The Yogi Headline

The 22-year-old went from disheartened engineering student to joyful yoga instructor and entrepreneur.

Tiana Hannemann

→ By Diane Seo


Tiana Hannemann’s pursuit of an engineering degree at USC was impressive to everyone—except herself.


After gunning for top grades at ‘Iolani, then college, by the middle of her sophomore year she was feeling lost and depleted. “I was really low, and was planning to take a semester off,” she says. “It was a hard time because I wasn’t doing what my heart was calling for, and I really wanted to come home.”


As the universe would have it, the pandemic hit a month later and Hannemann came home for remote schooling. Since then, the 22-year-old’s outlook has taken a dramatically brighter turn: She began pursuing a life aligned to her passions. “Everyone was telling me [engineering] was the right path, but it was such a people-pleasing path,” she says. “Once I finally started doing what makes me happy, everything started unfolding naturally. It’s been all about following my intuition, and happiness has been coming out of that.”

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Photos: Aaron K. Yoshino

“We know another pandemic could come and everything could be shut down again.”

Although she did wind up with an engineering degree from USC, she’s not seeking a career in that field. Instead, she launched her own sustainable activewear line, called Rika, and teaches classes at Yoga Room Hawai‘i, a Kaimukī studio she co-owns with four other instructors including her father, Max Hannemann. Both had been CorePower Yoga instructors, but they were let go during the COVID-19 lockdown. Undeterred, the Hannemanns began offering free body sculpting classes on Instagram. Demand for their virtual instruction grew by the week—across Hawai‘i, the country and even internationally. “All of a sudden this new community formed with a lot of familiar faces” from their time at CorePower Yoga, Tiana Hannemann says.


Things continued to unfold. Max Hannemann and three other former CorePower instructors partnered to take over Yoga Room Hawai‘i in late 2020. Earlier this year, Tiana was asked to be a fifth owner.


She launched Rika around the same time. Striving toward a zero-waste life, Hannemann realized a lot of the yoga tops and tights she bought weren’t eco-friendly. Rika is: The luxe line is made from regenerated nylon, recycled yarn and old plastic bottles.


It’s the bright side of a dark time. The pandemic, Hannemann says, motivated a lot of younger people to step away from expected paths and live the way they want. “We know another pandemic could come and everything could be shut down again,” she says, “so whatever you want to do, you should do.” —DS

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Photos: Aaron K. Yoshino
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