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  • What are Açaí Berries Anyway?

    March 31, 2020

    Where I’m from, you don’t really grow up thinking about where your food comes from.  You don’t know how it’s grown or how to harvest it, and you literally have to take courses to know what’s a vegetable and a fruit. And still, you don't have any real hands-on experience. You don't feel the earth between your fingers, see what the seed looks like, or feel the excitement when it first peaks above the ground... so it was a real treat for me to witness the entire process of growing, harvesting and juicing açaí berries here at Selva Armonia.

    Acai Berries Juice Making Process
    The Acai Juice Making Process.  From left to right: the berry picked straight from the tree; the berry after the skin is peeled; and finally the juice.

    When you move to a country where understanding where your food comes from is as easy as stepping outside and picking it off a tree, you learn a lot every day.  But learning about açaí has been the most mind-blowing venture yet.  

    For a year and a half, I watched the oropendolas birds build nests in the palm tree by the Selva Armonia pool.  Quite a scene that can keep you entertained for hours. One after another after another, and as they build they make the most distinct and hilarious gargling sounds.  They are persistent and when done, we are left with wilting palm leaves heavy with nests. When the weight finally breaks the branch, the beautiful creations are kept as decor.        

    While all this was happening, I didn’t really notice anything else about the tree.  Didn’t even think to ask... Until I witnessed the process of making açaí juice. It wasn’t until the very end, when I asked where the juicy berries came from, that I realized it was from this same palm tree.  Amazing!  

    Known as a huge health benefit superfruit, these are just a few facts about açaí berries:

    • They keep you regular
    • They are high in calcium
    • They have a ton of omega 3 fatty acids
    • They improve cholesterol levels
    • They're loaded with antioxidants
    • They boost brain function!

    In Canada, you are either paying a pretty penny for açaí berries that say ‘fresh’ on the label, or you’re buying them dried or in powder form.  And really -- what’s fresh? I don’t think there’s anything more fresh than picking them right off the tree, and since they aren't grown anywhere close to my old home, I have to question the definition of "fresh"!  

    10 pounds of freshly picked açaí berries later, I roamed into our Casa Grande kitchen and found the berries were ready to juice.  “Purple Gold” as they call it. Such a rich colour, and they all looked ready to burst with flavour. 

    Harvesting Acai Berries

    Once the berries were washed with water to remove any debris and tiny hungry jungle critters, we put them in a large pot to soak with boiled water. Next came the tedious task of removing the skin from each and every single berry.  When you have 10 pounds of it, it calls for some music and fun conversation!  

    Getting ready to peel acai berries

    When it came down to it, a masher just wouldn’t do, and good old fashion “get your hands dirty” was the only way to get the job done. With some determination, love, and patience, 4 hours later the skin had been removed from each tiny berry. 

    A long, peeling process...

    The final step was to throw everything in a blender and smooth out the bits of peel -- the parts bursting with nutrients and antioxidants that you for sure don’t want to miss out on.

    This sweet goodness is now stored in the fridge, cooling down and ready to be used in tons of creative recipes, from smoothies to açaí bowls to straight-up shots of berry juice... Mmmmm!

    The finished product!

    Cook: Maria Fernandez
    Photographer: Natasha Pirani
    Written By: Natasha Pirani


    Upcoming Retreats: March 2020

    February 29, 2020

    As the dust from Envision's festival season starts to settle, the start of spring brings a return to "retreat mode" with another busy month of growth, yoga, spirituality, and adventure to look forward to here at Selva Armonia! Keep reading to learn about the upcoming yoga retreats we're hosting in March 2020 and the unique offerings each one brings to guests.

    Manifest Your Journey - Selva Armonia Yoga Retreats March 2020

    Manifest Your Journey

    Dates: March 1-7, 2020
    Hosted by: Allie van Fossen, aka The Journey Junkie

    "Learn to manifest your journey using the chakra system with Allie van Fossen, aka The Journey Junkie! We’ll spend six transformative days learning, mapping, and embodying the manifestation current of the chakra system – a framework that brings your dreams from consciousness down to the earth plane.

    The manifestation journey begins in consciousness where we open ourselves to new ideas, set intentions, and upgrade our belief system. It then descends through six energetic layers that involve seeing, speaking, connecting, doing, feeling, and having our dream. You will leave this retreat with a clear understanding of what to do at each energetic level and how to successfully manifest your dreams!

    When you’re not manifesting in Selva Armonia's open-air yoga studio, you can relax and rejuvenate by the infinity pool, read in a hammock, book a spa service, or take a mid-day siesta in your bedroom. You get to do you, while also being fully taken care of by myself, the chakra system, and your retreat community."

    Ignite Your Inner Nature - Selva Armonia Yoga Retreats March 2020

    Ignite Your Inner Nature

    Dates: March 15-21, 2020
    Hosted by: Kate Nicholson & Mae Corwin

    "Hit pause on the pressures of daily life to immerse yourself in the rich and diverse natural wonders of Costa Rica. This retreat will be an opportunity to connect with a supportive community of women while living artfully in nature, exploring inner and outer landscapes with fresh eyes and renewed energy.

    We will use the eastern philosophy of the five elements in our daily practices to cultivate a deeper connection in Presence, Pleasure & Purpose. Less doing and more being; transplant yourself into a lush and therapeutic environment where you will have ample time and space to rest, relax, play, explore, and just sit with the bigger questions that stir within you. "

    She Thrives - Selva Armonia Yoga Retreats March 2020

    She Thrives: Women's Yoga & Self-Empowerment Retreat

    Dates: March 25-30, 2020
    Hosted by: Kim Wenger-Hall & Toby Israel

    "Love to laugh? Want to reconnect with your inborn optimism and treat yourself and the planet with loving-kindness? Ready to own the ease and self-acceptance that are your birthright?

    Press the reset button on your daily grind and enter a space of empowerment, fun and regenerative service. This retreat is for women who want to THRIVE—and not just survive! Journey with us to receive...

    Clarity: Guided inquiry, meditation and ceremony to peel away layers of anger, shame and fear to see clearly what is aligned and true for you and reclaim the magic of your ancestral wisdom.

