True Nature Travels Blog

Recently, I spent a retreat weekend in the woods alongside a community of yoga teacher trainees. And though a retreat weekend should embody a framework of rest, I entered it a bit frenzied. As I planned for the weekend in the woods, I realized, truth be told, there wasn’t much rest at all.

Then suddenly, in the last couple days prior to the weekend, plans started to feel like they were unraveling. A variety of life’s unexpected happenings suddenly erupted for several students. Several in the group wouldn’t be able to attend. Then, during the weekend, additional people had to head out early and most who remained were exhausted. Me too. By early Sunday morning I sensed that my plans for the day ahead needed to change. There was no way we were going to be able continue with the level of work I’d intended.

meditationI thought of the ways I’ve resisted rest so often and have been left feeling like a packed closet that hasn’t been cleaned out in a while. There must be times of letting go. So, instead, I took out a little sword of discernment and sliced through much of the schedule, dissecting away all that felt like it could wait so we could work at a slower pace. 

That afternoon, instead of continuing to press forward with new material, we turned our attention to tending the beautiful grounds and house where we’d stayed. We’d been tasked with a service project of raking the grounds around the house and down the path to a labyrinth used for walking meditation. I took on raking the path and the labyrinth itself. And as I did, I felt the land start to draw me in and work suddenly became rest.

It can be hard to let go of plans, to remember that pausing, setting down agendas for the flow of life as it is, to stand still and ask for wisdom about which direction to go rather than rushing forward with deeply engrained behaviors. At least for me it can be hard. Maybe you too. 

Yet, this day I stood, I asked, and this is what I received: first, I found myself standing in the center of old trees on an ancient mountain, under a sky blue and bright with sunshine. As I raked, I thought of the Buddhist wisdom to remember that we must still and always “chop wood and carry water” with the same level of loving attention as any other practice we may be doing. No matter what we may be doing to engage our spirits, to settle our mind, to become more engaged and connected all around, the work is of little importance if we do not return to the world of tasks, of the nitty gritty of life, with the same spirit of loving attention that we’d give to sitting on the mat. 

So I relaxed a bit as I raked, softened my shoulders, stopped plowing through the leaves with the rake like they owed me something. Instead, I let my rake move in rhythm with my breath, I paused every few moments to stand, breathe in the smell of the crisp air, turn my face to the sun. 

When I finally made it to the labyrinth, I set the rake aside, began the walk to the center. The labyrinth is said to mimic the journey of life, a journey that is circular, so that the way in is also the way out. There are obstacles, roots, switchbacks, stumps, and uneven ground to navigate. I found myself pushing forward quickly at first, walking at my normal pace. As the trail and obstacles continued, I slowed, I considered, I realized I was breathing and walking in rhythm, my mind no longer scattered but deeply present. 

In the center, a stone rests like a stool inviting a pause to sit, to witness the journey. And, though I almost missed the invitation, just as I turned to walk back the way I’d come, I recognized where I was standing, and I paused. Here I was, halfway in the labyrinth journey and halfway on my life journey, too, here at the start of the year in which I’ll turn 50. Perhaps this isn’t exactly half the life I’ll live, but somehow it felt in that moment as if it is.

So, I sat. I saw trees and sunlight, landscape that vibrated with some wisdom I couldn’t quite hear but that I wanted to listen for. I recognized that my walk forward from there would be a return over the same footsteps I’d already traveled. An opportunity to return, perhaps, and do them differently this time. I felt myself having slowed, having allowed the rhythm of the day to unfold differently, having changed the pace of my raking to allow it to embody the same wisdom as the rest that I’d received. I felt the way I’d been drawn into the center of this circle. It felt very much like I was sitting right within the center of my heart pausing to take in the cumulative steps of this journey so I might collect myself before going onward and out from here. 

teacher friend shared another way of seeing this experience is to envision the journey inward from the perspective of release, the space in the middle as the moment to receive, and the journey back out as the opportunity to return.” Release, receive, return.

I’ve thought every day recently of this perspective and wondered over it. What is the release from? What is it that might be received? And to what might I return? 

