TV & NEWS
An ex-army officer teaches prisoners how to
discipline body and mind. By: B. Elizabeth Travalini
Originally appeared in the December 1984 issue of
Delaware Today and reprinted
When some people have a day off from work, they
putter around the house or work in the garden. Gregory
Hill, a produce clerk in Newark, Delaware, spends a lot
of his free time in prison. Every Thursday for the past
2 years, Hill, a former army sergeant and an ardent
devotee of yoga, has driven to the Delaware Correctional
Center in Smyrna to teach the discipline to the
Hill says his interest in yoga was born 6 years ago
while he was looking at a University of Delaware course
listing. "I was trying to find something to do on my
night off," Hill recalls. "The choice came down to yoga
or basket-weaving. I chose yoga."
Hill, 29, is now director of the East - West Yoga
Club and also teaches yoga every Thursday evening at the
University's student center. But it took a letter from
DCC inmate Brian Winward to get the course at the prison
rolling. Winward wrote to the Sivananda Yoga Center in
Wilmington, where Hill also teaches, and asked for some
literature. When the founder of the center gave
Winward's letter to Hill. Hill saw an opportunity to
"I sent Brian eight books on yoga," the youthful -
looking Hill says. "Two weeks later I went to visit him,
and I could see he had a sincere interest in learning
yoga. I realized that men in prison are like men
everywhere. They need to feel like they can make
something out of their lives." Winward, 30, says yoga
has given him a new outlook on life. "I have been in and
out of state institutions for 22 years," Winward says.
"My background led me to soul searching and yoga I
wanted to understand why I kept making the same mistakes
after being affiliated with the correctional system for
22 years." Yoga, Winward says, helps to steer
inmates away from drugs and crime and encourages them to
embrace a higher code of ethics and gain a new
appreciation for life.
"I don't even litter now," he says. "Gregg is such a
great example. He is a very basic yet concerned person.
If someone has a problem, he'll spend time after class
talking to him. He even sent everyone in a class a
postcard when he went to Canada last summer. His genuine
concern for the inmates is unusual. He even visits some
of the guys in solitary confinement."
"The first thing I did when I visited the prison," he
says, "was to mentally take all the blue suits off the
inmates and put them in tuxedos. Then I looked at each
inmate like he was the only man in the room. I thought I
could understand them because I was in the service for 4
years and spent 5 months of each year in the field. I
learned what loneliness is."
But you can't help a man change his life if you don't
believe he is capable of change, Hill says. "Men end up
in prison because they don't have any discipline in
their lives. Yoga is one way to develop discipline. It
allows a person to start over and redesign his life
emotionally, physically and spiritually."
Earl Gordon, a counselor supervisor at DCC says he is
impressed with Hill's dedication to his students. "In
prison there is a tendency for inmates to get involved
in a program but not stick with it," he says, "Gregg's
students have overcome this tendency and are deeply
involved in both the physical and philosophical aspects
Gordon, who has worked in state prison systems for 17
years (the last 12 in Delaware), says yoga has had a
positive influence on some of the inmates. "If Gregg
doesn't show up for a class one of the students will
lead the class. and everything goes smoothly," he says.
"Yoga is a type of discipline, and for some inmates
learning that they can control their minds and their
bodies in a positive way has helped them to be more
comfortable with themselves."
Winward says yoga is popular at the prison because
Hill makes the classes fun. "There is a lot of fun and
laughter in the class," he says. "Gregg sets aside time
for everyone to talk about anything they want to, from
girls to girlfriends to counselors. Talking together
with physical exercise and meditation, helps to
eliminate stress and gets your mind off your everyday
Jean Conway, director of the new prison arts program,
says volunteers who are willing to teach inmates a skill
or trade are needed at correctional centers like DCC.
"There are over 1,700 people in prison in Delaware, and
over 6,000 on probation or parole," Conway says. "They
need more help than the department of corrections alone
can provide. Many need to know that they can learn and
be productive like other people. When given a chance
many inmates show a remarkable willingness to learn."
