Yoga Travel: AmaTierra retreat center, Costa Rica

Imagine yourself in a beautiful tropical location. You get up early in the morning after a night of restful sleep, unroll your mat on a wooden deck with the most mesmerizing view of nature you’ve ever seen, and move your body to the voice of an experienced yoga instructor. After class, you enjoy a tall glass of a detoxifying smoothie, before taking a stroll through nature trails, exploring the wilderness. You spend your afternoon reading a good book next to a pool or on a beach, and end your day with meditation at sunset.
Sounds like a dream? How about making it a reality, even for a little while?

Yoga retreats have been gaining rapid popularity in the last few years, although the idea of taking a real vacation to reflect, meditate, read and enjoy nature has been around for a long long time. In fact, some believe it is quite natural for us humans to lead a peaceful life, in line with nature, seeking happiness. (Gasp!) But if you lead a super busy hectic life (like most of the ‘modern society’ these days), maybe considering a retreat break isn’t such a bad idea.

Find your zen here..

To be perfectly honest, I have literally designed my life around the scenario I just described. That idea that I want to wake up early in the morning, meditate, enjoy the sounds of nature as a sip my morning warm lemon water, then breathe and move and stretch until I feel oh so glowy inside and out, before heading over to the market for some fresh produce to cook a delicious meal.. You get the point. No matter where I’ve lived or what I’ve done, I’ve always aimed to create the most favorable circumstances to feel happy, healthy and fulfilled. That is what has led me to study Eastern Religions and Philosophy (instead fashion design, which I did study at first). That idea has guided me to become a yoga and meditation instructor (instead of working in retail for a big corporation, which I did do at one point). And luckily, my lifestyle and choices have led me to find beautiful Costa Rica, where I currently practice and teach yoga, and I feel closer to nature than ever.

Beautiful Costa Rica is also wildly popular for yoga retreats. People from all over the world travel here to explore the mountains, bask in the sun, chase howler monkeys with their camera, and find that awesome yoga teacher that’s gonna rock their asana. That being said, there have been numerous studios, spas and yoga retreat centers sprouting all over the country in the last couple of decades. I had the pleasure of visiting and guest teaching at one of those centers.

AmaTierra Retreat and Wellness center

Beautiful place, isn't it?

After waking in a beautiful nature reserve, I got to teach a gentle hatha class in the morning. I combined the yoga practice with a little guided meditation to the sounds of the singing bowls in shavasana (final relaxation). Just as a practitioner, as a yoga teacher I also get affected by the surroundings and location of the yoga class, as well as the students. In a beautiful place like this one, even the busiest minds go quiet. That creates a special atmosphere in class, that is a simple joy to be part of. Even if one would come from the most stressful circumstances, it would be easy to find peace pretty quickly. The class was overall a pleasure to be part of, and the retreat attendees were a wonderful combination of women from all parts of the world and walks of life.

When I first stepped on that deck in the morning, and taking in that view, it was like all of my visualizations have come to life. I’ve taught yoga in Croatia, Miami, San Francisco bay, Asheville, all the cool spots, and practiced in another handful of popular locations from Portland to Colombia to Hawaii. And although there is an array of stylish studios in gorgeous locations out there, for me personally, nothing beats the simplicity and purity of a wooden deck with no walls, overlooking untouched nature. Yogis often test their discipline in busy cities and unfavorable situations, and it is true - finding inner peace no matter the external circumstances is the ultimate goal.
However, there is no reason why yogis can’t find inner peace in an already peaceful place. Retreating in a fantastic location such as AmaTierra makes for half of the work. It is so easy to feel the peace surrounding this place.

With Jill Ruttenberg, owner and wellness director

AmaTierra means Love the Earth in Spanish, and it’s owners Jill and Bob have made sure to bring that name to life. Just a few short minutes drive from a local town of San Pablo, the retreat center feels like miles away from any busy civilization. The retreat compound also serves as a little herbal paradise, as they grow healing plants like tumeric and gotu kola there, and host a small greenhouse with detoxing greens like kale and chard.

Jill is an herbalist, and besides offering her services to retreat attendees, she also mixes her own herbs and medicines. Needless to say, her office wall is filled with gems from Chinese medicine (it also boosts the best view in the property). Her office is located right under the yoga deck, and so are the zen therapy rooms where one can enjoy various healing and relaxing treatments from traditional massage to therapy on a crystal mat. Jill is also a fellow sound healer, so in my opinion, really offers a full package for anyone who’s looking to do more than just practice yoga on their vacation, but also heal, rejuvenate, energize.

Getting a tour of the garden filled with healing herbs and greens
Among various treatments, they offer crystal therapy
Heal and restore during your retreat

The retreat center also uses traditional Chinese medicine principles when designing their meal plans for attendees. Although Chinese medicine isn’t rooted in vegetarianism or veganism like Ayurvedic and yogic diets, they still offer plenty of options for anyone on a vegan or gluten free diet. My husband Acyuta and I arrived right on time for dinner, and where in awe of the delicious vegetable miso soup with avocado - we are in Costa Rica after all! I have never tried that combo, and it was simply amazing. I will have to recreate it at home. Certain retreat packages offer detox treatments and diets, as a yoga retreat vacation is a perfect place to do a detox or start a new regimen. I enjoyed a green detox smoothie in the morning from their diet plan, and can attest it was delicious and healthy.

Delicious breakfast of green detox smoothie and super healthy oats

Want to practice yoga in a beautiful location with me? Check out my yoga teaching and event schedule and join me.

Would you like to visit this beautiful retreat center and experience it’s magic for yourself? Join me for an Aerial Yoga and Meditation retreat in March! Sign up now!