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Oct
25

Year Anniversary

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Hola Friends,
I am approaching my year anniversary of living in Costa Rica and being part of the team at Shaka Beach Retreat. I can’t believe a year has already flown by! It seems like just yesterday that I was carving pumpkins with my nephews back in Denver, preparing for my departure to Costa Rica. I arrived to Shaka on Halloween last year, and spent my first night in town with Jerry and Haydee dancing at the local club La Lorra. Time sure does fly when you’re having fun! La Lorra
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A lot has happened in years time. Shaka built the new, beautiful yoga studio where I am now teaching, which was huge! I’ve helped build two new websites and am currently working on the third. In addition to the websites,  I’ve also created a YouTube channel called Solalunayoga.  I’m learning Spanish and I’m able to mostly communicate and not feel like a complete moron….well, I still feel like a moron, but not as much as I used to! http://www.youtube.com/user/Solalunayoga.

One of the things I am most proud of is my surfing, I’ve only been at it a year and have made some amazing progress….helps to have awesome instructors like we do at Shaka. It feels really good to tackle something as physically and mentally challenging as learning to surf has proved to be.  pinta and me

I have also acquired a few new furry friends. My first new friend is my dog Pinta Pants, she is freaking adorable and quite the little entertainer. She came with my apartment by the super market. I am so grateful for her company, she follows me around everywhere I go….me and my shadow.

BlanquitaThe latest addition, is my goat Blanquita, I got her about a month ago and she just had a baby!! Mulita Chiquita Bonita Cabrita is her full name, but I call her Mulita for short! Baby goats are some of the cutest little creatures on the planet! So, in addition to teaching yoga, surfing and learning Spanish, I’ve taken up goat herding too! I love Costa Rica!!!

I’ve been a busy girl! We only get one go at this life, so we might as well live it up and do the things we love to do! If a year goes by as quickly as this one did, a lifetime can slip by just as fast! I hope next year will be just as wonderful and exciting…… I guess only time will tell :) Mulita

Gratitude,
Megan

 

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Aug
03

Hola! Me llamo Katie.

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Katie Roehrich

Greetings from Costa Rica, friends! My name is Katie, I’m the new volunteer at Shaka. I arrived Thursday night and have spent the last couple of days getting settled in and getting to know the guests and staff. I’m originally from Iowa, USA, but have also had addresses in Utah, Colorado, Indiana, and The Netherlands. I left my most recent job in Human Resources and my roller derby ream in Iowa to come to Costa Rica and to see some more of the world. My time here is part vacation (yoga, hopefully some surfing, and what I’ve come to know as Pura Vida) and one part work (volunteering).

I found the volunteer opportunity at Shaka through a Google search for volunteer opportunities in Costa Rica. I got in touch with Krista and we both felt the experience could be a good fit. My interest in Costa Rica in general stemmed from an internship in college with a company in Colorado that runs adventure and eco tours in Central and South America. For them, I made calls to Costa Rican resorts and ecolodges that are known for sustainability practices. A bit of a hippy, I love living green; a tree hugger so to speak. :)

I’m looking forward to learning Spanish, enjoying the beach, deepening my yoga practice and getting a little hospitality experience; my degree is in Tourism Management. I can’t wait to share more about my experience here at Shaka!

Beach Panoramic View

Love and Light,

Katie

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Apr
23

The Yoga Rancho

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We’ve had such a busy season, with so much going on,  I haven’t had much time to write. The past couple of blogs have been a whirlwind of experiences that all took place within a few days of one another. With all of the excitement, I neglected to announce the most exciting news! The newest addition to Shaka….the brand new, yoga studio….the yoga rancho!

 

Beautiful….all hand done teak, from floor to ceiling! She’s nestled under the jungle canopy….a stones throw away from the original Rancho…the heartbeat of Shaka. Her energy is sweet and inviting, welcoming the next group of adventurists to grace her with their presence.

