Madre Tierra in Costa Rica 2020 Retreat

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Madre Tierra Expressive Arts & Yoga Retreat

Imiloa Institute - Dominical, Costa Rica

March 17-22, 2020

A 5 night/5-day retreat led by art therapist Ella Dufrene & Yoga instructor Ryan Bean, in which you will expand awareness and deepen connections with Mother Earth. Eco-art therapy’s roots take us back to the prehistoric cave paintings, during a time when people were intimately connected to their natural environments. It emphasizes the use of art as ritual, interconnection, interaction, and relationship.

With the hustle and bustle of daily life, we oftentimes find ourselves alienated from our natural environment, which is why Madre Tierra Retreat focuses on our innate primal bond with nature, with an emphasis on grounding, creativity development, mindfulness and impermanence, making it effective for building coping skills, reducing stress and anxiety, and preventing burn-out. 

We invite you to slow things down on this exotic tropical retreat, take your shoes off, feel the temperature of the ground, the texture of the earth. Breath in the evergreen air and feel the exhilaration of renewed energy after a challenging yet rewarding hike in the sacred mountains of Costa Rica. Let the tides of Costa Rica’s Pacific coast tickle your toes as we take you on a journey of all the senses.

This retreat is designed for anyone who is interested in self-exploration through the expressive therapies, as well as practitioners in the fields of mental health, creative art therapies, and spiritual counseling. This retreat is presented in a unique format that allows practitioners and non-practitioners to gain hands on experience using art therapy and yoga in their own lives or practice.


Imiloa Institute is an Educational Institute for the Advancement of Humanity in Costa Rica. Imiloa Institute features 22 acres of pristine jungle, several 200 year old homes imported from the Java Islands, Six Surreal Geodesic Domes, Six Waterfall Jungle Bungalows, Three Salt Water Pools and Two Extraordinary Spaces for Connection and Deepening (Imiloa “Heart” and “House of Masters”).


5 nights in a luxury Bali Home, Jungle Bungalow or Geodesic River Dome

Luxury airport pickup and drop off from SJO to Imiloa

3 organic plant-based meals per day by 5 star Ayervedic Master chef.

Drinking water, fresh juices, & snacks

Ayurvedic & Jungle Food Cooking Workshop

Eco-Art Therapy Adventures, Workshops & Hikes

Daily sunrise yoga & meditation practices

Airport Pick-up & Drop-off

1 hour Massage

Sound Healing

Ecstatic dance movement

Lush jungle surroundings

Ocean Views



  • How to utilize free creative expression as a tool for self exploration.
  • How to receive advice and guidance from the natural world on a current problem, question, or challenge in your life.
  • Rekindling the innate and natural spark of awe, wonder, and playful spontaneity you enjoyed as a small child.
  • How to rediscover, heal, and embrace your innate sense of creativity and examine negative beliefs, fears, or insecurities that you have adopted and that might be preventing you from self actualizing through that creative process.
  • How to explore and utilize our senses as a tool for self discovery, understanding nature from a different paradigm, and gaining a deeper awareness of your Self and mother earth through cross-pairing of the senses.
  • How to expand your natural-self awareness and strengthen your ability to trust and express your natural self.
  • How to expand self awareness through the art of creative writing and journaling.
  • Natural and healthy self care practices.
  • Explore the mandala as a powerful spiritual tool for self discovery, healing, and meditation in nature.


  • Learn how to recognize the best, healthy edible plants and leaves, and use them in your kitchen and everyday recipes.
  • Learn fun and creative recipes, preparation principles and harvesting rules to enjoy jungle foods.
  • Learn how to create a diet and lifestyle to suit your needs with ayurvedic principles  and qualities of the foods we will prepare.


  • Participants will learn creative yoga flows using several forms of yoga including, Hatha, Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Budokon, and Primal Flow movements.
  • Participants will safely learn options for advancing their yoga practice though creative techniques, and new asanas
  • Participants will learn breathing techniques for centering, anxiety relief, and grounding
  • Students will have the option participate in daily meditation.  Meditations will be guided and focused upon self-care, self compassion, connection to self and law of attraction and manifesting.
Bali View Pool 3

The Venue

Imiloa Institute Costa Rica is a 22 acre jungle and ocean oasis nestled in the Savegre Mountains just outside Dominical, Costa Rica. Imiloa Institute is an Intercontinental Institute for the Education and Advancement of Humanity.

