Teacher Spotlight: Dale Hills

Meet Dale Hills

Why do you teach yoga?
I teach in service of my teachers and my students. Yoga is a centuries old tradition passed down from teacher to student. As I developed my practice and explored the history and philosophies of yoga; it became a natural consequence to then teach. And I have found that developing my classes and teaching my students has matured my own practice and deepened my own understanding. I learn from my students every time I teach. It is such an privilege to be allowed to share what I have been taught. 

What style / type of yoga do you teach?
To answer this, I need to give a little background. I am a retired teacher. Almost all 32 years of teaching English was with 7th and 8th graders. I loved the age because they were all emerging adult readers, writers, and communicators. Now I find I teach students beginning their exploration of yoga. Just like my middle schoolers, I hope to awaken the sense of possibility within. My classes are vinyasa flow classes with careful attention to alignment and self-awareness. We use props to access asanas (postures) with steadiness and ease. It is the same when I teach more proficient students. Each class, I try to give my students something to take with them into their day. 

What is your biggest hope for your students?
People come to yoga for many, many different reasons. Generally, they are looking for something. I hope they find it or something else that is useful. At age 57, I started practicing yoga to feel better in my body. Five and 1/2 years later, I am 35 pounds lighter, one inch taller (truly), healthier than I have ever been, my mind is less frenetic, and my heart is infinitely lighter. Practicing yoga teaches you to find peace within first. I guess you could say world peace is my hope for all beings. Teaching yoga is a contribution to further that end. 

Who have been your most influential teachers?
Dan Hills, the kindest person I know, has a huge influence on my yoga journey because he has been understanding and encouraging every step. Krishna Kumari helped me begin my study of yoga and continues to be a touchstone of support as I continue along my path. From TJ Macchiaroli (Bodhi Spa and Yoga), I have learned and now teach at pace that allows the pose to be found within. With incredible patience, he has helped me deepen my practice on so many important levels. His classes explore the richness of yoga beyond the postures. From Raghunath and Brij (Supersoul Yoga), I have learned alignment, brilliant assists, and the joy of living and loving on this path. I do believe they will teach me to fly. Sondra Loring (Sadhana Center for Yoga and Meditation) had my heart the first time she read a poem in class. Poetry is often the essence of an experience shared by the poet and made whole by the reader. Each class, Sondra creates the poetry of yoga through inspirational text, artful asana sequencing richly set to music, and a deft touch- all of which we interpret with our own body, mind, and heart. Her classes are a mindful path to wholeness. And I must add, when either Sondra or Raghunath chant, my heart just soars. 
My teachers live as they have been taught, and they inspire me to do the same. It is an incredible honor to be their student. 

How has your own practice and teaching evolved?
My practice is one of both slow evolution and slow devolution. It has evolved as I have learned the truths to be learned from the asanas, my breath, my mind, and my heart. And for each truth I learned, there was always something I had to unlearn. The same is true of my teaching. When I first began teaching yoga, I had pages of notes prepared for my classes . I had so much I wanted to share. I still do, but now I talk to the students who show up. How are they today? I watch as they warm up and adjust my plans accordingly. After all, my classes are dedicated to their experience. Much of the time, yoga is about letting go of what does not serve. 

How do you stay inspired? 
My teachers inspire me every time I take a class. I watch. I learn. And I borrow... 
My students inspire me every time I teach a class. I watch. I learn. And I give back... 
Life inspires me every time I pause. I watch. I learn. And I am grateful.