Traveling Yogi: Bungee Jumping in Interlaken, Switzerland

Let me start off by saying that I am afraid of a lot of things. However, heights are the # 1 thing I am scared of. So of course, I wanted to go Bungee Jumping. Makes sense, right? Knowing me, it makes perfect sense. I have a strong belief that whatever you are scared of, you must face it. It releases attachment to fears, and makes them appear smaller. It makes you a stronger person, and it helps you grow. By facing fears, we face our thoughts, and we can break them down into nothing. It changes your perspective, and it changes you as a person.

With that being said, I chose Interlaken as my last stop in Switzerland, solely for the fact that it is known for having a lot of adventure activities. So if I ended up not going bungee jumping, I could go canyoning, white water rafting, etc, all while being surrounded by the amazing mountains.

Below is a summary of my trip to Interlaken – new friends, endless amounts of chocolate, and jumping 450 feet from a cable car!

Thursday, September 17, 2015
6 am: wake up and catch 6:45 am train to Interlaken from Lausanne, Switzerland
9 am: arrive at Interlaken Ost Train station

Upon arriving at the Interlaken train station, the first thing I noticed was mountains. mountains. mountains. The train ride was basically like taking a train ride to Hogwarts – just absolutely breathtaking.

interlaken train station

I walked about 20 minutes to my hostel – there was almost no one out, and I enjoyed my stroll around the streets. Interlaken is this little town nestled in between all these mountains, and I could not stop staring at how GREEN everything was!
**Note – everywhere I went in Switzerland, it was so CLEAN – they are amazing at keeping their cities tidy and trash free.
After getting to my hostel, I immediately put down a deposit for bungee jumping – that way I couldn’t wimp out later. Since it was too early to check in, I threw my backpack in the back room and headed out to town. The only thing I had planned to do in the city was the jump, so I had the entire day free to explore.

interlaken 2

I walked into town, exploring the little shops, and of course, found a nice little chocolate shop to buy a lot of chocolate from. Did I mention that chocolate is super expensive in Switzerland?! As is everything else! Anyways, I ended up getting a little lost, but I wouldn’t call it lost since I didn’t have anywhere to go. I ended up strolling next to the mountains and amazing blue waters in a park – and along my walk, I could not stop staring at how beautiful everything was. Just extreme gratitude for being able to experience Switzerland, and feeling such joy. This was the moment that I realized I enjoy being alone. Which is completely paradoxal to my underlying fear/belief of ending up alone, but in that moment – it was perfect. Walking alone and just being, without having anyone else there, was perfect. I fell in love with being alone, and with every single Solo second of my time in Europe. I was free to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. If I wanted to be around people, I would just strike up a conversation with people around me, meeting other travelers on their own quest for adventure.

InterlakenSwitzerland

After walking around a bit, I was hungry and stopped at a local cafe for a pastry & hot chocolate. Since it was raining, and I was freezing, I needed as much warmth as possible!

interlaken cafe

Once I finished up my brunch, I decided to head back and check in to the hostel. I ended up meeting a few of my roommates, who told me about an amazing hot chocolate place in town. I don’t know how I missed it the first time around, so I ended up walking back into town for round 2 – you can never have too much hot chocolate, especially when it is cold and rainy!

interlaken chocolate

The store we went to is called The Funky Chocolate Club – founded by 2 chocolate lovers who just had to open a shop. I’m pretty sure we are best friends, even though we’ve never met. Anyways, we ordered hot chocolate – steamed milk and chocolate disks – you can get dark, milk, or white – or a mix – and it was amazing, thick, sugary, and perfect. Melted chocolate and milk = best idea ever.

interlaken chocolate2

interlaken job chocolate

It’s like they know my deepest wish

After downing our drinks, we headed to a local restaurant and shared some sort of macaroni/bacon dish with onion straws. Lets just say I was not on a diet on this trip – I honestly don’t know how people are skinny in Europe!

interlaken snack

On our walk back, it was cold and rainy – so I got changed and tried to warm up a bit at the hostel a little bit before going to Bungee jump. Around 4, I headed to the area behind the hostel to meet the group. I grabbed a beer and met up with the other 11 crazy individuals that would jumping along with me – married couples, people traveling for work, college students. We were all terrified, and it was great to have so many people there to chat with and distract each other.

