Yoga. Surf. RawFood Day #6

My Costa Rica recaps: Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 4 and Day 5!

After the day of rest and an evening fashion host put on by our every own Ezmy and Kristi Soomer. (My surfing parter in crime. Hi Kristi!) Kristi has her very own clothing company encircled. Kristi was also on the last yoga retreat with Jackie and Brendan back in March. When I think this is what came from her experience, I’m reminded that yoga does amazing things.


Tequila shots are raw, right?

Tequila shots are raw, right?


Day 6:
Jackie started our morning off with a creative vinyasa class. I always love a good Jackie creative vinyasa, and this was no exception. This class was the was the full version of the sequence Jackie guided us though the day before everyone arrived. I really enjoyed the flow of class and felt much stronger today than the last. That is until we attempted this twisted crow pose, or whatever Jackie called it! Afterward, I was ready for more surfing! I was invigorated and wanted to hit the waves once more. But if had I known what lay ahead, I wouldn’t have been so enthusiastic.

I took the morning surf crew out again to have extra beach and Nosara time for the afternoon. When we arrived at the Nosara Surf Academy Kimberly informed us today was the day! We were going beyond the break! We were catching the big waves! Oh no.

Paddling out the the brake is exhausting. You paddle for so long, pop up over waves, turtle dive under others until you reach this area of calm waters. Then we sat. You sit on your board and wait until the right wave comes along. Until that moment hits our heart is pounding in anticipation of the thrill of riding the wave back to shore. I did this! I actually rode the big waves, but with the highs come the lows, and the with the lows comes fear.

When you’re up on the big wave that’s when you need to find the sweet spot and let everything come together. Because when it doesn’t there is a world wind of water beneath you ready to toss you around and around the moment you fall. This is called the Washing Machine. And it’s scary. You are tossed in every direction. You have no idea which way is up. You have no idea where your board is. But it’s what makes surfing that much more exciting.

My surfing buds, Kristi and Mandy, both had their share of the Washing Machine too. We were all shaken up and needed a release. Alcohol was that release. Hey, we survived a very intense surfing moment and it was Kimberly’s last day of coaching us. These drinks were drinks of “Oh my god, I’m still alive!” and “We love you, Kimberly!” The other drinks were not part of my plan…


What have we done?!

What have we done?!


Once the surfing crew came to meet us, more drinks happened and then the raw food cleanse was broken! I ate a veggie burger. A cooked veggie burger. At the time, I felt awful about it. But when I think of it now, I realize that didn’t die and I deserved something for my insanity of a surf day. Plus these yogis are amazing people and friends I will carry with me forever. Oh, that day in Nosara when I almost died and drank my fears away, good times in Costa Rica!


Yoga. Surf. RawFood: Day #5

After a brief break, my Costa Rica recaps are back! If you missed them, read about Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 and Day 4!


After a full day of being tired and complaining because surfing wasn’t my best, the next day was even tougher. I faced some major fears, and broke my raw food cleanse (I had a very good reason, I promise!) and really brought the awareness to myself that I can choose my own choice. And so the real journey begins…


I'm still happy to surf no matter what!

I’m still happy to surf no matter what!


Day 5:
Today began with qigong meditation and practice with Kevin. I was still sore from my 3 days of surfing in a row, the thumping and shaking felt great when I actually lifted my arms to do it. My body was stiff and I needed to shake this out. Even the slightest sensation of my heels thumping into the floor shook all the way up my spine and through my jelly like arms and legs. Really paying attention to parts of the body, as Kevin guided us through class, I could sense the parts that were sore and the parts of my body that needed special attention. I moved though class as best as I could, but it was tough and tiring. Where have I heard that one before?

Afterward, once the post qigong kicked in, I was ready! I was invigorated and wanted to hit the waves once more. I took the morning surf crew out to Noara and decided we would stay in town for the afternoon. And why not, the sun was hot, the water was warm, it was grand. Surfing today, for me, was mediocre. The waves were choppy and my pop-ups (or lack of) where hurting. I wasn’t standing on my board nor was I catching good waves. I guess you can’t win them all. Kimberly taught me the push up which you do over the smaller waves as your paddling out. You literally do a push up on our board and the wave goes under your belly and over the board. It’s not as hard as it sounds, unless our arms were dead like mine.


Time to go home. This picture was taken by Patrick, thanks Patrick!

Time to go home. This picture was taken by Patrick, thanks Patrick!


Today’s surfing was rough, so was yoga and so was the evening yin class with Ezmy. We did a lot of good things however – lower back, and hamstrings, oh my! Kevin played music for us again which did relieve some of the tightness in my hamstrings. Thank goodness this evening was our free night. I clearly needed a rest.


Yoga. Surf. RawFood: Day #4

Happy New Year! Let’s go back to January 1st, 2013 — day 4 of my yoga retreat. 2013 is the year I deemed as the year of big change. And it will be I’m going to be a yoga teacher remember?! That’s the plan. I’ve been sending this energy out there, to the universe, for I don’t know how long! And now I feel as though my stars are aligning. In the fire on New Year’s Eve, I burned fear and self doubt, and with that comes letting go of regret. I think back to where I was in September when I almost decided not to go on the retreat. But Jackie knew this decision wasn’t coming from my heart. It was fearful and worry clouding my mind. Thankfully, I listened to myself (and to Jackie’s advice) because I would have lived with this regret for a very long time.

