True Nature Travels Blog

“Ma’ane’i no ke aloha,” is Hawaiin for , “For love is here and now.” Every day of this summer has been led by love. It has been a journey of heart expansion. Since my first retreat with True Nature Education this past January in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica, I have learned that home truly is where the heart is. Living from the heart is a way of Be-in. It is not something that can be learned, rather it is something to be returned to. It is a home coming.

I have been undone by Costa Rica. I am being rebuilt with Love. Last year, I lived in Costa Rica for 6 months. I moved there thinking I would get married to my then boyfriend, buy a home there, have some kids, settle down, teach retreats, happily ever after, etc. Things do not always work out the way we SEE them working out but I know that we are all in good hands with the Universe. My plans didn’t pan out the way I thought they would. However, they have turned out to be better than I could have fathomed.

I left the boyfriend. I decided to move back to the States after my January Retreat. My heart is with yoga and showing others how to find compassion for themselves and the world by SEEING the world. This is a BIG piece of my Path. It is what lights me up from within. That is how I know. A great teacher once told me, “Listen closely to what the heart deeply desires and follow it with complete abandon.’ I knew I would continue to teach in Costa Rica . The retreat turned out to not only be a life changing experience for my students but for me as well. I was shedding my old snake skin to become an empty vessel for Spirit to use. All I knew from that moment on was I was meant to help others by using the faculties that God gave me. My inherent gifts and passions. I knew that I was meant to inspire others to do the same. I had no idea what the details between these points would be, but I trusted the Universal Spirit to take care of it… and so it is.

I made a vision board in early 2014. On it, visions of beautiful retreats and service work, a career and Path in yoga, yoga photography and modeling, singing kirtan and beyond, writing, having a beautiful home, paddle boarding and surfing, traveling the world and connecting with myself and nature in a way I hadn’t before. All of these have come to fruition in different stages since.

After Costa Rica, I moved to Boulder, CO to settle down and come back to after teaching retreats. What happened the following month after the move was totally unexpected. Boulder was highly competitive and my saving was dwindling. I know from experience that my Creator does not want me to struggle.. I prayed and meditated on what was I to do next. I had the inspired thought to call a new studio that had opened up just before my Costa Rica adventure. I asked the owner if there was space for me at the studio to teach full time… her response was that and beyond. I would fly back a week later to become a manager and lead teacher of the studio. This studio is founded in love. I absolutely LOVE Ruah. Through teaching at Ruah I met this wonderful lady who owns a stand up paddle board yoga company called SunriseSUP. She knew I was in love with surfing from my time in Costa Rica and thought of me for teaching with her in the Annapolis area.

I have been teaching all summer and while I don’t have the West Coast swell here, SUP keeps me connected to the water and ultimately keeps me grounded and humbled. I am a beginner at yoga all over again, both teaching and as a student. I am re-learning basic postures like Warrior 1. I absolutely LOVE it. It is ultimately making my earth practice much stronger.

My retreat for Jan 2016 is full and we are now checking into overflow options for guest! I am incredible grateful. I am preparing to launch a second retreat in Peru with True Nature Education (Stay tuned!). The more I TRUST in the Universe, the more I am miraculously taken care of in ways hadn’t even dreamed. The gift of it all is I can be PRESENT for these gifts today because of my continuous practice and desire to experience life fully. Join me for love, laughter, adventure, and yoga abroad.



“I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow. When there’s that moment of ‘Wow, I’m not really sure I can do this,’ and you push through those moments, that’s when you have a breakthrough.” Marissa Mayer

Interested in checking out a Costa Rican yoga retreat?  Check out all of our retreats here!

True Nature Travels Blog

There is something positively magical that happens when a group of individuals make the decision to gather together in a beautiful, pristine environment for the purpose of uplifting their lives and reconnecting with themselves. This was my experience, and the experience of the 21 other participants on the amazing yoga retreat I led to Costa Rica with True Nature Education last June.

