True Nature Travels Blog

Do you feel out of balance? Are you overwhelmed with work and family obligations? Well, it’s time you did something good for your body and mind. Getting outdoors will bring you many benefits, especially if you mix it with exercising. Here are some of the best outdoor activities that will rejuvenate your body and de-stress your mind. 


This is a great physical activity for all people who are not in any enviable form yet still want to enjoy moving and spending time in nature. All you need for a nice hike is some good shoes and a safe stretch of nature to explore. In a single demanding hike, you can burn as much as 500 calories and if you hit the hills, even more! But more importantly, you will get in touch with nature and clear your mind. Plus, amazing scenery and relaxing nature sounds will finally unglue you from your phone which is amazing for mental health. 

Bike rides

If you enjoy the fresh air and an open road in front of you, try cycling. A short trip on your bike will provide you with plenty of exercises and some time to think about whatever’s troubling you. Depending on where you’re going, there are different types of bikes. A good city bike will take you wherever you want to go on a paved road, while a mountain bike is more suitable for rugged terrain. Whichever type you prefer, you can expect great mental and physical health benefits. Pedaling is great for building lower-body muscles but it’s also good for cardiovascular health. Plus, fresh air and wind in your face will feel so refreshing and rejuvenating.



Running is one of the best whole-body activities you can perform in nature. It’s a great way to clear out your head, relieve stress and enjoy some time by yourself to reflect. Additionally, it’s very good for your fitness and physical health too. It’s a great way to maintain a healthy weight, build lean muscles and improve cardiovascular health. But, running can be quite demanding, especially outdoors on the rugged surface and non-level terrain. So, in order to prevent injury and have more enjoyable running sessions, it’s best to include some leg workouts into your workout regime that will turn you into a real runner in no time. Most of these can be done anywhere and with minimal equipment (some weights and a stability ball) so you can introduce them into your life without too much trouble. 


If you’re used to just lounging at the beach or splashing around in the shallows, it will surprise you that swimming is a great whole-body workout. It’s also very low-impact, which means you can enjoy it while recovering from injury or suffering from chronic pain (it’s a perfect exercise for seniors or overweight people). And expect a lot of resistance from water—it will increase muscle mass and tone your body. If you choose to go swimming in the ocean, river or lake, you will be completely surrounded by natural peace and beauties that will make all your stress and anxiety leave your head and sink to the bottom.

Outdoor yoga

If you’re looking for a way to connect with nature and reach inner peace, yoga is your answer, especially if you practice it outside. It can help you solve many of your problems concerning your body, mind, and soul. A good yoga teacher designs classes with exactly these points in mind and they can offer positive encouragement and guidance towards a healthy body and stress-free mind. 

Choosing to practice yoga poses outdoors is especially beneficial since it allows you to achieve harmony with the world that surrounds you. It’s much easier to achieve relaxation in a nurturing outdoor environment. And since breathing is a huge part of yoga, the freshness of the air outside provided by trees, plants and cool temperatures will supply you with extra oxygen.

Meditation in nature

Similar to yoga, meditation in nature is also a great way to reach inner peace. And practicing outdoor meditation is really easy. All you need to do is find a park, forest or even a beach and close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths and let your mind release all tension and time and work obligation concerns. It’s a great way to de-stress and relieve tension from both body and mind. You will also learn a lot about yourself and practice mindfulness we all lack in this world filled with distractions and fast pleasures.


If you step outside, you will find it much easier to reach balance and harmony inside. So, grab your shoes and your water bottle and step out for an invigorating run, fun bike ride or relaxing yoga session as soon as you can!


Morgan Rose Elliott is an aromatherapist, yoga instructor, animal lover, a happily married mother of three. She enjoys reading biographies and writing poems, sunny days on the beach and any shape and form of vanilla. Crazy about the ’80s, her favorite band is Duran Duran (although kids prefer Franz Ferdinand, and the husband Blink182) and she is obsessed with Netflix original Stranger things.

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

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

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.


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

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