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BYInspired with an Ambassador… Hannah van de Werff

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BYInspired with an Ambassador… Hannah van de Werff

BY : When and How did you become passionate about yoga/ travel?

Before last year, I hadn’t really left Australia. I didn’t even own a passport. But, I think ive had a passion to travel all my life. I’ve always had a strong urge to see other parts of the world. At school, I loved Geography and Society and Culture and I continued with studying in these fields completing a Masters Degree in Urban and Regional Planning. I was always excited to learn about how different cities all over the world were organized. My studies allowed me to travel the world in books and my ultimate dream was to do it in person. It was just over two years ago when I found a window of opportunity for nomadic travel. I ceased the moment and put a plan into action without thinking twice. I haven’t looked back since.
Yoga is something that I was practicing on and off when I was living in Australia, but my practice was nowhere near as deep as it is now. Whilst travelling I found yoga to be a good way to maintain my fitness and something I could easily take with me, wherever I went. I remember buying a cheap mat in Poland and working with basic sun salutations. I then expanded through self-practice, rarely did I have access to yoga classes and if I did, they were in different languages. So, I used online workshops to guide my practice and learn different poses and flows. As my practice developed so did my thirst for knowledge about yoga philosophy. I began a process of self-inquiry; reflecting on myself and learning and experimenting with yoga as a way of life, trying to see how yoga fits with me, and visa versa. It turned out, without realizing, my philosophy on life was the same as the yoga teachings. Yoga didn’t change me; it affirmed me, it assured me that I was on the right path. It keeps me grounded, focused and allows me to expand my mind and body to find new dimensions of peace and happiness.

BY: What is your most memorable trip, experience?

4 weeks on a workaway job on a yoga retreat in South Spain. I was working with some of the best yoga teachers and healers in Europe. I was gifted more than I have ever received before and I was just a retreat assistant there (not even a guest)! But I still have contact with most people that we hosted on the 2 separate retreats. Whilst I was working during the retreat I had yoga teachers share their time giving me one on one private lessons every morning, helping me improve my practice and correct my poses (that’s what a year of self taught yoga will bring you! Ha!). I was also given a very special gift I was attuned to Reiki healing and have been working with energy ever since. From that retreat, I made many beautiful life long friendships with my fellow workers, students, guests, and teachers.

BY: So far which country is your favorite?

Portugal. There is something special about this place. It is a place that feels familiar for me. I don’t know whether its because of the beaches, the climate and the vegetation which is similar to Australia, the laid back lifestyle. I cant quiet put my finger on it….but its special! I have visited Portugal twice and spent a good amount of time travelling to the big cities. I’ve been to Sintra (about 40 minutes outside of Lisbon) on at least 3 or 4 occasions (this is my No 1 place to visit in Portugal) as well as many cutesy little surf villages In the Algarve region, the west coast and north Portugal. The people are beautiful, the nature scenery is mind blowing, the fresh clean sea air is so refreshing! The food is amazing, all the old architecture is like no other. There is so much charm in the cities and for the most part, it feels somewhat untouched by tourism, which is really special. I would say that based on all the places I’ve visited so far, Portugal is definitely my soul country!

BY: Any good address to share?

Plenty….

Budapest – Szimpla Kert ruin bars for a meal and drinks (be sure to look up and around, this place is amazing). For the best street food in Budapest head to Meat and Sauce, its located in the city centre close to all the hotels and hostels.

Portugal – Sintra (my favorite travel destination so far!), Belem (just outside of Lisbon) to learn about some Portuguese history and taste the best pastel de nata (portugese tart) at Pasteis de Belem…and also be sure to check out the beaches in the Algarve region!

Netherlands – Take a ferry from Rotterdam to Kinderdijk where you will find a quaint little suburb with traditional dutch windmills nestled in a grassy park with lots of pathways to bike around. Great destination for photos!

Spain – For a slice of Morocco in Europe head to the famous historic steps in Granada, artesian souk market galore and the best tapas in Spain… The best thing about Spanish tapas in Granada; for every sangria or Cerveza, a small plate of tapas is free, making it even more delicious..

Poland – Everyone needs to go to Poland and experience the diversity of this country. From the gut wrenching war stories, colorful urban art, abundance of delicious vegan and vegetarian restaurants and cafes (you will pay no more than equivalent $4-$5 for a vegan buffet in Krakow and Wroclaw), and of course the beautiful old town architecture. Another big plus about Poland?? There is an abundance of yoga studios! The classes I visited were in Polish ..but don’t let that stop you – doing a yoga class in another language is a good challenge and actually quiet fun! My top picks for cities to visit are Warsaw, Wroclaw, Krakow and Wieliczka Salt Mine (just outside of Krakow).

Slovenia – Lake Bled and Vintgar Gorge for the most amazing nature scenes and very accessible by bus (from the Ljubljana). I recommend hiring a bike and cycling to the gorge and around the lake – it’s a really fun day.

Germany – Nurnberg for some interesting history about WWII and the Hitler regime. Architecturally quiet a beautiful city, typical German, with little houses that reminded me of ‘hansel and gretel’, cobblestone pathways and really cutesy little terrace style bier cafes. I recommend trying a pretzel and bratwurst!

BY: For you, where is “the place to be”?

Hard question- I can’t name one ‘place to be’, especially since I move around a bit. Generally speaking, my fav places are dependent on the weather. In the summer you can find me somewhere outdoors close by water; beach, waterfalls, lakes…anywhere were the bush and water meet! In the wintertime, I hibernate a bit…I am super sensitive to cold temperatures so you wont find me enduring the outdoors in winter (yes, living in Europe during winter was a challenge for me). During the winter time you can find me hanging out somewhere warm indoors. Probably at a cutesy café with a coffee and my laptop writing, or reading interesting articles on whatever topics grab my interest. Otherwise at the gym or in a yoga studio, I love to be active and whilst its nice to do it outdoors I just cant bring myself to brave the winter chill.

BY: One quote that is defining you?

Instead of living outside of the box, get rid of the box – Deepak Chopra

BY: What do you think is the most important benefit that you have gained from your yogi/ travel experience?

I’ve learnt to trust myself, live life to the fullest and to be grateful for the life I lead both here overseas, and also at home.

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