By Angela Boltz
Aside from the decision to actually leave Montezuma at the close of the yoga retreat, the most difficult part of my week there was making it through an entire Savasana without drifting off into daydreams about the organic breakfast buffet served directly after our morning yoga session. Not bad living, one might say. I’d say…. not bad at all.
Montezuma, Costa Rica, located on the Nicoya Peninsula, is just one of those places. One of those MAGICAL finds that feels more like a sacred moment in space and time than an actual destination. Here, it seems, life supports you in kicking off the flip-flops, feeling the bare earth beneath your feet, and connecting with whatever natural rhythms move you.
If you’re looking for a resort, you’ve gotten off the bus at the wrong stop. Keep on going north and you’ll find one of those up in Tamarindo. Montezuma is a simple town, full of simple pleasures, just perfect for the modern or not-so-modern Bohemian. It’s not that Montezuma lacks style. The local culture exudes refined taste in just about everything…. from food, art, clothing, philosophy, and music. However, if you are expecting a steamy 20-minute shower before dinner or a good night sleep on a Sealy Posturpedic, you are sure to bedisappointed.
Montezuma Yoga, run by Dagmar Spremberg, is a true celebration of all that is natural. One morning of asana in the yoga pavilion is enough to shed the burdens of a lifetime. With a breath-taking view of the Pacific coast, the smell of Ylang-Ylang wafting past your nose, and the dueling sounds of waves and howler monkeys, the senses are encouraged to new heights while the mind discovers a brand new level of quietude.
Should you choose to spend your day at the retreat center, you’ll likely discover many flavors of relaxation. Private eco-friendly accommodations, including several rustic bungalows nestled inside a lush Mango Grove, are the perfect place to lie in hammock and do, well… whatever you wish. In my case, many intentions for private reflection turned, rather, into peaceful afternoon napping. In it’s true holistic spirit, Montezuma is Chock-Full O’ Bodyworkers whom you can often find spreading their energy around the retreat center. If your first daily yoga practice has left you craving healing hearts and hands, I recommend scheduling a massage session with Cordula, she is a truly gifted, local therapist whose presence I am grateful for having shared, and whose vibration is still coursing through my body.
In Montezuma, you can actually feel the thickness of prana in the air. In a gentle effort to soak it all in, you may find yourself wandering away from the comfort of the retreat center during afternoon downtime. If independent adventure isn’t your style, there are plenty of options for planned excursions, such as surfing, hiking, and horseback riding. For a uniquely special, soul-satisfying experience, try boating to Tortuga Island for a day of snorkeling. If you are not much of a joiner (or your budget is tight), private exploration of this coastal rainforest can occupy hours of the day. Montezuma boasts endless miles of pristine coastline and over twelve waterfalls alone. We’ve lost more than one yogi this way whom, after missing the evening yoga class, has coming running down the footpath to dinner with bright eyes and stories they can’t wait to tell. Trust me. It happens to even the most dedicated of students….and teachers
And speaking of dinner… if ever a meal has been a spiritual experience, this has been both the place and the time. Our pre-arranged dinners at Playa Los Artistas, a traditional Italian restaurant, were a blissful experience. Well-prepared, family-style portions of fresh fish and organic seasonal greens (coupled with a Caipirinha or two) were the perfect way to satisfy the belly and the soul before of a slumber indicative of a day well spent.
If you are like most of us traveling yogis and yoginis, you don’t need the glitz and glam of a high end yoga vacation. Many of these retreats, despite the hefty pricetag, offer little in the way of intimacy with attendees, at times, reaching into the hundreds. What we are seeking is true, honest-to-goodness, organic connection. And Montezuma Yoga is just the place. Ongoing retreats, with skilled yoga teachers from around the globe, vary in cost. However, Dagmar offers “yoga only” prices for those who’d like to find accommodations and meals elsewhere, ensuring that her retreats are affordable and that yoga remain the priority of her business. She also hosts private retreats, which can be arranged in accordance to the needs of each individual group.
