The Next Chapter

I’d like to share with you this picture of my friend Jonathan sent me the other day; studying abroad in Budapest isn’t stopping him from breaking out a badass downward dog or two.

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Note the nun in the background. She’s impressed.

But now, here’s what you’ve all been waiting for, biting your nails in anticipation ever since you saw my imaginary appearance on Oprah last week… the link to my new blog! Or rather, our new blog.

My roommate Julie (who accompanied me to that final Bikram practice all those weeks ago) and I have started a blog together, all about our college experiences. Well, mostly about our college experiences. I’m definitely going to keep making fart jokes, and I already have a list of elephant puns I plan on working in there soon. We’ll be posting every Monday, so come follow us at http://hannahandjulie.com/

 

 

A Conclusion of Sorts, and Oprah

My yoga friends, the summer has officially come to an end. Well, maybe not officially- I haven’t checked with the farmers’ almanac or the elite group of calendar creators who have the power to declare things like summer has officially ended or let’s have the groundhog decide! But my full-time yoga adventure has (sadly) come to a close.

I write to you from my spectacular penthouse of a college dorm room, where we have air conditioning, enormous windows, and enough space for a futon plus three beds. (My bed is bunked so high I might actually be in space, but the ever-present possibility of falling to my death just makes things that much more exciting.) And being back at school is no excuse to stop practicing yoga!

There’s a Vinyasa studio down the street that I dragged Julie to tonight, and we both bought 3-month unlimited memberships. It isn’t sweaty, we use props, and the instructors don’t tell us our foreheads should be touching our toes, but we’re finding a way to love it all the same.

All in all, this summer has been a most magical adventure: challenging, eye-opening, sweaty. If you get the chance, check out the tab above that says A Grand Yoga Adventure; it’s my final piece for the project and I would just love if you took a gander.

This is where I’m tempted to get cheesy and say I learned a lot about myself, the world is good at its core, you can do anything if you put your mind to it, and other cliche things that are best left on posters in elementary school classrooms. But I’ll just leave you readers with a heartfelt thank you. (I do it all for the fans. Taylor Swift and I are similar that way.)

To avoid boring you with an average corny conclusion, I would like you to imagine that I’m a celebrity on a well-viewed talk show; maybe Ellen, or one of those happy Oprah episodes. (I don’t care that she’s not on the air anymore, O is still the queen of daytime TV.) So I’m discussing my project, and Oprah asks me enthusiastic questions about the sweat, the obstacles, the marvelous blog posts. The studio audience (populated mostly by women ages 35-65) is groaning miserably at the mention of the whole thing being over. Oprah shows a delightful little photo montage of me being sweaty in a variety of places, and viewers across the country are smiling and chuckling and saying to each other I’d really like to meet that yoga blogger girl, she’s just so cool/witty/stunning. And then Oprah asks the question everyone’s been waiting for.

O: So Hannah, tell me. What’s next? Where do you go after this wild yoga blogging success?

(The studio audience falls silent, collectively fidgeting with anticipation.)

H: Well, the project really helped me grow as a person, and I’m just so thankful to have been given such a wonderful opportunity. (Dramatic pause.) But, I’m not sure I’m ready to give up this whole blogging thing just yet.

(The studio audience releases one giant strangled cheer, giant because they know what’s coming next, strangled because Oprah has held up her hands for them to quiet down so she can ask me her next question.)

O: Hannah, does… does this mean you’re going to keep blogging?

H: Yes, I am going to keep blogging.

(The studio audience erupts into wild applause so the viewers at home can barely hear what I said past yes, but no one cares, people across the country are laughing, jumping from their couches, exchanging hugs and friendly slaps on the back. It’s like the Americans just won gold in Miracle.)

So yes, my friends, the news is true- I plan to keep blogging. Possibly about college, possibly about other things. I’ve seriously considered devoting an entire website to elephant puns. But no matter the topic, I’ve decided to continue this adventure- sharing my thoughts and my writing with you, you lucky sons of bitches.

(Thunderous applause from the studio audience, despite the few mothers who exchange offended  looks like did she really just say sons of bitches?)

Same time, same place, next week I’ll be posting a link to my new blog. Come check it out if you want, or don’t. (But yes please do, and if you like it send it to your friend/dad/grandmother/cat. That’d be really awesome.)

