Vortex yoga on Bell Rock in Sedona, Arizona during Columbia Sportswear’s 2013 Preview event

On a scorching Sedona morning, I found myself perched on a little patch of dusty rock, cross-legged amid a collection of fellow females as we passed tiny bottles of frankincense and rose oil around our circle.

As we dabbed little drops of oil on our foreheads, a soft yet authoritative voice instructed us to affirm ourselves, to mull on our emotions, and to let it all go with deep, releasing breathes.

 Welcome to my vortex yoga experience on Bell Rock.

Like any brand, Columbia Sportswear used their Spring 2013 Gear Preview event to showcase their new designs and products – but unlike most brands, they required us to truly put their gear to the test. After wining and dining their audience of editors, journalists, gear junkies, and adventurers, Columbia sent our big group out on a variety of activities. We were able to choose between mountain biking, intense hiking, and vortex yoga.

Intrigued by this undeniably funky video demonstration vortex yoga in Sedona, I immediately opted to spend my ‘activity day’ out on Bell Rock practicing my downward dog.

Our group ended up being comprised solely of ladies, which made for a wonderful and intimate experience. Our instructor, Johanna, guided us along the trail towards Bell Rock as she pointed out the area’s distinct flora and desert features. After walking for a bit, we paused to gather in an energy circle for some initial breathing exercises beneath the shade of a tree – and at that moment, the spiritual journey of the vortex experience truly began.

I’m not a hokey gal – but the heightened sense of energy found at the vortex was undeniable. During the meditative portion of our afternoon, we gathered under another shady area, and plopped down on the rocks and dirt to enjoy a few breathing techniques and thoughtful moments that challenged us to overcome the usually buzzing in our brains in favor of a quieter and more reflective mentality. In my opinion, the time we spent thinking, releasing, and feeling was when the energy of the vortex was most noticeable.

Admittedly, when we finally began our yoga session upon the sprawling red boulders on Bell Rock, my spiritual bliss was overcome by my incessant need to document my adventures. Fellow OmniTen member Heidi and I ended up so occupied by our quest to obtain good photos and GoPro footage that we ultimately lost some of the spiritual flow during yoga.

Still, I had a wonderful morning hiking through the desert terrain with the ladies, learning a little bit about my body’s natural energies, and practicing my yoga poses while gazing out at the gorgeous Sedona landscape. I left feeling calmer, uplifted, and at peace with my mental chatter. Even Heidi agreed that she felt the effects of the vortex (coupled with Johanna’s excellent spiritual guidance) – and for a gal with the nickname “Banana Buzzbomb,” that’s quite a statement.

If you are ever in the Sedona area, and feel keen on getting in touch with your spiritual side, I would highly suggest taking a vortex yoga tour Yoga Life with Johanna and her assistant
A former New Yorker, she offers the perfect balance between an enlightened hippie and, well, normal everyday lady. She offered us great information about our chakras and energy flows, made sure every member of our group was comfortable, and yet still helped us push our physical and mental limits.
Our group was on a strict time limit, which caused us to have to be slightly more ‘aware’ during our meditative and yoga sessions — I can only imagine how much more fun would have been had if we had been with Johanna for the entire day. 

Want more vortex yoga fun? Check out Heidi’s post “Calm & Cool Yoga in Columbia Omni-Freeze Zero” on BananaBuzzBomb.com!

I’m back from the OmniTen trip to Arizona with Columbia Sportswear (reluctantly)

Holy mother of Arizona adventure. Here I am, in humid Florida, still reeling from the epic trip that I’m still not sure really happened. I’m sitting here with heaps of GoPro footage, thousands of photos, and a slightly torn wristband that served as my permit for camping near the Havasupai village deep in the Grand Canyon. Did that whole trip really just happen?

Words can’t even begin to describe what I experienced while out traversing canyons, waterfalls, streams, and travertine tunnels with the OmniTen crew and Columbia Sportswear team. Our time together began with a week of industry events revolving around the release of Columbia’s newest innovation, OmniFreeze Zero. We were wined and dined all day and night long at the Hilton and around Sedona as the company worked to woo editors, gear buffs, journalists, and industry professionals. Don’t worry, there will be an entire post dedicated to all the phenomenal meals I gorged myself on during the gear previews. Elk kabobs and cactus margaritas, anyone?

The highlight of the trip was hands-down the three days we spent around Havasu Falls. We began with an early morning hike into the canyon, a hot and heavy 10-mile excursion that left me with blisters in places I didn’t even know my feet could sprout them. We passed through the Havasupai Village, set up camp, and enjoyed our first evening together as a close knit group. The second day was spent jumping off waterfalls, climbing through travertine tunnels, wading through waist-deep streams while carrying our packs over our heads, and cooling off in the unbelievably blue water. The final day saw a 10-mile hike back out to the rim of the canyon, which was brutal. I wouldn’t have survived the final mile, which involves a 2000 foot elevation gain up switchbacks frequented by mule trains, without the cooling glory of my OmniFreeze Zero neck gaiter. Seriously, when they start making those available to the public, get one. 

My grand adventure would have been nothing without the amazing people who made it a truly unforgettable journey. The OmniTen crew started out as complete strangers (aside from creeping on eachother’s social media profiles), but we left Arizona teary-eyed over the prospect of losing eachother’s company. These people are now lifelong friends.

It’s going to take me a few days to process everything that I experienced, put it all down in words, and edit all of the amazing photos I snapped during the trip. Stay tuned for a huge installment of posts chronicling my adventure.

It’s going to be good.