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No walls to contain her, allowing the sounds of the ocean and the jungle to mix and mingle with the energies of the class. Nature appears to be bursting at the seams, an ecstatic expression singing itself into creation! The high pitched hum of the locusts, a continual pulsation holding the space. A rich layering of information, woven together with a myriad of melodies…all singing to the beat of their own drum!

 

In addition to the sounds of nature, you will also experience the sights too! My favorite characters are the howler monkeys….to watch and to hear! I spent the whole morning in the studio today and was accompanied by a troop of monkeys! They were literally twenty feet from the studio! I’m not sure who was watching who! They seemed to be as fascinated by us, as we were them!

 

I love teaching and practicing in the new space, it feels good under my feet….and my hands…..connected and rooted to the earth….in the middle of the jungle….with the sound of the ocean in the background…..Gracias!

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Apr
18

Something Lost and Something Gained

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Om Mani Padme Hum

A couple of days ago I was helping Mo’e with a surf lesson, a very nice family from Seattle. I was giving the little boy a send off when my beloved bracelet was caught in the leash and torn from my arm. This wasn’t just any bracelet….it was a gift from a dear friend and longtime student back in Denver. He had purchased it in Tibet, it was solid silver and had the Buddhist mantra Om Mani Padme Hum inlaid upon it.

The powerful and hungry ocean

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I had worn it everyday since he given it to me almost two years ago. I was heartbroken and trying my best to let it go….”svaha” a Sanskrit term, meaning throw it in the fire. What was done was done, yet another thing lost to the powerful and hungry ocean. Where does all that stuff go? There is probably some underwater pawn shop that is killin’ it!

Moira

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Later that evening, I was talking to Moira, one of our guests, a film producer from Ireland. She is here filming the Irish television show called ” In Your Shoes”, a reality based show, where they pair up two teenage kids, one disabled and one able bodied. They are here with the “Ocean Healing Group”, Shaka’s non profit organization for kids with disabilities.

Surfing and yoga

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The kids and crew are touring around the world and have different adventures at each destination. While they are here in Costa Rica, they are surfing, quading and zip lining. The first two days were spent on Playa Hermosa where they all learned to surf! I am continually amazed by the courage and trust these kids have! Imagine surfing blind, or without the use of your legs….I get scared out there myself!! In addition to these more daring activities, the kids also did yoga with me, a wonderful and powerful practice that everyone can benefit from!

The bracelet

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So back to Moira, I was telling her how I had lost my bracelet that day and was pretty bummed. She then begins to tell me that she has the exact same bracelet, only not in silver but in bronze and she said she would like to give it to me. I was like….really?!? Wow! Gracias! Not exactly something you see everyday….kind of an obscure piece of jewelry….very interesting. I was then adorned with a new bracelet and a new friend.

The quad tour

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The following day the group was heading up toward Manzanillo for a quad tour. The film crew including Moira and myself were waiting for the kids to come by for their first shoot. We were standing on the hillside along the beach road and right after the kids and chaperones passed by….Moira took a bad fall and had appeared to have broken her leg…tibia…fibula?

Emergency response

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Frank and Grant, who both have training in emergency response, quickly splinted and iced Moira’s leg. Keep in mind that we are in a very remote location on the Southern tip of the Nicoya peninsula….no cell service….no hospital…the closest clinic is in Playa Carmen, which is about eight kilometers away.

Kate

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We get Moira ready for transport and I am her driver, Kate her nurse while we make the journey to the clinic. We now have the task of driving on the rocky, bumpy roads to get help. That thirty minute ride seemed to never end….every bump I cringed, as Moira’s pain escalated. Kate was in the back seat, also with emergency response training….she sat with Moira and continued to help us all remain calm and kept a close eye in our patient.

A lifetime

We finally arrived at the clinic after what seemed to be a lifetime. We got Moira in and they began to treat her. One of the other things we don’t have down here is an X-ray machine….and we are still a few hours form the nearest hospital…by car anyway. So, the doc says we need to be airlifted by helicopter to San Jose and get Moira to Cima Hospital.

