Oyster Podcast: Travel

Back in the fall, I attended a local speed networking event for Entrepreneurs. While there, I met Nate, founder of Oyster World Radio & Travel Education. Oyster world Radio is an awesome podcast that interviews travelers about their experiences – whether it be an amazing adventure or someone who quit their job to travel, Oyster has found a fun way to teach culture around the globe.

oyster world

While chatting, Nate asked me to be on his show to talk about my solo travels around the world. We recorded a podcast over the phone last year, and it finally launched this week! It turned out amazing – I talked about my trips, fears, and how traveling has changed me.

If you are at all on the fence about traveling, just getting into it, or already an avid traveler, this podcast is perfect to put on while driving to work or hanging out around the house (I listen to it while getting ready in the morning or driving to work!). It gives you a look into the minds & decision-making of people who travel – it’s really, really awesome… You will want to drop everything and plan a trip now!

You can find it on iTunes or Stitcher! If you listen, let me know what you think!

Yoga Teacher Training in Belize

Hi Loves!

I just got back from Belize this past Saturday, slowly recuperating and trying to catch up on life. A week full of learning to teach yoga is EXHAUSTING, mentally and physically, and I feel like I am still processing the entire experience. 2+ hours of yoga a day + 4+ hours of classroom learning everyday for a week straight can take a lot out of a person! I kept track of my schedule for the week, and I wanted to share with those who are interested and/or curious about what REALLY happens and what one learns in order to become a certified yoga teacher.


I decided to get my 100 hour certification in Belize through Go Yoga, and finish off the rest of my 200 certificate back in Ohio in August (anyone can take the teacher training through go yoga, no matter where you live – they offer 100 hour training in Belize in May + the 200 hour certificate completion in Sedona in July every year). The total cost of the trip, including my flight, was around $2,000. Most studios offer 200 hour teacher training over the course of 9 months, and it can be pretty intense – and expensive. I decided to take a vacation at the same time I got my certification + I wanted to get half of the training done in 1 shot. It was actually LESS expensive to take the trip, including the cost of my flight + finish off my 200 hour training locally at the end of the year through Go Yoga! Total no-brainer decision for me.

I did go to a few informational sessions at local studios to see what their training was like, and Go Yoga just felt better and seemed less daunting/stressful. I went with my gut – I would encourage everyone to look at all options until you find a good fit for YOU. The time commitment with the other studios was way too much for me, and I would of had to drive 20-30 minutes to the studio for training. Add in teaching practice hours + minimum hours of classes that needed to be taken in order to get certified – no thanks. I would have been overwhelmed and really sick of yoga by the end of my training!

Below is a recap of my week at Ak’Bol Yoga Resort in Belize – with pictures, of course! 🙂

***I am so, so incredibly grateful for being able to do the training at Ak’bol Yoga Retreat – the owners are such AMAZING people, and they took care of every single need for every person there. I highly recommend staying here, or at the very least, stopping in at their little resort for a bite to eat (Brandon, one of their cooks, makes the most delicious food!) or a yoga class if you are ever traveling to San Pedro Island Belize.

7 am – 7 pm(?) : Fly from Columbus, OH –> Houston, TX –> Belize City –> 1.5 hours water taxi to San Pedro Island –> 15 minute taxi to Ak’Bol Yoga Resort


When I arrived, my luggage was taken to my room. I shared a room with 1 other person – the rooms were a little small, with 1 ceiling fan and no AC – but it didn’t matter, since I really only went to my room to change and sleep.


The bathrooms were absolutely ADORABLE – just look at those sinks!!