Day 4:
2013 started off in the most perfect way I could imagine: vinyasa with Jackie! Jackie took us though a sequence focusing on lots of hip openers and back bends. It was the start of a brand new year, time to ring out all that stale energy! This class was extra special. My body moves to the smooth rhythm of Jackie’s words, I don’t just hear Jackie’s instructions I feel them. Ohhh I have shivers thinking about it and how I’m going to offer my class and practice to future yogis. It’s exciting stuff!

After class I meet my new surfing best friend (hi Mandy!) and two very lovely ladies for Moksha Downtown (hi Maria and Cathy!). Maria will be accompanying me to LA. She was also accepted to the Moksha Teacher Training. I am so overjoyed by this whole experience.

That afternoon, before hitting the waves, I went for a (very) quick run. I was in Costa Rica! It was hot! And I needed to conserve my energy for surfing. I ran for a good 20 minutes to Black Sand Beach. Erin’s training for a marathon and I am determined to run a marathon too. So I went for a run.

I blame the stupid run for what happened next. But in all honestly, when have I ever surfed 3 days in a row? Umm never. My arms were like jelly, sadly I was not the surfing superstar I had played up to be. I was tired and drained and I could not pop up on my board if my life depended on it. And today of all days Kimbo (the head surf instructor at the Nosara Surf Academy) was in the water taking pictures! I do not have documented footage of me on my board. This saddens me a great deal.

Everybody go surfing!

Everybody go surfing!

Back at the our yoga headquarters Ezmy lead another amazing yin class. My battered body and sore arms need the stretching and tenderness. The surfing yogi lives a hard life!

That evening Kevin gave a super interesting talk on the 8 Limbs of Yoga. So much I have to look forward to. And that, my friends, is how I spent New Years Day 2013.

Beach time! Happy New Year to me.

Beach time! Happy New Year to me.

My week in Costa Rica – Day 4

Today was free day! The day you could do what ever you like. Sadly, the planned excursion of white water rafting (which I totally would have done!) didn’t coordinate with our yoga schedule. Oh well, there is always next time, as my new future plan is to move to Costa Rica, invest in some real estate, and start up my very own coffee shop. I see no downside to this plan. The real challenge will be convincing my future investors this is a brilliant idea. Mom and Dad, just hear me out. A family business will be grand, I promise. Why wouldn’t you want to live in Costa Rica for part of the year and work? My mother is turning 60 this summer (now she’s going to kill me for letting that one slip), I see this as a new retirement move for her and my Dad.

The whole coffee shop plan didn’t just come to me in a dream (although a reoccurring one since then). I was inspired!

This particular day started off with a “regular” Jackie styled flow class, where we took into practice the method of Uddiyana Bandha. This deep belly breathing is invigorating and blasts bursts of energy into your practice when used correctly. There are different ways to use the bandha, but is most often used during a vinyasa sequence. Also, do not try this on a full stomach. Once you see, you’ll understand why.

Jackie told us to practice this at home and try coordinating it into our regular practice. Honestly, you’ll feel energized and fired up when you do. This is also a secret tacit used in shoulder stands — something else Jackie taught me. I’m so close now to my hand stand I can feel it. Catching the bandha is a way to lift yourself in to an inversion. Again, best attempted hours after eating.


Jackie instructing us to stand on our heads! I may have been the instigator of this.


My afternoon was spent by the pool, practicing inversions, then Jackie and Brendan took a few of us to town to their favourite hang out spot (before and after, they hiked to the beach and back). This was how they spent their first few days in Costa Rica before the students arrived. Other retreaters went to the national park for the afternoon, which Cecilley (my new work friend who I easily convinced to come on this retreat with me) and I decided to do later in the week. I really wanted to stand on my head, okay. And I really wanted to see this coffee shop Jackie, Brendan, Moira and Allison loved so much. I found out why. This dear place was too cute for words and all began when two people from the US met on the beach in Quepos and decided to move to there and start up a coffee shop together. End of story! Okay, so there is more to the story then that, but it happened and it can happen for me. My own Cafe Milagro still flutters in my mind.

After our delicious coffees we hiked down the mountain to the beach where the waves were insane and the view was picturesque. We frolicked in the waves then realized what time it was. Yin with Brendan began at 5pm, but Brendan was with us! We sprinted to the bus, hopped on for dear life and made it back just in time for class. Thanks goodness for speedy Costa Rican transit.


On our way to the beach, before heading down the mountain!


Now to help you understand the bandha, a video:


My Week in Costa Rica – Day 2

Okay it has been far too long between Day 1 and Day 2 posts. I am sorry. I know you’re all dying to hear more of my vacation of a lifetime. Erin and I are back from vacations and ready to take on the spring fitness season (more like summer with the weather we’ve seen).

