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How Yoga Has Helped Me to Become a Better Man

How can I become a better man? How can I become a better version of myself?

Like many, I started to consider yoga.

Yes, it’s a form of exercise, and yes, it’s a discipline that can improve your flexibility. Yoga also improved mobility and anatomical awareness. Yoga is something that every man should include in their training routine. In my experience, yoga enhances the quality of their journey of life.

But what about your mental strength? What about the skills that you can’t see or touch?

From an outsider’s point of view, the yoga world has been dominated by women. This has been the case since the early seventies when yoga came on the scene in fitness classes,

So on my journey to become a better man, my instincts told me that yoga could help to unlock that door.

How Yoga Has Helped me to Become A Better Man

I didn’t know the real answer to these questions until a few months back.

I know I had to leave and travel. For some reason, I thought the “Pura Vida” of Costa Rica would give me some clarity on what I’m searching for.

I was hoping that the yoga in Costa Rica would give me some better direction. Help me to become a better version of myself. To become a better man.

It was in the Osa Peninsula at this yoga retreat where I found the intangible tools of yoga and how to use them to enhance my life even more.

My background is in adventure tourism. I have worked as a raft guide, ski, snowboard, and rock-climbing instructor. The all “manly” kinds of sports. Right?! I thought so.

How Yoga Has Helped me to be the best version of myself

My father was a shining example of what it meant to be a good man. He taught me how to be a:

A Confident Leader.

An Empathetic Person.

A Student of Life.

I’ve recognized this is only the tip of the iceberg on my journey of what it means to become a better man.

Here on the Osa Peninsula, I discovered two skills that I now use to improve the quality of life.

I have learned that yoga is not only about physical postures; it is a way of life.

Yoga is a practice for the mind.

Yoga is a philosophical practice to help me to become a better version of myself.

How Yoga Has Helped me to Become A Better Man

Here are two ways yoga has helped me to become a better man.

I become a better man when I am full present:

I have a real hard time being present. To be indeed unequivocally present.

Being at this beautiful beachfront yoga retreat, I have been challenged to be present.

In these past few months, I’ve become more aware of my surroundings and enhanced the quality of my relationships. I have a strong desire to be able to hold space for those who want to share with me.

I value my relationships as one of my top priorities. I appreciate my relationships with my family, friends, and lovers. There are times where I take them for granted, and I mentally check and don’t give them my undivided attention.

How Yoga Has Helped me to Become A Better Man

I am super good at listening at the right moments to give them the sign that I’m paying attention to. But if you’d ask me what the discussion was about 5 minutes later, I would not be able to tell you.

I have noticed that when people are talking to me, my mind is immediately thinking about my response.

I am not listening.

I am not present.

During my time here in Costa Rica. I am now in pursuit of living my life breathing in each moment I have. It is so essential that I treasure the time and moments I get with the people I care about. There is no guarantee of tomorrow.

I choose to treat every day as if it’s my last and be more present.

This philosophy and daily meditation have given me the skills to give my loved ones all my energy and focus. I am more present to everything that we do or say together.

I forget about the past; I drop anxiety of the future. I’m able to find joy in the now.

I am not dwelling about the past or fantasizing about the future. I am living a more yogic life by elevating my awareness of the spectacular nature here on the Osa.

How Yoga Has Helped me to Become A Better Man

Yoga Has Given Me Mental Clarity

Another skill I acquired through meditation is the increased clarity of life.

When I am quiet, answers to life’s questions come to me.

This yoga environment has engendered a space to create goals, design the plan, and then execute it proficiently. I am so much more aligned because I have found a way to get out of my own way.

I simply need to quiet my mind.

Easier said than done, which is why I have yoga part of my morning routine to conquer the day.

Starting the day by waking up the body with a routine brings clarity.

I sit on the beach or by the pool, focusing on each part. Everything becomes loose. I fire up my muscles with short and powerful yoga series that helps me improve flexibility and mobility. After I have increased my heart rate, I then bring it back down through a 15 to 20-minute meditation practice.

I am still very much a novice, and I know I won’t have the luxury of meditation in Costa Rica forever. I use different techniques available online to assist and guide me.

