This is a re-post from the December issue of Atenas Today, a monthly publication produced by Marietta Arce of Atenas, Costa Rica.
Ooooommmmmmmm!!!!! Yes, Ms. Fidgety went to a yoga retreat. After about three “Oms” I was feeling the vibrations. In fact I was feeling them so strongly, I was about to spring from my mat and start doing the “Hokey Pokey”! I peeked through my closed eyes through the bottom of my lashes and saw the rest of the group, some of whom were real yogis and decided against it.
I had been invited to join the weekend retreat by my dear friend, Lynn when I had casually asked what she had up her sleeve for her upcoming birthday. She enthusiastically replied, “Yoga Retreat Weekend with Leah. It’s my birthday and you’re coming!”
Oh boy! I thought. Yoga? A whole weekend of yoga? Lynn read my mind, “Oh don’t worry, you know us – there will be plenty of party time in between sessions. The Rivera suite will be hospitality central.”
I knew about half the group from Atenas through the occasional yoga classes I attended. The beautiful and elegant Anna, was the assistant yoga instructor to lovely Leah, the yoga teacher with the lovely British accent and soothing voice. Both ladies provide a warm, inviting atmosphere in which even novice yogis, like myself, can reach a comfortable level of participation.
I packed up my yoga attire and a pair of party shoes and off we went to parts unknown. All I knew was the lodge was located somewhere in the hills south of Jacó. I had complete faith in the driver to get us there and I was enjoying not being in charge! I sat quietly in the back seat furiously making notes of ideas that were ricocheting in my brain regarding recent developments in my life; drastic changes were happening! I guess I really needed this retreat.
After turning off the main highway, we bumped along the dirt road leading to the lodge. I heard something about forty-five minutes… forty-five minutes? On this road? Say it isn’t so. One of the other passengers had a printout of the directions with a photo of the logo of the retreat spot; Macaw Lodge had a colorful sign with brilliant colored birds… well yeah, macaws (lapas). The signs were easy to spot, well placed, and thank goodness, plentiful.
After forty-four minutes of bumping along the heavily rutted road in our private van, I was getting irritated; what had I gotten myself into? Just then, we turned into a driveway and I was immediately washed with a powerful feeling of peace. The giant Fan Palms seemed to absorb my anxiety. I stopped worrying about my friends on the chartered bus we had passed at the beginning of the dirt road. It was packed to capacity with the luggage strapped to the roof and covered with sheets of plastic. As we passed them I had visions of all twenty-two of them pushing the bus up the hill. Somehow, the palms sent me a message, Don’t worry. They will make it. Hmmm, this yoga stuff was already working!
As we entered the Macaw Lodge, we were greeted by the general manager, Graven, and his assistant, Natalia – both of whom proved to be extraordinary in their knowledge, competence, and willingness to ensure our needs were not only met, but exceeded.
There is so much to tell about this hand-crafted Inn, I can only scratch the surface. Please go to: http://www.macawlodge.com/ for a full description of this unique and magnificent haven. It is truly self-sustaining. The furniture in the lodge was made from wood harvested on the grounds, all meals were prepared from food grown on the property, and the most impressive polished rock that looked like marble floors and showers were created from their very own quarry. The owner and creator of this eco-lodge, Pablo Gordienko, said half-jokingly, “It would have been cheaper to go to the hardware store!”
Ah, but the beauty of it all. He is clearly dedicated to his project, and showed our group around with love and pride in his heart. I learned more in that two hour tour than in a whole semester of college biology. And to think, twenty-five years ago it was pasture land; today it looks like a story-book magical land, and he continues to improve it.
Leah, an accomplished yoga instructor, moved to Atenas twelve years ago and studied yoga instruction at the world renowned Nosara Yoga Institute, before finding her calling at the Macaw Lodge. She led us in morning and late afternoon sessions on the gorgeous polished wood yoga platform. Her opening prayer asking us to allow our spirits to – well, I don’t remember exactly what she asked our spirits to do, but whatever it was, I was deeply touched and moved to quiet tears. I closed my eyes and focused on, um, nothing. Somewhere along the line, I was told that if you saw purple, that was the highest state of being. I must have skipped some steps because, yes, folks! I saw purple. Maybe it’s like the green flash just after sunset. I see it often and other people never see it.
On the second day of the retreat, we were all in a proper state of tranquility. We shared some nice wine with dinner, marveled at the home-grown food, discussed the loveliness of it all, and compared different methods of preparing quinoa. Then it happened! After dinner the birthday cake came out as well as the fire-water and the boom-box.
Half of the group retired for the evening; the other half went wild!
We were gently asked to leave the main lodge, so we traipsed up the hill, and I do mean HILL, to Casa Rivera, a cabin set apart from the main lodge. While it’s true that not everybody in this photo is over fifty, nobody was counting that night. We danced on the balcony, sang along with the music, and were oblivious to the gardener’s casita located just a few meters behind the party cabin. Luckily the bamboo posts held the balcony up, nobody fell over the railing and when the booze ran out, we all made it back to our quarters.
I was amazed at the next day’s morning yoga session – everybody showed up. Leah, being the ever-aware and sensitive individual, started us out with an extended posture called “shavasana” also known as the “corpse” pose, for which I was grateful.
As I was making my way down the path to class, Lynn sneaked up behind me and whispered, “What are you wearing?”
“My yoga outfit.” I looked puzzled.
She laughed and said, “Some yoga outfit! You look like a cheerleader.”
Well, after your birthday party last night, I won’t be doing any cheering today. It’s a shavasana kind of day in yoga-land, after our evening of yogis gone wild!