    Strength: Empowerment Self-Defense: fun, dynamic, and incredibly effective tools created by women for physical self-defense as well as setting and maintaining strong boundaries.

    Balance: Vinyasa yoga to wring out stale energy and fire up the heat of transformation. Restorative yoga to soothe the nervous system and assist the integration of healing.

    Joy: Soul-healing connections with other Earth-centered women and generous time for play in the sun and surf.

    Satisfaction: Work side by side with residents of Uvita on service projects to help our home Planet heal herself, re-membering there is no true inner sanctuary if we are not also healing the outer sanctuary that is our Mother Earth."


    Upcoming Retreats: February 2020

    February 3, 2020

    February is an exciting time for us here at Selva Armonia! As festival go-ers, yoga teachers and wellness practitioners flock to the beaches of Uvita, Costa Rica for the 10th anniversary of Envision Festival, the world's original jungle festival, we prepare our own grounds for retreats and events that offer additional opportunity for guests to explore some of the festival's (and our own!) founding pillars: Permaculture, Health, Movement, Sustainability, Spirituality, and Community.

    As the festival's sister retreat center, developed by Envision co-founder Josh Wendel, we hold space to put these principles in practice and reinforce them into daily life all year long -- but we LOVE the heightened energy around Envision time! Keep reading to preview what incredible Costa Rica retreats we have in store for February 2020!

    Envision: Herbal First Aid Clinic & Training

    Herbal Clinic Costa Rica Retreat

    Dates: February 9-16, 2020
    Hosted by: Sarah Wu

    "Have you ever wanted to be in service, gaining hands-on experience in herbal medicine and First Aid? In the fast-paced, high vibe setting of Envision Festival, students of all levels get to learn and practice, with the supervision of skilled professional herbalists. Learning basic acute care, on-the-fly formulations, herbal materia medica, client intakes, and pop-up herbal clinic strategies, students get an immersion in integrated medicine and community resilience.

    Participants embark on a 16-day adventure with 40 hours of learning through lectures, demos and role-playing, and 20 hours of clinical practice. We will spend 7 nights at Selva Armonia Retreat Center and 8 nights at Envision, having two half-days off.  You'll be working with a team of established herbalists to support the Official Medical and Harm Reduction departments at Envision Festival. Students become a part of the Envision team, bringing holistic wellness to this amazingly eclectic community!"


    Upcoming Retreats: January 2020

    December 27, 2019

    With the new year right around the corner, retreat season is officially upon us, and our team at Selva Armonia is so excited for a year full of growth, fun, and fulfillment! We love sharing our space with people from all around the world, giving them a chance to reconnect back to nature and their inner selves. Every retreat offers something special and unique to its attendees, and we're so grateful to be able to facilitate those once-in-a-lifetime experiences in our jungle home. Keep reading to preview some of the amazing Costa Rica retreats we have in store for January 2020!

    Wide Open Writing

    Wide Open Writing Costa Rica Retreat January 2020

    January 19-25, 2020
    Hosted by: Dulcie Whitman & Nancy Coleman

    "Writing is a path to the creative genius in all of us. Whether you call yourself a writer or not, we know the transformational power of putting yourself in a nurturing environment with permission to notice what you notice and then write about it.

    Come be part of a writing community that is devoted to co-creating magic in a place well-known for its magnificent scenery, gourmet vegetarian food, and deep connection to the natural world. Join us for 7 days/6 nights as we settle our body mind and spirit into the magical bounty of the Costa Rican Rainforest."

    This is Life: Ultimate Yoga & Movement Retreat

    This is Life Ultimate Yoga & Movement Retreat in Costa Rica

    January 29- February 4, 2020
    Hosted by: Erin Ward-Williams & Victoria Hegedus

    "Join yoga and movement educators, Erin Ward-Williams and Victoria Hegedus, on a one-week feel-your-best retreat in beautiful Uvita, Costa Rica. Think yoga, mindful movement, and fueling your body with nature's most nutritious foods.

    Enjoy morning vinyasa yoga practices as well as offerings of functional movement that get you feeling your muscles and building true body awareness. This is your chance to experience yoga and Costa Rica's natural beauty all in one laid-back and inclusive setting... explore waterfalls, lounge by the pool, or head down to the beach for a peaceful retreat. Join us for a tropical adventure as we zip-line through the treetops and dance with the waves of the Pacific!"

    Want to learn even more? Check out our full retreat listing to find the retreat that resonates with you! We hope to see you in the jungle soon!


    Coming Soon: The Selva Armonia Plant and Recipe Book!

    December 7, 2019

    If you’ve ever paid us a visit in the jungle, you probably already know how much love goes into the preparation and presentation of our food. We draw inspiration for our recipes from Mother Nature herself, harvesting ingredients from our garden and infusing the Selva Armonia spirit into each nourishing, vegan meal. 

    Today, we’re proud to announce that you can soon take your favorite recipes from the rainforest home with you!

    Inspired by our incredible edible garden, two of our former volunteers, Néstor Feijoo Melián ( and Eva Díaz Bethencourt (@evadiazbeth), returned to Selva Armonia earlier this year to collaborate on this special project with our head chef, Yery Picado (@chefyery). 

    Thanks to the hard work and devotion of these three wonderful humans, the Selva Armonia Plant & Recipe Book will be available for purchase online in early 2020! A direct reflection of the love that surrounds our kitchen and gardens, the Selva Armonia Plant & Recipe Book is full of your favorite vegan recipes made on-site and fun descriptions of the ingredients that flourish in our Costa Rica gardens. Sign up for our newsletter to make sure you're the first to find out how you can get a copy and put some Pura Vida in your kitchen! 


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    Preview our new Selva Armonia Plant and Recipe Book!

    See what guests are saying about our food: 

    “Selva was gorgeous at every turn, and the staff was the most warm, friendly, and full of high energy. We had the most relaxing stay and amazing meals on site. You won't want to leave to head down to the beach, but the beaches are also uncrowded and gorgeous. Can't recommend enough.”

