Dr. Heather Robinson Interviews Olivia Hsu
Olivia Hsu and The Hanuman Festival: Rocking the World of Climbing and Yoga
Olivia Hsu is a master on the rock and on the mat. Her flawless image has been captured on the cover of guidebooks, climbing magazines, and Yoga Journal. She is one of few people who can devote her life to both climbing and yoga whole-heartedly – and excel at both. Out of breath, I stumbled into my favorite yoga studio last week. I was running late but my instructor was still there to check me in for class. “You’re a rock climber, right?” she asked. “Do you know Olivia Hsu”? Being a rock climber for the past 11 years it was a given. Of course I knew Olivia Hsu. She has been a figure in the climbing community for as long as I can remember. An inspiration not only for climbing at an elite level but also for being a phenomenal yogi, I find her ability to balance these two demanding disciplines both remarkable and inspiring.
You too will soon have the pleasure this summer of meeting Olivia as she leads a hike along the majestic Flatirons with a yoga session mid-hike at the Hanuman Festival in Boulder, CO. The Hanuman Festival is a community-oriented yoga and music festival happening in the mountain chic fashion of downtown Boulder mid-June. Spend the days in countless yoga workshops taught by world-class instructors then stroll the Vendor Village tents in between sessions. By night, enjoy powerful and uplifting beats of soulful and like-minded musicians.
I had the pleasure of catching up with Olivia all the way from Spain where she was rock climbing. She has been climbing for thirteen years and practicing yoga for eleven. She is happily married to American Alpinist and renowned photographer, Cory Richards. I hope you enjoy Olivia’s insights and this peek into a day in her life as much as I did.
Olivia, it’s really exciting that you are leading a hike for Hanuman Festival this year. Tell me a little bit about this upcoming event and how you became involved.
I’ve taught at the Yoga Journal Conference in Estes Park in the past doing a Yoga and Hiking event which was extremely popular and sold out for most of the days. People came from all over the states, which made me realize what an amazing place we live in…the majestic Rockies. When we live somewhere and see it everyday it’s easy to take it for granted, especially when you climb and spend most of your time in the outdoors. It becomes very normal to you. So taking these people hiking and seeing the excitement and appreciation on their faces for being in the outdoors really brought joy to me- to be able to share this with people who don’t have regular access to this.
You have said in past interviews that you love yoga and climbing equally. How do you find the time to practice and train both at a high level?
When you love something you find the time. There are times when I am a little more focused on one more than the other.
Can you give me an example of what your typical day is like?
I wake up and drink a cup of tea (if I’m on coffee drink coffee – I go through phases), then I practice yoga for 2.5 hrs. Depending on the day – I head to the climbing gym and train for 3-4 hours. If the weather is good I’ll climb outside. Then teach a yoga class in the evening.
How did you and your husband, Cory, meet?
In a very cliché way. He was the photographer and I was the model on a photo shoot.
Do you climb together often?
We try to climb together but it doesn’t always work out. He travels a lot more than I do so when he is home we’ll climb together – one of our favorite things to do is solo the first flat iron together. He tends to do more expedition type of climbing trips, so he will be away anywhere between 4-8 weeks which gives me time to focus on me and my climbing goals.
You are obviously a very accomplished yogini and climber. What keeps you so motivated to excel at both?
Yoga is my dharma. It’s become my practice. It’s like brushing my teeth. I don’t really think of it as exercise even though I know it’s physical. As for climbing… well, I just love it. I love the physical challenges it presents to me but I also love the companionship it brings me. Recently I’ve been training with a group of amazing women which has been really motivating.
Do you ever have a day you just want to lay on the couch and eat potato chips?
Wait! That’s what I do at the end of everyday:).
If your closest friends had to describe you in three different words, what would they be?
Driven, compassionate, passionate.
I hope that you can join Olivia at the Hanuman Festival June 13-16, 2013 in Boulder, CO.
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~Dr. Heather Robinson, prAna Ambassador