Hello, my name is Annie. I’m a wife, a mother of three, and a student of yoga. I received my 200 hour YTT in April 2020 and began teaching for the studio where I received my training, Sol Full Yoga in Monroe, NY as well as for NYPD Blue Karma Yoga.

Recognizing the daily traumas police officers face in our line of work, I sought out Land Yoga Trauma-informed Yoga Teacher Certification in April 2021. The program helped me identify how my current practice was unintentionally riddled with potential triggers. The training allowed me to more clearly see how to best serve all my students going forward.

Annie Labrada’s Journey from NY to Costa Rica

Blue Karma Yoga partnered with Three and a Half Acres Yoga for Yoga in the Park. This mindfulness and yoga event brought together a beautiful cross section of not only the NYPD but as is common in the department, a fair representation of NYC. Attendees were from all walks of life and came from all over the world. I bet you no two people shared the same experience and outlook. Many were introduced to yoga and mindfulness for the first time that day. It was an event that will stick with me forever. Over 200 people sat in meditation in Central Park. I am forever grateful for not only my practice but being able to bring it to so many who deeply need it.


Being Mindful and Honoring the Strong Women Who Surround Her

I’m no stranger to being surrounded by incredible women. I have so many stories about my mom from her moving, sight unseen at age nineteen from Brooklyn to South Dakota to teach at a Native American school to her hands-on clean up after Hurricane Andrew devastated Florida. She took that trip as part of a group from a church we didn’t even belong to.

Compelled to help others and to always be brave are just a few of my Mother’s finest attributes. She has consistently encouraged me to have new experiences and take chances. She sets a great example driving on the Autobahn when traveling to Germany in her seventies and touring Yosemite with my Dad.

My very best friend since I was seven years old who never played a sport in her life took up running and fitness in her thirties. She ran a half marathon, completed a triathlon and ran the Chicago marathon. Not bad for someone who used to cheer others on from the stands.

I’m a retired member of the NYPD. Proudly serving among one remarkable woman after another. Women who empower and support one another and encourage each other along the way. The bonds of friendship forged over experiences only we can understand.


Reimagining Life in Costa Rica

My family was beginning a year abroad following my husband and my retirement from the NYPD. We would say goodbye to friends and family. Leave behind the hustle and bustle of commuting, babysitters, nannies, and after school activities. Board a plane and embark on an adventure to Mal País, Costa Rica. An adventure I hoped would teach resilience, acceptance, tolerance and foster the love for nature which already grows deep inside our family.

Annie Labrada’s Journey from NY to Costa Rica

Upon arriving in the village that would be our new home I see women on motorbikes, a small child strapped to their back. Then another motor vehicle passes, this time the child is sitting in between her mothers legs holding onto the handlebars. A few days later I see a mother on a bicycle with a child in front and another behind her. Making a triceratops like chain with colorful rain ponchos protecting them from mud and precipitation. These women would do anything to get their children to school. When I smile at them, they smile back. I think of the drop off lane at school in NY. Giant SUVs snake through the parking lot. No one’s smiling. Everyone is rushing.

I see women surf. Walking confidently into the many shades of blue ocean, a board tucked under their arm, a determined look on their face, white sea foam splashes across their strong bodies. Their cheeks, nose and forehead reflect white, blue and pearlescent stripes of heavily applied sunscreen. I liken it to indigenous women donning warpaint as they enter a battlefield. I notice them curve their boards, elegantly swaying side to side, I can’t tell if they’re making the wave move around them or vice versa. One hand lowers to gently graze the surface as the other hand maintains balance. Then slowly, gracefully they drop back into the salty water. They say hello to friends on shore, sit, watch others, then wave goodbye. These warrior women fix their board to a quad and head off down a tree covered path to the road.

Annie Labrada’s Journey from NY to Costa Rica
My yoga teacher Malin inspires me with her strength and gentle demeanor. She guides us with beautiful words and asanas and greets us all with a genuine smile. She stretches, settles our breath, drops us into relaxation as we overlook that giant blue sea. Afterwards she hops on her own motorbike cruising down a steep, rocky, road, loose gravel trailing behind her as she disappears into a cloud of dust.

I meet the woman who runs the farmers market here on Saturdays. The feria in Santa Teresa was started by Honey whose legend is as captivating as she is in person. She has a smile that lights up her whole face and makes her eyes sparkle. She can be found giving tips on how to cook the vegetables in the large bounty she spreads out. What teas and herbs will treat various ailments. A modern day medicine woman. Honey is a midwife that has birthed so many people here on this peninsula. Her name is spoken with admiration and reverence. When I told her of my goal to become a postpartum doula she said “I think anyone who holds space for that woman is special.” Special indeed. Honey greets my family and I with such warmth, takes time sharing her wealth of knowledge, looks so deep into your eyes you feel an immediate connection.

Annie Labrada’s Journey from NY to Costa Rica
My husband and I attend back to school night at the children’s school. We meet one teacher after another. Shaking hands. Introductions made. They are patient, reassuring and kind when speaking about our children. Hannah’s teacher caters to the room of anxious parents sitting in chairs too small for their larger than middle school frames. She explains the curriculum speaking in English and maintaining eye contact with me. Then without missing a beat she switches both language and her focus to another set of parents this time speaking in Spanish. Finally she directs her attention and her third language towards a French dad sitting in front of me. She never changes her demeanor or grows flustered. There are no awkward pauses or fillers. I am once again in awe.

All around me I see brave, fearless, adventurous women. Families who, like us, were tired of the rat race, they came here seeking a better, healthier, safer environment for their children.

My own girls inspire me over and over again. They are very open to new experiences. They have attended summer camp hours from home in New York and even in North Carolina. But this has been a huge change. The first time they ever left the country was to move abroad for the next year. Start a new school where many of their core classes are in another language. They are forging new friendships, learning about different cultures, eating healthy Costa Rican foods cooked on site by three lovely women. Watching the kids take surf lessons in what is arguably one of the premiere locations throughout the world is unbelievable. It was overwhelming for me. They were so focused, composed, and brave.

One day at the market, Sara, my oldest who is thirteen years old said “Mom, everyone here is just casually amazing!” We had just bought a dress for Sara from a woman who mentioned she had bought the dress for herself in Bali where she was designing and making silver jewelry. I said to my daughter, “You don’t see it yet, but you too are casually amazing.”

This experience so far has awakened my dreams. Inspiration is everywhere. Powerful, confident women are all around us. I pass them while riding my bicycle. We give each other a knowing smile. That smile and nod say “Look at us, biking to run errands, to get exercise, to surf, to see friends, to be healthy. And to be casually amazing.”

Learn more about Annie @annieyoga.calm or follow her journey @party_of_five_gap_year.

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