True Nature Travels Blog

True Nature Travels Blog

Just for now, without asking how, let yourself sink into stillness.

Just for now, lay down the
weight you so patiently
bear upon your shoulders.
Feel the earth receive
you, and the infinite
expanse of sky grow even
wider as your awareness
reaches up to meet it.
 
Just for now, allow a wave of breath to enliven your experience. Breathe out whatever blocks you from the truth. Just for now, be boundless, free, awakened energy tingling in your hands and feet. Drink in the possibility of being who and what you really are so fully alive that when you open your eyes the world looks different, newly born and vibrant, just for now.
I shared this poem by Dana Faulds in class in Costa Rica, reminding the group to allow themselves time to really be in the beautiful magic of Costa Rica and use it as a space and time to take care of themselves and to get back to who they are.
 
Over the course of the week, we softened our grip on our lives and responsibilities and let ourselves sink into stillness (or something similar).  Staying at Finca Luna Nueva Lodge, a biodynamic farm, allowed us to have a direct connection to nature. We ate food that was grown and compassionately raised by inspiring land stewards; we practiced yoga surrounded by the cacophony of of the rainforest; we observed nature in her own pace – the sun rising, the sloths traveling up and down trees, watching the weather shifting constantly.
 
We explored beyond Finca Luna and our comfortable limits: stand up paddle boarding on Lake Arenal, the world’s largest man-made lake, hiking the resilient ecosystem that surrounds Arenal Volcano, rappelling down waterfalls, rafting the rapids, and sinking into the healing warmth of the hot springs.
Between our multiple yoga practices each day and our explorations, we found time to practice sinking into stillness – massages, reading, walking & running on the property, and napping in hammocks.
 
Throughout all of this we discovered “moments” in which we had insights into who and what we really are.  Some of these moments were in the quiet reverence of nature, and many were in the time we spent together at meals, on bus rides, on porches, and during our yoga practices.
These “moments” were revelations that we are boundless and free and that we have access to the energy within us.
 
These “moments” showed us that maybe we do give too much of ourselves and offer ourselves too little protection. Maybe we don’t make enough time to do the things that make us happy. Maybe we don’t step out of the cacophony of our wired trance to see, hear, and experience our lives as unique.  Maybe we don’t recognize how much energy we have to spend on our own lives and how beautiful life is.
This energy and these insights are not to be squandered – they need to be nurtured and protected. Leaving Costa Rica, we understand that this is special and belongs to us. It should not be doused by jumping back into old patterns that block us from this knowledge.
So, pardon us if we seem a bit different as we return from Costa Rica. Excuse us if we become more deliberate like the sloths. And don’t mind us if we take more risks and have different perspectives on our day to day lives. We just got back from Costa Rica – newly born and vibrant, just for now.
 
We send out much gratitude to the staff of Finca Luna Nueva, True Nature Education, and the dozens of Ticos that made our trip to Costa Rica so wonderful.  PURA VIDA!

True Nature Travels Blog

Our trip to Costa Rica and Finca Luna Nueva has allowed me and the eight remarkable women on this trip time to relax, reflect and connect in conversation in the awesome beauty of the rainforest and the powerful shadows of Arenal volcano.

The nine of us have a common denominator: We are “driven” and bear a lot of responsibility. Relaxing and being still are practices that present challenges. In the wonder of discovering Arenal and Lake Arenal, we have found moments to sit and soak in the magnificence of being present here.

Yesterday, we were floating on paddle-boards on the world’s largest lake – with the remnants of the lost city of Arenal underneath us.  Most of are here seeking balance in our busy lives – so standing up on a paddle-board and finding a new balance in our yoga poses was an act of faith that we can do anything we set our minds to do. Even the familiar can teach us something new and show us how much courage we already own.

Our guide told us to not struggle with the balance – recognize a potential spill and to dive into the lake rather than fight. Let Go! Then get back on and seek balance – again. And again.

Our hike up the rocky sides of Arenal Volcano had us watching each uncertain step – not looking back or ahead until we reached a scenic overlook.  At the top of where we were allowed to climb, we got perspective on the view of the vast mirror of Lake Arenal and the mysterious volano looming above us hidden in its constant cloud cover. Our guide provided us with the stories of how the volcano’s past eruptions came with little warning and how it changed everything for miles, but nature, time after time, brought life back.  It’s a powerful moment when you realize that life is like this volcano. The best  we can do each day is to climb mindfully, take time at scenic overlooks and then proceed.

