It’s the middle of the afternoon on the first Saturday of the new year. Here I am, cramped into an economy window seat back to the USA, sweating under the mediocre fans Delta has installed on this aircraft, craving a coffee that’ll help me power through the long travel day ahead. I’m still wearing my red Costa Rica tank with the Surf Yoga Beer logo on the back, a garment I’ve probably sweated through numerous times over the past week and likely isn’t a source of appeal for the unlucky guy in seat 21E. But as I reflect back on the SYB experience that just concluded in Costa Rica, I couldn’t be more comfortable, relaxed, and ready to attack 2019 full-steam ahead and with 34 new friends.
Flash back to summer 2018 when, on a whim, I threw my deposit down on a New Years’ adventure to Nosara, Costa Rica with SurfYogaBeer after hearing about them from my Bumble date who had just returned from a trip with them herself (yes, a freakin’ dating app got me here) so I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I guess I have a vulnerability to succumb to spontaneous urges like this. I started thinking I was insane...What the hell did I just sign up for? I’m going to wake up early every morning on vacation to work out? With a bunch of strangers? In a foreign country? Will they judge me? Will they like me? As a fiercely independent and stubborn person with a type-A personality,I seriously questioned how this was all going to turn out.
I had a lot of surface-level reasons that attracted me to the Nosara trip with SYB. And these reasons were solidified every time I told a friend or family member about my upcoming adventure. It turned out everyone else wanted something just like what I had signed up for. They’d respond: “I want to surf.” “I want to get away from the cold for New Years’.” “I need a different type of vacation.” “I’ve never been to Costa Rica and love to travel.” “I heard the female to male ratio on these trips favors guys.”
But beneath the superficial appeal of going to Costa Rica with a group of like-minded, fun, fit people, there were, as it turned out, deeply personal reasons that brought me and the rest of this group together. On our remote resort nestled just north of Nosara near Ostional, we got to know each other and discovered that we shared in many of the same pains, hardships, and setbacks throughout 2018 and in recent years. Stress, death, illness, anxiety, depression, addiction, etc. – we had all gone through something that’s often stigmatized in our society and in turn holds us back from opening up and releasing that negative energy. Personally, I’ve struggled with health issues over the past few years that nearly destroyed my body. While I took a major step forward this year, still felt as though I was at an impasse between where I was and where I wanted to be in life. I quickly realized the appeal to come on this trip came from more than just wanting to spend the NYE holiday at a tropical destination.
SYB is not a therapy retreat - that couldn’t be further from the truth. You can find the proof to that in how much we laughed and danced together. But there’s something to be said about the connections that are fostered within a small group when you wake up, sweat, and break bread together for 7 days straight. For whatever reason, after I’ve struggled through burpees with you at 7am, being open and communicating with each other doesn’t seem so difficult. And to be fair, the paradise of Nosara certainly doesn’t hurt either.
What I realized this past week is that I desired – no, I needed – scratch that, I CRAVED a fresh start. I’ve been yearning for this form of abstract reset button. I refused to go into 2019 with the same song and dance. But I accepted that it’s not all on me. Ultimately, you are in the driver’s seat of your own life, but there’s always room on your bus. Surround yourself with friends and family who support you, provide advice, and maintain positivity, and your journey is that much sweeter.
I wouldn’t trade this experience in Nosara for anything. Among the highlights for me:
We surfed one of the most beautiful beaches in the world
We did sunset yoga in a massive shala overlooking the Pacific. We sang along to Bohemian Rhapsody and learned salsa dancing (or tried, anyways)
We SUP’d to a remote beach where we cracked coconuts and swam together with not another soul in sight for miles and miles
We enjoyed family meals together thanks to our man Eddie (read: LEGEND)
We laughed ourselves to tears
We pushed each other through the workouts, helping each other overcome fears and doubts along the way
We laid down under the unobstructed night sky and watched for shooting stars until the wee hours of the morning
Above all, I did it all with an amazing group of people. They’re all unbelievably talented, unique, and a true joy to have met. Thanks to them, I’ve never felt more ready to take on the challenges of a new year. That’s the damn truth.
Article by: JB