yogi in the city: hitha palepu

Hitha On The Go headshotEd Note: If you don’t know Hitha, you should. She’s that extraordinary rare breed of woman who is smart, witty, well-traveled, creative and business-savvy. She’s evangelical about her passion for strategic traveling, and we often joke that in an age where bloggers preen and prance and are sometimes overly self-important, Hitha’s work in the pharma space is transformative. Not only do I love cooking with Hitha (we frequently meet in our respective homes to GOOP it or attempt some healthy dish), but I love passing time with a woman who’s strong, opinionated, passionate and always inspires. I hope you love her contribution to my ongoing Yogi in the City series as much as I did.

I distinctly remember the first time I ever took a yoga class. It was the summer after my freshman year in college, during my annual trip to India.

I had spent most of my summer in Washington DC, interning on Capitol Hill. After two months of running on marble floors in heels, I’d planned to spend the rest of my time in a state of pure slothness while in India. Good books, even better food, and some family time. That’s all I wanted.

Mama Palepu had other plans.

“I found a yoga studio around the corner. The teacher will give us private lessons. First thing tomorrow morning.”

More a command than a statement. That’s my mother.

I begrudgingly peeled myself from bed the next morning and threw on the most yoga-appropriate of my lounging clothes. We walked the dusty road to the second floor studio, marveling at the calm and chill that’s rare for Hyderabadi streets.

A pot-bellied, mustached instructor stood waiting for us with mats ready. Sitting cross-legged, taking deep breaths, the thought “this is stupid and such a waste of time” floated through my head. After what felt an eternity (but was two minutes), we started sun salutations. The moment my limp muscles came into plank was the second I was hooked.

I went back to the same instructor every day for the rest of my trip. And have continued my yoga practice with sporadic regularity ever since.

Currently, my practice consists of a weekly class and a brief morning practice on most days. I start with 10 sun salutations – a habit I’ve kept since my first class. If I have time, I’ll add in a warrior sequence. On a good day, I’ll throw in a balancing pose – “tree” continues to be a challenge for me, one that I blame on my yoga pants more often than I should.

I end my regular practice with a few attempts at “crow”. It’s the pose that challenges me the most, but also gives me such satisfaction when I manage to hit it. I’ve managed to nail 5 seconds in the pose with some consistency, and I’m aiming to hit 10 before the end of the year.

Thanks, Mom, for introducing me to yoga. As usual, you were right.

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