Giving Thanks and Looking Ahead: Winter 2016 with Rebecca in Central America

It’s time to start living the life you’ve imagined! There is still time to join us this year for any part of the journey, or follow along on the blog and Facebook to keep track of the adventure.

We will start our journey in the peaceful mountain town of Orosi, Costa Rica. There we will work with Montaña Linda Language School and Guest House. The list of amazing things to do while in this quiet, off-the-beaten path pueblo are endless. Enjoy the cowboy atmosphere, tour coffee plantations, relax in the local hot springs, hike the mountain to Nano’s waterfall, AND take advantage of the wonderful Spanish language courses offered by Montaña Linda.

Photo by Montana Linda

We leave Orosi and pause for a not-to-be-missed walk about of Lankester Botanical Gardens, on our way to the southern beach town of Uvita. In Uvita we will stay at the Flutterby Hostel and Guest House and collaborate with Lura Shapteau of Bienestar Uvita Yoga Shala. (Bienestar is the Spanish work for wellness.) We look forward to this new partnership and opportunities for sustainable yoga wellness.

Bienestar Uvita Yoga Shala
Photo by Bienestar Uvita Yoga Shala

A side trip on this year’s Costa Rica adventure will take us into Nicaragua to explore this developing eco-wellness destination in search of future possibilities for work/trade and travel. In Granada, Nicaragua we will be visiting Casa Lucia Boutique Hotel and Pure Gym, Spa and Yoga.

Pure Yoga Gym Spa
Photo by Pure in Granada Nicaragua

Why not explore your passions? Options are easy and endless. Throughout every Holistic Journey’s eco-wellness adventure are ample opportunities to explore sustainable food and herbs, culture and music, as well as birds and nature’s beauty.  One of our major collaborators of the last ten years is Sunny Costa Rica Travel / Tropical Feathers, offering fantastic birding and natural history experiences. See below for a guided tour of birding hot-spots in Costa Rica


The second half of our wellness adventure will take place in sunny Belize. We will be joining Cotton Tree Lodge again this year for another fabulous winter season of tours (explore reefs, jungle, archaeological sites and more!), yoga, exceptional gourmet meals, and quality hammock time.

A unique and peaceful lodging experience on the Mopan River. Photo by Cotton Tree Lodge

We are so grateful for the opportunity to return again to this wonderfully diverse and magical part of the planet to spend time with friends old and new. Each year the experience becomes more rich and eye-opening. Our network of partners is growing every season. Future trips may include adventures in Panama, Cuba and Greece. Be and Be Well!


The Journey is the Destination

As with any practice, adventure or new experience, the ‘journey is the distenation .  Quite true if we are embracing the practice of being fully present!  Is there a true end? Yes, no, maybe?  I like achieving goals and if we never set one do we end up where we want.  If we do set one and achieve it the bends in the road often take us in a different direction, a totally new end that wasn’t in sight becomes a ‘distention untold’.

Traveling, trading, jumping in with both feet while living in different countries is often like that.  New people on their own adventures come your way.  They share their story, a bit of their life, where they are going and it adds color to the pallet of  your life mural.  Your practice (yoga, meditation, etc.  falls off a bit as you fit into a new scene, but as you meander back your body and experiences open new possibilities or learning moments (pain, insight) to

Yin Yoga Central American Style

yoga, yin, culture, wellness

Explore the benefits of Yin  and Inquiry based Yoga, learn to let go and flow into your body. This winter Rebecca will be sharing her love of Yin and Inquiry Yoga with her friends in Orosi, Costa Rica, The Yucatan and Belize. This is a   new project to break boundaries and language through yoga and play! Stay tuned and join in the fun.

Easy is Right

by Chuang Tzu  from the Tao; State and the Art by Osho

Easy is right. Begin right and you are easy.

Continue easy, and you are right.

The right way to go easy is to forget  the right way and forget that the going is easy.

