Where: Ylang Ylang Beachfront Resort
Who: Teacher: Ximena
When: daily, 8:30 am – 90 minute restorative flow
March 23, 2014
By Lacey B
It was a mini adventure getting there, but the class was definitely worth it! (I think all adventures feel that way). I left my hostel and began walking -uphill, and in the wrong direction – for about 10 minutes, away from the beach. (Yes I know, not smart thinking for a class advertised as “beachfront yoga.”)
Once I got to the top of about 3 steep hills and realized this, I turned around and got going in the right direction. I passed through Montezuma, and found myself on a narrow dirt road, toward playa grande, which quickly turned into a path that came out onto the white sandy beach.
So here I am, standing on the most beautiful beach I’ve seen, and at the same time pretty much running to yoga- again not the most ideal situation. I continue walking along the beach thinking maybe I’d see some yogis in downward dog, but not to my luck. At this point I figured I was lost, late and was ok with spending my morning walking oceanside.
It was at that moment that I came across the hotel (apparently you can’t drive there and actually have to walk the beach to arrive). Welcomed by the beautiful gardens, I made my way up to the yoga hall.
The space is on the 2nd floor above the restaurant overlooking the ocean and the beach. It’s all made of wood and decorated in a chakra theme. The open window walls allow you to gaze out beyond the tops of the palm trees as far as the eye can see.
Yes, I wasn’t that late… Thank you Costa Rica time! Pura vida! Ximena, the instructor, greeted me with a warm welcome and began the class with a grounding initial relaxation.
This is exactly what I needed- it allowed me to slow down, let go of the morning rush and even stop sweating! She focused on deep abdominal breathing, filling the entire body with oxygen and letting go. We inhaled for 4 counts and exhaled for 8. This technique of slowing down the exhale truly calmed the nervous system and mind almost immediately. She invited us to breathe into our entire body and accept it the way it is- perfect.
With each couple of breaths, we focused on our different bodies, moving from the physical, to mental, emotional and spiritual. For me, it was the perfect start and I knew immediately that I would take more than the physical benefits from the class.
Next, we focussed on some gentle warming exercises to stretch the neck, shoulders, wrists, spine and rib cage. It was ideal for anyone who had been traveling or for those on a relaxing vacation away from their busy lives.
We continued to warm the body with the practice of some classic sun salutations, always with a focus on the breath- especially the exhale.
She reminded us the benefits of inversions and the calming and restorative power of downward dog.
I loved the slower pace of the flowing sequence which really allowed you to keep focus on breath and to stretch into hips and back, all while strengthening with warriors and plank pose.
The next portion included a variety of classical asanas: twists, forward folds, balance poses. Throughout the postures, Ximena had a natural way of sharing yogic teachings about staying present, being still and also on the energy of the chakras. She also played some soft music in the background: a mix between flute and mantras. It was a nice touch, and I was happy it wasn’t overpowering the sound of the majestic waves.
I loved gazing out during tree pose as I saw a giant iguana crawling down a palm tree followed by a group of 6 pelicans flying by over the water. We were even graced by some horseback riders passing by. It all made me smile.
The practice was a graceful balance between ease and effort. As a yoga instructor myself, I really felt inspired by Ximena in the way that she presented the class and made it accessible for all levels. Her sweet and playful energy was also a blessing.
The class ended with a brief meditation where she chanted a beautiful mantra before we reclined back for savasana.
I felt so much gratitude (well for -actually finding it and making it to class) for the gift to practice above the beach, looking out to mother ocean. I often like to close my eyes when I practice, but I was feeling guided to gaze softly outward. I learned so much in that 90 minutes while watching the waves with so much awareness. I most vividly remember noticing the yin and yang between graceful rolling waves and the powerful crashing break. It reminded me that our lives are just that, moments where we are flowing with ease and grace, followed by moments of crashing stress or devastation. What I also understood is that we need to honor our softness just as much as our power- we need both, a blend of the heart chakra with Manipura, our inner fire.
We think that we need to take an adventure to paradise, in the middle of no where, on a beach… To experience bliss. Don’t get me wrong I am forever grateful for the class and the opportunity to be a student. However, I truly know that every moment is filled with beauty, wonderment and stillness, I just need to take the time to pause, recognize and remember.
Afterward, you can enjoy the same view down at the restaurant and treat yourself to a delicious shake with superfood spirulina! I indulged inan iced chai tea latte sin azucar.
stay tuned: in the flow at Montezuma Yoga