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Yoga for EVERY Body.

Upcoming Events

 

Self Therapy Clinic

with Sandy Gross
6pm to 8pm
 12/11, 12/18

New Years Day Workshop

Taming Your Demons with Swami Atmarupa
1/1/2019 1pm to 3pm

Begginers' Workshop

with Swami Atmarupa
1/5/2019 2pm to 4pm

Study Yoga Mentoring Group

with Swami Atmarupa & Sandy Gross
 1/11, 1/13,  2/8, 2/10

 

Fine-Tuning Your Practice
A New Blog from Swami Atmarupa

Digital Downloads
Recordings of Guided Yoga Practices and More!



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info@atmacenter.com

Yoga in Uganda by Debra Drew

The following article was written by Atma Center teacher Debra Drew and originally appeared in the Yoga Academy of North America newsletter:

In July of 2010, I had the honor of participating in a mission trip to Masindi, Uganda.  Never having been to any part of Africa in my travels, I looked forward to experiencing this culture. The Rock Foundation School, where we did most of our work, consisted of several hundred youngsters, ages 5 to 15, whose parents had died from complications due to AIDS, malaria, or childbirth.  What immediately struck me about these children was their enthusiasm and their ability to express great joy amidst great poverty.  They took such good care of each other, especially in the absence of adults.  The older ones watched over the children and supervised their activities.  The children themselves, having nothing much in the way of material things to fight over, were content to use a pair of rolled-up socks as a ball, or carry around a tricycle frame, because it was a treasure, even without wheels.

Because I had completed Teacher Training 1, I was always looking for opportunities to share yoga with others.  As a former high school English teacher in the United States, I tried to introduce my students to breath awareness, especially as a calming technique before tests. Most weren't very interested, though; their inability to sit still for very long hampered the process. But in Uganda, when I mentioned that I would like to teach a yoga class at some point during our time there, I was met with instant curiosity and interest, especially from the young teenage boys. Their eight hour school days were spent preparing intensely for their exams, which are based on the British educational system, so I knew they could use some stress relief! Our first class met outside the school in the open air on the dusty, dirt-packed yard.  Standing in a circle, we practiced some Pawankuktasana series 1's and natural breath awareness.  I was struck by the students' openness to learning something new. They were attentive and obviously enjoyed the practices.  We weren't able to spend much time with yoga because their school day went into the evening hours, but several days later, a few of the young men approached me and asked me if I could teach them more!  We were able to get together briefly once again, but sadly, we weren't able to continue due to their obligations and mine.  But I am eternally grateful for the opportunity. As is often the case when experiencing a different culture, one can learn as much as one teaches. Their openness and willingness to learn was a lesson for me to remain a student as well as a teacher as I travel the yogic path.

Deb Drew is a YANA Teacher Training 1 graduate and Yogic Studies 2 student. Deb generously provided the photo used for this article.


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info@atmacenter.com

Student Testimonial - Yoga, Anxiety, and Sleep

Here is another lovely testimonial from one of our newest regular students, on how yoga is helping her to deal with anxiety and sleep issues.

Sleep has always come naturally to me. Having been used to sleeping 7-8 hours a night, I was thrown off course in a major way when anxiety interrupted my sleep six months ago. Back in May, I had surgery and was nervous and worried for two weeks leading up to it, so nervous that I lost many nights of sleep. My anxiety around sleep kicked in after the surgery, as well, and has been a challenge ever since. Long story short, I become anxious over not sleeping and then anxious over being anxious about not sleeping! I clearly didn’t have a sleep problem – I had an anxiety problem.  

I’ve lived within a mile of the Atma Center all these years, but have not ever taken advantage of it, until anxiety came knocking on my door. For the last six weeks, I have been taking yoga classes once and often twice a day. There have been days when I’ve walked into class with my heart palpitating, my stomach clenching, and my skin crawling from anxiety. There hasn’t been a day when, after class, I have not walked out with a sense of peace and calm. It is truly amazing to observe my mind and body succumb to the guidance from each instructor. Whether I’m taking a Foundation A class, a Mixed Level class, or a Yoga for Anxiety class, I leave feeling more serene and centered.

Although this experience with anxiety over sleeping has been one of the biggest challenges of my life, the blessing that has come from it is that I found yoga at the Atma Center.

- Kathy D.   


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Atmadarshan

The Student Who Changed My Life

In the recent past, I had absolutely no desire to teach private yoga classes. I didn’t clearly see how private classes could benefit students any more-so than our regular group classes. Weren’t group classes enough?

