodge, water is poured over the stones, and a heavy steam is created which fills the air. Complete silence during ceremonies may be a part of the process, as to allow for participants to conduct work inwards. It is not uncommon for ceremonies to include chanting, drumming, or periods of meditation. Checking ahead of time to understand the atmosphere of a ceremony that you plan to attend will help you select the experience that you most desire. Sweat lodges typically last between 2-3 hours. Much longer than the mere 20-30 minute limit recommended for a sauna! The spiritual aspect of a sweat lodge is what sets it apart from the experience of a sauna. During the 2-3 sweat, there are typically breaks between rounds and water is provided. It is a good idea to completely familiarize yourself with the procedure of a sweat lodge that you plan to attend as they may vary depending on venue.   Why are people seeking this experience? The reasons for attending a sweat lodge ceremony vary greatly for each individual. Traditionally, Native American cultures engaged in ceremonies to show gratitude, facilitate healing, seek wisdom, and welcome visions. Participants enter into these experiences today for many of the same reasons and leave feeling cleansed and rejuvenated. Sweat lodges are said to bring spiritual purification, mental clarity, and a renewal of inner strength. Many may be seeking to experience an emotional release or have come to heal ailments of the body or of one’s soul. The atmosphere of a lodge allows one to learn about themselves and revive their inner strength. We highly recommend evaluating your purpose for attending a ceremony and select one that can best help you achieve this purpose!   What are some Health Benefits? Imagine you are a sponge filled with water. When squeezed, water, dirt, and other toxic materials are expelled and flushed out of the system! There are proven health benefits to sweating and the release of these toxins. Sweat is not the only thing being released from the body! Endorphins, that are typically present during heavy physical activity, are also released during a sweat lodge. The increased temperature in the body during the ceremony is said to help fight infections, ease muscle pain, and benefit the body in other ways.   Are Sweat Lodges Safe? Sweat lodges are safe. As long as the leader puts the safety of participants first at all times and ensures that the conditions are completely safe within the lodge as well. It is important to research a ceremony you wish to attend and their leader before attending. It is also crucial to check with your doctor to evaluate any pre-existing conditions that you may have before entering into this experience. ALWAYS ask for help if you’re in need!  Due to exposure to the heat, it’s vital to reach out if you are feeling dizzy or dehydrated. Don’t feel the need to push yourself. Listen to your body, take breaks, and consult with your leader for any needs you may have. More on the Sweat Lodge Experience!   By Sarah Blanks
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    Living the Envision Way at Selva Armonia

    March 22, 2017
    A group of envisioners this year had the opportunity to experience community living the Envision way. Embrace: An Envision Community Retreat was run this year for the first time at Selva Armonia Retreat Center by the founders of Envision Festival February 17th through the 22nd. Locals and travelers who came to Selva Armonia were able to fully immerse themselves into an Envision sustainable community through organic eating, yoga classes, holistic workshops and plant tours, waterfall excursions, an ecstatic dance pool party, a cacao ceremony and various jungle activities. Selva Armonia is a sustainable retreat center owned by one of the founders of Envision Festival, Josh Wendel. Attendees were able to attend all 4 days or purchase day passes to gain access to the exclusive workshops and events being held during the retreat. The leaders were able to provide an intimate setting for guests as they were able to interact with the incredible speakers and leaders of Envision who came to lead workshops at Selva. Learning, relaxation, healthy living, music, and play were all a part of the magical four days leading up to the legendary Envision Festival 2017. Visitor’s taste buds buzzed over farm to table meals served fresh each day with ingredients grown organically on the retreat property.  Guests also had the chance to embark on a farm tour and learn during a medicinal plant workshop facilitated by Josh Wendel. Founder and primary Director of Punta Mona Center and co-founder of Envision Festival, Stephen Brooks, enthusiastically showered guests with knowledge and his expertise on permaculture during his workshop. Permaculturist Brooks was also one of the highlighted keynote speakers after the retreat at the festival this year. Herbalist of 15 years and Envision team member, Sarah Wu, graced the retreat with her knowledge and presence on herbal medicine, healing, and herbal first aid. Sound healing, sweat lodge, jungle spa, cacao ceremonies, and ecstatic dance activities lined the evenings as guests prepared for the grand activities of the festival. Healing sounds of the jungle paired with daily yoga classes laid the ground for ultimate relaxation and dynamic interactions. Benita Wolfe (BJ) Galvan, master yoga teacher, founder of Handstands Anonymous and co-founder of the Anusara School of Hatha Yoga shared her contagious passion for yoga during each day of the retreat and at the festival. This world traveler offered Rhythm of the Spiral Dance class at Envision, but only members at Selva Armonia received exclusive sessions with this brilliant teacher of teachers. Practice yoga at a Costa Rica Yoga Retreat at Selva Armonia The retreat ended with an epic pool party with live exotic bass vibrations by producer/composer Govinda. Govinda laid the path for the mesmerizing music that was to come during the festival. Leaders of Envision created a spectacular atmosphere at Selva Armonia for newcomers and seasoned Envision Festival veterans to share unforgettable moments and create connections that will last a lifetime. Envisioners embraced and were able to fully live the vision of Envision Festival and Selva Armonia’s message on how to live sustainably and contribute to a thriving environment. Selva Armonia truly embodies the core value of building a fruitful environment through sustainable living and is able to spread this incredibly valuable knowledge through the Embrace retreat experience. Can’t wait for next year to experience community living the Envision way? Selva Armonia Retreat Center hosts retreats all-year-round! Did you have an unforgettable Envision experience? Are you planning to come to Envision 2018 and want to fully embrace the Envision way of life? Stay tuned for next years retreat and extend your experience and make it unforgettable!   By Sarah Blanks
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    Should I be concerned about Zika in Costa Rica?

