Category Archives: retreats

wednesday wisdom: the best journeys

sara little yoga blog 180 degrees south bestjourneys

(revisiting 180 degrees south last night. a gentle reminder of adventures yet to come. xxS).


august wisdom: a little rest…



Friends. You might have noticed a certain someone falling off the blog bandwagon lately. It’s no accident. Things got busy. Hectic. I’m tired. I’m taking a little break for the remainder of summer’s laziest, hottest, nap-worthiest month. A Ferragosto, if you will.

I’ll see you back in September for the usuals: Spotlights On. Meatlessness. Wisdoms. Our Chakra study will continue. More insights will be had. Congress will resume. Life will continue.

In the meantime, be inspired by these beautiful images from Pinterest, a collection of summer sleeping. Big love (and big naps) to y’all.

xx, S



italian summer love, a series by greg miller for trunk magazine.

primo amore, part of a series by greg miller for trunk magazine.



elizabeth taylor naps on set of suddenly, last summer.

elizabeth taylor naps on set of suddenly, last summer.



meatless monday: costa rican gallo pinto

Salsa, agua, and Fresca are lunchtime necessities. Rosi's Soda Tica, Nosara.

If you’ve ever traveled through Costa Rica, there’s no way you haven’t tried Gallo Pinto, unless you traveled through Costa Rica blindfolded and consumed only the Lara Bars you packed in your carry-on. (Shame, shame on you!). Gallo Pinto is everywhere, is eaten for breakfast, lunch and/or dinner, is cheap, readily available at every roadside restaurant and hotel, and consists of two classic meatless mainstays: rice and beans. If you’re a world traveler, you know that the charm of real culture experience is to eat like a local. That means that when you’re in Latin America, you eat rice and beans, every day, at least once a day, usually more, and you love it.

How does one make Gallo PintoYou ask. It’s simple: cook the beans, cook the rice, and then cook them together, you dingus! HOWEVER. You’re smart enough to know that there’s a secret, right? Right. The secret’s in the sauce.

from Costa to my casa: Lizano, the new sauce in town.

This wonderful sauce is quickly replacing the Sriracha in my life. Not too spicy, not too sweet, made from hot chiles and puréed vegetables, with a subtle, Worcestershire-like smokiness, it’s delicious mixed into your Gallo Pinto and on eggs, cooked veggies or salads, and probably great in soups and stews. This is the key to making authentic Costa Rican Gallo Pinto, especially of the Guanacaste region.

(P.S…perhaps you’re a I-Don’t-Like-My-Different-Foods-Touching-On-My-Plate kinda person. I hear you; that’s how I was for most of my childhood. In which case, you can skip mixing the rice and beans and still have a Costa Rican specialty, Casados. Just add a little side salad and some fried plantains for an authentic lunch.)


Gallo Pinto. The real deal.

Costa Rican Gallo Pinto
Adapted from Costa Rica Guide

1 lb. black beans (fresh are best, but most likely you’ll find them dried)
8-10 sprigs cilantro (coriander leaf) fresh or frozen, not dried!
Lizano salsa, to taste (can be found, if lucky, in Latin American grocery stores)
1 small or medium onion
½ small red or yellow sweet pepper
3 c. vegetable broth or water
2 c. white rice
½ tsp. salt
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1-3 tbsp. oil for frying

If beans are dried, cover with water and soak overnight; if fresh, rinse off. Drain the beans and add fresh water, covering to an inch above the top of the beans. Add salt, bring to a boil. Cover the pan and reduce heat to very low simmer until beans are soft (about 3 hrs.). Stir in Lizano salsa liberally to taste.

Chop cilantro, onion, and sweet pepper very fine. Set aside.

Add 1 tbsp. oil to a large pan and sauté the dry rice for 2 min. over medium high flame. Add half of the chopped onion, sweet pepper and cilantro and sauté another 2 min. Add broth or water, bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to simmer until rice is tender, about 20-35 min. (This is also the recipe for Tico rice used in other favorites like tamales.)

