When was the last time you stopped, cleared your mind and just focused on breathing? How long has it been since you switched off your handheld device and disconnected from connections, virtual and real?

Give both mind and fingertips some rest. De-stress and relax by spending some quality time with yourself and surrounded by Mother Nature.

The mountainous jungles of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and the surrounding coastal areas are a great place to begin your journey of reconnecting with nature and the proverbial “ego.”

Stunning landscapes and the abundant natural biodiversity of the area, far-removed from social media updates, obliges you to forget about your taxing life.

Several eco-hostels and holistic centers operate in the foothills of the Sierra, in the small villages of Minca and Bonda, as well as in Santa Marta and Palomino. Each of these places offers one or more alternative therapies in tranquil surroundings that are stress-proof.

Hostel La Loma, which can be reached by climbing up a steep stone path just above Minca’s main church, offers daily yoga classes delivered in a serene forest environment. This refreshing activity, which is sure to awaken your body and mind, can be accompanied by a healthy vegetarian meal and natural fruit juice.

Just 2 kms from La Loma is Rancho de la Luna. This eco-hostel offers Reiki massages and yoga classes. Spend an hour or two stretching and reshaping your body, breath and mental attitude in a harmonious yoga class. For an extra touch of bliss, revel in an energetic Reiki massage.

Known to release deep-seated tension and completely relax the body and mind, Reiki stimulates an inner connection with our bodily functions to heal and revive overall well being.

An alternative option is to visit Minca Ecohabs, an upscale hotel nestled on the hillside, offering views of the Caribbean and Santa Marta. This luxurious hotel’s spa offers a two-hour personalized “conscience perception technique” yoga class to re-establish and awaken body-mind consciousness. Therapeutic body massages and Reiki are also available; all performed by experienced instructors and masseurs.

At a slightly lower altitude, in a sector called El Curval in Alta Bonda, lies Gambhira Eco Yoga Village. This tranquil meditation and yoga center, located in the middle of a tropical jungle, is sure to inspire and recharge weary city folk.

The centre offers daily meditation (with oriental instruments) and Hatha Yoga classes, as well as workshops in Eastern philosophies, Pranayama (yoga breathing) practice, and guided eco-walks. Extended stays and volunteer programs are available.

If the beach is what you’re after, slip away from a hectic city life and find peace at the eco-hotel La Sirena in Palomino. Their beachfront yoga classes and delicious detox juices and fresh vegetarian food are the perfect match for the chilled vibe and stunning location.

Down and off the mountain, escape the noisy streets of Santa Marta and try chi-lling at the newly renovated Monasterio Tai (Calle 19 No. 6-3) located in Santa Marta’s historical center. Tucked amid tiendas, this oasis offers meditation, Tai chi ch’uan classes (for beginners to advanced) and daily morning and evening yoga. An in-house reflexologist is also available to help balance out your body’s internal energy systems.

If you won’t be travelling to the coast, make a point to spend quality time in any natural environment, be it a park, a mountaintop, or someone’s back garden.

“Finding peace in nature” may seem very New Age, but in the shadow of the sacred Sierra, where once the Old World met the New, it’s a tradition that has stood the test of time, even if you are a newcomer to 21st century nirvanas.