    March 10, 2017
    Costa Rica is well known for its magnificent nature, epic waterfalls, exotic animals, paradise beaches, and much more! However, the word “Zika” buzzed all over various media outlets and the internet for months creating worry for travelers who wished to head to this remarkable country for a much needed vacation or extended stay. Coverage and panic over the virus seemed to spread like wildfire throughout the United States but all seemed pretty quiet and calm down here in Costa Rica! As a currently 8 month pregnant expat, who has lived here for over a year and half now, I was getting many questions from friends and potential visitors about the prevalence of the virus down here. Educating yourself on the facts of the virus along with ways that you can protect yourself often can help provide the answer if you are wondering if you should stay clear of Costa Rica because of the Zika virus. Before deciding to postpone your trip, it may help to look at the facts of the Zika virus.   1. This is Not a New Virus! Zika has been around for at least 70 years that we know of! This particular virus is a mosquito born virus that can be found in the Americas along with dengue, chikungunya, malaria, and yellow fever. It is uniquely different from other mosquito born viruses in that it can be transmitted sexually. If using the correct precautions to protect yourself from the virus as you would with other diseases that can also be transmitted this way, you can significantly reduce your risk and worry.   2. The Symptoms are Extremely Mild The symptoms of Zika can hardly compare to what goes around doing flu season in the North Americas! Most who contract this virus are not aware of it and do not fall ill. The most common symptom of this virus is, none! If any symptoms are displayed, they include a headache, slight fever, possible rash, and joint pain. These may only last for the duration of a few days to a week.   3. There is No Real Danger to the Average Traveler This virus poses no real threat or danger to a typical healthy traveler. Due to its zero to extremely mild side effects, travelers do not need to feel urged to change their plans. Individuals have traveled throughout the Americas for countless years while taking precautions to malaria, dengue, and chikungunya, which have also existed in these areas. The biggest danger that Zika poses is to pregnant women or those who wish to become pregnant. In this case, it is always urged to speak with a doctor, view CDC recommendations, and make your own decision on what you feel is best. (As a side note! I have been living in Costa Rica throughout the entire duration of my pregnancy since August  2016 and I am expecting a healthy baby in May!)   *How to Proactively Protect Yourself If you’re still nervous about traveling to Costa Rica or another area that has reported cases of Zika, (which is almost all of the Americas now) there are tons of ways that you can be proactive and drastically reduce your risk of getting the virus!
    • Bring EPA registered insect repellent
    • Cover exposed skin
    • Sleep in rooms with screens or windows
    • Use condoms as contraceptive protection
    • Hang a mosquito net over sleeping area if no screens available or if sleeping outside
    • Visit Costa Rica during dry seasons
      • Pacific: Early January - late April
      • Caribbean: Late September - early November
      Talk of the virus has seemed to have left the media in the more recent months and more travelers are taking the time to look at the facts and still enjoy short or lengthy vacations to these areas. Don’t allow media hype to cause you to miss out on a vacation, yoga retreat, or grand adventure to Costa Rica!  A part of being a smart traveler is doing your own research and taking all necessary precautions you see fit. Look at the facts and bring your repellent! Costa Rica is NOT a country you want to miss out on visiting! Pura Vida! By Sarah Blanks
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    4 Things You’ll Experience at a Yoga Retreat in Costa Rica

    February 16, 2017
    It’s no surprise that Costa Rica is a top destination for those looking to fully immerse themselves into a yoga retreat. The jungle is green, lush, and buzzing with unfamiliar sounds day and night! The climate is incredibly diverse. By day, you may be sweating out built up toxins on the beach, but nighttime may have you bundled up and feeling cozy along a mountain ridge. The culture is vivacious, happy, and incredibly warm. It’s hard not to get sucked into the “pura vida” lifestyle here where people are kind to others and live in a more laid back manner. The health food nut will certainly lose themselves in the wide abundance of fruits and foods that are available to devour! Costa Rica is certainly ranked high up on the list of must-see destinations due to the tranquil, yet explorative environment it provides to those who chose to retreat here. What can one expect to do besides yoga when attending a retreat here? Here are 4 things you'll experience at a yoga retreat in Costa Rica: 1. Learn Yogis who step into a retreat setting in Costa Rica are in for a real treat and can expect to learn much more than solely yoga related information. Retreats are an immersive experience which can include a variety of different workshops in culinary arts, permaculture, herbal medicine, sound healing, holistic nutrition, and much more! Costa Rica’s uniqueness attracts master yoga teachers from all over the world and provides a truly exquisite experience for those who open themselves to it. Many retreat centers here have their own gardens or small farms where the food is brought fresh directly from the earth to the table. Costa Rica is filled with many opportunities to try different foods and learn how they can be used to nourish and heal your body. 2. Play Playing isn’t only for kids! Costa Rica has a way of unleashing one’s inner child to explore all the new sights, smells, and textures that cover the diverse country. Those who choose a yoga retreat in Costa Rica get to enjoy mother nature’s jungle playground. There’s no better way to wake up than taking a splash into crystal clear water at the peak of morning or sliding down a waterfall after an intense yoga practice. Dancing under the stars, playing with new poses, and rising with a newly awakened energy each morning brings out the natural playfulness that has been itching to be released! Two coastlines of beaches mean there are many private spots to explore here. Costa Rica offers an abundance of vibrant seashells, picture perfect sunsets, warm ocean waves, diverse wildlife, and much more for those ready to come and explore! 3. Unwind Costa Rica is the ultimate place to unwind! This top vacation spot harbors some of the most beautiful beaches in the world and is a great location for those looking to go off the grid. No wonder so many come here to simply unwind. Attending a yoga retreat in this magnificent country provides the perfect environment for one to detach, relax, and recalibrate. No alarm clock needed here! Wake up with the birds and the rest of the sleepy jungle with the first rays of sunlight fluttering through the trees. In downtime between yoga sessions, meals, and excursions, simply enjoy lazy moments in a hammock with a book or snag a nap surrounded by a refreshing, salted breeze. Stand speechless as the sun dips just below the horizon of the ocean and the vibrantly colored sky. Then, polish off the evening with the peaceful hum and chirps of the curious creatures of the night. Leave all responsibilities and worries at the airport gate, as there is no room for them here! 4.  Yoga Of course there will be yoga! You can count on this tropical setting to add dimension and excitement into your yoga practice. Retreats are a special space where individuals can connect, collaborate, try new techniques, and bring renewed focus and presence into their practice. Through a retreat, one is able to extend their practice beyond the mat by living fully immersed and absorbing every ounce that the retreat has to offer. As each day passes, Costa Rica’s incredible beauty draws each participant more into harmony with the nature that surrounds them. The only way to truly feel and know why so many are attracted here to practice is to come experience the magic for yourself! Does this type of retreat call to the core of your being? Join us for a retreat! Come live in a unique, immersive experience of yoga, workshops, healthy eating, learning, playing, and more.

