As I took my place on the wide, outdoor yoga deck, looking straight out over the Pacific Ocean from thousands of feet above, the early-morning panoramic view of the coastline backlit a still, woven hammock. Gradually, sunlight spilled over the lush tropical greenery and the round infinity pool (as calm and blue as the sparkling water below) a few steps down at the cliff’s edge. Ecstatic at the intense beauty of the place, I recalled with slight trepidation why I was here: yoga.
An hour earlier, a friend and I had been picked up in a van nicer than any we’d seen during the previous week in Montezuma—an authentically low-key beach town on Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula—and had been swept up the mountain to Anamaya Resort, a luxury yoga retreat. If we’d thought Montezuma’s cold showers, rainforest-bordered beaches, and unhurried, pura vida pace had felt like a world away from New York, Anamaya (Sanskrit for “good health”) was yet another.
Originally built as a private home, the main house feels like a fantasy vacation villa, with a wide-open kitchen/living/dining area where guests converge for meals and conversation. Large, always-open double doors and wall-sized windows integrate the stunning outdoor views, while ruby fabric hangs from the center of the cathedral ceiling for (optional) aerial yoga.
Set up now on the 30-mat-capacity deck, I resigned myself to being behind the presumably more experienced group. Minutes later, I realized I was hardly the only beginner: Kim, our glowing, down-to-earth instructor—a repeat Anamaya visitor and, coincidentally, a Mohegan Lake native—started us off with self-introductions, and pretty much no one (except her) seemed to be the advanced pretzel-twist type. While some were picking up their practice after a long estrangement or sporadic dalliances, others were recovering from injury, and a couple of self-professed “stiff boards” were even trying yoga for the first time.
An easy, but energizing, series of warrior asanas, gentle stretches, and tree poses later, we were free to swim, sun, and enjoy a full, hearty Costa Rican breakfast. During the “opening circle” following, each guest—from the US and elsewhere, and in their mid-20s to mid-60s, some coupled with partners or friends—shared a story of transition, trial, or soul-searching that had landed them high in the rainforest. Some were looking to relax (teachers, a fashion designer, a construction company owner); others to be invigorated, or to rediscover themselves after loss, family hardship, or change.
In the afternoon, my friend and I joined some of the group on a zip-lining excursion, jumped from the top of the nearby waterfall, and toured the resort’s organic farm, which supplies seasonal fruits and vegetables, fresh eggs, and goat’s-milk products served daily. (Even my non-foodie friend loved the healthy-gourmet meals, like red snapper.) Back just in time for the candlelit evening yoga session, we were greeted first with thick, fresh-made mango-and-coconut smoothies.
As the sun set over the ocean, we embarked on some slower twists, bends, and restful poses. The waves stirred softly in chorus with the low hum of indigenous insects and the intermittent song of howler monkeys in the distance. Letting it all go now in the dark, I slipped into a moment of deep, serene meditation—one I wish I could have stayed in the entire week to return to again and again.
Want to go? Visit www.anamayaresort.com for more info.