Here is a little interview I did for gorgeous sports wear brand Cope Active on doing your YTT in Costa Rica. I wanted to share it to give you a little insight into doing your training abroad and some of my favourite bits of my time in Central America.
It is said that that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. While it can often feel like a gigantic leap to stray outside of what we know, it is through challenges and new experiences that we really grow. Wellness expert and creator of The Herb Diaries - Serena Louth, recently spent time training to be a Vinyasa yoga instructor in the Costa Rican jungle. Here, she shares with Copé Active some of the personal lessons that transformed her sense of self, plus advice for anyone who is considering yoga teacher training overseas.
What inspired you to do your Yoga Teacher Training in Costa Rica?
"I knew I wanted to do my training abroad. I think the total immersion of an intensive one month course in a foreign country takes the experience to a whole new level - the disconnection from your normal life ensures you are totally focused on what you are doing. I have always loved travelling, meeting new people, and discovering new places- Central America was unchartered territory for me. I can’t quite explain it, but something drew me to Costa Rica and when I did more research it seemed like a real hub for like minded-people. I suppose yogis and health-nuts love it because as a country, Costa Rica is doing amazing things with renewable energy and it's an incredible place for wildlife and nature. Once I had Costa Rica in my head my decision was made!"
Where did you train and what was it about this program that stood out from others?
"I trained at Anamaya Resort in Montezuma, where I actually worked for a month either side of my training. The resort is perched on top of a cliff with panoramic ocean views, which made it the most magical place to practice. It is so close to beautiful beaches and surrounded by lush rainforest and waterfalls, that as soon as I saw it I knew it was going to be a very special place. My teacher was a wonderful Danish man called Peter Kaaberbol, who offers Thai Yoga Massage as part of his YTT, so that was definitely one of the things that drew me to his course. He was the kindest and most patient instructor I could ever have hoped for and I feel eternally grateful to him for everything he taught me."
What experiences or attractions in Costa Rica you would recommend?
"My favourite places were Montezuma, Samara, and Nosara - all three are small towns along the west coast, each with a big yoga and health food community. Three things you need to do while travelling Costa Rica? Wake up early, roll out your mat and practice your sun salutations listening to the howler monkeys and watching the sunrise. Finish a long day at the beach with a fresh coconut (or a chilled beer!) with your toes in the ocean, your best friend at your side and the sky turning pink as the sun dips below the horizon. Finally, find a secluded waterfall in the middle of the rainforest, strip off your sundress, and jump in, in your birthday suit. There is nothing more freeing or refreshing after a sweaty hike!"
What types of healthy food options are available in Costa Rica?
"The food in Costa Rica is very basic - lots of rice and beans, fresh veggies and fish, amazing tropical fruits, and the best avocados I have ever eaten. I eat about 90% vegan and never eat any meat so I was really lucky that the chef and his team at Anamaya were so talented. They make the most amazing meals from simple, fresh, local ingredients, lots of which is grown at the resort's organic farm up the road."
What are 3 things someone should take into consideration if they are looking at studying yoga overseas?
"If you aim to teach, it's very important to check that your qualification will be recognised by the Yoga Alliance, as I’m not sure all YTTs are, you should also do some research on the resort and the teacher. Ask around and talk to your current yoga teacher, it’s always nice if you can go on personal recommendation. Location and cost are often deciding factors as well. I guess the most important thing is to follow your gut instinct."
What is one of the best personal lessons you learned from your experience in Costa Rica?
"YTT is a huge journey of self-discovery, you learn so much more than how to teach yoga. The people you meet on your YTT impact so much on your experience and the 29 beautiful souls I studied with at Anamaya all taught me so much in their own individual ways. They are your support network during a time when you are at your most vulnerable, and by sharing their pasts and stories with you they unintentionally teach you invaluable life lessons. The lessons that have stuck with me the most are the importance of being true to yourself and being authentic in your actions, realising (and never forgetting) your self-worth, accepting that there are things out of your control and that it is best to go with the flow, and making sure everything you do is done with great love."
Since this interview I have actually gone totally vegan apart from the odd bit of honey, so head over to my Instagram to see what I am eating on a day to day basis!