The journey of becoming a better man has led me to this point.

The jungles of Costa Rica provide such a real and potent environment for learning and self-reflection.

I have learned the importance of being present. In this space, I can apply it to every engagement of my life. Because of yoga, I learn the skills to stay grounded.

And appreciative of the opportunities that I am blessed with today.

The ability to be present with a calmer and clearer mind is such a powerful tool for me on my journey of becoming a man. These tools have given me a positive and focussed direction.

The direction I am looking for is not something I can buy or read about.

The direction is something that I can only acquire if I choose to be disciplined with my yoga.

By Chris Boudreau

5 Life Lessons I Learned After Leading My Third Yoga Retreat In Costa Rica

I recently taught my third yoga retreat in Costa Rica at Blue Osa Eco-Resort and Spa, and I have to admit, leading retreats has gotten increasingly easier.

During the first retreat, I was on edge the entire time. “Are people happy? Am I doing everything right? Am I spending enough time with everyone? Does everyone feel included?” I felt I had to be “on” the whole time overseeing everything. By the third retreat, I realized I don’t need to be present every second.

During this last retreat twenty participants showed up with a disarming willingness to be present. We shared vulnerable parts of us, and we got to re-invent ourselves in a safe, welcoming environment. We also played tons of BananaGrams and colored Japanese postcards, among other things.

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By the end of the retreat I felt a sense of relief and pure joy, mixed with sadness for being separated from a wonderful group. I did it! After all emotions had the appropriate time to sink in, I was left with these five realizations:

1. People And Experiences Are What Matters Most In Life

Without the participants, the retreat center loses its essence and remains just a beautiful, empty space. The connection is where the magic lies. In the same way, memories filled with emotion and interaction are a lot brighter than the ones reserved for objects. Meeting other people constantly inspires me to realize that in the end, we all are share similar stories and struggles.

2. People Want To Have Fun

It’s just as important to participate in mindful activities as it is to not take yourself too seriously. To let go of expectations. To not not care about how you look during barre class. Or what you sound like while chanting a mantra. Leaving time for spontaneity and irrationality is a must to understand that the very nature of life is often times unexplainably beautiful.

3. Sometimes You Gotta Be A Leader

I am not usually someone who wants to be in charge. However, teaching retreats has taught me to step in a leadership position. Quit the indecision and work up confidence and guts! People on a yoga retreat want to be lead and they need structure. They are trying to get away from constant problem solving and being in control. They can’t be bothered with logistics and big decisions, so learning to take charge of others in these situations is helpful.

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4. You Can’t Control Everything

Even though I plan everything as precisely as possible before and during the retreat, unpredictable things happen. We had a guest leave within 24 hours because the jungle was too much. Several guests’s flights were delayed and their connection were missed. Not everything can go as planned, and we must stay open to facilitate, but also step back and let things unfold.

5. Community Can Be Formed Away From Home

Community is a subject close to my heart. All twenty of us arrived for a week of fun under the sun. And we all left feeling that we had new friends to enrich our lives. While community in the traditional sense is usually set in one place, we can find a unique type of community in several places around the world, and the connection is still going strong (thank you technology).

As the saying goes, teaching is a huge learning experience. Leading a yoga retreat is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about yourself, test your skills and yes, learn from your mistakes too.

 

 

Valentina-Rose-Bio

 

 

Born and raised in Italy, Valentina is a full time yoga instructor who divides her time between Marin County, California and Matapalo, Costa Rica. When she isn’t hosting yoga retreats or blogging Valentina can be found trail running and baking quiche.

Valentinarose.me

Instagram: @valentinarose1111

Yoga Retreat Family

It is incredible how many yoga retreat centers are popping up worldwide. International popular hotspots include places such as, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Thailand. As the yoga community continues to build retreat centers, hotels, and sustainable living farms, there is one thing that is important to remember: the local communities! As newcomers to a setting, showing respect to the local culture is a must. Building relationships with local communities as a yoga retreat center developer, provides jobs, creates family, and in turn brings memorable experiences to many people. There are lots of people who bring the magic to yoga centers; the guests, the builders, the volunteers, the owners, the yoga teachers, the staff, etc…At Yoga Trade, we believe that “keeping it local” and daily sustainable living practices, are the foundations for yoga retreat centers. Below, Yoga Trader Sarah Barnes, writes about the inspirational Blue Osa Retreat + Spa (where she is currently volunteering), and their amazing Costa Rican staff and family.