    Lance P., 2019

    “Wonderful yoga retreat with a view of the ocean! The staff were the best and friendliest. Meals were fresh off the farm!”

    Francis S., 2017

    “Absolutely stunning location with fantastic views. The staff are all friendly and very helpful. I can’t begin to explain how wonderful all the meals were. I definitely would love to go back some day. Pura Vida at its best!”

    Lara P, 2019

    Retreat Spotlight: Manifest Winter Wellness

    March 13, 2019

    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

    Photo provided by Travis Steele Sisk for Manifest Winter Wellness Retreat

    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.

    Photo provided by Travis Steele Sisk for Manifest Winter Wellness Retreat

    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.

    Follow Travis on Instagram here & as well as Manifest Bodyworks!

    We can't wait to see the photos from this years Manifest Winter Wellness Retreat - follow us on Instagram & subscribe to our newsletter!


    Retreat Spotlight: Yoga Caravan

    December 2, 2018

    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!  

    Pillars Series: Movement

    November 5, 2018
    Founded in 2006, Selva Armonia was built on 6 integral pillars: Community, Health, Permaculture, Spirituality, Sustainability, and Movement. 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

    - Co-written by Sophia and Natasha Pirani


    Simple Ways to Go Inward and Trust Yourself

    August 22, 2018
    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

    3 Ways to Renew & Restore your Balance

    July 24, 2018
    Feeling unbalanced can cause unhealthy stress, negative emotions and at times, pure anguish. Nine times out of ten, we're running on empty, putting others and different situations before our own needs until we hit a wall and are left wondering how to remedy the situation. When you feel out of balance within yourself or in your daily life, gain control of your current situation with these steps:
    • Let Go of Control: Let’s face may think you’re in control of all that is going on, but really, you’re not. Trying to control different situations and their outcomes is completely exhausting. Release the need to control how relationships, career, finances, health and family situations will turn out. In essence, release the attachment to the outcome. But how does one go about doing that? Getting a handle on this can be done in a variety of ways from meditating and yoga to simply surrendering the situation to the Universe so you can be in the Universal flow of life. You will begin to feel balance restored; however, it’s not a one and done fix. It truly is an ongoing practice. Just like exercising, you will begin to see and feel the benefits over time.
    • Take it Down a Notch: Put the brakes on.  Take notice...are you actually breathing? Well yes, you are breathing but are you aware of your breath and using it as a means to restore balance to yourself? Breathing techniques, whether through an actual breathing practice, yoga or meditation are great healthy ways to feel more peace and balance within yourself.
    • Get Rid of That Which No Longer Serves You: What does this mean?  Take inventory of all that is going on around you. Are you overextending yourself? Are there people just sucking the life force out of you? Take a moment to see what you feel you can do without. Running on empty is never a good feeling and if you’re not careful, your systems (mental, emotional, physical and spiritual) will give you SURE FIRE signs you're taking on too much. If you’re able to cut things out of your life that no longer serve you, feel okay about doing it.  Remember, restore the balance and it is okay to say no.
      Looking to reconnect and restore your balance? There’s no place more rejuvenating than the Costa Rican jungle! Check out our yoga retreats happening year-round at Selva Armonia, a retreat center dedicated to your highest good.

    ‘Everything in life has to have balance’ - Donna Karan

      By Sarah Blanks

    Pack your Bags, Leave your Baggage!

    June 19, 2018
    Going on a trip? How many bags? Just that big one over there...the emotional baggage? Let’s face it, we all have emotional issues.  The emotional issues we experience could stem as far back as childhood and even further back if you believe in past lives.  You carry some of your emotional burdens from lifetime to lifetime depending on whether or not you have healed them. Emotional issues can be from different forms of relationships in your life. Some are parent and child; some are siblings and friends; and many are from romantic relationships. Many people have emotional triggers and usually what sets them off are other people in our lives. That then brings the emotional baggage directly up to the surface for it to safely stare you back in the face.  You will never be able to escape these issues until you confront them head on and begin to release them. And this, my friend, is where healing begins. Releasing these emotions is quite healthy and oh so good for your body, mind and soul. Releasing can be done through crying, being creative, practicing yoga, meditation or anything else that truly gets you aligned with your Higher Self and the Universe. If these emotions are not released, they can root even further into you and begin to show themselves as illness, aches and pains and yes, even dis-ease. Turning off the outside world and going within for personal reflection can be truly beneficial for your health. It can:
    • - Release negative emotions
    • - Release limiting beliefs (I am unworthy, I am undeserving)
    • - Reduce negative self talk (monkey chatter)
    • - Reduce overall stress
    • - Allow you to be more mindful
    • - Allow you to be more aware
    • - Raise your vibration
      Healing yourself and your emotional baggage is not an overnight process, though I truly wish it were.  It can take some time for you to truly feel better and to even get to the root (underlying) cause of what is making you feel the way you do. You have the ability to do this on your own, hire a spiritual advisor/life coach, or even pack your bags and head on a soul-healing retreat for a few days to get the ball rolling. Healing takes time, so patience is a must.  Be kind to yourself during your healing process. One thing you do need to remember is you cannot escape yourself. Wherever you go, your issues go too. Where I go, there I am.   By Sarah Blanks

