Haley Proctor

Haley Proctor enjoys the study of movement. She studied dance in college for one year before enrolling in massage therapy school with her sister. Proctor worked in that field for 13 years before discovering a passion for yoga and reiki, a Japanese technique for stress reduction. Proctor owns Illume Yoga studio in Oxford.

How did you get into yoga?

I got sick and burned out on massage therapy, so I cut back and got into yoga. I have been practicing yoga for eight years, which is not very long for a yogi.

Why did you choose to pursue yoga?

I think it was, subconsciously, a decision to heal myself. I was younger then, so I did not really know what I was doing. I never had a yoga class before. I did not know what a sun salutation was. It was really scary to go somewhere I did not know anyone and do something I had never done before, but I felt a calling. It was a kind of natural progression from massage therapy to yoga because they are both healing. Yoga taught me how to take care of myself. Before studying yoga, I could take care of other people but not myself.

What is a sun salutation?

A sun salutation is basically a warm-up. You can do a repetition of it, or you can just do one, and that is enough. A sun salutation is a yoga practice; if you just do that, it is enough. It is easier to do the static poses when you are warmed up.

Did you train to teach yoga?

Yes, I went to Birmingham Yoga and got my 200-hour teaching training and developed a really solid practice. I started teaching because I saw the positive effects that yoga had on people. I taught at a bunch of different places before opening Illume Yoga studio two years ago.

What is yoga?

Yoga means union. I find yoga in a lot of things: love, joy, support, connection, movement. It is a connection of your mind, body and spirit. When you find that connection, you find balance, and when you find balance, you thrive.

What is reiki?

Reiki (pronounced "ray-key") helps your body find balance on its own. We are energy, and sometimes our energy gets stagnant, which causes disease and imbalance. I am not a healer, but I facilitate that healing in you. Different people call it different things, but it is a balancing of the energies through hand placements. It is very subtle and calming.

How did you get into reiki?

My friend told me that she was going to Atlanta to get a reiki attunement and asked if I wanted to go with her. An attunement is basically opening up energies. After the attunement, I practiced on myself and my family, and I did a few sessions for the public. Two years ago, I decided I wanted to get back into reiki, so I moved to New York and studied under Pamela Miles, one of the best known reiki masters in the United States.

Do you offer reiki attunements at Illume Yoga?

I am not a reiki master, so I cannot do an attunement, but I offer reiki sessions.

What can someone expect at a reiki session?

You stay clothed and lie on the massage table. I do a little bit of scalp massage to help you relax and settle down. The first placement is on the head and I stay there as long as I feel I need to, then I move to the chest and so on. The reiki session lasts about an hour.

Why is Illume Yoga studio important to you?

I struggle with depression. I can have those really dark moments, but I made a commitment to being a light to people. "Illume" means to illuminate and be a light; that is what I want this place to be for people.

Illume Yoga is at 1969 Barry St., Oxford, 256-591-8640, illumeyogastudio.com. First class is free.

Faith Dorn is a freelance writer in Anniston. Contact her at faith.h.dorn@gmail.com.