Where Ticos Run the Show

Costa Rica is more than a tropical rainforest full of beautiful wildlife. The country is steadily becoming one of the most sought after vacation destinations for yoga retreats, workshops and teacher trainings in the world. Each yoga studio in Costa Rica has something that sets it apart, but what you won’t always come across are places staffed by local Ticos who know the lay of the land they are working in.

Take a journey down to the Osa Peninsula close to the Corcovado National Park and tucked in between the small town of Puerto Jimenez and Matapalo you’ll encounter Blue Osa—a resort and spa bursting to the brim with Tico flavor.

If you blink you might miss the entrance to Blue Osa Yoga Retreat and Spa, with its small wooden sign. But what you won’t see from the tiny entrance is the majestic structures behind it or the amount of heart that has gone into making a safe and spiritual place for visitors, employees and volunteers alike.

You’ll most lightly be ushered in by Edgar, or Chuleta as he is nickname. You’ll find everyone here has a nickname or two as the employees are quite playful with each other. Proceed through the gate and you’ll enter the secluded world of Blue Osa, surrounded by greenery and flowers splitting into three directions.

No matter which path you take you’re likely to run into Fillo, Erick, Alex or Chindin bustling about the property fixing structures, weeding the garden or building and sanding new chairs for the front relaxation area. Although they always have something to do, any one of them would gladly stop and chat or offer a warm, “Buenas días!,” along with a kiss on the cheek, a customary traditions for Ticos.

As a volunteer here at Blue Osa, this is how I personally start my day. Walking from my room over to the office I pass the workshop, laundry room, generator and all my new found friends, the employees. Getting to know these individuals and learning about each one of their lives I think has been one of the best parts of my three month stint here in paradise.

THE STAFF

Like everyone around the world, the employees are here to support their families, dreams and lifestyles, which vary quite a bit, but they also genuinely enjoy working with each other; I think it is part of the “Pura Vida” lifestyle. Let me introduce to you my friends, the employees and heart of Blue Osa:

Michael Melendez, 28
Blue Osa Manager

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Michael, sometimes known as Puy, has been at Blue Osa for five years and is the go-to employee for anything and everything. Although his official title is manager, you can find him in the kitchen, fixing the generator, taking guests out on the ocean to kayak or hike through the forest and solving any type of situation that might arise during the work day.

Michael has lived in the Osa Peninsula his whole life. Growing up on a farm, he is very familiar with the area, the native animals and a decent botanist as well. When he isn’t here running the show, Michael enjoys lifting weights, running on the beach, fishing, hiking, dancing and pretty much anything outdoors.

Michael holds a special place in my heart particularly because he is always checking in on the volunteers who live and work here. There is no such thing as a dull day when Michael is around. He makes sure that we have what we need to be comfortable and productive and you feel welcome from the day you arrive.

Jorge Peraza Fernandez, 25
Assistant Manager

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Originally from San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, Jorge has only been in the Osa Peninsula for five years. His career with Blue Osa began a short four months ago, but you would never know as he is already well versed in how things work. His charismatic personality shines through each day with his coy smile and bright blue eyes, which have also afforded him his nickname, Ojos Bellos (beautiful eyes.)

On top of learning the ropes of quality customer service and management from Michael, Jorge can often be found working on the weather reports for the Blue Osa blog, posting pictures to our Instagram account or working on his English.

Jorge also has the most adorable two year old son who attends the Corcovado school, one of Blue Osa’s community initiatives.

José Marin Vargas, 30
Head Chef

blue4cheponaYou will rarely hear José called by his real name as you’ll constantly hear calls for Chepa or Chepona ringing out throughout the kitchen. As the head chef, he is in charge of not only preparing meals but also making sure that the inventory of materials is up to date and any of our visitor’s special needs or allergies are incorporated into the menu each week.