Their leadership approach is to contribute to the individual and social transformation of the planet by focusing on the communities that we call home, to serve from a spirit of service and a posture of learning.

16 Lux Accommodations allow for 15-40 occupancy depending on single, double or quad arrangements.

Variety of accommodations including our 200 year old homes imported from the Java Islands, Bali, our gorgeous Geodesic Domes and our Waterfall Jungalows.

House of Masters: Our spectacular 250m² Balinese super-structure hanging 100 feet in the jungle. Often used as classroom for workshops, yoga, meditation, gatherings and dance parties.

Three salt water pools and spas overlooking the ocean.

Miles of jungle pathways that lead to our very own private waterfall

”HEART” of Imiloa: A large 200m² multi-use dining and chique lounge area inspired by Tulum, the rainforest, French Polynesia and Indiginous tribes in Costa Rica (Baruca). Perfect for break out sessions, dining, dancing, deepenings, relaxing or individual meditation and rejuvation.

Your Guides



Visual Artist, Art Therapist, Yoga Instructor

Ella believes that art is our most primitive style of communication and expression, dating back to our earliest forms of art making in prehistoric cave paintings. Driven by the instinctual knowledge of the innate and powerful healing powers of art, Ella received her Masters in Art Therapy & Creativity Development from the Pratt Institute in 2015.

Deeply connected to the restorative flow and wisdom fostered by Mother Earth, Ella began exploring eco-art therapy techniques, and moving toward an ecological artistic context that emphasizes collaboration and interconnection. This lead her to facilitate her first Eco-Art Therapy Retreat in 2016 in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia.

Currently, Ella is based out of Miami, FL, where she works as an art therapist in hospice, as well as in her private practice, Lila Art Therapy Services, LLC. She has experience working with people on the autism spectrum, children and adults with special needs and developmental delays, drug/alcohol addiction, eating disorders, as well as adults and children in both individual and group settings. Ella recently joined Guitars Over Guns non-profit organization with the intention to inspire and empower at risk youth through the arts. Ella emphasizes a holistic approach to wellness and utilizes a playful ‘person first’ approach to therapy.

All of those that know and work with Ella can feel her passion for the healing properties of nature, art and movement. Ella approaches her day to day and work life with a zest for life, a youthful spirit and a contagiously open mind.

Find out more about Ella's intention and purpose behind Lila Retreats by clicking here: Why Madre Tierra?

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Ryan bean

Yoga & AcroYoga Instructor

Ryan Bean is an acrobat, performer and Yoga instructor. Ryan received his yoga training at the foothills of the Himalayas in Rishikesh, India. He teaches Hatha, Vinyasa, Ashtanga, and power yoga, incorporating  Meditation and Pranayama into each practice.

Partner Yoga and AcroYoga are at the core of his style and he may include these fun elements into a class to help emphasize community and trust within the group. Ryan brings a unique style, incorporating the traditional and spiritual practices of yoga learned in the ashrams of India with the playful acro practice. His classes are a mixture of spiritual, playful, powerful, and guided asanas to help you grow and work toward alignment.



Xochi Garcia

"I use my social media to focus in on and reinforce the idea of self-care, physically and mentally. I do not do this for others but as a consistent reminder to myself. I've been actively working for the last year towards acknowledging and confronting my demons such as anger, irrationality, self-pity, resentment, immaturity, etc... A few months ago at the Madre Tierra Retreat, I moved from acknowledgement to acceptance. Since then i have felt freed from the burden of these traits. I discovered that I am fully empowered and in control and I was taught some strategies to work on. It's not easy for me to say I'm no angel, but at least now I no longer feel helpless towards self-improvement."


Faye Ibars

"I have now been to two different Madre Tierra retreats and that's just the beginning. These experiences have been transformative for me, and I will continue to attend as many retreats as I can. I've benefitted immensely from the varied workshops and especially meeting from the fellow attendees. What a beautiful way to connect with like-minded people. Madre Tierra retreats combine nature and art with a focus on personal growth. It's spiritual summer camp!  Personally, I was so inspired by the last retreat that I've continued to pursue art, painting, collage, and try all kinds forms of self-expression. I cannot thank Ella enough for creating these magical retreats and I feel lucky to have been a part of them. Can't wait for the next time I can reconnect with myself and Mother Earth!"