interlaken bungee stockhorn

interlaken 3

interlaken jump group

It was about a 45 minute drive to Stockhorn, where we would all jump. Once we arrived, we took a cable car up to the area where we would be prepped and suited up.

pre jump interlaken

After all getting suited up, we loaded into the gondola – the one where we would all be jumping out of. The gondola stopped over the middle of the lake – at this point, there was no backing out.

interlaken bungee jump lake

Lucky for me, I was the lightest person of the group – which meant I was the last person to jump (being very sarcastic here). There were 3 separate cords that needed to be changed out for each person different weight class – so, I was able to watch all 11 people in front of me jump, counting down and cheering them on. Fortunately, the guys manning the jumps/cords were AWESOME – they had music playing, gave me a jacket to wear because I was so cold (or just shaking from nerves, who knows), and were calm the whole time. By the time it was my time to jump, they hooked me up, and I stepped over the line. I put my toes to the edge of the door, placed my hands on the outside of the gondola, and was given instructions  to look at the camera man on the outside of the car after I jumped. The 2 guys counted down – 54321 (the countdown is basically 2 seconds long – they don’t give you any time to hesitate) – and I jumped, smiled at the camera…. then began the fall. I honestly don’t remember much about falling – just thinking – oh shit – and my brain kind of shut off. I mean, you kind of have to shut your brain off to jump 450 feet into empty space with nothing but cables attached to your ankles.

interlaken bungee jump

interlaken bungee jump2

Nina Bungee Interlaken

On the bounceback, I tweaked my knee – which wasn’t painful, it was just sore for a few weeks following the jump. No one else hurt themselves, so it might have just been the way I fell and how much I bounced back (I was pretty close to the lake).

interlaken bungee jump 3

After I stopped bouncing around so much, I just kinda hung upside down for a minute or so (or not, I was still in a daze at that point). A boat came by with a big pole, and I was able to grab onto it. I was pulled into the boat and unhooked, then brought back to land.

I've never been more happy to be done with anything in my entire life

I’ve never been more happy to be done with anything in my entire life

As a group, we all headed back, drinking a celebratory beer – we had all survived the jump – basically just overall excited to be alive. I have been skydiving, but this was different. There is no one attached to your back, and you have to jump yourself. There is no parachute – just a cord attached to your feet. And the fall happens in a matter of seconds, depending on how high your starting place is (mine was about 450 feet). There is a sense of comfort you get when you skydive – maybe its the secure feeling of having someone go down with you – that you don’t have when you jump.

If anything, Bungeeing will change your thoughts. After jumping, I find myself questioning a lot of fears. I look at thoughts differently, and my actions and choices are a lot different. I believe in myself more, and rarely ever think I can’t do something. If you are ever looking to change your perspective, Bungee Jumping might be for you 😉

interlaken post beer jump

After arriving back at the hostel, I quickly showered and headed back out to town with a few people to grab dinner (and more beer! because LIFE!). We went to a place called Goldener Anker – Beer, Gnocchi, and Fondue. The perfect way to end the night, followed by a roadie beer from the corner store on our walk back.

interlaken dinner interlaken fondue

I ended up heading to bed around midnight, as I had a 7 am train to catch to Munich. I wish I could have stayed another night, but Oktoberfest was waiting for me (You can read about that adventure here and here)! If anyone ever ends up in Interlaken, make sure you stay for more than just 1 day. The city is absolutely beautiful, and there are so many fun things to do there! And if you ever decide to jump – or do any fun adventure – I highly recommend Alpin Raft – the workers were absolutely amazing, and I could not have asked for a better experience!

Next up: Oktoberfest!

Yoga Teacher Training: Part 2

This past weekend, I began the second half of my 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training, just a few months after completing my 100 hours in Belize. This time, I opted for a local training, spread out over the course of 4 months, versus an intensive 1-week training. This way, I can have more time to absorb all of the information. Also – I only get a few weeks vacation every year, and I couldn’t exactly take any more time off during the week ;).

There are 6 Weekends of Training:

Module 1: Refresh – A course designed to Reflect, Reconnect and Refocus your Teaching (15 hours)
Module 2: Educate – Create Workshops that Wow (8 hours)
+ 2 Hours of Workshop Presentation & 8 Hours of Attending Other Trainee Workshops (for a total of 18 hours)
Module 3: Source – Gain a Deeper Understanding of Yoga as a Science, Philosophy and the History Behind It (10 hours)
Module 4: Body – An Exploration of Anatomy, Physiology & Subtle Energies (14 hours)
Module 5: Edge – Take Students to their Edge and Help them Find Their Greatness (10 hours)
Module 6: Formulate – Create Your Special Sauce (10 hours)

I’ll give a breakdown of everything I learn as I go – below is a recap of my first module!

