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  • InnSaei Costa Rica

During nine hours a day, the vast majority of the western civilization sits on a chair, in front of a computer, and doesn’t not move from it unless it is to go to the bathroom or eat an unhealthy snack.

Many others, spend their working time standing up, doing constructions, maintenance and probably leaving their home at sunrise and coming back when is already dark.

Maybe you are the one that cooks, cleans and looks after the family and the house. Or maybe you are the one that comes back home sad and stressed after seeing one of your patience not making it.


Doesn’t matter what your profession is, doesn’t matter if at the end of the day is your head, or your feet that hurts. You are hurt and you most likely need an escape, a moment for yourself to ease this discomfort.


It is unhuman to think and believe that we don’t need a pause, and also pretentious. No one is able to keep its concentration, attention and effectiveness in any of the task that we do for more than a couple of hours straight, tops. Especially now days, with all the distractions that come from the continuous beeping of the phone, with the million things that we decide, or are forced, to schedule in our agenda to achieve during a limited amount of time, the stress and the feeling of failure creates a huge weight on our shoulders to endure.

Why do we do this to ourselves, and others? To me, the answer is obvious; the pressure that the society, your boss, your coworkers, your husband, your wife, your kids, your extended family, the media puts on you every moment of your life is the reason why your brain is always on the alarm mode where you either fly or fight, constantly. And It makes you sick, tired, injured and sleepless.

When you can finally cut five minutes for yourself, what do you usually do? Let me guess…. Do you open an application on your phone, making sure that you have not missed any important post from someone that you don’t even know, or do you light a cigarette, or a joint, or maybe you eat a chocolate bar or a bag of chips? And don’t forget to drink plenty of coffee, make sure that you keep moving on the high that your day is requiring you. There is nothing wrong with it if you really feel a positive benefits from all the above things, but let’s be real and objective. Don’t mistake the real meaning of a break where you pause your brain and look after your body, with actions that accumulate more tiredness, fatigue and stress.

Have you ever stopped for a second to think about the consequences that each decision that you make has on the efficiency of your day, on a professional and personal and health level?

I personally never did, until recently.


When I used to work with competition horses, there were days were I would work nonstop 15, 18 hours a day. I remember that, just like me, many of my colleagues would have the same kind of day where the only actual break was 30 minutes at the cafeteria to either enjoy a quiet breakfast or lunch, but with always the phone on the table.

The rest of the day was spent on my feet, or on a horse; in those never ending days, the only comfort were my coca cola, my cigarettes, my chocolate bars and chips and random messages and phone calls that were keeping myself from feeling the loneliness of a job that was so high demanding, stressing and nomadic.


Few years have gone by since I quit that life, but it was not until a few weeks ago that I realized how important and needed is to have active and healthy pauses during working hours.

I was at the insurance office in Quepos, my new home town in Costa Rica, to renew my policy when I asked the lady that helped me with my paper work how often she would get up from her chair during her working shift. Her answer was twice. Once during her coffee break, and the other one for lunch. Maybe, and only if it was really, really needed, once more to go to the toilette. I was astonished. And worried. I started to think about all the people that work in a bank, in public offices, or Private Corporation that have the same faith. It just seemed very unfair to me, and I’ve also began to understand the reason of the inefficiency of many of them, but also their bad moods and unfriendly looks.


Try to put yourself in their shoes, unless you are already wearing them. It is just simply unhuman, just like it is if you were working any other job that puts you under any sort of stress, weather it is physical or mental.


This was the starting point for me to develop and finally create a plan of active pauses at work that would include stretching exercises, the implementation of concentration and meditation methods that practice a couple of times a day, for 5 or ten minutes each break, would dramatically improve the wellbeing of the employees and its efficiency at work.

Innsaei Costa Rica Yoga and Wellness proudly creates tailor-made programs that suits the needs of different typology of companies and their work force, to ensure that both interests are met in the most efficient, productive and healthy possible way.


A healthy workforce is the real richness of a company. The sooner we get this point, the better it’ll be for all of us.

  • InnSaei Costa Rica

It is an old cliché to be told to live intensely the present moment, because it could be the last one. You can be death tomorrow, you know? We keep avoiding considering, not even thinking that it could be this one your last breath.

When the face of death introduces itself to you, the rules of the game suddenly change. And you have no voice in it. The normes modified for me as well , and it was the loudest and scariest wake up call that I have ever experienced, hoping to never again, in my life. We live by decisions, that we all know, but I had never realized to what extent they could influence other’s lives so much.


There was a steep driveway that turned into being a too big of a challenge for my old tico car to climb. I still vividly remember my last full clear sentence before driving up: “I’m a fearless driver. I drove to Drake Bay, in the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica, in the rainy season, through four tropical rivers. Nothing can scare me.”

Somebody must have heard me, deciding to prove me wrong, or right….


Only few meters left before reaching the top of the hill, just like it happens in cartoones, the car starts to slow down and goes backwards. My heart stopped, but my hand went fast on the hand brake, stopping the vehicle. That was the very last time that had control on it. I know today that we were given that chance to allow my son, my best and dearest friend, and two other warm and kind souls, to jump out the vehicle before it came down like a fucking mad storm.