Today is the 4th anniversary of leaving my former job in a Fortune 50 company.  Arenal, the rainforest and these 8 amazing women are my scenic overlook. Onward!

Reporting from the field:
Andrea Dyer

True Nature Travels Blog

Our journey to Costa Rica began months ago as we planned to return to Costa Rica again in 2013 after a fabulous adventure to the Guanacaste coast in 2012. Most of us were able to arrange life to get back to Costa Rica this year, some were off to other adventures and we have added a few new faces to our tribe of travelers.

We flew to San Jose on a Saturday. Up with the sun and off to the airport – all meeting up in San Jose – with the exception of one straggler, our flight was oversold and Lynn had to stay back and fly on another flight. 5 of us arrived at immigration in San Jose to be greeted by Lisa’s smiling face. We navigated immigration, cash conversion and the duty free store and caught up with Sandy. When we got through immigration we found our guide, Mary and decided to go to a hotel for lunch while we waited for Lynn to catch up with us.

We navigated the colorful streets of San Jose to a hotel where we stayed last year – the home of the Marilyn Monroe bar at the Orquideas Inn- and home of K9 Marilyn Monroe. Lynn’s plans changed and we were to meet her at Finca Luna Nueva so we headed out into the twilight with our driver, but not before we did a headstand bomb.

We were warned that the drive would be foggy, but I don’t think any of us have ever been is such thick fog as we rode into the higher elevations of the rainforest. Our driver knew the roads so well that he knew when there would be speed bumps and sharp turns. It was slow and arduous, but we got to Finca Luna Nueva and moments later, the wayward Lynn showed up. All was well and we settled into our rooms.

Sunday was our first day here. We’ll call it Day 1 as we really arrived into the rainforest. We started with a tour of the biodynamic farm led by founder, Steven. The farm is really amazing and Steven’s dedication to enriching the planet is truly inspiring. We toured the gardens, the livestock areas – the pigs were a favorite and had our first sloth sighting.

We ate fresh plants and learned a lot about ayurvedic applications for using food to heal and cultivate energy.

Our tour ended with a yoga practice so we could stretch and then sit with all we had experienced that morning.

The afternoon was filled with exploration, the massage appointments began and we did a Yin & Flow practice to set ourselves into taking time for ourselves on this journey.

We spent the evening relaxing and getting to know each other with a post-yoga class happy hour – a circle where we shared some journal entries from last year’s trip and got to know each other a little better – catching up with old friends and learning all about new friends.

Impressions from the first day echo a deep appreciation and love for the environment here on the farm – the sounds, the scents the scenes; an appreciation of the warmth after leaving the colder climbs of NC and the opportunity to take our yoga into nature on the beautiful yoga pavilion.

Yoga is our cornerstone as we progress through the week. Our second day here is pointed toward more exploration of the property, more yoga and great community with strong, interesting women – recharging and celebrating life on this planet! Tomorrow we head out for a tour of the Volcano and Stand Up Paddle boarding. Adventure and stretching our limits in paradise!

Peace and lots of love and laughter ringing through the jungle!

Blogging from Costa Rica:
Andrea Dyer

True Nature Travels Blog

This was written by Tiina Kivinen, retreat leader of our first yoga retreat of the 2013 season, the Rhythms of Joy: A Costa Rica Experience, from 1/12-1/19:

Love from Nosara Costa Rica! We just completed the Rhythms of Joy Costa Rica Yoga Retreat last week, and I am basking in the afterglow. The experience brought people together from Peterborough, Bobcageon, and Thunder Bay Ontario, Alberta, Minnesota, New York City, Holland, and our beloved co-facilitators from Asheville, North Carolina. One participant, Fern, described a ‘magnetic pull’ that brought her to the retreat, and I can attest that a force of love and grace brought all these beautiful souls together at the right place and time to experience rhythms of joy, deep connection and awakening.

During the 7 days of Retreat, we rode the waves in the ocean, diving into high and low tides, and felt the healing ocean waters caress our feet during sunset. Each day, attending to the grace and epic beauty of the setting Sun reminded me of the blessing of life, another day of loving as the sun melted into the ocean and the day turned to night. The week began with the new moon, a symbol of new beginning, a time for setting intention. Throughout the week Moon grew from new to a sweet sliver and into a radiant half moon that became illuminated by the setting sun. As Moon grew more and more illuminated, so did we, and our intentions ripened as our community and experience deepened.

