A Work Retreat that Doesn´t Feel like Work

200-hour Yoga Teacher Training


Before coming to Costa Rica and Blue Osa, I had the pleasure, for lack of a better word, to work in the Canadian banking industry. Like most, if not all businesses, the success of any one employee, and therefore the company, was dependent on the efforts of his or her co-workers. In the bank, for example, my role on the front line was to discover potential customer leads and pass them on to one of the financial advisors. The advisor’s role was to fix any of the multiple errors I would make on a daily basis. Don’t let me dissuade your faith in the banking system; they were quite good at coming to the rescue. My point is that employee interactions correlate to the success of a company.

I enjoyed the relationships I held with my colleagues but felt that they could never truly blossom in the work environment. The bank, for example, with its many rules regarding compliance and conduct, wasn’t exactly an environment conducive to nurturing friendships. So, despite having the odd lunch time chat with Nancy from HR, my workplace bonding was kept to drinks-after work, and the occasional staff party. Both of which involved alcohol-induced decisions that were often discussed Monday morning, behind closed doors. What I did learn, was that bonding with the people you spend forty hours a week with, in an environment that isn’t work, is quite invaluable. The places in which I learned the most about my colleagues, unsurprisingly, were those outside the office. Johnathan, the Unsecured Line of Credit expert became Johnathan, enjoys classic hip-hop and the Detroit Lions. And you know what, after those discoveries, I began seeing him as a person, and was thus, a little more inclined to send him mortgage leads.



To have a successful inter-staff relationship you need to disassociate the individual from the task he performs. See him as a person, rather than an employee. This is your team, your family, and your platoon, so facilitate a connection that goes beyond work. And a simple way to do so – remove work from the equation. The place in which I bonded most with my colleagues was the bar. Not because alcohol was involved (financial planners aren’t exactly the breed of people who hammer tequila shots and talk about their feelings), but because it was a new and different environment. My purpose of this article is not to convince you of the importance of a healthy work environment. You can do that through a quick Google search of ¨Employee Relations¨ and find a surfeit of sources, much more knowledgeable than I, speaking of their importance. Rather, I am here to explain why a Yoga eco-resort is the perfect place to hold your Corporate Retreat.



Eight hours a day, five days a week your employees are, well, at work. For arguments sake, let´s assume work takes place in your typical office building. Thus, for the majority of the day your employees are cloistered in a cell of cement cinder blocks and steel. Here you might say, ¨but Ben, we have large windows that let the sun shine in, and a Keurig¨. Well all that means is that your employees can look out –with good lighting – into a parking lot, and as for the Keurig, well, I can´t actually say anything bad about the Keurig, that´s a nice touch. But if you´ll permit me, I´d like to paint a bit of a picture for you, and transport you from the workplace to somewhere new.

If you can close your eyes and read simultaneously, I encourage you to do so now. Place yourself in your workspace, what do you see? Four brick walls surrounding you, and a ceiling constructed of steel bars, in which, still suspended is a helium-filled balloon from Susan´s retirement party. That was a good day on the account of there being cake, but it must have been, wow, almost two months ago. How is that balloon still up there? Anyway stay with me here. Now I want you to picture yourself, instead, encircled by trees and foliage. Everywhere you turn you’re surrounded by imposing trees, in a magnitude you can´t quite imagine. You don’t even need to see them to recognize their presence. The chlorophyll and humidity penetrate your senses with each inward breath. If oxygen could be bought at a bar, this would be the private stock, the good stuff.

Now instead of seeing a suspended balloon among the rafters when you glance upward, you see a monkey, ambitiously feasting on one of the trees plethora of mangoes. You look even higher and notice an interlude of colour amidst the green. A pair of Macaws, vibrant in their plumage’s of red, blue, and yellow. The scene is quite spectacular. But the monkeys are getting a bit rambunctious and I think it´s upsetting the dogs so let´s wander over to the beach.

After walking through the open dining area, and confirming with Jose that ¨Si, todo bien¨(spoiler alert: it always is), we arrive at the ocean. Here, the beach stretches on for miles into the horizon, never appearing to have an end. The undulating rhythm of the waves soothes you in a way that only nature can. And the sand, after millions of years of erosion has been subdued into a softness that conforms to your steps, until washed away by the tide.



At this point in my arrival I was as relaxed as I had ever been, in fact, I was under the impression that further relaxation could only be brought about by means of slipping into a peaceful coma. That is until I took my first class at Blue Osa.

I had taken a few yoga classes before but nothing like what I experienced here. Aaron and the other teachers brought about a level of expertise that allowed me to reach states I had never previously achieved. As if they were in tune with my body, they would offer little tidbits, at precisely the right moments. ¨Tuck in your belly and imagine you are grounded to the floor¨ they would say, just as I was simultaneously thinking ¨This doesn’t feel righ-…Oh..Wow¨. I remember leaving my first class with a supplementary respect towards yoga and the effects it could have on one´s body. Another discovery of mine has been that, yoga is a bonding experience. The studio is a room free from competition and judgment – being the weakest link in the class I appreciated that aspect very much – in which everyone is free to let go of their stresses, insecurities and concerns. By experiencing this tremendous revival, as a group, the members involved can expect to leave with a newfound unison. Completing a task as a group strengthens said group, so if the task is relaxation, the result is twofold – a rejuvenated, unified group, free from the stresses of the workplace. Sounds like an ideal personnel to me.



If you´re in need of a dosage of pure tranquillity, and I think everyone who works a nine to five, does, then consider the effects of what a place like Blue Osa can do for you and your workforce . With a tropical climate, a staff with a desire to please, and an atmosphere of perpetual bliss, your staff will be leaving relaxed, more cohesive and forever grateful, of that I’m sure. Give Blue Osa a call, and they´ll handle the rest. It´s almost as if your work vacation is starting already.



Ben von Jagow is an avid traveler and aspiring writer from Ottawa, Canada. He studied Business at the University of Western Ontario and worked in the banking industry before leaving the country to wander. His frugality coupled with his passion for adventure has transformed him into a traveler who searches for diversion in the unorthodox. Before coming to Blue Osa, Ben played professional football in Spain. At Blue Osa he spends his free time being manhandled by the waves with a surfboard trailing somewhere close behind. Despite the ocean´s attempts to dissuade him, he can usually be spotted returning the next day with a smile on his face. To see more of Ben´s work, visit him at www.benviajando.wordpress.com.

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