Count your blessings in Costa Rica this Thanksgiving on a yoga retreat

Thanksgiving is about gratitude and being thankful for our blessings. This year, why not spend the Thanksgiving holidays giving thanks for all that is good in life on a rejuvenating yoga retreat in Costa Rica at Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge.

Imagine retreating from the busyness of everyday life to relax and restore your energy in the rainforest, with 80-degree warm gulf waters at your doorstep and monkeys, Scarlet Macaws and coatis as your neighbors.

Accessible only by boat, the remote oceanfront Costa Rica rainforest lodge is located on the breathtaking Golfo Dulce (“Sweet Gulf”) just across from the renowned Osa Peninsula. Playa Nicuesa’s 165-acre private reserve joins into the Piedras Blancas National Park. The extraordinary Costa Rica eco-lodge was designed for sustainable travel and holds the highest rating in the Certification for Sustainable Tourism Program (CST) in Costa Rica.

Starting Nov. 23, 2014, the Yoga Meditation and Sound retreat with international yoga instructor Shonna Annapurna Brown and international recording artist John William Bauld, lasts five, six or seven nights. You choose how long you will stay.

The yoga retreat includes two daily yoga classes, meditation, and evening kirtan concerts with the instructors. Yoga classes will be classical hatha yoga, which improves breathing, flexibility, strength and vitality in the body while calming the mind. There also will be Mantrasana Yoga with live music, a meditative hatha yoga class set to live mantra music; and restorative yoga. Yoga classes will be held on the beautiful yoga deck on the beach (shaded) or at the tree canopy-level main lodge building.

Kirtan is soothing participatory music using ancient Sanskrit mantras that opens the heart, purifies the mind, and generates harmony and divine love, retreat information explains.

The retreat package includes accommodation at Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge for five, six or seven nights, all meals, boat transfers, guided adventure activities, unlimited self-guided hikes in the preserve, use of kayaks, snorkeling and fishing equipment.

Article by Shannon Farley

 

Webs of Gold in the Costa Rica Rainforest

The morning sun filtering through the rainforest foliage at Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge in Costa Rica shimmers gold as the light catches the strands of the complex web woven by a golden orb spider.

I’m generally not a big fan of spiders, like most people, but the golden orb is fascinating. These large spiders weave enormous pigmented webs, adjusted in color for camouflage, with protecting chemicals, and such incredible strength and elasticity that bioengineers and other scientists are studying ways to mass-produce their silk.

The golden silk orb-weavers (genus Nephila) are noted for the impressive webs they weave, and are also called giant wood spiders or banana spiders, according to Wikipedia. Their name refers to the color of their web silk, although the female spiders do have gold spots on their large bodies and black and yellow striped legs, which are specialized for weaving.

The spiders are widespread in warmer regions around the world – the Americas, Australia, Africa, India and Southeast Asia. They are the oldest surviving genus of spiders, with a fossilized specimen dating to 165 million years ago. You can find golden orb spiders hanging out in their shimmering webs everywhere around Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge and along the trails.

Threads of their webs shine like gold in sunlight. Studies suggest that the silk’s color may serve a dual purpose: sunlit webs ensnare bees and other insects that are attracted to the bright yellow strands, and in the shade, the yellow color blends in with background foliage to act as camouflage. Golden orb spiders can adjust the web’s pigment intensity relative to background light and color. They also secrete a chemical – pyrrolidine alkaloid – on the strands that protects the web from ants.

The fine-meshed spiral webs are gigantic: they can span 20 feet tall (6m) and 6.5 feet wide (2m). When you look at a web, you can’t help noticing the female spider since she is huge; golden orb females reach sizes of 4.8–5.1 cm (1.5–2 in) not including leg span. Those little spiders on the web are the males, being usually 2/3 smaller (less than 2.5 cm, 1 in).

If you should doubt the strength and elasticity of a golden orb weaver web, walk into one. You’ll find it is not easy to remove. When walking the trails at Nicuesa Lodge, I always watch out for golden orb webs – they are beautiful to admire, and you want to avoid being covered in the sticky silk. While the spiders rarely bite humans, their venom is potent with a neurotoxin effect, though not lethal to humans.

During your visit to the unique Costa Rica eco lodge at Playa Nicuesa, be sure to look out for these amazing eight-legged wonders. Capturing the morning or afternoon sunlight on their webs produces beautiful photos.

Article by Shannon Farley