Our days were full of Yoga, Mindfulness Meditation, Yoga Dance, Kirtan (mantra singing) among many other experiences. Many participants also went on excursions, like zip lining, visiting the Monkey Sanctuary and rehabilitation centre, as well as an early morning journey to see mama sea turtles laying eggs and baby turtles making their first journey to the ocean… Epic!

True Nature Travels Blog

We woke up at a.m. this morning to venture to Nicoya Peninsula in Nosara, Costa Rica, to watch the amazing, inspiring voyage of the hatching of baby sea turtles crawling to their ocean plunge. We were there to help them along the way, protecting them from potential predators to scoop them up, as these vulnerable little guys met the Pacific Ocean for the first time.

True Nature Travels Blog

The holidays are already upon us, meaning that the commencement of the 2013 True Nature Education retreat season is almost here.

As we begin the new year, our yoga retreats lead the way. Our second retreat, the 4th Annual Karma Yoga Experience, is co-hosted by Karina Mirsky along with TNE co-owners, Joshua Canter and Kristin Luna Ray. Karina is also co-hosting our third retreat, the Rainforest Vital Health Retreat, with Dr. Claudette Baker, practitioner of Chinese Oriental Medicine of 28 years.

Karina is an internationally celebrated yoga and meditation teacher, yoga educator, and transformational coach. She is the director of Sangha Yoga in Kalamazoo, MI, and is a teaching faculty member of the Himalayan Institute in Honesdale, PA. She is also an adjunct professor in Antioch University’s Yoga Studies program.

Karina has been teaching yoga since 1998. She was one of the first certified teachers of Rod Stryker’s ParaYoga®. Her work with both individuals and groups is informed by her experiences as a performance artist, therapist, and cancer survivor.

You can find Karina in several publications. She was recently interviewed by the Huffington Post for the Yoga, How We Serve series. She’s also a regular contributer to Yoga International and  is the cover model of the current issue, Winter 2012. In the March 2008 issue of Yoga Journal Karina was honored as one of 21 teachers under the age of 40 who is shaping the future of yoga in America.

We’re excited to have Karina returning to host retreats with us again in her 4th season with us. We caught up with her to hear more about her thoughts on TNE and intentions for her upcoming retreats.

True Nature Education:  Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Karina. Tell us, what has been your experience working with True Nature Education?
Karina:  I love working with True Nature Education. I have run retreats with them for four years, and I wouldn’t dream of working with any other organization. Participants can relax and trust that all they have to do is arrive at the San Jose airport. TNE takes care of everything else, including transport from the airport, meals, lodging, retreat activities, and excursions. The TNE staff is friendly, highly organized, and well-versed in the various regions of the country as well as in the Costa Rican language and culture. They make traveling to a foreign country an enjoyable and effortless experience.

TNE:  With your first retreat with us coming up, what is the intention of the 4th Annual Karma Yoga Experience?

Karina:  Each year Luna, Joshua, and I bring participants to a different location in Costa Rica to be immersed in the land and culture of that region [for the 4th Annual Karma Yoga Experience]. The intention is for participants to unplug from their day-to-day lives and connect with the earth and other seekers, but mostly their own core Self. During the retreat we will weave sacred music, meditation, yoga, dharma talks, and ritual into our daily activities. We eat delicious, healthy meals and spend quality time in nature. One of the highlights of the week is when we partner with CREER Service Organization to conduct a service project in the local community. This provides a very special cross-cultural experience for all involved. This retreat is truly one of the most holistic programs in my catalog. People leave feeling uplifted, inspired, and empowered. Past participants have described this retreat as a transformative, life-changing experience. Many return year-after-year and often bring their spouses and friends back with them. If you want to touch your heart and fill it with joy, then this retreat is for you!

TNE:  And with your second retreat following, what is the intention of the Rainforest Vital Health Retreat?