Then a particular student approached me, saying she would really appreciate an individual appointment since she felt a bit awkward in class. She also had some specific areas of tension to address, and wanted a more holistic approach to her health. I resisted my urge to recommend other classes or teachers and decided that, for just this one student, I could commit to a series of private lessons.

Now I thank this student every single time she comes in for a private class, for she has truly altered my whole perspective on teaching. I’ve learned a lot from her: how to make even more subtle adjustments to poses I thought I knew well; how to connect more fully with her as an individual, rather than as part of a large group. When she started feeling better with yoga (her physical health improved, she was able to do things she hadn’t been able to for years, her mood was more positive), I noticed that I felt good, too. It was an honor to share tools that had helped me with someone who could use them. My confidence as an instructor increased exponentially.

Now I am sold on the benefits of individual instruction, and recommend it for anyone who wants to experience even more relief from physical, mental, or emotional distress; for anyone who wants to discover practices we just don’t have time to explore in a regular class setting; even for students who want to learn more about the history, philosophy, and theory of yoga (chakras, anyone?). My biggest dream is to show private students how the principles from the Bhagavad Gita can make life and death more peaceful, meaningful, and authentic. I would be thrilled to show you how yoga can transform your life!


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info@atmacenter.com

Student Testimonial - "Atma Center is my Cheers"

What a wonderful testimonial from one of our students. Thank you, Robin!

The Atma Center is my Cheers. Even when I have been absent for a long period of time, I always feel welcomed and everybody knows my name. I believe this has enhanced my yogic experience and why I always return to the Atma Center. Because of my constantly changing schedule, my attendance has been inconsistent. However, when I am able to take a class, the Atma Center is my first choice. There are several reasons for this including a great respect for the instructors, an appreciation for the Satyananda Yoga approach, and the cordial atmosphere.

I have grown to really appreciate the Satyananda Yoga style. Through this practice, I am much more aware of my body and my body-mind connection. Because the instruction is so clear, I have been able to develop my own home practice. Every morning I wake up and before I even get out of bed, I complete several asanas including ankle rotations and sleeping abdominal stretches. When I rise, I complete 5-10 Tadasana (palm tree pose) movements and often go right into Tiryaka Tadasana (swaying palm tree pose) and/or waist rotating pose. My favorite meditative pose is legs up against the wall, as well as corpse pose when engaging in Yoga Nidra (almost every afternoon).

Through the Atma Center, I learned about the big orange book: Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha. I refer to this book often, especially when I need suggestions for practice to ease my lower back pain and/or digestive difficulties. But I would not be able to fully understand the writings in this text without having been first introduced to these poses through my coursework at the Atma Center. In addition to the regular classes, I have taken several seminars including instruction for specific areas like shoulders, posture, lower back, and restorative yoga.

Even when I am not physically at the Atma Center, I am always there in spirit as I have taken what I have learned and practiced at the Atma Center into my daily experience. I interpret this as being a great return on my investment! Hence, I continue to invest in the Atma Center in enriching my personal yogic practice.

In Gratitude,

Robin Leichtman


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Donna

Simply, Thank You

Many of you reading this know me, but some of you may not because I’ve mostly been a behind-the-scenes person at Atma Center.  Either way, you have made a difference in my life. 

 

After 12 years, I’m leaving my position at Atma Center to answer a call to ministry.  I began working part-time at Atma Center as I was transitioning out of a teaching career, and these many years later, I am once again in transition.  I am truly grateful to have been a part of the Atma Center and SATYANANDA YOGA® community at that crucial time in my life.  This community seems to understand the searching and longing of the human spirit to be better, that desire to discover why we are here and how we can best help our little corner of the world and beyond. 

 

I am especially grateful to Swami Atmarupa, who afforded me the flexibility to be a present parent to my daughter and to pursue my studies once I heard the call to pastoral ministry.  Without her support, I would not have been able to work a job and a half, be Mom, and complete a Master in Theology.  Thank you, Atmaji.

 

I also need to thank my wonderful and beautiful co-workers (human and canine!), those present and past.  My life has only been enriched by you all.  I am sure that we will continue to be friends, to be part of each other’s lives, for not to do so is just too sad.   Please know that the love, laughter, tears, talks, walks – all that we have shared – are in my heart and will bear fruit as I am present to others in ministry.

 

Our remarkable students have also touched my heart and prepared me to be a person of service to others.  You are an inspiration – each of you coming to Atma Center to improve your lives in some way, in many ways.  What a blessing you are to all of us.  I hope to run into many of you in the neighborhood and around town.  And whenever I see you, I will smile because of our Atma Center connection.

