A Stroke of Greatness: Owen Henn

Leanne Yenush

What does #AStrokeOfGreatness mean to you? 

Someone much more eloquent than me said that rowers spend their whole life searching for that one perfect stroke. I could say the same thing about the perfect Sun Salutation, or the perfect Warrior Two pose. I think the point is that we’re always in the process of striving to better ourselves as people and as athletes and we're never finished. What I would add is that it’s equally important work to find contentment with who and where you are now. 

How did you choose yoga?

I was a natural fit at Hydrow because I was on the Hobart College crew team before I started teaching yoga, so I know how the two movements can complement each other. I got into yoga simply because it consistently made me feel better afterward. 

I found that yoga helped me find the grace to navigate life’s challenges and periods of uncertainty. Fortunately, when I moved to Boston for grad school, I found a thriving yoga scene and connected with some of the most brilliant teachers in the country. I decided to start teaching yoga as a way to pay forward some of the wonderful benefits that the practice had delivered to me. While it was stressful and challenging at first, I soon fell in love with teaching yoga and the way in which it changed my personal connection to the practice. 

What is your proudest athletic achievement? 

From my rowing career, it was racing in the Head of the Charles Regatta with my college crew team. That race is chaotic, with boats everywhere and a myriad of tight turns and narrow bridges to navigate. I remember thinking how cool Boston looked, never imagining it would become my home years later.

From my yoga career, I think it’s been the evolution of my handstand. I had always seen other yogis pressing up gracefully into handstands and thought it was impossible. It’s taken years and years, and lots of falling on my face, but I’m very proud to say that handstands are now a part of my yoga practice. Like anything in yoga, it’s always a work in progress - but the deep focus I find when I’m balancing upside down is unlike anything else. 

What type of work went into where you are today? 

I always acknowledge that getting my yoga practice to the point where it is now took a lot of work, but I’m fortunate that it never felt like work. To me, yoga has never felt like a dreaded workout, but instead like a celebration of all that my body is capable of. It was easy for me to show up on my mat consistently because I quickly found friends who kept me accountable. Likewise, I gravitated towards teachers who taught a fun, challenging style of class and went out of their way to connect with me as a student. These teachers continue to inspire me and inform my teaching style.

I’m fortunate to have found a career that feels less like a job and more like my life’s work. When I’m not teaching or practicing yoga, I work at Boston Children’s Hospital as a Registered Dietitian where I study how nutrition can empower people with type 1 diabetes. As a type 1 diabetic myself, this is something I’m passionate about and feel like my work can really make a big difference in the lives of people with diabetes everywhere. However, it’s not always easy to balance these competing demands in my life. I’ve found that making time to practice yoga helps me find the clarity and focus I need to fit everything into place in my life. 

What sets Hydrow apart from other teams that you have been on?

Rowing is a wonderful sport, but when you’re up at 5:30am in the cold and dark to get that practice time on the water, it’s easy to ask yourself “why am I doing this?” You continue to show up for crew practice because you want to be there for your teammates (and because it’s really fun to leave the boat next to you in your wake!). 

At Hydrow, we’re all teammates and we still all have that drive to show up and get better together. But what I think sets it apart is that we get to show the world the joy of rowing. We get to share who we are, what motivates us to keep going, and hopefully spark that same joy and determination in others. 

What’s your personal motto? 

Success is not linear.

I’ve had opportunities fall through that I was so sure would define the rest of my life, only to find another, much better one appear shortly thereafter. I’ve had great days managing my health that were followed by really bad days. The key is to learn from both, practice non-attachment, and remain oriented in the right direction. I try to remember that as long as I keep working and keep my head up, I’ll end up where I need to be.


Learn more about Owen here, follow him on Instagram here, and learn a bit more about his workout style here.