Nestled in the rainforest on the Pacific shores of Costa Rica, is Vida Asana School of Yoga, a magical escape of adventure, serenity, surfing and conscious living. We had the pleasure of catching up with the centre’s manager, Sean, and were deeply inspired by Vida Asana’s story, mission and goals.
Vida Asana was founded in 2004, by Rose and Alejandro Gallucio. My family purchased the facility from them, in 2013, just before our daughter was born. Our mission is ever evolving, truly we mostly care about creating a safe space, for people to find and share their true selves, in harmony with nature. We’re committed to making an impact on the local environment, and the economy. I believe all people deserve to live freely, and free of force, so we try to have a “rule free,” environment, where everyone lives in community, by choice and action.
The whole story is possibly a book, but the “Cliff Notes,” version is that as a teenager, I was torn between moving to Europe, to pursue a professional cycling career, and moving to Costa Rica, to try to open a surf camp. I chose Europe, and eventually suffered a pretty awful accident, and spent the next 25 years with terrible back and hip pain, ending up in New York City, selling Enterprise Software.
One Saturday morning, just after Jess and I started dating, I saw a BOGO offer, on Living Social, for a surf camp in Costa Rica, and decided to bring Jess on our first trip together. During this trip, I injured my shoulder, and it turned out to be the best thing that could have happened. Upon returning home, my shoulder was put back together, and my physical therapist diagnosed a hip injury, that over a dozen orthopedists has misdiagnosed, over a 25-year period. The fix was a relatively minor procedure, and after 25 years of constant back and hip pain, I suddenly found myself feeling wonderful.
At about the same time, our condo in Brooklyn, exploded in value, and we decided to cash in our chips, and head off to Costa Rica, with the dream of creating a mountain bike and surfing center. I put in an offer on Vida Asana, based on just some pictures on the internet. We got here, and found the place in a state of disrepair that was not what we expected, and a host of legal issues with the property. The “responsible,” thing to do, was to abandon the project, and move on, but we were magnetically drawn to the land here, and the local community. With a lot of prayers, manifesting, luck, and the support of many of our neighbors, we worked through it, and here we are.
Everyone here is family, the folks who work here, our distributors, and our guests. We live onsite, as do many of our staff, so we are one big happily family, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Once you’re here, you’re immediately a part of it. We eschew formal rules, and just ask everyone to treat Vida Asana, with the same respect they treat their own home. When we go on vacation, we visit guests who’ve been here, we are completely integrated, and we love it.
All of our meals are designed as a complete vegan meal, and then we also offer fish, eggs, and dairy, for those (like me) who have them in their diet. We believe our food is true “jungle gourmet,” and we get rave reviews, one of my biggest joys in living here, is hearing what is for dinner, each night, and then enjoying it with the group onsite. We are also known for serving awesome coffee. I’m a proper coffee geek, and all of our coffee is fair trade, and our brewing process is SCAA Gold Cup certified.
We offer single, double, and triple occupancy lodging. All of our rooms have a proper bathroom, ceiling fans, hot water, a fridge, AC, and organic earth friendly body care products. We encourage guests to make conscientious choices for the environment, by conserving when they can, but we also encourage abundant living. We want people to know that these are not mutually exclusive efforts.
All of the above, and you don’t have to decide until you get here. I like to say you don’t always get what you want here, but you always get what you need. Our facility is such that you can spend the whole week here, deepening your practices, eating healthy food, and learning how to take a more peace-out approach to life home with you, or you can surf, explore the jungle, zip-line, rappel, and any other adventure you can imagine. My number on tip for people preparing to come to Vida Asana is to bring an open heart, and leave expectations behind. Our retreats are perfect for all levels from beginner to advanced. An American TV show called “House Hunters International,” did a special about Vida Asana, and they called Playa Hermosa the adventure capital of Latin America. I thought it was poetic license at the time, but having now lived here for over 3 years, I have learned how right they are.
There is a park about an hour south of us, called Rainmaker Park, I can’t get enough of it. It is a beautiful hike, with suspension bridges, waterfalls, flora, fauna, and a wonderful hot lunch at the finish. I could go there every day, for the rest of my life, and never be bored. Playa Hermosa is a world famous surfing destination, and we have local competitions weekly, that are wonderful to go to, the locals and visitors all get along, and we watch surfers do their thing, while enjoying food and beverage on the beach. Zip-lining through the jungle, and also frequent trips to the local Temescal Sweat Lodge, are all wonderful. There are too many options, to narrow it down to a favorite.
There’s just no having a favorite, they are all special, and each of them brings wondrous souls to the property. I only dream of having all of our guests, in one place, for an epic Vida Asana Family Reunion. That said, I am very proud to be hosting the below-discussed parents retreat (a retreat, just for parents who have suffered the ultimate loss a parent can endure, the loss of a child). The beauty is that we are only able to host that retreat, because of the many guests who have come and shared Vida Asana with us, so it should be an embodiment of everything we want to be.
Breathe and be present. It sounds too simple, but it is true. Plus, we’re here when you need a recharge, call, email, visit, we’re family, and we are always going to have time to help.
We have two main Non Governmental Organization’s that we support, one is called Costas Verdes, a Costa Rican organization, committed to reforesting the beaches of Costa Rica. We’ve reforested more than 5000 trees, in 3 years. We’ve planted trees with world champion surfers, great bands like Slightly Stoopid, and more than 500 of our guests. I believe our guests are the largest contributors to the project, both economically, and their sweat equity, planting trees on our local beaches. This year, Costas Verdes will finish replanting an entire bio-corridor, reconnecting two sections of forest, nobody ever imagined could be reconnected.
We also support and endorse a community martial arts program, in Jaco, to our north. It is a totally free program for kids, many of whom live in not wonderful home and economic situations. For two hours nightly, they get love, discipline, and a skill, that will be with them for life. Right now, they are working on an anti-bullying campaign, that I’m honored to be see in action. They are changing the lives of many young children.
Our big effort right now, is around a retreat we decided to host next year. We are hosting a retreat, just for parents who have suffered the ultimate loss a parent can endure, the loss of a child. We are bringing 20 parents to Vida Asana, for a week, and we have a number of healers, yoga teachers, etc, with specific experience in working through loss. The event is completely free for the parents, and our extended Vida Asana family, raised enough money, that we can even help with airfare, so that parents who otherwise could not attend, can make it. Vida Asana donated the facility, and the staff, and our extended family came together, to provide funding for everything else. We are now dreaming of making this an annual event.
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