Hill agrees. "My students at the center are the best
students I have ever had. They pay total attention
because they don't have other distractions in their
lives. I can teach them something in three weeks that it
would take me two months to teach someone on the
And the inmates are not the only students in his
class, according to Hill. "They see the class as having
one teacher, but I see it as having 15. I am learning
more than they are. I see some brilliant and creative
people who need to find a way to use their talents and
natural gifts in a positive way. I think yoga is making
that possible for some of them. If it helps only one man
to turn his life around then it was worth every minute
of my time."
Originally appeared in the December 1984 issue of
Delaware Today and reprinted with permission in the
January/ February 1986 Yoga Journal Magazine.
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Getting to the Foot of the Matter
Originally Appeared in the Sept 28th, 2000 copy of
the Houston Chronicle.
By Steve Sievert
Gregg Hill has amassed a pretty amazing streak. He
has been running injury-free for 27 years, and he owes
much of that good fortune to his use of reflexology.
Reflexology is an ancient Eastern therapy centering on
the principle that there are reflex areas in the feet
and hands that correspond to all organs, glands, and
other parts of the body. Activating these reflexes can
help treat many health problems in a natural,
"The Japanese have a saying that 'the feet are the
gateway to 10,000 illnesses,'" said Hill, a certified
reflexologist and owner of the Japanese Massage &
Reflexology Institute in Houston. "By manipulating and
applying pressure to the feet, reflexologists can impact
and treat every part of the body."
Reflexology, like acupuncture, is viewed as an
alternative treatment in Western medicine. However, it
has been used with success as a first option remedy in
Egyptian, Chinese and Japanese cultures for more than
Hundreds of techniques are applied in reflexology, but
all are based on the belief that the feet, hands and
sometimes ears are pathways to the rest of the body.
Hill's approach primarily focuses on the feet.
"The feet are the foundation for good health," said
Hill. "If there's an imbalance into he feet, it'll go
all through the body. If you have a shoulder problem,
for example, it can be solved with treatment to the
feet. the whole system is connected."
The feet serve as sort of a road map for the body. The
toes, a reflex area, correspond to the head and neck;
the upper arch connects to the diaphragm and upper
abdominal organs; and the outer foot corresponds to the
arm, shoulder, hip, leg, knee and lower back.
By applying massage-like pressure, especially with the
thumb, to these reflex areas in the feet, reflexologists
speed therapy to the corresponding, or linked, body
Gregg Hill, who has logged nearly 3000 hours of
training in the specialty and often performs the
treatment on his own feet, has been practicing
reflexology in Houston for three years.
"Reflexology is much more than massage," said Hill.
"The techniques are different and more advanced than
traditional massage. The foot can move about 52
different ways. Reflexology uses pressure and movement
to manipulate the feet in a variety of angles."
While it is unclear exactly how reflexology works, the
benefits include an increased blood flow to affected
areas and relaxation.
"Everything that's done with reflexology is designed to
relax the body and decrease stress," said Hill, who
counts several runners among his clientele. "Anytime you
can relax the body, it is going to become more
efficient. This is helpful for runners who can get more
work out of their body because it's free of stress.
Muscles that are relaxed and under less stress can
become stronger and more flexible and have greater range
of motion. With a 27-year-long injury-free streak as
part of evidence, Hill is convinced that regular
reflexology treatment can improve running performance
and help reduce a runners risk of overuse injury.
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Training & Performance from an
Originally Appeared in the November 2000 issue of
By Gregg Hill, RMT.
I have been a regular at "the Park" for the last 10
years, ran the Houston Marathon, and have been
running injury free for the last 27 years. I would
like to share with my athletic friends what I have
learned - what has been known for thousands of years
- concerning injury, pain, rehab, and training.
The first Monk I studied with was Swami
Vishnudevananda. He had been practicing Raja Yoga for 30
years when I began studying with him. Raja Yoga is the
most popular style of Yoga in the U.S. and includes
Hatha Yoga (postures) and Pranayama breathing classes.