    Retreat to Costa Rica and Go With the Flow

    May 26, 2018
    It’s a practice to go with the flow. Letting go of attempting to control situations in our life isn't always easy. How does one go about doing so? Honestly, it takes daily practice. But once you release the need to control the outcome of something and relax into it, you will be surprised how quickly it comes to you.  Your mind, body and soul should work hand in hand to allow the flow to happen. In any given situation between two people, we are both the teacher and the student.  You’re in each other’s lives for a purpose and a time. We are put on this planet, in this lifetime, to learn lessons and for spiritual growth.  Once you learn your lesson with a specific situation, a new opportunity may present itself to you and off you go leaving the old behind to continue fulfilling the lessons your soul needs to learn. It’s never easy, though.  As humans, we tend to live in the future and wonder, worry, think…that darn thinking!  If we could only turn off the chatter (you actually can!). But how? There are a number of ways to attain this ranging from quieting the mind through meditation and yoga to going on walks in nature. Each of these three practices, if done on a daily or semi-daily basis, will help to nurture your soul so you can Be and live in the present moment (most of the time). At times, we also tend to cling to situations by becoming attached to certain outcomes until it's all we can see as we trudge forward with blinders on. This is fear based energy and trust me, you don’t want to be basking here. Have ever had a discussion with someone where you were attempting to recall a movie title, but no matter how hard you concentrated and thought about it, the movie title just never came? Then, five hours later, as you’re brushing your teeth for bed, BOOM…the movie title encroaches upon your brain and you feel as if you’ve hit the jackpot. We’ve all been there. Why did it come so easily to you five hours later and not in the moment when you were trying so hard to remember it? You relaxed. You were going with the flow. That is why. Put this into perspective in dealing with your life situations. If you’re having trouble focusing on daily life activities, my suggestion to you would be to occupy your mind.  Just stay busy. Take all of that energy and focus it on self-love through yoga, your career, your family, working out, writing, anything to do with creativity also works very well. Do activities and be around people that bring you joy and happiness. This is love based energy. And this is where you want to be. Remember, if things are meant to be, they will be.  Simply relax into it. Do you have the desire to tap further into your flow? Come flow with us at Selva Armonia during a Yoga Retreat in Costa Rica! There’s no better space to get back into your mindfulness practice than being surrounded by wild jungle with a stunning ocean view!   By Sarah Blanks

    Keep Your New Year Intentions Alive!

    May 4, 2018
    As the newness of the new year wears off and we move into May, our motivation and intentions may start to take a back seat as well. This year you planned for greatness, right? Don’t let your inspirations and goals fall to the wayside and get lost in the mix of work, family, eating, exercising, and life in general. We get it, it’s a lot to accomplish! Were you planning to sign up for a marathon, cooking classes, or a yoga retreat? Here area few tips to help you keep sight of those fresh intentions you set for the new year.   Write it all down There’s major power in putting a pen to paper! Write all of your goals and intentions down. Be as clear and specific as you can. Better yet, leave some extra pages in there so you can keep adding as you go along. Written goals and intentions have a higher percentage of actually being realized. At the end of the year, you’ll see how your life has shifted and changed through your intentions. You’ll get to appreciate and reflect on your year’s story of trials and accomplishments which continue to shape who you are each day.   Find an accountability buddy Whether you’re embarking on a cleanse, yoga practice, or making room for some self-care in your life, an accountability buddy is there to keep you on track. Share the highs and lows of whatever you’re going through together and increase the chances of sticking to your set goals. Were you thinking on skipping that workout? Not going to happen! As accountability buddies, you are there through the thick and thin to motivate, inspire, and work towards your mutual goals.   Use the power of meditation Meditation is a wonderful tool used to keep us on track with our intentions and goals. The key is to focus on the FEELINGS you wish to have through your process. How do you want to feel today, this week, or this year? Use this power to attract your goals to you. The more you meditate on those fuzzy feelings from your upcoming achievements, you’ll be closer to manifesting them into reality.   Don’t give up! If you have gone off track a bit, don’t call it quits just yet. Turn to these tips to get you through this ebb until you’re back in the flow! Pull out your notebook, read over your goals, chat with your accountability buddy, meditate, and make a plan for your week. Life is about making minor tweaks, adjustments, and changes along your journey to balance and happiness. Know that everything you want is already yours. You just need to tap into your abilities to stay on track to living the life you want! Was a Yoga Retreat on your list of intentions for this year? There’s no better time to book a Yoga Retreat in Costa Rica! Selva Armonia hosts retreats all year long. Take a step in sticking to your goals and join us in the jungle!   By Sarah Blanks

    What does Self-Love look like?

    April 27, 2018
    Most of us were never taught the art of loving thyself. We are so focused on the quest to find ‘the one’ that we have missed the most important one of all…ourselves. In order for you to really get the love you want and deserve, you must start with loving yourself first. Self-love is simply the regard for your own well-being and happiness. No one has control over this but you. One thing we must remember is that it is okay to put yourself first for once. Remember this, you only have me, myself and I. This is a relationship we cannot escape from, so we're continuously tested to learn the art of loving ourselves. Loving yourself first is the greatest gift you can give to yourself. But what does loving yourself look like? It is and should be different for each and every person. Self-love comes in many forms ranging from treating yourself to a massage or a spa treatment for complete relaxation and releasing the negative energies and toxins to knowing your worth and not putting up with anyone’s mistreatment of you. By mistreatment, I mean any kind of abuse from mental and emotional to spiritual and physical. What is your worth and how important is it for you to recognize how important you are? Did you know we actually teach someone in the first 6 months of any type of relationship how to treat us? If you don't set healthy boundaries within those first 6 months, you might be entering a relationship that isn't the healthiest for you. It can even become challenging to set your self-love boundaries in future relationships. Of course, don't give up hope! If you find yourself heading down a path in a relationship that may be negative, simply sit with yourself, get centered and make a decision that is for your Highest Good and best interest. When you love yourself first, you are setting a precedence for many positive relationships, situations and opportunities to come into your life. You may not realize it at first, but it will happen. Keep your self-love practice rolling each and every day. Remember to give love to your mind, body, and soul each day. This can be as simple as walking alone in nature to get grounded, giving yourself 15-minutes a day journaling and meditating, or a big gesture such as booking that yoga retreat for yourself that you’ve had your eye on! Nothing is more sacred than the love you give yourself. <3 So try it.  Be self-LESS and practice some self-LOVE.    By Sarah Blanks

