Veep actress (and yoga devotee) Anna Chlumsky has come a long way since she played Macaulay Culkin’s first love in the 1991 tearjerker My Girl. The 33-year-old just earned her second Emmy nomination for her role as the vice president’s chief of staff Amy Brookheimer on the hit HBO comedy, so needless to say, it’s been an exciting (and “daunting”) few weeks. Below, the busy mom of 1-year-old Penelope reveals how yoga has helped her stay calm in the lead-up to tonight’s 66th annual Primetime Emmy Awards—and how she finds much-needed solitude on the mat.
YogaJournal.com: Is it true that you were about to step on the mat when you got the call about your Emmy nomination?
Anna Chlumsky: Yes. Actually, I had a window where I could do it with my baby napping, but it all got taken up with phone calls so I didn’t have time. But that’s OK. I’ve done plenty since!
YJ.com: What’s your favorite class to take when the show is on hiatus?
AC: I used to go religiously to Bikram Yoga NYC, but with all of the travel [for work] then getting pregnant, I couldn’t find the time to get on the train then take an hour-and-a-half class, so I discovered podcasts. Actually, the first podcasts I ever got into were Jason Crandell’s podcasts from Yoga Journal.
YJ.com: What was it like making the switch from Bikram to Vinyasa?
AC: I became open to other practices because I was doing a gig in Calgary and there were no Bikram studios. At the time, I still missed Bikram, but it opened my eyes to the fact that any yoga is better than no yoga. That’s how I deal with busy weeks when I’m on the show. If I can do 15 minutes in my trailer or before bed, that’s so much better than nothing.
YJ.com: Is it ever a struggle to step on the mat without the support of a live yoga community?
AC: I loved my classes when I had the time, but now I think if I had to do a class every time I wanted to practice, I just wouldn’t do yoga as much. For me, finding stuff I can do at home has given me the freedom that I needed to be like, “Let’s do it,” any time I’m in a hotel room or on location.
YJ.com: Have you ever unrolled your mat on the set of Veep?
AC: I’ve been known to. You don’t move that much in your trailer and there are some times, like this last year, where I just didn’t have time to go back to my house. So I was like, “I’ll just bring my computer and I’ll do it on the carpet.” I don’t even bring my mat.
YJ.com: Does Julia Louis-Dreyfus—or any of your other co-stars—ever join in?
AC: No. Whoever’s there definitely has to tolerate it, but I find solitude in being able to do an individual practice. That makes the the rest of my day so much more effective. At a certain point, it’s like taking your vitamins.
YJ.com: How is your yoga practice helping you calm your nerves leading up to the Emmys?
AC: Any time you’re in a situation where you feel like people are watching and there’s attention on you, it can be daunting. I think sitting down and realizing everything you need is right before you, not needing anything else and not striving, that’s a terribly healthy thing to do every day. Whether it’s yoga or running or hiking, doing that thing where you’re like, “I’m breathing. I’m smiling. I’ve got love,” that’s all anybody needs! I think that’s the best way to handle nerves, right?
Here, Chlumsky shares four of her favorite yoga poses for staying in that headspace and keeping jitters at bay:
Child’s Pose (Balasana)
“For stress, no matter where you are, if you can drop into a Child’s Pose, there’s nothing better, I think.”
Tortoise Pose (Kurmasana)
“It’s just an energizer. It’s like a cup of coffee if you’re unable to get anywhere to actually get a cup of coffee.”
Standing Side Stretch
From Mountain Pose (Tadasana), grasp your left wrist and bend to the right, then grasp your right wrist and bend to the left.
“This one’s great for stress. I’m an actor and a singer and a dancer so, for us, we want to have our lungs open. If they’re all sticky, this gets them open and it’s like heaven.”
Happy Baby (Ananda Balasana)
“It gets your back aligned and opens your hips, which, as we all know, is where most of your stress is. And it makes you smile. Happy’s in the name!”
—Dana Meltzer Zepeda