Interview: Hannah Gorman of the Grow Collective

Meet Hannah Gorman, Director of Finances and HR at Grow Yoga, CFO of the Grow Collective, dream chaser, inspiring yogini and all around amazing woman!

Hannah is the first interview in a forthcoming series of people living wholehearted lives.

hannah

Photo by Magi @ MKCaptures

 What drew you to yoga initially?

This is going to sound so cheesy! Honestly, people on Instagram and them posting their pretty poses. I’m like “I want to be able to do this” but… I didn’t feel like I matched what yoga was supposed to be.

Hannah followed Beach Girl Yoga for inspiration, but it wasn’t until she saw a friend’s wife, Stephanie, posting yoga pics that she started to believe she might actually be able to do yoga herself.

Suburban Gypsy’s covered in tattoos. I got to see her family and I got to see how yoga was shaping not only her body, but her life. She didn’t really fit what I thought yoga looked like. That’s what inspired me to be myself and practice this.

Yoga wasn’t just the pretty poses and the beach lifestyle but it was about being the best version of myself and how that can translate off the yoga mat.

How has yoga changed your life?

I really think yoga makes me a nicer person. I didn’t realize that I was a bitch before, but (my husband) Shawn says I’m different now that I practice. I’m definitely less reactive. In that regard our relationship has grown and we’re much stronger. After years of begging, he finally took his first class at Grow. I think he actually practices more than I do.

I’m always really concerned that I am authentic and practice what I preach. If I tell other people how it’s benefited my life but then I’m not being that way than that’s kind of being a fraud. I really try to practice what I do on my mat in other aspects of my life like forgiveness, compassion and self-care.

It’s been really, really good and I’m enjoying the journey so far.

What are your passions?

Obviously yoga! Being of service, people that are in service, and inspirational leaders… anyone that’s passionate about what they’re doing. I really feed off that type of energy. Also, people that take amazing photographs, draw, create mosaics…

I believe that we are pretty fortunate and if I can do anything to help someone else I will try my best to do that.

What is the Grow Collective?

The Grow Collective has three components.

Grow Your Goals: Grow Your Goals helps inspiring business owners to create a business plan, seek out funding and become a legitimate business in the state of New Jersey. We give them the stepping stools to help them do something they love, which I love. It’s passing that love to someone else.

The Bright Light Yoga Project: The BLYP works with survivors of sexual violence in Bolivia. The statistics in the United States say that one out of every four people will experience sexual violence in their lifetime, while the statistic in Bolivia are one in every two. It’s mainly children that are experiencing this type of abuse and violence.

Hannah leaves tomorrow, June 27, 2015 for a service trip to Bolivia.

I will be teaching yoga every day to children in Spanish, trying to create a safe space for them to be able to comfortably move their bodies and make them stronger, more consciousness people. Our hope is that we can pass our love on to the survivors and empower them to carry on our message in Bolivia when we’re not there. Our goal is to create powerful people to stand up and fight against the sexual violence.

Youth Yoga Initiative:

Initially we (Tara and I) developed the Teen Empowerment Program (a program offering teens free yoga at the studio in exchange for a volunteer internship at a community location).

The only two kids that showed up for the Teen Empowerment Program were two boys who were unable to volunteer on their own. I set up their internship at Seashore Gardens Living Center in Galloway and went with them once a week to volunteer with senior citizens.

The Youth Yoga Initiative has since evolved to include several projects.

I wrote a grant for Absegami High School. Other schools have asked us to attend their health fairs and then that became “Hey, we want you to teach yoga here.”

The Covenant House yoga program is part of the Youth Yoga Initiative.

At risk and homeless youth…these are children that have either run away, been kicked out or have been homeless on and off for an extended period of time. The Covenant House provides residency for them. It (The Grow Yoga program) is mainly teenagers and young adults doing yoga because they want to. We strive to create a safe place.

How did you become involved in grant writing?

I went to school for criminal justice and public administration. I took a couple of grant writing classes. Follow-up depends on the company. It’s really about knowing who your potential funder is and developing a relationship with them, even prior to submitting an application. That’s why I reached out to Vans first and then they invited me to apply.

I had photos done (as part of Grow’s Yoga Teacher Training) wearing my Vans, which I wear pretty much daily. I sent my picture to Vans to let them know who I am, what I’m doing and where I’m going. As a grant writer by trade, I’m always looking for opportunities for funding.