So what is Yin and Inquiry Based Yoga?  Yin Yoga was brought to the forefront as a yoga practice by Paul Grilley and carried further by teachers like Biff Mithoefer, Cheri Clampett and Sarah Powers. Originating from a martial arts practice and Taoist philosophy, Yin Yoga embraces the cool or more feminine side of yoga; punctuating the importance of balance, acceptance, patience and observation. It activates the 6 large meridians that flow through the trunk of the body and down the extremities o the legs, activating  acupressure points and the flow of energy throughout. According to the Tao, balance can only truly exist between the boundaries of Yin and Yang,but it seems to be a perfect compliment to our busy western or modern attitude and life and  more so how many styles of modern, western yoga have embedded our, busy, pushy nature into the our interpretation and practice of  of yoga, creating a mostly forceful, competitive Yang (and dare I say, adolescent)  practice. Many have lost sight of how a  gentle approach may release physical and emotional traumas and dis ease through understanding,   acceptance and supporting our bodies innate ability to heal itself.  While there may be a function and a place for any and all yoga, Yin seems to be a more natural exploration, honoring the body where it i,s at any age, any ability or disability and seeks to encourage equanimity, healing and enhanced awareness within and out.

I was led to Yin through my search for a new approach to yoga and to heal some back injuries and work frustrations     My serious practice evolved in my early days from Iyengar and a more forceful practice. I then found or embraced Restorative through Judith Lasater, Un-Yoga Teacher Training’s with Victor and Angela (this not only changed my life but my relationship to my body). I still attend workshops with them when ever I am able or they are in country) and I have explored and appreciate workshops with  Doug Keller and Mukunda Stiles Structural and Therapeutic Practices. I eventually found  Don and Amba Stapleton, now of  Nosara Yoga and Biff Mithoefer and the practice of Inquiry and Yin Yoga.

I know my past yoga kept we walking after some serious and chronic injuries, but finding Don and Amba  and Yin through Biff, solidified the my practice and approach to life.  They complimented many of my prior teachers, especially Victor and Angela and with the techniques of Inquiry and Pranassage changed my body’s response to old issues.   It also changed my attitude and outlook.

Today I take these skills and techniques (coupled with new training in myofasical release) to my clients, students and in my self care practice in what I have developed as Integrated Body Alignment (IBA).  Flowing with your body, giving the tissues time to unwind, let go, heal is following the watercourse way.  There may be a periodic flood or tumoultous waterfall, but eventually the river finds its’ banks and continues it’s jouney. I love this metaphor, as I was a raft guide and fairly skilled OC-1 white water boater.  Really, you can’t fight the river, you have to flow with it to enjoy the ride.  I encorage you to find a practice, keep a practice, share a practice, but a kind and observant practice, one with joy, laughter and  challengees.  Make this paractice your watercourse way.   I wish you all the blessings of self exploration of an exciting, adventoursom and caring ride!   Really, Go With the Flow…Namaste’  Rebecca

Tropical Allies For Your Home and Landscape

Power Point for A More Sustainable Home

Create a Healthy Home or Office with Tropical Ornamentals

Choose these Tropical Allies to Purify Your In-door Environment

Weeping fig (Ficus benjamina) A ficus in your living room can help filter out pollutants that typically accompany carpeting and furniture such as formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene. Caring for a ficus can be tricky, but once you get the watering and light conditions right, they will last a long time.

Red-edged dracaena (Dracaena marginata) The red edges of this easy dracaena bring a pop of color, and the shrub can grow to reach your ceiling. This plant is best for removing xylene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde, which can be introduced to indoor air through lacquers, varnishes and gasoline.

Golden pothos (Scindapsus aures) Another powerful plant for tackling formaldehyde, this fast-growing vine will create a cascade of green from a hanging basket. Consider it for your garage since car exhaust is filled with formaldehyde. (Bonus: Golden pothos, also know as devil’s ivy, stays green even when kept in the dark.)

Snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Laurentii’) Also known as mother-in-law’s tongue, this plant is one of the best for filtering out formaldehyde, which is common in cleaning products, toilet paper, tissues and personal care products. Put one in your bathroom — it’ll thrive with low light and steamy humid conditions while helping filter out air pollutants.

Aloe (Aloe vera) This easy-to-grow, sun-loving succulent helps clear formaldehyde and benzene, which can be a byproduct of chemical-based cleaners, paints and more. Aloe is a smart choice for a sunny kitchen window. Beyond its air-clearing abilities, the gel inside an aloe plant can help heal cuts and burns.

Bamboo palm (Chamaedorea sefritzii) Also known as the reed palm, this small palm thrives in shady indoor spaces and often produces flowers and small berries. It tops the list of plants best for filtering out both benzeneand trichloroethylene. They’re also a good choice for placing around furniture that could be off-gassing formaldehyde.

Heart leaf philodendron (Philodendron oxycardium This climbing vine plant isn’t a good option if you have kids or pets — it’s toxic when eaten, but it’s a workhorse for removing all kinds ofVOCs. Philodendrons are particularly good at battling formaldehyde from sources like particleboard.

Peace lily (Spathiphyllum) Shade and weekly watering are all the peace lily needs to survive and produce blooms. It topped NASA’s list for removing all three of most common VOCs — formaldehyde, benzeneand trichloroethylene. It can also combat toluene and xylene.

Warneck dracaena (Dracaena deremensis ‘Warneckii’) Combat pollutants associated with varnishes and oils with this dracaena. The Warneckii grows inside easily, even without direct sunlight. With striped leaves forming clusters atop a thin stem, this houseplant can be striking, especially if it reaches its potential height of 12 feet.

Resources taken from (mother natures network)




by Deborah L. Brown  Extension Horticulturist

Our space program has led the way to a fascinating and important discovery about the role of houseplants indoors. NASA has been researching methods of cleansing the atmosphere in future space stations to keep them fit for human habitation over extended periods of time. They’ve found that many common houseplants and blooming potted plants help fight pollution indoors. They’re reportedly able to scrub significant amounts of harmful gases out of the air, through the everyday processes of photosynthesis. Some pollutants are also absorbed and rendered harmless in the soil.

Plant physiologists already knew that plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen as part of the photosynthetic process. Now researchers have found many common houseplants absorb benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene, as well.

Chances are, all houseplants are beneficial in this regard, at least to a certain degree, though they haven’t all been tested. Of those tested, not all have proven equally efficient cleaners. Nor can we assume all harmful pollutants can be removed in this manner.

Some houseplants are better at removing formaldehyde from the air, while others do a better job on benzene; none is much help when it comes to tobacco smoke. But there are enough known plants that do a good job of removing pollutants from the air we breathe to cause us to view houseplants as more than just an attractive feature in decorating the interior environment.

These are three of the worst offenders found in relatively new homes and offices. Newer buildings are constructed largely with man-made building materials and furnished with synthetic carpeting, fabrics, laminated counters, plastic coated wallpaper, and other materials known to “off-gas” pollutants into the interior environment.

The advent of the “energy crisis” a number of years back has increased the problems associated with indoor pollutants. Newly constructed buildings are better insulated and sealed tightly to conserve heat or air-conditioning. While it does save both money and energy, this new found efficiency has its downside in that pollutants may be trapped indoors and have less opportunity to dissipate to the outside. The phrase coined to describe this unfortunate result is “sick building syndrome.”

If your home is old enough to be leaky and drafty, you may not need to worry about “sick-building syndrome.” But if you live in a newer, energy-efficient home with windows and doors tightly sealed, or you work in a building where the air feels stale and circulation seems poor, the liberal use of houseplants seems like an easy way to help make a dent in the problem.

NASA scientists studied nineteen different plant species for two years. Of the specimens studied, only two were primarily flowering plants; chrysanthemums and gerbera daisies. Though commonly used to bring a touch of color indoors, particularly for holidays and special occasions, these plants are generally not kept indoors very long. After they’re through blooming they’re usually discarded or planted outdoors.

