True Nature Travels Blog

imageLast week on yoga retreat with Missy Balsam Yoga, we had an amazing group come together at Finca Luna Nueva Lodge. For our service “karma” yoga project, we reached out to a local tico family — a mother and daughter — to give their house new life with a fresh coat of paint.

Having endured hard times of late, the mother and daughter had been robbed the week before. What’s more is that their grandmother was also in the hospital.

imageHere is a letter written to us by our TNE Village Representative, Lindsay Padilla, that she sent after the end of a very rewarding day:

It was a great experience! Missy and every one of the group are amazing. We had fun!
The house looks beautiful now. It was very deep to see Ligia’s family SO happy and thankful.
Daisy made three beautiful dolls (handmade) for Missy and two more ladies. They just had mango and they shared it! We painted both outside and the inside of the house, and it looks so good!
imageWe noticed there was a really big hole in Ligia’s bedroom wall. It was there because their home had been robbed by a group of people. 
They had no money for buying the piece of plywood and a lady gave them $20. Osvaldo came back some minutes after that in order to say thanks and to show her the hardware store ticket. It was very nice. Daisy and her mom had a white blanket, and they wanted to have the participant’s hands printed on this, as a good memory.
Daisy told me her mom was so happy to decorate her small (really small) living room with that piece of cloth. That made me cry!
After a beautiful SUNNY morning (yes!!!) we came back home and the group enjoyed the company and hospitality of the mother’s home.  Especially the kitchen and, of course, her food.
imageWe had a cooking class, we practiced how to prepare coffee (real Costa Rican style). After that, I invited them to come and see my house and garden.
I shared some words and I got too many hugs. Enough to last for a life time, I guess 🙂

True Nature Travels Blog

communityyoga_eventphoto“Good morning is not just a word, its an action and a belief to live the entire day well. Morning is the time when you set the tone for the rest of the day. Set it right!”

Fain Blake



Every morning when we rise, each and every one of us are given a precious and priceless gift.  We have the opportunity to start fresh.  Whether you consider yourself to be a morning person or not, creating a simple routine in the morning when you wake up can set you on the right track to move through your day with a little bit more ease and grace.  And, who would not want a little less effort in their lives these days?

“Be willing to be a beginner every single morning.”  

Meister Eckhart

1. Linger a little longer

Let the first thing you do when you open your eyes be just that.  Open your eyes.  Give yourself and opportunity to drink in this precious moment of awakening.  Many of us literally dread that moment each day when you have to wake up.  Let’s be honest.  If you actually dread opening your eyes in the morning – is that really setting yourself up for a good beginning to the rest of the day? This may take some practice, but if you allow yourself 3-5 minutes to wake up slowly and gently, stretching your body, feeling the rest that you received the night before preparing you for the day ahead and actually visualizing yourself having a great day – then you are giving yourself the best possible start to having a great day!

cr2010-2006-12. Wait a while before turning on your computers

For at least 30-45 minutes after you wake up, try not to have any devices working on you.  No television. No computer. No phone.  Your email will be there.  Facebook will be there.  The to-do lists and the calendars will be there.

3. Have a glass of warm water with lemon.

Studies show  that drinking a glass of warm lemon water supports immune function, battles bad breath, can jumpstart weight loss and much, much more. It also just makes you feel good.  And that’s a good thing.

4. Find a few moments for stillness

It’s no surprise any more that meditation is good for the body, mind and spirit.  Taking five to 15 minutes a day to still your mind and focus on your breath, a mantra, a flower or just simply taking a quiet walk in nature aids in lowering stress levels, more restful sleep and cultivating more mindfulness throughout your day.

5. Don’t forget to say “thank you”

Starting your day with a thankful heart is such a simple but impactful practice.  You can end your meditation by taking a few moments to sit with gratitude for all of the things in your life you wish to give thanks for.


“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.”

Marcus Aurelius




True Nature Travels Blog

2476194865fc99f24a7d8661d779533bWe often get caught up in thinking that mindfulness, love and compassion will reveal themselves to us in a climatic and dramatic way.  We begin to “expect” something like this and with those expectations, we can miss the message that the present moment is sending us.  And that is, that this very moment is enough.

Our culture of “achieving” often can get wrapped up into thinking that even inner peace is something we need to work hard for.  In fact, it is when we empty our minds of all the “to-do” lists that our true nature – our inner light – begins to reveal itself to us.  This moment is not asking anything more from us than our complete and total presence to it.  Whether that is taking a deep breath, watching your children play, honoring Mother Nature by sitting down to take in a sunrise or sunset.  To let yourself become absorbed completely in the moment is when your awareness of living a mindful life begins to deepen.