José’s career began seven years ago when his hands aided in creating the breath-taking structures here at Blue Osa. He shaped, sanded, and painted the massive wooden beams that frame the yoga deck and kitchen.

Anyone can tell that José enjoys what he does here at Blue Osa as he always has a huge smile on his face and is ready to help any guest, volunteer or employee at the drop of a hat. A guest wants cream for their coffee and we don’t have it? The next day it will be on the bar. Mention that you’re gluten-free to him? There will be a gluten-free pasta dish served just for you within hours of mentioning it.

Guest and volunteers alike will tell you José is an incredibly hard worker and most stay in contact when they leave as his smile and positive energy are inspirational.

Leonel Nena Caupos, 31
Chef

blue3cheleLeonel, better known as Chele, is probably the sweetest and hardest working person you’ll find in Costa Rica. For starters he is an incredibly talented chef, but when he isn’t cooking up a storm in the kitchen you can find him studying for this degree in hotel and restaurant management late into the night.

Another one of Chele’s many talents includes jewelry making—specifically bracelets. He originally started making these beauties while he was recovering from a motorcycle accident but now he sells them here at Blue Osa and uses the profit to help pay for his school costs.

Originally from Nicaragua, Chele has been with Blue Osa for three years and a resident of the Osa for 10 years.

 

Rafael (Rafa) Eduardo Fanseca Almengar, 26
Chef/Personal Trainer

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If Costa Rica had its own version of The Bachelor, I am pretty sure our chef and personal trainer Rafa would have no competition getting the leading role. He is dedicated to personal fitness and has quite the chiseled physique. When he’s not in the kitchen you’ll probably find him lifting weights or surfing.

Ironically enough, the personal trainer also makes amazing deserts and smoothies. Rafa spends a good amount of time on Pinterest looking for the perfect sweet treat for our guests, including gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options.

A life-long resident of the Osa, Rafa has been with Blue Osa for three years.

Andy Diaz Moraga, 29
Chef

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Andy’s official nickname is Gordo, but in my mind he will always be bromista, or joker. You can be sure that if something goes missing, Andy has temporarily relocated it and will have the best poker face of them all when you ask where the item might be.

Besides all of his jokester tendencies, Andy is a great employee. He’s been with Blue Osa for three years now, but has lived in the Osa Peninsula for roughly 15 years; before that he was born and raised in the city of Alajuela.

Make sure to ask Andy about his son as you’ll never see a bigger smile on his face or more silly photos.

 

 

 

Olger Brenes Rodríguez, 44 (Cabezón)
Chef

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Olger, pronounced Ol-hare, is another one of the busy bees in the kitchen. His career at Blue Osa began a short three years ago, but again he knows his way around the kitchen and fits in great with the rest of the staff.

A native Osa resident, Olger is a HUGE animal lover, particularly cats. He has several at his own home and gives lots of love to the four cats/kittens and two dogs that hold residence here at Blue Osa.

 

 

Ivannia Ramírez Cruz, 46 and Ñery Cerdas Ibarra, 38

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Ivannia and Nery are hard workers and moms to both their families and the Blue Osa crew. Whether they are bustling around the laundry room, cleaning out cabinas (guest rooms) or mending pillows from the sofa, their useful skills are endless.

Ivannia is also known as Macha, or Blondie and Ñery is sometimes referred to as Ngaspachas. Both of these lovely ladies have worked at Blue Osa for four year and are quite the team. Although Ñery is originally from Nicaragua, like Ivannia, she has spent the majority of her life here in the Osa Peninsula.

Erick Manuel Jiménez Garbanzo, 24
Housekeeping

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Light-hearted, young and energetic Erick can also be found with a smile on his face whilst working on cleaning the guest rooms, yoga deck and various other areas. He speaks very little English but that doesn’t keep him from flashing a big grin your way and working through a conversation. Over the course of my stay here we have fumbled through conversations about fishing and his beautiful new baby girl.