 

Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers as I begin a 1-year CPE Residency in Pastoral Care at St. Vincent Charity Medical Center.  I anticipate the work to be intense, challenging, but all that I could hope for.  After that, my plan is to search for a position as a hospice chaplain – at least that is what I am feeling drawn to at present.  I will, however, be listening carefully for God’s direction during my year at SVCMC and only want to go where I feel He is leading me.

 

So, again and simply, THANK YOU.

 

Donna Caputo,

Bookkeeper, Administrative Assistant, Office and Human Resource Manager, and

Dog Walker Extraordinaire.


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Atmarupa

Why Forgive?

Culturally, we are angry.  We blame others for the condition of our lives.  If we are stressed, it’s because someone or something has “done us wrong”- one of our friends, someone in our family, or the situation at work or home.  We look outward to find a reason for the way we feel, for the way our life is going.

Although we innately know that happiness can only be generated from within, we live in a culture where outward appearances and expression are prized and valued.  We “have a right” to say and do as we please and we are proud of that right.  Yet when our actions yield less than positive results, we are quick to disown those actions, misplacing our internal distress upon outside influences.  Rather than admit that we have made a mistake, we rationalize and justify our actions until we can believe the illusion that the consequences are not our responsibility.

However, over time, our sense of self is betrayed by this ongoing game of delusion.  Feeling depressed if the betrayal is turned inward, or anger if it is turned outward, we lose control by losing sight of out internal voice.  We spend an inordinate amount of time ruminating about the negativity in our lives, and this deepens feelings of anger, self-doubt and fear, leading to a feeling of helplessness and lack of control.

One of the greatest and most difficult lessons to be learned in life is forgiveness.  Learning to forgive is an integral part of living a life that may be filled with happiness.  Until we can forgive, ourselves and others, we will continue to harbor a negative force that destroys our inner peace and causes our life to be out of balance. 

Forgiveness not only acknowledges the fallibility of our actions, and those of others, but allows us to move onward, to be in the present and not in the past.  In forgiveness comes the realization that all beings suffer, that all beings seek happiness, and that we are each responsible for our own actions and reactions to life’s events.

No one drives you crazy or makes you unhappy.  You do that to yourself.  By looking inward and listening to your inner voice, you begin the process of finding your way.  By learning to forgive whoever has caused you harm, yourself or others, you regain a sense of control over the negative influences in your life.

 

- from Fall 1999's Atma Center publication To Your Health


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Atmarupa

What is Navaratri?

"The story of the Divine Mother represents the triumph of the divine power over the dark forces of negativity In the struggle between the dual factors of good and evil, truth and untruth, virtue and vice, freedom and involution, light and darkness. The occasion of Navaratri, therefore, is a reminder to the aspirant of the great cosmic law that the divine will always prevail ultimately over the un-divine.

"Navaratri is an annual awakening call to experience and express afresh the divine nature, to make manifest the light of truth and love in order to vanquish and conquer the forces of evil within. For it is through the positive forces of love and brotherhood and selflessness that negative and UN-divine elements can be effectively eliminated from the heart and the mind. Darkness can never resist light....

"Truth alone triumphs, however long and agonising its twisting duel with untruth may be. The positive must and does overcome the negative. The call of the Mother is to rouse oneself to this truth and to regulate one's life as a dynamic expression of divine positivism." - Swami Sivananda Saraswati

Learn how to manifest your most divine qualities with 9 days of free programs from April 11-19: 7:45-8:45pm Monday - Friday and 5:00-6:00 pm Saturday & Sunday. You may attend one, some or all of the programs, but you will need to preregister here

Read more from Swami Sivananda's article here


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Omkar

How Can You Teach Safe Alignment Without Hands-On Adjustments?

Among our many students, the Atma Center is often visited by yoga teachers-in-training from other programs. These yoga enthusiasts are often surprised by just how different our teaching style is from what they have experienced at other studios.

Recently, one such student asked me an important question. She wondered what we do to keep students safe in their asana practice, as she was under the impression that we don’t emphasize alignment issues and noticed that we do not touch our students to get their bodies into alignment.

I offered the following feedback:  student safety is a huge issue and of utmost importance in Satyananda yoga. We manage that in several ways.

First, we start students with the very basics: joint mobilization practices and core strengthening work so their bodies can handle classic asana with fewer risks. We fine-tune these practices over time, giving verbal cues about proper alignment –woven so naturally into the teaching they might not seem emphasized. We use exploratory, awareness-raising wording like, “check that you are…” or “notice the position of your [body part]”. If we ever see a student doing something out of alignment – like locking the knees, or throwing their head back, we start with a verbal cue to the entire class and then, if still necessary, approach the student individually.

