Twelve years ago, Michelle Dorer founded Ashtanga Yoga Center OBX in Nags Head. Tucked into a nook of Central Square Shopping Center, the studio holds a quiet space amidst all the hustle and bustle of beach life for students to develop their spiritual and physical well-being.
A respected student and teacher in the Ashtanga lineage, Dorer has diligently maintained a regular practice for 14 years, and she shares her ever-evolving knowledge with students on the Outer Banks, as well as in the various cities where she travels to lead workshops.
She says she was drawn to yoga by a force she doesn’t fully understand. A believer of reincarnation, she says when she found yoga it was like she wasn’t discovering it for the first time. “I was thinking, ‘Yes! I remember this!’ It was like I was picking it back up from some other life.”
Her motivation to teach came from the desire to share. On the path of studying yoga, there are three elements of importance: studying, practicing and teaching, she says. “You have to give back,” she says, adding that as a teacher she learns a great deal from her students. “If not teaching, I wouldn’t be fulfilled. This is my dharma. This is what I was born to do.”
Dorer teaches 14 classes a week, along with private classes and workshops, and she travels to lead four to six workshops in other cities a year; this is in addition to her personal practice six days a week.
What keeps her fueled for such rigors? “The reason I feel this is my true spiritual path is because this feeds me,” she says. “I feel so alive. I’ve tapped my soul’s purpose, and this is my fuel.”
That — and food. “I have an insatiable appetite,” she says. “I eat so much.” Plus she values sleep and knows her body well enough to listen to its signals of when to rest.
Outside of her studio, Dorer is involved with the healing arts community on the Outer Banks and is a freestyle dancer in the musical group Soul Tribe Evolution, formerly known as Mamba Jamba.
For someone thinking about taking a yoga class, she offers this advice. “It’s not a fitness fad. People think they are too old, too fat, too stiff, too whatever, but the benefits of yoga have nothing to do with that. Yoga is a scientifically proven method to help create inner stillness. It’s going to benefit everybody and anybody.”
Dorer admits that opening her own yoga studio was scary and that running a yoga studio is not always easy.
When she experiences doubt, she reminds herself to live in the present moment and trust the universe. She also reminds herself to let go of societal norms.
“Our society is always telling us we need more, but having more can cause more suffering,” she says. “Yoga teaches us to find our inner joy and contentment.”