    6 Items to Add to Your Sanctuary

    April 3, 2018
    Between morning routines, long work days, time with loved ones, and whatever else you have going on, creating a sanctuary space in your busy life is essential! Maybe you can’t immerse yourself each year in a wellness or yoga retreat, but you can take a little piece home with you to have all year long. Why are sanctuaries so important and what do we mean by them? A sanctuary is your own quiet space or area that you can turn to in order to slow down, reflect, meditate, and relax. Your sanctuary is here to remind you to pause, breathe, and take a moment for yourself. Each sanctuary will depend on the person but here’s some ideas to add to get you started…   Journal Journaling is a powerful tool to get our ideas, hopes, dreams, and fears all down on paper. Feeling overwhelmed or in total bliss mode? Journal about it and sort through these emotions by your sanctuary. As time passes, you’ll have a blueprint of your growth, challenges, and victories throughout time.   Crystal Crystals come in all shapes, sizes, and colors and compliment any sanctuary space. Pick one that you feel speaks to you. Crystals are excellent tools for healing, grounding, meditation, and setting intentions. Interested in manifesting more abundance in your life or that job promotion you’ve been waiting for? Visit your crystals, your precious little reminders of all that you can make happen in your life...   Candle Sometimes all you need is a nice candle. Scented, unscented, colored, short, tall, whatever your preference. There’s something special about a candle that can be instantly relaxing and set the beginning or end tone for your day. Journal or meditate by candlelight and get lost in the warm glow of your sanctuary.   Essential oils Essential oils come in a wide range of scents, properties, uses, and health benefits. Mix with coconut oil for a quick body rub, drop into an infuser to engage the whole room, or simply inhale to experience the benefits and properties of the oils of your choice.   Sage / Palo Santo stick A sage or palo santo stick is a must-have to clean the air around you and your space. The aromatic properties found in sage and palo santo are perfect for clearing out any lingering negative energy and can help you relax into you time. Make or pick up the herbal bundle of your choice and add extra zen to the area.   Something special Place a meaningful object or something simple that feels good to you to compliment your sanctuary. A shell from the beach, a stone, or an object from nature may just be the piece missing on your alter!   Since you can’t completely take home the magic and sanctuary provided in a yoga retreat, creating your sanctuary space to bring you back to those present moments is the next best thing you can do. Has your intention been to join the sanctuary of a wellness or yoga retreat? Immerse yourself in the sanctuary of Costa Rica and book a retreat with Selva Armonia Yoga Retreat Center in Costa Rica. We hope to see you in the jungle! Pura Vida!

    Experience the Pillars of Envision Festival at Selva Armonia Yoga Retreat Center in Costa Rica

    February 23, 2018
    Couldn’t make it to Envision Festival this year or looking for an extended experience? Join us at Selva Armonia Retreat Center located in Uvita, Costa Rica! Selva Armonia Retreat Center, owned by one of the founders of Envision, hosts Yoga retreats all year long. Come and experience some of the main pillars of Envision: Permaculture, Spirituality, Art, Music, Movement, Community, Health, and Eco-Building. How does Selva Armonia embody some of these main pillars to create an unforgettable experience?   Permaculture During a yoga retreat at Selva Armonia, guests learn basics in permaculture and see this incredible work in action on the land of the retreat center. Farm to table meals are served every day during retreats and guests can fill up on nutritious, fresh, organic, goodness! At Selva Armonia, visitors will be immersed in a conservative way of living which is focused on ending single use plastics, reducing, and reusing. Come see how Selva Armonia harmoniously works with the land and the pristine environment of South Pacific Costa Rica.   Spirituality Selva Armonia is nestled mountain side overlooking the South Pacific coastline and the infamous Whale’s Tail. Connection to nature is inevitable as howler monkeys can be heard in the distance, blue morpho butterflies flutter around the property, and magnificent scarlet macaws are often chatting above. Yoga retreats at Selva Armonia facilitate awakening and higher consciousness through meditation, ceremonies, and yoga practice.   Movement It’s a given that movement through yoga classes on a daily basis is a principle part of the experience at Selva Armonia. The exploration of other movement is also encouraged. At Selva Armonia, you can dance, swim, skip, and frolic in the lush, wild jungle surroundings.   Community By booking a Costa Rica yoga retreat at Selva Armonia, you are stepping into a collaborative community. Retreat experiences are a group of individuals from many different walks of life who have come together for a purpose. Making friends here is easy, and you’ll always cherish the transformative time spent with your Costa Rica yoga retreat family!   Health Much of our health starts with the food we eat and proper nutrition is a top priority at Selva Armonia Retreat Center. Embarking on a yoga retreat in Costa Rica allows you to nurture all aspects of your physical, mental, and emotional health. Those who decide to retreat with us are served top quality, farm to table, organic, gourmet meals. Yum! Not only will your taste buds be delighted by the fresh fruits, special prepared breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks, your body will be too!   Eco building A main reason why many choose to book a yoga retreat in South Pacific Costa Rica is the abundance of undisturbed nature and beauty. Selva Armonia was built with a vision of creating minimal impact on the cherished natural environment that can’t be found anywhere else in the country. Renewable materials and integrated systems are designed to protect, love, and respect mother nature’s work of art here. A retreat at Selva Armonia preserves the peace and tranquility you came for.   Feeling inspired by the pillars of Envision Festival? Come LIVE and immerse yourself in these principles at Selva Armonia Yoga Retreat Center in Costa Rica!

    5 Things Your Body will Love this Valentine’s Day

    February 13, 2018
    Valentine’s Day isn’t only for showing loved ones some extra love, it’s for you, too! Embrace this Valentine’s Day as a happy reminder to give your body a little extra boost and a “Thank You” for everything it does for you each and every day. Here’s a few easy things you can do on Vday to give your body some extra love...   Take a deep breath Did you know that most humans are not using the maximum capacity of their lungs and breathing correctly? Taking the time to breath deeply is a quick, simple way to relieve stress, muscles, aches, and pains. Effortlessly detox and sleep easy with some deep breathing!   Have a good stretch Often we forget to give our body a good stretch. Just a few minutes of stretching per day can increase our flexibility, prevent injuries, and heal some areas that are feeling a bit tight. Lower back issues or a stiff neck from the day-to-day routine? It’s incredible what a little stretching can do to change the overall physical state of our body. So take a few minutes this Valentine’s Day and show your body some love!   Drink a big glass of water Did you know most Americans are dehydrated? It’s easy to forget to hydrate our bodies between our busy schedules and cooler weather. The trick is to be drinking water before you’re feeling thirsty. Proper hydration helps your body run smoothly and keeps your skin looking and feeling fresh. Give your body a good cleanse with lots of water all day long!   Get some sunshine Cold sunshine, warm sunshine, whatever kind of sunshine. These seemingly never-ending, long winter months that you may be enduring are tough. If you can, get some sunshine on those cheekbones. If you can’t, perhaps plan yourself a vacation to the tropics for a recharge! Costa Rica, maybe?   Fill up on fresh, organic goodness Perhaps it’s not in everyone’s budget to be eating strictly organic all the time. But hey, it's Valentine’s Day! Treat your body to some yummy organic goodness and along with your breathing, stretching, water, and sunshine, a healthy meal will perfectly compliment your Valentine’s Day.   Don’t worry, we get it, we can all be guilty of forgetting to tend to our body’s most important needs. If you’re looking for more than just a day to immerse yourself in breathing, stretching, and focusing on your health while being surrounded by sunshine, consider booking a Yoga Retreat in Costa Rica at Selva Armonia Retreat Center! Check out our lineup for this year and get your body, mind, and spirit on the right track! Happy Valentine’s Day! <3   By Sarah Blanks

