Earlier this year I made a life changing decision to book a spot on a yoga teacher training course in Montezuma, Costa Rica. It was a longtime coming since teacher training was something I'd thought about for years but had never found the right time, or courage, to take the plunge.
After six months of unexpected health scares, it took 60 minutes of watching BBC's incredibly thought-provoking 'A Time To Live' documentary, which followed 12 terminally ill individuals making the very most of the time they had a left, to immediately sign myself up to a 200hr Vinyasa Teacher Training at Anamaya. My teacher would be a real-life circus clown called Banyan Gallagher, who I later learnt was also an incredibly inspiring yogi, patient teacher, dedicated listener, and probably the most grounded person I've ever met.
Fast forward a month and I'm sitting alongside a group of new friends-to-be for a welcome circle, unaware that the next three weeks to follow would be the best of my life.
Anamaya was everything I could have wished for - positioned on the top of a steep hill amongst beautiful jungle wildlife, undoubtedly offering the best view of Montezuma. A haven for yoga, delicious home grown food, and relaxation.
Our days were full, structured around three sessions (morning yoga practice, anatomy class, and an evening movement/yoga philosophy class), but they also allowed for down-time, fun and reflection. In the afternoons we had a couple of hours to ourselves, mostly spent doing Acro, reading, getting to know each other, and journalling.
Our daily yoga practice and classes were an opportunity to challenge ourselves physically, emotionally and energetically. From day one Banyan had us playing various games to brake down barriers of self-judgement and insecurity, leaving us feeling temporarily out of our comfort zones and a little exposed, only a few days later to realise that he'd curated a really special and safe place for us to comfortably explore our emotions, behaviours and friendships, and most importantly, play.
A real highlight of the training for everyone was the food. I didn't realise when I booked how special the food was going to be and I genuinely still wake up dreaming of the pancakes and gnocchi. All the ingredients were sourced from Anamaya's nearby perma-culture farm, which we got to visit during our second week. An amazing site where they grow everything from cacao to kale, corn and herbs. Our chef was the talented Jeff, who together with his team served five delicious and creative gluten-free vegan meals daily. A perfect demonstration of how versatile, delicious and sustainable a plant-based diet can be. With so much good food on offer it was often difficult to leave anything on our plates, but the incentive for eating more consciously was that any leftovers would be taken back to the farm for the chickens to feed off.
I will be forever grateful to Banyan and the amazing team at Anamaya for the experience and memories. The training introduced me to new ways of thinking, a deeper and more inspired yoga practice, delicious and creative ways of cooking with seasonal foods, and 24 incredible yogis who are life-long friends and inspirations.