Name: Jill Kuzman
Location: Santa Cruz, CA
How often do you travel?
As much as I possibly can. Even if its just a trip a few hours away to go hiking, practice yoga, skydive, ride my bike or BASE jump. I try to go somewhere everyday. Being outdoors make my soul feel good.
Where do you travel?
Over the last few years, I've been to South Africa, Malaysia, Borneo, Thailand, Italy, Germany, Switzerland and France. And all over the states. I love road trips! I have now visited 35 states.
Why do you travel?
I travel because I want to see everywhere. I have an insatiable wanderlust. I love seeing how the rest of the world lives their lives. I love learning about new cultures. I love meeting different people. I love trying new things. Travel makes a person grow. I always want to be growing.
How do you maintain your practice away from home?
I just practice. Anywhere, anytime. I've become very comfortable with being the strange girl doing yoga. I think that people almost expect it from me now. I was shy and insecure when I was younger. I wasn't comfortable in my own skin. I learned that listening to my heart is the only way to find true happiness. Sometimes my heart tells me to bust out a handstand in the middle of a hike.
One weird/funny fact about you:
I travel everywhere with my bunny that I've had since I was a baby. It reminds me that no matter where I go, I'm home.
What's your favorite "foreign" food?
So far, Roti. I had the best Roti in Malaysia at the street markets. I'm vegan, so its not always super easy to eat well and/or delicious when I travel. So when I find something that is both, I am a happy traveler.
The #1 yoga-related item in your suitcase:
Yoga pants. I love them. I know its a cliché answer, but I live in them. Practicing yoga, hiking, jumping, sleeping, running errands. I couldn't live without them. They're the most comfortable pants ever made. Maybe I would own more than 2 pairs, if they weren't so expensive!
What destinations are on your travel 'bucket list'?
Everywhere! Two places that are high on my list are Brazil and India. I'm feeling a very strong pull to study yoga in India. I've been researching many different yoga immersion training destinations and India makes my heart fill warm when I think about it. Brazil is high on my BASE jumping destination list. There are several female jumpers that live there who inspire me. I would love nothing more than to share a cliff edge with these strong and talented ladies.
Give us the lowdown on your yoga journey:
2 years ago I had a bad BASE jumping accident and broke my left femur. The recovery was long, painful and at times, lonely. I didn't realize then, but that was the start of a new life path for me. I was cleared to walk again after a few months, but I was limited to no impact activities. A friend suggested I try yoga as a means of physical therapy. I bought a 10 class card and blew through it in 9 days. I couldn't believe how much better my leg felt after each yoga class. I was physically addicted after my 2nd class, but this isn't where my story of yoga healing ends.
In 2010 I lost a very dear friend. After a loss that close to my heart, I had shut down on an emotional level. I had come a long way in the grieving process, but I still held back a lot. After about 2 weeks of yoga classes, I sat in a guided meditation at the end of the practice. Suddenly, I felt a flood of emotion come over me. It was like nothing I had felt before. It wasn't sadness. It wasn't happiness. It was just pure emotion. It was everything I had been emotionally holding in for the past 2 years. Yoga had broken down that wall in the quietest, most subtle way. Tears flowed down my cheeks. After class my instructor came over and gave me a hug. She said, now you've truly practiced yoga. From that point on I looked at the world through different eyes. Through eyes of kindness, gratitude and compassion. I will be forever grateful for the release that yoga gave me from my own constraints. Yoga and BASE jumping have given me more confidence than anything I've experienced in life.
I am incredibly honored to be asked to be a traveling yogi ambassador. Yoga has changed me in the most positive ways. Its made me look deep into myself and change my outlook on life. Its made me realize that when you put yourself out there. When you open yourself up. When you let love in. When you share the thoughts and motivations of your heart. The universe responds in all the ways you need.
Jill is also week 11 winner of Yogi Of The Week! Check out her profile on the YOTW tab