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 #3

Another sunshine filled day, another morning I woke to howler monkeys. (These guys were going to take some getting used to.) Despite the early wake-up, I was pumped for surfing and pumped for the evening to come! It was New Year’s Eve and the reason I was in Costa Rica, to celebrate 2013 with strangers, Jackie, and my fellow Costa Rician yogis from the Moving into Stillness retreat. Who needs alcohol when you have the beach, the jungle, and a giant bon fire?!

Day 3:
Kevin began our last morning of 2012 with more qigong meditation. This involved more shaking and more thumping — every joint, limb, muscle, everything! — we were shaking out a whole year of stress, sadness, and anything that didn’t serve us. It was time to let go and get on track. I was preparing for a whole new year of change!

Kevin then guided us through a vinyasa flow class to follow. His attention to detail and the manner in which he teaches is truly remarkable. I am a huge fan of this teachings, and see why Jackie is too. I felt strong and fluid this morning. A great feeling for the new year to come, lots of positive energy was surrounding me. I could feel it!


Jackie, Kevin, and Emzy!

Jackie, Kevin, and Ezmy!


That afternoon was surf time! And, of course, surfing rocked. I worked with my surf coach Kimberley once again. This time we moved on to an advanced surfing technique to get out to the big waves faster: the turtle dive. Basically, you tuck and roll under the wave before it crashes into your face. I was exhausted by the end of it. Surfing is a lot of work for a little high. But it’s totally worth it! I was riding my own waves again and I wasn’t feeling afraid. Success!

Evening yin was lead by Ezmy once again. Another fantastic class — yin always is especially after surfing — but this one was cut short due to the New Year’s Eve festivities. After dinner, we gathered in a group and wrote down, and then shared, our fears, goals, thoughts, and resolutions for the year to come. Retreats blow my mind with the emotion and pure honesty that comes up. The therapeutic side reveals itself in a healing and accepting way. It’s absolutely amazing. People break down walls and open up, it’s a beautiful thing. We then partnered up and stared into each others eyes for 10 minutes. The uncomfortable and unsettling fidgeting took place, but ease and curiosity then took over. The power to look at someone, really look at them, can tell you a lot with out having to know or talk to them. Then we shook it all out! Just like I have done before.

Everyone then marched to the beach in silence and burned the things that came up we didn’t want to carry with us into the new year! It was invigorating to throw a piece of paper in the fine. But I believe it was the start of my big change for 2013.


Happy 2013!

Happy 2013!

Yoga. Surf. RawFood: Day #2

Need to catch up? You can check out Day 1 of my yoga retreat here.

After a peaceful sleep at my new jungle home, Hecienda De Sol, I got cozy with my four roommates and made sure I knew where the important amenities were located: the practice room, the bathroom, and the dinning hall. I woke up that morning to the Costa Rician sunshine in my face and the sound of howler monkeys ringing in my ears. It was clear, I was in the jungle now!

Day 2:
Jackie began this morning with creative vinyasa. Boy, have I missed Jackie. But to my surprise the lady leading the morning meditation was not Jackie. Nope, it was Ezmy! Having arrived late the night before, we did not get to meet Ezmy at the opening circle. I was so intrigued by Ezmy the moment I met her. She was light and fun and couldn’t be more happy. And Ezmy saw my blog post about her and Mosksha LA! I knew right then and there Ezmy and I would be friends.

Jackie worked our hips this morning. Despite not practicing with Jackie for months, my body knew exactly what to do, even if my brain did not. I’m not the only who misses Jackie. The whole Moksha Yoga Downtown crew can attest to the change. We all miss you, Jackie!

After class was beach and surfing time! Before the retreat Jackie assigned me driving duties, today would be Day 1 of driving the dirt and narrow roads to Nosara. Luckily, all went well and we found the Nosara Surf Academy in no time.


Let's go surfing!

Let’s go surfing!


My instructor for the day was Kimberly, a hard core surfing gal from Florida. I was petrified. But by the end of Day 1, though, I as paddling my our waves and riding into the beach like a real pro. Must have been all the practicing from last time? Or maybe I’m a natural?!


The beach is this way.

The beach is this way.


That evening was a Kevin-inspired yin. We thumped, we stretched, and moved our joints around in many different ways. It wasn’t the yin I was expecting, but the “after” feeling blew my mind. Kevin knows his yoga, and knows how to express the feeling of yoga in an energetically stimulating way. I can not wait to visit Kula in NYC. After dinner, Ezmy gave a talk on the seven chakras of yoga.

The next day was New Year’s Eve and something special was in store for us. 2013 was going to start off great.


