"So, are you going for the Yoga?"
It's the question everyone asked me when they heard I'd be visiting Nosara, a small beach town on the Pacific side of Costa Rica, laden with palm trees and tide pools and tropical fruit. It didn't take me long to realize that my jungle destination was known for its many asana-based classes and trainings, and I was going for the yoga -- just not the yoga panoply they thought I was flying six hours for.
I was coming to practice with a Santa Barbara teacher of mine who, with her family, decided to uproot and try living in Central America for a year. Excited for them? -- sure, I was -- but in the weeks following that August day she broke the news that she'd be leaving, a heavy melancholy set over me like a cloak. What would Saturday mornings be like without her resounding, clear voice in class, pulling us through choreographed orchestrations of the body? What would my body do without the stabilizing core work, intelligent sequencing, and profound breathwork that left me feeling awake and alive after every single class? What would I do without her -- her support, consistent mentorship, and sweet, warm presence?
I'd gripe, I'd be gloomy.... And then I'd book a flight.
I could have feasted on all of it, but instead I did what any devotee would do: I made a beeline for Cynthia's classes. Four mornings a week and one weekend afternoon, I rolled out my mat alongside locals and expats and visitors, drinking in the voice I hadn't heard in half a year. I bought a class pass at another studio that first day and didn't even finish it.
But it didn't matter, because I got variety with Cynthia: if there's one thing consistent about her teaching, it's variety. You will always work hard; you will always do something you've never done; and you will always be carried by the cadence of her voice, strong and supportive and that of a leader. I didn't need anything else.
In the moments I wasn't in class -- that is, the other 23 hours of the day -- I was slogging
around in the heat, not even trying to look put together or on top of my game. (Forget yoga leggings here -- sheer, loose clothing is much more comfortable.) I napped for at least an hour every afternoon when temperatures peaked at 90, and I dipped in some body of water morning noon and night. Sometimes morning morning, noon noon, and night night, and then night once more. I was lucky to be able to stay with Cynthia, and five minutes from her doorstep the beach spilled out in front of us.
As for the bugs? Well, Mosquitos are now real contenders for top slots in My List of Most Disliked Things. Added to that list are creatures that I dislike and strangely admire in equal measure, and that I found a lot of here -- crabs, snakes, iguanas, and scorpions. I was partly sickened and partly awed by these potentially dangerous and often mysterious animals.
When I'd dart between hermit crabs on the beach or watch an iguana stare brazenly back at me, I felt amazed that I made it to this jungle, rich and bright and unpredictable. I felt a little proud, too, for making the trip out here, plane and taxi and hotel and hopper flight and all. Quietly I congratulated myself with a hint of a smile for traveling to a new place to practice with an old favorite teacher and friend who brings out the best in everyone she's around. And I thought, Wow, there was nothing better for my mind, body, and spirit.
Camille Robins is an avid writer, yogini, traveler, and yoga teacher based in Santa Barbara, CA.