True Nature Travels Blog

“The journey between what you once were and who you are now becoming is where the dance of life really takes place.”

~ Barbara Deangelis

photos courtesy of mind | body | fitness

Andrea Dyer and her band of merry yogis dove right into their Annual Costa Rica Experience yoga retreat! From crossing items off bucket lists to sunrise yoga and full moons, the first few days of their journey together warmed up to become their home for the week quite nicely.

Andrea’s passion for adventure has led her to guide her second retreat in Costa Rica with us.  Andrea shares her experience leading a retreat with our experienced staff in this video here.


Andrea packed a week of daily yoga, meditation, stand up paddle boards, waterfall hikes, visits to the hot springs and plenty of personal time for her students to enjoy.  It’s in that individual space, whether you are taking in the sunset or listening to the symphony of sounds in the jungle that true transformation really takes place.

And, of course it is in clinking coconuts and building community that

True Nature Travels Blog

998cbfc255a3e88b0a7c45dd05152825For many of us, international travel has become a homogenized, sterile experience and, for the host country, a consumptive, offensive one. We need a new model for travel — a model that allows for discovery and mutual interaction with others at a heartful level. This new model of travel could be called, “Mindful Travel.”

Mindful travel is about being alive in the moment — being wide-awake — being present to what life puts in our path. It does not involve elaborate itineraries, lists of tourist sites, high-rise hotels or pre-fabricated tours. When we become a mindful traveler, we invite events and experiences to appear at their own time and in their own way. We enjoy making plans but we are always open to new opportunities. We allow for surprises and new friends.

When we are mindful, we are aware of choices and opportunities as they present themselves. We open up to new experiences and to doing old things in new ways.

f1b85aa44f6487855266b083c6d08069This is the essence of mindful travel — observation and participation. Mindful travel is spontaneous. Because the journey is one of unfolding moment by moment, we remain fully present and come to see more clearly. This can lead to an acute observation of both ourselves and others. We see with new eyes and learn to appreciate both others and ourselves in a fresh way. We experience each new world as if for the first time.

Mindful travelers thrive on what is happening in the moment and choose actions within that context. Synchronicity occurs, and we encounter the right person and new experiences we might never have had. Mindful travel encourages us to question assumptions that can be obstacles to mindful travel. Some more common assumptions are.

5e0240289dd2421096d82163cbdf16baAre we alive to where we are, and not talking about some other place or somebody else?

How are we affecting the people around us and the environment?

How can we use travel to positively impact the world?

(adapted from

Are you ready to begin a new journey?  Book your next trip with True Nature Education – find out how right here.

True Nature Travels Blog

183212_4066559055946_2027869845_nTrue Nature Education co-founder “Luna” Kristin Ray balances her days between being a full-time mom, wife, musician and whipping up yummy and amazing recipes in her kitchen to keep her family healthy, clean and green.   Her super easy (and very yummy) dahl recipe is one you might find yourself choosing to make a staple in your own kitchen, making some at the start of every week to keep and have for lunch each day.

f0c6e9c0c549217307dfc5922e476bd8Luna’s Super Easy Dahl with Coconut Rice

1.5 cups of pink lentils
5 cups water
3/4 tsp of turmeric
5 tbsp olive oil
5-6 cloves of garlic
1.5 tsp salt

Put turmeric, dahl and water in pot, and bring to a boil.  Then simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Turn heat off and with a fork or mixing spoon beat the lentils so they break up and get soupy.

Cut the garlic cloves lengthwise but thin, and then flash fry the garlic in the olive oil in a separate pan.  (high heat, and the garlic cooks for about 1-2 minutes and turns brown) Add the garlic and oil to the lentils, and add salt.  SO YUMMY~

1cup of rice
1.5 cups of water
1tbsp cumin seeds
1.5 tbsp of coconut oil
1/3 cup of shredded coconut
salt to taste

Combine rice, water, cumin and coco oil, and cook until rice is done.
Add coconut and salt to taste.
Enjoy with your dahl!
OSHAlbumCoverFinalRGB2-274x243p.s. Here is a FREE download from Luna’s new CD, One Shared Heart.  Enjoy this mindful music for the heart while you make this food for the soul!

True Nature Travels Blog

3acc086f1a4d1e767e6ca195aa5bf9a8It’s so easy to get caught up in the hustle of life, the speed of the Facebook feed, the limited hours in the day and the dreams and opportunities that we sometimes feel are passing us by.  The amount of energy that we spend “thinking about being caught up” is staggering when you actually take a moment to reflect on it.




How much time have you spent lately worrying about something or replaying a negative story in your head?

A lot, huh? What if you took all of those moment you spent worrying and put that energy towards cultivating more presence and awareness in your life?  Or better yet, building on a dream, imagining, spending time with loved ones, letting someone know how grateful you are for them. Yes, life CAN feel and be overwhelming sometimes, but it’s truly in those moments that we have the opportunity to step back into presence.

Wait, what?  When we feel disconnected from living fully – THAT is when we need to step back into it?  YES!  When we notice ourselves getting wound up in a story or pattern, that is the perfect moment to notice and bring yourself back to your center.  To remember your true nature is one of love, pure being and you are whole and perfect in this moment.

This powerful practice can change your life because no matter where we are on the path, there will always be countless moments throughout your day when you have the opportunity to notice yourself disconnected from presence.  Moment by moment you begin to recognize that each one counts.



It’s a gradual process, one that takes practice, patience and the willingness to keep coming back, day by day; moment by moment.

Here are some thoughts to support you in calling this practice into your life.

Befriend your habits (the good, the bad and the ugly)

Recognizing that your habits, patterns and beliefs are all truly a part of the wonderfully already perfect you is an important first step.  We will always have obstacles (inner and outer) in our lives so approaching them like a “friend in need” with compassion, empathy and forgiveness is a good approach.  Hey, everybody worries sometimes.

Let your “bad” habit jumpstart a positive one

True Nature Travels Blog

IMG_20140318_110042In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in an clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness. Our life is a long and arduous quest after Truth.

~Mahatma Gandhi



True Nature Retreat Leader, Jessica Caplan is taking her students on a retreat for the soul this week with her journey into Space, Sound and Silence. The setting for an intimate retreat like this could not be more perfect than at La Cusinga Eco-Lodge and Retreat Center in Uvita, Costa Rica.  Tucked away in a private reserve of over 600 acres, this rainforest lodge provides guests with sweeping ocean views, sandy beaches, natural pools, and the chance to experience the burgeoning forests and astonishing wildlife of the country’s most famous ecosystem.

IMG_20140318_110707Jessica’s passion for music and meditation will infuse each day with a harmonious balance of inner stillness and how to dance to the beat of our own unique drum.   We look forward to sharing more of her dreamy images with you as she and her students continue their journey together.

If you are a yoga teacher and interested in talking with one of our True Nature Guides about hosting your own retreat read up on what is entailed and get in touch with us! 

Coming up in our 2014 Season! There is still time to sign up!

June 7-14, 2014
Jungle Love! A Costa Rica Yoga Experience
with Missy Balsam

July 21-28, 2014
Shakti Power Yoga Costa Rica Retreat
with Lauren Farina and Kelly Farina Carter

View our entire calendar of retreats here.


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.

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

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

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 or by phone at