    Also See: Is a Yoga Teacher Training For You? and 3 Ways to Transform Your Yoga Practice

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    3 Tips for Teaching Yoga Alongside your Day Job

    February 1, 2017
    Here are 3 Tips for Teaching Yoga Alongside Your Day Job! If you’ve completed a yoga teacher training, it’s safe to assume that you love yoga so much, you want to teach and inspire others with this karmic gift! Whether your goal is to quit your day job and become a full-time yoga instructor or start out part-time, teaching yoga alongside your current employment has benefits and is a great way to get into the grove of teaching. Yoga instructors are taking on a big role! Teaching yoga while maintaining your regular employment gives you the unique opportunity to further connect with your students, keep balance in your own life, and explore teaching without expectations. Here are three tips to consider while embarking on your teaching journey. 1 ~ Purely Enjoy what you Teach Not relying on teaching yoga for income can enhance the teaching experience for starting out teachers or even seasoned instructors. If teaching yoga is not your main source of income, the stress is relieved over whether you are landing unpaid vs. paid gigs starting out. The trials and tribulations of “making it work” can take the passion out of teaching for you and negatively affect the space held for your students. Being open to unpaid teaching positions can allow you to positively impact the community around you, increase your network, and lead to future paid teaching positions that are a right fit for you. Busy time of the year and no one showed up for your class? That’s OK! Teach anyways! Because you are in it to teach regardless of who is attending. When you are not reliant on the income made through teaching yoga and you can take it completely out of equation, your exciting yoga teaching journey is allowed to unfold on its own. You can eliminate any anxiety over how many students may show up to your class and simply enjoy what you are teaching with no financial strings attached. Don’t underestimate the impact of teaching for individuals and more intimate groups! 2 ~ Practice what you Preach Incorporating yoga teaching into your life serves as a constant reminder to practice what you preach. As a yoga instructor, you have the unique opportunity to inspire, enhance, and be a positive example in your students lives. Why not use this to further motivate you to keep up with your own disciplined lifestyle that you have committed to through your practice? The impacts that you have personally drawn out of yoga will continually flood your everyday life and could impact others as you teach. Practice makes perfect! Practice keeping your mind, body, and soul balanced and healthy. Apply what you teach in your own life through your own personal and professional obstacles. Practicing principles used in yoga to help balance your own life will further allow you to assist students as they are on their continual journey to balance their inner selves and outer circumstances. Yoga instructors assist in beautiful transformations of self and others by being energetically present and mindful on a daily basis. Nurture your body, mind, and soul with balance, honor, and presence. Honor your students by showing up physically and energetically during your sessions! 3 ~ Give Space When instructing yoga on top of your professional, personal, and other life commitments, you may be in touch with an idea of the stress and other challenges that your fellow students are bringing to the mat. This allows you to give that space for students to work through what they are shedding. Create the space for them to be, to come into alignment and allow their bodies intelligence to come to life. Through this process, people change their entire lives. By continually working on your own challenges and restoring your balance, you can uniquely understand your students needs. The space you create for your students to simply “be” can positively impact decisions, healing,  and their own process. Give space for students so that they can use this sacred practice to peel away the day’s worries or shed deeper issues that they have been struggling with. By Sarah Blanks   Apr. 16th 2017  - Apr. 22nd 2017

    Yoga Caravan Retreat in Costa Rica

    Apr. 30th 2017 - May 7th 2017

    Healing Trauma Retreat in Costa Rica

    Also See: Is a Yoga Teacher Training For You? and 3 Ways to Transform Your Yoga Practice

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    Is a Yoga Teacher Training for you?

    January 25, 2017
    Yogi’s who have enrolled, are enrolling, or plan to enroll in a yoga teacher training course embark on this journey for various reasons. All are guaranteed unique experiences and to walk away with new perspectives on their practice. Yoga teacher training courses are often offered somewhere local to your home or in various retreat settings where a yogi can be fully immersed and give 100% of their attention to their teacher training. Yoga teacher training allows individuals to pass down a gift and embark on a soul journey. We asked three important questions that scratch the surface of the immeasurable impact that yoga teacher training has had on students worldwide today and historically:   Why enroll in a yoga teacher training? After dedicated yoga practice, some decide to further the depth of their practice and enroll in a yoga teacher training course. Avid yogis embark on this next crucial step for various reasons which include the desire to understand more than just the postures. Learning the history, philosophy, and heightened understanding allows students to experience yoga on a whole new level. Yoga teachers who have completed the training have reported that they did not realize the impact and incredible journey that becoming a teacher would take them on. Yoga instructor, Yaser Ebrahimi, who currently teaches in Northern Virginia commented on his experience: “When you understand something more, you feel it on a whole new level. You feel more grateful for it. Yoga became a less physical experience through incorporating the philosophical knowledge and other dynamics that teacher training has to offer. My practice became more spiritual/energetic. It became more than just warrior one or warrior two. Now I can get in the pose and truly feel it, surrender to it. Just when I felt I climbed this great mountain of yoga, I settle into another pose or a muscle movement and I feel I am at the bottom of the Himalayas. Yoga is a journey that has no upper limit, no ceiling, no sky. It’s simply timeless.”   Why is teaching yoga important? Those who decide to teach yoga are not only passing down information. Yoga is a karmic, energy gift that has been passed down from student to disciple from generation after generation. For countless centuries, there were no videos, books, cd’s, or magazines. There was no way for someone to capture this knowledge and print it into a form of media and send it to future generations. It only happened teacher to student. How many generations of teachers passed down this knowledge that aspiring students are learning at this very moment? Those who take on yoga teacher training are connecting themselves to the energy of a long line of teachers who have dutifully passed down this gift from countless generations and who have spread it globally. This line of teachers and students connects past, present, and individuals of the future. Today we can preserve this knowledge easily, but the gratitude and appreciation of these past commitments are honored through the continuance of teaching this practice. Those who enroll are keeping the flame going and are adding their own unique understanding, twists, feeling, and energy into the practice. Also see: 3 Ways to Transform Your Yoga Practice What impact does teaching yoga have on students? People will forget what you said, did, or what you do. However, people do not forget how you made them feel. Students who enter into class come from all walks of life and often carry heavy burdens. Some have come with stress, divorce, sick family members, financial problems, or are stuck in an eb of life. Everyone has something they are carrying. At the end of class, their lungs fill up and they sigh it out. Their face changes, they are glowing. They went from tense and anxious, to a moment of pure presence. A teacher is able to improve the day of one individual or perhaps provide a shifting experience that will last a lifetime. There is no way to truly measure how teachers have beautifully impacted the health, well-being, and transformation of students throughout history. Yoga instructor Yaser added, “Becoming a teacher has allowed me to teach from my own practice and hand that down. The energy is transferred to me, and then transferred onto the students that I teach. If I am able to help improve, deepen, or provide a new perspective to a student’s practice that they resonate with, I consider all of it an immeasurable success. I strive to make the practice of yoga more than just a practice, it’s a journey.” One important piece of life is to realize your gift, and give it away. If your calling is to carry the gift of yoga and actively continue this long line of energy, a yoga teacher training retreat may be the next right step for you!   By Sarah Blanks   Also see: 3 Ways to Transform Your Yoga Practice and Yoga Retreats at Selva Armonia
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    The Green Traveler: 6 Ways to be Environmentally Conscious on the Go

