My Time with Dar Vander Hoop
To be in the presence of a seasoned teacher is a true gift. To witness a teacher who embodies breath, alignment, mindfulness, and sacred space is a deep blessing. Dar Vander Hoop is both a gift and a blessing. As I write this now, I long for one of her classes so that I, too, can embody these virtues and feel into the present moment of my body and into the calm of my mind.
Several years ago I was fortunate enough to take one of her infamous Bikram’s Beginning Yoga classes in Madison, Wisconsin. I was terrified and intimidated, but curious enough to give it a try. I knew the traditional dialogue and I knew it would be hotter than hot! What I did not know was that Dar’s instruction would transcend the dialogue and that I would be required to experience someone with a Soul-Depth knowledge of this practice. She was not going through the motions but she was embodying the practice with every word she spoke. She approached this class of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises with respect and great humor and ease.
So taken was I with the magic of Dar, I completed a Yin Teacher Training with her in May of 2015. It was here that I caught a glimpse of her genius and found myself immersed in the practice of Yin Yoga, learning from the best of the best. Dar told us that Yin is all about allowing and that it is a complete sensual experience. She led us through a 2-hour Yin sequence with straps, blocks, blankets, and her impeccable instruction. She offered, “when the muscles are supported, the joints can relax,” “we hold so much fear in our hips,” “relax your belly,” “sense the soft orb of your mouth,” and “relax the inner wall of your eye.”
Dar gives attention to the tiny details of our bodies. She understands that to live an embodied life is to truly live! She can be a quiet, meditative teacher. She can dance and play loud music to a Vinyasa Flow sequence. She can be specific and driven with Bikram’s Half Moon pose and can remind us to slow down and take a deep breath with all the space in our lungs.
Her aromatherapies are the cream on the top of an already unforgettable movement experience. She makes them herself and offers them as part of a class in the form of a spray into the space, a drop directly on the skin, or on a cotton ball. This only serves to add to the sensuality of her teachings.
I look forward to my next Dar experience. As a Movement Therapist and Yoga Instructor, I often review my notes from my teacher training with her. The notes serve to guide me and inspire my work with others. More than the notes, I believe that I carry, in my body, some of Dar’s wisdom, her intelligent sequencing of postures, and a belief that the body does not lie. I am left wanting more of this kind of truth.