Yogi On Fire: An Interview With Natalie Adele

Meet Natalie Adele: Not only is she a fun-loving, travelling nurse who ALWAYS packs her yoga wherever she goes, but she is also an amazing writer and storyteller.

Read on to immerse yourself in her yoga journey; learn about her teacher training in Bali, feel like you're there as she recounts the most memorable/beautiful place she's practiced yoga, and hear about her plans for the future (hint: they involve a helluva lot of Travel + Yoga!)

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How long have you been practicing yoga? What style(s) of yoga do you practice/teach?

I have been practicing yoga for about six years now.

My first exploration into the world of yoga began with Bikram Yoga. At the time, I was a marathon-running, spin class-taking, crossfit kinda gal. I was not drawn to yoga because I did not think it was “intense” enough for me. I wanted to get bang for my buck!

I was drawn to Bikram yoga because it was intense, sweaty, and competitive. I will forever be grateful to Bikram yoga, because it was my gateway drug into my yoga addiction. In fact, when I was living in Los Angeles last year, I opted to avoid the nightlife for New Year’s Eve, and rang in my new year in savasana, sweaty, surrounded by a room full of strangers in the Bikram Yoga Studio in Silverlake, LA. I knew this would be my “year of yoga.” And it was. 2014 was the year I explored other yoga avenues, while simultaneously exploring my soul.

When I moved to Puerto Rico, I found a slice of yoga heaven in an open studio on the beach in Isla Verde, San Juan. This place touched my spirit, and I found myself curious to know more. I opened my mat in my apartment and found myself practicing on my own. I was looking up YouTube videos, seeing the world in a new perspective in inversions, chanting mantras; I could not get enough. And so began my lifelong journey of the self through yoga.

I decided shortly after to join a friend for yoga teacher training in Bali. Was I nervous? Of course, but as they say, sometimes the best mode of transportation is a leap of faith. Yoga is love, yoga is life, yoga is energy and movement. Yoga has been the vehicle towards reaching my dreams. In the summer of 2014 I completed my 200 hour YTT with All Yoga, and became certified to teach Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga.

Condado, Puerto RIco

Condado, Puerto RIco

Future goals? I would love to take a certification course in Yin Yoga and Kid’s yoga.

Do you practice at home? If so, how often?

I sure do. This is one of the numerous benefits of completing yoga teacher training. I now have vinyasa flows tucked away in my bedazzled tool belt. I am home in Connecticut for six weeks before my next venture to San Francisco. As I said before, I am not one to commit to a year-long gym membership (among many other things), and so folding open my mat in a convenient space is just the thing for this traveling yogi!

Whether it is a 60 minute Ashtanga Vinyasa flow, a 10 minute sun salutation series, or being silly in inversions, I plop on my mat most days of the week.

How often do you travel?

Perpetually, incessantly, unremittingly.

I have always loved to travel. I am used to relocating my home. I was born in England, and at the age of 7, I moved away from my family and friends, with my parents and twin sister to the United States. I remember it being a grand adventure; and so was born my wanderlust.

Throughout my twenties, I traveled as much as being a broke college student allowed. The first time I traveled solo was to do volunteer nursing in Ghana, West Africa. And so began my true experience of culture shock, and learning how to comfortably be a flexible traveler.

Since graduating with my Masters in Nursing last year, I have been living out of a suitcase, and I have no plans on unpacking any time soon.

What usually brings you overseas? Do you travel domestically, internationally or both?

Growing up in Europe, hopping over seas and across channels to another country is simply the norm. I enjoy long flights, connecting trains, and the sound of the “stamp” on my passport.

I have actually done more traveling outside of the United States than within. This year, I have goals to visit Niagara Falls, and travel to a state within the US that I have not yet been to (Seattle, Washington is calling my name).

Do you find it hard to keep up with your practice when you’re away from home and if so, what keeps you motivated?

You know how they always say “pick an exercise you love, and you will find it easy to do?”

Well, with yoga, this truly resonated with me. I always used to pack my running sneakers whenever I went on vacation. The only use they ended up serving was to store my socks. With yoga, however, I am excited to practice wherever I go. I see the world with new yogi eyes.

“Oh I must do a wheelpose here,” “look at this sunset, let’s do a handstand,” and “wow that beautiful street art deserves a crazy-eight pose in front of it.”

Beyond the aesthetics of asanas and travel backdrops, yoga is an amazing way to feel a sense of community on the road. How wonderful to surround yourself with like-minded people who speak the universal language of yoga, whatever country code you are in!

What’s the #1 yoga-related item in your suitcase?

A stellar pair of yoga leggings and sports bra

Please list your top 5 carry-on essentials (in order of importance):

1.     My journal. One of my favorite places to write is on a plane. Disconnected from the world, up in the sky, nowhere to be <3   

2.        A good book, or two.

3.        A big, big, bottle of water (sorry for jumping over you to use the ladies room so frequently)

4.        Toothpaste, toothbrush, and lipstick (hello layover pick-me-up!)

5.        My memory foam neck pillow for those international flights

What brand mat (if any) do you travel with?