Most of the plants tested are “true” houseplants, kept indoors year-round in our climate, though they may be placed outdoors during warm summer months. One is the common succulent, Aloe vera (now renamed Aloe barbadensis), also known as “medicine plant.” Many people already have one in a bright kitchen window because of the soothing, healing properties its viscous inner tissue has on burns, bites and skin irritations.

Most of the plants listed below evolved in tropical or sub-tropical forests, where they received light filtered through the branches of taller trees. Because of this, their leaf composition allows them to photosynthesize efficiently under relatively low light conditions, which in turn allows them to process gasses in the air efficiently.

Soil and roots were also found to play an important role in removing air-borne pollutants. Micro-organisms in the soil become more adept at using trace amounts of these materials as a food source, as they were exposed to them for longer periods of time. Their effectiveness is increased if lower leaves that cover the soil surface are removed, so there is as much soil contact with the air as possible. Best results were obtained with small fans that pulled air through a charcoal filter in the soil, cleaning more than foliage could alone or in combination with a “passive” pot of soil. Even without the fan and filter, however, houseplants did remove trace pollutants from the air.

The NASA studies generated the recommendation that you use 15 to 18 good-sized houseplants in 6 to 8-inch diameter containers to improve air quality in an average 1,800 square foot house. The more vigorously they grow, the better job they’ll do for you.

With the exception of dwarf banana, a fairly unusual plant in this area, the bulk of the list of plants NASA tested reads like a “Who’s Who” of the interior plant world. They are:

  •  Ficus benjamina (Weeping fig)
  •   Hedera helix English ivy
  • Chlorophytum comosum spider plant
  • Epipiremnum aureum golden pothos
  • Spathiphyllum `Mauna Loa’ peace lily
  • Aglaonema modestum Chinese evergreen
  • Chamaedorea sefritzii bamboo or reed palm
  • Sansevieria trifasciata snake plant
  • Philodendron scandens `oxycardium’ heartleaf philodendron
  • Philodendron selloum selloum philodendron
  • Philodendron domesticum elephant ear philodendron
  • Dracaena marginata red-edged dracaena
  • Dracaena fragrans `Massangeana’ cornstalk dracaena
  •  Dracaena deremensis `Janet Craig’ Janet Craig dracaena
  • Dracaena deremensis `Warneckii’ Warneck dracaena
  • Ficus benjamina weeping fig

(Information taken from the NASA report Interior Landscape Plants for Indoor Air Pollution Abatement, September 1989, by Dr. B.C. Wolverton, Anne Johnson, and Keith Bounds, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, John C. Stennis Space Center, Stennis Space Center, MS 39529-6000.)

H110I Reviewed 1/99


Breaking Boundaries through Nourishing Traditions in Food and Culture!

Hopewood Holistic Health & The Center for Food and Culture of Bowling Green Ohio brings your this Eco-Culinary and Garden Experience in Belize.  The Food and Culture Center’s main goal is to nourish connections people make to food, through food and the implications these connections have for our communities, environment, and quality of life.  What a better way to understand ourselves and others than tour their country and  experience their stories through their food, herbs and gardens.

During this journey, Doctor Lucy Long a professor in Eco-tourism and Foodways at Bowling Green University and Rebecca Wood of Hopewood Holistic Health will share their love of food, it’s nourishing tradition, ethnobotancial uses and foodways as we tour the country of Belize this winter. We invite you to join us as we discover the Maya secrets of copal resin in healing, the role of rue for medicine and magic and how red roses or hollyhocks might stop blood flow. Taste the spices of the Creole, Garifuna, East Indian and Maya in their traditional dishes with (garnochos, tamales, hudnut, serre, recado, fy jacks or dukuna) and share their history, stories, fears and dreams.

