Wendy Cypert booked a yoga retreat at Anamaya Resort last summer. She’s a 50 year old Mom of 3, married with a typical corporate career and she had never traveled outside the United States where she lives. Not only that, she had absolutely no yoga practice. Please read about Wendy’s unbelievable transformation after staying one week at Anamaya. It’s an incredibly inspiring story and we’re very grateful to be able to share it with you.
A year ago in June I was at a bit of an emotional cross roads having just suffered some devastating personal losses. Annually I would rent a beach home in Newport Beach CA, and invite my extended family. In the current situation I couldn’t imagine anything I would rather do less. I cancelled the vacation home and began looking around online for some place to escape alone for a few days. A combination of the Google, Facebook and fate led me to Anamaya. That was on June 20 of last year. By June 21 (with some encouragement from an awesome coworker) I had booked a week long yoga retreat for July. Reaction from friends and family ranged from “You are crazy” to “Good for you”… turns out the latter was accurate. I had never been out of the country, never vacationed alone and had no semblance of a yoga practice! I had started a Journal during this trip but the funny thing is the only entries are from the air travels and my arrival in Costa Rica the first day. I guess I was too busy experiencing to bother to write it down! Of course the country and resort were beautiful, the staff was welcoming and generous, but honestly I wondered how I would fit in and if the other guests would accept me as they were all younger, more fit and what I thought was very “yogi”.
The Yoga: Our first class was the following morning….I woke up really early! and enjoyed the butterflies and the hummingbirds. Our teacher was Peter. Did I mention I really had no yoga practice to speak of? I had taken some classes at a wonderful little studio near my home but was definitely a beginner. No worries….what a gem Peter was. The classes were accessible to everyone from my level to experienced practitioners. There is no ego on the Anamaya yoga deck. Everyone is encouraged to honor their bodies and spirit. It was challenging but never intimidating. I grew stronger and more confident every day and the twilight yoga in the evenings was amazing. I can’t tell you how much I learned in just 7 days. One night Peter changed things up and turned on some music and we all closed our eyes and danced. I still do that at home sometimes and it brings me right back to that place of joy. He wasn’t just a teacher but a friend to everyone as well.
The Food: AMAZING! who knew healthy could be so delicious. The chef and staff were a delight and became like family during my stay.
The Waterfall Hike: Jen led us on on amazing trek from the upper falls down to the lower….not an experienced hiker, I climbed, slid and picked my way down the hills through the forest and along the river with her and the other guests encouraging me the whole time….laughing, struggling, conquering. When we reached the lower falls we were welcomed by an awesome swimming hole and the opportunity to climb up a little on the side of the main falls….and of course leap off a few of the rocks… I swear by this time I was channeling my Costa Rican princess LOL. From the falls we continued to town for smoothies and I don’t remember what the area was called but we reached the coastline and were rewarded with swimming holes carved into the rocks by the sea. My own personal sea tub! Fresh fruit smoothies and a little shopping rounded out the trip. Of course we could take a taxi back up to the resort but we opted for the challenge of walking back. Oh what a blessing Jen was on that walk. It may have been one of the hardest things I had ever done. She encouraged me every step of the way….breathe Wendy don’t forget to breathe. A few days later she asked how I was going to be spending my day and I said, “well I am walking to town and back up that hill again because you showed me that I can”.
The Rain: One night I stayed up late chatting with a few guests out on the deck by the infinity pool, and lightening began out over the sea. It was a spectacular sight. The storm approached and the rain came HARD and WARM and we stood on the deck laughing and twirling and i admit crying, drenched to the skin. Cleansed is the only word I can think of to describe it.
There were always opportunities to do other things but no pressure to do anything… the guests and staff respecting each others choices. Sometimes you wanted to join in the adventure, but you were also free to spend the time alone, reflecting, exploring, taking part in the terrific spa services. I did choose a few things….
The Zip-Lining: What a rush! After passing through a few platforms I remember a guide telling me, “hey it’s ok to smile”…I think I must have had such a look of concentration, so smile I did, racing through the forest tops, forgetting my fear of heights. At one point I did succumb to those fears while crossing this suspension bridge from one platform to the other and tears came, and then came the rescuers. Holding my hand and encouraging me while I crossed the short span, another demon was conquered.
The Surfing: I wasn’t part of the surfing retreat but admired the guests who were and loved hearing their stories, so decided to take part in a surf outing one afternoon. While I was no Gidget I did manage to stand up briefly a few times and was never so proud as I was to show off my surfing bruise at dinner that night. I wouldn’t have traded the experience for anything!
The People: A year later I still remain in contact at varying levels with virtually all the guests that were at Anamaya with me that week. Funny that I was scared of them the first day and of not fitting in. Each one became a unique blessing to me. Not just the guests, but Peter, and Jen, the Chef Camilo, and a photographer Shawn who was there that week. I remain in contact with all of them.
I wrote something in the guest book before leaving….this may not be exact but it said “I was looking for absolution. A validation vacation. Instead I found acceptance. I am no less than. Blessed”
The Transformation: I returned to the States a different person. I had a new found strength and new found acceptance of myself, flaws and all. The trials and tribulations of life are still there but I have new ways to manage them. Maybe I wasn’t a world class surfer, but I tried and I laughed at myself when I tumbled off the board time after time. I climbed that monster hill more than once. I made lifetime friends. I jumped off that waterfall and found the joyful side of me I had forgotten through the years. I learned to trust myself and trust others and that I didn’t have to always be in control. I tried to keep the mindset of course and continued my yoga practice at home, finding the spirit of Anamaya on my mat.
The Teacher: But life crept in, and I found that Anamaya spirit slipping away a little in the day-to-day routines so I rededicated myself to my practice and in December of last year I decided to give myself a present and signed up for Yoga Teacher Training. My intent was to deepen my practice and learn, which I have, but I never really imagined myself as a teacher. Surprised myself again! I am nearing the end of my training and have been teaching a few classes on a volunteer basis. I have been asked to assist teach at my studio and offered a spot to teach in the future. Taking everything i have learned in training and at Anamaya and thinking of how I can share that experience, that transformation, that peace.
The story continues…I hope to return to Anamaya in 2015 to celebrate.