The football field

Kate and I run back to camp, gather the important items and we race back to the clinic. We make the arrangements to be airlifted to the hospital and I will accompany my new friend on her journey as Kate heads back to camp to care for the kids. We load into the ambulance and drive to the football field where the helicopter lands. The sweet nurse Wendy rides with us to monitor Moira and also to catch a ride back to San Jose, which is where she lives.

The helicopter

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Juan Carlos escorts us all onto the helicopter and I am immediately relieved by his calming energy and obvious experience. Our flight from Santa Teresa to Cima Hospital in San Jose takes us about forty minutes. We arrive safely and they quickly admit Moira, take X-rays and determine that she has broken her tibia and her fibula…no bueno…she needs surgery.

Life

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I make all the needed arrangements with the help of Frank and Allen and get Moira all set up. She is a tough woman to endure that kind of pain and difficult transport…not to mention selfless…as she was more concerned about her kids, crew and any inconvenience she had caused anyone. I assured her that she was loved and certainly not an inconvenience…there is never a good time for something like this to happen…it’s just life….svaha!

Svaha

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As the were preparing her for surgery I said my goodbyes, as it was getting late and I needed to catch the six am bus to camp. So, here I am on the bus writing this, looking at my new bracelet and wondering about my new friend. I don’t have a phone and no wifi around on my trek back. I am eagerly awaiting to hear how Moira is today. I hope that she is recovering well and throwing this one into the fire….Svaha.
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Apr
14

La Cocina

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cristelia

I decided to write about La Cocina, which is where it all goes down….The Kitchen at Shaka. When I left Colorado six months ago, I was trying to leave La Cocina….been in La Cocina since I was sixteen years old. The last Cocina that I worked at was an amazing French Bistrot in Denver called Z Cuisine…www.zcuisineonline.com…. similar….but differente.

More fun to write

I figured this story would be much more fun to write and much more entertaining to read, than the work I have been compiling for five years regarding the Sanskrit alphabet, the orbit of the moon around the earth and the orbit of the earth around the sun….boring…right?

Many faces

It’s funny how life pulls us away from the things that we feel we were put on this planet to do….or does it? The truth is, we have many faces, the cook, the housekeeper, the yoga teacher, the dishwasher, the food server, the maintenance man, the surf instructor, the mom, the business owner, the financial planner, the web designer….the list goes on.

Our purpose and our gift

The point being, is that we all have roles to play…whether we like them or not. Continually being pulled away from the things that we feel are our purpose and our gift. Por que? No se…..to slow us down I guess! To make us realize the value in those many faces and what each contributes?

La Vida Loca

La Cocina is where I learn Spanish, traditional Costa Rican cooking, local natural medicinal remedies and of course laugh my ass off with my friends, talking shit about everything that goes down around camp and living  La Vida Loca!!

La Jefa

The best thing about La Cocina is la Jefa….the boss…Cristelia….my best amiga in Costa Rica. She is bonita…..in addition to cooking, she also has many roles. One of which is my Spanish professor….tough job….but somebody has to do it! My first day in La Cocina, my Spanish consisted of…Gracias…uno mas cervesas por favor….and donde esta el bano. Ahora mi espanole es mucho mejore…malo, but mejore.

Spanish lessons

The Spanish lessons I have received during my many hours of washing dishes have saved my ass time and time again. I realized the value in these lessons during a recent trip to Nicaragua….bus to taxi, taxi to border, border to taxi, taxi to bus, bus to ferry, ferry to taxi, taxi to mi casa….gracias por ayuda mi! Nessacito yo hablar espanole….muy importante!

Find the good

These lessons are worth their weight in gold, dish by dish…..day by day. This is where the yoga comes in….find the good and recognize the benefit of being pulled away from the things that you think are most important. Life has a funny way of giving you what you need, as opposed to what you want….trust in the process and remember that the universe is unfolding exactly as it should!
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Feb
20

The Heartbeat of Shaka

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Hola Friends,

 The Collective

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I’ve been a part of the collective at Shaka Beach Retreat for almost four months now. It has been one of the most beautiful experiences of my life and I am grateful for the opportunity to collaborate artistically and share space with such a wonderful group of people.

