I am a clinical herbalist and massage therapist for 25 years in addition to being a Hatha Yoga instructor for the last 15. I grew up in the Midwestern United States and moved west to Colorado, California and Arizona in my adult life. I have two beautiful and talented daughters, 27 & 28 years old, and my husband Bob and I have been married for 38 years.
How did you decide to open a retreat center in Costa Rica?
To be honest we were escaping George Bush’s 2nd reign, being frustrated with the warmonger mentality of the US government and it was the night he won the election that we knew we had to leave. That was the catalyst, but we had always wanted to move to a foreign country, and when we found out Costa Rica has no army, will never declare war on anyone, uses their money for educating their people and conserving the land, we looked closer at the possibility. I always wanted my own wellness center, and as we say people increasingly stressed and hurried in modern-day life, we wanted to create a sanctuary, a place where people could really get away and regain their energy, get a new perspective on their lives and heal!
How did you pick the name AmaTierra?
Good question! The AMA part (it means Love) was already here, as the previous owners had it as part of the name, and when I came to meditate on the land, which is a 7 acre beautiful forest with a very special energy, I kept hearing the words Ama and Alma (soul) so I knew we had to keep that sound. Then we started playing with that word Ama, and realized our daughters’ names are Amanda and Tara, so we thought we’d combine the name. I like to translate it as “Beloved Earth”.
What is a typical day like for you?
Well, it seems I wear so many hats here and so much seems to happen that it’s hard for any day to be titled “typical”, but let me try:
I awaken around 6 a.m., have a nice conversation with my husband Bob in bed, listen for the employees puttering around in the kitchen, right outside my wall, and then emerge for tea and morning yoga. A breakfast of either protein shake and fruit or poached eggs and the local rice/bean dish, “gallo pinto” comes next and we meet with staff members about what the day holds.
I might check on the organic garden, answer emails, help the chef prepare the week’s menu or tend to guests in my office, doing energy treatments or herbal consultations. Lunch is usually salad-related, and then we close the doors for a 1.5 hour siesta. More busywork follows, and days go quickly. Now and then I take time at the pool, or hiking the trails to feed the Talapia in the pond. Nature is abundant here; there are always animals and birds to see, and we even stop yoga class for Toucans or a flock of parrots flying by. Sunset yoga or meditation ends the daylight hours, and dinner is generally lively and social on the balcony. Sometimes we play music and sing. We have a piano here, and my guitar, and guests join in with tambourines and other shakers.
What is your favorite thing to do aside from yoga!
I would have to say singing , gardening and hanging out with the family, even though my little 2 year old grandson joins us by Skype, still, that virtual time is precious and so much fun!
Who were you mostly influenced by?
My herbal medicine teachers, especially Michael & Lesley Tierra and Dr. Joel Penner, OMD, who taught me how to love and respect plant medicine and how to help people even when I thought I didn’t have enough knowledge. (I tend to be an overachiever who doesn’t give herself enough credit). I also learned so much being a parent, learned from my children and I keep learning! My all time favorite singer is Linda Ronstadt. I got to meet her once at a democratic rally while I was working on John Kerry’s campaign in Tucson, Arizona. I also admire great leaders who do good for the world….John F Kennedy, Bill Clinton, Tom Hayden of the Chicago 8, one of my first heroes. And I guess the person who taught me the most was my Black Mama, Elma, who was more of a mother to me than any of the 3 I had in life. She worked for my family during my adolescence and kept me sane and grounded. A wiser soul I have yet to meet in this life.
Tell us a little bit about the retreats and programs at AmaTierra.
Well, we purposely don’t have any real “programs” because everyone who comes to AmaTierra is an individual looking for their own kind of retreat. We take our cues from the guests. We provide a serene natural atmosphere, good nutritious food, fresh air and water, modest but comfortable lodging, yoga, meditation, bodywork, energy work, smiles, music, a time and a place for people to just BE. We have packages where we include all the meals, a massage, yoga classes, airport transfers and an excursion but what happens in between all of that is really up to the person who comes. Even our detox “program” is not a program. Because of my herbal and TCM (Trad. Chinese Medicine) training, I believe everyone is an individual. What one may need is not the same as what another needs. I may recommend a juice/tea/broth fast for one, and another may need a subtle cleanse that just cuts out dairy, wheat, sugar and caffeine but keeps the protein, veggies and fruits flowing with lots of support. It truly depends on what a person needs.
It looks like AmaTierra is not too far from San Jose, how far is from the beach?
We’re an hour from the Pacific beaches; a beautiful drive.
What advice do you give your students looking for transformation through Yoga?
Just to pay attention and breathe and keep practicing and witnessing your inner self. Change comes from staying in the moment, learning to do that more and more, and not judge yourself.
How do you remind yourself to be grateful?
The forest, the birds, the wind, the rain, my sweet family….these are my reminders.
Check out all the programs AmaTierra offers: