Samantha Bartram shares her experience on Flow’s first ever yoga retreat to Costa Rica!

I was a late addition to the group of Flowgis who recently journeyed to the Samasati Retreat and Rainforest Sanctuary in beautiful Costa Rica. It wasn’t until early February that I emailed Tim [Hutchinson], Chris [Oemler] and Amy [Hope-Gentry], the gracious and reliable hosts of our excursion, to ask if space was still available—it was and I could sneak in just under the wire! I took a deep breath and signed on to spend a week in the jungle, hopeful of my fellow retreaters’ adventurous attitudes, heart open to the lessons the experience might provide.

For seven glorious, balmy, unpredictable days, our group woke with the sun and all the jungle’s wild inhabitants. We picked our way down stony paths to the warm and inviting dining house, where we sipped fresh coffee and watched the mist move off the Caribbean Sea. We felt the warm sun at our backs as we trekked up a steep, forested hill to the meditation hall, where each day we’d flow together.

During morning vinyasa practice, we vibrated with taught excitement as we moved our bodies to the unfamiliar squawks of toucans and lizards. Several times during evening restorative practices driving rain provided the soundtrack, the hall thrumming as we enjoyed gentle asana and guided relaxation. Around our meal table or en route to some outing, it was often difficult to tell what was creating the greatest cacophony—our raucous laughter or the howler monkeys leaping through the canopy.

Although most of us didn’t know each other personally, familiar bonds quickly formed. Everyone had a story of why yoga was significant in their lives—of what drew them thousands of miles to deepen their practice. We traded anecdotes about our families, politics, fears and aspirations and, along the way, made a fierce family of our own—the Costa Rica Squad.

Experiences both wild and wonderful deepened our connections—a nut-stealing monkey, barracuda sighting and extensive cab rides courtesy of Tim were among the more energetic highlights, while quieter conversations revolved around yogic philosophy and breaking down various asanas. 

By the end of the week, as we mindfully created a mandala of flowers, nuts, leaves, shells and other found objects to close our final practice, many were moved to tears as we cultivated deep gratitude for our collective journey. We may have started as a loosely connected group of people who practice yoga, but we ended deeply bonded through our collective experience.

It’s one of yoga’s most beautiful features—you never quite know how the practice will feed your soul or what the universe might offer up at any given time or place. I knew I’d find challenge and adventure during this incredible retreat, but the added return of friendship, laughter, support and kindness from a group of relative strangers is an outcome I’ll always treasure.

— Samantha Bartram


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