Namaste,
Hannah

Shameless Self-Promotion (and some animals)

When asked what he wanted for his birthday, the yogi replied, “I wish no gifts, only presence.” -website with a lot of yoga puns

This week, I have something a little different for you guys. As you may already know, I’ve been blogging and researching and yoga-ing all summer, all in the name of bettering my writing skills (and the flexibility of my knee ligaments). In addition to the blog posts you may have already read (or not have read, in which case please scroll down and enjoy), I’ve also written an extended piece on my Bikram 30-day challenge. This piece is exclusively available to you readers, all twelve of you, under the tab above labeled A Grand Yoga Adventure. Please peruse the piece at your leisure, and don’t hesitate to let me know what you think!

As promised last week, I’d also like to share some of my more serious Internet research findings. Behold, animals doing yoga:

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elephants

This one is rather irrelephant, wouldn’t you say?

Longleat Safari Park, Britain - Sep 2006

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Downward facing… cat

tongue

 

Namaste,

Hannah

 

The Post-Vacation Post

Hello my yoga friends!

I have just returned from a family vacation filled with sunny bliss and raunchy movies. (If you have the chance to see We’re the Millers with your family and you’re abnormally comfortable with your parents, I promise it’s a good time.)

And of course we found some yoga along the way.

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My dad also came with my mom and me to this Bikram practice, though he opted to be the photographer rather than the photographed after an especially torturous 90 minutes in the hot room. Maybe it was the studio’s slippery wooden floors, maybe it was the instructor’s strangely shaped beard, or maybe it was the fact that all three of us had eaten enough chocolate to kill a Dementor in our week on the beach, but this practice slapped us all pretty hard across the face. My limbs felt like bricks and my stomach cramped up halfway through the standing series. My mom ran out of water and hadn’t hydrated enough before class. My dad… well, my dad only goes to Bikram once every two months, so every class kind of slaps him across the face. But we survived the practice and dragged ourselves out of that studio with genuine gratitude for the fact that none of us threw up on the floor.

Though our single yoga adventure for the week was a little miserable, the rest of the vacation was just marvelous:

  • I ran 5 miles in 46 minutes and 45 seconds! Despite my body’s pleas I did not stop to walk once, thus reaching another one of my goals for the summer. (And a big thanks to my cousin Kristina for kicking my ass, couldn’t have done it without you.)
  •  We perused little shops that sold signs with all kinds of quotes, many of them yoga inspired.
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    (I do love me some quotes.)
  •  We dabbled in high-fashion modeling.
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  •  We tested the age-old adage, if your friends jumped off a bridge, would you?
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    (Yes. Yes we would.)

We had to take a boat and a car to get home yesterday, and nobody killed each other in the process. So I’d call the week a success.

My mom and I went to another Bikram class this afternoon, and I am proud to report that we did not feel like we were going to die. One of our favorite instructors was teaching, we drank enough water before class, and we both wore colorful outfits that showed off our bangin’ vacation tans. We rocked it today, ladies and gentlemen.

And so the pendulum swings. Good days, bad days, sunny days, rainy days. (I actually just wrote that as a serious sentence, then realized that my subconscious is quoting Wyclef Jean. Should I be proud or embarrassed?) It just goes on my friends.

On a somewhat irrelevant note, I’ve been doing a lot of research on animal yoga lately (namely googling “animals doing yoga”) and I’d love to share my findings with you soon. Next week perhaps? Same time, same place.

Namaste,
Hannah

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Downward Facing Bog?

I’m currently on vacation with my family; between naps on the beach and tonight’s riveting finale of The Bachelorette, I’ve been hard pressed to find time to concoct a masterfully witty blog post. But before I completely fall into a chocolate/reality TV-induced coma, I’ll leave you friends with a few tidbits.

  • My cousin Kristina and I decided to go on a run together yesterday. As we set out on our jog, she turned to me and said- and this is a direct quote- “yeah, I usually run pretty slow.” I rejoiced. She then proceeded to set a pace that made me painfully aware of my own mortality, and we kept this pace for about 3 miles. (Damn you, Kristina.)
  •  To celebrate my survival of this run, I decided to do a few sun salutations in our backyard after we finished stretching. Just as I was coming out of my first downward dog, there came a surprising yell from our bedroom window on the second floor. “Look straight into the eyes of God!” Kristina shouted like she was announcing the name of a new Pope. We laughed so hard I almost peed.
  •  We just watched the sun set over the ocean.IMG_0064
  • If you haven’t seen this commercial yet, it’s pure gold. In case you can’t hear the dialogue over the cameraman’s hysterical laughter, Younger Ocean Spray Guy is doing yoga in the cranberry bog as part of his morning routine. Old And Wise Ocean Spray Guy asks Younger Guy what he calls his last pose, to which he responds, “That’s, uh, downward facing bog?” (Genius.)