 

 

 

José Rudecindo Lopez Jimenez, 36 (Chindin)
Gardening, Woodworking and Property Maintenance

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Another strong silent type, Chindin arrives bright and early to work at 5 AM to begin his daily routines of property maintenance, woodworking and painting. After placing his cellphone on the employee shelf along with all the other colorful technology bricks, Chindin bids me a warm, “Hola guapo, como estas?” Observant and polite are two of the words I’d use to describe him. When I am having a rough day Chindin is always one of the first ones to know and offer a huge hug.

Chindin has always called the Osa Peninsula home and has made his career here at Blue Osa as he has spent the past seven years helping to create this sacred space.

 

 

Rufilio Nuñez Solis (Fillo), 55
Gardening, Woodworking and Property Maintenance

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Fillo has been with Blue Osa for seven years. You can find him around the property doing maintenance on the lawn, watering the garden or working with his hands on various other tasks. A hard-worker, he won’t always have time to stop and chat, but he’ll greet you with the biggest smile and a warm hug.

Another interesting fact about Fillo is he is a nature guide and avid bird watcher. When we have groups that are early risers, he will often be their guide through a morning hike and bird watching tour, which is a wonderful way to start the day.

 

 

Geiner Rivera Venegas, 38 (Tony)
Gardening, Woodworking and Property Maintenance

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I’m not exactly sure how Geiner, or Tony as we call him, got his nickname, but he is the quietest employee of them all.

Originally from Pérez Zeledón, Tony has only lived and worked in the Osa Peninsula for six months; although you’d never know that watching him interact with all the employees.

His official duties are with property maintenance like Chindin, Fillo and Alex, but true to Tico fashion, Tony will pull his weight in any other area here at the resort.

 

 

Alexander Mendez Alvarado, 45
Gardener and Project Manager

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Although he has only been at Blue Osa for four years, Alex is a busy man here at the property. As a passionate environmentalist, it only makes sense that he manages our well project across the street where in the future there will be a lush garden, a water well, chickens and much more.

Alex has a way about him; he is quiet but once someone takes the time to ask questions he will open up and share his joys and concerns with you, and vice versa. Alex always reminds me that if I’m having a bad day that I can come and talk to him. This is one reason I always makes sure to give him the biggest hug and kiss in the mornings, letting him know his friendship is important to me.

Alex’s passionate feelings extend into his community as well. He coaches several football teams in Puerto Jimenez ranging from small children up into teenagers and the kids come from all different areas to play. Alex feels it is important to be a big part of your community and the children’s life because they are our future, we have to teach them to be engaged citizens and love their community.

Edgar Bernado Gutierrez Quesada, 56
Security

blue6chuletaAh Chuleta…he always finds a way to surprise you whether its lighting the path to your destination or catching him busting a move during a rare guest dance party.

Although most guests don’t really meet Chuleta he is one of the security personnel here at the resort during the late afternoons and evenings. You’ll be able to spot him walking around the property with a humongous flashlight keeping watch around the parameter.

Born and raised in the Osa Peninsula, specifically in Golfito, Chuleta is another Blue Osa veteran. Showing true dedication to his job over the past seven years, he rides his bike an hour each way to get to and from work.

 

 

Blue Osa Journeys

Aaron and Adam, co-owners of Blue Osa, believe in and support their staff as if they were family, because they pretty much are. When they aren’t traveling the world hosting yoga retreats, scouting for new locations or looking for donors for the local school they run in Puerto Jimenez, Aaron and Adam focus on enriching their staff’s knowledge and skill base.

Back in 2013 they took head chef Jose on an adventure to see and study in some of Europe’s finest meccas. Over the course of a month Jose worked and learned in kitchens throughout Paris, Amsterdam, Biarritz and Montpellier. This was quite the experience for then 28 year old Jose as he had never been outside of Puerto Jimenez, let alone leaving the country entirely.

