Hannah Nathanson Interview by Zoe D’angelo Nomination & Photography by Jessica Robertson Photographic Artistry Virginia Issue 15
The Nomination: While most teens are grappling with problems like boyfriends, GPAs, acne...Hannah struggles with chronic debilitating health issues. Her sport is not one we typically think of when we list high school sports, but YOGA is a practice that has been a lifeline for Hannah. The mind-body connection she finds in this practice is vital to her wellbeing and she is disciplined in working toward a healthy result. Truly inspiring! How did you become interested in yoga? I became interested in yoga due to being sick. I needed something to do and put what little energy I had into simple yoga and meditation. I was diagnosed with an invisible illness = POTS, (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome). I was bedridden for about 1.5 years, in so much pain that I couldn't move, lift my head off the pillow, or even eat. With my elevated heart rate and low blood pressure, I am only capable of doing minimal exercises. I came across a beginner level yoga video about anxiety and depression through YouTube, which was my favorite hobby while bedridden.
What are 2 things you love most about yoga? One of my favorite things about yoga is just the feeling during, and after my yoga time. It's the feeling of being able to do anything. After I'm done stretching and doing my favorite poses, I feel a release. I feel pretty much pain-free, which is something that is very hard for me to find. My body is loose and flexible, instead of having my joints and muscles stiff and tense. No matter how short-lived that feeling is, I'm always grateful for a reprieve. My other favorite thing about yoga is that I feel unique and different. Other people my age play soccer, field hockey, gymnastics, cheerleading, or lacrosse. When I do yoga, I know I'm being unique, and I prefer it that way.
Tell me about your typical day. Due to POTS, my typical day is very different than an average teen. My body requires a lot of sleep to function, usually about 12 hours. Once I wake up, the first thing I do is try and eat something to take medication, which is always a problem because of constant nausea. If I'm not able to eat, I opt for drinking a protein shake. I have to spend the majority of my day in bed because I'm physically not able to do much. Luckily, I can easily do yoga in bed or on my mat next to my bed. I try to do yoga every day, but sometimes I'm not able and that's okay. I split my time with online school, guided meditation, listening to audiobooks, nighttime yoga, doctors’ appointments, and listening to YouTube videos.
Do you plan on continuing yoga in the future? I do plan on continuing yoga for the rest of my life, and as my health improves, I would love to become an instructor to help people become more self-aware and share my advice and experiences.
Would you like to teach yoga classes? I would love to one day be able to teach and share the benefits of yoga, meditation, and deep breathing. Teens struggle with the mindset of being perfect. Yoga really helped me see that it doesn't matter what your shape, size, or even age is. All that matters is that you're on the mat and trying to better your mind and body.
Hannah was featured in Issue 15 of Inspiring Teens Magazine.
Ethan Spencer Interview by Diamond Farmer Nomination & Photography by Jessica Robertson Photographic Artistry Virginia Issue 15
The nomination: The alarm goes off every day many hours before the sun comes up to wake Ethan for his morning swim practice. He swims for hours before he even goes to school each day. Sacrifice is the word that comes to mind when we talk with Ethan about his dedication to competitive swimming. Not only does he maintain his grades, his friendships and excels at his sport, he makes the choice to forgo lots of fun socializing in order to make it happen as he has to go to bed early every night to be ready to dive in the next day.
When did you start swimming? A friend invited me to join the summer swim team when I was 9 years old and I loved it so much that I have been swimming ever since. So much, that 2 years ago I began swimming year-round for NOVA of Virginia and am looking forward to continuing my swimming career at the collegiate level.
How does your sleep schedule work around swim practice? Since I practice every morning at 4:45am and live a good half hour away, I wake up at 3:40am in order to eat and get there on time. I go to sleep at 7:30pm during the week in order to maintain a good sleep schedule.
Do you have any other hobbies or activities besides from swimming? I am a very competitive fantasy football player and huge sports fan (pro and college). I enjoy hanging out with my friends most weekends when I don't have a swim meet, and hiking and taking eye opening pictures of nature. In the summer I work as a lifeguard at the YMCA.
What have you had to sacrifice to excel at swim and school, and does it stress you out? Daily I have to sacrifice my time, which results in me having to be rigorous in keeping up with school work to maintain my 4.2 GPA. I try to do my homework immediately and avoid procrastination at all costs. I also have had to give up various aspects of my social life that a typical high school kid might have. No, it doesn’t stress me out - I have faith in maintaining my schedule and if I do everything when it is supposed to be done it will all work out.
Ethan was featured in Issue 15 of Inspiring Teens Magazine.