In Search of Truth and Beauty from the Costa Rican jungle

Posted in Blogs

BY JONI TAKANIKOS,  June 14, 2013

In Search of Truth and Beauty or … the double cliché’ of leading a charmed life, while flying by the seat of my pants.

I have been a practicing yogi since the age of 14, and I do mean practicing. Sometimes more and sometimes less, and as my years add up, the flexibility of this yogi requires steady practice. I have given up those really cool poses of my 20s and 30s.

But for the last several years, I have dreamed of someday doing a yoga teacher training in order to deepen my personal practice. Two years ago I decided that I was not only interested in deepening my own yoga practice, but I really wanted to teach yoga and its philosophy, which has kept me sane and fit all these many years. The Internet was my research ally, and after narrowing the myriad field of options, I had found a month-long training with a great teacher, but the location of the training was on an island in Greece.

It was beyond my budget, but I felt it was the best way for me to become a teacher. I needed the immersion and the warmth, which equal Truth and Beauty in my field. So I kept the vision in my heart and my mind, and knew that somehow I would find a way to make the dream a reality.

On my birthday in December, my mother handed me a check for the amount of my training, which was an enormous and unexpected surprise. She had this money because my grandmother had passed away in the spring and they sold her farmhouse. My mother told me that while she knew my dream was to do this training, she also wanted me to know that I could use the money for whatever I wanted. I came home that evening with the check in hand and realized that I could buy myself a car and other more practical things. But after five minutes, I jumped on the Web and began searching for trainings. The one in Greece was no longer available, but I found a wonderful retreat and teacher in Costa Rica. Before the end of the year, I had booked the training and purchased my tickets to the jungle.

An iguana keeps vigil over my teacher training sessions in the Costa Rican jungle. (Photos by Joni Takanikos)

An iguana keeps vigil over my teacher training sessions in the Costa Rican jungle. (Photos by Joni Takanikos)

So that is how I found myself on a beautiful platform in the Costa Rican jungle from the end of April through the end of May. This area of Costa Rica, the northern Nicoya coast, is known for its great surfing waves, as well as for its wild and wondrous creatures, its flora and fauna.

Everyday there were birds flying at eye level and, situated on an old stump just inches from the platform, sat a still and wise yogi in the form of an iguana. His lovely interns ─ butterflies, hummingbirds, and dragonflies ─ fluttered around him. There also was the ocean backdrop with its wild and beautiful surf, and all of it reminding me to take note that life is indeed a beautiful dream inside certain moments.

Now home for only a couple of weeks, I am still translating this beautiful foreign dream with gratitude for the leaps we take that are enabled by others; in this case my mother and my grandmother, and all of my friends who support the impracticalities of my present life. One of my dearest friends recently intoned, “Joni, your life is like a foreign film.” My preference leans toward an eclectic French or Italian comedy, you know, the ones that show those scenes with lots of good food, music and friends situated around an old wooden table in the summer countryside.

My next adventure is already near, and I am off at the end of this month to do some singing in the Netherlands and France. I hope to teach some yoga, too. I am internationally certified now to teach yoga, but also carry with me the special knowledge of the Costa Rican jungle that comes from awakening at dawn to the sounds of the Howler monkeys; to breathe in the stillness of the iguana. That is surely yoga of the highest order. Smile and take a deep breath.

Howler monkeys awakened me each day at dawn in the jungle.

Howler monkeys awakened me each day at dawn in the jungle.

Here’s a short poem fragment that I wrote on the small plane from San Jose to Tambor:

Cloud Shadows

shapes made of air
water seas rise
turbulence as breath
life casting
its shadow.

Joni Takanikos is a poet, wandering minstrel and yoga teacher. Look for her yoga class coming to a Whidbey Island venue near you.


Leave a Reply