I found myself walking the winter wooded paths around my house this past week wondering and listening for an answer. I imagined the ancient paths my boots tread and felt like I’d created my own kind of labyrinth, not circular, but marked and worn into a predictable inward and outward journey by my own treading.

One particularly quiet morning, after a particularly frustrating night, just after a snowfall, the world seemed to hold me for a moment, still as if in the middle, receiving. I stood and watched the sky balance itself between gray and soft salmon colored light. I paused and felt very sure that this was as much a moment of being in the middle as any other. My life, all life, precious, unfinishable—how could I do anything more than stand and receive. 

Returning from it, into my life, I walked with something I might call peace. I had walked away from my home and perhaps wouldn’t have named it so, but it was a release. With each step I had let my life behind me, my frustrations and confusions and lack of control, fall away. Pausing for a moment I’d received life back to me again, more beautiful as I listened, waited, looked around with the promise to receive. 

And so, I walked back, returning more spacious, like some stubborn thing in me had given way, if but for a moment. I could feel the whole moment in my body through my shoulders, my face, my senses. It wouldn’t last. Contentment is like that after all, a tender bird that comes, goes, comes again. And perhaps the next time I walk a labyrinth real or imagined, I will understand the whole journey in an entirely different way. Perspective, too, like a bird—light as a feather and floats with experience.

But this day, that moment, I had walked a good way, and on the other side, I returned to rest for my soul. 

Sit or lie down for a moment, friend, as if you’ve walked from a place of release into the stillness of receptivity. Place your hand on your heart. Feel your breath move inward and outward. Can you soften the muscles of your face as if your eyes and mouth have relaxed into a gentle smile? Imagine peace has come to land right in front of you, like a little bird. Imagine this lovely little bird breathing softly. See if you can remain here with this delicate sense of peace and your breath for just a few moments more. Then return, friend, from here. 

Christa Mastrangelo Joyce, E-RYT500, a dedicated yoga teacher with a diverse background and a passion for accessibility. In 2009, she founded Jala Yoga and has been offering yoga trainings since 2012. With expertise in Ashtanga, Hatha, Ayurveda, Yin Yoga, and Traditional Chinese Medicine, Christa emphasizes anatomy, breathwork, and meditation in her classes. She brings a modern perspective to ancient traditions, incorporating storytelling and mythology to engage her students. Committed to inclusivity, Christa works to create classes that support adaptability and curiosity for all practitioners. Join Christa on Retreat!  Choose from Mexico, Italy or Portugal.

True Nature Travels Blog

Michelle Donice Gillis

Yesterday, as I was mindlessly scrolling social media, I came across a post from a woman I know who has recently begun practicing yoga. I was so moved by her photos and heartfelt words chronicling the transformative power of this practice that I felt the need to move beyond the voyeur role that social media affords in order to encourage her to continue her journey and to possibly consider yoga teacher training. Almost immediately she responded to my post stating that it was something she had considered because of the need for more representation in the yoga community. Agreed. We need to welcome older, larger, browner, blacker, and gender fluid bodies into our yoga community and mean it this time!

I know that over my decade long yoga journey, I am often the only woman of color in the room, which is surprising when we consider the origins of this transformational practice.

Many times, I am also the oldest.

In recent years, especially in the wake of BLM, the conversation surrounding diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) has burgeoned, extending its tendrils into every nook and cranny of our societal framework, including the Zen haven of yoga studios. Though the practice is deeply rooted in Eastern traditions and philosophies, the modern yoga scene often exudes an aura of exclusivity, one could even say, elitism.

This elitism, which is closely intertwined with the ‘whiteness’ of wellness, is a multifaceted issue that continues to plague the yoga community. As we unfurl our mats and bend into our ‘downward-facing dogs,’ it becomes evident that the reflection staring back at us is starkly uniform—an amalgamation of bodies that are predominantly white, slender, and young. While it cannot be denied that the landscape is shifting, the question remains – how can we cultivate an environment where diversity is not just a buzzword but a living, breathing facet of our practice? How do we give honor to the people who created this practice beyond offering a trite “namaste” at the end?