Maya,the Ak'Bol Guard dog :)

Maya,the Ak’Bol Guard dog 🙂

There were 14 of us total for the week of training + 2 teachers leading the training. Most of us met at the airport or at the water taxi, and when we arrived at the resort, we were able to settle in a little and chat more. We were all given a little more instruction as to how the week would go, since no one knew what exactly the schedule would be like. I didn’t really have any expectations, although I did think we were starting the training on Monday – but surprise! our week was going to start bright and early Sunday morning! Our days were jam-packed:

7 am: 1 hour meditation walk along the beach
8 am: breakfast – usually fresh fruit + yogurt made from a woman in the mountains (ah-mazing!) + eggs/coconut french toast/baked oatmeal
9 am-10 am: Power Yoga class #1
10 am-12 pm: class room yoga learnings
12 pm: lunch – usually something light, like salad, with a fish/vegetarian option
12:30 pm-2 pm: free time!
2 pm-4 pm: class room yoga learnings
4 pm-5 pm: Power Yoga class #2
5 pm: shower/get changed
6 pm-8 pm: dinner + more yoga teacher learnings + journaling
8 pm: bed time!


I was exhausted from traveling all day, but had a very hard time sleeping that first night – it was SO hot! However, I was able to adjust as the week went on, and I survived without AC 🙂

Sunday – Day 1
Hot, Sticky and jam-packed. We spent about 6-8 hours of our day practicing and learning Yoga in a Palapa everyday! But it was PERFECT. The ocean underneath us, a perfect breeze the entire time… I would not have wanted to practice anywhere else. However, the yoga classes were intense, and we began to learn the power yoga sequence for teaching a basic class. By the end of the day, I was ready for bed!

First Morning Sunrise, Ready for some Yoga!

First Morning Sunrise, Ready for some Yoga!



Dinner Menu! Carrots Cake was the BEST

Dinner Menu! Carrots Cake was the BEST

Monday – Day 2
Woke up at 5 am and ran 1-2 miles along the beach. By the afternoon, I was wondering how the hell I was going to make it to the end of the day, let alone the rest of the week! I also had no appetite and didn’t eat that much the first few days due to the heat. By dinner, I wanted someone to spoon-feed me. I definitely slept well Monday night!


Tuesday – Day 3
My Body. Is. So. Sore. Luckily, the yoga classes today weren’t as demanding. However, the amount of exercise going on every day was around 4 hours – it takes a toll on a person! I was drinking electrolyte powder with creatine in it, which really, really helped with the soreness and recovery. It rained a little bit this day, which helped with the heat. Day 3 was also a mental overload – we learned the rest of the power yoga sequence, and each student taught part of a class for the 4 pm yoga class. It was really nerve wracking, at least for me – being a perfectionist, I don’t like to mess up!

Cuddled up in a Blanket after the rain!

Cuddled up in a Blanket after the rain!

I will say at this point that I needed some alone time. I was always rushing from one thing to the next, with no time to absorb anything, let alone reflect on the experience. By the time it was ready for bed, I was too tired to write or journal. I wish I had a little more time to myself or a longer break in between classes. It was hard enough finding time to fit in a shower everyday!

Wednesday – Day 4
I think my body finally started to adjust to the heat, and I wasn’t as sore on Day 4. During our classroom learning time, our group was split in half – one instructor took half the group , the other instructor took the other half. We were all assigned a part of the yoga sequence and taught half the group. What I loved about this was that our instructor was able to give feedback while we were teaching – more one-on-one attention in a smaller setting, which was great.

Thursday – Day 5
Today was the best day, since we got the afternoon off. I woke up at 4 am and ran 2-3 miles along the beach this morning, getting some AMAZING sunrise pictures. I went to the Palapa immediately after my run and did some self-awareness meditation. There were some emotions coming up during the week that I felt like I needed to deal with, and it was the perfect time and setting to just let it all go in meditation. I even had a nice little visitor hanging out on the pier with me that morning 🙂



After our morning practice, we split off into 2 groups and each taught a different section of a power yoga class. It was amazing to see how much everyone had improved from the day before! Practice, Repetition and Confidence all seemed to be the secret to success here. Afterwards, most of the group got together to go snorkeling. And let me tell you – I had a very incorrect idea of what snorkeling was. I thought we would go off the coast and maybe snorkel around some coral. NOPE. We took a boat all the way out to Hol Chan – jumping out the boat, snorkeling in 4-5 feet deep water… then swimming to the drop-off near the reef. It was. breakthtaking. I felt like one of those divers you see on TV! I couldn’t believe what was going on under the water! All the fish, stingrays, sharks, coral… just totally unreal.