My favorite mat is my “I Radiate Love” mat by Affirmats.

This lovely company makes high quality, biodegradable and ergonomically friendly mats which each come with a simple and unique affirmation on them to get you through your practice :)

"Affirmats adds an emotional layer to yoga by wrapping form, function, and a dash of inspiration in PURE LOVE" - Follow the link above to find your "soulmat"

Do you listen to music while you practice and if so, what’s on your playlist? Do you ever use Spotify or Pandora?

As with all-things yoga, it depends on my mood and the day. I listen to what my soul is craving. Some days, silence and the constant reminder of my breath is just what I need. Other days, I need some sexy yoga-flow music. On Pandora, I highly recommend Blank & Jones, Goldfrapp, and Yoga Workout Radios for some feminine flow. Other days I like to listen to Coldplay, Kings of Leon, and Disclosure. Right now? Mr. Jimi Hendrix is my creative muse :)

What’s the most beautiful/memorable place you’ve ever practiced yoga, whether it was a class, a retreat, outdoors/indoors…

In Ocean Park, Puerto Rico was a memorable yoga experience I will never forget. The class was taught in the courtyard of a tiny bed and breakfast called the Dreamcatcher. We were side by side, mat to mat in this tiny open courtyard with a little fountain in the center. The guesthouse’s golden retriever wandered around the grounds, sometimes licking your feet or smelling your face.

The class was taught entirely in Spanish; a language I am hardly fluent in yet. Taking a class in a foreign language is an unforgettable experience because it forces you to heighten all your other senses in order to participate fully.

This class took place on the night of the Blood Moon. There was magic in the air, brilliance in the sky. There was also a guest from Los Angeles who incorporated Young Living Essential Oils into the class. Depending on what posture we were in, if it was invigorating, heart-opening, or calming, determined the aromatherapy scent she would bless us with.

This unforgettable class was a journey of the senses. Laying in savasana, my heart and mind cracked open, adorned with essential oils, basking in the full-moonlight was certainly an experience for the books.

Have you ever dropped into a class while travelling and if so, can you tell us about it? Good/bad experience?

In 2010 I traveled to my hometown of Brighton, England, to run the Brighton Marathon (with Fatboy Slim, might I add). I completed the marathon (training and all) with my twin sister and dad. It was a wonderful bonding experience.

A few days after the marathon, blistered and sore, my sister and I decided to do a drop-in at the local Bikram Yoga studio. We brought my dad, who had never done yoga before. It was such an amazing experience to hear the script of the 26 posture series in the nostalgic British accent while looking over to see my dad balancing in half-moon pose.

What’s your take on hotel room yoga?

I wouldn’t say “no” to hotel room yoga. I, however, prefer to get outside and mingle with the local yoga community :)

How do you cope with long flights? Do you stretch before/during/after or all of the above?

I love long flights. I get settled in with my journal, a good book, lots of water, sometimes music, and a movie or two depending on how far across the globe I am traveling. I get up lots (thank you small bladder) and like to touch my arms to the ceiling, bending my torso back into a micro backbend.

Have you ever practiced in an airport Yoga Room? If so, what was your experience?

Not yet. Those exist? Please share which airports!

I have, however done a tripod headstand at a busy airport terminal. Let me say, if you can do a headstand in a crowded airport, you can do it anywhere!

How important is it for you to maintain healthy eating habits while travelling? Do you have any tips on doing so? What’s your favourite travel snack?

Being a healthy eater is a way of life. I don’t do it to maintain a dress size (I don’t remember the last time I stepped on a scale). Over the years, I have grown to learn that eating superfoods, charged with energy and vitality, is a surefire way to vibrate at the highest frequency possible. I recently became a vegetarian, which is especially difficult to maintain while traveling. That is why it is important to take the extra time and self-love to pack along a few healthy snacks, just in case McDonalds and Orange Julius are the only fare of choice.

I will always opt for a green juice whenever possible, as this is an instant pick-me-up and jet lag remover! Nuts, fruit, and some dark chocolate are also friendly travel buddies. Also, whenever I travel to for an extended period of time, I pack along my juicer and/or Blendtec blender to make juices and smoothies from my kitchen away from home!

When you have to have takeout food, what’s your go-to fare (Japanese, Indian, etc.) and why?

Indian, Indian, and Indian.

Growing up in England, Indian food is our cultural equivalent of Chinese comfort food in a little white box. I remember gathering around the family table, with naan bread, chicken korma, samosas, and onion bhajis as the centerpiece. Now: hold the spice and the chicken please :)

What's the story behind your Instagram name, @Yogi_on_fire?

One of my favorite quotes of all time is “Sky above me, Earth below me, Fire within me.”

I love that it incorporates the elements in a simple yet powerful way. I have always interpreted it to mean that I am limitless; in fact the sky is the limit, but that I must keep my feet on the earth and remain grounded, all the while fueled by desire and passion. This has been an inspirational quote of mine for some time now, but it became even more meaningful over the summer.

