Anjali Power Yoga had the pleasure of hosting Africa Yoga Project teachers Jacob and Dennis on their Handstands, Hugs and Highways 2015 tour.  They taught eight sweaty, joyous, silly, powerful classes at the Westmont, Philly and Avalon studios.   The teens at Urban Promise in Camden had a blast, rocking out backbends  and even learning  Swahili!   Funds were raised, t-shirts and Maasai jewelry were bought and every person left the studio, smiling, light hearted and dripping with sweat and love.  A  donation of almost $4,000 was donated to Africa Yoga Project!!

On the social side, in Westmont, we had a barbecue at Lisa’s house and lots of teachers and their kids visited with different American style dishes, hamburgers, hot dogs and Philly pretzels included.  It was fun speaking to Jacob and Dennis and learning of their culture and yoga stories.  While in Avalon, we had fun doing relaxing things like hanging at the beach (handstands were involved!),  visiting with students and swimming in their pool, hanging on my deck with yogi friends and being treated to two firework displays.   We decided that the fireworks were a celebration of AYP’s visit to Anjali!  Of course, we also tasted lots of new foods!   We decided that Dennis had some Irish in his background because he loved Anthony’s mushy peas and Jacob loved the mint chocolate chip ice cream.   New discoveries in America!   

I had told Jacob and Dennis that before they left, I would take them on a tour of Philadelphia on the way to the train at 30th Street Station.  They were so interested in the history of our city and they knew a lot of the places they wanted to see.  I told them the last stop on our tour would be the Rocky statue and we could run the Art Museum steps just like Rocky did.  To my surprise……Dennis had never seen Rocky. (I thought Jacob might not have!)   I thought the movie would be a perfect introduction to our city, so in our down time, we stayed up late and watched Rocky and Rocky 2.   I hadn’t seen the movie in so long and now that I live in Philly, it was fun seeing the movie again….a perfect blend of a guy movie, chick flick and a tour of the city that I call home.  

I have been blessed with the ability to travel quite a lot.   On my last trip abroad, visiting the many sites and historic places of London and the Bordeaux region, I was struck with the thought…”there’s no place like home.”   Everyday on my way to work,  I drive past Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell.   Everyday I drive by the many museums, historic spots, Philly murals, and statues.   I can get a cheese steak 24 hours a day!   

When I took Jacob and Dennis on an hour whirlwind tour, I was surprised that I really knew where so many fun, historic things were in our City of Brother Love.   We started our tour from the shore, crossing into the city via the Walt Whitman Bridge.   The skyline of the city, the Delaware River and the Stadiums are easily visible and are awe-inspiring.   YO!  Of course I’m a Philly sports fan so I think the stadiums are amazing!  Unfortunately there was no “real” Football Stadium to point out to them.   Driving up Broad Street, through South Philly and stopping to take yoga pictures in front of City Hall with Billy Penn in the background are not to be forgotten, iconic moments for them.   Along the drive, I explained all the history and culture that I could remember!  A circle around the brownstones of Spruce Street in tree lined Rittenhouse and down South Street to The Magic Garden.   Again…fun pictures and awe of the art work and creativity of something I see everyday!   Handstands and warrior pose pictures added to their memories!  

As we drove fast around the Oval, past the Franklin Institute  and up JFK Parkway, Dennis was trying to find the Kenyan flag!   To our surprise, just past the Barnes and the Rodin is the Kenyan flag.   Luckily, I’m a good driver and can stop quickly, as Dennis hopped out of the car for a pic!    Finally, the piece de resistance…….The Art Museum!   First stop the Rocky statue!    I think the Rocky statue is a symbol for Philadelphians…Anything is possible if you are a yes!   Rocky fought his way and won…love, hard work  and a strong commitment put him at the top!   Not without a little controversy and some not so good things along the way.   Rocky let go of what was behind him and triumphed!  Now to the hard part…..running those steps!   Both Jacob and Dennis ran, and as they disappeared beyond the lens of my video…I smiled, laughed and cried.    Yes…cried!   I knew in a few minutes I would be saying good by and this was such a happy moment!   I actually felt the sweat they they were experiencing!   As you watch the video, know that I turned it off before the best part.   Dennis jumping up and down, pumping his fists, yelling “I love America!”.    Then the hugs!   There’s still no place like home!

Cheryl Cucinotta Hargaden