As we wrap up the 3rd annual Manifest Winter Wellness Retreat this week at Selva Armonia, we wanted to share a little bit more about this retreat. We had a chance to sit down with Travis Steele Sisk, Pilates Instructor of Manifest Bodyworks & retreat Leader, and here's what he had to say!
"Nothing is more revealing than movement" - Martha Graham
Tell us more about why you choose Selva Armonia to host your Manifest Winter Wellness Retreats?
This will be my third time hosting my Manifest Winter Wellness Retreat at Selva Armonia. Hosting this retreat is my most looked forward to event each year! I love seeing new and pre-existing clients of mine relax, unwind, and strengthen their bodies as the week goes on. I love playing the role of "Cruise Director", ensuring everyone is getting exactly what they want from their retreat, and what better place to do it than deep in the jungles at beautiful Selva Armonia? I love the seclusion of having the entire retreat center for our guests is one of the biggest draws of Selva Armonia. Having a peace of mind that all of Selva Armonia is completely eco-friendly and environmentally sustainable in every way! The gorgeous pool and gardens of the property only adds to beauty of this lodge... and THAT VIEW NEVER gets old!
What makes your retreat unique?
I really try to let each retreat guest tailor their time to as much physical activity or relaxation as they desire. Though all the classes are built into the retreat schedule, I let my guests know from day one that they should not feel obligated to attend every class or go on every waterfall excursion that is offered if they would rather take some quiet to themselves. This is very much their time off from their busy lives and they should feel free to choose how and when they want to relax during their time in Costa Rica.
What are your hopes/goals for folks attending Manifest Winter Wellness for the first time?
I will let a previous attendee answer this one for me! "Travis designs a wonderful retreat of exercise classes, adventures, beach time, and excursions. We never felt over-scheduled or bored... How he managed that perfect balance still boggles my mind."
How would you instruct your guests to prepare for this retreat?
I would strongly encourage retreat attendees to take at least three contemporary Pilates mat classes in the two weeks leading up to my retreat. As this will strengthen your body and familiarize you with Pilates exercises so that everything I will be teaching doesn't seem so foreign.
Tell us a little bit more about your practice!
I first came to Pilates as a form of cross training while touring as a dancer and later developed a love for the practice while attending mat classes at The Kane School in NYC. I believe Pilates gives you a great foundation of strength, enabling your body to able to tackle any other sort of physical activity you choose to perform with ease; whether it be surfing, aerial silks, or trekking through the city with arms full of groceries. I have developed a desire and passion to share benefits of this practice to those who seek it out.
Action is movement with intelligence. The world is filled with movement. What the world needs is more conscious movement, more action.
- B.K.S. Iyengar
This coming February, Selva Armonia is proud to be hosting Shannon Hill’s Yoga Caravan for the 5th consecutive year. Centred around adventure and personal growth through the path of Yoga, Shannon establishes a safe and nurturing environment to go wild and reconnect with yourself and others. Giving endless opportunities for adventure, it’s really no wonder why this retreat has so many returning guests year after year!
While spending a week here at Selva, guests will enjoy a selection of gourmet house-made vegan meals, with produce selected from our botanical gardens, guided daily meditations, waterfall hikes and more. Twice daily yoga practice on our floating bamboo yoga and movement deck is an experience like no other, and under the guidance of Shannon, Lindsey & Meg there is no shortage of challenges and encouragements as you expand your practice.
We had a chance to speak to Shannon about what draws her back to Selva year after year, and she had this to say:
"Selva Armonia is remote and tucked deep into the jungle while also being close to town. This provides the perfect backdrop for connecting deep with nature through the views, animal noises, and day trips to the surrounding areas. The food at Selva Armonia has always been a huge hit not only because of how amazing it is but also because of the dedicated time for sharing and being together. We play a game at the dinner table each night called Banana Rose Thorn and it is always hard for guests to think of a thorn (a bad part of their day)!”