Several other places in the community have reached out to Hannah with an interest in yoga. Hannah has begun developing a team of volunteer yoga teachers to meet the needs of the community. She continues to apply for grants through various companies so that the Grow Yoga Youth Yoga Initiative can pay yoga teachers for their time and provide yoga students with supplies such as workout clothing and mats. Gaiam has donated yoga mats. Hannah applied for a significant grant from Lululemon. She is currently waiting to hear back about a $3000 grant from Vans and $3000 worth of Vans workout clothing.

I can see my position as CFO merging into a volunteer coordinator, corporate partnership manager…just to be able to keep track of everything we have going on in the community. It’s really nice these places have reached out to us.

What advice do you have for someone who wants to be of service but doesn’t know how?

My advice would be to identify your skills and reach out to an organization that directly aligns with what you feel strongly about.

There may not be an opportunity already present, but it doesn’t hurt to put yourself out there and ask, “Can I offer some type of services?” Worse case scenario they’ll say no, but you can always go somewhere else.

What would you like to share about your life?

I’ve had a traumatic past. I grew up in a very abusive household where I was physically and emotionally abused for a very long time. It (the abuse) doesn’t have to shape who I am today. I don’t need to continue that violence or abuse, or place blame on myself. I’m working on forgiving myself on my mat and learning to forgive my parents.

Harboring anger creates more anger and frustration and I’m not allowing myself to heal. I should forgive them because it would be beneficial to me, not because I’m going to develop a relationship with them.

What would you like to share about your health?

I feel strongly with women’s reproductive health because I have had issues since I was 16. That’s part of my self-care.

I need to speak up about how my treatment is going. I get Lupron injections for a uterine tumor. I also have pretty aggressive endometriosis. For a long time it was very painful and I have received countless surgeries at this point. Really it’s about sharing my experiences and frustrations with the health care system. Maybe by sharing my story I can be relatable and give someone else the push to speak for themselves and be an advocate for their own self-care and health.

The Lupron injections can cause osteoporosis. They may me very sick, my whole body hurts, and my bones hurt for a week. The injection puts me in a menopausal state so that the endometriosis stops growing.

Hannah would like a hysterectomy, which would remove the tumor and endometriosis. A hysterectomy would ultimately be cheaper than injections long term, but her insurance will not cover it because of her age. She currently continues her injection treatments.

What advice do you have about self-care and the health?

Have great open dialog with your healthcare professional and really speak about what your health goals and objectives are.

What’s your favorite yoga pose?

I love Utkatasana! I feel beautiful, powerful and at the same time it’s a real release to twist it out and open up. It’s not just a physical pose, it’s mental as well. I’m opening myself up and exploring what I thought I couldn’t do. There’s room for an advanced pose like side crow. I really like the playfulness and how the pose makes me expand. I’m opening myself up to possibility and creating that in my practice.

I chose to interview Hannah because of her selfless dedication to service. She does not let her past or her health issues shape her life. She is a constant source of inspiration for me!

Click on the following links to learn more about the Bright Light Yoga Project and it’s partnering organization A Breeze of Hope.

Empowerment & Community

Welcome to Veggie Vinyasa! Thanks for stopping by my blog. I’m Angela, yoga-lover, veggie enthusiast and mama to one adorable toddler.

These days I post fun pics of yoga, veggies and toddler life on Instagram. I teach Baptiste-style, Yin and teen yoga at Grow Yoga in Galloway, New Jersey. During the summer I teach yoga to children and adults at Belhaven Lake RV Resort in the Pine Barrens. I am passionate about natural health and choosing organic as much as possible. I’m crazy about Pangea Organics!

BW_20121010_Session_KatsarelisPerger_0064_web

I started this blog to connect with like-minded souls after finishing my first yoga teacher training in 2011 at Dhyana Yoga in Philadelphia.

Since then I’ve moved to New Jersey, had a baby, gotten married and found an amazing community of yogis at Grow Yoga in Galloway.

Finding my community took a few years and a lot of effort. I started a Facebook group (South Jersey Crunchy Moms), attended meetings (La Leche League and a new mom support group), hosted play dates, threw parties, attended church and chatted with everyone I could on my lunch break at work. Along the way there were awkward friend dates and even a few no-shows at local parks, but I just kept putting myself out there.