390572166d02379f0068722cd31abd76So, what about the moments when you are sitting in traffic?  Or, when you are arguing with your partner? Or when you walk into the laundry room and the clothes are stacked up to the ceiling and you wish you could just close the door and make them disappear?  What about the moments when you feel overwhelmed with all there is to do and you wish you could manifest more hours in the day to get everything done?  Well, those moments are just as real and just as important as the ones when you find yourself immersed in the delight and laughter of your children.  We must be able to find presence in those uncomfortable moments as well.  But, it takes time.  It takes patience and most of all, it takes practice.

Join us for a #MindfulMonday series where we will share simple practices to support you in connecting more deeply with your True Nature and cultivating tools to live a more mindful life.  And, the first lesson is – it starts right now.


True Nature Travels Blog

Yoga Retreat in Costa Rica“That could be me….”

We think we can speak for just about everyone who has ever signed up for a 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training Course when we say that everyone, at one point or another(or hundreds of times!) has looked longingly at the image of a beautiful yogi practicing along the beach at a beautiful, tropical location.  We have all dreamed of one day, just maybe with enough intention and support, that could be us, leading a yoga retreat while overlooking fiery sunsets and the cascading waves of the Pacific Ocean.

Yoga retreat, Costa Rica


“That could be me….” zip lining through the jungle, sipping the refreshing juice right out of a coconut, hiking to a magnificent waterfall, creating space and community for profound transformation for our students, and of course, ourselves.

When teachers come to us with their own unique dream of teaching a yoga retreat in Costa Rica they want to know how they can make it happen.  What are the right things to do, to say.  How many students do they need?  How will they get from place to place?  How much will it cost? When is the best time of year to go?  Got a question about teaching a yoga retreat in Costa Rica? We have the answer.  And, after years and years of leading successful retreats, we have narrowed down the one thing that is absolutely essential to do if your dream is to lead a yoga retreat in this beautiful, tropical paradise.

Yoga Retreat in Costa RicaENVISION YOUR RETREAT!

Yep!  Start smelling the flowers, in your mind, right now!  Feel the waterfall beating down on your back giving you the best natural massage you have ever had. Hear the howler monkeys giving you and your students a 5am wake up call.

See the smiling, relaxed and restored faces of your students as you hold a loving space for them to unwind from their plugged in lives at home.  Taste the succulent mango, the ripe papaya. Feel yourself in meditation at sunset, in deep gratitude for your journey that has led you to right here, right now.

We take great care to customize each  program.  We will work with you to help you manifest your unique vision, offer our experienced guidance, support and wisdom along the way.   Make time everyday to actually see yourself at your retreat and engage all five senses in your visualization.

Not a bad way to begin manifesting your dream!

Yoga Retreat Costa RicaBe a part of our 2015 True Nature Teaching Team! We are looking for amazing yoga teachers to connect and collaborate with that are passionate about providing transformational experiences for their students.  Read more about teaching with us here.


True Nature Travels Blog

1969380_635261833189725_1469056757_nWe’re only a few months away from the Shakti Yoga Costa Rica Experience, led by Shakti Power Yoga owners – and sisters! – Lauren Farina and Kelly Farina-Carter. This all-encompassing yoga retreat will include yoga practices, meditation practices, hiking, an opportunity to surf the waves, and the joy of service.

Service yoga – aka “karma yoga” – is a shared value for both True Nature Education as well as Shakti Power Yoga. With a mission to empower students both on and off the mat, the Shakti community also offers weekly donation-based Karma classes to benefit the Nashville-based non-profit, Small World Yoga.

1939702_637296872986221_1138475371_nSmall World Yoga, created by one of the Shakti teachers, Liz Veyhl, brings yoga to other local organizations that need it throughout Nashville. All proceeds from the weekly Karma classes go directly to Small World Yoga.

The Shakti Power Yoga crew takes their commitment to service a step further by highlighting one organization per month that Small World Yoga works with. During the month of April, the organization highlighted is Hope Lodge, offering housing and care for those going through cancer treatments.

Since 2004, The American Cancer Society’s Memorial Foundation Hope Lodge has offered a solution to cancer patients who must undergo treatment far from home. The Hope Lodge provides housing free of charge on a first-come, first served basis to cancer patients and their families during their course of treatment. The lodge not only reduces the financial burden, but also provides a much needed supportive environment.