Why We Need to Let Go Sometimes

Everyday life is stressful. We have so many responsibilities, and we are pulled in so many different directions. A yoga retreat gives you the opportunity to take a complete break from all the trappings of our fast-paced lifestyle.
You can come to a breathtakingly beautiful, natural environment where you can unplug for a week. Space is held for you to feel nurtured and safe. You can rest and quiet your mind with meditation, soothe your body with daily yoga practice, and allow yourself space to process anything you need to surrounded by people who are meeting you and supporting you exactly where you are. And the friendships that form on retreat are beyond comparison – our retreat group still regularly keeps in touch and gets together for reunion parties!
If you are a beginner in yoga or even if you have never done it before, no worries! Practice is for you to feel good, to go within, and to gently stretch yourself to imagine new possibilities for yourself. You may surprise yourself.
But retreats are not about showing off your skills or trying to keep up with anyone. In fact, you can even skip practice if you feel like it. Your retreat is about YOU and taking care of YOU. When you are able to be in stillness, you will be better able to hear and trust your own intuition about what is right for you and what you need.
Most certainly, you will come back from your retreat refreshed, rejuvenated and with a renewed sense of self. You deserve it!
Missy Balsam is a full-time yoga teacher from Naples, Florida. She teaches group and private yoga classes as well as leads kirtan concerts with her band Missy Balsam Kirtan. We are pleased to have her join us again to lead another retreat, Quiet Mind, Open Heart: A Costa Rica Yoga Experience, May 30-June 6th. 

True Nature Travels Blog

alanaportiatAlana Roach is committed to getting the very most out of the spiritual experience she is having in this human lifetime. She has chosen to share her discoveries on the yoga mat with her students and the TNE Community is thrilled for her upcoming retreat, Explorations of Self, in Santa Teresa, January 2015. Here is what Alana has to say about what it means to “be something more…”

What does it mean for you to “be something more” as part of your yoga practice, teaching, and your intentions for your retreat?

What does “being something more” mean to me in my practice? I find that at the end of the day my personal practice is to just “be.” It is not being anything more or less, it is simply “be-ing.” Once I am in a place where I can sit and simply accept that moment for what it is, that is when I effortlessly become what it is that I was all along, infinite love. How can you become something that you already are?

I try to bring this “Be-ing-ness” into my teaching. I remind the student that they are perfect in this moment and to really sink into that. I believe that my purpose as a teacher is to guide you back to You. We can spend so much time running from this to that trying to accomplish some goal or task and when we get there often times we ask, what’s next, and so it goes on until one day we are left feeling let down, lost, empty. It’s because what we are seeking was never really lost, it was within us, always was and always will be. There is no need to want to be anything more than what you innately are, a perfect extension of the Universal Spirit and that is unbreakable.

At Explorations of Self: A Costa Rica Yoga Experience, I set the group intention of remembering. The practice of remembering that you are infinite love and infinite peace is like riding a bicycle. The more you tune into the frequency of Self (With a capital S to represent the Higher Self/Divine Self) the more you can recall. It will come through in the physical practice of yoga, the seated meditation, the chanting and singing, the laughter, the tears, the ocean and rainforest, the stillness. This week long retreat will re-unite you with You and it will be… well, just come and find out for yourself. As the Buddha once said, “When you realize how perfect everything is you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky.”

1186238_202564636579750_212885431_nWho has been your greatest influence and why?

My greatest influences have been those who teach this truth with every fiber of their being. Names like Seane Corn. She followed her bliss and has since introduced and inspired others to their own form of bliss. I relate to Seane’s journey. She came from a dark past and yoga sort of swept her off of her feet and she never looked back, and so it was with me. She lives her life by being of service with her God given talents. I believe that we are given talents that we enjoy for a reason. Seane has shown me that no matter what anyone says to you about what they think you should be doing with your life, in the end it is your journey. She was one of the first people I looked to and said, “If she can do it, so can I.” I started following my bliss immediately and I continue to in every moment, with every breath that I take.

1001291_182300528606161_1146230267_nIf there was a yoga pose or mediation practice that described you – what would it be and why?

Isha Kriya meditation. The repeated mantra in the beginning is, “I am not the body, I am not even the mind.” In that way I suppose it’s “Not me.” Ha ha.

Other than yoga, meditation, nutrition – what are some of your passions?

I love creation. Writing, dancing, singing, playing instruments, nature, just to name a few. I’ve been getting swept up in writing especially for the last few years. It’s a way for me to communicate my heart to others in a way that is unique to the way that my mind forms sentences. I blog ( and journal often, and I am in the beginning stages of writing my first book.

What is on your “Costa Rica Bucket List?”

Honestly, to learn how to surf and be decent enough at it to carve in the Pacific.