 

Have a wonderful week, yogis and yoginis.

Namaste,
Hannah

Ode to Pumpa

When I first told Pumpa, my 88 year old grandfather, about my yoga plans for the summer, his old hazel eyes widened in surprise. “Yoga?” he asked, thick Russian accent adding several additional layers of incredulity, “I can tell you all you need to know about yoga. Just lift a leg and fart.”

Pumpa has never done yoga, he never plans on doing yoga, and he sure as hell doesn’t like the idea of yoga. But as his only granddaughter with a yoga blog, I think it is my duty to share with you all the colorful opinions he has on the topic.

Now before I continue, let me supply a little bit of background on the man himself. Pumpa is an avid tennis player, a seasoned skier, and a proud mediocre singer of dirty Russian songs. (What he lacks in musical talent he makes up for in enthusiasm.) A few weeks ago, he bought a bike because he hasn’t ridden one in a few decades and was really starting to miss the feeling.

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Did I mention he’s 88?

When he was just fourteen, Pumpa began fighting Nazis with a guerilla Russian army in the forests of Eastern Europe. He slept in snow banks. He beheaded unlucky German officers on motorcycles with piano strings. He built bombs to blow up trains carrying precious cargo to Nazi soldiers. To say the least, Pumpa is a certified badass.

He and my Nana live only five minutes away from our house, so my sister and I go over to their condo for dinner at least once a week. Over the course of the summer, these dinner dates have sparked some rather unorthodox yoga-related conversation.

At the very beginning of this project, I found myself trying to explain the concept of my blog to a very skeptical Pumpa. (Being a retired mechanical engineer, he has difficulty accepting terms like creative research or English major.) “I’ll write something new every week, about how the yoga’s going or how I’m feeling and stuff like that. I even thought of a title today!”

“What’s the title?” Nana asked politely. (She’s one of the most patient, honest, and admirable people I know. She’ll get her own ode soon enough.)

“Your Forehead Should Touch Your Toes, and other yoga adventures,” I announced.

Pumpa chuckled and took a large swig of his drink. “You know, I think my forehead will touch my toes just before I’m cremated.” He then proceeded to ask if I had found myself a boyfriend yet, and that was the end of that.

Most days, our conversation would follow a pattern that looked something like this.
Pumpa: How’s all the yoga going, sweetheart?
Me: Pretty well! Really sweaty, but really fun.
Pumpa: Good. Glad to see you haven’t gained any weight, honey.

But then last week, Pumpa had an especially interesting story for us. A woman had approached him at the health club that he and Nana exercise at every morning, with the intention of recruiting him for a senior health class. Pumpa was furious. “That really turns me off, you know, I don’t like to be called a senior. Old fart I don’t mind, but senior just pisses me off. Elderly too.” As he spoke, I noticed the large sign that hung behind him on their dining room wall, proudly baring three letters: EEB. I’d been his granddaughter long enough to know that this stood for Eastern European Bastard, a nickname he would gladly tell you about if you asked. But remember, those E’s do not stand for Elderly.

And as if to add insult to injury, he went on to explain that the class the woman was trying to recruit him for was actually a yoga practice. A yoga class for the elderly. As you may have guessed, Pumpa declined the offer.

After Nana and I cleared the dishes, Pumpa clasped his hands atop the wooden dining table and looked at me. “You know, Hannah,” he began, “I saw your… blog.” (He said the word blog the way some people might say income tax or irritable bowel syndrome.) “I think your English is good, but the rest I don’t really give a shit about.”

“Oh, why thank you!” I laughed, but the gratitude was genuine. It’s not often that Pumpa will tell you your English is good.

As I slipped on my shoes to leave their condo a little while later, Pumpa patted my shoulder. “You look good, honey.” I kissed him on the cheek.

“Thanks, Pumpa.”

He may not always agree with what I do, but he always finds a way to support me; for that, I am grateful. Maybe someday I’ll be able to drag him to a yoga class. I have to imagine lifting a leg and farting could become his new specialty.

Namaste,
Hannah

(Love you, Pumps.)

