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