We’ll walk among the tropical gardens, milpas, monocultures and polycultures then discuss first hand, the pro’s, con’s and concerns of present and past farming techniques with the farmers and families that tend them. You’ll taste cocoa from the pod, sucking the sweet white pulp from your fingers before you bite into the bitter chocolate of the bean. We’ll pondering the trade routes and traditions of chocolate; the maya ‘drink of the gods’ and why the beans, once a currency for trade is now a major part of international trade and industry.

Each morning we’ll wake up to the many colorful birds of the tropics, the aroma of coffee and then discuss our days adventure as we sip our morning brew with a tipico breakfast of tropical fruits, gallo pinto and plantain. We will tour the shade grown coffee coppices, so important in trade and livelihood of Belizeans and indigenous throughout the world and see and hear about impacts and consequences of our love affair with coffee and chocolate and why is the concept of fair trade, worker owned, value added is so important to their lives of many. Or, we might find ourselves floating down a lazy jungle river, comparing the beauty the land use and the importance of water and water ways, both here and at home.

We will tantalize our taste buds with a plates of’ beans and rice’, ‘rice and beans’ or your choice ‘stew beans and rice’ with the obligatory dash of Marie Sharp’s many hot and exotic sauces and then try to count the multitude of ways to prepare and savor plantain (a banana relative), coconut and the many regional specialties.

We are bound to have more than one version of a Belizean Boil up; a dinner of corn, beans and pumpkin (squash) or cassava tubers and yams with hand made tortillas (made from you) on the comal. The variation will never bore you as the roots, spices and choice of fish or poultry (for the non vegetarians) vary with each culture and tradition.

Each day we will discover the importance and necessity of food , how it’s planted, harvested, prepared and the stories, prayers and cycles of the moon that dictates these long traditions. We will experience the diversity of the tropics, taste the sweet juice of fresh squeezed cane and see why some farmers grow the many flora just because they are muy bonita as my friend Don Saul says, “The flowers, they are so beautiful, they just make you feel better when you work so hard”.

A special part of our adventure, as always, is daily opportunities to slow down, with gentle yoga, qi-gong or nature meditation. The exploration of art, music, dance and craft unique to each culture in Belize will also give us pause. Rachel Clark another Holistic Journey guide will help you integrate all of these experiences through her Getting Closer to Nature sessions. These optional sessions are open to anyone and will entice you to tap into your inner artist and create your personal journal of your adventure.

I can guarantee you will enjoy the company and culture of those who will tell their tales and share their lives with us throughout this journey. We will nourish ourselves through food, art, music but also by expanding our insights into others as we learn what brings people of all cultures to the table and how breaking bread or folding tortillas helps bridge the culture gap through commonality, laughter and life’s stories. It’s time to take time. For a better world and a journey you won’t forget contact Rebecca Wood for more information on the Dec. 10-20 or Feb 18-28 trips. or check us out at or


Bound For Belize

From Hollyhocks to Hibiscus; Belize Bound-Join in the Adventure!

You Betta Belize it! Holistic Journeys is offering two amazing Eco-Cultural experiences for those with a sense of adventure, love of plants, ethnic food, art, music, history and of course the beauty of tropical nature. Pick the time that’s best for you and your family, but pick the time, these 10 day inclusive adventures are filling fast. Either adventure (Dec. 10-20 The Flavors of Belize and Feb. 18-28, A Plant Lovers Journey through Time and Tradition) will immerse you in the diverse culture of Belize; the Maya, the Creole, the Garifuna and more. Prepare yourself for taste sensations, hearth fire aromas, jungle sights and sounds and healing sun, sand and time, yes time, when was the last time you took some time just for yourself and your family. You can choose to participate in the many activities Holistic Journeys has in store for you or just relax in a hammock, with palm fronds dancing in the breeze and toucans flying in the trees.