At its core, the yoga community is a tapestry of narratives; stories interwoven by the quest for inner peace and the desire for wellness. However, these narratives are often shaped and dictated by those who hold more privilege within our society. The ‘whiteness’ of wellness is a phrase that encapsulates the idea that wellness spaces, including yoga studios, cater disproportionately to those who are white and of a higher socio-economic status.

This phenomenon is multifaceted, with several factors contributing to the isolation of marginalized communities. The lack of representation in media and marketing, the inherent sexualization of yoga that often caters to a specific demographic, and the historical erasure and commodification of yoga from its roots within South Asian cultures all play a role in perpetuating this exclusivity.

If I’m to be honest, there have been times when I’ve walked away from yoga studios because I didn’t feel welcome. Sure, there were signs on the door and attempts at inclusivity, but it felt formulaic and not a part of the studio’s true culture.

I believe the revolution (is that too strong of a word?) that is needed begins with a simple shift in perspective. It beckons to the community to dismantle the barriers that have been erected over time. Incorporating DEI principles is not merely a trend; it is a necessity.

To breathe new life into yoga, a conscious effort must be made to diversify the roster of yoga teachers and thought leaders. This is a critical step in ensuring that the narratives presented are reflective of the wider community. Encouraging and supporting BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) and trans practitioners to take the helm not only opens the door for new perspectives but also empowers groups that have historically been marginalized within Western wellness spaces.

The physical space of the yoga studio also plays an important role in reflecting the value of diversity. Studios that cater to larger bodies, provide sliding scale payment options, or are ADA accessible, and have non-gendered bathrooms, or culturally sensitive classes (e.g. all female courses for women who are unable to remove their hijabs in the presence of males) are taking tangible steps to welcome individuals who may have previously felt excluded. Furthermore, the content that is taught within these spaces should be sensitive to varying cultural and body diversities, ensuring that yoga is presented in a manner that is accessible and respectful to all.

One of my favorite symbols from yoga is the Lotus Blossom because they bloom from the murkiest of waters. In these muddy waters, the lotus becomes a beacon of light that shows us a path forward. There are many yoga studios and organizations around the country who have become these lotus blossoms. They have taken the initiative to champion the cause of diversity within their communities. By offering classes specifically geared towards BIPOC individuals, the LGBTQ+ community, seniors, particular religious groups, and larger bodies, these teachers have been able to carve out small but significant victories in the quest for inclusivity. They must be celebrated!

The road to an inclusive yoga community is a winding one, with no singular path leading the way. However, there are several actions that studios and practitioners can take to pave the way for a more diverse and equitable future.

Here are some suggestions:

  1. Listen to and learn from the experiences of the marginalized. Consider creating a community advisory board or implementing survey questions beyond “How was your class” so that all voices can be heard.
  2. Education is key. It is crucial for the yoga community to be informed about the cultures and histories from which yoga originates. Understanding the tradition allows for a more respectful and authentic practice that is free from harmful appropriation.
  3. Amplify the visibility of diverse yogis. Making space for these practitioners in advertisements, social media, and within studio spaces serves to normalize and celebrate diversity.
  4. Build partnerships with local community organizations can be a powerful way to bridge the gap. Collaborative events can help to make the practice more accessible to a wider audience.
  5. Speak up! If you are in a yoga space that doesn’t feel welcoming, let them know in a loving way.

The quote “Be the change you want to see in the world is often attributed to Mahatma Gandhi. The truth is that each of us holds the power to be a catalyst for change. As we roll out our mats and begin to practice, we must be mindful not only of our own bodies but of the collective body to which we belong. It is in this union, this shared breath, that the true ethos of yoga can be realized.

Join Michelle in Greece September 29-October 5, 2024 for 6 sun drenched days exploring the unspoiled island of Amorgos. 

True Nature Travels Blog

You often hear yoga teachers tell students “Don’t push or force.”

Pushing and forcing definitely makes yoga a very bumpy ride, and is an invitation to injury. When you add force to yoga you are adding aggressiveness and creating unnecessary friction. 