Yoga. Surf. RawFood: Day #1

Happy New Year!! I’m back in Toronto, where it’s cold outside and there’s snow on the ground. This is completely acceptable for this time of year, but I am sad. Why does this upset me so, you may ask? It’s because I just returned home after spending my holidays and New Year on a beach in Nosara, Costa Rica with my favourite yoga teacher Jackie Szabo and my 39 new friends!

Yes, I went on another yoga retreat and, yes, I went on one back in March with Jackie.

When Jackie told me she was organizing another yoga retreat over New Years I knew by hell or high water I would be there with her to celebrate. I just had to! Jackie invited two of her favourite yogis – Kevin Courtney and Ezmy Stavroff – if Jackie’s favourite teachers were going to be there, there was no way I would miss this.

After a lovely Christmas with the Elliott’s in Minden I drove back to Toronto, packed my things and woke up early Boxing Day to catch my flight to San Jose. I took a few extras days to travel Costa Rica before the retreat started. Costa Rica is so beautiful and all I did for 10 days is yoga, surfed and ate raw food… well for the most part that’s all I did.


My week schedule!

My week schedule!


Day 1:
The retreat officially began Saturday evening, but where I arrived early Jackie suggested we practice in the morning before we headed to Nosara that afternoon. Jackie lead the silent class and gave us a small taste of the hip opener class to come. Brendan then lead the floor series with lots of gentle twists. I was beyond happy practicing with Jackie once again. It’s been months and months since I’ve seen her last!

That afternoon I met Kevin — The Kevin, Jackie’s inspiration. He’s the man behind Jackie’s corky, fun things we do in class. Like buzzing like bees and shaking! Kevin was so humble and wonderful to talk with. We all then jumped in Kevin’s car and headed to Nosara to pick up my 7 passenger taxi. I offered to help Jackie out this time around, she put me on driving duty. But, in return, surfing all day everyday was in store for me! I thought it was an excellent deal.

Late that afternoon the rest of the crew arrived and Kevin lead us through a light flow class and introduced qigong meditation. This felt great after days of traveling. We shook and “huh’ed” out our breath as we released the energy blocks in our bodies. I knew then and there that Kevin would be a inspiration to my own teachings.

A great week was ahead, I could feel it.


Every morning we did yoga! Yes, we did.

Every morning we did yoga! Yes, we did.

My Week in Costa Rica – Day 3

Man, I really wish I could remember all the amazing things we did in Brendan’s yin classes over the week. Honest to goodness, he is a yin master. It is rather hard to believe that I – the yin student worshiper – has never taken a yin class with Brendan before this trip. If you haven’t done so yet, please do. Brendan teaches the 5pm yin class Saturdays at Moksha Danforth. Just pick up a copy of Sweat Equity and go. There is a free Moksha class in very issue (an amazing piece of information I had to share!).

Thoughts of Brendan came to mind on Sunday when it took the 6pm yin at Moksha Downtown with Bruce. Bruce is a newer teacher (to me at least, but not to the Downtown community). His class was delightful and challenging, much like Brendan’s. Another highly recommended yin experience for anyone looking for suggestions.

So, after the interesting partner work Brendan had us do, my little brain was a stirring for Tuesday day – I was going surfing! Now every guy friend I told about going to Costa Rica for amazing food and yoga all responded with “Are you going surfing?!” My response? “What? Heck no! Are you crazy?” Surfing not only scares me in the same strange way that downhill skiing does, I promised myself I would never do either due to the dramatic fact that I could die! Yes, this is very dramatic.

But what did I find myself saying months before at Moksha Downtown when Jackie said she was going on the surfing excursion? Oh, just saying, “I’ll totally learn to surf with you, Jackie!” What on earth was I thinking?!

After another fantastic vinyasa class with Jackie that morning, the bus pulled up at precisely 9:30am as scheduled to lead me to my doom. Thankfully there was a pretty big group of us going, of which most have surfed before, at one point or another. I however was the only one who had not, nor had ever, touched a surf board.

Me with my surf board before I hit the waves.

There is a certain rush that comes with surfing, which I totally understand now. I was more determined than ever. If I was going to attempt this surfing thing, I was not only going to get up and ride the waves, I was going to get up more than once and do it well!

Okay, so the third goal didn’t happen (not for a long shot) the first two did happen! With a personal teacher at my side pushing me in front of the waves then yelling at me when to stand up, I was hanging 10 by the end of the morning. I really was!

Me surfing! Be impressed!

I get why Costa Rica is a place where everyone is supposed to surf – these teachers make it too easy. I’m not complaining. I actually learned to surf and didn’t die trying.