    4 Benefits of Switching to a Whole Food Plant-Based Diet

    January 25, 2018
    Diets are everywhere and just about on the face of every magazine these days, especially with the holiday season coming to an end. Here, we'll focus on 4 things that happen when you switch to a Whole Food Plant-Based Diet. But we want to get one thing straight: This is not the type of ‘diet’ you may be thinking of. The Whole Food Plant-Based Diet is a style of eating where animal-based products and processed foods are not consumed. This means meat, eggs, oil, refined sugar, or anything processed is avoided! It’s not about cutting calories, measuring protein, or using some confusing point system. The Whole Food Plant-Based diet is all about fruits, veggies, nuts, beans, whole grains, and other foods straight from the source. Why would someone choose this style of eating as a way of life? Although the transition period may be challenging, the benefits of switching to a Whole Food Plant-Based Diet are impressive. Here are 4 things that may happen after making the switch: 1. Healthy weight loss Once your system has some time away from all of those processed foods and options that simply are not serving the body, weight loss can steadily happen as a result from this style of eating. Thanks to the internet, it’s pretty easy to get a hold of some expert advice on how to initiate a diet in which all of your nutritional needs are satisfied. A well-rounded Whole Food Plant-Based Diet paired with regular exercise can be a great option for someone who is would like to lose weight in a healthy way. 2. Reverse/prevention of chronic illness and disease It’s no surprise that eating directly from the source is able to prevent chronic illness and disease. But did you know it can even reverse them as well? There’s been a lot of talk about how the diet is a powerful tool in healing our bodies and keeping them healthy for a lifetime. In many cases, food is the best medicine. 3. Improved immune system Are you sick multiple times a year? If the body is stuffed with processed foods, refined sugars, and other gook, it’s no wonder you may be getting sick. A Whole Foods Plant-Based Diet is a great way to get your immune system back on track and give it a boost. Try it out and you may see that you’re sick less often and you recover faster from an illness as well. 4. Overall better health A Whole Foods Plant-Based Diet is linked to assisting the body in maintaining overall better health. When you’re eating directly from the source, you’re getting the nutrients that nature intended and your body knows how to use. That seems like more than enough of a reason to at least give it a try, right? Other styles of eating can also provide a fully nutritious way of living and we encourage you to do your research and tune in to what really feels right for your body. Here’s to health and happiness for the New Year!   By Sarah Blanks

    5 Tips for the Beginner Yogi

    January 5, 2018
    Yes, yoga has incredible health benefits for mind, body, and spirit. We know that. Maybe your social media feed has been screaming at you to get on a mat and overloading you with yoga poses, yoga pants, yoga towels, yoga, yoga, yoga! Perhaps your friends are all into it, your mom is into it, and even your grandma is stuck in child’s pose. But what if you’re just not that into it? You’re not alone! If yoga is something you truly feel can benefit you physically, emotionally, and spiritually, don’t let a little internal resistance hinder what could be an epic journey on the pursuit of your yoga practice. Here are a few tips to finally “get into yoga.”  
    1. Have an accountability buddy!
    This is a must and number one on my list. Having that friend or family member yoga buddy who calls you in the morning to ensure you get to class can make a world of a difference. I know… it’s cold, you didn’t sleep well last night, you have more work to do. You’re accountability buddy is there to see you through those excuses and get you onto that mat!
    1. Consistency is key
    There’s no need to go buy an unlimited package and make a goal to practice five days a week and then dub yourself a failure when you only make it to two. Does anyone remember SMART goals? Start out with what you CAN do, and be consistent. If you can't hit a class as many times a week as you'd like, at least get some stretching in each day for a few minutes to turn sporadic practice into a solid habit.
    1. Go at a time that fits your energy levels
    If you’re not a morning person, for peet’s sake, don’t go in the mornings. You don’t need to torture yourself to begin practicing yoga. However, if you think a morning practice, against your usual norm may benefit you, then go for it. Do yourself a favor and pick a time that fits your energy levels. Most studios offer classes at various times of the day.
    1. Find a class or style that fits you
    I initially abandoned yoga, shortly after trying, because I wasn't in the right class for me. Try a few different classes and see what you like. If you’d like to linger in some poses and stretch out some muscles you haven’t used in a long time, don’t opt for the class where the instructor is almost flying through the sequences. Yoga classes are not a one-size-fits-all matter. Realizing there are different types and paces of yoga that fit individual needs can reduce some frustrations you may have surrounding it.
    1. Evaluate why it's a challenge to "get into yoga"
    If you aren't interested in it, then that's OK! But if you genuinely think yoga can positively impact your life but have a hard time consistently practicing, take the time to figure out what part you're struggling with. If it feels too hard, try a beginner level class. If it hurts, research poses that can help certain parts of your body. Reduce whatever obstacles you're facing so you can make a smoother transition while practicing yoga. Now grab your accountability buddy and get on that mat! Oh! And if the cold is the main cause of your lack of motivation… why not book yourself a yoga retreat in Costa Rica? What better way to kick start your practice than in the sunshine above the salty sea?