    December 1, 2016
    Whether you’re traveling domestically within your country of residence, taking a much needed vacation, or trotting across the globe, it’s important to take into consideration how you can reduce your footprint and leave very little trace behind! Being green while on the go is cheap, simple, won’t take up much room in your suitcase, and is guaranteed to leave you feeling happy about your life decisions! With these below tips, we hope you’ll leave only a positive impact with all of the good vibes you’re spreading along your travels! And maybe some inspiration for those who observe your earth-loving practices! 1. Reusable Water Bottle First we will start with our number one basic need, water! While traveling, often one of the first questions while journeying to a new place is, “Is the local water safe to drink?” The answer to this question may depend also on what your definition of “safe” is. Travelers may often buy water bottles in these places when feeling unsure. However, this is not a sustainable option if you continue this practice throughout your entire trip. If chlorine, fluoride, unknown organisms, and whatever else is not your thing then I would suggest looking into an option that will allow you to filter your water straight from the tap in the countries that you visit. These water bottle filters are compact and can filter out chlorine, bacteria, parasites, and other unwanted chemicals from your water source. 2. Reusable Bags Buying groceries rather than eating out is one way travelers save major cash while on the go. This practice can also leave you with many plastic bags over time that you won’t want to add to your packs that are already bursting at the seams. The good news is, reusable bags are becoming a more widespread practice and are available in many grocery stores! These bags don’t cost much, are strong, and collapse into a tiny size which is perfect for travel. You’ll find that you’ll be relying on these bags quite a bit for many other purposes throughout your travel and will surely be glad that you brought them! 3. Straws Say NO to plastic straws or bring your own reusable one! If you partake in smoothies, flavored teas, or trying out different local drinks during your travels, a reusable straw may be the perfect investment for you! You can get packs of them online for super cheap and they can be made of bamboo, metal, or other reusable materials. They are AWESOME and your friends will want them too, so make sure to buy lots of them and share the gift of green travel. They are thin, will take up hardly any extra space and will make a positive impact on the amount of plastic floating around the world. Now you can sip on your exotic drink of choice that’s been poured into your reusable bottle guilt free with your eco-friendly straw. 4. Collapsable, Reusable To-go Containers/Other Utensils If you’re a traveling foodie, a big part of the adventure is delighting your tastebuds with the exciting and different cuisines that you will come across in your travels. Collapsable to-go containers and reusable utensils are a great option for anyone who is traveling and plans on eating as well. Ultimately this is a way to avoid using plastic while storing your own food, meals you’ve bought while exploring, and for packing up left-overs. Having your own utensils, whether it be a spork, knife, chopstick or some combination of all the above, will eliminate your use of plastic in this area as well. Again, easy, cost-effective, hardly any space required, and it feels good! 5. Eco-friendly products Doing some of your own research into what kind of eco-friendly products you want to incorporate into your life and your travels can leave your conscious feeling clean and the world a bit cleaner as well!  I was horrified once as I was draining a washing machine to see that the long pipe was dumping the water directly into the creek below me! Eco-friendly laundry detergent options, shampoo/conditioner, and other products that may find their way into water systems are always a good option to explore for those who wish to minimize their impact on the environment. Portable, solar chargers for electronics is another option if you wish you reduce your energy use and find yourself unexpectedly or expectedly without electricity. 6. Recycle Taking the time to check out your options for recycling is another minimal effort task a traveler can do while on their epic journey. If there’s nothing nearby at the time, it may be worth it to hold onto your recyclables and check out your future options. Who knows, it may lead you to a cool local spot or an unforgettable experience! All because you care about mother earth! **If you’ve noticed, many of the tips here pertain to reducing the use of plastic. Plastic pollution and waste is a global epidemic. Enough of plastic is thrown away each year to circle the globe FOUR times! That’s why it’s already worthwhile to adopt these tips into your life now, even if a trip isn’t in your near future. If you plan to travel, leave the mark on the world you can be proud of. Happy GREEN travels to all!   By Sarah Blanks
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    Essential Foods to Kick Off Your Cleanse

    November 17, 2016
    There ARE ways to cleanse that won’t cause your taste buds to retract into your tongue! No need to torture yourself with disastrous concoctions that yield odd consistencies, tastes that make you cringe, or strange smells. There are loads of yummy foods that you can easily incorporate into your daily diet to supercharge detoxification. The liver is a major organ that detoxifies the body and protects it from disease that can be caused by harmful substances. For this reason, many of the below items nourish, repair, and help your liver do what it does best. Here is a list of some of essential foods to cleanse your body. Find out how they work harmoniously with your body to boost your health and rid unwelcomed toxins! Greens, greens, and more greens! Our spectacular earth produces a green superteam to facilitate a smooth functioning body inside and out. The following greens, plus countless others, can be called upon to aid digestion, reduce inflammation, clean out the liver, reduce risk of cancer, alleviate bloating, and much more! The greens in our superteam include: artichoke, avocado, asparagus, broccoli, kale, green tea, and dill which are commonly jam packed with vitamins and antioxidants to nourish the body and target the liver so it may process more effectively. Citrus: Citrus fruits are very well known for containing a high level of vitamin C. We’ve all heard that vitamin C is good for us, but did you know that this vitamin has antiviral and anticancer properties and fights infections? Incorporating tangy options into your diet such as lemons, grapefruits, oranges, limes, mandarins, clementines, and tangerines add much needed vitamins and minerals that can help your body break down fats, remove waste, and flush out toxins. Replacing your usual drinks with a consistent flow of lemon water throughout the day provides instant detox results and tastes great! With the powers of vitamin C, vitamin B, and fiber, citrus is an excellent option to include into your diet if you wish to keep your cholesterol levels low, maintain a healthy blood pressure, and combat heart disease. Seeds and Nuts: Seeds and nuts can be consumed by the handful or sprinkled onto your favorite salads, yogurt, oatmeal, and any other creative food combination of your choice. Sunflower seeds, almonds, and flaxseeds are powerful sidekicks that cleanse the liver, provide fatty acids, and are loaded with antioxidants. Sunflower seeds are known for boosting heart health and regulating blood pressure. Almonds act as a cleaning crew and remove those pesky fatty deposits that can build up in the liver from processed foods and a not-so-clean diet. When needing a fiber, mineral, and vitamin upgrade, call upon flaxseeds for this job! Flaxseeds do incredible work through absorbing and dumping out harmful toxins found in food. Seeds and nuts take minimal effort to add to your diet, but pack quite a punch in overall benefits in added health to your body.   Potent and Powerful Must Haves: Beets - Ditching your coffee and upgrading to some beet juice is a sure way to boost your body in the morning. Beets make it onto our list because of their high level of antioxidants, fiber, and other nutritional content that aids the liver and other organs throughout the body. Beets can help further carry out the toxins out of the body that the liver has already flushed and have even been proven to heal liver damage. Eating beets raw or cooked is another great way to absorb the vital nutrients that they provide. Onion - This vegetable has more to offer its consumers besides tears and a strong smell. Onions have antibacterial properties, loads of antioxidants, antihistamine, and anti-inflammatory properties. These layered tear jerkers can help treat diabetes, heart disease, and reduce risk of cancer. With all of these qualities and more, they embody the phrase, “no pain, no gain!” Garlic - Last but not least is one of the most important superfoods for starting a detox! Garlic contains levels of vitamin C, antioxidants, and other nutrients that helps our body function better which in-turn allows the body cleanse itself through its natural process more easily. Adding garlic into your everyday diet reaps hefty benefits and is available in capsule supplements for those who are turned off by the reeking smell! By Sarah Blanks At Selva Armonia, we prepare gourmet, garden to table meals for our guests! The majority of ingredients are nutrient rich foods grown on our abundant permaculture farm. Book a room or yoga retreat with us and enjoy a delicious, vegetarian meal from our gardens!  
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    Kundalini Yoga: How you can tap into the unlimited potential of your spiritual energy

