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Sweet Surrender:Lessons from our Service & Adventure Retreat (March 2020)

Yoga retreats are more than a venue to renew and relax while traveling. While yoga teachers lure participants in with exotic locations, and intrepid excursions, the real magic has little to do with outside factors; and more to do with each participant and his or her willingness to be present to all that arises. More than the magic that happens when we disconnect with technology and plug into nature, a retreat is the unique opportunity which provides participants a space to evaluate life in the present moment. While on a retreat, each day has an element of purpose. There is the opportunity to concentrate on your yoga practice, relax, or take advantage of optional activities in-between. Health and well-being are placed front and center and graciously attended to by the staff at Samasati.

Each participant can achieve what she sets out to do and still have a taste of living life with an element of purpose.To say that we lived each day fully, is not to say that all went as planned. The first day our beach trip was rained out but that did not stop anyone from fully participating in the experience of surrender. Rather than getting frustrated with what they could not change, participants, read, journaled, received massage, and practiced yoga. Our group was diverse in age and experience. There were well seasoned travelers and those leaving the country for the first time. One might wonder what such a group had in common.

At first, it appeared to be little more than geography and a bond to Butler University. However, by the end of the trip, we came to realize that age and experience are little more than mask we wear. When we are able to get beyond our surface level identities, we find, at the level of the soul, we are all beings who are eager to connect with purpose. Subsequently, our group of adventure travelers formed bonds through experience. They swam in crystal clear waters, zip lined, paddle boarded, hiked, and surfed for the first time! While the group expressed gratitude for each excursion, many shared that our group dinners with local families were the favorite of our outings. Members of the retreat group were divided up amongst different households. We all ventured out early Wednesday evening to share a meal with four different families in Hone Creek, the town where there girls from our program live and go to school. Each group was served up a local culinary surprise and the opportunity to visit Costa Rica on a very REAL level. Our adventure travelers were welcomed into the homes of perfect strangers only to learn perhaps the purpose of the entire trip could be stripped down to this very opportunity for authentic connection with people on a deeper level.

Retreat is a time when we can collectively learn that the myth of the "other" is indeed a myth. While on the surface we are as diverse as the fruit in the Caribbean trees, below our exterior we are all human beings drawn to learn, grow, and love in harmony with one another. The time we each shared in these different households provided depth of insight into how the students of Girls for Success actually live, their family structures, and culture. Participants on this retreat became more than a tourist, they became friends and supporters of the Girls for Success Community at large.

Our last yoga session was truly special as we each shared what we learned and how we grew from the week. Together we surrounded ourselves with positive energy, we ate healthy, we took time out to listen to our bodies, we lived with purpose, found healing and overcame fears. New friendships and alliances were formed. The practices and rituals of yoga and meditation helped us to connect.

Each year, Peace Through Yoga offers two retreats to Costa Rica. One Hundred Percent of our proceeds go to directly funding the Girls For Success program. Our retreats are led by highly experienced and trained yoga teachers who welcome both beginners and seasoned practitioners, and each offers a different opportunity to connect, renew and grow. By simply attending one of our retreats, you are already helping to create support and community for the girls in rural Costa Rica.

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