I was on my yoga mat poised in Utthita Trikonasana, or extended triangle pose. My feet and toes were planted into my mat, and my gaze followed to the tip of my extended left arm, up toward the heavens. I was in an open studio, and a slice of sunshine enveloped my outstretched arm. My ujjayi breath was strong, and I could feel the pranayama, or life force flowing throughout my body, creating heat.

I was reminded of my favorite quote; I realized that this quote IS yoga. Whether we are right-side-up or –upside-down in a handstand, we must be placed firmly onto the earth, barefoot and bold. Our smiling face should face the sun and the sky, and our heart should circulate a passionate fire within us to propel us closer toward our calling.

Travelling is a main component of your job; when did you realize yoga was essential to compliment that aspect of your lifestyle?

As is evident by my travel nursing career, travel has become a priority in my life. As we reflect upon our choices and decisions, we realize what our priorities are, and what must enter into our daily lives. For me, yoga has traveled with me because yoga resides within me. I [try my best to] travel lightly, and luckily yoga simply requires only a mat. Even then, if you are on the road, most yoga studios offer the option to rent a mat for the class. I am not the type to commit to a year-long gym membership, never mind slave away on the lifeless elliptical machine.

I envision myself as a soaring bird, traveling the sky, searching for a place I am fond enough of to call my “home.” Until then, my “home” or “nest” resides in my heart and on my mat. Yoga is an excellent way to connect to yourself while bouncing from airport terminal to airport terminal across the globe. Added bonus: my mat rolls up quite nicely into a carry-on suitcase ;)

Did you always plan on travelling for work?

Seminyak beach, Bali

Seminyak beach, Bali

At this moment in time, travel nursing and global-tripping is exactly what is working for me. It satisfies my soul more than I had expected. I am, however, a Cancer by zodiac nature, and there are days when I long for a wall on which to hang my beautiful collected artwork and photography.

I do not know when I will stop living out of a suitcase (I have been for over a year now); I am just going to keep on doing what feels right.

Another inspiring quote which speaks to this:

“Oh, sweet child, but we’re all lost here. So close your eyes and follow where your heart leads.”

And that’s just it. I am riding the wave of life. I do not know if I will always travel for work, but I certainly can say my life will not be conventional :)

Was it important/significant for you to do your teacher training overseas? If so, why?

Yes. That is without a doubt. I think it is wonderful to always travel with a purpose, whatever that may be. I certainly could have done a series of weekend courses over an extended period of time to acquire my 200 hour YTT, but I wanted to immerse myself into my teacher training experience.

Yoga teacher training extends beyond the ten hour days of all-things yoga. It involves the people you surround yourself with after class, the food you are eating, the weekend explorations you do, and the sights and smells you take in.

Yoga is the ultimate practice of self-love, and I could not think of a better place to complete teacher training than Bali, often referred to as the “Island of Love.”

How was your experience training in Bali? Would you recommend it? Why/why not

Another nickname for Bali, Indonesia is the “Morning of the World.”

The bungalow I was staying in was about a ten minute walk from the yoga shala. I would walk along the black-sand coastline to my daily meditation, and every morning, in Balinese tradition, the locals lay out an offering on their doorsteps. These offerings are daily devotional gifts to their belief system, a repeated act of faith. They consist of a bowl woven from palm leaves, and are filled with coins, flowers, sometimes a biscuit, and always incense.

Traditional Balinese offering

Traditional Balinese offering

This daily Balinese tribute served as a great symbol that small, daily effort is what matters, as is the same in yoga. Every day, I walked to class; mat tucked under my arm, and passed by the same women laying out their daily offerings, sweeping away the treaded-on ones from the previous day. It is those simple subtleties in Bali that made in a unique place, a place perfect for diving into oneself during a yoga teacher training.

Beyond the local culture in Bali, there is also a certain type of person this island attracts. Everyone there is on their own path, their own journey. These visiting globetrotters have their own purpose; one which generally follows the sunrise which sets the stage for seizing the day. Bali is an inspiring island, with a breathtaking backdrop, a perpetual background scent of incense, and a conquering sense of adventure in the clear air.

Do you plan on teaching overseas now that you're certified?

Do I ever! As I had mentioned earlier, I prefer to travel with a purpose. I have been thinking about how to incorporate yoga and travel the instant I was handed my teacher training certificate! It is this passion of yoga and travel where my concept “Yogi On Fire” has been born. I am alive with desire, thinking of how I will combine my love for yoga, travel, photography, and all-things inspiring in a way unique to me.

The fact that I have my Masters in Nursing is another unique factor I can incorporate into my career. I have already taught Nursing in the beautiful island in Puerto Rico, and I am planning to guest-teach a yoga retreat next time I am there for work in the Spring. I love to teach. I love to travel. I will always bring my passions in my suitcase to bring home a paycheck

@yogi_on_fire on Instagram