Join Alana in Costa Rica this January 17-25 2015 to explore the truth of who you have been all along and maybe catch some waves with her as well.  View our entire 2015 Retreat Calendar 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

Leading your own yoga retreat is a dream just about every yoga teacher has had at one time or another in their “yoga career.”  If you live in the virtual world of yoga, its difficult not to find dozens of images crossing your computer screen each day of breathtaking beaches and stunning landscapes dotted with peaceful yogis mastering an amazing pose or resting blissfully in savasana.  If you have ever thought to yourself, “That could be me teaching that class…”  read on.  Here are six ways to create an unforgettable yoga retreat experience for your students.

20120315023736-ff67b1241. Set clear intentions and goals

As much as you want to offer an unforgettable experience for your students, you are also about to embark on a life changing journey leading a yoga retreat in a foreign country.  Create clear intentions, goals, timelines for your self right at the start and this will help to ensure you are on track. Intentions and goals can include how many students you need/would like to sign up for your retreat, cultivating the focus for what you want to teach during the retreat, what kind of outside activities you would like to offer your group, etc.  From manifesting the over arching “vibe”of your retreat from the day you say go, to knowing all of the details inside and out, this will help to grow confidence and faith in yourself as you set out in the unknown and the more confidence and faith you have in yourself, the more your students will have in you as their guide.

2. Make sure the logistics of the trip are effortless and easy

There is nothing worse than traveling to a different country with a different language, customs, etc. and not have the logistics of your trip organized with every i dotted and t crossed.  Planning for scenarios A, B & C is often necessary, as there are times events don’t always unfold as planned.  Make sure you have the support you need up front.  Organizing your trip with an experienced travel company is important as they have the know-how to predict what could shift during your retreat and how best to put plans in place to keep space you are creating as contained as possible.

cr2010-15793. Add an element of service to your trip

We have led, supported and helped to organize hundreds of retreats over the last ten years.  No matter how much energy and effort a teacher puts into creating an amazing experience for their students, when they incorporate the element of service into the retreat, the students always go away with that time being one of the main highlights of their journey.  Creating a space for your students and yourself to be able to “give back” to the land and people is always a win/win.  Do it.

4.  Make sure to schedule plenty of “downtime” for your students and yourself!

When we say “downtime” we don’t mean mediations led by you. We mean “nothing on the schedule” downtime where everyone has an opportunity to soak in the experience they are having.  And, almost always, you as the teacher will have some logistics to handle, so this ensures that you can take care of business and have plenty of time to swing in a hammock as well.

6325. Immerse yourself in the community aspect of the retreat

Strong bonds and friendships will be formed on your retreat.  Your students are having a “once in a lifetime” experience.  Even in a weeks time, you will find that there is a unique community amongst your group.  Making sure you are not tied up with too much logistics or too packed a schedule (see #4) will help to make sure that when you are not teaching or leading the group, you can just enjoy the experience with them as well.  Teachers sometime feel like they need to remove themselves from their students if they are not leading a class.  Immersing yourself in the sweet moments of the trip that happen “off the mat” will foster deepened teacher/student relationships as well as allow your students to see you being relaxed and, well, just you as you are (without your teacher hat on).

trentrojbeach6. On the eve of your adventure, be ready to let go and go with the flow

You have planned everything perfectly, your timeline looks great, you have plenty of downtime scheduled, playlists are made, your surfing lessons are scheduled and tomorrow you board the plane to lead your first yoga retreat.  (GO YOU!).  Take a deep breath and be willing to let it all go.  All of this experience is part of your own path as a lifelong student.  It is inevitable that, as with life, there will be things that do not go exactly to plan.  Be ready to go with the flow, be open minded and just have fun!

Teach for us!  We are currently booking for our 2015 Retreat Season and would love to help you make your dream come true of leading a yoga retreat in beautiful Costa Rica!  Check out how it works HERE.

True Nature Travels Blog

IMG_20140320_123854On yoga retreat in Costa Rica Andrea Dyer of mind|body|fitness|yoga is blogging “from the road.” The group moves from Santa Teresa on the beach at Hotel Tropico Latino, to the rainforest surrounding Finca Luna Nueva Lodge today:

Blue skies, sunshine and palm trees – Santa Teresa, Costa Rica, has invited us out to play. Everyone is here for different reasons – some came with a list of challenging things to cross off bucket lists; some came to have a soothing, relaxing vacation; come came to rekindle their love of the sea, surfing and Costa Rica.

