Blue Osa Yoga Retreat and Spa

»A pinch of ashram, a dash of eco-resort, and a huge slice of transformation in the Costa Rican rainforest«


Beneath canopies of leaves so green they defy description, where scarlet macaws sit chuckling at the strange hairless bipeds below, is an oasis. Blue Osa is an eco-resort and Yoga community that doesn't just welcome guests – guests are by nature temporary outsiders – it welcomes people home. Environmentally sensitive in all senses of the term, including sensitivity to people, this retreat deftly provides all the resources needed for a chance to stop, breathe, and simply be.

  • What we love
  • Deliberately small guest-numbers creates an immediate feeling of community
  • Mouth-watering food and enviro-sensitive accommodations
  • Yoga is lived, not confined to asana classes
  • Occasional men-only retreats – a rare thing in the yoga world
  • Excellent month-long Yoga Teacher Training Intensive course
  • Blue Osa works ethically with the local staff and sponsors local projects
  • What to know
  • Generally no guests under 11 years old
  • Solar powered – no hair dryers allowed
  • The amount of yoga offered depends on the type of retreat running
  • BYO yoga mat or hire one from Blue Osa
  • Why go
  • Warm welcome from hosts Adam and Aaron
  • Tranquil and idyllic tropical setting
  • World-class yoga and transformational retreats

Before diving into a description of the beautiful Blue Osa, it's important to get one thing straight: This is the jungle. That means solar power that provides electricity for basics such as light, but no air-conditioning and no chance of using power-sucking small appliances like hair dryers. It means Mother Nature may occasionally throw a storm your way and delay your connecting flight. It means there is no possibility of running industrial-sized washer-dryers night and day, so hang up your towel and reuse it for the week. It means that shipping anything here is a difficult and expensive endeavor so before you grumble about hiring a Yoga mat, remember it would have been easier for the owners not to provide them at all. It means some internet connectivity but only enough to facilitate basic communication and it may be spotty even then. Please leave the iPad in your luggage. You'll be glad you did when you lift your eyes from the screen and realize you're in one of the richest areas of biodiversity on the planet. As we said, this is the jungle.

There are daily Yoga classes at Blue Osa, offered in-house and in addition to any visiting retreat's sessions. They are charged per-session, unless you have booked the inclusive retreat for individuals. This magical week includes all meals and accommodation (private room) as well as a tailored Yoga plan with twice-daily private lessons and transfers to and from San Jose airport. At less than US$2000, with the flexibility to be adapted to a couple's retreat, this is unbeatable value. Visiting retreat groups have their own costs, set by the retreat leader. When visiting with an outside retreat, all questions should be directed to the leader of that group wherever possible, as they are the main point of contact with Blue Osa. There are currently three weeks of the year that are reserved for men-only retreats. Outside of India, Yoga is dominated by women and a single-gender retreat is a rare and refreshing change for our Y chromosome-bearing friends. Bear in mind that Blue Osa's staff are a mix of men and women, so the men-only part applies to retreat guests rather than the entire estate.

Although all the available retreats are excellent, we are most excited by the Teacher Training Intensive. This is only held once a year and is led by Aaron, one of Blue Osa's owners. Aaron's own resume is bulky – he has studied under names like Swami Rama and David Swenson and has spent lengthy amounts of time in the Himalayas, gathering Yogic wisdom. The Intensive runs six days per week for a full month, covering asana, philosophy, teaching methodology, anatomy and practical business instruction. There is a list of required pre-reading although there is no Yoga prerequisite as such, only a deep desire to understand this ancient art. The cost is very accessible – less than US$4000 for a shared room and US$5500 for a private room and includes all classes, accommodation, and meals. Saturdays are a rest day, perfect for discovering the delights of this extraordinary peninsula or taking advantage of the optional luxurious indulgences like massage and facials. For existing Yoga teachers, there is a once-a-year teachers retreat. This is the ultimate in Yoga Teacher mind-melds as a chance to relax with others in the same profession, brain-storm, and share tips is a rare treat.

The facilities are beautiful – light airy rooms, all equipped with mosquito nets that are not only practical but give every bed a feeling of old-world glamour. Who can resist a canopy, right? The room options are varied – dorms are the most budget-friendly and private suites are perfect for solitude-seeking solo travelers or couples. The cool blue pool is just one watery option if the ocean doesn't appeal, and food here is more than a belly filler, it's a complete experience. French chef Marie lovingly prepares three or four meals each day (included in the accommodation rate) from organic onsite and locally grown/fished ingredients. She also tends to sit at the communal dining table and share the story of the dish and preparation. Non-foodies, brace yourself for a conversion to a fascination with fresh ingredients, color, flavor, and meals made with love. Although meals are served buffet-style, there's little waste here so eat moderately rather than in the gorging style of cruise-ships. Dietary restrictions are accommodated whenever possible however be clear about your needs when booking, not post-arrival.

Although groups with small children are gently discouraged from booking time at Blue Osa, this is flexible and taken on a case-by-case basis. There is also a special Family Retreat available, which allows younger family members to enjoy this beautiful space in a child-appropriate way, including kid-friendly morning Yoga sessions. These dedicated family weeks also allow other potential guests the choice of booking time (or not) at Blue Osa during weeks when the happy shouts of children will play a part in their own retreat.

In a nutshell, Blue Osa is a small eco-retreat, open to guests year-round and also to visiting groups. There is a basic price for staying here and any other service is an additional cost, unless booked as part of a package. The add-on cost options may surprise some visitors but there's good sense at play: No-one pays for more than they need, and if you choose to stay at Blue Osa only for the peace and relaxation then you are not saddled with the costs of unused massages or participation in asana class that you may never want. Besides, asana class is not really needed in order to experience Yoga at Blue Osa. This is a living Yoga community where all the eight limbs of Yogic knowledge are implemented every minute of every day. From the Ahimsic principle of shunning greed (taking only what is necessary) to the humbling and joy-filled experience of Karma Yoga as the permanent staff smile through their day rather than suffer through it, Blue Osa is a lesson in Yogic living that would make any authentic Indian ashram proud.

About the area: Puerto Jiminez

Puerto Jiminez has grown from an unmap-worthy collection of houses to being the gateway town to the magnificent Corcovado National Park. Shy jaguars, scarlet macaws, tapirs and alligators call this region home, an area that was protected in the 1970s to save it from the hungry mining industry. From swamps to rainforests, beaches to mountains, the thirteen discrete ecosystems are a joy for anyone wanting to reconnect with Mother Nature. Typically tropical, there is plenty of rainfall in this part of the world but very little cold. Average temperatures are around 27C (80F) in the rainiest months of August – October and 30C (85F) in the drier months of December – April.

Image credit: Blue Osa Yoga Retreat and Spa

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