    October 20, 2016
    What if you could connect directly with your very own divine energy lying dormant inside of you through an ancient conscious yoga practice? Many seek practice in Kundalini yoga, also called the “yoga of awareness” due to it’s challenging workout and fulfilling integration of the body, mind, and soul. For starters, Kundalini yoga focuses on moving energy through the Chakra system from the root all the way up to the crown to ultimately achieve spiritual enlightenment. Various spiritual traditions teach seekers different methods of “awakening” the kundalini for spiritual growth. Kundalini yoga is one method that continues to gain popularity among the masses to awaken to their higher selves and bring further balance to their body, mind, and soul. We’ve highlighted the basic principals, history, benefits, differences of Kundalini yoga to help you get started in awakening the sleeping serpent within!
    • Basic Principles
    “Kundalini” is the untapped energy that coils at the root chakra, which is located at the base of the spine. This sacred and divine energy is often described as a coiled serpent or sleeping Goddess waiting to be awakened. The purpose of Kundalini yoga practice is to tap into this sacred energy and open the gates to access its unlimited potential for spiritual growth and uplifting the soul. This unique yoga practice places a huge emphasis on combining breath, mudra, eye-focus, mantra chanting, body locks, meditation, and holding postures. Many end their practices feeling completely stimulated by the primal energy and vibrate with new found spiritual expansion. While combining these techniques, the goal is to move energy upwards and journey into the soul through this ancient and sacred practice.
    • History
    Kundalini yoga has a long history of practice running for thousands of years. However, this practice was only introduced to the Western world from the East by Sikh leader, Yogi Bhajan. For centuries, the ancient teachings of Kundalini were kept hidden as the public were believed to not be prepared for the power of this knowledge. As a result, it was only taught among the Indian elite. Kundalini science remained a secret until Yogi Bhajan brought this life changing practice to the United States in 1969 with the hopes to help those who desperately wished to connect with their higher selves through a pure channel. He established the 3HO organization, which is an acronym for Happy, Healthy, Holy Organization. From there on, leaders, teachers, and fellow students have paved the way and made history in spreading the practice of Kundalini in the West. Today we have Yogi Bhajan to thank for firmly proclaiming that,  “It is everyone’s birthright to be healthy, happy, and holy, and the practice of Kundalini Yoga is the way to claim that birthright.”
    • Benefits
    The benefits of Kundalini yoga encompass many of the benefits of other yoga practices. Continued practice brings harmony and balanced resonance to the body, mind, and soul. Yoga can lead to healthy circulation, increased sense of intuition, calmer mind, lessened anxiety, strong immune system and much more! In addition to the well known physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits, Kundalini yoga allows space for practitioners to incorporate their own personal meaning within their own practice. Yogis often experience feeling energetically light, clear minded, and an increased connection to their higher selves!
    • How is Kundalini Different?
    There are some key factors that differentiate Kundalini yoga with Hatha yoga (interchangeable with the word Yoga). Kundalini yoga focuses on the internal energy rather than placing more direct attention on specific alignments within poses. In a Kundalini class one can expect to tune in through a wide variety of mantras that originate from the Gurmukhi language, instead of Hatha yoga’s use of mostly Sanskrit mantras. While practicing, yogis tap into their breath of fire as another method to energize and activate the mother energy which lies within. Common sequences in Kundalini yoga may be different at times but quite challenging. Meditation is also heavily incorporated into the Kundalini practice as a means to cultivate the movement of primal energy throughout the energy centers. It’s ancient belief that by uncoiling the snake, we are able to connect directly with the divine.
    • Where to start?
    Selva Armonia, our retreat center located in the harmonious jungle of Costa Rica, is hosting an Inner Light Awareness Yoga Retreat in November for those who are ready to explore Kundalini on a deeper level. Starting a journey into Kundalini yoga could unlock the key to incorporating deeper levels of healing into your practice and unimaginable depths of consciousness into your life. Those who are wishing to explore this yoga practice on an intimate level may also be able to seek a Kundalini teacher in their local area or connect with one through a yoga studio. Kundalini yoga can be practiced alongside other yoga practices and may even add more depth and awareness to traditional practices of choice. One may also want to highly consider a yoga retreat that contains Kundalini practice to fully live, breathe, and absorb this powerful, ancient practice. Written by Sarah Blanks
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    3 Ways to Transform Your Yoga Practice

    September 21, 2016
    Yoga studios often serve as a sanctuary to those developing their practice and progress in personal growth. Nurturing the depth of the connection with one's inner-self is a key element while on the path to an improved body, mind, and spirit. Why not ditch the studio for a bit and give yourself the gift of the natural sanctuary of mother nature? Immersing yourself in a yoga practice retreat is about having an ingrained, life changing experience that carries on throughout all aspects of your life. What better place than Costa Rica - one of the most biodiverse countries in the entire world! Here are three ways a retreat in this beautiful country naturally alters one’s yoga practice:  

    1.  Connect with yourself through the Source

    While living in a world where the natural environment seems to be diminishing around us, it’s important to reconnect with our roots and ground ourselves! The average worker often becomes bogged down by a hectic schedule which means rushing from office to the studio to sneak in an evening yoga practice after work. When given the chance, nature effortlessly heals, rejuvenates, and restores our health. One often finds themselves through the natural world around them. There’s no better place than a yoga retreat center surrounded by abundant foliage that open the gates to deepening your connection. Being immersed in the exotic jungle of Costa Rica allows one to accelerate their practice in a pure space in comparison to the dense, concrete jungle of a city. Trading the harsh city noises, ‘natural sounding’ music track, and room full of mirrors for a vibrant, luscious, abundant jungle vibe will surely take your yoga practice to a whole new level.  

