Follow Your Bliss
Thom Allen’s PranaDynamics
Dallas Yoga Magazine is privileged to introduce you to Thom Allen. His background and experience in psychology, yoga, meditation, breath work and stress release techniques gives Thom’s students extra insight and guidance. He is also a licensed counselor and has guided many to finding peace and serenity. Thom is also actively involved in community service projects. He runs his own non-profit called the Prana Project which benefits a variety of charitable community service projects for local causes; like homeless children, domestic violence shelters, hospice patients and natural disaster victims. He is also an intricate part of DFW’s Free Day of Yoga held every year in September. You will love reading more about him.
DYM: How long have you lived in the DFW area?
Thom: I lived in DFW all my life, grew up just outside of Ft Worth.
DYM: Tell us something about yourself most people wouldn’t know.
Thom: I have a green thumb! Some of my favorite childhood memories are of helping my grandmother in the vegetable garden, picking blackberries or fruit from her orchard; or caring for her beautiful flower garden.
DYM: What was your first yoga experience like?
Thom: I worked as a teaching assistant for one of my psychology professors to help pay for my education. As part of the research program in Transpersonal Psychology, I was trained in Zen meditation, breathwork and various alternative forms of stress management techniques, including hatha yoga. Every aspect of the research work I assisted with, studied and eventually began to practice, fascinated me more and more. I was hooked immediately and knew it had to be an integral part of my life.
DYM: That is incredible! When did you decide to become a yoga instructor/therapist?
Thom: It was my drama teacher in high school who was my mentor, encouraging me to go to university and helped me in get accepted into the psychology program. It was during my studies that I discovered yoga and have been a dedicated student ever since.
DYM: What kind of training have you had?
Thom: I have a graduate degree in Counseling and am a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC); RYT 500 and YACEP with Yoga Alliance; trained by Namah Shivaya Yoga. Over the years I’ve also had teacher trainings and intensives with several international teachers including Baron Baptiste, Rod Stryker, Seane Corn, Baryl Bender Birch, Judith Hanson Lasater and Manju Pattabhi Jois.
DYM: That is a lot of experience and training…amazing! Will you share with us about Prana Dynamics and what you do? What motivated you to start this?
Thom: The mission of PranaDynamics is “Guidance in healing and personal evolution.” I offer psychotherapy, yoga and community outreach services for holistic wellness.
DYM: Where do you practice and teach?
Thom: I practice daily in my home studio, alternating asana, meditation and spiritual/self-study. I teach daily classes at The Yoga Factory, at both Plano and Dallas locations.
DYM: We love the Yoga Factory. The teachers are wonderful there. Other than yoga, what do you enjoy in your spare time?
Thom: I run the nonprofit organization I founded called Prana Project; offering a variety of charitable community service projects for local causes; like homeless children, domestic violence shelters, hospice patients, natural disaster victims, etc. Find us on Facebook or www.PranaProject.org to volunteer.
DYM: What qualities do you feel are important for a wonderful yoga teacher?
Thom: Compassion. We live in a complex world filled with suffering; stress, anxiety, and grief. It’s not enough to just recite a class script and teach a ton of classes on autopilot. We mustn’t miss the opportunity to create a sacred space for the deeper message. I believe we have a higher calling to help our students, the larger community and the world on the journey to healing.
DYM: Very excellent answer. Explain to everyone what your classes are like and what makes them unique?
Thom: As a psychotherapist and yoga teacher, my unique style is mentally stimulating, physically exhilarating and spiritually inspiring. My class is sure to transform you from the inside out. Get ready for a deeper connection to your community and yourself!
I think what makes my classes unique is the psycho-spiritual expertise that I bring beyond the physical. In addition to the body, my classes truly work on the connection to the mind and spirit.
DYM: What has surprised you the most about being a yoga instructor?
Thom: How often fear sabotages our journey. When we start to realize that everything we say, think and do is coming from a place of love or fear, we are suddenly aware how incredibly prominent fear is in many of our lives. I truly hope that my work is helping others to cultivate courage.
DYM: What do you find most challenging about what you do?
Thom: The bottomless well of learning involved on this journey. The more I learn, the more I realize just how much I don’t know.
DYM: What do you find most rewarding?
Thom: Witnessing a student experiencing a breakthrough. Whether it’s dealing with a challenging pose or overcoming a limiting belief, what a sacred moment to be in the presence of that miracle!
DYM: Yogis need a sense of humor, are there any humorous situations that stand out to you in class?
Thom: One year while teaching at the Texas Yoga Retreat, held at an ashram in Austin, one of my late evening classes was concluding just as the Indian community was beginning their celebration of Diwali, the annual Festival of Lights. My class was completely relaxed in Savasana after a guided mediation, when suddenly a fireworks show began to explode just outside the studio. After a few seconds for the absurdity to sink in, I said “Well I guess I can add teaching yoga with fireworks to my resume now”. The whole class erupted in laughter.
DYM: That’s hilarious! We could start a new fad, “Firework Savasana” if Goat Yoga took off this could too!
There has been a lot of controversy about yoga in the news lately, what do you wish other people knew about yoga?
Thom: I think it’s no coincidence that the growth of yoga as an industry has exploded in recent years. People are starving now more than ever for community; for healing; for spiritual connection and meaning. Beyond the controversy, yoga has the enormous potential to help meet this need. It is our duty as teachers and practitioners of yoga to remain focused on the heart of yoga; the return to love.
DYM: Tell us about someone who has influenced you on your path?
Thom: Professor and author Joseph Campbell has had a huge impact on my life. I regularly revisit his many works for insight and inspiration. Three powerful words to live by…“Follow your bliss.”
DYM: There are so many places offering yoga teacher training including online. What suggestions do you have for those trying to make a decision where to take their training?
Thom: Before researching options, get in touch with your intention. Think about your big “WHY” for wanting to be a teacher. Make a list of what you need from a training program and explore until you find one that fulfills it. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and wait until you’ve found the right fit for you.
DYM: What advice do you have for a person who has been practicing yoga for a long time but seems to need a little more extra something to their practice?
Thom: I’ve found the experience on the mat to be a reflection of what’s happening in my life off the mat. So before changing your practice, my advice would be to first take a look at what needs to shift in your life outside of your practice. Discomfort is just a signal that something is needing your attention. What in your life is asking to be healed? Make the connection. What are the qualities needed for equanimity and how can you work on cultivating this in your yoga practice? Change is inevitable so don’t resist what is necessary for your growth.
DYM: That is some of advice for anyone thinking of becoming a teacher! Great insight. What advice would you share with a person who is just starting yoga?
Thom: Be patient. It’s not a competition, so give yourself time to learn. It’s a lifelong journey. Learn to love yourself and forgive yourself. Also, it’s important to find a teacher and class that resonate with what you need to grow, balance, and change the most. While factors like studio location and class time are important with our busy schedules, don’t let this overshadow finding a class that truly meets your mental, physical and spiritual needs.
DYM: Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
Thom: “Tomorrow never comes. One minute after midnight is already today.” – Tao Porchon-Lynch.
DYM: Thank you so much for taking this time to answer our questions. Your background in psychology and experience as a counselor is an extremely unique asset for your students. We are looking forward to working with you in the future.
Get in touch with Thom Allen:
Social Media: IG @YogiThom FB: PranaDynamics (work) or Thom Allen (personal)