Once rice and beans are cooked you can refrigerate or freeze them. Keep a significant amount of the “black water” with the beans (½-1 c.). This is what gives the rice its color and some of its flavor. Sauté the rice, beans, reserved chopped onion, sweet pepper and cilantro together in vegetable oil for a few minutes. Add Lizano as needed. Sprinkle with a little fresh chopped cilantro just before serving.

Once the rice and beans are cooked you can also refrigerate or freeze them. Make up small batches of Gallo Pinto when you want it by simply sautéing them together.

(In Guanacaste they sometimes use small very hot red peppers instead of or in addition to the sweet peppers.)

april spotlight on: finding inner sanctuary

A teacher and friend of mine recently said something about relaxation that really resonated with me. She was teaching a lunchtime express yoga class, one that was fast and athletic and packed full of asana that covered every type of posture you could think of. When it came time for Savasana, she looked up and noticed that we had exactly one minute before the class ended. “A short Savasana, about one minute!” she declared as we blissfully collapsed to our mats in sweaty heaps, exhaling a big, collective breath together. “Your task is to drop as quickly into Savasana as possible to make the most of this one minute, so give yourself the next two breaths and try to get fully relaxed.”

I inhaled, I exhaled, and relaxed my belly, chest, arms and legs. I inhaled, I exhaled, and visualized my spine, hips, and back of my head melting into my mat. She went on. “It’s interesting. In birthing classes and preparing for labor, women are taught to bring themselves to a state of calm very quickly, especially as labor progresses and there’s less time to rest between contractions. In that way, they can get the most out of short periods of time. That’s what we’re doing here.”

One of the most valuable skills you need is the ability to calm yourself down. We’ve got all kinds of stuff invented for this very thing: big glasses of wine and bubble baths, reality TV, and there’s at least one app for that. These things serve a purpose but do nothing to help refine your own capacities, nor do they help us in finding ourselves.

Just as babies learn to self soothe when needs aren’t immediately met, consciously choosing to find your inner sanctuary will not only help you cope with difficulty, but will also help you find new reserves of courage and substance. It means staying present to the challenges but taking refuge in a mental space, a space where you feel protected and safe and supported.

When I had nightmares as a child, my mom would rub my back and tell me to imagine that I was on the beach in Kauai, our favorite vacation spot. I pretended to feel the warmth on my skin and hear the crash of waves and hear the happiness of my family around me. This became a self-soothing technique I’d use for years to come, whenever that creep of anxiety began to choke me, from algebra tests to cross-country races.

Your inner sanctuary (unlike your liquor or tub or iPhone) is available to soothe you and calm you and bring you into connection with presence at any moment, in any situation, with any person and in any place.

So how do you establish that inner sanctuary? Like most things, you start with the breath. Let each breath take you deeper within yourself, to your beach. Each breath becomes more and more calming, soothing, connecting. Stay present. Find the breath within the breath. Listen. Be still. Over time, this practice gets easier and you’re able to drop into sanctuary on only one or two breaths. Then you tap into that wellspring of wisdom and strength that was there all along.

What about you? What do you do to find your inner sanctuary?

beachwear, lip balm, and bolaño: the essential costa rica packing list

It’s almost here. The annual YOGA | SURF | RETREAT in Nosara, Costa Rica gets me all worked up. Right around this time of year, I realize that in a few short weeks, I get to teach and practice yoga with the nicest people in the best place on the planet. Then I get to surf on the most lovely stretch of beach while the orange sun sinks into the ocean. It’s really incredible, to call this my job, and I’m reminded of the many blessings of having a career that’s all about helping people feel better about themselves on every level. It’s the greatest gift of being a yoga teacher. I’m so grateful. Our week in Costa Rica serves as a gentle reminder of these blessings.

After contemplating gratitude for a bit, it’s time to pack. (Yes, I start packing a tid bit early). And I make lists, because I find list-making to be strangely satisfying and cathartic. This will be my fourth trip to Nosara, so I’ve got the necessities down pat. Here’s what I’ll be taking with me this year…

ethereal: shipley & holmas.

indian floral by AKA.

