Uncover the Rich Indigenous History of Costa RicaVisitors to Costa Rica's northwest Guanacaste region probably don't realize the area was once a thriving community for the indigenous Chorotega tribe. Indigenous history and traditions maintain a low profile in the Central American country, yet if you look closely they are all around you.
Spreading across Costa Rica's entire northern Pacific zone, Guanacaste, for instance, is called the "Chorotega region" after its original inhabitants. The Nicoya Peninsula is named for a Chorotega chief who ruled the area when the Spanish conquistadors arrived in Costa Rica in 1523.
At the time of the Spanish conquest, the Chorotega were the largest and most technologically advanced tribe in Costa Rica, according to Encyclopedia Britannica and other historical reports. The tribe, whose name means "people surrounded by enemies", were driven by warfare from Central Mexico many generations before the Spanish arrived and settled in southern Nicaragua, Guanacaste and the Nicoya Peninsula.
They spoke Mangue, an Oto-Manguean language from Central Mexico that was shared by indigenous groups in Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Many of the place names in northwest Costa Rica are Chorotegan, including Guanacaste – name of the northern Pacific province and Costa Rica's national tree. The word "Guanacaste" means "ear tree" for the trees' seeds which resemble a human ear.
Yoga Stretches for Surfers ... Practice in Costa Rica!
Most surfers are probably already aware that the practice of Yoga results in great benefits for the physical body and beyond.
Yoga increases mental clarity and our ability to concentrate with intention on specific goals and desires. The breathing techniques used in this ancient science are amazing for increasing lung capacity, while helping to lengthen our ability to retain the breath (so necessary for surfers).
On a physical level, the postures (asanas) create flexibility, tone, strengthen, and hone in on our balancing skills. They also fill the body with vital Life energy (prana) and highly raise our body and self-awareness.
The following dynamic and static postures will help you achieve the strength and flexibility needed out in the surf, and will increase your balancing abilities for greater stability on your board. Remember to always warm-up before heading out to the water, stretch for 5-10 minutes after surfing, and ENJOY!!
1) 3 legged downward dog w/ bent knee
Begin in downward-facing dog pose with your hands outer shoulder distance apart and feet parallel to each other, at least hip width apart. As you lift your hips up and back you'll begin to feel a deep stretch along the backs of the legs. Remember to engage and tone your quadriceps (fronts of the thighs) while moving the tops of the thighs toward the backs of the legs. Breathe deeply in and out through the nose and throat, balancing the flow of breath and helping to calm the mind. Keep the arms strong and stable by pushing all four corners of the palms and all the fingertips into the ground and begin to lift your right leg up and into the air behind you. Lengthen through both legs as you take the right hip higher, "stacking" the hips and gently twisting from the waistline. Carefully bend the right knee while flexing the foot and spreading out the toes. The more you take your foot to the left, the more you will need to tuck your pelvis to lengthen the lower spine and increase flexibility in the psoas muscles. Work up to holding the position for 5-15 breaths. Bring the right leg back to downward dog posture and repeat on the other leg.
2) Standing Pigeon w/ Eagle arms
Begin standing upright and cross your right ankle over your left lower thigh (right above the knee), keeping the foot active and flexed to protect the knee joint. With your hands on your hips, slowly bend your standing leg and widen your inner thighs back and apart (imagine you are hovering over a chair!). Bring your arms parallel to the earth, reaching long from the heart center to your fingertips. Then cross your right arm under the left and "wrap" the arms around each other. Energetically lift your elbows and fingers upwards, while dropping your hips and thighs. Hug strongly into the mid-line with the legs and breathe deeply for 5 -10 breaths. Release and try the other side.
Unique Gifts Keep Costa Rica Travel Memories Alive
One of the joys of traveling is picking up that little something special to bring back home. A unique gift from a unique place that will remind you months and years later of the fun trip you enjoyed.
In the case of world traveler Susan Money, owner of Costa Rica's Pranamar Oceanfront Villas and Yoga Retreat, all of her treasures from international globetrotting are specifically brought back home to delight other travelers, in the Santa Teresa Beach hotel's gift shop. The small gift shop in Pranamar Villas' Reception area features exclusive and uncommon gifts both from Costa Rica and parts further afield.
"One of the great joys of owning a hotel is the fun of shopping for the gift shop," says Money. "Although our store is very small, it often has some unusual items from my travels around the world. When I'm off traveling, I get to tell my husband that I have to shop … for the gift shop. And what can he say?!"
Whether originally from Indonesia, Guatemala, Nicaragua or right at home in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica, Pranamar Villas' gift shop is a colorful and exotic treasure trove of jewelry, scarves, bags, yoga clothes and mats, and organic beauty and bath products.
Featured Gifts Wrap bracelets by designer-artist Phyllis Warman are a big hit with Pranamar Villas' guests. "Inspired by the relaxed lifestyle and shifting colors of Costa Rica's exotic Pacific Coast, the richly majestic landscapes of the Pacific Northwest, and the radiant, sun-drenched beaches of Southern California, Phyllis Warman Jewelry Designs are both casual and sophisticated," says Warman's publicity sheet.
The Southern California native divides her time between living in Seattle, Washington and Santa Teresa, Costa Rica. Warman makes all of her necklaces, earrings, bracelets and anklets by hand, using natural materials she finds in her environment like mother-of-pearl and abalone shells; freshwater pearls; precious and semi-precious gemstones such as opal, jade, onyx, garnet and turquoise; metals of copper, brass and sterling silver; and 100% pure cotton cord.
Tantric Yoga Roots Ancient Rituals in Modern Life
Tantric Yoga is kind of touchy.
The ancient Hindu practice gets a lot of press for its sexual image. However, if you delve deeper than the popular hype, you find that the 1,600-year-old ritual is not concerned with sexuality, but rather the goal of Tantric Yoga is to awaken and harmonize the male and female aspects within each person on a spiritual level, according to Yoga World.
There are so many different elements and schools of thought on Tantric Yoga that I started researching and was quickly overwhelmed. Better to start with the basics.
Yoga is a mental, spiritual and physical discipline stretching back 6,000 years to ancient India, and is associated with meditative practices in Hinduism and Buddhism. "Yoga", in Sanskrit, can be loosely translated as "union"; the original root word yuj means "to yoke" or "attach" yourself to a task. Many people think of yoga as simply easy stretching. However, the ancient "yogis" developed these physical stretches and breathing exercises to both strengthen and also loosen their muscles and minds in preparation for hours of meditation and spiritual contemplation. In yoga, the purpose is to find union, or balance, between mind and body.
"Tantra" is the name scholars give to the style of religious ritual and meditation that arose in medieval India in the Fifth century AD. The earliest documented use of the word Tantra is in the Hindu text, the Rigveda; and Tantra is perceived to have influenced all medieval forms of Indian religious expression to some degree, according to Wikipedia. Tantric practitioners seek to use "prana", the Hindu name for the energy that flows through the universe (including one's own body), to attain goals that may be spiritual, material or both, Wikipedia cites.
The intention of Tantric Yoga is to expand awareness in all states of consciousness, being awake, or in a dream or sleep state, according to both Yoga World and the Sanatan Society. The point is to identify what factors influence our thoughts and feelings, to transcend obstacles, and to create peace, harmony and balance in how we regard ourselves, others and our surroundings, states the Sanatan Society.
By means of physical yoga postures, breathing exercises, contemplation, visualization and repetition of a "mantra", Tantric Yoga helps unfold a person's divine nature, state multiple sources on the subject.
"The Tantric viewpoint is that at our core, all of us are divine and good," explains Nancy Goodfellow, yoga instructor at Pranamar Oceanfront Villas and Yoga Retreat in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica. "Holding this viewpoint, you can see the goodness in the world instead of focusing on negativity. That's how expansion relates to Tantric Yoga, the exploration of our divine nature."
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