Adventure, Culture, Yoga Find Your Yoga Retreat: A Peek into a Costa Rican Paradise Yoga retreats are about new experiences and self-discovery. Do some research to check out option in all places you may want to explore. By Kim Fuller Rain drops dance on the roof of the studio, and from my mat I can feel them rush into the rhythm of my soul. Air drifts in through screen-covered windows, and I can smell the earth, fresh and clean after its morning shower. My own clean sweat slides in droplets down my skin as the small class moves together in flow between yoga poses, enlivening mind and body. Peace Retreat rests on this fertile land, tucked away behind teak and palm trees in a small Costa Rican surf town. Near the Playa Negra on the country’s Pacific Coast, the yoga and wellness retreat is a center for healing and transformation. Hali McQuillan, co-owner of Peace Retreat and former Wanderlust Whistler instructor, says the benefit of going to a place like Peace Retreat is to take yourself out of the daily hustle—to fully immerse yourself in what will bring you balance. “It’s an opportunity to really unplug,” says Kevin McQuillan, Hali’s husband and co-owner of the retreat. “There’s a decompressing that happens—we call it grounding down—and you get back to what’s important to you.” Settle In — Choose Ease and Equanimity Photo by Kim Fuller Following a 90-minute morning yoga session, you’ll start your day with a nutritious homemade breakfast of local fruits and Costa Rican cuisine. Then, fill you time with activities that meet your intentions for the retreat, which may include swimming in the pool or surfing at the beach, walking in the jungle, or biking back roads. You may also have the option to follow a more structured wellness itinerary. Peace Retreat offers on-site life coaching, Ayurveda consultations, spa treatments, journaling, and discussions for self-discovery. Guests can stay in personal jungle huts or in a room in the main house, Casa yoga. Settling in is easy in the comfortable and mindful space, which also houses books and spiritual tools visitors can use to do a deeper internal dive. The entire resort reflects the openness that yoga brings. Accessibility is one of the most important factors of welcoming people to a retreat, says Kevin, who has also taught yoga at Wanderlust Whistler. “Yoga is accessible for anybody—it doesn’t matter your age or body type,” he says. “It’s an embodied practice. We have our guests, our students, feel it in their bodies before they go home. It’s the rewiring that happens when you are in that kind of a practice.” Your Place of Peace — Choose A Retreat Photo by Kim Fuller Think about what your intentions are for your retreat when you are deciding where you want to go. Consider these three factors to help you narrow down your choices: Location — Yoga retreats are about self-discovery and new experiences. Look into areas that you know and love, but also do some research to see all the places you may want to explore. Style — There are many styles of yoga, so think about whether you are craving a more rigorous physical retreat or seeking a more restorative experience. Read student testimonials and get in contact with the retreat teachers to discuss the styles of yoga available and whether they will suit your needs. Pricing and Timing — Weeks of wellness can take time and money, but if you plan ahead you can sometimes find great deals during off-season months. Look into times when a retreat may not be as crowded and may be less expensive. Retreats often offer vacation packages as well, so you may be able to take care of your flights for less than you thought. — Kim Fuller grew up in the Colorado mountains and has always found beauty and inspiration through nature and movement. She is currently a freelance journalist and yoga teacher based in Vail. Her writing and photo work has focused on health, wellness, recreation, food, and travel since 2007, and Kim began her yoga practice in Boulder, followed by her first teacher training with Real Evolution Yoga at Peace Retreat Costa Rica in November of 2012.