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Nicoya Peninsula: Butterflies and Yoga

Destination: Montezuma

After this morning's session, I am convinced that the old proverb should officially be changed to "an hour of yoga a day keeps the doctor away." German-born Dagmar Spremberg has been practicing yoga for 13 years, and teaching for eight of them. She is everything a yoga mentor should be: patient, fun loving and knowledgeable. Her laid-back attitude immediately put each of the nine students in the open-air pavilion at ease, even the one who was a complete beginner.

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Dagmar began the class with three long "Ohms." The sessions were in the style of Vinyasa flow, a type of yoga that attempts to link movement and breath through a series of connected poses. Inspired by Anusara yoga, her style is infused with a tantric philosophy focusing on spirituality and inner happiness. "Yoga is not just about being able to lift your leg behind your head," Dagmar describes. The beauty of her class is that no matter what stance she guides her pupils through, there are several variations that learners of all levels can intuitively enjoy. I was impressed by her ability to gently correct her students' mistakes and smoothly compliment their successes without embarrassing anyone.

After an hour of yoga sequences, a cool-down, and a few minutes of silent meditation and stretching, my chronic back pain had all but disappeared. As a sweet and unique touch, Dagmar went around the platform rubbing her students' necks and shoulders with a refreshing, lavender scented lotion. By the time the seminar was over, I felt like a half-melted stick of butter, with completely softened muscles. I was glad and relieved I did not have to drive.

To compliment her yoga practice, Dagmar recommends Somatic Bodywork, a treatment designed to relieve muscle and nerve pain. It seemed to me to be a cross between a light massage and a chiropractic session. My therapist Ireni Stanou, certified choreographer and international dancer of 25 years, explained that Somatic Bodywork is a movement science that opens our awareness to the anatomy of ourselves." Her technique was originally intended for dancers with injuries, and she began the session by analyzing my posture. I then lay down on a mat and played dead while she stretched, moved, tugged, and gently kneaded certain muscles of my body that were affecting my pain. It felt a bit strange at first, but halfway through I realized my aches had significantly lessened.

My and Vincent's last destination for the day was located right in our next lodge's backyard, the Mariposario Montezuma Gardens Bed and Breakfast. Stepping into the hotel room was like crossing a time portal to my old bedroom in the United States, but with a larger television. Following the morning's exercise, I was grateful for the A/C above the bed, which I cranked to the highest setting. After a quick shower, Vincent and I explored the hotel's enormous butterfly garden.

Two brothers from the U.S. run both the insect conservatory and the hotel. Josh, the elder sibling, gave us a tour. The garden houses 12 species of butterfly, but specializes in the elegant morpho. This insect is known for its shiny blue iridescence when it opens its wings, which range from a span of three to eight inches across. Closed, the other side is brown and bark-like, with seven hypnotizing eyespots.

Josh then pointed out morpho caterpillars which, with their bright pleated heads and multi-colored, spiked bodies, look remarkably like paper dragons on parade at Chinese New Year.

An individual morpho's time to shine is short-lived: the egg to death life cycle is a mere 137 days, with only 30 of those days transpiring as an adult. The most entertaining fact I gleaned about these creatures is that, as caterpillars, their crinkled purple heads literally pop off and grow back seven times while molting.

Nicoya Peninsula: Butterflies and Yoga in Pictures

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