On Sunday I landed at Juan Santamaria International Airport, then traveled for 3 hours along the long, winding, and occasionally questionable roads to Rancho Margot. A 400-acre sustainable ranch, my home-away-from-home rests near the shores of Costa Rica's largest lake, at the feet of Arenal Volcano. To imagine the scenery, the reader should know that most of the jungle scenes in Jurassic Park were filmed less than five miles from here. Indeed, on more than one occasion, I have been almost certain a velociraptor would come exploding out of the overgrowth at any moment. I led my first solo yoga retreat here in November of 2015, and I have been in love with this country and its people ever since.
Costa Rica has a certain pace to it. Often disrupting to many Westerners, sustainability is often more important than efficiency, schedules are vague at best, and plans almost assuredly never get solidified between people - things just sort of... happen. This doesn't seem to cause the natives any stress, only the outsiders who may quantify their self-worth based on how many tasks can be accomplished in a day. The kind of people who continue to overload themselves by making unfulfilling social appointments with people they may not particularly enjoy spending time with. Here you won't see much of that mentality. There's an authenticity to it, a sense of peace with the sound of the constant ticking of the clock rather than the urge to enslave oneself trying to conquer it. I suppose that is what is meant by "Pura Vida"-- in fact, the phrase is said so often that some say you can learn to speak Costa Rican Spanish in 10 seconds:
Hello - Pura Vida
Good-Bye - Pura Vida
I'm Fine - Pura Vida
Yes - Pura Vida
OK - Pura Vida
You're Welcome - Pura Vida
This mellow pace and sense of peace against the marching of time is what we try to embody in a yogic practice. It is presence. The art of learning to be here, now.
This is the goal of the work we are doing when we begin to understand that the only thing we are required to do is breathe. Everything else is just decoration.