The Heartbeat of Shaka

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The community here is strong and stretches beyond the Rancho which is the heartbeat of Shaka…..the commonplace where all the happenings take place. We share meals here, surf lessons, yoga classes, movies, tarot card readings, just to name a few…and of course the WiFi which is our connection to the rest of the world while we play here in Paradise!

A Sweet, Simple Life

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I had been dreaming about this for a long time, to be with like minded people, near the ocean, teaching yoga in a beautiful setting, surfing, and living a sweet, simple life. Well, I made it…here I am…and it most certainly is sweet!

Mmmmmmm….Raw Cacao

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Sweet, like the gooey, fresh, raw cacao I feasted on this past Sunday. I sat on my porch with my neighbor and two new friends and ate one of the most delicious foods I have ever experienced. The cacao is encased within a hard brown shell, the inside is filled with little, vanilla flavored triangular seed pods and in the very center of the creamy pod, a little cacao bean…soft like milk chocolate that melts in your mouth….but a million times better!

Quality Time

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The sweetness of sharing quality time with your neighbors, your friends, your family, your guests is truly what life is all about. You’ve got the peas….I’ve got the carrots…well stated by my friend Desi a few years ago. When we come together and give our gifts, we also learn to receive the gifts of others. We all desire to contribute, to feel connected and to be welcomed.

Good Company

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That’s why I love it here, we offer a space for people to do just that! To enjoy good company, in a picturesque setting, away from the normal distractions that pull us away from the simplicities of life! Come check it out and see for yourself!
Pura Vida!!
Megan Panchinin
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Dec
14

Costa Rica Yoga and Surf Amazingness!

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My humble abode

It’s been a minute since my last post, as I have been busy settling into my new life in Costa Rica. I finished with my volunteer position at Shaka the first of December and moved in next door to my new place. A little casita, a studio with a bed, a refrigerator, gas stove, sink and a bathroom. All the necessities covered, my favorite part of my humble abode is the porch where I am lying in my hammock writing this.

The snooze button

I am surrounded by tropical flowers and a menagerie of critters…dogs, cats, roosters, chickens, birds, and of course howler monkeys. Between the monkeys and the roosters, there is no need for an alarm clock, they will begin to wake you at about 4:30 am. At least they are kind enough to allow you to snooze for about ten minutes between intervals of their good morning celebration!

Stepping into the flow of the jungle

The good news is around here you tend to sleep with the natural rythyms and pulsations of life, stepping into the flow of the jungle! Another great reason to wake early is to head over to Shaka and begin my day there. I am extremely grateful and excited that they have asked me to continue on as a part-time volunteer. I will be helping out with guest relations, cooking with Cristelia and begin teaching regularly scheduled yoga classes there this week.

New roof for the Rancho 

We will be practicing in the Rancho (which just had a new thatch roof put on it this week!) until the yoga platform construction is complete. I was amazed how quickly the roof was rebuilt and have been informed the yoga platform will be finished by the end of January. It will be nestled behind the existing structures, closer to the beach and under the jungle canopy. It is going to be so amazing, as if it isn’t already enough!

Launching the new website

The other really awesome news is that I am launching my new website solalunaretreats.com, where we will be offering yoga and surf Amazingness! An extension of Shaka, these retreats will include yoga classes, surf lessons and delicious, healthy cuisine. I am filled with delight to be a part of this expansion!

Free downloads, healthy recipes

I am also thrilled that this will keep me in Costa Rica on a more permanent basis…I have fallen hard for this place! Please stay connected and keep your eyes open for the new site. We will be up and running for 2013 and ready to start this new year off with a bang! I will be offering free downloads for tasty, healthy recipes and some get fit quick yoga routines, etc.

