You may have seen (or even follow!) Hannah Haller’s fascinating yoga poses on Instagram, but you may not know much about the girl behind @GypsyOn__, a blog and social media account dedicated to acroyoga, a study of yoga that combines acrobatics and is done with a partner. Haller has been practicing acroyoga since 2015 and currently travels the globe to lead yoga retreats and festivals. She demonstrates her practice on Instagram through videos and photos that feature her acroyoga partner and boyfriend, Pablo, and their dog Nalu.
Lively: Can you walk us through a day in the life of Hannah (GypsyOn__) Haller?
Hannah Haller: Sure! When we are not traveling for retreats or festivals we are total homebodies! I’m very intuitive when it comes to pretty much all things life. I think it keeps things interesting and fun as well as providing adequate space for me to decide what my body needs on any given day. Sometimes we get up and immediately take Nalu (my dog) to the springs or to the park or for a hike, while others I’ll choose yoga or work before getting to the greenbelt. Regardless of timing though, we always include a long walk or hike in the woods, a swim if we can, and plenty of yoga and acroyoga in our day.
L: When and why did you start @GypsyOn__ on Instagram?
HH: GypsyOn was something I saw while I was living in Cape Town, South Africa and I couldn’t get it out of my mind for the longest time. One day while I was living in Bondi Beach, Australia I went to have it tattooed on my arm, at the elbow. When I moved back into the USA in ’15 I was changing my Instagram page from a travel account to a yoga account. I deleted the entire page just to make a new one that same day. I was @gypsyon_ but they won’t let you use the same name within 24 hours and I wanted that name so I became @gypsyon__ (with two underscores).
L: How and why did you start yoga?
HH: I began practicing yoga (the first time) in ’05. I found a studio I loved in my home town but I was still pretty young and I moved to Los Angeles shortly after. I didn’t find another studio that resonated with me (although I didn’t look much while living in LA!) until I lived in Cape Town in ’11. Things were changing in my life then and I was doing some serious soul searching. I found myself walking to the studio sometimes three times a day for classes. With no plans to return to South Africa I found myself right back there, where I’d left off a year before, after months of traveling through Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
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Tell us your practice style and how did you choose your yoga method?
HH: I think we all have an individual style whether we know it or not. Of course any teachers you’ve had along the way will help you develop that or influence it, if you will. Other than my trainings, structured classes have been few and far between for me. I like to work from home, in my space, moving as slowly as I possibly can.
L: What is your mindset when you step onto the mat?
HH: I think that changes day to day. Sometimes practice flows easily and others it’s like pulling teeth. Working with what you have, understanding that being able to practice is a blessing in itself, and not beating yourself up, will allow you to enjoy every delicious moment of your practice.
L: Why is yoga so important for the times we’re living in?
HH: I think yoga is important for all times, ever. We all need and have always needed to take time for ourselves. Perhaps more so in the fast paced western world but in my opinion we all need yoga and/or meditation in our daily lives in order to operate at our highest frequency, which we all deserve to do.
L: What advice would you give a well-practiced yogi to take their practice to the next level?
HH: It’s never about that! Don’t worry about the next ‘level’ or tomorrow for that matter. Focus on today, take one day at a time, and keep practicing. Allow your practice to come from a place of gratitude and not a place of strain or emphasis on achievement. The asanas are only a vehicle that help us travel inward.
Hannah Haller on How to Perfect Your Headstand
Supported headstand with fingers interlaced is my favorite and my ‘go to’ for headstand variations. It is, in my opinion, the safest, and best version for building shoulder strength and flexibility for forearm stand and eventually handstand. I love to use this and the progressions to warm my body up and prepare for the full pose.
1) To start interlace your fingers to create a little basket for the back our your head and plant your forearms no more than shoulder width apart.
2) Lift your knees off the ground and begin pushing through the balls of your feet so that the back of your head slides snugly into your interlaced fingers. Press down into your forearms and pull your shoulders up, away from your ears. Suck your naval in and breathe into this shape. You’ll immediately feel how much heat is being created!
3) Walk your toes toward your face, take one knee into your chest and hold. Other side. Rest or opt to go straight into raising each foot high into the sky (as shown).
4) Once both sides are finished feel free to take a short savasana or go straight into the final progression before attempting the full variation.
5) Walk as close to your face as you can so that your hips begin to stack directly over your shoulders and aim to float your toes off the ground and drag both knees to chest. Hold there or press your active feet straight up.
6) Be sure to breathe, keep your core engaged, and check your line afterward to be sure your toes were right over your head!