    2.  Feed yourself from the Source

    The experience of a yoga retreat is more than just the breathtaking sights, curious sounds, and unique feel of the jungle.  It’s also a new and exciting experience for your taste buds and a place where you can begin to reset your body, rid yourself of toxins, and learn more about what power foods you can incorporate into your diet. The fruits of Costa Rica are all quite unique and extremely fruitful in nutritional value. Guanabana, passion fruit, star fruit, papaya, and noni are a few of the abundant fruits native to Costa Rica that are excellent for maintaining a healthy body. Nutrition is an important component to mental, emotional, and spiritual health that can often be overlooked. The experience of a retreat allows you to finally stick to that health regimen that was often broken due to a fast paced lifestyle. Nothing feels better for your body and spirit than eating organically, straight from the source. Taking the time to nourish your body correctly facilitates your connection to your body and your inner self. Learning and incorporating these practices will leave you feeling lighter, more in-tune, and energized to enhance your practice.  

    3.  Be One with the Source

    In Costa Rica, nature takes it’s time. There is no rush in-and-out of a class, no distractions, no clock, and no time-limits. The sunrise steadily illuminates over mountain tops to scatter the first rays of sun onto your face as you start your day. A cool afternoon breeze sways the leaves on the tree branches that arch with you as you deepen into a pose. Vibrant flowers line yoga decks as the sweet hint of ylang ylang drifts through the salted air. Retreating to Costa Rica naturally slows down and automatically brings increased presence into one’s yoga practice. In the end, surrender into savasana with only the chirping sounds of the jungle, light touch of the wind, and the gentle colors of an evening sunset. There is no need for squeezing in scattered focused sessions. There is only time to invest in yourself and your practice, which will leave you feeling more centered physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. With this new centeredness and peace, the connection within expands and deepens.

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    5 Fruits You Should Juice In Costa Rica

    July 26, 2016

    It's a Juicer's Paradise!

    Here are the top 5 fruits you should juice in Costa Rica.

    Avid juicers and smoothie-makers seem to be getting more creative and innovative by the day. A constant influx of creative new recipes, fancy presentations, and the overall health benefit motivates many to bust out the old blender and try it out themselves! Surrounded by a never ending variety of unique fruits to juice in Costa Rica, it’s easy to get excited when mango or soursop season is just around the corner! With such a grand and savory variety of choices, it can be easy to get lost in thought of what to mix up first. Below are some common fruits grown in the jungles of Costa Rica. They taste absolutely amazing and pack a hefty punch of nutritional value!  

    1. Soursop (Guanabana)

    Soursop, also known as Guanabana (and various other aliases), is a definite favorite here in Costa Rica. Guanabana is extremely rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. What many probably don’t know about this fruit is that it fights parasites, viruses, and cancer. This absolutely delicious superfruit can be enjoyed plain, blended in smoothies, mixed with other fruit favorites, or any other way found suitable! One can snack guilt free while reaping the enormous health benefits of this powerful fruit. retreat_selva-armonia_guanabana-july_2016-fruit_guanabana_costa_rica  

    2. Starfruit (Carambola)

    This precious item on the list actually does take the shape of a star when cut in half. This dangling fruit has a waxy outside, juicy inside, and mildly sweet taste. You can find locals and visitors buying up these fruits in the farmer’s market or collecting the ripe picks of the season from trees and off the ground. With a long list of nutritional benefits, you won’t see many of these go to waste! Starfruit uniquely helps prevent cancer, aids healthy skin, and helps to reduce inflammation. Adding this magical ingredient to your drinks will aid the digestive process, keep your heart happy, and boost your immune system.   retreat_selva-armonia_vegan-january_2016-starfruit  

    3.  Noni

    To really capture the nutritional essence of noni, it can be consumed in juice form, preferably unsweetened! Noni are rich in antioxidants, help prevent cancer, boost immune system operation, improve hair/skin health, and aid in digestive health. What makes noni unique is it’s ability to work as a natural painkiller to reduce discomfort from various physical ailments. Even more interestingly, this fruit can help fight and prevent fungal, bacterial, and viral infections, which are commonly experienced in a tropical climate. Noni also affects our serotonin and melatonin hormone levels to bring a better mood and more restful sleep! Is there anything this ripe, yellow, speckled ball doesn’t do?  See Noni and other fruits in our gardens. 12027597_1031382210246263_5489305035488429763_n  

     4.  Passion Fruit (Maracuya)

    Passion fruit fills many roles as an immune booster, mood enhancer, nervous system relaxer, cancer fighter, colon cleanser, and much more! This zestful ball of goodness also contributes to vision, blood pressure, digestive, and overall immune health. It is quite easy to round up all of those tasty seeds and make them into juice or add them to smoothies and salads. The incredible benefits paired with the ease of consumption of this fruit make it a must have on this list and in your diet! 10401958_914501125267706_4419149965006052670_n  

    5.  Guava

    Last on our list, but most certainly not least, Guava, a seedy, nutritious, powerhouse fruit! Guava contains many of the same health benefits of the fruits listed above. What makes guava extra special and essential for our diet is the positive impact it has on the circulation of blood to the brain, healthy skin complexion, and boost in metabolism for weight loss. At the end of a long, hard day, an ice cold cup of guava juice will be sure to relax your muscles and help release stress and tension. retreat_selva-armonia_fruit-juice-july_2016-guava_costa_rica For any ailment one can experience here in Costa Rica or anywhere in the world, there seems to be an army of superfruits to help prevent or provide a solution! If you ever find yourself coming to Costa Rica for a vacation, yoga retreat, or lifestyle change, be sure to check out these heavenly fruits and reap the health benefits first-hand for yourself! Written by Sarah Elena
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    Why Sleeping in Nature is Better than your Bed

    June 30, 2016
    Car horns, sirens, noisy neighbors, and other disturbances that interrupt our sleep can dramatically affect the quality of rest we get per night. Poor quality sleep affects our mood, mental health, physical health, and other crucial aspects of our life. Due to Costa Rica’s close proximity to the equator, the sun rises and sets roughly at the same time all year round. Sleeping in nature in Costa Rica is the perfect environment for retreating back to the basics and enjoying healthy, tranquil rest. Many who travel to Costa Rica for yoga retreats, relaxation, and adventures in nature are seeking to pursue a healthier way of living. More are opting for comfortable outdoor sleeping arrangements immersed in nature as a way to balance their bodies and gain a more recuperative, restful night of sleep. Here are 3 surprising benefits to snoozing in a sleepless jungle:

    1. Wake Up to Playful Sounds 

    Imagine a morning where your body wakes up with the first morning rays of the sun, breathing in crisp air, feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and energized for the day’s activities. Croaking toucans, howling monkeys, fluttering blue morpho butterflies, and fresh morning dew coat the abundant foliage of the Costa Rican jungle. Wake up and experience the liveliness and excitement of the morning with the animals of Costa Rica. With a restful night of sleep immersed in the sounds of nature, you can be sure to get the most out of your day!