Living My Dream
I grew up in a small town in Germany and I remember already as a teenager I always dreamed of a life on the beach, in the sun and under palm trees. Of course, it seemed such a cliché and like a very far away dream, I never thought that it might actually happen one day … but like it is with our dreams and visions, somehow you keep them in the subconscious mind and they have their own energy and power……
In 1991 I traveled for the first time in a faraway tropical land, which corresponded to that dream: Costa Rica. I lived in a small seaside hotel in Montezuma, which belonged to a German woman and her family and I was very touched and inspired to see that there actually are people who live this dream … .. but of course I still didn’t think it could ever be me. So I went back to Hamburg with my husband, back to my life and career in the music industry, which was quite exciting and fulfilling, but deep inside me I still had that longing, I wanted something more from life….
On my 30th Birthday, I suddenly knew “now or never”. It was just a feeling in my gut but it was so strong, I knew I had to follow it …. So I left my life in Germany behind, quit my well paid job, left my husband and traveled with 2 suitcases into an unknown adventure to Los Angeles. There were at least my palm trees, the beach and the sun … I started a small agency for photographers, and organized photo productions. It did not take long before I first came into contact with yoga and found my wonderful yoga teacher Christi Minarovich. Initially skeptical, I listened to her stories and the yoga philosophies , to let things go, accept where you are, things will fall into place…….not really what I had learned in Germany, where I was more the type of person pushing forward rather than letting go and sitting and waiting what happens next… … but there was something that immediately touched me deeply and gave me hope, strength and confidence and so I soon started learning to let go more and more and to rather rely on my intuition.
I learned to breathe, to find the beauty in life, I started to soften and surrender, and suddenly more and more doors started opening for me … Yoga gave me a new view of life, new sense of purpose and the answers to many of my questions….After 3 ½ years in Los Angeles I moved to New York where I continued working for photographers and to deepen my yoga practice. Here I found Elena Brower and Anusara yoga and I loved it so much that I went 4-5 times a week to yoga.
And then I booked my trip to Costa Rica in 2000, that should change everything … I went back to the place where I had been so fascinated and touched in 1991: Montezuma. 9 years later it was still there, a small fishing village, sleepy and quiet, it had not changed much. And how it happens in life, I soon fell in love with the owner of the Hotel Los Mangos. On the property there was an open pavilion that was previously used as a restaurant, but had just been closed two months before my arrival. Open Air, with a wooden floor and overlooking the sea. … The perfect quiet place for yoga! I thought about bringing yoga teachers from the U.S. and organized and booked the first retreat with my teacher Elena Brower for November 2001. After September 11 happened, I packed my suitcases in NY and decided to jump fully into my new adventure in Costa Rica. And then it hit me: here I was, 20 years later, in my dream of life by the sea… everything seemed to fall into place easily for me, I just needed to say yes to open new doors … An incredible feeling of Bliss!
So when Elena came for her retreat she encouraged me to become a yoga teacher myself and so I started training as a yoga teacher in New York. For more than 10 years now I am living my dream and it is the yoga which always continues to encourage me to see the good, the opportunities, the possibilities in every moment. To trust and believe in my own power and intuition, and to breathe through difficult situations and challenges …
Yoga has taught me to be soft and to give space. Myself, and therefore also everybody else. I’ve learned from my own experience to first shift things for myself and then everything else will shift with you.
I have now found the relationship I always longed for, but it was not until I shifted myself that I was able to meet the man of my dreams.
It is the most beautiful gift for me to share my passion for yoga with other people in my classes and see how fast transformation can happen. How people are calmer, happier, more radiant with yoga. It is not important for me to bring your foot behind your head and to get into difficult asanas, but that you feel good about yourself , so that you will find clarity and peace and strength and learn to trust yourself.
I love to empower people to live their dream.
Dagmar Spremberg lives with the Swiss artist and musician Daniel Gautschi, in Montezuma. He plays the magical instrument called Hang in Dagmars yoga classes and they perform frequently in Costa Rica and Europe.
Together they will lead a Yoga & Hang Music retreat to Roatan, Honduras Jan 5-11, 2013.