Day 2 was our first full day in Costa Rica! Waking up to the sunshine, monkey’s chirping at us to rise and shine (do monkey’s chirp?), either way, the exotic wildlife was summoning me to the house for our morning ritual of fresh fruit and coffee surrounded in silence. After the morning mediation, lead by Allison, Jackie guided us through a crazy vinyasa class. Crazy as in crazy awesome! I’ve been taking Jackie’s 4pm vinyasa class at Moksha Downtown for the past few months (yes months) all in preparation for this very moment. This class rocked! The creative movement from binds, to bird of paradise through to tree pose was fun! Jackie’s unique transitions keeps you on your toes. Literally.

Then we ate. I look forward to this part the mostest. Then Allison was offering acupuncture sessions in the afternoon for anyone wanting one. After my painful experience from the night before, then falling asleep, I convinced myself to give it another try. When was I ever going to get free acupuncture in Costa Rica ever again? The night before Allison placed a pin in everyone’s zen spot (only if you wanted her to of course). I knew I was carrying a lot of “stuff” in my head these past few weeks, but I was not expecting the pain that came from it. I wanted to rip that pin out and throw it away! My whole head ached from my brain through my face. It was awful. Then magically the pain softened into a head ache then disappeared completely. Needless to say, I was terrified for what could come of this session. Allison suggested a heart opening treatment after I explained last night’s torture and that I didn’t have any aches or muscles to target, with the exception of my head.

Acupuncture is weirdly relaxing. For people who regularly go for treatments, I apologize. This was a whole new experience for me, which I feel obligated to share (it was one of those big moment during this retreat). Sticking pins in places where energy blocks are stored, that’s kinda weird. But when you actually feel heat coming from these spots you didn’t know could hold stress, that was cool. Allison has a voice of an angel and one that I can dose off to without knowing what is happening. She ended the treatment with balancing and grounding exercises, which was basically massaging my head. But then she placed her hands on the top of my head and a huge wave of energy flushed out of my body from the top of my head out through my feet. Dead serious. Like I said I knew I was carrying a lot of thoughts, stress, impossible or impractical dreams, and who knows what else, but I have never felt anything like Allison’s magic ever. I’ve been converted to a believer in the acupuncture.

Then we went to the beach! What else was I to do after the morning I just experienced? We finished the night off with an energy releasing yin class Brendan lead which involved partners (I guess his dancers do this for moves they have trouble with). I can see how this would relax your body. We did everything from hips to chest openers, it was lovely.

Another great day, full of new emotions and experiences. Next up I learn to surf!

My Week In Costa Rica – Day 1

After talking about this yoga retreat for months, it finally happened. Even after my epic birthday yoga challenge, and the Spice Girls show with Erin, which ended around 1 in the morning, I somehow managed to pull myself together, pack my suitcase and catch the cab to the airport with my fellow yogis on time! It was either the beer buzz, lack of sleep or the vacation high settling in – or maybe all of the above – but I was wound for sound. Costa Rica here I come!!

Its almost been a full week of reminiscing about the beaches, the people and the food. Oh my, don’t even get me started on the food! Moira and her Feel Good Guru will change your life. Being back in this real life of mine in Toronto saddens me. A lot. How does one come back to reality after a full week of bliss – silent mornings, waking up to the warm sun, the ocean view, coffee and fresh fruit – yes this was every single morning. The one thing I’ll truly miss is the yoga, a little weird I know. No 7am class will ever compare.That Costa Rican air is intoxicating.

Considering how life changing this experience was for me (and how fit I was being considering this was a vacation – doing two yoga classes each day, plus meditations, plus excursions) however, I did eat an insane amount of food so the fitness portion may bag to differ. I could’t help myself that Ronald, was a cutie, and a great chef too. Ronald (or Ranald as I tried calling him with a Spanish tongue, but was promptly corrected) was the house chef who came to help Moira each day with brunch and dinner.

I want to share the highlights of each day with you all. This gives me another reason to continue wining about how much I want to go back. Let’s start with Sunday’s arrival:

Team Delta force (those of us who flew Delta) arrived in San Jose mid afternoon to the heat and no luggage. But the missing luggage could break our spirits we boarded the bus with no worry – at least I wasn’t concerned – while we waited the arrival of our fellow yogi retreaters. Manuel Antonio was a short hour and a half drive, so we thought. That was until we found out the highway was closed because it was Sunday – of course! Who leaves town on Sundays? Apparently no one. Plan B – take the long way because its shorter, well Dad, not this time. 3 hours later we were checking into our Costa Rican home Casa Maravilla aka the yoga sanctuary.



Dinner was served, Jackie welcomed us, hugged and kissed us all, then Brendan served up some yin yoga – which I apparently need the rest more than the yoga. I totally fell asleep in savasana and poor Allison (Dr. Allison Creech, M.Ed, ND. Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine, yup we had our own naturopathic doctor at the retreat) had to wake me from my slumber. Mind you the last time I slept was over 24 hours ago (minus the bus ride and flights) so this is acceptable. The theme was move into stillness right after all.

It was going to be a good week.