With force and pushing, you lose sensitivity; you sacrifice your body for the sake of the pose, or for more range of motion.  When pushing and forcing predominate, it reveals that our good friends Sensitivity and Awareness have been abducted by the old habit of wanting more.  The irony is that when we go after more, we miss what we have.  We can only do yoga with what we have.  In the practice of yoga, the desire for more is usually just a distraction and is in the way.  A common Buddhist refrain is that “Desire distorts perception.”  All the religions remind us to be grateful and frequently caution us about greed.

What motivates the forcing and pushing is the greed for more, the desire to go further, the dissatisfaction with what we have.  Many people don’t slow down enough to notice what they have, but they are in a hurry to get more.  Spiritual practice is not about acquisition, but about letting go.

The struggle for more is quantitative, but yoga is qualitative.  We suffer when the practice is focused on going further and getting more.  In such a practice, the person is measuring progress in terms of the physical, in what is seen.  The ego is leading such a practice.

In yoga, our progress is in our maturity, our ability to create peace, harmony and balance, not in our ability to bend further or in the number of sun salutes that we can do.   The depth of our practice is more about awareness and consciousness and less about doing more or going further.  Yoga is more a mental practice than a physical one.  We are working with the body to train the mind.  If we are listening, the body gives us instant feedback about our efforts and our approach. 

When we practice with sensitivity and awareness the spirit is leading such a practice.

Pushing and forcing is more about trying to get somewhere we are not—it is goal oriented.   As you push and force you are fighting yourself.  But, there is no fighting in yoga.  Working hard is about being engaged and involved in the moment.   When we work hard we are not fighting ourselves, we are helping ourselves.

Working hard in yoga is 1) maintaining focus, 2) being consistent and disciplined over time, 3) challenging yourself in a healthy way, 4) connecting and integrating, 5) being willing to try new things & new angles of perception, 6) self scrutiny,  and 7) assimilating and remembering.

Yoga and working hard go together super well, just like relaxation and yoga go together super well.  We need both: work and relaxation.  It takes work to finish a puzzle, but pushing and forcing won’t help you put the pieces of the puzzle together.

Remember, yoga is an invitation to energy, NOT injury.  

“Anyone can practice.  Young man can practice.  Old man can practice.  Very old man can practice.  Man who is sick, he can practice.  Man who doesn’t have strength can practice.  Except lazy people; lazy people can’t practice yoga.”K. Pattabhi Jois (1915-2009)


Our Friend Difficulty

How we interact with difficulty is a defining feature of our character.

In yoga, we can practice this interaction by introducing difficulty in small gradual amounts. We can practice handling difficulty with calm and poise and with a deep breath. You are in charge of your own effort. We can embrace difficulty as a close friend because there is really little satisfaction in doing what is immediately accessible. We value our accomplishments more when we had to work for them.

We encounter difficulty when we take on a new endeavor, when life hands us the unexpected, when plans go awry, and with aging and sickness. We encounter difficulty no matter which way we turn.

Michael Curtis

When taking on a new endeavor, how do you react to difficulty? Are you willing to take the time and go through the awkwardness of being a beginner? Are you patient with yourself and with development that is slower than expected? Do you complain about your progress more than you work on your progress?

With the right mental strategy we can choose to find difficulty fun and interesting, rather than frustrating.

Yoga can be very easy at times, in fact, sometimes we even stop trying and let go and surrender, but that peaceful relaxation helps us get back up ready to apply ourselves in a more consolidated way to the work in our lives. There is also an inherent difficulty built into even the easiest yoga practices. That is the challenge to concentrate, to be present, to examine oneself and to make healthy choices. Yoga is always inviting you to grow.

Remember, each step of the way is worthy of honor.

Embark on a rejuvenating journey with seasoned yogis Rhonda Kuster and Mike Curtis in the tranquil embrace of Costa Rica’s rainforest February 9-15, 2025. Delve into gentle, therapeutic yoga sessions infused with ancient wisdom, breathing techniques, and Ayurveda teachings. With over 30 years of practice and a commitment to sustainable movement, Rhonda and Mike offer personalized guidance, fostering a culture of health and well-being, not performance, in this immersive retreat.