Nina Elise Snorkeling

Afterwards, we went to shark ray alley – our guides threw chum in the water to attract the sharks and big fish… then we all jumped in! It was terrifying, but at the end, I didn’t want to get out. It was so fun!


Afterwards, we went back and showered, getting ready for the night. Half of our group went to a resort for dinner, but I went with the other half to explore town. I shopped at the local vendors, bought some Belize chocolate and ate at a local restaurant. After dinner, we all got a drink and walked around town, ending up at the chicken drop. The world-famous chicken drop is basically chicken-shit bingo: 1 person bets on a number, a chicken is placed in a pen on a large bingo board, and whatever number the chicken shits on, that person wins a small amount of money. There is a DJ with loud music, and everyone crowds around the bingo pen. This alone was worth coming into town for!


Friday – Day 6
Today was the final day of teacher training! We learned about assisting others on poses, practicing them with a partner, working with the elderly, and modifications for new yoga students. At 4, we all taught part of the class – the instructors moved our mats in the order we were supposed to go, giving us each 4 minutes to teach. It was the most entertaining and fun class I have ever taken! Everyone has such a different teaching style, and I loved being able to share such a beautiful practice with such beautiful souls (even if we all strayed a little bit from the sequence we were supposed to teach ;)).
Immediately after, we had dinner an hour early, and did final journaling afterwards. We all had to answer the questions What Does Yoga Mean to Me? and How Will I Share My Yoga Practice? When we were done, we all gathered at the Palapa for one last mini-yoga class, sharing our responses to the questions with each other. At the end, it was extremely emotinal for me, knowing that I have 13 yoga sisters for my life. I love each and every one of them so much, for so many different reasons.

After the final “ceremony”, champagne was opened and we all celebrated on being officially certified yoga teachers! We then headed to bar down the beach to continue our celebrations… still in our sweaty yoga clothes from earlier that day, but no one cared. We were all so happy to have completed our certification and have such an amazing experience! We just wanted to spend time with each other and celebrate 🙂 On the way back , a few of us went for a late-night swim off the dock – yoga clothes and all! We swam with the baracudas and sting rays in the night, with just a little dock light shining in our swim area. It was the perfect ending to the week 🙂

Saturday – Day 7
Back to the states! I took a 9 am taxi to the San Pedro Airport and a 15-minute flight back to Belize in a 13-seater plane. It was such a perfect, peaceful ride, and I couldn’t stop looking at the view beneath me. Flying into houston, then to Columbus – I finally arrived at 11 pm at night, so, so, SO happy to be home. Back to air conditioning, back to hot, clean water, back to my bed and my bug-free apartment.

“Expect Nothing, and Accept Everything.”
I went into this Yoga Teacher Training with no idea on what was to happen. I didn’t know what I was going to learn, what the schedule was going to be like, the people I would meet, how physically demanding the week would be… I just went with an open mind, open to all possibilities. My heart cracked open just a little bit more, I learned to let go of things/people that I had been holding onto, learned how to teach an entire yoga class, got pushed to be myself, ate AMAZING fresh food everyday, and gained 13 new friends. It’s amazing how your perspective, your life can change in just one week.

Nina Elise yoga

So what’s next? Refining and practicing teaching on my friends and family, eventually teaching private lessons for beginners… who knows. I am still processing this whole experience, and am open to whatever comes next! I’ll be finishing up my 200 hour certification beginning in August, traveling to Europe for a few weeks in September, and in the meantime, loving on my new lop-eared bunny, Stumps <3

Stumps, my little lop-eared bunny

Stumps, my little lop-eared bunny

I hope this was helpful to anyone deciding on whether to get yoga-teacher certified, where to go, what to expect… Every experience is so unique and different for every person, but I love being able to share in the hopes that it might inspire or give even just one person some insight. Is there anyone else out there thinking of becoming a yoga teacher? or who IS certified  – what was your experience like? I would love to hear from you all!

