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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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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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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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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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