True Nature Travels Blog

In a world that often moves at a hectic pace, finding moments of tranquility and connection is essential for personal and professional growth. Imagine a retreat where the gentle rustle of leaves accompanies thoughtful reflections, where the crisp scent of pine inspires deep breaths, and where the beauty of nature nurtures the spirit. Planning retreats in serene and natural environments provides a unique opportunity to cultivate love and kindness, fostering a transformative experience for participants.

The Healing Power of Nature:

Nature has an inherent ability to soothe the soul and calm the mind. As planners of retreats, harnessing the healing power of nature can elevate the entire experience for participants. Selecting destinations with natural beauty—lush forests, pristine lakes, or mountainscapes—creates an environment that encourages introspection, mindfulness, and the practice of love and kindness.

Choosing the Right Location:

When selecting a location for a nature-centered retreat, consider the unique qualities of the environment. Coastal retreats offer the calming influence of the ocean, while mountainous regions provide breathtaking vistas that inspire awe and humility. Forested areas create a cocoon of tranquility, allowing participants to disconnect from the noise of daily life and reconnect with their inner selves.

Integrating Nature-Based Activities:

To amplify the love and kindness theme, incorporate nature-based activities into the retreat itinerary. Guided nature walks, meditation sessions amidst natural surroundings, and outdoor yoga classes are excellent ways to foster a sense of connection and appreciation for the environment. These activities not only promote physical well-being but also encourage participants to express love and kindness towards themselves and others.

Mindful Practices in Nature:

Encourage mindfulness through guided practices that capitalize on the serenity of the chosen location. Morning meditations with the sunrise, silent walks through nature trails, or journaling sessions by a reflective pond can facilitate a deeper connection with oneself and others. Mindful practices in nature become powerful tools for cultivating love, compassion, and gratitude.

Sustainable Retreat Planning:

Show love for the Earth by incorporating sustainable practices into retreat planning. Choose eco-friendly accommodations, minimize waste through thoughtful event logistics, and engage participants in environmental initiatives, such as tree planting or local community support. A retreat that values and protects the natural environment aligns with the principles of love and kindness.

Nourishing the Body and Soul:

Incorporate locally-sourced, nourishing meals into the retreat schedule. Emphasize the connection between the food on participants’ plates and the surrounding environment. A shared dining experience in nature promotes a sense of community and gratitude, fostering love and kindness among participants.

Creating Spaces for Connection:

Design retreat spaces that encourage connection and open communication. Whether it’s around a bonfire under a starlit sky or in a cozy communal area with panoramic views, providing spaces for participants to share experiences, insights, and emotions promotes a sense of unity and support.


Planning retreats in serene and natural environments offers a canvas for cultivating love and kindness. Nature becomes not just a backdrop but an active participant in the transformative journey of the retreat. As leaders in the industry, let us embrace the opportunity to create experiences that not only rejuvenate the mind and body but also nurture the spirit with the love and kindness that only nature can inspire. Through thoughtful planning and a deep appreciation for the natural world, we can guide participants on a journey of self-discovery, connection, and lasting transformation.

Ready to explore nature? Join Mike and Rhonda at Gentle and Therapeutic Yoga Retreat in La Fortuna, Costa Rica in the rain forest with beautiful accommodations, healthy food exotic hikes, yoga and breathwork. 


True Nature Travels Blog

In the whirlwind of modern life, the gears of our routines often grind us down, dimming the light within, often preventing us from following our own North Star.

What so many of us crave, more than anything, is a sanctuary—a place to strip away the layers of stress and rediscover our inner peace. That’s where retreats come in! Far from being mere luxuries, retreats have become vital respites for the soul, offering rejuvenation, solace, and oftentimes, transformation!

The impulse to retreat is as old as humanity itself, rooted in the need to seek out quiet to reflect, heal, and grow. Our ancestors, too, felt the tug of their souls calling for solitude and the embrace of nature’s healing touch. In today’s context, the soul’s call to retreat is a yearning to unplug from the digital cacophony and plug into deeper layers of our existence.

