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.
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!
Om Mani Padme Hum
The powerful and hungry ocean
Surfing and yoga
The quad tour
The football field
More fun to write
Our purpose and our gift
La Vida Loca
Find the good
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
A Sweet, Simple Life
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…..
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!
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.
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.
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!
Ocean Healing Group JAW’s (Just Add Water)
Hola, I have to say, things are amazing here at Shaka! I have been having quite the adventure getting to know this beautiful place and trying my best to learn the language! I have been meeting so many great people and thoroughly enjoying every exchange! My first week at Shaka, the Ocean Healing Group arrived. This is a non profit foundation for disabled children and their families. The gang here at Shaka host these folks and provide them with adaptive surf lessons, zip line tours, yoga, and a variety of other sweet offerings. I was grateful to be a part of such a heart warming experience!
The group comes together, owners, volunteers, kids and their families. All with the intention of allowing the kids to experience physical activities, like surfing and yoga. Also, an opportunity for the families to have a break from being the primary caregivers. There were many activities during the week, including a zip line tour through the waterfalls in Montezuma. This was an amazing adventure for the kids and also a kind act on the part of the volunteers who carried them up and down steep slippery stairs in between rides.
The group had also rented some quads to cruise around on which were a big help to bring the kids to and from the beach. A few evenings we were lucky enough to experience marine phosphorescence, which is apparently a type of algae that actually glows In the dark! Seriously, the waves were lit up like yellow glow sticks! I was drawing in the sand and everywhere you walked your feet lit up below you! It was truly a sight to see!
Mama Sea Turtle Sighting
Just when I thought I had met the quota of a pretty freaking rad night….there was more! We also witnessed a big sea turtle mama laying her eggs right there in the glowing sand! I hope that her attempt was a success and that the eggs will be safe until the time is right for them to hatch and make their way back to the ocean. Such amazing creatures, prehistoric…also endangered…it seems that they are making a comeback right here in Playa Hermosa!
A Vast Ever Changing Moving Target
Of course, the highlight of the week was seeing the kids out in the ocean surfing the waves! I have been here for two weeks now, and been surfing quite a few times. It’s not easy…actually one of the more difficult things I’ve attempted…even with great instruction! More difficult than snow boarding down some of Colorado’s finest and makes my yoga practice seem like a walk in the park! My point being….the ocean is a vast, ever changing moving target…imagine attempting it without total use of your legs! Thats what Mercy and Christian did, with the help of Larry, Frank, and the volunteers.
You Guys Rock!!
They have have a system, where they have what you would call the “pitchers”. A few of the guys handle the back of the board and one rides along with them and helps them catch the wave. They are also surrounded by volunteers in a V-line formation prepared to assist if needed. Then you have the “catchers” a team awaiting for their arrival. My hats off to the kids for their bravery and eagerness to step out of their comfort zone, also to the volunteers who assist them in this process. And of course the kindness and generosity of the Shaka crew who make this all happen…Larry, Frank, Mo’e and Krista..keep up the good work…you guys rock!! Until next time….
Sent from my iPad
Wow, I am actually here! I’d like to take a moment to introduce myself, my name is Megan Panchinin. I am a yoga instructor and wellness coach, from Denver, Co. This last month was filled with excitement and anticipation as I prepared to leave the country. My original plan was to come to Costa Rica for a month to volunteer at Shaka Beach Retreat, that one month turned into seven. The family here at Shaka have been kind enough to host me as a volunteer for the month of November. Lucky for me, teaching opportunities have presented themselves that will keep me in this amazing location until May 2013!
From Denver to Costa Rica
A bittersweet transition, as I was saying ”hello to a Costa Rican adventure ” I was also saying many “see you laters”, as I would like to call them, to friends, family and students, that I have grown to love along the way. That was the bitter part….the sweet part was arriving here, welcomed by new friends, new family and new students! I knew there was a chance I may fall in love with Costa Rica….what’s not to love??
This place is unbelievable, the locals are helpful, the beaches untouched and the land an explosive celebration of life! When my taxi arrived at Shaka, after a “smooth”, but lengthy journey (you have to travel a ways to find paradise), I was greeted by the most recent volunteer Matt and one of Shaka’s guests Steve.Matt a recent graduate and surfer extraordinaire, Steve a Canadian Life Saver….seriously…EMT and fire rescue professional. The guys were hanging out in the Rancho, Shaka’s common place where meals are served and good conversations a plenty.
Shortly after settling in, I immediately headed to Playa Hermosa to enjoy a late afternoon swim. After a lovely stroll through the jungle canopy, the vibrantly colored path continued to stimulate my senses. I was immediately welcomed by the warmth of the sun and the peaceful sounds of the ocean…a tropical paradise. I found the perfect spot…on this beach, every spot is perfect. I took in the scenery and then went for a swim. The water is warm and the view of the landscape is like the green section of a jumbo sized crayon box. All of this seems to melt the month of preparation to leave Denver away. Finally…I had reached my destination….now what?
Getting into the Costa Groove
After a rejuvenating swim, I arrived back at the camp, where I met Haydee and Jerry, longtime friends of Shaka and staples here in the Rancho. Haydee, who has been an part of Skaka for a few years, is here from LA. She is surf photographer and a charismatic entrepreneur, here launching her new company “Pollo Pass“. Right away I realize she is quite the entertainer, with her great sense of humor that is perfect for guest relations.
Then of course we have Jerry, a Captain and surf instructor from West Plam Beach, Fl. Jerry, a veteran of Shaka and childhood friend of Frank Bauer (co-owner), has spent several seasons here providing top notch surf lessons while also proving to be quite the comedian! I then have the pleasure of meeting the Mo’e family co-owners, Chris and Krista. They are also an absolute delight.
Their children are a direct reflection of that! Ki’ili, age seven, their daughter, helped me prepare the rooms for the Ocean Healing Group that arrives with Frank today. Atua, age ten, their son, was my translater as I negotiated with the neighbor regarding a place to live next door to Shaka…smart kid…he said he’d do it for an ice cream! He did a good job, because I got the place and that is a huge relief for me! I’m stoked to live in Playa Hermosa, which is apparently prime real estate!
Great New Possibilities
The best part about this trip, thus far, is the recent discussion to build a yoga shala right here at Shaka! Allowing me to assist in this potential creation is beyond fabulous! This land is sacred and would be the perfect place to have a yoga center! We walked the land yesterday and found the ideal spot, nestled under a green canopy and surrounded by old growth….absolutely gorgeous! A yoga girl’s dream come true!! Toto, I don’t think we’re in Denver anymore….Oh My!!