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

1512086_638863206167130_5202010020011765157_oJune is upon us, and that means that we’re just days from the launch of our next yoga retreat journey, Jungle Love! A Costa Rica Experience with Missy Balsam.

For what is sure to be an incredible seven days, Missy and her students are preparing to embark on a journey of yoga retreat and adventure. Hosted at one of our favorite retreat centers, Finca Luna Nueva Lodge, the retreat will be hosted in an environment of self-healing, fostered by the nearby Arenal Volcano and the town of La Fortuna. Arenal is the adventure capital of Costa Rica, and the group is planning on taking full advantage of it through activities like hiking, hot springs excursions, canopy tours, waterfall expeditions, and more.

10422565_10152074903686930_2296553190345365648_nA bit off the beaten path, this peaceful yoga retreat will be nested in Luna Nueva’s jungle paradise. meditative walks on the property’s lush rainforest trails. Daily yoga sessions will be inspired by Missy’s teaching style of empowerment, inspiration, and joy, encouraging students of all levels to keep growing and evolving, discovering the happiness that is already inside of all of us.

Luna Nueva is world-renowned for its fresh, organic, nutritionally-dense food grown right on-site. Altogether the group is ready to set foot on a path of rejuvenation and recharging for the mind, body, and soul. Days will be complete with meditative walks on the property’s lush rainforest trails and plenty of personal reflection time in this unique wilderness.

To immerse directly into the local land and community, Jungle Love! will be incorporating service “karma” yoga and Bhakti yoga elements through projects during the week.

We’ll be posting updates “from the road” with some reflective writing and photos to keep you posted on the retreat in action so you can share in the experience. Stay tuned with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (@TrueNatureEducation) for a peek into the action!

True Nature Travels Blog


Just a couple of hours ago our Chant Together: A Family Bhakti Yoga Celebration with David ‘Durga Das’ Newman, Mira Newman, and Friends departed. It was a wonderfully rich week of retreat. Bhakti Yoga is also known as the yoga of devotion and love. The essence of this week was just that.

Standing on the incredible Finca Luna Nueva Lodge property, I gaze into the distance at the vast rainforest before me. When looking with one point of view, all I observe is a sea of green; when looking closely I see the intricate web of life before me, with the vast array of flora and fauna. Trees, flowers, birds, water.

The journey of retreat reveals a similar comparison. Each retreat in a way is very similar: a group of people coming together, practicing together, residing as a community, and then journeying onward. But, when we really move into the intimate intricacy of retreat, what beholds is truly an exquisite, unique experience to live through.

This week we explored a new facet – opening to the potential of sharing the retreat experience with families. Our retreat had three families with children: a mother and daughter, and another couple, along with some single adults. In the past I have had apprehension about the potential distraction that the family element might bring into retreat. I have been familiar for many years with a paradigm of retreat that was quiet, introspective, and focused towards a sense of personal time. I was curious about how this would be impacted with the element of children and family.

photo (19)David brought forth a beautiful reflection through his teachings this week. Sharing with us the profound transformation he had experienced over the past several months, his message was that “we all have the opportunity to awaken to the perfection of our ordinary selves.

This message was a perfect teaching for this retreat, which was filled with

True Nature Travels Blog

IMG_0217We’re nearing the end of our Chant Together Kirtan yoga retreat with David Newman (“Durga Das”) and Friends, and it has been such a delightful journey!  Our group is wonderfully diverse, with participants ranging from age 2, all the way up beyond 60.  It has been so sweet to have parents and kids, husbands and wives, and friends all here to chant together.

The power of retreat is something I wish everyone could experience. Feeling the support of the community and taking part in daily practices such as yoga, satsang (“discussions of truth”), and kirtan (“chanting”) have all added the fullness and richness of this True Nature Experience.

IMG_20140126_123038It has been such a blessing to spend the week on this magical land near the Arenal Volcano at Finca Luna Nueva Lodge. Everything is so lush here.  This is a place where trees grow on trees, toucans with bright yellow beaks fly overhead, and a three-toed sloth makes an occasional appearance.  This is a place where all you have to do is sit quietly and watch, and magic will present itself.

The other day we went to a local village and worked on projects for the school’s community garden.  The school is responsible for feeding the students lunch, and it has become a necessity to grow food to support this.  It felt great to help out with the project.  We also made sugar cane juice and drank from coconuts straight off the trees.  After our work (which was mostly play!), we enjoyed a home-cooked meal where we made our own corn tortillas.

Today, we spent the morning at the Tabacon Hot Springs.  We soaked up the warmth of volcanic water, as it poured through rivers and waterfalls that meandered through the trees and vibrantly colored plants.  Our afternoon ended with a sunset horseback ride to a waterfall.

It has been a wonderful week blending lots of time relaxing, chanting, and adventuring.  It is always sweet to get to know other people (and ourselves) better.  It is a gift to be able to spend a week away from our day-to-day lives and to live in a way that more deeply connects us with our own True Nature.


Eliza Volk
Asheville, North Carolina





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!