Three reasons to pursue “Pura Vida”

I finally took a well-needed vacation before I lost my last quarter-inch of sanity.  Life felt like it was literally draining out of me via stress, sickness, and exhaustion.

My very dear friend Marguerite opened her lovely home in Costa Rica to me and hung out with me at Asclepios Spa Retreat for a few days.  I truly learned the meaning of “pura vida,” a phrase that rolls off the tongues of Costa Ricans in greeting or encouragement.

A word-for-word translation of “pura vida” is “pure life,” but the concept encompasses far more.  The best rendition might be “fullness of life,” or “This is living!”  And live I did, savoring the tranquility and nature’s most spectacular views. 

hillside 2

Costa Rica is well known for its eco-tourism.  It’s the fifth greenest country, according to the Environmental Performance Index, and the top-ranking country for well-being, life expectancy, and ecological footprint, as rated by the Happy Planet Index (HPI).  But my visit was a God-ordained time in which to savor the more laid-back aspects of Costa Rica’s many charms.

So, at the spa retreat, I was privileged to enjoy a relaxing Asclepios massage, yoga classes, and a session in a hammam or Turkish bath.  Never thought I could sweat that much!

The Costa Rican restaurants offered scrumptious meals!  Trust me, my increased waistline is the evidence.  No more patacones!  😆


Asclepios Spa Retreat is named after the Greek god of health, but I knew that the true God of “pura vida,” of fullness of life, had orchestrated this opportunity for me to de-stress and decompress.  He revealed at least three things to me regarding “pura vida.”

It’s part of our inheritance as children of God.  Jesus made plain His intention for us to enjoy abundant life.  Obviously, His focus was on spiritual life, but physical life is also meant to be lived to the fullest.   We forfeit our endowment as children of the promise of God when we accept less than “pura vida.”


We lose out when we trade in the simpler pleasures of life for busyness and distraction.  Every morning, I am in a mad rush to get out of the house in order to enter the mad rush of traffic in order to begin the mad rush of work in order to…   You get the picture.  I might remember to shoot an admiring glance at the scenery as I drive to work or  walk around the office building, but that’s big “might” if a million thoughts are competing for my attention.

water and rocks

However, the “high” I got from seeing, hearing, and smelling nature first-hand is priceless.  It’s a worship experience in itself.  Enjoying such God-breathed beauty is, indeed, “pura vida.”

bedside view

We need to disconnect from the daily grind and reconnect with God and ourselves.  During the yoga classes at the spa retreat, our Costa Rican yogi would remind us to keep our face (or arms or legs) “soft.”  I think she really meant “relaxed”!  Some yoga movements can’t be perfected if we are tense or uptight.  It’s a lesson I have to relearn and reapply daily.  

The more “soft” and open I am, the more aware I am of my relationship with God and of my own well-being (or lack thereof!) .  This is one time that being a “softie” really pays off!  🙂


The expression “pura vida” is sometimes spoken as an expression of thanks.  I’m truly grateful for the break that God provided through this vacation in Costa Rica.

Pura vida!


Had you heard of the concept of “pura vida” before? What are you doing to incorporate “pura vida” in your life?


  1. The horizon in the first shot is heavenly! You made me relax reading this post. I understood the “soft” reference perfectly. I know without looking in the mirror when I have that hard expression on my face. If you’re feeling uptight its really impossible to remove unless you relax and pray.
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  2. Looks absolutely delightful! I love your posts and where you take us. I need to figure out how to have this pura vida without an extravagant trip and in the midst of a home with 4 busy kids.

    • Oh this wasn’t extravagant, Tricia! I had a Groupon, and I used my points for the airline ticket. But we GGs should do a weekend at Elk Forge some time soon. You would love it!

  3. I have not heard of “pure vida” but I am so happy to hear about your relaxation. I definitely need something soon. I’m so tired lately. And frazzled. Just reading this and seeing the photos is calming me.
    Tamara recently posted..You’re Extraordinary.My Profile

    • Tamara, I know what you mean about the tiredness! I encourage you to find “pura vida” where you can: perhaps an hour or two that you can use to just relax or do something stress-less. Glad to know that the post was calming!

  4. You know I’m salivating at this post! Costa Rica is a must now my friend. Let’s see, traveling, regular fellowship, blogging, doing my fitness thing, they all make life worth living to me. I love it. Spending time amongst loved ones and being able to do so regularly and have the income to be exposed to all this world has to offer is a blessing that I am quite grateful for and thank God daily for smiling on me.

    OAN – I noticed my soror in your sidebar as a liker on your fan page. How awesome is that! I wonder do you know her Yulonda or is this a coincidence.
    Joi @ Rx Fitness Lady recently posted..Old School Blogging, Do You Have a GravatarMy Profile

  5. Sounds like you’re living “pura vida”, Joi! I love it. You are truly blessed, and that’s what “pura vida” means to me: the blessed life.

    I don’t know Yulonda personally, but that is really a coincidence. Small world, eh?
    Alison recently posted..Three reasons to pursue “Pura Vida”My Profile

  6. Wow. That looks like such a tranquil place to have a retreat. The pictures just ooze serenity. Thanks for sharing this. I’m putting Costa Rica on my list of places I need to visit. I’d love to take a trip with girlfriends there and just…relax. Lovely. –Lisa
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  7. It sounds like the perfect place to relax. The scenery is beautiful. This is the first time I’ve heard of pura vida
    Wanda recently posted..The Friday Five FellowshipMy Profile

    • Glad you enjoyed the scenery, Wanda. It was a healing time for me, just being amidst all of that natural beauty and peace. So worth the trip!