“SUP?” (Road Trip Part IV)

Life is limitless, and knowing this is what the spirit is.” -Macklemore

My mom, Mary and I arrived at the beach for paddle board yoga just before 7AM. I was ecstatic, pee-your-pants, Deathly-Hallows-midnight-premiere levels of excited. (Most pivotal moments of my life thus far, in descending order: birth of my sister, receiving my pre-ordered copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, moving into college. So this was pretty damn exciting.) The sun had just begun to rise over the expanse of green trees at the other side of the pond; a gentle breeze made tiny ripples in the stunningly blue water; a neat row of colorful boards awaited us at the pond’s edge, complete with anchors, paddles, and optional life vests. I was pretty sure we’d just found heaven.

“SUP,” or Stand-Up Paddleboard Yoga, had been a source of intrigue for my mom and me ever since we subscribed to the Athleta catalogue. Not to mention the second I found out about the catchy acronym I wanted to find a paddle board yoga instructor and ask, “hey, what’s SUP?” (Anyone? Anyone?) The aura of mystery and grace surrounding SUP yoga was both intimidating and attractive. My mom, Mary and I felt absolutely confident in two things: 1) the practice would be magical, and 2) we were going to suck at it.

An impressively athletic-looking woman pulled up to the beach a few minutes after we did. We all openly stared at her as she got out of her car and started walking over to the pond.

“Yup, she’s toned,” Mary observed. “We’re done for, ladies.” My mom and I nodded in grim agreement. It was clear we were out of our league.

But the sun was shining, the pond beckoned, and our awesome instructor Amy assured us that most of her clientele signed up for class with no prior paddle boarding experience. So when she said the word, we grabbed our boards, sat squarely on our knees, and began to paddle out on the water.

The board was far more stable than I had imagined it would be; after just a few minutes of practice on my feet I could comfortably rock from side to side, shifting weight from one foot to the other. I paddled like Amy had instructed us to, driving the blade straight down into the water and smoothly pushing it back to propel myself forward. The landscape sprawled out in front of me like a painting, calm and unassuming in the quiet morning air. I listened to the lapping of the water against my board. I hummed a little tune. I imagined hitting pause on the world outside the pond, stretching out that gorgeous, peaceful moment so I could live in it for a few eternities. A few minutes later we dropped our anchors to begin practice.

To our complete surprise, we really didn’t suck that badly. The yoga practice itself was relatively mellow, with your basic sun salutations and victorious breath through the nose. My personal favorite was downward facing dog; I let my head hang and looked back between my legs to find the same stunning beauty of the picturesque pond, but upside down. The water became the sky. The trees along the opposite bank were growing downward. My first thought was that the view was breathtaking; my second thought was that Mary’s board was floating directly behind my mom’s, and with the kind of hip-raising that the pose called for, her head was probably painfully close to my mom’s butt. I chuckled to myself and really hoped that was the case.

There were a few points at which I could’ve easily tumbled off the board and into the cool blue water, but somehow, I didn’t.  The instructor laughed at my mom as she kept wheeling her head around to look at Mary.

“I can’t see you back there!” my mom exclaimed.

“That’s the point!” Mary answered contentedly. All three of us somehow managed to stay comfortably upright all the way through practice and the leisurely journey back to shore. And, as if that wasn’t enough, the wonderfully toned woman turned out to be one of the friendliest people we’d met all week. (On the car ride home, my mom still noted with a smile, “you know, she was strong, but she really wasn’t that flexible. Definitely not as flexible as us.”)

We decided SUP yoga was by far our favorite practice of the trip; our favorite practice of our entire lives, really. Mary admitted that yes, she had been uncomfortably close to my mom’s backside, and despite whatever trauma that might’ve caused, she had enjoyed the practice so much that she planned to sign up again for next week. Somehow SUP yoga had managed to live up to our gargantuan expectations. Short of finally receiving my letter from Hogwarts, I can’t think of many experiences more magical than a morning of yoga on the water.

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Athleta, call me

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posin’ with Amy and paddle boards

4 days, 4 yoga practices, 3 beaches, new opportunities and old friends. Thank you so much to all our hosts who let us mooch so shamelessly, we couldn’t have done any of this without you. Thank you devoted readers, all twelve of you, for following along with our yoga adventure. And Mom, thanks for not killing me in my sleep even though I made fun of you on the Internet for four days in a row; goodness knows you had plenty of opportunities. You’re my favorite lunatic.

See you back here next Monday, my friends.

Namaste,
Hannah

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