Module 1: Refresh – A course designed to Reflect, Reconnect and Refocus your Teaching (15 hours)

Day 1:

  • 8 am: 1.5 hour heated yoga class
  • Set goals for training
  • Create Yoga Biography & Purpose statement
  • Create Yoga Vision board – got a little crafty with magazines to create a vision board for what I want out of my yoga experience/career
  • impromptu teaching – taught part of a class and received feedback from instructors
  • Learning how to create a yoga class based on a theme

Day 2:

  • 9 am: taught part of a yoga class w/other trainees based on a theme we chose
  • Yoga vocabulary: learned how to cue with different words/statements
    ex:  instead of the basic “straighten arms,” knee over ankle”, etc, learning how to say things like “Ignite the power in your core, shooting energy through your toes… or something along those lines 😉
  • watched a Ted Talk on Vulnerability
  • bonding: exercises with other trainees, getting a little bit deeper with our fears (insert: tears & hugs)

Homework due at next module in September:

  • Create a theme-based class
  • Complete yoga vision board
  • Begin a daily mantra/meditation practice
  • Complete online module

Overall, it was a long and exhausting weekend. I absolutely love every one of the trainees, which makes everything that much more fun. This is just the beginning of growth in continuing on with my Yoga Teaching – always learning, growing, and facing a lot of uncomfortableness along the way. I’ll be posting updates after each class completed!

In other news, Pranamat sent me one of their amazing products to try, and I have been testing it out for the last few weeks. I received a Turquoise Pranamat, and have been laying on it almost every day. What is a Pranamat, you ask? According to the website, “The Pranamat ECO therapeutic massage mat is designed for home use and is made from 100% natural materials such as linen and coconut fibre, which means it’s kind to both your body and the environment. The lotus-flower massagers are arranged in a honeycomb pattern, a natural design that helps channel energy into your body. It’s a wonderful example of bio-design, combining modern technology with the knowledge of the ancients.”

So basically, an at-home accupressure mat that helps stimulate the movement of energy to your body.

pranamat

While there are several different ways to use the mat, I mainly chose to lay on my back, as I tend to have lower back problems and a tight upper back. Some nights, I bring this to bed and lay on it for 10-20 minutes before going to sleep. This helps me relax, and I feel like I sleep well every night I use it. Also, It releases a lot of tension in the muscles in my back when I lay on it for more than 15 minutes – normally I prop a small pillow under my lower back or neck so the mat shapes to my spine. I had a crick in my neck a few weeks ago, and this mat was a godsend for the bunched up muscles!

There are other ways to use the mat, too: Sciatica, cellulite, back pain, sleep improvement, headaches… all things that I am sure, most have struggled with. In order to see benefits, you DO need to commit to laying on the mat for about 20 minutes a day. So if you can find time to do this, you will definitely notice a difference! Overall, I love the concept of this mat and that it offers relief similar to acupuncture. While this mat has helped with tight back muscles, I am going to be testing this out for cellulite next!

pranamat fit blonde yogi

20 minutes of Pranamat!

Has anyone ever tried using a Pranamat? If yes, what were your results?

Thanks for reading through this loooong post! Lots of new reviews, giveaways, yoga and traveling in the works! Stay tuned 🙂

Yoga Photo Shoot + 1st time teaching Yoga!

This past week, I teamed up with G10 Photography, a local photographer in Columbus, to do a mini yoga photo shoot. I really love being able to try new things, and the whole experience was very cool!

One thing you should know about me is that I am a total nerd – I prepare and organize everything in my life, down to typing up notes and writing out my entire weeks agenda 1-2 weeks ahead of time. Since I am still fairly new to this whole yoga photography thing, I planned everything beforehand: picking out poses I wanted to do/try, different outfits to wear, etc. I even had my friend come with me to help out/direct me, because sometimes it’s hard knowing what I actually look like in the poses I’m doing!