    2. Body Balance

    Abnormal wake-up times, which range from all hours of the day depending on work, school, and personal schedules, create major body imbalance. Natural light helps our system release the correct amount of melatonin at the end of the day when we are ready to sleep. Spending more time sleeping outdoors in a short amount of time resets our body’s circadian rhythm, provides us with ample amounts of natural light, and helps us balance our bodies’ natural rhythms.

    3. Mood Booster

    Along with exercise, yoga, and healthy eating, snoozing outside also contributes to better moods and a reduction in stress. This back-to-the-basics way of sleeping can also assist in the treatment of insomnia, depression, mood disorders, and contribute to overall better mental and physical health. Partaking in the Pura Vida outdoor lifestyle that Costa Rica has to offer allows mother nature to soothe and regulate our bodies so we are better equipped to nurture other important parts of our lives! Trade the high pitched sirens and alarms for the natural low hum of the Costa Rican jungle. Enjoy sleep the way nature intended! You have nothing to lose besides the noise and you can finally gain the peace and balance that your body craves. The time between 5:00AM and 6:00AM seems to be the most magical! Post by Sarah Elena yoga_costa-rica-nature_sleeping-in-nature2-june_2016
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    Delicioso Plantain Ceviche Recipe

    December 22, 2015

    A Costa Rican Ceviche Recipe from the kitchen at Selva Armonia

    Ceviche is mad popular in Costa Rica! It's sold everyday in the streets and even on the beaches. It's usually made with raw fish, but this recipe uses plantain, which is still a very common dish in Costa Rica. I suspect the Ticas on the beach make it better than I do, but it's still a delicious dish to enjoy!
    • 1 large plantain
    • 1 large red onion
    • 5 limes or limones mandarina (as they are known here. They're a sort of cross between a lime, lemon and an orange).
    • 1 large red chili pepper
    • Around a quarter of a bunch of cilantro. Use the stalks, too, as they have loads of flavor.
    • A good amount of salt & pepper to taste.
    Dice the plantain into cubes, put it in hot water on the stove to boil for around eight minutes. While that's cooking, dice the red onion, red pepper and chop the cilantro. Throw them in a bowl and squeeze the juice of 5 limes over them, add salt and pepper. Once the plantain is cooked, throw that into the bowl and stir, then leave it to marinade. A few hours of marinading is good, but overnight is better. It's delicious when served with rice and beans or yucca flat bread. Today I just ate it with a nice salad. Buen Provecho!
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    Living Yoga is Living Free

    November 16, 2015
    Living Yoga is Living Free. Unclench your jaw right now. Relax your shoulders right now. Shift your eyes from your computer screen to something of the natural world, even if it’s a plant in your office or a photo of nature, right now. Take three deep breaths into your belly…right now. Yoga is not something we need to wait to do later on a mat in a studio. You don’t have to have the perfect yoga clothes, a bendy body or Popeye forearms. Yoga is right now. It’s the way we feel. It’s the choice to be in a body that feels a little lighter than the moment before. Yoga isn’t about waiting for our bliss. It’s about realizing that bliss comes and goes. It’s about releasing the aversion to change. It’s about letting life flow through you, rather than resisting whatever it is that is actually happening. Resistance is futile. Acceptance is liberation. Relax. Breath into right now. Live your freedom. Live your yoga. Namaste, Heidi Michelle
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    Raw Vegan Dessert Bliss Balls – Yum!

    September 6, 2015

    Selva Armonia's Raw Vegan Dessert Recipe!

    Enjoy these delightful vegan, gluten-free, nut-free, grain-free raw treats….we do! Yield: 12 macaroons Ingredients: 1 banana, finely mashed 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted 1/4 cup pure maple syrup (or other liquid sweetener)* 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract 6 tbsp cocoa powder, sifted 1.5 cups unsweetened shredded coconut 1 tbsp chia seeds (optional) small pinch of fine grain sea salt, to taste 1. In a medium mixing bowl, mash the banana until most of the clumps are gone. Stir in the melted coconut oil, maple syrup, and vanilla. 2. Sift in the cocoa powder and stir until combined. Now stir in the coconut, optional chia seeds, and fine grain sea salt to taste. 3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a non-stick mat. Using a spoon or retractable ice cream scooper, scoop rounds onto the sheet. Place sheet in the freezer for around 20 minutes, or until macaroons are firm. Store in the freezer until ready to enjoy. They will soften at room temperature. Note: 1/4 cup pure maple syrup results in a lightly sweet macaroon. Feel free to adjust the sweetener to your own taste buds, especially because some cocoa powders may be stronger than others. Have fun and stay healthy! Heidi Michelle  
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    Practice Yoga, Have More Time

    August 31, 2015
    Many people use the excuse of not having enough time as a reason to not practice yoga. In fact, this is a common excuse to not do many of the things that make us feel happy and healthy. Things like taking a walk around the neighborhood with our kids, preparing a fresh home-cooked meal, cleaning out the clutter in the garage or closet or booking that well-deserved winter vacation get sloughed aside. If we continue telling ourselves the “no time” story, we begin to believe it with resolution and we continue a pattern of deprivation. That’s no fun. Time slows (sometimes agonizingly) down in a yoga class. You know, when you’re right there in the heart of a posture, you think your quads are going to spontaneously combust and you want to hog tie your teacher and feed her bad kombucha (not that any of us have ever had these thoughts), she tells you to sink a little deeper and breath three more breaths. Every muscle screams in outrage and your mind scrambles for a way to cheat, but you don’t. Instead, you succumb to this wise woman’s time-proven guidance, shift your awareness to your breath and trust your body’s inherent strength. You breathe those three breaths as if they were your last and time moves like slow-dripping raw honey. Finally, when savasana is over and you glide blissfully out of the room shimmering in the sweat of your own efforts, you feel as if you’ve been on a luxurious journey. You feel renewed and satisfied, ready for whatever may come next. An inverse phenomenon occurs when we actually take the time to do vitality-inducing things. Activities like yoga, mindful walking and healthy cooking calm us down, our breathing slows and our attention becomes more focused. Surprisingly, it can feel like we have more time because we’re appreciating the present moment. This is the intention of living a mindful life. Yoga trains us for this every time we step onto our mats. The world moves quickly. Do yoga. Have more time.
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    Yoga: Find out what it’s all about

    August 22, 2015
    Immerse yourself in the yoga lifestyle in Living Yoga January 6-12, 2016 - with Heidi Michelle and Josh Wendel Yoga Lifestyle. “Yoga is not one more box to check. You don’t make a note of it in your phone or day planner and then cross it off. Yoga is not one more thing for you to do. Yoga is a way of being. Yoga is a lens through which you see yourself and the world, a vessel to help you navigate the earth. Quality not quantity. Compassion not competition. Intrinsic not extrinsic. Through yoga we learn to break through our habitual patterns and behaviors… The best breakthroughs happen long after you’ve rolled your mat up and walked away from the studio. A breakthrough is a deep breath before speaking. A breakthrough is a soft jaw you’ve spent a lifetime clenching.” ~Amber Shumake
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    Peace is Possible

    August 20, 2015

    We are here seeking peace, right?