Dagmar’s Yoga videos are available on her website as well as Daniel’s CD “The Gaudan Project – Hold Still”.
Vida Asana Retreat Center, Playa Hermosa
There’s something mystical about Costa Rica yoga surf retreats at the Vida Asana Retreat Center in Playa Hermosa, Jaco, on the Central Pacific coast. Tucked away in a secluded patch of forest, the center nevertheless remains an accessible sanctuary for those who seek refuge from the madness of city living, and a haven for those in search of themselves. It’s no wonder guests who come to this Costa Rica resort for yoga and surf retreats feel as if their very souls are refreshed by the experience.
Yoga classes at Vida Asana are conducted by its founder and owner, Rosemarie Galluccio, an internationally recognized hollistic health practitioner with over 20 years experience. Rosemarie combines elements from ashtanga, bikram and anusara yoga to create smooth flowing retreats that relieve stress, calm the nerves and improve strength and balance. Yoga retreats in this Costa Rica surf resort are conducted in the open air studio, where the chirping of birds and the rustling of leaves as the wind caresses the forest foliage contribute to a an amazing opportunity to bond with nature. There are five other in-house instructors at the center, and teachers from all over are also welcome to bring their yoga or surf retreats to this Costa Rica forest sanctuary.
Vida Asana is a place of transformation and slowing down. This Costa Rica yoga and surf center offers various retreats and classes in different styles of yoga, as well as Pilates and many other disciplines. Every element within Vida Asana is geared toward assisting this personal transformation. The restaurant serves up fresh and healthy vegetarian delights for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Sushi nights are also a welcome treat for seafood lovers in this Costa Rica yoga and surf center. Retreats can be physically, mentally and emotionally demanding, so the fresh bounty from the sea is an excellent way to reward students. Costa Rica yoga surf retreats not just nourish the soul, but the body as well.
The beaches of Playa Hermosa and nearby Jaco are outstanding surf meccas that complement Costa Rica yoga retreats. Vida Asana is just minutes away from these surfside playgrounds and is very accessible to visitors staying at beachfront resorts in these areas. Playa Hermosa produces consistent waves all year round. The three-and-a-half mile beachfront opens up to swells from all directions. The area attracts many experienced surfers who take on the challenge offered by the excellent waves. The waves at Jaco are less challenging, and more suited to novice surfers. Surfing and yoga are perfect partners for yoga retreats here in Costa Rica.
Vida Asana promises unforgettable yoga and surf retreats in the heart of Costa Rica. This sanctuary of wellness, peace and transformation is less than two hours of travel coming from the airport in San Jose. If you are booked for a stay in one of the beach resorts on Jaco, a 10-minute taxi ride will take you to Vida Asana, where you can enjoy the natural beauty of Costa Rica during your yoga and surf retreats.
La Escuela del Sol, Montezuma
La Escuela del Sol (LEDS) offers Costa Rica yoga surf retreats with a unique twist — they are given in a natural learning environment within which you get the opportunity to practice — besides surfing and yoga — fire dancing and conversational Spanish. LEDS is located in Montezuma along the country’s beautiful northwest coast. It is founded on the principles of enhancing the mind, body and soul. Its yoga and surfing retreats blend Costa Rica’s laid back “pura vida” philosophy with eastern concepts of health, wellness and harmonious living.
Set amid stunning beaches, pristine waterfalls and the majestic rainforest of Costa Rica, LEDS is the ideal setting for yoga and surf retreats. All yoga classes are exclusive to LEDS students to make sure they get no less than 100 percent attention and the best instructions. LEDS also follows a unique program that eases the student into the class, even when he joins up right in the middle of the program. Yoga classes take place in an open-air covered studio, in full view of the rainforest. This natural setting makes the LEDS yoga and surf retreats among the best in Costa Rica.
Put your yoga retreats to good use as you surf the excellent Costa Rica waves in nearby Montezuma and Mal Pais beaches. Surf instructors will lead you to the areas with the right waves to fit your skill level. Beginners start off with basic instructions on land, then off to the gentle, temperate waves of Playa Grande, said to be the best beach in the entire country for learning how to surf. Intermediate and advanced surfers have a choice of five topnotch surf spots to enjoy on their Costa Rica surf yoga retreats.
