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Face of the ’Hood: David Hem in Fitler Square

Josh Middleton

David Hem, the 35-year-old founder and instructor at David Hem Yoga, shares what he loves about his neighborhood, Fitler Square, and a few yoga poses to keep your mind in check over the holidays.

Why did you begin doing yoga—and eventually start teaching it?

I started practicing when I was looking for ways to better the quality of my life, and yoga made a difference: It taught me how to think before I react. I took up teaching later because it felt right. It accented my good qualities and made them stronger. I learn a lot as a teacher—maybe even more than the students.

Are there any good spots to meditate or do yoga outdoors in Fitler Square?

Yeah, totally—next to the river along the Schuylkill Trail. It’s peaceful there, especially early in the morning before anyone is up.

What do you like most about living in the neighborhood?

I friggin’ love the dog park. It’s my new church. Dogs are like gods when it comes to love. Sure, they eat their own shit every now and then, but they’re pleasant as fuck, man. And the people who bring their dogs are really cool too. It’s good to be around that.

Do you have any favorite restaurants or cafés in Fitler Square?

I really love Jezabel’s. I go for their empanadas, great coffee and this delicious mint-lime drink concoction.

What’s your go-to pose when you’ve had a rough day and have 10 minutes to decompress?

Sukhasana, or easy pose—the one where you sit in a simple cross-legged position and meditate. It relaxes me when I’m sitting up straight—gives me a deeper inhale. I go to that pose in the morning and at night to bookend my day.

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