I first felt drawn toward teaching as a child, but it wasn’t until finding yoga in college that I understood that this was my path to walk as both a student and a teacher. What I share as a yoga teacher is what I’ve found helps me and others.
My mission as a yoga teacher is to help you build the confidence to explore a whole range of experiences within your the body-mind-breath. Together we will build the fires of awareness of a full spectrum of sensations by exploring the alchemy of flow and form.
My intention is to create a “laboratory” classroom that allows you to experiment in a way and at a pace that works best for you.
I want to encourage you to develop both curiosity and agency in your practice. This might mean that you closely follow suggestions I offer or you could do things very differently to support your own needs.
I experience the body-mind-spirit to be interwoven, and I invite you to develop an embodied awareness that supports your life on and off the mat. In my opinion, yoga practice should support awareness and attention within all you relationships (with yourself, your partner, your kids, your family, your co-workers, the cashier at the store, the politicians that serve our communities, people that are like you, and people that are different from you)
As a recovering perfectionist, I am aware of the ways we can try to do yoga “right”. I offer alignment cues as a tool for deepening insight, not for achieving a correct posture. Each body is unique and your experience in a particular asana (pose) will be different than mine and will change every day. This invites us to consider how alignment is a part of weaving our actions and choices in the world, and not a destination.
An Example of a Class Framework
Sometimes I begin class by introducing a theme or element to bridge the movement practice with life. This yoga pre-amble offers you the opportunity to plant a seed in your life and yoga practice. This seed might be inspired by yoga philosophy, a life event, a personal story, a poem, the seasons, etc.
I then lead the class through a "rolling on the floor" somatic practice known as SATYA (Sensory Awareness Training for Yoga Attunement) that I have been studying with Tias Little of Prajna Yoga. These movements are slow, soft, and small, and are receptive and reflective in their energy. SATYA movements have been inspired by practices such as Feldenkrais Method® and Hannah Somatics®. I sequence this part of the practice to present actions, movements, and awareness that lay a foundation for the asanas explored that day.
I’ll then guide an asana sequence that emphasizes the foundations of movement and the practice as keys to exploring your body in the moment. I’m influenced by a variety of movement schools and I encourage curiosity and exploration. I continuously look for new ways to approach “classic” asana and sometimes I deviate from the “classic” approach completely.
Some classes will find more form through steadiness & holding asanas (poses) to build strength and stamina. Other classes will find more flow as grace & breath meet in the practice. Expect to build up to new things and break down a pose or two each class.
Exploring different variations and prop set-ups in the same poses help to reveal the many layers of each asana. You will find that there are many props available and sometimes you'll use all of them! There are countless creative ways to use blocks, straps, and blankets, as well as the more exotic chairs, sandbags, and wall-ropes.
Stillness is woven into the practice, and time in savasana at the end provides a chance to soak in what you explored during your practice. In my experience, taking this time to be still and adding moments of pause throughout the day has innumerable benefits. I hope that you’ll join me soon so that we can explore together.
The Pause & Contemplative Practice
I’ve found that a daily contemplative practice has transformed my life and relationships. Yoga practice is not limited to asana alone, and taking time to pause is important in our fast-paced and connected world.
The availability of information at the click of a finger (or thumb), the ever-ready cell phone call or text message, and the streaming videos on a screen of light offer such mixed blessings in our lives. These tools connect us to friends and family far and wide, to information and perspective from all over the world, and yet they also distract us from what is happening in the present moment. At worst, they can become addictive and destructive.
A morning sitting meditation practice can be an antidote to the over-stimulation in your life (it has been for me).
I have found it to be quite nourishing to sit in the silence of the breath and to observe what arises in each moment (which is frequently challenging and difficult). This small gift is a beautiful way of offering presence and peacefulness to my day.
Contemplation, reflection, mindfulness, meditation: they are simple, but not easy. They are practices inspired by countless poets and sages throughout history. Each pondering the workings of the heart & mind, offering their own questions & insights to us.
We are fortunate to have access to the philosophy of many cultures. I have discovered inspiration in the teachings of Buddhism, Zen, Chan, Taoism, and Yoga. But I also find myself drawn to the writings of Rumi, Mary Oliver, Rilke, Anne Lamott, and many others.
I am supported by my teachers, but also by my husband, family, friends, and students. I invite you to share the journey of yoga with me, and I look forward to supporting your studentship in movement and stillness.
“Beautiful ability to create a safe and playful container for inquiry”
“Dawn Hayes has been my primary teacher since I moved to Santa Cruz seven years ago (in 2012). I can definitively say I have never met a more erudite, thoughtful and intellectually curious yoga instructor. Dawn’s perpetual studentship and love of yoga shines in her group classes and one on one teaching. Her use of props and purposeful sequencing has dramatically transformed my physical practice and the way I view it. Dawn has a beautiful ability to create a safe and playful container for yoga asana and somatic inquiry regardless of context. Her infectious sense of humor, humility, and innate kindness help facilitate an enjoyable learning experience that is highly accessible to students of all levels.”