    See our Yoga Retreats in Costa Rica!

      By Sarah Blanks

    The Spiritual Side to Pilates: 3 Steps to Chakra Healing

    December 24, 2017

    How Pilates Can Help Your Chakras!

    If you’re new to the topic or practice of pilates, here’s the quick rundown of where it came from and why it’s used. Pilates was created in the 1920’s and has been used by physical therapists to help patients recover from injuries. Pilates mainly works on core strength and has a more medical background. You may be aware of the benefits of Yoga and it’s ability to work with the chakras in the body for better functioning and healthier living. But what about pilates? We can use that too!

    Here are some ways Pilates can help Chakras move in harmony if we’re feeling off balance by chronic stress or past traumas:
    1. Core strength
    The seven main chakras stretch from the base of the spine to the top of the head (if you’re not aware of what chakras are or where they are, that’s ok. I would recommend exploring this a bit). Pilates poses and sequences work to strengthen our core and engage movement in these areas to stir up this energy and release blockages.
    1. Alignment of the spine
    When meditating, sitting, or practicing yoga or pilates, alignment is an important factor. A part of healing and balancing chakras also focuses on alignment along the spine. Pilates is just another way to mindfully align your body to increase the healing potential of the exercises.
    1. Breathwork
    Effective breathwork is a major component of pilates that can be used when working on chakra balance. Breathing exercises allow for the movement and direction of energy through the body. Concentrating in this area is another sure way to use your dedicated pilates practice time to effectively assist the harmonious chakra movement. Interested in Yoga, Pilates, healthy living, or spiritual practices? There’s no better place to explore all of this than being immersed in a Jungle Retreat in Costa Rica! Does waking up to the sun’s first morning rays high on a mountain surrounded by crisp, salty air, breezing in from the Pacific Ocean sound like a dream come true? Don’t hesitate to check out Selva Armonia’s 2018 Retreat Schedule and take much deserved time out for YOU! Book your retreat while there’s still space available...    By Sarah Blanks

    We’re looking for volunteers!

    December 22, 2017
    We are currently looking to fill the last two spots of our exciting volunteer program at Selva Armonia Eco-Lodge and Retreat Center! Selva Armonia, or “Harmonious Jungle," provides exceptional retreat space deep in the rainforest of Uvita, Costa Rica, overlooking the South Pacific Ocean. We are a true eco-lodge combining elegance with a rustic atmosphere in a breathtaking jungle setting. This space is used for world-class teachers, healers, yogis, facilitators and nature-enthusiasts to celebrate and share their gifts and teachings with others.   What will you be doing? Volunteer duties include, but are not limited to the following:
    • Assist with meal prep & clean-up in our wonderful open-air kitchen, overlooking the famous Whale’s Tale beach
    • Foraging herbs and leaves from our organic, permaculture farm and greenhouse
    • Assist staff with onsite events and retreats
    • Provide friendly customer service to all retreat guests
    • Maintain a healthy, positive working environment among staff
      What’s in it for you? An exciting work opportunity in the Costa Rican rainforest, isolated enough to deeply reconnect with nature and your inner self. It’s not only the perfect opportunity for personal growth but for a deeper understanding of permaculture, retreat centers, vegan cuisine, Costa Rican culture, alternative living, and healthy lifestyle choices. Volunteers will stay on site in our spacious, cozy camping space. A tent, air mattress, linens and towels will be provided. On working days, all meals are provided and on days off, you are welcome to use the kitchen facilities to prepare food and apply all your learnings! When do we need you? We would love you to come and support us during our retreat season, starting January 1, 2018. Schedule of available opportunities to be discussed once you apply!




    3 Quick Tips for a Consistent Meditation Practice

    December 7, 2017
    What do you do when your meditation practice resembles a dusty book that’s been on the shelf that you won’t put away because you keep promising yourself that you’re still going to read it… soon? We get it, life happens. New work, old work, piling stress, noisy kids, crazy holidays, travel, and whatever else you’ve committed yourself to has shoved your once glimmering meditation practice to the backburner. Or maybe you haven’t even really tried meditation, but you’re positive that you’re too busy for it right now, but you will start one day when life calms down a bit. If you’re waiting for life to “calm down” to start, that likely will not happen! If you really want to rekindle your relationship with meditation, you are going to need to jam one more thing into that packed schedule of yours! The good news? You can start with TWO minutes! Really… you only need TWO minutes per day to get your meditation practice on track. Can you spare two minutes per day for a life altering practice? Here are a few quick tips to help get your two-minute practice off to a good start: 1. Start with the TWO minutes Start small and increase the time you spend little by little as it works for you. No need to be ambitious and start with 10 minutes if you think this may be a stretch. This will prevent you from feeling frustrated if you’re getting back on track after a long hiatus or just starting out. 2. Stick to roughly the same time and setting If you’re feeling fresh right after you wake up, go ahead and take your two-minutes at the very start of your day. If this time of the morning may put you right back to sleep, a quick session before you leave the home just may do it for you. Scheduling your meditation time around the same time and setting will help you develop a routine around your practice, thus increasing the likelihood that you will adopt it as a part of your daily life. 3. Hang in there for the long haul It’s ok if you don’t have 10 minutes per day to commit to your meditation practice. The consistency of a few minutes every day is much more beneficial than 10 minutes once a week. This journey will take time and consistency. Setting realistic goals for yourself that you’ll be able to stick to will increase your success in incorporating meditation into your daily schedule and reaping the benefits of your dedication! Good luck and happy meditating! Here's a list of some great, free Meditation Apps!   By Sarah Blanks  

    Yoga or Pilates? The REAL difference.