Hard work and luck landed me a meeting with Tara at Grow Yoga (arranged by one of those Crunchy Mamas). It was love at first latte, we hugged and Tara hired me. I am forever grateful. Before I became part of the Grow community I spent my days in New Jersey dreaming of my next trip out of town. Now my husband can’t believe it when I don’t want to leave.

I share this story to empower you to follow your dreams. My dream was to have a local community of friends where I could feel loved and supported. I also dreamed of teaching yoga at a studio.

My dreams continue to grow. Now I aspire to empower others to follow their dreams. I hope to mentor beginning teachers and be a part of future teacher trainings. I dream of someday facilitating wellness retreats. I also want to teach yoga in a public school setting. I truly believe the sky is the limit!

What are your dreams? How can you empower yourself? Where can you find support?

My Grow Yoga YTT Group

Farm Country

 

IMG_2613

Lancaster, PA

I am no longer vegan-ish. It took me a while to admit this to my friends and family, and even longer to post it here in my little corner of the virtual world. I still feel very strongly about animal rights, but for now I am making the choice to consume animal products. The Westin A. Price Foundation is a resource for those that would like to find pasture-raised, organic meat, dairy and eggs. In an effort to find the most responsible farm products as possible I joined a farm buying club. The items get delivered every three weeks from an Amish farm in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania to a location in a nearby town. Last month Max and I went to visit the farm and check things out for ourselves. The Amish family was very welcoming and I feel comfortable with the care of the animals. The Amish don’t allow their photo to be taken, but we had fun getting to know them and even invited them to visit us sometime. Max loved playing peek-a-boo and chasing the older children on their scooters.

IMG_2602

IMG_2631

IMG_2607

IMG_2609

IMG_2611

IMG_2620

IMG_2634

Grace & Glory

I went to hot power yoga this morning and liked it. I’m not usually a fan of hot yoga because the heat can be pretty intense. But at 8:30 this morning M offered to watch Baby Max and the class at my usual studio started at 9. We live in the woods, so there was no way I could make it. I’d heard about Grace & Glory through a friend so I decided to give it a go. The room was packed and it was hot. 90 degrees to be exact. But it wasn’t stifling and in the chilliness of winter it actually felt pretty good.

What really made me like the class was the teacher. For me, yoga is more than just a workout. Sure that’s what got me interested in it years ago. A workout that you don’t really have to work at? Count me in. My thoughts have changed since then as I sit here drenched in sweat next to my sleeping baby, afraid to move. The reason I really liked Nicole’s class was because she sprinkled in plenty of yoga philosophy throughout the poses. Like, “My practice is my prayer.” Yoga is movement to get rid of all the crap that is stuck inside of us, both mental and physical. Jivamukti teacher Sharon Gannon wrote about intention this month. If you do yoga with the intention of losing weight, you will probably become thinner. However, why not elevate your intentions for yourself and your life? As Sharon points out, yoga without the philosophy is gymnastics. And sure it will make your body feel good for a little while, but why not awaken something higher in ourselves? And that’s why I really loved today’s hot power yoga class. Yes, I was there for a workout and to feel better physically. But I was also there to let go of negative thoughts and aspire towards inner tranquility. And sometimes that takes a good dose of sweat.

3 Ingredients To-Go

The other day I had to run a few errands super-early so I packed a quick breakfast to take along with me: So Delicious coconut yogurt in plain, agave syrup and cereal. I found a shady spot in a suburban parking lot to put it all together.

Eating out of a real bowl is so worth the dirty dish

New-to-me, suggested by a good friend

Great spot for breakfast

A Day Late

Happy July 4th 5th! The holiday may be over, but it’s never to late to express love for America.

An all-American beach: Ocean City, New Jersey

The power’s still out at my place so I spent a few days at the beach. I discovered new (to me) shore spots that have tons of healthy, delicious options. Yianni’s Cafe on Asbury Avenue has outdoor seating, smoothies, oatmeal and other yummy choices. Red’s Jersey Mex Cafe is a cute little place a few blocks off the beaten track. It’s got everything I love: tacos, guac and surf pics.

