By Valentina Rose
I was ready to leave my life of a stressed yoga instructor in Miami. Miami is a really fun city but does not fit my taste for narrow alleys, cute cafes, farmer markets and nature proximity.
I was done being woken up in the middle of the night by trucks. I was done sitting in traffic praying I’d make it in time to teach my class. I was done parking through valets, done with anonymous elevators and 30 story buildings. Most importantly, it was becoming apparent that I was trying to teach people the one thing I needed the most: how to de-stress and stay positive.
I was done.
I wanted to simplify, to shed, to revert back.
I wanted nature, deserted beaches, a simple life, wholesome foods. I did not want to carry or own more than my Hawaiians, a few pairs of shorts and bikinis.
Nor did I want to move somewhere and build a life for myself, find a home and buy a car. That would mean settling again and I wanted freedom. I wanted to go to a place that already provided the grounds for me to unplug, grow and live simply. I also wanted to challenge myself and see how I would do in an isolated, jungle-like environment.
One day I was searching on Yoga Trade, and then found Blue Osa.
Here are my secret confessions of a volunteer!
I had a really good sense of what Blue Osa looked like because I had conducted plenty of research from the website and had read the Trip Advisor reviews.
I knew the beach was a few meters away from the property, which was a must for me. I also knew the property was groomed and well maintained but it preserved a rustic and genuine feel. I knew Blue Osa had a well established calendar of events which made me feel confident they were a legitimate business.
I have to admit my favorite part of the property is actually the front lawn with the big tree in the center. I grew up in a tiny apartment and I always felt really trapped and longed for grass. Since I’ve been living on my own I have always sought places that felt more like home with a big lawn. When taken out of its tropical context, the Blue Osa lawn could fit really well in front of an old Victorian house. I could picture myself spreading a nice blanket on the grass and having tea and picnics in the shade of the oak tree. This must be a fantasy that comes from having read too many British novels as a teenager.
My favorite thing about Blue Osa is the open-mindedness that pervades it. Everyone from the staff to the guests and volunteers is very accepting and at ease.
I come from a ridiculously small town in rural Italy, where I was always judged for everything I did, what I wore, said or didn’t say, and who I hung out with. At Blue Osa, no one reacts weirdly to any type of human behavior. People here just don’t get worked up over unnecessary stuff. If anything is odd, they just laugh it off. There’s a disarming acceptance of all aspects of human nature that is so refreshing. It overrides any language or cultural barrier. Because let’s face it, real life isn’t about what you wear or what you look like, it’s about being human, with all your flaws and unique traits. The atmosphere in Blue Osa is also very joyful.
I often got reprehended in middle school for laughing too much. Here, there is no such thing as laughing too much! At Blue Osa, I feel liberated and can embrace my laugh.
In my yoga professional volunteer position I get to teach yoga and learn about the social media and marketing aspects of running the business. I am leaning a lot through the completion of various projects and I am constantly feeling inspired by a bigger vision team work with the other volunteers. I am basically learning the same if not more than if I were taking a few semesters of “marketing” or “social media” at college. With hands-on experience, which is a huge plus.
The yoga aspect is also fundamental. I have met some incredible yoga retreat leaders who come to Blue Osa. Teaching week long private retreats allows me to meet some truly cool people and watch their transformation while learning about the most intimate details of their lives.
As far as advice for future volunteers, I would recommend taking this opportunity as an all-encompassing experience. Not to limit yourselves to their specific tasks. Come with little luggage and a willingness to learn. The presence of so many other volunteers makes for an incredibly eclectic and versatile environment. A lot of people who work at Blue Osa have such different skills that range from construction, cooking, Spanish, and common sense.
Come with an open mind and soak it all in. You’ll be surprised to see writers learn gardening or photographers refine their yoga practice. I have taken on an unforeseen interest in photography and an interest in writing as well. Living and working at Blue Osa is an all-encompassing experience during which growth happens at every moment.
Freedom to express yourself is granted at any moment and that to me is the most important thing. Expressing oneself doesn’t just mean turning the volume up, but also being granted the opportunity to turn inward without being questioned. At Blue Osa, you won’t just experience professional growth, but also personal. You’ll soon start to realize what your limits and expectations are from living in such close contacts with others and so isolated from everything else. You will have to find your balance in all different areas of your life, from eating, to personal exercise, to interpersonal relations, to romance (or lack there-of?), the rhythm of the day, the types of comforts that you need and those you can do without. All of a sudden you might realize you don’t care so much about television and high heels, but you feel a compelling need to run off on the beach while talking to yourself. 🙂
Yogi Aaron is such a remarkable character. There’s so many great sides of him. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, he says something completely unexpected that will leave you speechless. There’s never a dull moment around him. The focused and mature business man I observe every day in the Blue Osa office is completely different than the cheerful upbeat individual who shows up at the dinner table or the insightful yogi that offers life advice. He’s an extremely hard-working and talented individual who is dedicated to watching Blue Osa grow. He has developed strong core values and principles and is most importantly committed to evolving and learning every day. He hardly ever gets overwhelmed by situations and just deals with issues as they arise; with a hardy laugh, a flirty glance and raised eyebrow. His life sounds very interesting.
I can’t wait to read his autobiography!
About the author
Valentina was born and raised in Italy and later moved to different parts of the US. She is a yogi, a runner, a traveler, an Italian foodie, a chocolate lab lover and a daydreamer. Today she finds herself being belonging-free, on the adventure, living her life authentically and to the fullest in Costa Rica as a volunteer at Blue Osa Resort&Spa. Her greatest treasures are the friends she has acquired all around the world who always offer a shoulder (and a couch) to lean on and northern California live music festivals in the woods.