Do you know how it feels to go backwards, full speed on a downhill with an inclination steeper than Lombard Street withou any breaks at all? I wish not.


I remember taking a deep breath and the voice of my friend Adrian saying “if anything, just steer to the right, you’ll be fine”. And that’s what I did. And that’s why I’m here today to tell you this story. From inside the vehicle I only saw the front glass breaking and thinking “opps, this is going to cost” and my hands and arms touching the car roof, balancing left to right, lowering my body, and protecting my face from being completely smashed.

The car stopped, and I was ok. Really ok. Not so much were my dear once that had seen the sequence of the car flipping in the air, hitting the ground, and parked itself between a concrete wall and the slope of the hill like if it was driven by an Hollywood stuntman.

Adrian opened the passenger door, and I climbed outside the vehicle, covered in glasses and dirt with neither a bruise, or a scratch, or a broken finger. Nothing at all. And I wasn’t even the least scared.


I got into the shower and, along with the water, tears streamed down my face. Fear hit me like a fireball right into my chest when my son walked in the bathroom asking for the hug that I couldn’t give him yet, and whispered in my ears that he got a little bit scared.


The woman that never feared anything, was faced with the scariest thought of them all. Seeing my son suffering from my own sufferings.


Every great dream begins with a dreamer; every great dreamer roams freely into the deepest corners of his mind, accepting fear for being the accelarator for its dreams realization, instead of his biggest obstacle. Being in control of life is a weak illusion, but we can learn how to train and control the mind instead, and choose wisely the planof action to make those dreams come true.


Pura Vida,

Valentina

  • InnSaei Costa Rica

Walking bare foot is associated, among the western civilization, with poverty and with some sort of disgusting feeling about getting irremediably dirty. As it is true that not all places are ideal to lose your virginity in the peculiar world of walking bare foot, I’m wondering when and if plastic gloves will ever be offered before entering a public toilet. I honestly prefer to have my big toe dirty than my hands. After all, I use them in just as many fun and necessary ways than my feet.


Until this afternoon, I had forgotten how my life was before I changed my walking habits to feel the ground that I walk into every day. A friend of mine came visiting Costa Rica with his kids from Europe. We were walking on the Manuel Antonio National Park beach when we arrived to my child’s and his friend favorite rock that they love to climb every time that the tide is low. While the two jungle boys were already half way up the rock, the other two kids had only taken 10 insecure steps. It was not a matter of strength. It was a matter of sensibility and balance in their feet.

Nothing that a good pair of hiking shoes could fix, right? Why don’t we start thinking instead that wearing shoes at all times is the actual problem? If I hadn’t gone through this phase myself, I would not know the answer. A year ago I was walking along the Savegre River, bare foot, just like the rest of my friends. I couldn’t keep up with their pace, but I still made it to the camping site resisting the temptation to wear my shoes. Was it unnecessary discomfort? Seeing the results today on how my, proprioception and balance has improved, the answer is a round no.


Don’t get me wrong, stepping on pointy rocks will always hurt, I’m not a fakir, but I can avoid them better now, just like I’m learning to avoid spiky people.


I obviously prefer to walk on soft sand than hot asphalt where I could lose 3 of 4 layers of my feet’s skin, but for my son and I, walking barefoot, has become a daily fun practice, it is our barefoot lifestyle.

My shoes are now stored in the car. Tennis shoes, flip flops, sandals…there is one for every occasion. The habit that we have now is to leave the house barefoot. Always. The first unquestionable benefit is that I don’t get stressed or yell anymore…. “Where are your shoes (or mines), hurry up we are late!”

Depending on the social and the walking surface needs, we wear shoes, or not. In some places, is still socially unacceptable to go barefoot, unless you live in New Zealand and, even if I’m a yoga teacher and I could get away with it, I’m also a business woman that loves to wear high hills when a point needs to be made.


Like everything else in life, when start learning how to properly walk and even exercise barefoot, takes time, patience and right information.

If I was in your shoes, I would start slow, maybe 15, 20 minutes a day on kind surfaces to allow your feet and ankles to adapt to the new environment and ease up if you feel excessive pain and discomfort, but don’t give up.

Practicing yoga, it is a great way to kindly adapt your bare foot to a new whole world of sensations. My students know well how much importance I give to make them feel their balance when practicing the Mountain pose. We never pay attention to how we stand, on how much pressure we put on our feet, on which muscles we use more than others. You can try it now, if you want, and see what happens.

Bring your bare feet on a flat surface as closer together as your balance allows it, parallel to one other. Lift your knee caps, and engage your leg muscles and your hips. Belly in. Close your eyes. Pay attention and feel your balance, without judgments. Where in your feet you put the most pressure. Is it even? Do you feel steady and secure standing on your own feet?


Your answer will probably vary every day, but I can assure you that you’ll never go back to the slavery of always wearing shoes after experiencing the sense of freedom that standing, walking and running barefoot will give you.

Pura Vida!