In addition to the daily retreat activities, guests will be given a tour of Selva's botanical and edible gardens, take trips to the amazing beaches that line Uvita, and hike beautiful trails to breathtaking waterfalls. Of course, there are always additional optional activities like a relaxing massage therapy session or even surf lessons if that is of interest.
Want to know more? Visit Yoga Caravan's event page here. You can also follow Yoga Caravan on Instagram here to stay up to date!
Founded in 2006, Selva Armonia was built on 6 integral pillars: Community, Health, Permaculture, Spirituality, Sustainability, andMovement. Our Pillars Series explores each one a little more closely, bringing forth the beliefs of our community and center. Bringing forth our expressions that make up the foundation of our harmonious jungle home. Plato once stated that
‘lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it.’
This is why one of the fundamental pillars of Selva Armonia is Movement, because we believe that a conscious mind and body is the most appropriate vessel for your soul. With this comes longevity and functionality in your day to day life, and we can’t find a downside to that! Our personal favourite methodical exercise is Yoga: the perfect combination of grace, strength and endurance - it’s principles and practices have incredible health benefits when implemented intentionally into ones life. Our space is a sanctuary for those who choose to fill their lives with this life-changing practice. It is why we see so many world-class leaders and their passionate students flock to our home in the jungle to experience movement at it’s finest. But it’s not the only reason why we feel a resonance with Movement everywhere we are on our grounds. Our stunning hanging deck draws the desire to practice any kind of movement. Whether it’s asanas, roundhouse kicks, the flow of sound waves, or the simple expansion of our rib cages when we breathe in and out, Selva Armonia makes space.
And our space is infinite and ever-changing. There are no limits to the types of movement that occur here. And we owe that to our little spot here on Pacha Mama (mother earth) that provides new life and forms every day. You could witness a leaf bug doing a dance to their own beat, or hear the sounds of cicadas calling out their love. The earth is moving when we are sleeping, and life is changing around us at every moment.
We also make space for the movement of our minds. Embracing a lifestyle that encourages growth and exploration. We make time for finding deeper understanding of our many layers, peeling them away and discovering new depths. Up in the mountains, our paradise gives us many reasons to take moments to explore within. And of course, best of all, we practice and encourage the movement of our cheeks! Smiles and laughter every day.
Come MOVE with us - whatever that might mean for you, we are here to support the Movement
Learning to trust yourself can be quite the obstacle to overcome in life. Some people have no issues with this at all, but on the flip side, many struggle in making decisions and being at peace in knowing the right decision was made...sometimes teetering back and forth like a see-saw.There are many outside influences that can have dramatic effects on how you feel before, during and after making a big life decision. The first thing to realize is that you matter. What you want from your life matters too. Maybe it’s time to seriously assess where you are in your life, where you want to go, what responsibilities you currently are obligated to. Remember, you matter. And we cannot give to others fully unless we've taken care of ourself first. We have all been blessed by the Universe with an inner guidance system or as many refer to it, our gut instinct. Learning to develop and listen to this guidance can be a great gift we can bestow upon ourselves. Your inner guidance system is a direct link to a Higher knowing and once you begin to listen and trust it, it will never steer you wrong. When you are faced with a big decision in your life, go inward and listen. Meditation can assist with this greatly. And meditation isn't something to be done only when you’re faced with a trying situation. Five to 10 minutes of daily meditation will not only help you trust your inner guidance and hear your inner voice, but it will also help your overall mind, body and spirit when the going gets tough.Another fun thing you can do is to ask yourself questions out loud. For example, 'Should I move across the country for this new job offer?' You can actually feel it in your gut, the answer to your question. If you feel a HECK YES, then you know your answer and you can actually trust that. If you feel a HECK NO, then again, you know your answer and maybe need to further assess your situation. All in all, just knowing you can trust and believe within yourself is huge. Not many people can fully state this or feel comfortable even thinking about it. Keep checking in with yourself, even on small decisions. Listen, discern and go conquer your dreams.
Pura Vida <3
By Sarah Blanks