I arrived safely in Costa Rica on July 27th, 2017. I shared the shuttle ride from the airport to the little surf town of Nosara with another girl in my program. On our two hour shuttle ride, Elise and I got to know each other a bit. She was a professional dancer and a serious athlete, and knew quite a bit about yoga. I remember sitting in the shuttle with her and just being honest with her about where I was in my yoga practice. She talked about some of the history of yoga, while I smiled and nodded because I had no idea what she was talking about. She was so kind and reassuring, but in my head I felt like I was heading into something way out of my league…
We arrived at Bodhi Tree Yoga Resort in Nosara just as it was getting dark. As I climbed the steep stairway up to the check-in desk I sensed magic in the air around me. The jungle was alive; it had a pulse. I took a deep breath and recommitted to the plan for the hundredth time. ‘Just take everything one step at a time, Rach’ ran through my mind, but it was hard to take anything slow because with each step forward I felt my soul awakening.
A beautiful girl at the front desk greeted us warmly as we walked up. In each hand she had a fresh coconut with a bamboo straw. We graciously accepted the coconuts and cheers’ed them as we began the check-in process. Then, without any notice, an electrical rainstorm rolled in directly overhead! Lightning ripped across the sky and deep booms of thunder shook the ground under our feet. The sky opened up and suddenly a sheet of water fell from the roof above us.
Beautiful front desk girl didn’t even look up.
Magic, I tell ya.
Elise and I headed off to find our rooms before we would be meeting again for dinner. My dorm was a sweet little open air chalet with two private rooms on either side. Each private room had three twin beds inside. This gave me a warm feeling that the next month would be something like yoga summer camp. A common area and a large bathroom were in the middle of the chalet. We had two outdoor showers for six of us girls. I must have stood in that bathroom for ten minutes just watching warm rainwater pour down over the shower heads. That first shower in Nosara was a gift from the wild skies of the jungle; as I stepped naked into the rain shower I felt my heart beat rhythmically in my chest.
At dinner we met a mother and daughter duo that were staying at the resort. They were wonderful. They invited us to join them for dinner the following night at a nice restaurant down in the little town. We agreed, however I hadn’t lost track of time — tomorrow was our last free night before classes started.
The rainstorm gave out just after that first dinner. As Elise and I walked back to our rooms, the jungle was buzzing. Insect sounds that I had never heard before were suddenly all around me. We had to use our flashlights to avoid stepping on giant millipedes and praying mantids. Cicadas screeched down at us from trees lining the footpath. I vividly remember wishing I had made time to come here a week early instead of just two days. The jungle was healing my heart and bringing my spirit back into my body. These experiences were exactly the medicine my soul had been craving.
I was already coming home.
The next night we had dinner with our mom and daughter friends, Shirley and Lesley. Shirley was from Las Vegas and Lesley was from Tampa. We shared a wonderful meal, a bottle of wine, and lots of laughs that night. Although it was dark, we could hear the ocean waves crashing on the beach just outside the restaurant. When we were done eating a wild cat ran up to me right out of the jungle. I didn’t have any food for it, so he or she just hung out by my side for a few minutes while I pet it and then ran back into the wilderness. I was falling in love with the magic of this place.
On our way back to Lesley and Shirley’s room, we meandered past the pool and down a jungle path. After a couple of glasses of wine I finally had the courage to say out loud what had been on my mind for the past few days. As we walked I mentioned to the group that I was really scared of failing at this program. I wasn’t prepared for what I was meant to do here. The girls politely reassured me, telling me not to worry and that I’d do fine. But it wasn’t enough. I was still so terrified and I felt so fragile. The term that comes to mind right now is “fearful warrior,” hah. So despite these kind people telling me otherwise, I was still agreeing with myself that I would fail. We dropped the girls off at their room and then Elise and I headed back across the resort to our own chalets. As we passed by the pool for the second time a beautiful girl in a red swimsuit swam up to the edge of the pool.
“Are you guys in the Alchemy of Yoga program?” She asked.
“Yes,” we replied.
“Me too! Nice to meet you, I’m Alex.”
The mystery of who was going to join us on our journey was unravelling one introduction at a time. There were supposed to be thirty of us in this program. ‘Two down, twenty-eight to go’ I thought to myself.
Elise and I hung out there for a while and then I stayed by the pool to talk with Alex after Elise headed off to bed. We talked about the usual things, where we were from, how exciting it was to be in Costa Rica. Then, at one point, Alex looked directly at me and abruptly changed the topic:
“I heard what you said earlier as you were passing by the pool,” she said. “About being scared.”
I was immediately embarrassed. That was not information I was ready to freely share.
She placed her hand on her heart.
“Don’t be scared. You are going to do great at this. I know it.”
The surety in her voice and the knowing in her eyes was so direct even the little voice in my head couldn’t argue with her.
And just like that I knew I was going to be okay.
(To be continued…)