Ayurveda in the land of Pura Vida
Hola and Namaste!
Wow what a trip it has been thus far! My teacher once said to me “Bhakti, things don’t come easy for you but you have a special blessing and ability to manifest whatever you dream”.
I had a vision of moving to Costa Rica. My dream was to relax more and to connect deeper to Nature and the Pancha Mahabhutas (5 great elements) which was inspired by Ayurveda. And this I have done! But just like my teacher said.. I do not easily adapt to change. The transition to Costa Rica has not been all easy (which may be another story in itself) but Holy Wow what a deep and rich journey it has been so far! I certainly miss my kids, my sangha and Shanti Om Yoga … but I have no regrets for being here. The Universe/God/my Guru has been with me every step of the way. I am growing for sure and I AM surrounded by the elements and Nature! An Ayurveda dream come true and the reason I chose this Country. I witness howler monkeys, iguanas, frogs, pizotes, geckos, multiple species of birds, insects, scorpions, packs of dogs and herds of horses all running free right outside my door.. and a few even inside my door! There are some things that I am not even sure what critter category they belong in. Many are breathtaking and beautiful and some quite frankly look like they are out of a horror movie!
My daily practices include simply being with nature. And while Ayurveda is not as accessible with certain food and herbs it feels like the absence is made up by all of this, the freshness and simplicities that are experienced here feel very Ayurvedic. I have the ocean in my front yard and the jungle in the back.
And I have found challenges, especially in my diet and the intense heat here. There are things that go against what I have been taught.. like ice water. It is hard NOT to drink cold water here.. it feels sooo good going down and asking for no ice in a restaurant here sounds preposterous! But Ayurveda says the hotter the body is, the more the cold drink will dampen our agni. Funny because it’s the same climate as South India where it is unheard of to serve ice in your drink but not so here so I do the best I can.
Another thing is Costa Ricans LOVE their coffee! And you can buy good coffee pretty cheap. SO I partake in coffee… again. It is heating, stimulating and not good for my Vata or Pitta AND it feels worth having a morning cup while strolling the beach at 5:30am or discussing my day and life with my husband while watching the morning humming birds or listening to the howler monkeys outside our bedroom window. Chai ingredients are a challenge to find here so if you ever come to visit me, please bring me cardamom pods! Luckily my husband and I both are tea drinkers too so we try to have coffee in moderation.
We also love our beans and rice here, breakfast lunch and dinner! For breakfast here, Gallo Pinto is famous. For lunch and dinner many have what is called Casado which is amazing and actually offers all the six tastes that Ayurveda suggests. And while I do well with these plates 4-5 days a week, the beans, rice and plantains can take a toll on my digestive track. I miss Indian and Ayurveda cooking so much! My new passion is finding some variety that support Ayurveda and I am having so much fun doing so! Keep your eye on a recipe page coming that will include Tico Ayurveda dishes! Three things you can ALWAYS count on finding in Costa Rica is fresh ginger, turmeric and limes! We have a lime tree in the back yard and are able to pick fresh from the vine and there are barrels of fresh turmeric and ginger at the nearby fruit stand. These three ingredients are used in many dishes here and support my Ayurveda so I use them in most all my recipes!
It is HOT here in pura vida land! And although the heat gets to me A LOT, there are actually areas that I am appreciating the heat and humidity holistically. This Vata girl is sweating!.. which I have rarely experienced but here I seem to have a daily detox and salt minerals are a big part of my daily ritual. For many reasons (and perhaps another blog in itself), I find myself in tears more here. Tears of joy, tears of sorrow, tears tears., I am just more emotional since the move and it actually feels great! Swami Satchidinanda always said tears are the best way to cleanse your soul and I believe it. Swimming in the ocean is another super cleansing practice. The seawater contains minerals such as magnesium, sodium, calcium and sulphate that are so great for the skin. The ocean has all the elements that activate the body’s own healing mechanisms and helps fight disease. I feel it cleanses me mentally, physically and spiritually. I absolutely adore being near and in the ocean. And I have made friends here, one of my best amiga's is my Spanish teacher, Maria Fernadez.
Another practice I think Ayurveda would support is Siesta time! Back in the US I would get a little embarrassed to say that I take a daily savasana/rest. But here most everyone (including my husband and my animals) take siesta. My main practices are early morning and at the heat of the day which is between the hours 11am-2pm (Pitta time) I am indoors. My rest is only 20-30 minutes of that but even after rest, it is usually lighter tasks and inside or in the shade of my yoga shala. I try to stay out of the heat mid-day which is very natural and healthy here.
Sunset is at 5:30pm each day and that is a highlight to my day (and my dog, Fiona). I eat my dinner early around 5pm and take my stroll down to the beach. Since the sun sets so early here, I am typically in bed by 8pm and often asleep by 8:30pm to be ready for the 5:30am sunrise over the ocean and for my morning meditation and walk. I am sure my Ayurveda teachers would be proud of this daily ritual.
So as you see, even though there are things I do not have here Ayurvedically speaking, there are so many things that I do have! My daily ritual starts immediately with the five elements. I have the ether/akasha with the clear skies and the air beyond the clouds, I have air/vayu that is cleaner than anywhere in the world, I live in the Blue Zone area https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Zone (please check it out). I have the fire/sun element that I get to see rise and fall each day while transforming so much beauty here and on the planet. There is the water/apas. The vastness, depth and beauty of the Ocean. And there is EARTH/prithvi. Wow- I have the jungle in my backyard and Mother earth that I touch with my bare feet the majority of my day.
I left the pacific northwest with very few belongings, I only brought with me what I felt necessary and what was super precious to me. This included bringing my tongue scraper and enough of my most precious herbs to last a good 6-12 months. But I think I can almost call myself a minimalist which to me simply means valuing myself, others and nature more than I do material things. I am learning to use only what I need. Here there is not much wasted. Much like in India for me.
My dosha has been Vata most of my life! It’s been my work/play to try and find balance in this area and I have practiced for years ways to become more grounded- to find more earth, water and fire energy. I think I have found it! My home, my life, my spirit in Costa Rica. It is all here and it feels pretty perfect for this Vata girl.
And now what? Now I continue to work on incorporating more Ayurveda here.. in my diet, yoga and other practices. With the excessive heat, I now experience crazy Pitta energy. I think of India and will apply the wisdom I learned from my friends there, even though the culture here is different in many ways, I do what I can as creatively as I can. It is an ongoing process for certain. Ayurveda is an ocean and I look forward to my continued journey and exploration of these practices here in my new home of Pura Vida.
I don’t think my other blogs will be as lengthy as this one. I thank you for reading about my experiences through this wild and crazy beautiful transition!