    November 17, 2017
    Yoga and Pilates offer many of the same incredible health benefits. It’s no surprise increasing numbers are using these practices to reap the benefits that each of them offer. Both increase flexibility, strengthen muscles, improve posture, prevent/heal injuries, and reduce stress. From an outsider perspective, Yoga and Pilates may seem quite alike, which can create a bit of confusion. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or someone wishing to add something new to your regimen, you’ll want to evaluate which practice best suits your needs and goals. Perhaps you’ll find a mix of both that can be just the right fit for you! What are the real differences between the two highly beneficial practices? Here’s the breakdown: The quick history: Yoga is a holistic and philosophical approach to fitness that also incorporates spirit into its practice. Yoga was created in India approximately 5,000 years ago. However, the practice of Yoga has just hatched into the western world over 100 years ago. Still fairly new! Pilates was created in 1920 and used by physical therapists for patients who are recovering from injuries. This practice helps the body recover and protects it from future injuries. It’s safe to say Pilates was created more from a medical perspective.   Core Principles: As we mentioned, Yoga is all about balance. Which make it no surprise that core principles here cover proper exercise, breathing, meditation, relaxation, and diet. Yoga focuses on balance in ALL areas. Mind, body, and spirit. Pilates focuses on concentration, control, centering, precision, flow, and breath. Both practices encourage better health, but Pilates has more of a narrow focus and does not include an extensive holistic approach as Yoga. CORE strength is the name of the Pilates game!   Class differences: If you currently practice Yoga, you may already have a good idea on what to expect when entering a class. Yoga classes truly vary on a person-to-person basis or the individual instructor in a class setting. Teachers and individuals can be flexible with routines and customize them to their liking. Since Yoga also places emphasis on mind and spirit, meditation or chanting is often incorporated into class time. If you’re new to Pilates, you can expect a Pilates class to be a bit more structured and straight forward than a Yoga class. These classes are also quite active and centered around using deep abs and pelvic floor for the sequences. Participants will certainly be feeling the abdominal burn after one session!   Workout: As we mentioned, Yoga is a tool to bring balance. This exercise works out all muscles equally to create balance and harmony in the body. Although stretching and relaxation are core elements of the practice, don’t mistake it for the easier of the two, Yoga can be very challenging as well! Pilates is all about strengthening the core. A wide range of muscle groups are used naturally in the practice as a support to core movements. Those who practice Pilates can expect postures and sequences to be focused on aligning the spine and and building abdominal strength.   So what will it be? If you’re looking to focus on spirituality, manage stress, increase flexibility, strength, cardio, and go the whole nine yards, Yoga may be the right fit for you! If flat abs, a strong back, and athletic performance are on your radar, give Pilates a go. Since Yoga and Pilates compliment each other well, try a mix of both to suit your unique needs! Thinking on taking your Yoga or Pilates practice to the next level? There’s no better place to receive world-class instruction and experience than fully immersing yourself into a retreat! Join our ------ retreat in the wild jungle of Costa Rica to embark on a truly unforgettable experience!   By Sarah Blanks

    Our 2018 Retreat Schedule is Here!

    September 8, 2017
    In 2018 at Selva Armonia, there's a yoga retreat for everyone. Selva Armonia is more than just a yoga retreat center; it's a holistic living experience where visitors can wake up to the sounds of toucans and howler monkeys and rest easy to the relaxing hums of the jungle. Organic, farm-to-table meals are served fresh from food grown right on the property or local sources. Our elevated center is deep in the rainforest and overlooks the pristine beaches of South Pacific Costa Rica. Breathtaking sunsets, ocean breezes, and breakthrough yoga sessions is what you can expect to experience here with us. Enjoy the rustic elegance of the grounds with world class teachers, yogi peers, and others who are embracing the holistic lifestyle that we offer. Whether you’re looking to take a break, have some adventure, connect with your purpose, reconnect with yourself, or become a teacher, we have something for you! Here’s our 2018 lineup you won’t want to miss: Eat Stretch Nap Retreat in Costa Rica Do you classify yourself as a workaholic who could really use a break? Our Eat, Stretch, Nap Yoga Retreat in Costa Rica is the perfect opportunity for you to get away from the bustle of your daily life and focus on the care that YOU need! This retreat is for yoga, relaxation, friends, and fun. Enjoy fresh organic meals, beach excursions, going deeper into your yoga practice, and all that Costa Rica has to offer. There’s no better place than here to focus on all aspects of your health – your body, mind, and spirit will thank you. Yoga Caravan 2018 Retreat in Costa Rica Our Yoga Caravan Retreat is ideal for an adventurous soul who is looking to grow through their yoga practice. Let the Costa Rican jungle nurture and inspire you to connect deeper with yourself and those around you. Discover and explore hidden waterfalls, pristine beaches, and barely touched parts of the earth. This is your safe space to let go and truly reconnect with your surroundings! Manifest Winter Wellness Pilates Retreat in Costa Rica Winter have you feeling cold and stressed? Come loosen up those muscles, bronze your skin a bit, and strengthen your practice though intensive Pilates Mat class. This retreat pairs education and application through learning about different anatomical structures of the body and how to strengthen them through Pilates. Enjoy the incredible surroundings of the retreat center and spend your free afternoons untangling your built-up stress as lazily or adventurous as you please. Align to Shine: Jungle Discovery Retreat in Costa Rica Selva Armonia invites you to join Tracy Rhinehart in calling upon the strength of your yoga practice to elevate you towards living to your absolute fullest! This retreat is to awaken and motivate you to aligning yourself with your purpose. Come learn how to use your practice to create opportunity, vision, and move into the direction of living at your fullest! A Yoga Teacher Training Immersion in Costa Rica This year’s Yoga Teacher Training Immersion in Costa Rica will be far from an average teacher training retreat. In 2018, we are here to assist you in connecting with where your heart lies in the practice of yoga and will support you to teach from that space. We will accomplish this as a group through an immersion experience: meditation, philosophy, yoga practice, listening, reflecting, personal development, breathwork, holding space, and practice teaching. We believe this will be a highly transformative experience for all who are seeking to teach from an authentic place in the heart. Start the 2018 year off right and come join us for a relaxing, wild, holistic, transformative experience! We are ready to provide a supportive, safe, and dynamic space for learning, fun, and connecting. Journey with us to the jungle of Costa Rica and venture inwards to start improving all aspects of your life!

    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!

    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

    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

    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

    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


    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


    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

    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

    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!  

    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

    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.


    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

    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

    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!

    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

    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  

    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.

    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

    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.

    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.

    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!

    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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