I sometimes think the word “Wellness” was created in Costa Rica. There is a powerful healing energy in this country that is the perfect backdrop for any and all spa treatments, body-mind therapies, relaxation weekends—just about anything that contributes to what we call “wellness”. Just what is “wellness”? It may be easier to say what it is NOT: It is not just the absence of dis-ease, not just physical health or having a “fit” body. The Global Wellness Institute defines wellness as “the active pursuit of activities, choices, and lifestyles that lead to a state of holistic health.”
51% of the country of Costa Rica is forest land, with over 1900 different species of trees. Start with that, and think of how much oxygen is put out into the air here for us humans to breathe. This, in itself, enhances our health. The negative ions in the air are calming and healing, and these particles are abundant in the forests, ocean, rivers, and in the rain that falls here. Fruits, ripened right on the trees, give us powerful antioxidants that sustain our bodies, and sustain a lifestyle of healthy eating. The activities one can choose that immerse us in nature are numerous—hikes through the rainforest to see wildlife and ancient trees, bathing in pure waterfalls, riding bikes and horses, surfing and swimming, all contribute to “a life of holistic health” contained in the definition of wellness. The ecosystem in this country just hums along, creating an energy field of wellness. And the laid-back, Pura Vida lifestyle lends itself to a happier, more relaxed atmosphere where people can let their hair down, relax and be themselves.
As the owner of one of the first wellness centers in Costa Rica, I often joke that all the yoga, the meditation, and the therapies we offer here at AmaTierra are just a tiny adjunct to the abundance of waterfalls of healing energy already overflowing in the jungle. But of course, therapeutic modalities have their impact and value, too. Since a few pioneers brought yoga to Costa Rica in the 1970’s, the country has grown to become one of the most popular places in the world to practice yoga and learn to teach it, second only to India, yoga’s birthplace.
And if we’re talking spas, look no further than native volcanic clay for face masks, and open-air palapas where the scent of ylang ylang and frangipani waft through the air while you receive the best massage of your life. It is no wonder that the number of retreat centers in Costa Rica has gone from just 6 when we opened our Center in 2006, 17 years ago, to now over 200. Thousands of people have relished in these oases in nature, created to help them pause to find themselves again, to start anew on the path to real wellness. And we are proud to be one of the first, and still going strong today.
AmaTierra, or “Beloved Earth” as we like to translate our name, came into existence in 2006 when I and my husband Bob were looking for a change from life in the U.S.A. I was in private practice as a massage therapist, herbalist and yoga instructor in Tucson, Arizona, and even before the onslaught of cell phones and social media, I was seeing that life was getting more and more sped-up, and people more and more stressed. We wanted to create a place where people could take a breather, re-set, and just BE for a while. With the help of some generous and kind investors, we bought a ten-room B&B in the central mountains, and built a yoga studio with a 4 room spa space below. Since that day, we have welcomed over 4,000 people into our space, assisted by a dedicated and hard-working staff of Costa Rican people who are now family to us.
On our 3 hectares (7.5 acres) of mostly forested land, AmaTierra is home to mango and coconut trees, and some of the best ginger and turmeric you’ll find in Costa Rica. Guests can walk the trails, participate in a medicinal herb walk, detox and start fresh with better nutrition, and get pampered in our spa.
Morning yoga classes with inspiring views and the sounds of toucans chirping in the trees start our days here, and the “gallo pinto” and fresh eggs from our chickens are a hearty delight. Freshness is key to our healthy cuisine here, as countless Tripadvisor reviews mention, and the water is just about as pure as you can get on this earth. Some guests come just to relax, practice yoga and meditate, hanging out by the pool and chatting with other like-minded souls. Others come with the specific intention to be healed, and I have to say one of the happiest feelings I get is watching the change from when a guest first arrives, with their too-tight baggage of issues, problems and history, to that smiling face having found peace of mind and new direction when they say goodbye.
You can see more about AmaTierra at www.amatierra.com
A Place to Lay Down What Burdens You
How do describe a place like Amatierra? Is it a place for meditation and yoga? Is it a hub where you can travel to waterfalls, natural parks, and beaches? Or is it a place where you can relax by the pool, with your book, and without a care in the world. Somehow, it manages to be all of those things and more. My wife and I visited Amatierra and were both going through a very difficult year. Bob and Jill are such gracious hosts and help you tailor your visit to your needs. You can do as much or as little as you please. Whether you are having a tough time and need to heal or you want to relax away from the stress of life, do yourself a favor and visit Amatierra. You deserve it and you won’t be sorry. –Plum B, August 2022
Jill Ruttenberg, RH, Co-Owner & Wellness Director of AmaTierra Retreat & Wellness Center in Costa Rica, is a professional nutritionist, certified practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and clinical herbalist registered with the American Herbalist Guild. She is also an experienced massage therapist, energy healer and Hatha yoga instructor. The Wellness Center at AmaTierra is Jill’s living dream, the fruition of decades of training, practice and experience in natural medicine and the healing arts.