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Stephan Blanco

Words can’t even begin to describe the beautiful  experience I had at Madre Tierra retreat. During my time I had the chance to experience so many different things... I got to spend time with my friends on a deeper level, and also got to meet some extraordinary people that were new and amazing. The environment that was created was so unique and special that people including myself were able to release their inhibitions and truly be themselves. The tears, laughter, openness and appreciation that joined us all as one is something I’ll never forget. The Madre Tierra retreat came together in such a harmonious way that it left all of us who started as strangers - feeling connected, peaceful and as if we had known each other forever. I truly believe everyone found a little piece of themselves that they didn’t know they were searching for.
Regardless of any insecurities that I've had, I felt a sense comfort even in my own discomfort, and found myself being able to let go. The energy and support that was provided was the trigger to releasing known and unknown stressors and in return inspiring new thoughts, clarity and intentions.
The Madre Tierra team and facilitators worked tirelessly to bring together a truly exceptional and affirming experience. Throughout the retreat they did an amazing job striking the perfect balance between yoga, self development, creating positive affirmations through artistic influences and delicious vegan dishes. The Hostel in the forest also provided and taught me the respect and consideration nature deserves, shifting the mindset and whole being.


Creative Arts Workshops

Meditation. Mantra. Clay. A Journey to Self-alchemy

This workshop designed by Alison Gigl will integrate the use of the following modalities: meditation, mantra and the sensory use of clay to develop a deeper understanding and alchemy/healing for the self.

Meditation rebalances the brain and fires energy into new neuron pathways; mantra allows people to connect through sound vibration; and clay, which IS the earth, works directly with our sensory system to heal trauma, anxiety, stress.  Through these processes, participants will be

lead through experiences and develop clay sculptures to dialogue with, and deepen their connection to their body. Light yoga will also be used in opening.

Coming Full Circle - Earth Mandalas

The Mandala Sanskrit for “circle” or “completion.” It is an ancient symbol that represents our life and the universe. Mandalas are seen everywhere: in the structures of our cells, the earth, and universe. During this workshop, participants will work together create a large mandala using all natural materials from the earth while exploring and reflecting on the interconnectedness of humans and and earth. This workshop aims at promoting centering, meditation, emotional expression, mood enhancement, and relaxation.






Creative Arts Workshops

The Mandala Sanskrit for “circle” or “completion,” is an ancient symbol that represents our life and the universe. Mandalas are seen everywhere: in the structures of our cells, the earth, and universe. Mandala themed workshops aim at promoting centering, meditation, emotional expression, mood enhancement, and relaxation. The mandala will be explored through visual arts and movement.

Through movement exploration, creative expression, reflection of nature and moving as a collective, we aim to discover the synchronicities between our inner self and the collective energy. In hopes of understanding our own patterning, awakening our capacity to tap into and attune to vibration, and reconnect our patterning with our most authentic self, we gain access to the scared healing force of the profound pattern of the circle on a personal and universal level.







Rise with the Sun Yoga This powerful class is inspired by many styles of yoga and designed to start your morning off with momentum.  It incorporates the power flow style of Ashtanga tradition, the creativity of Vinyasa yoga, and the inspiring primal and martial arts movements of Buddakon yoga.  Expect balancing asanas, back-bending, inversions, forward-bending, and twists. We’re looking to build strength, range-of-motion, and comfort in our own skins, inviting challenge and discomfort, and training our minds to respond with grace and acceptance.  "Vortex Yoga" is designed to help find calm within the chaos of room and your life while inspiring you to step into your highest self.  All morning classes begin with intention setting and end with meditation.  




Rise with the Moon Yoga:
This class is a blended sequence of faster paced, heating postures intertwined with deep seated, cooling postures.  This class is designed to slow down the day and move into a more meditative and calming evening.  Controlling the flow of energy through our breath, we will create a unique combination of movement that enhances both our physical and mental bodies.  The evening class is designed to help the practitioner be in the experience of the body during the asanas to then release awareness physically and move into receiving awareness in the physical during savasana.  The evening classes will include guided meditation and or sound therapy.


Sound Healing

Everything is a vibration and you tune your body like you tune an instrument. Different instruments are set to certain frequencies. Sound healing allows your body to heal itself by slowing down your brain waves, which affect every cell in your body, shifting them from diseased to being in ease.  Sound Therapy sessions include Gong Bath, Hang Drum, Shamanic Drum, Native Flute, Singing Bowls, Tuning Forks, and other soothing and nerve calming instruments.  Using harmonies and techniques that move energy through the body to release tension and blockages; Seed of Sound will take you through a musical journey that can inspire healing, personal growth and connection to self.  Seed of Sound's intention in the sound therapy practice is to create a calm environment, radiate love, and hold a supportive and compassionate space for participants and aid in self-healing.

