“Oh my gawsh! I think I’ve found my tribe!” Exclaimed Mary-Bess with a wide smile and Tennessee twang. It was the end of day five of the Yoga Sole Costa Rica retreat at Luna Lodge in the Osa Peninsula. We were finishing dinner around a big oval table, ensconced in the growing chorus of jungle nightlife, recounting our adventures in the rainforest that day.
Some people had taken a long hot hike to see monkeys and a tapir, others had trotted down the hill to quietly paint pictures of a waterfall, others had gathered round the salt water pool to drink pina coladas and laugh about failed relationships. Mary-Bess was new to the Yoga Sole community. She was a retired grandmother who found the retreat online and came with her best friend and travel buddy Ava. But it wasn’t long before she was right at home with the Yoga Sole tribe, as seems to happen so often.
Yoga Sole is much, much more than a typical yoga studio. It has grown into a genuine community center in the Windsor Terrace area of Brooklyn, New York. It is different than other studios in that it doesn’t follow an agenda created by the management. Instead, owner Evalena Leedy makes it a welcome place for whomever happens to walk through the door. She shapes the class offerings and weekend events around whomever wishes to practice yoga, or share their spiritual or artistic gifts there.
The studio doesn’t only offer vigorous and athletic styles of yoga. To meet the needs of its community, it also has a wide variety of therapeutic and meditation offerings that are suited to anybody. This all-inclusive attitude has spilled over into the Yoga Sole retreats and has made the Costa Rica retreat uniquely warm and welcoming to all bodies and personalities, despite the fact that we travel to an extremely wild and remote spot on the globe.
Luna Lodge is a secluded eco-lodge set in the pristine and captivating Osa Peninsula near Corcovado National Park in southwestern Costa Rica. Luna Lodge was constructed by Costa Rican people with the issues of conservation and preservation of the rainforest a priority. The yoga platform hangs high over the rainforest hillside, providing an awe inspiring view of the Pacific Ocean, rainforest, and wildlife.
During the retreat Evalena Leedy and fellow yoga instructor Ariel Kiley offer meditation, vinyasa flow, and therapeutic restorative yoga. Attendees choose the practices best suited to their bodies on that particular day. There are also a wide range of activities on offer: hiking, bird-watching, kayaking, surfing, horseback riding, beach-bathing, spa treatments, and more. Ariel hosts little painting and poetry-writing soirees to create material for the informal art salon held by the pool at the end of the week. Each attendee, according to his or her nature, breaks out into groups on various adventures throughout the day. Many attendees wind up stargazing together high on the yoga platform before bedtime.
Star Gazing by Rene Lynch
In the evening we all gather for dinner while the macaws chatter up in the trees above the open-air dining room. These are very special times during the retreat because it’s where the feeling of community fills and supports each of the individuals that are partaking in the experience. It’s where we live vicariously through each other’s stories. It’s where we feel the essence of what it means to have a community, to have a tribe.
The beauty of the Yoga Sole community is that we aren’t all trying to be like each other. We aren’t trying to have the same yoga practice, or reach the same goals. It’s a safe space where each unique human animal can come and explore what yoga, truth, health, love and life means to them. The community is built not on our sameness, but on a spirit of inclusiveness that celebrates our differences.
To bring this to the Costa Rican rainforest is a truly powerful experience. It lets you go deeper into your own wild nature, within the safety of your tribe. What could be more exciting? Read More