His 5 points of Yoga, Proper Exercise, Proper Breathing,
Proper Relaxation, Proper Diet, and Positive Thinking &
Meditation, are greatly needed by athletes to avoid
injury and to feel good about their training. This
article will focus on Exercise and Breathing.
The biggest difference between Eastern style exercise and
Western exercise is that Asana (postures) held for 1-1/2
minutes have been shown to calm the mind and energy back to
the body. It acts as a lubricating routine to the joints,
muscle ligaments, tendons, and other parts of the body by
increasing circulation and flexibility. The mind is asked to
focus on the task at hand of holding the various positions.
In my Japanese Massage Institute, I highly commend that
athletes, interested in rehab or for the prevention of
energy, try a class.
Some of the best Yoga in the U.S. is here in Houston.
You need only tell the Instructor what hurts, and be
prepared to work on a daily basis in order to regain
your health. In the East, if you are hurt, the rehab
formula is a day for a day. For instance, if you have
been running with a sore hamstring for four months, be
prepared to work four months in rehab. Mother Nature
doesn't work any faster. She frowns on taking
"shortcuts" and munching on Advil as if nothing was
wrong! Isn't it ironic that when you go to rehab, the
Physical Therapist spends so much time stretching your
muscles!? Strength, Flexibility, and Balance is the
triad of Proper Exercise. Miss one and the other two
will cause pain!
How much Yoga is needed each day? A minimum of 15
minutes each day - every day. As an athlete, you will be
more efficient thereby drastically altering your
preparation routine towards meeting your training goals.
If the muscles and joints are allowed to stay out of
balance, we invite pain into our lives. Pain is part of
life as is joy, but we want to pro-actively decrease the
pain. Sivananda, a medical doctor who became a monk,
authored over 300 books and said, "The world is a great
university, and pain is our best teacher. It causes us
to change for the better, and it also gives us an
opportunity to help others."
What the monks taught me over 20 years ago is now coming
to the West. Proper Breathing aids the body in connecting to
its "battery," the Solar Plexus, where tremendous potential
is stored. When tapped through specific Yoga breathing
techniques (Pranayama), this energy is released for physical
and mental rejuvenation. Proper Breathing also consists of
doing Postures that stretch the chest area to "open up"
those little muscles between the ribs. The muscles between
the pelvis and the rib cage must remain flexible.
*Try this simple exercise: Stand still with your arms
raised over your head. (Palms pressed together.) Notice
how much you can raise the rib cage.
The breathing exercises are easy to do and have been
around for centuries. But, in a fast paced society such
as ours, it takes great discipline to stop and allow
yourself 15 minutes to practice breathing! The Mind
wants to keep moving from idea to idea, project to
project. Yogic breathing gives energy (prana) back to
the body. The maxim, "Which ever way the breath goes,
the mind follows" is found in our daily life. Stock
market goes down: Breathing becomes shallow.
*Try this simple exercise: Lie on your back and see if
you can move your diaphragm. Now, put a book over your
navel and see if you can raise it effortlessly.
Increased Oxygen intake will allow many injuries to
heal faster. A very strong case can be made that an
Oxygen deficient lifestyle can lead to Alzheimer's and
Cancer. Tight clothes, high heels, stuffy work
environments, etc. can cause the body to become
unbalanced. By being more alert, the athlete will make
better decisions. Required sleep spans will decrease or
will become more efficient. Just think - you'll be able
to be at "the Park" at 4:30 a.m. instead of the usual
5:30 a.m. ritual! Otis just might have to open the
Tennis Center and hour earlier!
I believe that we love running and exercise so much
because we become more oxygen efficient and, as a
result, our outlook on life changes for the better. The
body needs to process oxygen and discard carbon dioxide.
The faster the athlete can accomplish this, the more
energy the body will have to use.
I would be very pleased to help you achieve your goals
by teaching you those very basic breathing techniques at
a free seminar and you will see the difference in
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