After I arrived, I changed and stretched a LOT, so I was ready to go after about a half hour. I honestly don’t know how fit models do it – I was exhausted near the end from holding all of the poses, and am so glad I brought water and a snack to eat! We spent a total of about 2 hours in his studio – below are a few of my favorite shots!

Pincha Mayurasana  Hollowback Forearm Stand

Bakasana - Crow with reverse hands

This entire past week has been crazy – between running the quarter marathon on Saturday, I’ve also been packing for my trip and cramming in last minute study sessions with my required yoga reading list. Lot’s of late nights – up until 12:30 am studying, only to get up at 5:30 am for 7 mile runs + yoga classes 1-3 nights a week. Working 50 hours a week, fitting in guitar lessons, book club and seeing friends & family, I feel like I haven’t slept in years. But i LOVE it. I wouldn’t trade this craziness for anything in the world!

Anyways – back to yoga.. You know how I said I was total nerd and prepared for everything? Well, I take notes when reading my yoga books, and have even typed up the entire Baptiste Power Yoga flow so I can clearly see everything laid out in front of me. I learn best when engaged in all types of learning styles – visual, hearing, hands on.. Reading notes & asking my yoga teachers a lot of questions after class are 2 ways I’ve been learning the past few months, but I haven’t been able to actually TEACH. And teaching a yoga class – with me as the only student – isn’t exactly the same as teaching someone else how to do yoga ?

I wanted to start practicing teaching a little bit in order to become more familiar with the Baptiste Power flow sequence, and fortunately for me, I have a lot of willing friends to volunteer as students! This past Thursday, I taught my first Yoga “class” – and by class, I mean my friend came over and I led her through a 50 minute power yoga flow. I was a little nervous and had to look at my notes a few times, but I did it… and loved it! (I found a Playlist made by Yoga Girl on Spotify and it was perfect!)

Actually teaching someone is very different than doing it alone – trying to find the right words to say, how to say it, knowing the correct pose names, the different sequences… it was nerve-wracking, and almost a little uncomfortable. I think about how awesome all of my yoga teachers are, and how they always have the most profound or touching things to say during their class. Having an impact on someone, even if it is just for 50 minutes, can change their thinking, their mood, their day… It’s such a beautiful thing. Every teacher is different, and I think with practice, it will get easier and easier to become more comfortable in teaching and finding my own voice.

For all you Yoga teachers (or any teacher!) out there – how did you learn to teach? What were the most challenging things when getting your YTT certification? The most fun or satisfying? I would love to hear from you!

Growth

I knew this would be hard, but not like this. I feel like a zombie. Some days I find myself driving around… no where to go, but not wanting to go home to an empty house. My stomach feels empty, but I have no appetite to eat. Everyone tells me to keep myself busy, exercise, be around people, but how can I?  It’s hard to put one foot in front of the other, let alone have the energy to go to the gym or carry on a conversation.

Breakups take a toll on a person, but at the same time, it can be a beautiful thing. It can be wild, violent awakening of a person’s soul; that little push to begin a person’s growth, to get them up off their feet. For me, it’s a time for rebirth. It’s hard. It’s painful. I don’t understand or even know how to explain quite how I feel, just this emptiness in my heart of where someone used to be. It’s the feeling of being stuck, of not being able to go back, but not sure how to go forward. It’s there when I’m alone, it’s there when I carry on a conversation… it’s always there, in the back of my mind, reminding me of what no longer is. Not wanting to be alone, not wanting to sit in the silence that is now the everyday norm.

Regardless of how I feel, I am doing just that: letting myself feel. Letting it all out, practicing patience on my hurting heart, crying at any and all times of the day… just observing the emotions, and letting them be. This is a time to focus on myself, look inward, let go of attachments and begin cracking open my heart. There is a lot of hurt I have carried my entire life, and it is time to let it all go. I let my ego, my fear, my anger, my judgement, my lack of love for myself – all get in the way of practicing love towards others. It is time to focus on self-love, and let the healing begin.

“Some periods of our growth are so confusing that we don’t even recognize that growth is happening. We may feel hostile or angry or weepy and hysterical, or we may feel depressed. It would never occur to us, unless we stumbled on a book or a person who explained to us, that we were in fact in the process of change, of actually becoming larger, spiritually, than we were before. Whenever we grow, we tend to feel it, as a young seed must feel the weight and inertia of the earth as it seeks to break out of its shell on its way to becoming a plant. Often the feeling is anything but pleasant. But what is most unpleasant is the not knowing what is happening. Those long periods when something inside ourselves seems to be waiting, holding its breath, unsure about what the next step should be, eventually become the periods we wait for, for it is in those periods that we realize that we are being prepared for the next phase of our life and that, in all probability, a new level of the personality is about to be revealed.”