Karina:  With the pace of our lives and levels of stress and toxicity we face here in the US, Americans are seeing increasing numbers of cancer diagnoses. As a yoga and meditation teacher for over 15 years, and cancer survivor of 10 years, people often seek my guidance when they or a loved one is facing a cancer diagnosis. Yoga and meditation are wonderful tools to reduce stress, increase vital oxygen, and self awareness. I am overjoyed to be co-hosting the Rainforest Vital Health Retreat with Chinese Medicinal Oncologist, Dr. Claudette Baker. She is a cutting edge expert in the field of cancer prevention and holistic treatment. The jungles of Costa Rica are the perfect environment to heal and restore vital energy. This retreat is a rare opportunity to culture vibrant health in a sacred, peaceful, and oxygen-rich environment. This experience is also highly educational, making it a valuable learning opportunity for yoga teachers and other health care providers.

TNE:  What else do you want people to know about your retreats with True Nature?

Karina:  Know that you deserve a break from your daily life. Joining us for a retreat is the best kind of vacation; a true RESToration for your body mind and spirit. We have exhausted mothers, high-powered executives, people with disabilites, elders, college students, and newbies to yoga all join us and want to come back year after year. Come, you won’t regret it.

For more information contact us by email at info@truenatureeducation.com or by phone at

True Nature Travels Blog

As our 2012-2013 retreat season continues into February, we will be offering one of our new yoga programs, Where Heaven Meets the Earth: A Costa Rica Yoga Experience, from February 16-23  for a week of yoga, nutrition, and music in nature.
Hosted at the Finca Luna Nueva Lodge, True Nature Education co-owners Joshua Canter and Kristin Luna Ray will be alongside yoga instructor and nutritionist, Shayna Hiller, in the mountain Costa Rica jungles with views of Mount Arenal. Within the lush surroundings of Finca Luna amidst thriving gardens, a sustainable farm, and secluded jungle hiking trails, the week-long retreat will foster an illumination of heart, mind, and soul through the practices of Hatha and Bhakti yoga, meditation, and mindfulness.
Following her yoga certification at the Nosara Yoga Institute, Shayna hosts yoga and nutrition retreats in Costa Rica each year, and we are so grateful to have her along with us for this unique program. She is also a Board Certified Holistic Health Practitioner through the American Association of Drugless Practitioners, with a mission to share the benefits of a steady yoga practice and healthy lifestyle with people from around the world.
We were lucky to catch up with Shayna as the momentum for the retreat builds, to tap into her thoughts, insights, and expectations for the upcoming program.
True Nature Education: Greetings, Shayna, and thank you for taking the time to interview with us. We are looking forward to this retreat and having you join us to host a new Costa Rica retreat through TNE. How did your relationship with Joshua and Luna and the inspiration for this program first arise?

Shayna:  I met Joshua and Luna in Nosara, Costa Rica, this past Winter. I was teaching yoga there

True Nature Travels Blog

With December just around the corner, our 2012-2013 retreat season is about to be underway. One of the first retreats on our calendar is Rhythms of Joy: A Costa Rica Yoga Experience, from January 12-19, 2013.
Hosted at the beautiful Nosara Bed & Breakfast Retreat Center in Nosara, Costa Rica, you will experience a week-long immersion in yoga, nature, rhythm, and spirit along the Pacific Coast near one of Costa Rica’s best-protected wildlife preserves. Within the nurturing environment of jungle life, daily yoga classes will guide you through the tuning of your individual spirit alongside a thriving community of yogis.
The retreat will be co-hosted by True Nature Education Co-Founders, Joshua Canter and Kristin Luna Ray, alongside the talented Tiina Kivinen. Tiina is a wonderful yoga teacher, hailing from Ontario, Canada, and having achieved her 500-HR Professional Level Certified Yoga Teacher through the Nosara Institute. Her Costa Rica yoga roots have remained strong as the assistant director of Let Your Yoga Dance Teacher Training in Nosara. When she is not in Costa Rica, Tiina teaches at Hot Yoga Peterborough in Peterborough, ON.
I was lucky to catch up with Tiina to check in with her about the upcoming retreat and gain some insight into her thoughts and excitement.
True Nature Education:  Thanks for taking some time away from your busy schedule! We are so excited to return to Costa Rica and unite with you for this unique program. Tell us, what is your intention for the Rhythms of Joy retreat?

Tiina:  My intention for Rhythms Of Joy retreat is that everyone who participates will get exactly what they need out of the experience… especially a heightened state of love, joy, and peace! Being on a yoga retreat can be a highly transformative experience, especially in such an inspiring environment as Costa Rica, and the practices that we are