ACL Post-Surgery 6 Months

6 Months Post-Op Summary

  • Ran 4 miles the other day, longest run yet!
  • Icing and/or applying oils to my knee at least 1x a day
  • Tapering my physical therapy appointments from 1x a week… to maybe 1x a month!
  • Behind my knee, there is this really weird feeling. I first noticed it last week – its when I am putting some weight on my new acl leg, bending it then straightening it – it sort of feels like the ligament or muscle is getting stuck over something. It doesn’t hurt, but you can feel it when touching behind the knee. My PT said to give it time, it will eventually go away. Has this happened to anyone else?
  • A lot of pivot/cutting work done in PT. This is helping my confidence in running, stopping, pivoting without thinking. A lot of quick, short movements. I am exhausted and soaked in sweat after every PT appointment, its great! I am feeling very confident with my movements, and less afraid my knee will give out on me.
  • Still a little swelling in my knee, it comes and goes. I can sit back on my heels, but only a little further than that – think Fixed Firm Pose, or Supta-Vajrasana (see picture below – no, it is not me!). I can attempt to go into this pose, but my left knee just doesn’t have the flexibility like my right knee yet.
Fixed Firm Pose

Fixed Firm Pose

PT Exercises/Workouts (new exercises bolded)

  • Elliptical at the beginning of my workouts to warm up, 5 minutes
  • Run 1/2 mile on treadmill for – 7-8 speed
  • One-legged ladder work like this and this and this. Complete down and back
  • TRX band – side jumps: stand on left leg, jump to left of left leg onto right foot, at an angle. Jump back. Repeat on right side. 5 each side, 2 sets
  • TRX band – one-legged squat jumps, alternating between hopping on right and left leg –10, 2 sets
  • TRX band – one-legged squat jumps to the side – 10, 2 sets
  • Agility work: shuffle around 5 cones, run to first cone directly in front of cones. Stop & pivot diagonally across court, then do 1 legged jumps over raised markers set up on the ground. Run to another cone directly in front of markers – stope & pivot, running back to the original 5 cones. Repeat 2x – 4 set of 2
  • 4 markers set up on ground – stand in middle – jump up on a high box (think box jumps) into a squat, then jump down into a squat. PT calls out color of marker, and I run forward to the marker, then back to middle – about 2-3 minute each time, 3-4 times
  • Standing in middle of court, 2 PTs are in front and behind me, holding colored rings. First PT throws colored ring super high into the air, and I run to catch it. As soon as I catch it, then other PT throws the next ring into the air, and I have to run to catch that ring. This was great for running, stopping, cutting, pivoting without really thinking. If I know where I am going, I over think the next move, placement of knee, extc. This helps with being more in the moment, more natural sports-related movements as if I was playing basketball, soccer, etc. Repeat 3
  • Stretching after every workout
  • Yoga – everyday for at least 5 minutes
  • Running on treadmill or outside for 10-30 minutes 2-3x a week

After a week of yoga, day-long hikes, lots of walking to the beach while in Costa Rica last week, I definitely got in my fair share of workouts. I honestly wish I had tried out surfing – I think my knee could have handled it! Next time I am at the ocean, I will give it a go 🙂

Costa Rica

At Manuel Antonio National Park in Costa Rica

I am excited for my upcoming 4-miler… although I am running around a 9 minute pace, it gives me a challenge that I both love and hate – pushing myself to be faster! I definitely have a love/hate relationship with running. Since I am 6 months post op, I am excited to start more exercises/sports: tennis, TRX, kickboxing… What sport was the best to come back to (or most satisfying) for everyone following an ACL tear?



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