What’s interesting is that both neuroscience and psychology underscore the benefits of stillness. Through techniques like meditation, yoga, and mindful breathing, the brain waves slow down, stress hormones recede, and the parasympathetic nervous system is activated, which allow the body to repair and rejuvenate.

Yoga and wellness retreats are a gentle introduction to the world of mindfulness and self-care. These retreats offer a blend of physical activity, spiritual exploration, and relaxation, usually set in idyllic locations where natural beauty and nourishing meals complement the program. They serve as an ideal first step for those new to retreats or for anyone feeling the need to recharge their batteries.

Perhaps, the thing I love most about retreats is the opportunity to immerse myself in other cultures and experience local food and traditions. For me, this fosters a sense of global kinship. Plus, I’m able to connect with the other people on the retreat.

I’ve found these friendships last long after the retreat ends!

Our fast-paced, always-on, digital culture, along with a world that often measures value by productivity and external achievements, makes the call to retreat even more profound!

That’s why I encourage you to pause, listen, and honor that call deep within you that is beckoning you to renew, refresh, reconnect, and nourish your soul!

Join Michelle on a North Star Retreat in stunning Amorgos Greece. 


Michelle Donice

True Nature Travels Blog

Costa Rican beach

Embark on a journey of self-discovery and holistic well-being with Allisun, a dedicated yoga practitioner and experienced retreat leader. Since 1999, Allisun has been weaving together the art of yoga, spirituality, and the transformative power of Integral Hypnotherapy.

The Essence of Allisun’s Practice:

Allisun’s yoga practice is a flowing, dynamic, and spiritual expression of mind, body, and breath. Inspired by nature, music, and everyday magic, she believes in the profound unity that connects us to each other, the earth, and the cosmos.

Yoga as Connection to Divine Intelligence:

For Allisun, yoga is more than a physical practice; it’s a sacred journey connecting us to divine intelligence and the vast universe beyond. Through intentional practice on and off the mat, she advocates for sustainable well-being.

Integral Hypnotherapy – Empowering Transformation:

Certified as an International Board of Hypnotherapy Hypnotherapist and a graduate of the Hypnotherapy Academy of America, Allisun practices Integral Hypnotherapy. This unique approach empowers individuals to achieve their goals through collaborative healing, unlocking the potential for positive transformation.

Embodying Your Highest Self:

Passionate about the transformative power of hypnosis, Allisun believes in harnessing and embodying one’s highest self. Join her in a journey of self-discovery, connection, and holistic well-being.

Ready to learn more about Allisun’s teachings and transformative practices? Read the full blog post and get inspired to embark on your own wellness journey with Allisun. 🌿

Immerse yourself in paradise for seven days and six nights with Allisun in beautiful Santa Teresa, Costa Rica. Feel the healing power of Pura Vida (pure life) as you enjoy slow, deep soul-nourishing vinyasa Yoga classes just steps away from stunning blue water beaches. Lounge on a hammock, ride horseback through the jungle, or explore Montezuma for waterfalls and local delights. This retreat is a perfect blend of rest, relaxation, and soul-feeding activities—all optional, Return to Paradise, Return to Self a Soul Nourishing Retreat with Allisun.

True Nature Travels Blog

Author and researcher  Dan Buettner wrote the Blue Zones over fifteen years ago after his curiosity was sparked to discover why certain areas of the world had people not only living to 100 and beyond but thriving. You may have seen his four part special recently released on Netflix.

For the last three years my yoga partner, Wendy Methvin and I have led Blue Zone themed retreats in Costa Rica, one of the original Blue Zones. What do the Blue Zones have to do with yoga and why do we keep going back?

There are five principles or tenets of Blue Zone living:

  • Move – not in a gym, or for exercise but natural, non-exercise movement. Think gardening, walking or riding a bike to visit friends or run errands.
  • Eat Whole Foods – while the diet varies for each Blue Zone, they are all eating an abundance of real food that didn’t come out of a box or can. They are making their own bread and even wine!
  • Connections with Family & Community – spending time with loved ones face-to-face. Laughing, playing and enjoying.
  • Sense of Purpose – these people have a reason to get out of bed. They haven’t aged out of being relevant and have interests they pursue and things they want to do.
  • Rest and Relaxation – their lives are not dictated by adhering to a strict schedule  or rushing from one thing to the other. They stay connected to nature and look to create moments of pleasure and joy.