    Greater internal peace. When we have peace within, we can have greater peace in our relationships, our environments, our workplaces, our communities and our nations. The internal reflects the external. The micro reflects the macro. Your life is a reflection of your internal states of mind-being. When we remember that we are all in this together, then I can look anyone in the eye and know that they you are my brother, you are my sister. You care and you matter. Your peace matters to me. So we come together to recognize this, to remember this and to play in the infinite playground of togetherness. What if it’s possible to have peace within? What would that take for you? The only thing I have control over is me. How are you creating peace today? This matters.
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    Uniting Through Yoga

    August 8, 2013

    What can an atheist, a Christian, a Buddhist and a Jew have in common?

    Yoga. One of the most beautiful things about Yoga is that it transcends dogma, tenets and paradigms. Or rather, belief systems that are valued by individuals can all fit in the same sweaty room, each co-existing upon their own sticky rectangular piece of personal real estate. Together. That’s kinda the point, actually. Yoga means “to yoke,” to bring together and unite. People, breath, community and nation. Yoga doesn’t ask that you give up anything other than, perhaps, your own destructive or unfavorable judgments and habits. What a wonderful world it will be when this all-encompassing practice of acceptance becomes a micro for the macro. Thank you for your cooperation.
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    Teaching Our Children Well…Through Yoga

    August 1, 2013

    Yoga for Children

    Teach your children to be calm and still. Show them how to take deep breaths. Explain that it’s okay to do nothing and that boredom is only a concept. Children learn from observing and feeling us. They learn to be peaceful by being around those who are peaceful, just as they learn to be nervous and anxious from being around those who are nervous and anxious. Model for your child the way that you would like them to be. Be kind to those around you and they will likely reflect your actions. Meditation and yoga cause immediate changes to the parasympathetic nervous system. We are better able to focus, think, be creative and handle stress. Something we all want more of, right?! There are many great resources for learning meditation with your child. Why not make it a family project? Spending even 5-10 minutes before or after dinner or first thing in the morning can shift a home’s atmosphere from one of chaos to one of peace and possibility. Stick with it together. They will love that you are taking devoted time to be with them. Make it fun and let your family witness your dedication to your practice. Nothing to lose, peace to gain. It’s a no-brainer, truly!
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    Urban Jungle vs. Nature’s Jungle: What would you do to feel better?

    June 20, 2013
    Ah, the tricksy perils of modern life. Traffic, timelines, meetings, appointments, insurance, stop lights, empty gas tanks, lunch with so-and-so, dinner with whoever, a store for every need and a restaurant for every mood. Choices, options, billboards, media, mega-stores, pressure to be more, do more, have more. Whew. Inhabitants of a typical western culture contend with uber amounts of details every day, leaving most with an almost constantly heightened fight or flight response. Throw coffee and other addictive substances into the mix and we’ve got some pretty spazzy nervous systems. It’s no wonder that yoga is sweeping the nation. Americans, quite literally, need to (and apparently want to) learn to relax. I live in a place without glass windows. Nor many walls, for that matter. Mother nature is my roommate. I manage a yoga retreat center tucked deep in the jungles of Uvita, Costa Rica. It’s my home for half of the year. I’ve just finished my second winter season and have returned to the United States for the summer. I’m only now realizing how much living in that foreign land has changed me, and why. This recent springtime transition from there to here was startling. It took me some time to figure out why my world felt rocked. Almost immediately upon landing on home soil, I felt spacey and distracted. My nervous system amped up and my thoughts became scattered. Making a decision brought unexplained angst. Of course, when I feel off kilter, I turn to yoga. Being still lets me calm my mind and figure out wtf is goin’ on. I got quiet. I realized that I was reflecting internal chaos because around me is chaos. This place is busy! But it’s only through the contrast of living in Costa Rica that I’ve come to know the chaos in the this country. It’s like a recovered addict finally understanding how much their drug of choice is effecting them. This only happens once the addiction is removed from the system. I removed myself from the “system” of western culture. I understand the effect it was having on me. Living in the jungle, in direct connection with Gaia (earth mother), where the pace is ruled by natural rhythms and there aren’t a gazillion choices, my nervous system gets to “unwind.” My sleep patterns changed. I sleep better. My eating simplifies. I desire live food of the earth. My internal world unclutters. My creativity heightens. I breath more deeply. I move more freely. I think more clearly. Yes, there is a certain amount of stress inherent in running a business, driving a car and having relationships. Yet, there’s a simplicity that’s allowed me to discover more of my true and relaxed nature, uninfluenced by what billboards tells me I should be and buy. Mother nature teaches me daily to expand and contract, accept and flow because I am in direct contact with her. I am her. There is no separation, literally. No walls. A bit of stress is healthy and inspiring, but we have become extraordinarily out of balance in the western world. Heart disease, caused by stress, is the number one killer in our country. The amount of stress that Americans (and other western cultures are following) have is normal, but it is not natural. Our natural selves are relaxed and creative. Our natural selves are flexible and vibrant. Our natural selves are playful and sensual. Taking yourself out of your daily routine, whether it be a barefoot walk in the park, a vipassana or a trip to the ocean, can do your nervous system a world of good. Go ahead, take 3 deep breaths. Do a forward fold in your office. Give your co-worker a hug for no reason. Turn on your favorite music and dance around. Go to yoga instead of the bar. Do whatever it takes to shake the stress from your body and mind. Whatever it takes. You are worth it. You deserve it. Your nervous system and your natural self will fall to their knees in gratitude. Heidi Michelle, a lover of all life and a compassionate resident of planet Earth, teaches individual and partner yoga, splitting time between the United States and Costa Rica. Believing yoga to be a practice ground for life, she manages Selva Armonia Re-Treat Center and Eco-Lodge as an organism for living yoga. Catch Heidi in Denver on Saturday, June 29th, for some Partner Yoga Play at Kindness Yoga on S. Broadway.
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    CONTACT INFO

    Costa Rica: 506 8334 0486 United States: 720 662 9438 Retreats@selvaarmonia.com Lodging@selvaarmonia.com Properties@selvaarmonia.com

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