10172837_437255066410393_388228646_nSmall World Yoga, supported by Shakti Power Yoga, has become part of this supportive environment by offering yoga for those undergoing this process.

Along with SWY, Shakti is organizing two evenings at the end of this month to volunteer their time to help serve meals at Hope Lodge. Each week we hope to gain more support of Small World Yoga, and each month we will highlight a new local organization all with the hopes of supporting our friends, teachers and community through the power of yoga.


There’s still time to sign up!

July 21-28, 2014
Shakti Power Yoga Costa Rica Retreat
with Lauren Farina and Kelly Farina Carter

True Nature Travels Blog

998cbfc255a3e88b0a7c45dd05152825For many of us, international travel has become a homogenized, sterile experience and, for the host country, a consumptive, offensive one. We need a new model for travel — a model that allows for discovery and mutual interaction with others at a heartful level. This new model of travel could be called, “Mindful Travel.”

Mindful travel is about being alive in the moment — being wide-awake — being present to what life puts in our path. It does not involve elaborate itineraries, lists of tourist sites, high-rise hotels or pre-fabricated tours. When we become a mindful traveler, we invite events and experiences to appear at their own time and in their own way. We enjoy making plans but we are always open to new opportunities. We allow for surprises and new friends.

When we are mindful, we are aware of choices and opportunities as they present themselves. We open up to new experiences and to doing old things in new ways.

f1b85aa44f6487855266b083c6d08069This is the essence of mindful travel — observation and participation. Mindful travel is spontaneous. Because the journey is one of unfolding moment by moment, we remain fully present and come to see more clearly. This can lead to an acute observation of both ourselves and others. We see with new eyes and learn to appreciate both others and ourselves in a fresh way. We experience each new world as if for the first time.

Mindful travelers thrive on what is happening in the moment and choose actions within that context. Synchronicity occurs, and we encounter the right person and new experiences we might never have had. Mindful travel encourages us to question assumptions that can be obstacles to mindful travel. Some more common assumptions are.

5e0240289dd2421096d82163cbdf16baAre we alive to where we are, and not talking about some other place or somebody else?

How are we affecting the people around us and the environment?

How can we use travel to positively impact the world?

(adapted from

Are you ready to begin a new journey?  Book your next trip with True Nature Education – find out how right here.

True Nature Travels Blog

3acc086f1a4d1e767e6ca195aa5bf9a8It’s so easy to get caught up in the hustle of life, the speed of the Facebook feed, the limited hours in the day and the dreams and opportunities that we sometimes feel are passing us by.  The amount of energy that we spend “thinking about being caught up” is staggering when you actually take a moment to reflect on it.




How much time have you spent lately worrying about something or replaying a negative story in your head?

A lot, huh? What if you took all of those moment you spent worrying and put that energy towards cultivating more presence and awareness in your life?  Or better yet, building on a dream, imagining, spending time with loved ones, letting someone know how grateful you are for them. Yes, life CAN feel and be overwhelming sometimes, but it’s truly in those moments that we have the opportunity to step back into presence.

Wait, what?  When we feel disconnected from living fully – THAT is when we need to step back into it?  YES!  When we notice ourselves getting wound up in a story or pattern, that is the perfect moment to notice and bring yourself back to your center.  To remember your true nature is one of love, pure being and you are whole and perfect in this moment.

This powerful practice can change your life because no matter where we are on the path, there will always be countless moments throughout your day when you have the opportunity to notice yourself disconnected from presence.  Moment by moment you begin to recognize that each one counts.



It’s a gradual process, one that takes practice, patience and the willingness to keep coming back, day by day; moment by moment.

Here are some thoughts to support you in calling this practice into your life.

Befriend your habits (the good, the bad and the ugly)

Recognizing that your habits, patterns and beliefs are all truly a part of the wonderfully already perfect you is an important first step.  We will always have obstacles (inner and outer) in our lives so approaching them like a “friend in need” with compassion, empathy and forgiveness is a good approach.  Hey, everybody worries sometimes.

Let your “bad” habit jumpstart a positive one

True Nature Travels Blog

5dcaddc776f78ef39e41c2a35342277dFinding presence in every moment is a lifelong journey.  It is one that we hope to foster and encourage in all of our actions but in that fostering, we must also be prepared to notice with compassion the the moments where we are distracted or the times when we  struggle against obstacles or uncomfortable feelings and emotions.