IMG_20140320_124956Some came to deepen their yoga practice and some came to get a start for their yoga practices. With yoga and meditation in the early mornings and the late afternoons, our days were filled with expansion into Santa Teresa offerings.

We started the first day with Yoga on the Beach and Surfing.  By afternoon, we were on to spa treatments, horseback riding and Stand Up Paddle boarding. So much filling our days, but here are some highlights: Fulfilled bucket list items for Leslie (celebrating her birthday this week) – Yoga on the beach and surfing. Surfing was a huge hit for the surfers amongst us. Great guidance from champion surfers.

IMG_20140320_124253Spa treatments with the sound of waves crashing on the beach – so soothing and helpful for getting the kinks out. Stand Up Paddle Boarding with the Costa Rica SUP Champion, Edith Garcia – the water was rough, but

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

Yoga_Platform_CusingaAlways slow breath of the Pacific calming,
Body blooms in warm moist air,
Scent of Ylang Ylang perfuming the night.
I am cradled by rocking warm waves
Shared with whales, dolphins, turtles, birds.
Over boulders a stream plunges,
I float in a rain forest cold hole,
Ancient Ajo trees arc above
Cicadas shriek, rattling eardrums
Mute as head dips below surface.
Alone where once dinosaurs roamed
Crunching giant fern, philodendrons
Still here luxuriant.
I have said nothing of listening to a small child
Lead our adult group in call and response –
I am happy, I am free
Guru ji, Guru ji
Or of dancing with you
Joyful, tears overflowing.
Or Luna’s songs of surrender to Divine Mother
Or lying under the vortex dome before dawn
Weeping and dissolving.
Or that Josh promised to be at my deathbed.
We are always together saluting the rising sun.

True Nature Travels Blog

IMG_20140220_165023Following the 2nd Annual Rhythms of Joy Retreat with Tiina Kivinen in January 2014, one of the retreat participants, Rick, shared with us this beautiful poem that he used to reflect on his experience with True Nature Education and time in Costa Rica. He spent a week on a birding expedition following his time on the retreat with us, during which he said he had ample time to process his time with us.
Rick furthermore shared with us that, “I remember, during  one of the (many) sharing sessions, comparing our group to a 15 petal lotus.  It strikes me now just  how apt that descrption – – –  each perfect lotus petal finds even greater perfection in its place within the blossom.  You were all perfect, and it was fantastic to bloom with you. My heart was emptied and then it was filled.  Sweet blessings to all.”
A cold, dark heart, frozen by loss
Unable to grieve, unable to let go
The fragile ebb and flow of her life
The memories of her journey so new
Candlelit yoga with twelve gentle souls 
Magic Moon’s words crack the shell
The vibration of kirtan like Jericho
My soul exposed, my centre revealed
My heart now opened to strangers
The pain unleashed but so welcome
The well of tears no longer held back
The depth of acceptance enveloped me
A mother not lost but transcended
As the cross through the woods revealed 
She is with me, now a part of me
Her unconditional love surrounds me

True Nature Travels Blog

IMG_20140130_161940You know when everything feels connected?  Maybe you’ve run into a long lost friend at the grocery store who you’ve been meaning to catch up with.  Perhaps your yoga class focused on the exact part of your body that needed your attention. You feel like you are in the right place at the right time, and things are going your way.  I like to refer to this experience as “being in the flow.”

Being in the flow is when there is a sense of ease to your way of life.  You listen to the plan of the universe, and you act accordingly.  Rather than exerting a lot of energy to create what you think you want, the universe effortlessly provides you with what you really need.   The truth is that being in the flow just feels good.

IMG_20140206_093400Currently, I am living in Costa Rica on retreat with True Nature Education, and life here is different.  Conversations with people who I just met begin to feel like talks with old friends.  I practice yoga effortlessly, and my ability to listen to my body is more attuned.  My rhythms for sleep have matched those of nature; I wake up with the birds and the sun, and the stars and crickets lull me to sleep.  Life has become a living meditation, and this is what being in the flow is all about.

As I experience this way of life in Costa Rica, I aspire to create a life at home that feels as consistently connected and in the flow as I’m experiencing here.  True Nature is giving me tools to be able to tap into living with this essence of ease.  On retreat, I practice yoga, have communal meals, and spend my time outdoors in nature.  These are all meaningful ways that I will bring home with me, as a way to connect with the flow of life.