  8. Ahhh…days of Heaven on earth! Our God is good isn’t He my friend and He’s richly given us ALL things to enjoy! I love the Amplified version of John 10:10(part B) …I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance(to the full till it OVERFLOWS)! Oooooweee…now that’s living! Ha!! I’ve never heard of “pura vida”, but I LIKE it! Looks like you had a refreshing time…so happy for you! Hope you get to do it more often! My family always laughs at me…they’d probably say I incorporate a little too much “pura vida” into my life! 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing your beautiful photos with us Alison…Costa Rica is somewhere! 🙂 Have an absolutely wonderful weekend and much “pura vida” to you and yours my friend!
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  9. I need a pura vida type trip. My last trip was lovely but not all that relaxing. I love the sound of this. And I agree with you on all the points – sometimes you need to disconnect in order to reconnect.
    trininista recently posted..Oprah, the Ugly Handbag and the Ugly Face of RacismMy Profile

    • Trininista, it’s so worth it! I recommend that type of trip highly. You return to your “world” recharged and rejuvenated, having disconnected just enough for your soul to breathe clearly. Go for it!

  10. Thanks, Michell! I can see you having a ball in Costa Rica. The son of a good friend got married there earlier this year, and several friends have gone there with their families to take advantage of the eco-tourism attractions. I just wanted to chillax!! LOL.

    Good for you that you are “pura vida” friendly! It makes a tremendous difference in our quality of life.


    Alison recently posted..Three reasons to pursue “Pura Vida”My Profile

  11. I have never been to Costa Rica, but that trip sounds fabulous! Not familiar with Pura Vida, but I give gratitude everyday to God and the universe for my many blessings. I have not had a spa day in over a year. Sounds terrific.
    Kimberly H. Smith recently posted..Getting Things Done (Part 4 of 4): The EndgameMy Profile

  12. Pura Vida… Lovely. I enjoyed how you simplified and applied it to our walk with God… It can definitely be hard to become ‘soft’ and not allow life’s struggle to make us tense. Yet I see if we don’t we miss out on truly enjoying the beauty of God around us. Thank you for sharing your Pura Vida experience…I hope to find my own very soon 🙂
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    • I know you will, Tiffany. The concept of “pura vida” may be Latin American but it’s application is worldwide and its source is God. He’s calling us to a life that overflows and that truly appreciates and enjoys the simpler things. Here’s to pura vida!

  13. I am adding the phase ‘pure vida’ to my vocabulary. I would love to do something like this someday. Thanks for sharing.

  14. remain soft and open to Him
    yes, this!
    HisFireFly recently posted..have you not heard?My Profile

  15. I have never heard of PuraVida but I can appreciate such a concept. We’re a busy society and unplugging is necessary for good health and peace of mind. I so wish I could have gone to Costa Rica to enjoy a moment but until I can get there I’m going to try to take more moments right here. Beautiful pics by the way. And the food…yes!
    Andrea recently posted..Stand Your Ground: Never Become the Thing You DetestMy Profile

    • LOL re: the food! It was delish, and I didn’t even get to try the national dish, gallo pinto. But I encourage you to incorporate bits of of pura vida into your life. Go for it!

  16. Hi Alison, Glad you had a chance to find yourself and what a beautiful setting. So your batteries are recharged and you’re ready once again for life’s challenges 🙂 New to the term Pura Vida but hoping I get some soon, so have you scheduled some more in, I hope so.
    Gillian recently posted..Resolution Update July – What’s Stopping YouMy Profile

    • Definitely, Gillian. I’m trying to incorporate little bits of pura vida into life. I’m trying not to get back into the speedy-speedy routine that is typical of my life!

  17. This looks SO incredibly beautiful!! I need to add this to my bucket list stat! Thank God for friends in wonderful places like Costa Rica! I need some time to get away myself but I don’t think it is going to happen this year. So glad you had a great time. You have a wonderful blog 🙂
    Nellie @ Brooklyn Active Mama recently posted..The Illuminite Run NYC 5k Fun Run RecapMy Profile

    • Thanks, Nellie! I encourage you to squeeze out that down time by yourself. You most definitely won’t regret it. And please do add Costa Rica to your bucket list.

  18. This looks like a beautiful retreat, a place to center yourself and renew. I enjoyed it just by looking at your pictures.
    Whitney recently posted..Old School Blogging High FiveMy Profile

    • It is truly beautiful, Whitney, and I did come away feeling more centered and at peace. I’m encouraging everyone to find a similar place to spend a few days!

  19. Thanks for visiting my blog today. What a gorgeous spot for a vacation! Glad you had a relaxing time. I know what you mean about your last quarter-inch of sanity. I feel like that myself sometimes!
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  20. Wow! This is really beautiful. I have to start doing getaways when I feel my sanity slipping. I feel better just reading this post and looking at your photos! 🙂
    Eva recently posted..First Comes Love… Like It Or Not – Barbie’s Getting MarriedMy Profile

    • Girl it was so worth it to go there. I, too, feel more relaxed just looking at the photos and remembering the sense of serenity and calm that enveloped the place. I was only at the retreat for four days, but it was an experience I’d gladly repeat.

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