Rebecca Wood and guest hosts will ensure your expectations will be met with comfortable, culturally unique accommodations and a choice of diverse experiences to meet your level of interest. Tour healing gardens and art parks, walk with Rosita Arvigo along the Panti Jungle trail, enjoy open air family style meals of tropical fruits, coffee, curry, fresh caught sea food, hand-made tortillas and rice & beans served Belizean style. Picture yourself cave tubing, snorkeling, kayaking a jungle river, enjoying the view a top a Mayan Ruin or walking through coffee and chocolate farms while you nibble locally harvested and prepared chocolate (food of the Gods). One thing is for certain, you will see Belize from all angles, cultures, land and air and you will return with a new perspective on people, places and yourself.

As an Herbalist, Ethnobotanist and Natural Health Care Professional, Rebecca will share her joy and knowledge of pan-American and unique plants, how they are used traditionally and how you can use them in your everyday life. So find out how hollyhocks and hibiscus can be made into a tasty healing tea or how the magic of marigold or man vine might just be for you. You’ll be busy, but every Holistic Journeys trip includes daily wellness options of yoga, qi gong, nature meditation and reflection time, join in or sleep in but don’t miss this exploration of one of the natures best kept secrets; Belize! It’s time to take time, for more information contact Rebecca at


Spring Plant Spotlight 2012

Spice bush, Lindera benzoin, is one of the two members of the Lauraceae family found on mesic sites throughout the Eastern Deciduous Forest. This multi-trunked shrub can be easily recognized in every season once you learn its individual characteristics. Know as “forsythia of the forest” because its waxy yellow flowers brighten the sleeping woods before any other woody shrubs have woken up. It is an important early insectory and nectory plant for the immerging insects buzzing about.

Lean in close and take a whiff… Ah, the light spicy flora essence is what attracts these critters and subtly spikes our interest in the changing season. It’s waxy deep green, simple leaves are also a recognizable characteristic creating a rounded or arched configuration and deepening the forest shade where it is found growing in dense clumps. Early explorers looking for rich farm land used this shrub as an indicator for rich moist soil and sadly removed the forest for farming and the bergeoning western expansion of a growing nation. We now see them an indicator for ginseng and goldenseal or other woodland medicinals that prefer A moist quality site. It’s bright red barrel shaped berries are easily recognized and a cheery contract in the autumn understory. These fruits provide food for many forest species and have been dried and used for centuries as a spicy cooking condiment. (Don’t forget to crumble, scratch, sniff and taste the leaves, berries and twigs to help you place this plant in your herbal memory!)

The aromatic twigs and leaves have long been used in blending delightful teas and medicinally as a strong tea or decoction for mild, colds, flu’s or fevers. It has a mild diaphoretic, stimulant and expectorant action (Howell 2006) and has been used for delayed menses and as a spring tonic. Foster and Duke (1990) also reference the use of the berries as a carminative and the oil from the crushed fruit as a rub for sore muscles, bruises and rheumatism.

One of my favorite tea blends, created by my students is 50/50 spice bush twigs and white pine needles. It’s so light and sweet it doesn’t even need honey. But experiment, it’s tasty with sumac berries, sassafras and raspberry leaves too! Spice bushes light and sweet taste makes it a good choice for children or those of us with delicate tastes and olfactory senses.

Another recent use of the dried berry is in scenting candles, soaps and sachets. I would gander it would add a “spicy twist” to any bay rum recipe. Regardless of how you use it, it is important as with all plant allies to have a positive Id, know when and how to harvest and prepare and use all ethical aspects of wildcrafting. It’s also important to share your personal experiences and discoveries…….happy exploring. If you want to Get the Green Spark and learn more about Spring treasures in the Appalachian forests join us May 13th at the Goldenseal Sanctuary follow the link Love Your Mother for information on the United Plant Savers Mothers’ Day Celebration for hikes, workshops and more, more, more.

Rebecca Wood
Herbalist & Educator
Hopewood Holistic Health
14411 Rocky Pt. Road Athens Ohio

Sources: Peterson Field Guides, Easter/Central Plants, Steven Foster and James A. Duke 1990. Medicinal Plants of Southern Appalachians by Patricia Kyritsi Howell 2006 and many, many years in the woods.