Chefs Chele and Rafa have also just returned from a similar journey throughout Spain. This is just another example of how Blue Osa does its best to give back to the community that supports its existence.

sarahSarah Barnes is currently a volunteer in paradise at Blue Osa Yoga Retreat in Costa Rica where she is a blogger, photographer and yoga instructor. Sarah is a 200 level RYT, owner of Modern Warrior Yoga and alumni of Texas Tech University where she graduated with International Business and a Photo Communications degrees. She recently left her 9 to 5 job as a communications professional to explore the world.

A Yoga Trade Success Story

I was ready to leave my life of a stressed yoga instructor in Miami. Miami is a really fun city but does not fit my taste for narrow alleys, cute cafes, farmer’s markets and nature proximity.

I was done being woken up in the middle of the night by trucks. I was done sitting in traffic praying I’d make it in time to teach my class. I was done parking through valets, B0A5269done with anonymous elevators and 30 story buildings. Most importantly, it was becoming apparent that I was trying to teach people the one thing I needed the most: how to de-stress and stay positive.

I was done.

I wanted to simplify, to shed, to revert back.

I wanted nature, deserted beaches, a simple life, wholesome foods. I did not want to carry or own more than my Hawaiians, a few pairs of shorts and bikinis.

Nor did I want to move somewhere and build a life for myself, find a home and buy a car. That would mean settling again and I wanted freedom. I wanted to go to a place that already provided the grounds for me to unplug, grow and live simply. I also wanted to challenge myself and see how I would do in an isolated, jungle-like environment.

One day I was searching on Yoga Trade, and then found Blue Osa, in Costa Rica.

I had a really good sense of what Blue Osa looked like because I had conducted plenty of research from the website and had read the Trip Advisor reviews.

I knew the beach was a few meters away from the property, which was a must for me. I also knew the property was groomed and well maintained but it preserved a rustic and genuine feel. I knew Blue Osa had a well established calendar of events which made me feel confident they were a legitimate business.

I have to admit my favorite part of the property is actually the front lawn with the big tree in the center. I grew up in a tiny apartment and I always felt really trapped and longed for grass. Since I’ve been living on my own I have always sought places that felt more like home with a big lawn. When taken out of its tropical context, the Blue Osa lawn could fit really well in front of an old Victorian house.

My favorite thing about Blue Osa is the open mindedness that pervades it. Everyone from the staff to the guests and volunteers is very accepting and at ease.

I come from a ridiculously small town in rural Italy, where I was always judged for everything I did, what I wore, said or didn’t say, and who I hung out with. At Blue Osa no one reacts weirdly to any type of human behavior. People here just don’t get worked up over unnecessary stuff. If anything is odd, they just laugh it off. There’s a disarming acceptance of all aspects of human nature that is so refreshing. It overrides any language or cultural barrier. Because let’s face it, real life isn’t about what you wear or what you look like, it’s about being human, with all your flaws and unique traits. The atmosphere in Blue Osa is also very joyful.

I often got reprehended in middle school for laughing too much. Here, there is no such thing as laughing too much! At Blue Osa I feel liberated and can embrace my laugh.

In my yoga professional volunteer position I got to teach yoga and learn about the social media and marketing aspects of running the business. I learned a lot through the completion of various projects and I was constantly feeling inspired by a bigger vision and team work with the other volunteers. I was basically learning the same if not more than if I were taking a few semesters of “marketing” or “social media” at college. With hands on experience, which is a huge plus.

The yoga aspect was also fundamental. I have met some incredible yoga retreat leaders who go to Blue Osa. Teaching week long private retreats allowed me to meet some truly cool people and watch their transformation while learning about the more intimate details of their lives.

Growth at Blue Osa happens constantly and freedom to express yourself is granted at any moment. Expressing oneself doesn’t just mean turning the volume up, but also being granted the opportunity to turn inward without being questioned.

I highly recommend Blue Osa for a vacation, a yoga retreat, or for volunteer opportunities.

Valentina_Headshot_LR-6My name is Valentina Rose and ever since I left Italy I have lived in NY, FL, and Costa Rica. I now reside in Marin County, CA. I am a yoga instructor and I host yoga retreats in Costa Rica. Some of my likes are: unicorns, 11:11 and music festivals.

http://valentinarose1111.com/