Yianni’s Favorite: fresh oj & fruit

Oatmeal with sliced almonds and cinnamon

Mexican on July 4th~because we’re all dependent on each other

Veggie tacos with guacamole

I love that the U.S.A is a melting pot of world cultures. My perfect July 4th:  Cali-style American breakfast, yoga (from India), Mexican lunch and Cuban for dinner (no pics of chickpea stew and fried plantains…but they were amazing).

What do you love about America?

Cheers for Chipotle

How ironic… I dissed on fast food joints last week, but today I have to give a little bit of credit where it’s due. Chipotle‘s got it going on with (some) organic ingredients, yummy veg options and an eco-friendly bowl for tortilla-less burritos. I wouldn’t catergorize Chipotle as fast food, but since it’s a chain I was extra impressed by their efforts.

Rice & beans with plenty of veggies

A little crumpled...but still good news

So since starting this blog last year I’ve started to eliminate dairy most of the time. Some friends have asked me what it means to be vegan. Or actually, how it’s possible to give up cheese and still enjoy life. I’m not strict everyday, but I think Mexican is one of the easiest cuisines to eliminate animal products from. Here’s what was in my veggie bowl (and it was absolutely delish!):

  • brown rice with cilantro (yay Chipotle for having brown rice and organic cilantro!)
  • sautéed onions and peppers
  • black beans
  • scoop of mild salsa (chunky tomatoes) and medium (pureed roasted tomatoes)
  • corn salad
  • guacamole
  • lettuce

There was enough flavor and texture to keep things interesting, and I promise you that I did not miss the cheese.

What’s your favorite veggie option at restaurants? What tastes delicious without the cheese?

Wind & Weather

Whew, what a weekend. Friday night my good friend Liz came for a sleepover and some sun at the shore. In the middle of the night we woke to a windy storm that we didn’t know was coming. Lighting flashed nonstop and M gathered us and Sophie (the dog I was watching for the week) into the living room to hide behind the couch. A tree fell through the roof in the guest bathroom and the power’s been out ever since. We’re all safe, but Mays Landing looks a little disheveled.

Our front yard

We’ll be sans electricity for a while….

Sophie in the backyard

Get it before it goes bad…coconut yogurt, granola, honey and bananas

Lots of thoughts…I’m happy this didn’t happen during the construction of our house, we would have had a huge mess. This must be nothing compared to what New Orleans felt like during Hurricane Katrina (actually that was Liz’s thought). On Saturday Liz and I only had one bottle of water each and all the stores within a 30 minute drive were closed. It was 95 degrees and we had to conserve. (Our house has well water that doesn’t work when the power is out. I had no idea.) The only thing we had to drink was almond milk and Perrier (which I usually mix with vodka and a splash of nonexistent juice). I should be more prepared. I felt real compassion for people that don’t have access to running water, particulary in third world countries. Most of all I feel thankful that no one was hurt and everything’s going to be okay.

In case you’re wondering, I’m at a Panera 45 minutes away. I have an appointment around here this afternoon so I’m taking advantage of wifi and iced coffee while I can. A little window shopping at Anthropologie doesn’t hurt either.

When was the last time you were taken out of your comfort zone?

Hot & Cold Rice Bowl

Saturday afternoon I stopped by my favorite little produce stand on the side of the road by the campground. I couldn’t resist grabbing a few juicy tomatoes.

I used the tomatoes and cumber to make a summer veggie bowl. Here’s the basic recipe:

Hot & Cold Rice Veggie Bowl

Ingredients:

  • sliced squash
  • asparagus
  • chopped tomatoes
  • chopped cucumber
  • leftover brown basmati rice
  • pine nuts
  • olive oil

Dressing:

  • zest and juice of one lemon
  • olive oil
  • splash of apple cider vinegar
  • pinch of dried oregano
  • salt & pepper
  • one small minced garlic clove

Directions: Heat a splash of olive oil over medium in a large pan. Cook squash and asparagus with lid on for about 5-7 minutes, checking and flipping as necessary. Meanwhile layer cucumber, tomato and cold rice in a bowl. Mix dressing ingredients in a separate container. Once asparagus and squash are tender and slightly brown, remove from heat and chop into bite-size pieces. Add pine nuts to the heated pan and cook for a few minutes until fragrant. Place everything in the bowl and give it a good stir. Yum!

The man-version on bread

His and her summer veggies

(I’ve decided to lay off the bread for a while… summer travels have contributed to a few extra pounds)

Jersey fresh

What’s cooking in your kitchen this week?