You can’t have too many of these in Nosara. Words that come to mind: breezy, airy, skin-skimming. Yumi Kim makes some bright, floral-y ones. Choose cotton silk blends for coolness; choose bright, bold colors for fun-ness.


Oh yes, the requisite mani/pedi will happen prior to vacation, that’s an essential. But yoga (rolling over your toes over and over on a sticky mat during vinyasa) and surfing (getting wax stuck to your nails –and in your belly button) both do a number on your polish. That’s why you bring a little bottle in your matching shade to do a touchup, poolside, whenever necessary. Bright shades are best (and will match your dresses): Butter London’s Cheeky Chops and Underground are current beloveds.


And not just ANY yoga clothes. Your thick black Lulu Groove Pants have no place in CR. Too hot. You need light and tight. Electric Yoga makes  cool, sweat-wicking clothes in bright colors (can you tell I’m slightly excited about bright colors?). Short shorts, sporty tanks, easy tops. This hot pink seamless tee also doubles as a rash guard for surfing. Recycling!

The current most important book in my household: 2666 by Roberto BolañoFor one reason or another, all reading projects of late have been huge, epic novels that double as doorstops. This is no exception at 912 pages. But it’s masterful and lovely. Recommend.

silk + beads from bhati beads.

cuzco cuff from maryam nassir zadeh.

You read that right: friendship bracelets are back in, and my fifth grade self could not be more thrilled. Maryam Nassir Zadeh stocks several in various thicknesses that look awesome stacked on your wrist with reckless abandon.

mesh by minimale animale.

Surfer girls: wear string bikinis at your own risk. Minimale Animale makes this totally awesome mesh one-piece. A one-piece is safe, but not too safe (I mean, look how libidinous these suits are). All credit goes to L.A. designer Cassandra Kellogg, who also happens to be a classmate of mine from middle school. Hi, Cassie!


Discovered while living in Italy, impossible to find stateside, always stocking up whenever I’m in a European airport. Goes on silky, moisturizes for hours. The BEST in lip service if you happen to care about lip service.


What else can be said here?




Protect your face and neck and still look chic.


CR is the place that invented surfer girl beach hair, and somehow mine needs a little extra assistance. B&B always does the trick.

Are you going on vacation this spring? What do you bring with you?
Happy travels! xx, S 

wednesday wisdom: surf on my mind

yoga + surfing in Costa Rica. want in?

You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, professor of Mindfulness in Medicine, Healthcare & Society at UMass Medical School

*Not unrelated: a few spots are still available for YOGA | SURF | RETREAT with me in Costa Rica this April 8-14. Would love to have you there.

meatless monday: what we ate

Yesterday I made it home after 30 hours of a Planes, Trains and Automobiles-like traveling saga that took me from In Sabina, Italy, to the Lower East Side, Manhattan. A wonderful week of meatless eating at In Sabina was, in a word, lovely (this was to become our official word of the week, describing everything from the orange-pink sunsets to the crisp Orvieto whites to the late-morning walks into town). Chef Elide really outdid herself, again. Having a real, organic, sit-down meal every day, and taking the time to eat slowly, intentionally, has inspired me to sit down for every meal, including breakfast, which means no more shoveling Kashi down the hatch while standing over the kitchen sink, half-watching The Today Show.

where we ate: al fresco, with stunning vistas, sunsets, and wine (lots of it)

My student Jean took some lovely (lovely!) pictures of our meals, and she promises to share them when she returns from her post-retreat Italian travels. Until then, some of the most notable meals we had, in listicle form. They’ll likely be attempted in future Meatless Monday posts. Lovely!

– baked polenta  covered in mozzarella, tomato and fresh basil
– eggplant sliced and layered with parmesan, basil, and potato
–  mushroom and spinach quiche
– cannellini bean and black eyed pea salad, with olive oil and fresh herbs
– Italian multigrain bread, toasted, and spread with olive and fig tapenade
– grilled zucchini with homemade hummus
– lentil soup, pureed and topped with warm croutons
– baked tomato stuffed with wild rice and rosemary