While these may sound simple and accessible, it is opposite of our societal norms and pace. And you may still be questioning, what does this have to do with yoga?

  • Asana – the physical practice of yoga promotes mindful movement
  • Saucha – one of the Niyamas or directives towards ourselves, saucha translates into cleanliness or pureness. Eating real food is a way to be clean
  • Pura Vida – the retreat community allows us to connect with others who also want to live better. Many of our former guests have brought a spouse, sibling or friend. Travel to Costa Rica allows us to meet people in an actual Blue Zone and witness through our own eyes how they embrace pura vida or “pure life”.
  • Kleshas – from the yoga sutras we learn about thekleshas, or mental states such as fear and ignorance that veil or cloud our mind keeping us in a mundane existence. 
  • Rest & Relaxation – not only does yoga offer breathing techniques, meditation practices, and restorative asana; the retreat experience purposefully allows free time to be in quiet stillness with yourself and nature.

And these examples are just off the top of my head. The Blue Zones and yoga provide a template with plenty of room to make an individual lifestyle of authenticity, vitality and joy. Don’t just continue to survive when you can THRIVE!

Costa Rica seems to have been the birthplace of yoga retreats. It never fails to calm me with its beauty and kindness. It just makes sense to return again to an actual Blue Zone and live the life we are talking about creating. It’s a mashup – Pura Zone! Azul Vida! 

Join Jennifer Brewer and Wendy Methvin in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica for CREATE YOUR OWN BLUE ZONE, their 3rd retreat to the original blue zone of Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula for a week of yoga, nature, fresh local food and community.  January 26th- February 1st, 2025

True Nature Travels Blog

Have you heard of this thing called, yoga therapy? Maybe thought to yourself…isn’t all yoga therapeutic? To that I say YES! And yet…there is a distinction to be made about the differences between yoga and yoga therapy. There are less than 4,000 of us certified yoga therapists on the planet, so if you are unfamiliar…you are not alone.

Definition of Yoga Therapy

“Yoga therapy is the professional application of the principles and practices of yoga to promote health and well-being within a  therapeutic relationship that includes personalized assessment, goal setting, lifestyle management, and yoga practices for
individuals or small groups.” ~IAYT

To become a yoga teacher, one completes a 200 hour teacher training. In order to become a yoga therapist, one completes an additional 800 hours to fulfill the requirement of 1,000 hours of training, which includes a mentorship practicum. The emphasis of each yoga therapy program varies, but all need to be accredited through IAYT [International Association of Yoga Therapists]. There is often a focus of both medical and mental health modalities, and all honor the teachings from a variety of yoga and spiritual traditions.

Yoga therapy is often done one on one in a private session. A yoga therapist creates an individualized plan based on the client’s medical history and life story. This plan includes a wide range of mind/body practices, from postural and breathing exercises to deep relaxation and meditation. Yoga therapy tailors these to the health needs of the individual to empower them on the path to healing. Groups can also be led by a yoga therapist addressing a specific health care need, but is often capped at a number of participants.

My own personal journey to become a yoga therapist was an amazing experience. I highly recommend this path to those that are interested in working in conjunction with the medical industry and /or the mental health profession. Enjoy an enriching career, or my preferred term, dharma, sitting in guidance and witness as clients unfold their own path to healing. The world needs more peace, love, and healing now more than ever. To be a part of this process is a blessing and an honor.

Join Julie for a week of guided, and supported, rejuvenating fun with unlimited exciting adventures and memories to make and cherish. In Amorgos, Greece.

Hatha yoga, gentle yoga, and restorative yoga will be offered.

As a certified yoga therapist, Julie’s goal is to create a welcoming retreat for anyone interested in attending.