When we step onto the path that only leads back to ourselves, we can often find ourselves wanting to arrive at our destination, when it is our journey that is full of the jewels that can enrich our lives.  The path to enlightenment is truly a path back to our own hearts and sometimes that path can feel more like a slow dripping faucet (drip…. drip….. drip…..) rather than a continuous rushing waterfall of love and bliss all the time.

“It is true that we are called to create a better world. But we are first of all called to a more immediate and exalted task: that of creating our own lives.”

– Thomas Merton

eae9be9ddfb7f34a12c7b081808c2c4bThere are so many paths, methods, teachings and teachers out there offering guidance and wisdom.  After years of practicing living a mindful life, daily, one comes to understand that there are a few very simple truths that are told in hundreds if not thousands of different ways.  And one of those truths is – If I have peace in myself then I will cultivate peace in my world.  And by proxy, if you are creating a more peaceful world for yourself, you are contributing to a more peaceful world for everyone for your energy and intentions ripple outwards with far reaching effects beyond your control.

The beauty of committing to live a more mindful life is that there is no better time to begin then right now.  We can begin right now with the breath and a short mantra.

Five Minute Mindfulness Meditation

(set a timer on your phone or clock)

– Find a comfortable seat on the floor or in a chair.  Close your eyes or softly rest your gaze on an object such as a flower or candle. Be sure you are sitting with your spine long and tall.  Feel settled into your sitting bones and an effortless life in the crown of your head towards the sky.

– Take 3-5 nice deep breaths in and out of the nose just allowing your body to relax.  Notice how you are feeling.  You might ask yourself – How am I feeling today?  How does my body feel? How does my mind feel? Just notice the answers that come up, don’t judge them.  Anything that you are feeling is ok.

– Begin noticing the breath even more deeply.  Try to let your inhales and your exhales be the same length as one another.  Perhaps a count of 4.  Inhale for 4, exhale for 4, inhale for 4, exhale for 4.

– Once you have established your breath, bring a the words –

Breathing in I feel peace in myself,

Breathing out I share peace with the world.

Breathing in I feel peace in myself,

Breathing out I share peace with the world.

Breathing in I feel peace in myself,

Breathing out I share peace with the world.

– Repeat this mantra and allow yourself to feel the peace you are breathing in and allow yourself to feel you are sharing that peace with the whole world as you are breathing out.  If thoughts arise in your mind such the list of things to do later today or what you have planned for this weekend  – just allow them to rise and fall with the breath and gently bring your attention back to the mantra.  It is completely normal and expected that thoughts will come up.

– When your timer goes off, try not to jump up immediately.  Allow the mantra to fade into your mind and let it go.  Take a few more deep breaths and again, just notice how you are feeling.  You may want to ask yourself the same questions as you asked at the beginning of the meditation – How am I feeling today?  How does my body feel? How does my mind feel? Just notice the answers that come up, don’t judge them.  Anything that you are feeling is ok.  Notice if you feel differently now than you did when you began.

– Slowly open your eyes and see a more peaceful world around you and give thanks for the peaceful space you are cultivating within you.

4e029022d7d5bac25b8172a2f0fb16a7True Nature Education is a True Nature is an Educational Travel Company which provides full service in the planning, support, and guiding of a diverse catalog of trips to Costa Rica each year with a focus on offering unique and transformational experiences for both our teachers leading retreats and the students taking them.  Check out our 2014 Calendar of retreats.





True Nature Travels Blog


Battling Stress with Yoga

Yoga.  The word alone conjures up all sorts of meanings and images.  I bet you are thinking of someone doing a crazy yoga asana or pose right now, like standing on their hands or putting their legs behind their head.  Yes, this is yoga, too, but in fact, the real reason humans have been practicing yoga for over 5,000 years simply reconnect with their innermost selves, or their True Nature.

We have a tendency to get caught up in looking outside ourselves for fulfillment, happiness, peace, etc.  Yet something we all know deep down is that true joy can only be found when we are completely content internally.  We get caught up in doing rather than just being.

There are many paths and definitions to yoga.  We will be exploring these here in our new blog series – The True Nature of Yoga.  One of our favorite definitions of yoga is…

True Nature Travels Blog

Mindfulness is an integral part of True Nature Education. We have found by subtly utilizing mindfulness in our programs our participants are able to have a more memorable, rewarding, and profound experience while traveling with us. Why is this? Because when we are mindful we are able to experience the moment more fully, and therefore can truly enjoy the fruits of our life. These “fruits” are especially rich and inspiring are especially rich and inspiring when traveling, on retreat, and learning new things, in a new place.

But what is mindfulness, exactly? By scientific definition, let’s take a look here and explore it’s meaning.