“Just breathe. Focus on the rhythm of your breath. In and out. In and out.”
It’s easier said than done when your whole world is turned upside down. And I mean quite literally upside down. I’m in headstand as Francesca’s words of wisdom sound through the outdoor yoga pavilion. It’s my first time to remain so confidently balancing on my head, and it’s refreshing to greet the world with an entirely new perspective.
But I’m not just here to do headstands. Rather, I’m participating in a surf and yoga retreat with Lucero Surf Retreats. The location for the weeklong adult-like camp is Santa Teresa, Costa Rica, a quiet but trendy beach town tucked away on the Nicoya Peninsula. It’s a town known primarily to surfers and yogis in search of a Costa Rica from ten years back, the one not yet overrun by backpackers and retirees. There are no paved roads in Santa Teresa, no stoplights, no development on the beach. But there’s a great vegan café and a fantastic sushi venue. There’s white sand and blue sea and some of the most beautiful sunsets you’ll experience in all of Costa Rica. All in all, Santa Teresa is a hidden gem, not easily reproduced elsewhere in Costa Rica. At only a few days into my retreat, I already understand why so many travelers arrived in this sun-and-sand paradise only to never leave again.
What personally attracted me to the town of Santa Teresa was its active yoga community. After extensive research, I finally decided on a week with Lucero Surf Retreats, and I couldn’t be more satisfied. I’ve been taking private yoga classes with Francesca, a lovely Italian woman with an accent that immediately peels away all layers of stress, as easily as if she was peeling an onion for an aromatic pasta dinner. In just a handful of classes, I can already notice the improvement in my yoga practice, and I know I’ll take the lessons I learned on the mat off into my daily life as well.
Unfortunately things are not going quite as well for me in the ocean. As it turns out, I’m more of a whale than a mermaid when there are waves crashing upon me. Still, Mark, my surf instructor, is patient and kind; even after one hundred attempts at standing (only to immediately go flailing into the waves), Mark retrieves my board and encourages me to try one more time. Not only is Mark patient, but he’s creative, too. At the end of an hour in the water, he told me I was thinking too much. As he supported my board and pushed me into the whitewater, he shouted out: “Think adjectives and pronouns!” Miraculously, it did the trick. Distracted from thinking about foot placement and ‘popping up’, I found my balance on the board. I fell down a few seconds later, but it was certainly an improvement.
A surf and yoga retreat has always been on my bucket list. When I knew I would be traveling to Costa Rica, I decided there could be no better place to finally cross it off. I was right. However, not all surf and yoga retreats are created equally. On my first day in town, I saw many students with inadequate teachers, especially during their surf lessons. (Think surfboards hitting their heads as they struggled to hold on to their own board.) The staff with Lucero was extremely knowledgeable, accommodating and friendly—I couldn’t have asked for anything more!
After a few additional moments in headstand, my legs ungracefully make contact with the ground once more. I find child’s pose, and Francesca positions herself behind me to push all the tension out of my lower back. We’re transitioning to the end of our hour together, to life outside of our tranquil yoga pavilion. But there are worse things in the world, especially when it is the town of Santa Teresa beckoning you to come play.
I was a guest at Lucero. I was not asked to write a positive review. All opinions remain my own.