Better late than never, right? Check out my yoga retreat experience in Bocas del Toro, Panama in 2017. Lucky for you, the girls who hosted it have another Tropical Transformation Retreat planned for this winter in Mexico, so check it out!
A yoga retreat had been on my bucket list so I figured, why not? I had seen an advertisement for Tropical Transformation in Panama and after debating back and forth, I decided I had to suck it up and book it. It is hard to get people to go on trips with you, so I settled with going alone; I would be meeting up with a group, so I knew I wouldn’t be completely solo. My husband, (boyfriend at the time), could not take time off work, but happily agreed it would be good for my soul so I booked! Isn’t he the best?
Do you know the kind of looks you get when you tell someone you are going on a yoga retreat?
“Why?” “You must really love yoga!” “That sounds like a cult, be careful…” Sigh. No you don’t need to be the ultimate yogi and you don’t need to defend your reasons for going (after reading this it should be obvious anyway!) Just go!
Relaxation, restoration, sun, beach and healthy living were my motivations for the trip. The alluring island of Bastimentos in Bocas del Toro, Panama pulled me in with her beauty. I figured this would also help me towards my goal of going to one new country (at least!) every year. The lodging, Al Natural Resort, was an eco-resort immersed in the thick jungle and perched on the white sand beach – truly spectacular!
Yoga & Workshops
Tropical Transformation was hosted by Raise Your Beat , a platform sustained by global community – inspired by holistic health, travel and sustainability. Raise Your Beat founder Lauren Lee and holistic health coach Tory Dube were the retreat leaders and were amazing! Lauren (pictured below!) focused on the yoga while Tory hosted workshops on holistic health.
Our mornings started with a 7:00am 2+ hour Asana & Pranayama yoga class overlooking the crystal clear ocean and rising sun. After class, a delicious vegetarian breakfast with a plethora of fresh fruits was served to us with our very own coconut beverages.
The rest of the day consisted of time for relaxation, more delicious food and more workshops/yoga classes. Being a huge beach bum, I thought it would be hard to focus on yoga if I was staring at clear turquoise water while doing downward dog, but felt there was a good balance and plenty of down time.
I was actually surprised at the lack of yoga experience the group had. Some people there had never done yoga and just wanted to try something different. The variety of backgrounds and reasons for being there was interesting and refreshing.
Note, mats were provided to us, which was helpful since I did not check a bag and did not want to lug mine all the way down to Panama.
The meals were mostly vegetarian besides the fresh fish we would have at dinner. Meals were eaten together three times a day and they were DELICIOUS! Fresh, simple and tasty. Kept you full, but not feeling lethargic like you sometimes do while on vaycay. I only had one alcoholic beverage on the last night. Most of us stuck with this plan. The person that didn’t was on the struggle bus at sunrise yoga.
I loved the fresh fruits, drinking out of coconuts and eating off palm leaves. My heaven.
When you Google, Al Natural Resort, it literally says “a magical place in complete harmony with nature,” and that is exactly what it is. I love camping and being fully immersed in the outdoors, so the open-air bungalow (Superior Natural House) seen below did not bother me. The gentle waves broke right against where you were sleeping which was tranquil and relaxing. There were tarps you could use to close off your view at night, but I left them open. All of the rooms are right on the water like this. See, I have this thing when I go somewhere, even camping, I stalk the website, maps and reviews to try to always get the best room or best location. It was out of my control here, but I made out pretty well ❤
I will say, getting to Bastimentos was not super easy, and I am assuming that is why the Tropical Transformation Retreat was moved to Mexico. I flew into San Jose, Costa Rica, stayed one night, then took a small plane to Bocas, where I then took a boat. I will say, it was definitely worth it! You really do feel like you are at an unspoiled paradise.
I did a lot of snorkeling, paddle boarding and relaxing on my downtime, as you can see from the photos below.
The staff here is also incredible. They are friendly and make you feel like family. It was sad to leave them at the end of the week!
Check out the video with drone footage that I pulled from their site:
If you do make out to Bocas del Toro, I do recommend checking out the Isla Zapatilla, which has beautiful crystal clear waters and great snorkeling (below!) This unspoiled paradise is truly something special!
Okay, time to book a trip.