The LEDS surf yoga retreats differ from other Costa Rica resort offerings in the composition of training courses. Besides yoga retreats and surfing Costa Rica’s wonderful waves, LEDS also offers Spanish language training at all levels and scuba diving certification. For the artistically inclined and the adventurous, there is the Fire Poi School. Poi is the native New Zealand dance that involves rhythmic swinging of weighted tethers. Just add fire, and you have a fascinating (and not to mention, dangerous) dance routine that is as much a strength and coordination training regimen as it is a performance art. You can make your Costa Rica holiday memorable by combining surf yoga retreats with Spanish language classes, scuba diving classes and fire poi classes.
LEDS is flexible when it comes to accommodation; there are various room options available for your Costa Rica surf yoga retreats, provided you arrange for these in advance. You can also book a number of outdoor activities and local excursions to surrounding places of interest, such as a hike to the Montezuma Waterfall, a zip-line canopy tour, horseback riding and deep-sea fishing. There is an abundance of local restaurants nearby offering low cost food. This presents a great opportunity for you to sample local cuisine, explore the countryside, practice your Spanish and add a whole new dimension to your Costa Rica yoga surf retreats.
Horizon Ocean View Hotel and Yoga Center, Santa Teresa
Imagine Costa Rica yoga surf retreats perched atop a hill looking out over the Pacific Ocean and you have just imagined your stay at Horizon Ocean View Hotel and Yoga Center. Horizon is situated at the southermost tip of the Nicoya Peninsula in northwest Costa Rica, in a peaceful village called Santa Teresa. Santa Teresa is a 40-minute drive from the town of Tambor. Horizon consists of a number of individual wooden houses dispersed on top of a hilly area in Santa Teresa. These houses are one-bedroom and two-bedroom cottages or villas that can accommodate two to four people. The yoga deck is built on top of a hill overlooking the beach, an awesome venue for your Costa Rica yoga surf retreats.
Costa Rica yoga surf retreats abound, but Horizon has become a popular and highly rated destination, garnering rave reviews from its guests. Visitors simply delight in the great service and the impeccable attention to detail. The tone is definitely set by the owners, who go out of their way to make sure guests are comfortable and relaxed every single minute of their stay here. One of Horizon’s brilliant points of excellence is the food served at the tea house. Made from fresh, organic ingredients, the mouth watering recipes energize the Costa Rica yoga surf retreats in this part of the country.
Yoga classes are conducted on the deck built on top of the tea house. Horizon serves up a number of Costa Rica yoga surf retreats. The Surf and Yoga Retreat package includes a daily hour-and-a-half yoga session with a certified instructor, breakfast at the tea house, daily surfing lessons, a mid-day energy-boosting shake, and a trip to town for dinner at one of the restaurants there. At extra cost, you can take your Costa Rica yoga and surf retreats to new levels with full body massages given by a licensed therapist at the rancho, also with a marvelous view of the ocean. Horseback riding is also an additional option, and a highly therapeutic means of traveling up and down the coast to explore the white sand beaches in the area.
The beautiful, clear blue waters of the Pacific Ocean are just some five minutes away from the hotel. Horizon pumps up your Costa Rica yoga surf retreats with an assortment of water sports and water activities. One of the new activities they offer is stand-up paddle boarding (SUP), which promises an unparalleled total body workout that is at the same time easy to master, enjoyable and relaxing. Horizon can also arrange boat trips to nearby Tortuga Island and fishing for you. Or you can just lay under a shade on the beach and take in the sun, if that seems more to your liking. And of course, what are Costa Rica yoga surf retreats without surfing? Santa Teresa offers a surprising variety of beach breaks and swells that appeal to more experienced surfers. Waves also tend to come in faster during low tide. The area is popular for long boarders, but don’t be surprised to see some bold short boarders and even kite surfers enjoying themselves here as well.