At Om Yoga on Main Street recently expanded its reach to include a new, smaller studio alongside the main space in Phenix Hall. So owner and instructor Asa Dustin figured why not train enough people to fill it right up?
At Om completed its most successful teacher training program ever recently, sending 40 students into the world of yoga instruction, and several of those students didn’t have to go far. They are teaching classes in the new space at At Om on a “by donation” basis, giving the public the opportunity to enjoy yoga class for whatever price they feel is suitable.
The suggested donation is between $5 and $15, but visitors are encouraged to find whatever is comfortable for them.
“I love to see the creativity and the people bringing their own experiences into it,” Dustin said. “I like to hear it when they mimic our instruction and use our language, but I also like to hear their original and unique experiences brought into their teaching. People definitely find it to be very rewarding, to offer what has enhanced their lives so significantly, to be able to give to their family and friends and community. Yoga changes lives.”
About a half-dozen graduates are now offering basic flow yoga classes in the new studio, with classes available every weeknight and Sunday morning. Basic flow yoga provides what Dustin called a “nice foundational preparation” for shakti flow yoga, which is the greater focus the practice at At Om.
Dustin has held teacher trainings before – this was the sixth in 10 years, he said – but has never had a class nearly as large as the current one. That is due in large part to a change in the approach, as instead of dense weekends of concentrated study as he’s done in the past, Dustin opted to make the current training one weekend a month.
Students need to accumulate 200 hours to be certified, and Dustin found it easier to spread that time out in shorter bursts over a full year, as opposed to the former approach which included full weekends of training and several other evenings over the course of a few months. The groups met either at Phenix Hall on Main Street or at Bethel Farm in Hillsboro, which teamed with Dustin to train the instructors.
That he was also able to provide a space for recent graduates to jump into teaching was a bonus. The spot next to the original studio recently became available, and after a decade on Main Street, Dustin figured it was a good opportunity to expand.
“That studio really gives them the opportunity to instruct, to utilize their teacher training in a way that we wouldn’t be able to handle with just one studio,” Dustin said. “That space became available next to us basically as the teacher training started, so it was very serendipitous.”
The new studio is hardly the only place you can find recent graduates of the training, though, as Dustin said many are already offering classes in their own towns in venues like community centers and churches.
Many of those same faces may be back at At Om again in the near future, too. For the first time ever Dustin plans to offer advanced teacher training beginning in January. That will feature another year of study focusing “more on the deeper meditative qualities of the practice,” Dustin said.
The advanced training is less posture-focused and more about conscious spiritual practice, he said.
The advanced training requires 300 hours, giving eventual graduates more than 500 hours of total training. About 15 people have signed up for the advanced training already, Dustin said, most of whom are graduates of the recent training class.
Dustin said he is looking forward to the advanced training, but he’s been enjoying the basic flow classes plenty in the meantime.
“It’s a little bit tricky because as their instructor I think I make them a little bit nervous,” Dustin said. “But any yoga class is a joy to participate in.”