Yoga in Costa Rica

By Aída Gabriela Araya Cascante   Photo by Andrés Madrigal

Brief

Yoga Guide: What is yoga? Different Types of Yoga • Yoga at the beach, mountains and city

Because of its wide range of natural elements, Costa Rica’s landscapes offer a unique environment in which to practice yoga. Here we show you how and where to enjoy yoga on the beach, in the mountains and in the city.

What is yoga?

In the Hindu tradition, yoga aims to integrate an individual’s soul with God (note that the concept of God in the Hindu tradition is not the same as it is in the Christian tradition). Additionally, Hinduism uses more rationalist concepts which affirm yoga’s purpose of developing spiritual consciousness in order to develop the nature and spiritual destination of one’s being.

From Hinduism’s traditional point of view, there is a distinction between soul and mind. The soul, according to this belief, is impassive. The mind is always emotional and changing. Practicing yoga is what calms the mind’s fluctuations and anxieties through discipline and self-awareness of how the mind works.

The traditional concept of yoga is perceived as a discipline that helps satisfy basic human needs: physical needs, through health and exercise; psychological needs, through self-awareness and decision making; and spiritual needs, through feelings of happiness and peace. When these three needs are balanced, according to Hinduism, there will be harmony.

Important Concepts from Different Types of Yoga
There are traditional types of yoga, non-fundamental and those derived from modern schools that date from the second half of the 20th century.

The traditional Astanga yoga, also known as Eight Limbs of Yoga, poses basic concepts that are also used in many other types of yoga. Some of these concepts are: postures known as asanas, which are comfortable postures for meditation; controlled breathing (pranayama) to absorb the prana, or energy present in the air to help aid purification; sensory control, or pratyahara, and dharana, or meditation.

The non-fundamental doctrine, Hatha yoga, uses the asanas (body positions) to generate meditation and mental and physical serenity. Astanga Vinyasa yoga emphasizes synchronized breathing during yoga movements in order to produce heat in the muscles and organs. The heat and sweat, in turn, detoxifies the body. Kriya yoga uses calm breathing to affect the heartbeat, disconnect the senses and help the mind reach a conscious state. The end result is mental and physical cleansing. Kundalini yoga, introduced into Western cultures in the 1970s, includes postures, controlled breathing, slow movements, chanting of mantras, fixed postures and pre- and post-exercise relaxation.

Some modern schools focus on the energy present in the sacrum bone, also called Kundalini. When this energy is activated or mobilized, it generates sensations that have real repercussions in the central nervous system. These results aid in balancing other energy centers in the body, known as chacras. Among the modern schools is Swasthya yoga, which is a systematized, practical yoga; and Matha yoga, which has a therapeutic component that works towards good health through free expression and respect towards other beings.

For more info on the practice of yoga

Yoga on the Beach:

La Cusinga Lodge, Costa Ballena
Inspired by the geometry of fractals and sacred architecture, the Center for Advanced Awareness not only is surrounded by natural elements like the rainforest and Pacific Ocean, but it also borrows from its surroundings and simple energy and life-creating principles to offer the country’s most complete yoga platform. The land has proven magnetic energy, and the platform was built using reforested wood in basic shapes like the circle – which represents femininity – and the hexagon – which represents masculinity. These shapes create a space where the confluence of natural elements like sun, fire, water and wind come together as part of the experience. Pilar Salazar, the instructor, smartly combines Astanga yoga, Vinyasa Flow and Anusara yoga with techniques for breathing, meditation and deep relaxation. The Center holds 35 people and includes a waiting area, restrooms, changing rooms, kitchen and storage.
Costa Ballena, South Pacific

Tel 2770 2549  •  info@lacusingalodge.com
www.lacusingalodge.com

Luna Lodge, Osa Peninsula
Luna Lodge, a self-sufficient ecolodge, has an impressive 1,600-square-foot (530-square-meter) platform set amid the rainforest canopy, with a great view of the Pacific Ocean and Carate River. Owner Lana Wedmore describes the experience: “You can practice yoga on a platform with views of the Pacific Ocean and primary tropical rainforest as you feel the breeze, hear the howler monkeys and see the scarlet macaw in flight. I have been doing yoga for 20 years and I understand that yoga and nature go hand in hand.”
Osa Peninsula, South Pacific

Tel 8380 5036  • information@lunalodge.com
www.lunalodge.com

Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge, Golfo Dulce
Reachable only by boat, this veritable paradise offers the chance to practice yoga on a platform competely immersed in the tropical forest and the sound of the sea. Their yoga instructors are all certified and work on temporary rotations, which guarantees that your next visit will be new again. “Nicuesa Lodge was a great introduction to yoga for me. The sounds were great: rain falling on the platform along with the waves crashing. It was an unforgettable experience,” said photographer Andres Madrigal after taking a class here. Nicuesa Lodge is a successful example of sustainability, and recycling and renewable energy sources are a priority. The lodge is closed from Octover 1st to November 15th every year.
Golfo Dulce, Osa Peninsula, South Pacific.

