*This review may appear all over the place, but I am placing my experiences concerning my timeline at this school. Before signing up with Bienestar – Uvita Yoga Shala, I was discussing with Lura through Yovada where she was able to answer questions I had regarding her experiences as a psychotherapist and yoga therapist, and what I am to expect from this YTT program. She explained that there will be brand new accommodation and this group of students (the one I was to be a part of) will be the first ones to stay in these rooms. Then I continued my research on her school through her website. It was written that students will have the opportunity to enjoy a “comfortable lounge area with a yoga library and DVDs for relaxing and socializing. [There are also] … plenty of outside hammocks for resting between or after classes”. The photos looked beautiful as the “school” was surrounded by trees, there was a beautiful pool with a waterslide, and colourful hammocks on posts that overlooked the lush greenery of Costa Rica’s rainforest. We also spoke over the phone where she mentioned how beautiful the accommodations are going to be, and overall romanticized how beautiful the location of her school is. After speaking with her, she requested my email so she could send me the registration and information package. Upon reading her email, I asked her how I can proceed with registration. She replied saying I can send her the money directly through a wire transfer in USD to her Costa Rican account. I sent through the requested amount in Canadian dollars. Unfortunately, there was an error with the beneficiary’s name which was the bank’s fault; as a result, the bank collected a large fee. I called Lura to explain the issue and she seemed to be understanding of the situation as she offered to pay half the cost of the fee if the bank did not reimburse the money. I explained that I was traveling before I arrived in Costa Rica and my only opportunity to send money was that day (it was the last business day before my departure). I suggested that I send her a portion of the total cost to ensure she receives some sort of payment and will send her the rest once I return to Canada to file a complaint to my bank – she agreed. The shuttle picked us up from the airport and drove us to Bienestar. However, when we got off the bus, it was absolutely nothing like what we were told. To our surprise, we arrived at a construction site. Men were working on the building, construction equipment scattered on the second floor, concrete dust EVERYWHERE, and a building that was an incomplete project (unfinished drywalls, no railings, etc.). Instead of arriving at a beautiful yoga school as promised, it was quite the opposite. She attempted to fluff up the excuses with laughter claiming, “Oh, you know how it is in Costa Rica!”, instead of addressing the real situation at hand – we were lied to. There was no green/lush rainforest, the pool was entirely different than the pictures, the library was simply cardboard boxes of musty-smelling books in her room, and there were certainly no hammocks. Where we arrived, was a completely different location than what was advertised on her website and other third-party booking platforms (Yovada & BookRetreats). The only “lounge” area we had were our bedrooms and the yoga deck. We spent the first week of classes listening to power tools from the construction, we were being watched by the construction workers on-site while practicing and walking around, and breathing in concrete dust. The bedrooms were especially covered in this dust, which is completely toxic to breathe in. I had to take my sheets and shake them out outside due to how much there was in my bedroom. Two of us students sat her down and displayed our concern for the fact we invested quite a bit of money into this school and the project is far from being complete. Instead of taking responsibility for her lack of transparency, she continued to fluff up her excuses laughing it off and claiming she thought it would be done by the time we had arrived with no discussion of compensation. In her teachings, she was very adamant that we teachers need to avoid oversharing and gossiping. This took me by surprise because on the first night she spent the entire evening talking poorly about other YTT schools in the area, the teachers themselves, and why she was better than all the other yoga schools. After the first week, I was extremely taken aback when Lura pulled me aside to ask for my payment saying “I didn’t think it was going to take a fu*king month!”. I was extremely confused as I was under the impression I was okay to pay her the remainder when I return back to Canada. Immediately, I started to panic as I was being threatened, that I would not receive my diploma nor be registered on Yoga Alliance until she received her payment. I find this completely understandable, however, it was in the manner she demanded it which gave me quite an uncomfortable feeling. I began to calculate how much I owed her and put the money through PayPal for it to be processed. I told her how much I had put aside but was confused once again as she was saying I was required to pay a random amount that was not listed on her site, third-party booking sites, or with the early bird discount. The following day, she pulled me into her office/bedroom/library, and she told me she has not received any form of payment. I immediately burst into tears as this freaked me out – there was no way my CAD 4,000 disappeared into thin air. On the date of my deposit in her account (I saw her banking statements), she had my deposit written as a future student. Instead of asking for that future student’s transaction receipt OR mine, she accused me of not paying. Her bank does not allow her to see the account name of where the money is coming from so, she guesses which student provided her money rather than looking at financial records. I was sitting in her office bawling my eyes out and instead of providing me any form of support (considering she was a trained psychotherapist), she was sitting there watching me cry saying, “I don’t really know what to tell you”. I felt lost, alone, and extremely anxious. Once I was able to gather my thoughts, I asked her if she was able to take my transaction receipt into her bank so they can look into the matter further. She replied with a simple, “Yeah, I guess I can do that”. I think it was throughout the start of the third week that I honestly didn’t think my experience could get any worse. As Lura is an experienced psychotherapist, I was baffled at what I was hearing in my class. We were discussing our third practicum and Lura began to gossip about her previous students and their submissions. She then began to mock one of her students who struggled with alcohol addiction. As a recent graduate with a psychology degree, and with respect for those who struggle with mental disorders, I know for a fact this behaviour is unacceptable… let alone from a mental health professional! It wasn’t until after 15 minutes of her mocking this poor student, that one of the students in class broke the discussion so we could continue learning about yoga teaching. As the final week approached, I couldn’t wait to get myself out of this horrible place. Lura pulled me into her office/bedroom/library and suggested we just “assume” the deposit in her account was from me and not that future student. She then told me that Yovada is threatening to kick her off the site because she was poaching students from their site (exactly what she did with me) and I must pay the remainder to Yovada instead of her PayPal account. She followed by saying she will write me up something that I can send to Yovada and will blame the initial bank transfer issue as the reason why the money was not sent to Yovada in the first place. She mentioned she will also send a message from her personal account explaining ‘what happened’. I was feeling vulnerable as a student and felt it was necessary to be compliant with her demands as my yoga teacher. Twenty minutes after speaking with her, I realized that this was very wrong, and I didn’t feel comfortable with what she was telling me to do. I sent her a message asking if we could discuss it in further detail. She replied saying she was unavailable that day and would let me know when a good time is. It wasn’t until a few days before I was leaving to head back home that I asked her to talk about our previous discussion. Surprisingly, she had a new amount that was different than what was listed on the sites and different than her second request. Again, I was compliant and agreed to it. I also asked if I was able to contact Yovada myself and she was very against this idea as it may spoil her coverup story. Upon leaving the school (it’s been almost 4 weeks now), I have been asking to send her the remainder of the amount to her personal PayPal but she consistently disregards my request as it appears she’s waiting to hear back from Yovada. Considering all the inconsistencies pertaining to my financial situation, I requested to have an invoice that should have the cost breakdown of what has been paid and what is owed. She still hasn’t sent me this nor told me what to do with the amount owed. As I am completely fed up dealing with one horrible experience after the other, I am left with no choice other than to write this review.