True Nature Travels Blog

Did you know that one of the most important relationships a woman has in life is with herself? And that the breath is one of our most powerful tools for learning about ourselves and creating positive changes?

Our body, breath, and mind are interdependent, and prana, our life force, and breath, is the energy of movement between them. When prana flows smoothly, all our bodily systems function more efficiently. When it is disturbed or impeded, imbalances arise. Working with our breath brings new awareness, as our state of mind is intimately linked with the quality of prana within our body. This awareness allows us to choose and control our actions and to lessen our reactions.

The breath is an excellent indicator of your current physical and emotional state of health. By observing your breath, you’re taking steps to tune into yourself. New awareness always brings more opportunities for understanding, change, and growth. It also allows you to tune into thoughts, feelings, and emotions you may not be consciously aware of. This connection allows us to feel more aligned with ourselves and can help us make choices based on the messages we receive when tuning in.

Stop what you’re doing right now. Close your eyes, focus on your breathing, and just observe your breath.

There is no right or wrong way to breathe.

Take several deep breaths, deep into your belly, deep into your chest, and feel it expand and relax.

What do you notice? Is your breath:

  • flowing smoothly, or shaky with impediments?
  • short (under two seconds), or long (over four seconds)?
  • slow and deep, or fast-paced and superficial?

Take a few more breaths. Notice if:

  • your breath is mostly in the chest, down in the belly, or both;
  • your inhalation is longer or shorter than your exhalation.

What areas of your body are calling your attention? What are the messages your body is giving you now?

As women, we are innately intuitive and benefit from moving through life based on our inner knowing. By tuning into our breath and listening to the messages we receive from breathing practices, we can learn how to better cope with stressful situations, increase our energy, access our intuition, relax, and become more peaceful. This simple breathing awareness can lay the foundation for more complex pranayama (conscious breathing) practices.

We will practice them daily among many other fantastic classes in my Women’s Wellness Retreat next February in Costa Rica. Join me!



Dr. Margo Bachman DACM has been passionate about natural medicine and healing for over thirty years. Her own healing experiences and innate curiosity continue to inspire her life and her career. She discovered holistic medicine to heal herself from menstrual problems, pregnancy loss, hormonal craziness and all sorts of other ailments and has been amazed by the power of natural medicine.

Join Dr. Margo as she leads you through a variety of healing practices to support and nurture your well-being. She will teach mindful movement, breath work, and meditation practices, as well as classes on Ayurveda, women’s health, and self-care. Envision going deep within yourself and learning how to tap into your innate healing potential. Expect a renewed sense of vitality and energy, and inspiration to carry these practices back with you into daily life.

True Nature Travels Blog


Why should I lead a retreat?

Leading a retreat can be a deeply rewarding experience, both personally and professionally.

Have you wondered why you should lead a retreat? Here are 4 reasons why you might consider leading a retreat:

1. Share Your Expertise

If you have a particular skill or area of expertise, leading a retreat can be a great way to share that knowledge with others. Whether it’s meditation, yoga, music, writing, snowboarding, hiking, or something else, a retreat can give you the opportunity to teach and guide others in a focused and immersive environment.

2. Build Your Network

Leading a retreat can also be a great way to connect with like-minded individuals and build your professional network. Retreat participants are often seeking connection and community. Leading a retreat can give you the chance to foster those relationships and potentially develop new business or collaboration opportunities.

3. Deepen Your Own Practice

Leading a retreat can also be a powerful way to deepen your own personal practice. The act of guiding others can help you develop a greater sense of clarity and purpose in your own life, and being in a retreat setting can provide the space and time for reflection and growth.

4. Escape the Daily Grind

If you’re feeling burned out or overwhelmed in your day-to-day life, leading a retreat can be a way to escape the daily grind and immerse yourself in a more peaceful and reflective environment. It can be a chance to recharge your batteries and come back to your work and life with renewed energy and clarity.

Ultimately, whether or not you should lead a retreat depends on your own interests, goals, and expertise. If you feel drawn to the idea of leading a retreat, it’s worth exploring further and considering how it might fit into your larger personal and professional plans.