Tel 2258 8250
www.nicuesalodge.com

Samasati Nature Retreat
Located in paradisaical Puerto Viejo, in Limón, Samasati offers the chance to practice yoga while surrounded by virgin rainforest and views of the Caribbean Sea. Sara Robinson, their instructor, will convince you that yoga is not only postures that help your physique, but that it also incorporates spiritual lessons that you can apply to your day-to-day life. This hotel engages in sustainable ecological practices and offers daily classes customized for both beginners and experienced visitors. They also offer special seven-day packages for couples that combine yoga with visits to local beaches and other tours. Group retreats are also offered.

Puerto Viejo, Limón
800 563 9643
samasati@samasati.com
www.samasati.com

Mountain Yoga:

Río Shanti, Monteverde
Rio Shanti Boutique-Massage-Yoga is immersed in a cloud forest and lulled by the waters of Cuecha Creek. The yoga room holds 20 people and, together with birdsong and fresh breezes, makes for a charming, relaxing environment in which to practice yoga. Owner and certified instructor Michael Jenkins offers spaces to practice Vinyasa yoga, Astanga yoga, relaxing and restorative yoga, yoga for children and spaces for meditation and prayer. These last two services are free.
Monteverde, just after the cheese factory.

Tel 2645 6121. homeshanti@gmail.com

Rancho Margot, Arenal
This self-sufficient farm offers visitors a space specifically designed for purification. Here, yoga is like a an extension of nature itself. Rancho Margot’s Center for Yoga and Meditation holds 30 people in its building next to the Caño Negro River. Your neighbors are the ranch’s diverse flora and fauna, the song of the river, and the area’s cool breezes. Rancho Margot also offers the Overlook for yoga. Here you can gaze over the Caño Negro River, Lake Arenal, Arenal National Park, the Children’s Eternal Rainforest, and the volcanoes Arenal, Tenorio, Miravalles and Rincón de la Vieja.

Arenal, San Carlos
Tel 2479 7259  •  info@ranchomargot.org
www.ranchomargot.org

El Silencio Lodge & Spa
In addition to their breathtaking setting and elegant spa, this luxurious, ecologically sensitive hotel offers the chance to practice yoga on their special platform. This venue is surrounded by tropical cloud forest and caressed by a creek, fresh breezes and candlelight. It's the perfect ambiance for communing with nature! El Silencio Lodge, in relation to yoga, offers a restaurant that uses organic ingredients and 500 acres of carbon-offsetting territory.

Alajuela, Bajos del Toro
Tel 2761 0301  •  info@elsilenciolodge.com
www.elsilenciolodge.com

Yoga in the City

Kasasana
This is a great alternative in the city both for those with experience in yoga and people simply passing through who want a relaxing, energizing experience. Kasasana offers an interdisciplinary combination of yoga. They bring together several techniques and schools that emphasize the synchronization of breathing with movement, and correct posture. Kasasana has a deep pool of instructors. It’s worth mentioning that they offer yoga for pregnant women, which helps the mother recognize her body and its connection with the baby through breathing, relaxation, visualization and exercises. This program also helps women improve the tone of their pelvic muscles and aids in circulation. Kasasana also offers classes in Tai Chi, belly dancing, pilates, massage and more. Don’t miss their delicious restaurant, Mantras Veggie.

San Pedro, San José, from the Centro Cultural 250 meters north.
Tel 2253- 8322  •  info@kasasana.com
www.kasasana.com

Vajra Sol Yoga Adventures
If you’re looking for an integrated experience that combines adventure with yoga and relaxation, look no further. This company specializes in focusing on yoga and adventure for small groups of selective, ecologically minded travelers. You can experience yoga sessions in the middle of the rainforest, on the slopes of a volcano or to the rhythm of the waves. And, of course, you’ll have a wide range of adventures within your reach. Vajra Sol Yoga Adventures is great for everybody, even those without any experience with yoga. This company also offers personalized trips and retreats for private groups and yoga professors.

For more information, visit www.VajraSolTravel.com

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