Seven years ago Kristin Gilbert Ramirez was living the American Dream. She had a full-time teaching career, health benefits, a home, a car, and fancy electronics. And she was pursuing her master’s degree in the beautiful countryside of Maine.
Only it wasn’t her dream. “I felt miserable. I wanted to ride a bicycle and put my hands in the earth and not care which version of an iPhone everyone had. I wanted to be in a place where friendships, health, and family came first and work and professional progress were the added bonus.”
For years she had been traveling back and forth to Costa Rica and fell in love with the tropical landscape and the relaxed Caribbean way of life.
But for Kristen what the small town of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, with its stunning jungle-backed beaches and abundant wildlife, lacked was consistent yoga classes.
“I found myself falling out of practice each time I came to the Caribbean because there was no consistent, professional location for me to join in a class,” she says.
Yoga practice was an integral part of Kristen’s life in Maine where she taught her high school students in their spare time and participated in the local yoga community. She had studied yoga and bodywork for years, and though it was always her passion, it had fallen second to her teaching career.
She began to wonder if yoga could be her life’s calling instead. Could she open the kind of yoga studio in Puerto Viejo that she craved on her visits? Could she live there full-time? She decided to take a chance and relocate herself—and her practice—to her favorite beach town in the world.
“My initial investment was quite small. We started on a tiny wooden platform behind a pre-existing café. The maximum capacity was four or five students.”
Kristen explains that once she committed herself to this path, opportunities appeared and doors flew open.
When Om opened its doors in 2008 it was the first time many locals had ever heard of the practice of yoga. To spread the word about the new yoga studio Kristin would ride her bicycle all over town handing out fliers and offering information.
The studio has grown into a full-service yoga and bodywork center, boutique hostel, and eco-minded tour company. Her initial investment was next to nothing and the new facility was built by her husband with locally sourced materials that were mostly free. Her business is now thriving in Costa Rica.
The yoga studio, hostel, and tours are 100% of the income that supports Kristin and her family. She is able to pay for trips back to the states every year to see her family, take advanced yoga and bodywork trainings, dine out, and stock her home with organic produce.
While many may attribute success to income, Kristin has developed a different outlook. “I love Om, I love the south Caribbean, and I love our community. That for me is the ultimate success. I love my life,” she says.
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