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Join our master chef Pedro  as he introduces you to the best recipes and nutritional principles of Costa Rica. Using locally harvested ingredients and medicinal plants, he will teach you to create gourmet jungle foods. 

Costa Rica is one of the most bio diverse countries in the world. Learn how to recognize the best, healthy edible plants and leaves, and use them in your kitchen and everyday recipes. Eating close to nature, organic, in season, and minimally processed foods is the best way to keep the body and mind healthy.

Learn how to create a diet and lifestyle to suit your needs with ayurvedic principles  and qualities of the foods we will prepare. Learn fun and creative recipes, preparation principles and harvesting rules to enjoy jungle foods. 

100% organic plant based cuisine

“Ayurveda has the great value of considering the human person as a whole: in their physical needs as in the spiritual and emotional ones. According to this ancient wisdom, the pathologies of our organism, or a good part of them, are due to internal imbalances. The main objective of the Ayurvedic doctor is not only to cure diseases, but to prevent them. How? Applying remedies and a lifestyle that respects our needs and those of others, so that the inner balance is maintained, which is the basis of our well-being." Swami Jyotirmayananda



In the kitchen at Imiloa Institute, healthy vegan meals are prepared for all retreat guests. They utilize the biodynamic agriculture of the Costa Rica with an emphasis on creating healing cuisine.  Chef Pedro's food has received perfect five star reviews. Him and his team foster new possibilities as they take you on a journey of sweet, savory and everything in between.

Chef Pedro's remarkable story and humanity is powerfully expressed in this video series. Pedro has been cooking since age 7. Rated as one of the top chefs in Costa Rica, Pedro was diagnosed with a brain tumor and has been healing it with Ayurvedic medicine and plant based nutrition.

The illness has left him deaf and blind in one eye. Despite it all, Pedro is Chef at Imiloa, preparing nourishing food and explosions of flavor that delight, transform and create possibility for all our guests. We are so very deeply moved to have him working alongside us. Even non-vegan folks go crazy over his cuisine, and that is perhaps the most exciting!

His is a testimony for our relationship with food and with ourselves and it is an examination of the choice we have in life.




Featuring over 12,000 square feet of space over looking thousands of acres and the South Pacific coast,
our three Bali Homes are imported from Indonesia and boast hand-carved architecture.




Six Jungle Bungalows built on the side of the mountain on the pathway to our very own private waterfall. Bali inspired, the interiors feature natural finishings and a gorgeous exposed shower and bath tub.

Jungle Deck Wide


Five Buckminster Fuller inspired Geodesic Domes, among the best made in the world, boasting sacred geometry in it’s design, partially solar powered and in the pre-historic Jurassic Jungle, you can experience the soothing sounds of water and experience nature unlike anywhere else on the planet.



EARLY BIRD - Must be paid in full by December 15th, 2019

  • $2,149.00 – Quad Occupancy in River Dome - per person (SOLD OUT!)
  • $2,449.00 –Double Occupancy in River Dome - per person
  • $2,649.00 –Single Occupancy in Bungalow - per person
  • $3,000.00 –Single or Double Occupancy in Bali Home - per person (Or $2,700 per person for groups of 3 - offer expires Oct 31st)

Price After December 15th, 2020:

  • $2,289.00 – Quad Occupancy in River Dome - per person
  • $2,649.00 –Double Occupancy in River Dome - per person
  • $2,849.00 –Single Occupancy in Bungalow - per person
  • $3,250.00 –Single or Double Occupancy in Bali Home - per person

*Cost of lodging is included in retreat cost and will be arranged on your behalf.

*Single occupancy available in Bungalows and Bali Homes, Double occupancy rooms available in Domes, and quad occupancy rooms available in Domes.

*If you are interested in being paired up to share a room with other friends please notify Ella upon registration and she will do her best to accommodate your request.


Step 1: Fill out the contact form below

Step 2: Click on the image below to make your deposit.

$500 (100% refundable 90 days prior to the retreat, non-refundable thereafter) deposit is required to reserve your spot for the retreat. The remainder of your balance is due on or before January 31st and is non refundable.

Step 3: Wait for your confirmation e-mail.

Step 4: Go celebrate!

Contact Ella for more information at: