Two weeks ago I traveled to Costa Rica for the second time. I felt so blessed to be back in a country I fell in love with 12 months ago and I found a deeper appreciation not only for the natural beauty of the country but the wisdom and internal beauty of the people who live there.
There is a mantra that permeates the daily life of the Costa Rican people, Pura Vida. The direct translation in English is Pure Life but the essence of the saying is a reminder to live life truthfully, authentically, and be happy for what you have. They use this saying pervasively…it means hello, goodbye, thank you and your welcome and works as a constant reminder each day to be full of life, to find gratitude and to enjoy what each day brings.
This was my inspiration for my classes last week. As we began in Childs pose on the mat, I asked my students to begin their journey inside, to connect inward to the mantra, Pura Vida. As we started Cat/Cows and moved into Sun Salutations all I asked was that they practice from their truth. I always teach my classes with offerings to do less or do more based on what works for each student, but this week was truly multiple choice yoga. I offered many variations so students could practice creating the yoga practice that allowed them Pura Vida .
We slowly crafted our Asana practice, building and growing from a place inside us. It was an honor to watch all levels of students stop along the way and move mindfully as they tapped into Pura Vida for themselves. Some students stayed in Malasana (squat) while others worked in Bakasana (Crow pose) and even a few tried Eka Pada Bakasana (one leg extended). However, each student was where they needed to be to connect to Pura Vida and that energy could be felt the room.
Later as we moved into half Hanumanasana for the 5th time, some students chose to explore full Hanumanasana (pictured above) while others did not. There was no sense of judgment of themselves or others. It was a true expression of Pura Vida.
What we practice on the mat, in this case living from our truth; from the inside (what is in our hearts) out instead of letting the outside world dictate; comes with us off the mat. On one of our excursions our tour guide was providing information about the agriculture in Costa Rica and he shared a story that captured the essence of Pura Vida off the mat. He explained that for many years it has been known that Costa Rica produces the best coffee beans and therefore the best coffee. The Costa Rican people feel very comfortable with this truth; so much so that even though in recent years Nicaragua (their neighbor) has claimed that THEY have the best coffee, Costa Ricans do not feel the need to argue. He said, it’s okay, Let Nicaragua believe that, it’s not hurting anyone and we know the truth. They are comfortable enough with their truth that they are not concerned about what Nicaragua says. Pura Vida…living authentically from the inside; not worrying so much what the outside world says. What an amazing practice.
I repeated the mantra Pura Vida often through my classes last week, just as the Costa Rican people do. And just as it is for them, it served as a reminder to my students and myself to love this life, to cherish it and be grateful. On this trip I was reminded that I get to live my true authentic life every day when I get on my mat to practice or teach and what an incredible blessing that is. I got the chance to further explore a magnificent country, the beautiful people who live there, and myself. Now, that is Pura Vida. Namaste.