I’ve never been one for New Year’s resolutions, but I decided it was time to give it a try. I got a head start in October when I chose to kick up my yoga practice in a tropical paradise—Costa Rica. I ventured to Playa Negra—about 20 miles outside of Tamarindo, on the Pacific side of Costa Rica to the Peace Retreat. Down a dirt road and surrounded by bright flowers and tropical plants, the Peace Retreat is owned by Canadian Batiste-certified and trained yoga instructors, Hali and Kevin McQuillian.

While I supplement my workouts with yoga classes every week, I had plateaued in my practice and needed some spice to get it going again. Escaping into the tropical wilderness of Costa Rica was the perfect place to escape, reset, and start anew.

Our mornings started out with at 7:30 am with a three-hour yoga practice and guided meditation in the outdoor yoga studio—a surreal villa where we could hear howler monkeys, the falling rain and heat up with the humidity during our intense class.

Following our morning routine, Kevin and Hali led workshops helping to create healthier lifestyles. Hali, a trained Aruveyda practitioner, taught us about different body compositions and what type of food we should eat based on Aruveyda principles. While Hali focused on our physical side, Kevin worked with us in the afternoon on evaluating interpersonal relationships and how we conducted ourselves in our everyday life. We focused a lot on authenticity and the idea of being in the now. By the end of the retreat, both Hali and Kevin armed us with the tools we needed to make any adjustments that we saw fit for our own individual lives.

Even though I often claim to live in the moment, it took getting away from everyday realities to see the changes I wanted to make. After expressing what I hoped to gain from this retreat, Kevin and Hali offered support to make sure I could tackle any issues I wanted to overcome. For me, a type “A” personality, I am always on the “go”, engaged in some activity and have a very difficult time settling my mind into meditation. Before Peace Retreat, meditation seemed like such a challenging task. After some guidance, I was able learn ways to quiet my mind and enjoy some amount of solitude, even if it is for only a few minutes a day. I also stepped up my yoga practice, which is physically exhilarating. After five days at Peace Retreat, (which include three generous gluten-free meals everyday) the makeover of body, mind and soul, I left feeling ready to make applicable changes in my life and get out of ruts that I created for myself. I also realized that what I first thought was simply a yoga retreat in a rain forest was so much more than the physical practice of yoga.