Could You Use a Retreat This Winter?

A retreat is a bit different from a vacation in that you probably won’t need a vacation from your vacation. It’s a time to withdrawal from ordinary activities for a while or maybe commune with nature. In January (which is a perfect time to leave Chicago), musician and yoga teacher David Courtenay is hosting a retreat at the Goddess Garden eco-resort in Cahuita, Costa Rica January 6th through the 14th. David Courtenay is a true Renaissance man. He’s a yoga instructor, certified personal trainer, massage therapist, and professional musician with a passion for personal growth and helping others realize their fullest potential. Truth be told, I’ve always wanted to go to Costa Rica. I need a financial miracle but you know I try to stay open. @SantaDearest are you listening? Anyway, this seven-night retreat includes:

  • All meals
  • One daily Yoga class (mix of Vinyasa Flow and Hatha style for beginner and intermediate levels) and a daily morning group meditation (participation in Yoga and meditation sessions is optional)
  • 3 group strength-training sessions
  • A complimentary 30-minute one-on-one Yoga lesson, personal training session, or life coaching session with either David or Scott Schrader, who is describes himself as a “life-adventure specialist”. Scott is an entrepreneur and healthy lifestyle enthusiast.
  • Daily outdoor group cardio activities (running on the beach, swimming along the coastline, hiking through the rainforest, etc.)
  • A day trip to a remote village of the Bri Bri indigenous tribe, which includes a spectacular 2-hour boat ride up a pristine river along the Panama border
  • A day trip to the Caribbean towns and beautiful beaches of Manzanillo, Punta Uva, and Puerto Viejo
  • A half-day trip to the enchanting Cahuita National Park and the village of Cahuita
  • 2 nighttime sing-along beach bonfires, hosted by David and his guitar
  • Group transport in a spacious, air-conditioned shuttle bus from San Jose to the Goddess Garden in Cahuita and back

Here’s the financial scoop, as I’m sure you were wondering:

  • $1,595 per person in a double occupancy room, if paid in full before November 4th, 2011 ($1,695 per person if paid after November 4th)
  • $1,895 if you would like your own single occupancy room, if paid in full before November 4th, 2011 ($1,995 if paid after November 4th)
  • For groups of 4-6 people who want to share a dorm-style room, there is a significant discount in the per-person price. You can e-mail David at for those rates.

David is also offering $100 off to any Eclectic Eating readers.

David tells me, “The health benefits of partaking in this retreat are vast”. Here are a few that David believes to be the best:

  • The first and most obvious one is the mere act of stepping out of our city life and giving our brains and bodies a rest from the fast-paced life and the stress it entails.
  • Secondly, there is the calming and inspiring energy that’s absorbed from the environment of the Costa Rican rain forest. The symphony of sounds from the birds, monkeys, frogs and insects; The massive, ancient trees with root structures the size of a small house and towering, vine-covered trunks and canopies that seem to shoot a mile into the sky; the incredible array of orchids, flowers and fauna of uncanny colors and dream-like aromas; the miles of pristine jungle that hug the Caribbean coast; all of these elements have a powerful effect on the mind and body that is invigorating and incredibly healing.
  • The daily morning meditations that we’ll do as a group have unexpected health benefits. One huge element of meditation is the conscious relaxation of the brain and nervous system, giving it a break from the “fight or flight” survival mode, which it so often is in in ordinary city life. The beauty and energy of the natural environment acts as a catalyst for this conscious relaxation and greatly assists in cleansing us of our accumulated stress.
  • Then there is the daily morning Yoga, which increases circulation, boosts the immune system (due to it’s enhancement of the lymphatic system, which is a huge component of the immune system), and increases flexibility, balance, and concentration. Many people will find that the daily practice of Yoga makes meditation easier, because it helps to get your awareness out of your head and into your body.
  • We’ll be doing several muscle strengthening and cardio sessions as a group during the retreat, which strengthens the heart and respiratory system, increase the oxygen level of the blood, increase muscular endurance, builds bone density, and improves stamina. While many of us exercise in our daily lives as a means to release pent-up energy and stress, on this retreat the intention is a little different. Here, where we’ll first be meditating in the mornings to calm down the mental chatter and drop our consciousness into our bodies, the Yoga, group muscle strengthening sessions and cardio activities, will be used to harness and amplify energy so that we’ll have more stamina and be more present in our bodies. This enables us to be more present on the adventure itself and to take in every moment of our time spent in paradise.
  • And lastly, the food! The Goddess Garden eco-resort prepares three gourmet, healthy meals for us each day, which we eat family-style in the open-air dining room. The meals are prepared with incredibly fresh local produce, and each morning we’re treated to an array of local fruits and fresh juices. Many of the meals are vegetarian, though fish and chicken are served as a main entree in most. As the Goddess Garden hosts many Yoga and Health retreats, they’re food-allergy friendly and incredibly accommodating to any retreat attendees with dietary restrictions.

To hear what others have to say about the Goddess Garden retreat click here. Also, click here to view this lovely video of last year’s retreat as David discusses the “personal breakthrough” component you’ll experience if you attend.

David is hosting a free yoga class, followed by an info party on Tuesday, November 1st at 7pm at Eugenie Terrace, located at 1730 N Clark. The evening will start with Yoga on the 44th floor of the building, then h’ordeurves and drinks will be served as details of the retreat are discussed. Please rsvp by emailing This event is a BYOM, bring your own yoga mat.


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