Alice Walker

Fit Blon

Presence

This past week, I  flew out to Costa Rica on an adventure. I went to School of the World in Jaco, a place where you can be productive while on vacation. I decided to take spanish lessons and yoga classes, 2 of my top interests at the moment. I went, thinking I was going to improve my spanish and maybe deepen my yoga practice; however, what I got out of this trip was something I never expected.  I learned to slow down, for the first time in my life. I met people who had such a sense of adventure, a joy for life. And it touched a very deep part of me that I have not been faithful to, a part that has been buried deep for so long. Hearing others stories of travel, seeing their dreams, their desires, learning their reason for travel, their life stories… it was beautiful. So many people coming from all over the world to one place, all for the same reason – to experience. To experience adventure,  the beauty and love of other countries, a change in their lives… And it opened my eyes to the present. To allow myself to slow down, to not always rush around.

I have always listened to that voice, urging me to rush, to not stop and be in the moment. And there is that other voice, that always tells me to slow down. to be patient. to relax. and that loud voice of anxiousness has always, always won. Always afraid to let go, to let that silence overcome me. To sit still for 2 seconds, afraid of what thoughts might come crashing in. Afraid of that space, the space that allows one to be present and enjoy life. But not anymore. I have felt this shift happening within me the past few weeks; that gut feeling that things are changing, that I am changing. I am feeling more at peace, allowing myself to enjoy things I would always brush off and not care about. And that loud voice, telling me to always be on the go… it is scared. it is scared that it won’t be listened to anymore, lost in the silence it so greatly fears. And I am embracing it, slowly, cautiously catching glimpses of the peace that comes with just being.

As I lay on my yoga mat tonight in Shavasana, concentrating on my Ujjayi Breath, I chant the mantra **”I choose to enjoy this present moment. I choose to enjoy this present moment.” Hearing the breath come in and out of my nose, through my throat… Letting go of all tension in my face, my arms, my legs, I feel the energy running through my body. I am aware of the sounds around me, yet  am somehow stepping out of my mind, aware of myself, my thoughts and how my body feels. And I realize, that I am present. It is so peaceful, yet so startling – I knew that this is how every person should feel – beautiful, at peace, an overwhelming feeling of love. It was just a quick glimpse in a short time, but it brought me such joy. It was like something shifted in me – I let go of having to be in control of every move and thought, focusing only on the sensation of my body and the sounds around me. I just WAS. I wasn’t a body, I wasn’t my thoughts… I was everything, and I was all around. I didn’t want to stop being in that moment – it was so refreshing, so new, so relaxing. Like taking a hot shower after a long day, or taking off your shoes after being on your feet all day. Relief. Something your body welcomes, that calm, that release of stress – it craves it, never wanting that feeling to go away.

Being present is hard. It is like learning a new way to live, a new way to breathe, a new way to run… learning a new language, to excel at a sport, to improve your posture. It will take time, but practice will make you better. Just sticking with it, and knowing that at your core being, you are love and joy. You are here, but are just bogged down with the thoughts of everyday life. So slow down. Focus on your breath. Develop a mantra. Take a few seconds to be aware of the present moment in the middle of your day.

You never know when your last moment on earth will be, so will it really matter if you are a few minutes late? Will it matter if that car cut you off? And does it make sense to worry about things that will most likely never happen? No, not really. Most everything can wait. And if you don’t know, just like anyone else on this earth does not know when their time is up, you might as well be enjoying the present moment while you are here. So take a longer detour, enjoy things you would normally pass by, be a few minutes late to work. Be here. Be aware. Others will pick up on your presence – and in the words of Marianne Williamson, “…as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Marianne Williamson

**I choose to enjoy this present moment mantra comes from the book of meditations, Expand this Moment, by John Selby. It is a simple meditation that you can say at any time in the day to bring you centered and back to the present moment (kind of like a coffee break for the mind :))

–  “I choose” – enables you to assume control over your own mind

– “to enjoy” – specifies where you aim your attention – at enjoyment

– “this moment” – aims your attention at the immediate sensory events happening inside and around you right now

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