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Lawyer turned yogi

After 20 years of practicing law, Michael Halley practices yoga instead.

He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, passed the bar exam in three states and the District of Columbia, practiced law successfully for 20 years and now he’s virtually given it all up. Today, Michael Halley practices yoga, not law.

It could be considered a mid-life crisis, but Halley believes it’s more about doing what he loves. He began teaching yoga at Boston University’s Fit Rec Center last fall.

He discovered his passion for the mind-body exercise while on vacation in South Beach, Florida about 10 years ago. In the following years, Halley, who was in private practice, spent his free time studying and practicing yoga with well-known instructors on both the East and West coasts. 

He found himself spending more and more time in Los Angeles, California honing his yoga teaching skills and contemplated moving there, but adds that one of the main reasons he didn’t relocate was because of the opening of the Fit Rec Center at BU.

“The pool there is great,” he says. In between the three yoga classes he teaches this semester, he can be found in the pool, where his latest project is attempting to apply yoga poses to stroke mechanisms in swimming.

“I am trying to adapt yoga principles to achieve better swim technique particularly in the area of balance.  Balance in a weight free environment is hard to achieve and to maintain,” Halley says. “I am somewhat on my own — in uncharted territory — developing my own techniques.”

Halley’s history with BU is long. He studied here for a year before transferring to Cornell University to complete his undergraduate degree. He returned in the early 1980s to teach French for a year as a visiting assistant professor. Little did he know he’d be back more than 20 years later teaching an entirely different subject.

“I love the law,” says Halley, who continues to write published articles on legal subjects.  “One reason I am not currently handling any cases is because I tend to internalize the problems I take on and that leads to a lot of personal pain.” In the yoga room he says, “A lot of the bad just seems to go away.”