Have a good time, live a simple life

I think what has been most appealing about my experience at Shaka, besides the breathtaking beach and jungle landscape is the feeling that I am with family…a real collective..a bunch of great people who like to have a good time and live a simple life. What more could anyone ever ask for? Well, maybe some really good chocolate! Haven’t found that here yet! A sacrifice I am willing to make for paradise! Until next time…..

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Surfed the back side! Whoot-whoot!

Hola, this is my third week at Shaka surf camp and today I caught my first “big” wave! It was one of the most exciting experiences I have ever had! I have been taking daily lessons with Mo’e the owner, and the guests here at Shaka for the past week. Daisy was the first guest to arrive after the Ocean Healing group departed, and we took our first lessons together.

5 rules of the water and the 5 universal principles of alignment

As a practiced yoga instructor and skilled snowboarder, this surfing thing is gonna be a breeze…no problema! Our first lesson with Mo’e was in the Rancho, where we discussed ocean safety and the 5 rules of the water. Distance, staggering, cover your head, never turn your back on the ocean and….hmmm…I forget the 5th? I immediately resonated with this philosophy, since I teach yoga with the 5 universal principles of alignment…gotta be similar right?

Loosen up! Slouch a little!

Next we practice positioning, alignment, paddling and popping up. Like a good yogi, I have the principles of alignment imbedded in my body, active feet, steady shins, thighs back and wide, tailbone scooping. Right away Mo’e corrects my rigidity and informs me that I need to loosen up….to slouch a little…huh? I always harp on my students about holding the integrity of the alignment….always…siempre! Now I am being asked to do just the opposite of what I have worked so hard on engraining….ok Mo’e you are the surf boss… I will do my best!

Humbled

We then head down to the water, where Mo’e helps us catch our first waves by pushing us along and getting us started. Again, no bueno para me….I seem to be doing everything wrong….too stiff, wrong stance, not paddling enough, too far back on the board. The waves are pounding me, one after another and the entire time I am extremely irritated by this humbling experience. The good news is, that I am thinking about my beginner yoga students and how they feel coming to a yoga class for the first time….I’m guessing just as frustrated as I was in that moment.

Refine

Each morning Daisy and I would go down with Mo’e and practice in the whitewater. Daisy was great at popping up…I was a good paddler…if we could just combine our skills we could make one good surfer! We both gave it our all and day by day we got better. With skillful instruction and determination finally it was starting to sink in! I was able to stand and ride, but still needed to refine some technical difficulties. By about day 5, things were going pretty well!

Preparing for departure 

Daisy was at the “tail end” of her journey and would soon be leaving Costa Rica having surfed some good waves. As she was heading out our new guest Frank arrived and the lessons continued.   At this time, I was feeling pretty comfortable on the board and progressing nicely. Frank and I continued to follow Mo’e's lead and instruction…continually refining. Each day Mo’e would tell me to go further out and teach me a new skill to assist in my departure to the back side.

Respect

Today was the big day! I learned to turtle roll, how to appropriately time my decent into the deep water gracefully and how to ditch my board and swim under the swells if needed. We paddled out and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared shitless. I have the utmost respect for the power of the ocean…but also mad respect for great teachers…which are plentiful here at Shaka!

Back of the bus! 

I made it! I was out there with the cool kids…back of the bus style! Everyone is hanging out on their boards, chit chatting and waiting for the right wave to come along. The view is spectacular, and quite a different experience from being in the white water….quiet..until the sets start rolling in!  Another skill….picking the right wave…patience. As we wait, I try to remain calm, but know I have the ” deer in the headlights look in my eyes”. Finally, I get the heads up that this is my wave, with butterflies in my stomach and a send off from Mo’e, I successfully ride the first big wave of my life!

Mas para mi, por favor?!?

So freaking awesome! I couldn’t believe that a week before I could barely stand up and here I was riding this big wave, one with the ocean….totally in the moment! I decided today that I need more of that! I have fallen for Costa Rica in so many ways, the people, the land, the sunset….and now the surf. This day will be remembered and celebrated as the beginning of a new, exciting journey into the world of surfing….muchas gracias Shaka Costa Rica!

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