Nearly three years ago, Theresa Whitely walked away from her Qualicum Beach business. Now, things have never been better.
OK, it would be unfair to say Whitely’s absence from Oceanside Yoga and Wellness Centre led to a sudden turnaround in the school’s fortunes. But her return from the one-year hiatus to eastern Canada has resulted in a new studio, a new partner, and a pair of first-of-their-kind programs on Vancouver Island — an exclusive teacher training program and a “rope yoga wall,” both imported from Toronto’s Octopus Garden Yoga Centre.
After running Oceanside Yoga from a second-floor studio at 702 Memorial Ave. since 2005, Whitely took a leave of absence in 2015 to join her husband, noted jazz musician Phil Dwyer, as he embarked on a journey to law school in New Brunswick. But she did not stay long.
“I ended up ditching him because it started snowing,” Whitely joked. “I went to Toronto where they had this school with a big training program, and ended up becoming an instructor there.”
Before her year was out, Whitely worked her way into a managerial role. And when she left to return with Dwyer to Qualicum Beach, she was certified to bring along the Octopus Garden teacher training program.
“I’m the first in the nation to take it outside of their studio,” Whitely said of the prestigious, 200-hour training program, which now draws students from Victoria to Comox. “We’re hoping one day to take it to other studios in Western Canada and other parts of the world.”
In order to make the training work, Whitely said, she knew she would have to find a new studio space. It just happened that a unit had opened up in the Carriage Lane Centre, at 3-177 Second Avenue, and it proved ideal.
“Everything lined up perfectly,” she said. “We knew to do the teacher training we would have needed another space, and I’d thought for a long time I wanted a ground-level space.”
When the new studio was being renovated for the studio, one of the features was a yoga rope wall with eight stations, Whitely’s other import from Octopus Garden. A new rope yoga class is added to offerings of a range of classes held at both Oceanside Yoga Centre locations seven days a week, some in evenings.
There are also registered series and workshops, including an upcoming June 23-24 Feldenkrais Workshop, along with Bodywork Wellness services including Qigong healing, Shiatsu Therapy and Acupressure, which continue to run out of the Memorial Avenue Studio in Unit No. 7.
All of this is possible in part thanks to Whitely’s new partner, Ken Lister, another jazz musician who has often played with Dwyer. Lister is hardly new to the studio, however, having served as one of six instructors at Oceanside Yoga.
“Ken was my manager, and he ran the studio while I was away,” said Whitely. “When I came back, I made him a partner.”