Colin Hall describes himself as a shameless idealist when it comes to yoga. “I believe yoga can make our world a better place to live,” he says. “That means I don’t shy away from tough conversations and controversy about it. I don't think easy, ever-pleasant, and agreeable conversations are going to produce the kinds of changes our world needs.”
And while Colin actually prefers to avoid conflict, he’s aware that he can sometimes come off seeming like—in his own words—“a rabble rouser or an agitator.” He says, “I really enjoy meeting new people and talking about new ideas and new perspectives. In fact, I like it so much that the occasional conflict is worth it.”
Colin’s interest in yoga began when he was in his early twenties. Having grown up in a very competitive, athletic family, he had always been a movement enthusiast, but a college experience prompted him to shift directions. “I got introduced to yoga philosophy through a religious studies class at the University of Regina when my professor (Kang Nam Oh) gave me a copy of the Yoga Sutra in 1995. I dropped out of pre-journalism immediately and changed my major to religious studies and went all in on yoga and mysticism,” he explains.
After finishing college, Colin took a job working the desk at the Yoga Studio of Calgary. “The benefits were free yoga classes, which was great, so I took advantage of that and studied with lots of teachers who managed to get me hooked,” he says. One of those teachers was David McAmmond, a thinker and writer as well as a yoga trainer who has been described as the “grandfather of Candian yoga.” Colin did his first teacher training program with David and continues to call him his primary teacher to this day.
Combining his love of intellectual pursuit and movement studies, Colin is now a lecturer in religious studies and kinesiology at the University of Regina. He is also the co-director of Bodhi Tree Yoga, where he and his wife, Sarah Garden, have been building a thriving yoga community in the small prairie city of Regina, Saskatchewan. In addition to his regular classes at Bodhi Tree, Colin gives workshops on asana and yoga philosophy and leads teacher trainings.
We interviewed Colin, asking him the questions we ask all of our featured teachers, so that you can get to know him and learn more about what to expect from his classes on YI.
What style, tradition, and/or lineage are you a part of (if any)?
I practice and teach “pirate yoga.” That means I take the gold from traditions and lineages and divide it up amongst my crew. Sometimes we bury it on a beach.
My earliest training was in Iyengar yoga, but it wasn't flippant and groovy enough for me. I don't like rules or authority figures whose arbitrary standards become touchstones by which our yoga is measured, so I'm not sure I will ever be anything but a yoga pirate. Argh.
What can I expect from your classes on YI?
You can expect to have fun. You can expect to do something new and different. You can probably expect a dad joke or two.
I want all my classes to be interesting above all else. I want students to come away re-evaluating and re-imagining their practice. Being told that somebody didn’t like my class wouldn't hurt my feelings, but being told that somebody was bored would sting.
What’s on your mind these days yoga-wise?
So many things. I spend a lot of time talking with my wife, Sarah, about how to build a yoga community that makes a valuable contribution to social and environmental justice. I have no interest in being part of a yoga scene that is not engaged in broader social and political movements.
I'm also really interested in how to make yoga class a place of learning without making it too serious. It is so important to study and better understand yoga history, philosophy, and practice, but that shouldn’t mean that class stops being fun. That's why I give yoga history lectures before leading yoga dance parties!
What do you like to do outside of yoga?
I love hanging out with Sarah. We don't even need to go anywhere or do anything. We just talk forever.
I'm a dad so that takes up a lot of my time. My kids are super cool and I love watching them slowly growing into being thoughtful, conscious adults.
Who or what has been an ongoing source of inspiration for you?
Stand-up comics have always been a source of inspiration for me. From Eddie Murphy to Amy Schumer, I am blown away by the ability to stand on a stage with nothing but a mic and their imagination and captivate an entire audience for over an hour. I strive to make every class I teach have an element of stand-up comedy!
Find out more about Colin and try one of his fun, experimental classes on YI!