Next, we offer modifications where appropriate. Many of the poses – even shavasana - can aggravate a stressed body part such as the wrists, the knees, the low back or the neck. Therefore, teachers will suggest different ways of practicing postures so that students can find the best variation allowing them to stick to our motto, “No Pain, No Pain.”

Most importantly, is our emphasis on awareness and honoring limitations. When students begin to listen deeply to their bodies and truly honor their limitations, they find the correct alignment and know how to stay within that safe, no-pain zone.

As students gain more experience and progress through the levels of practice, there is more of a conversation about alignment – in the form of exploration. Our students have established an awareness of their bodies and what feels right. Further, we acknowledge that everybody’s body is a little different. Bones are of different lengths/proportions from one person to another  and the angles of our joints vary. So, a proper alignment for one body is not necessarily proper for another body.

After our exchange, the student who posed the question replied, “The instruction is so soothing and subtle that I don't even realize how well I am being guided!” She followed with, “I am grateful for the lack of personal adjusting because I don't extend into poses the same way and when teachers have tried to assist, it would usually leave me very frustrated that I can't go as ‘deep’ as they might be adjusting.”

Even though this individual is not going to be a Satyananda Yoga teacher (yet?), I am comforted to know that she is inspired by our style of teaching and hopes to approach her students with the same gentleness and care as we do. I am also grateful for her excellent question and to be able to share some of the reasons behind our teaching style.

Next time you come to a yoga class at the Atma Center, I invite you to listen for the cues about alignment and notice how we guide you to be safe and comfortable in every practice.

 

Om Tat Sat,

Omkar


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Atmadarshan

Keeping Your Yoga Practice Fresh

One of our long-time students, Mark Johnson, shares his recommendation for keeping your yoga practice fresh:

 

I occasionally have the wish - perhaps brought on by reading a spiritual book - to go to a mountain top in India and sit at the feet of a great master. Obviously, that’s not practical. Time and expense aside, there are poisonous snakes, dysentery and no Starbucks. But what if the mountain top came to me?

From time to time, North American Gurukul and the Atma Center host visiting swamis from India for a weekend workshop or retreat. Swami Satyadharma came last Labor Day weekend and her transformative teachings catapulted my home practice to new heights. She’s coming again in May for a retreat, and I can hardly wait.

Whenever my practice gets stale; when I start thinking, “what’s the use”; when I feel out of step with the rest of the world - that’s when I know I need to be re-inspired. Sometimes I’ll find that inspiration in a book, or by attending a kirtan, but for me the best source is a retreat. Why?

First, it helps me to get away – from my stressful job, endless house repairs and glum economic news. It breaks up my routine thought patterns.

Second, it’s comforting to spend time with like-minded people. By the end of the retreat there is a feeling of closeness and friendship. I think maybe I’m not so crazy after all.

Third, there is nothing so magical as being in the presence of a master. Swami Satyadharma is the real deal and the teaching is rare and authentic. I’ve gone on retreat at four ashrams, and while those experiences were wonderful, the programs I’ve attended in the Satyananda tradition have been truly special. I hope you join me on the “mountain top” – snake free I hope – at the retreat at Salt Fork State Park on May 17-19.


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Atmadarshan

How Yoga Supported My Healing Process

In January of 2012, I needed medical care. After the surgeon went over all the possible outcomes and complications of my procedure, he looked at me and said: “No yoga for a few weeks after.”

I could understand his viewpoint – his wife did an intensely asana-based style of yoga and I definitely would not be able to do anything like that for a long time. But the style of yoga I practice, SATYANANDA YOGA®, is thankfully an adaptable one. I was thankful I had so much practice helping my students modify practices for their needs so now I could do the same for myself.

Right after I awoke from the anesthesia, I started doing actual yoga poses in the recovery room – a series called pawanmuktasana 1, the gentle movement of the major joints through their full range of motion. I did toe bending, ankle bending, and kneecap contractions – these would help prevent blood clots from forming in the legs – and hand clenching and wrist rotations. The nurse must have noticed the latter because I heard her say to someone that I was doing really well in recovery.

I went home soon after that and continued my yoga practice. Throughout the first couple of days I did the pawanmuktasana 1’s at regular intervals and added the basic breathing practice of natural breath awareness. I’d often told my own students that natural breath awareness changed brainwave patterns, facilitating release of mental stress and of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers. Time to put the practice to the test! And it worked – as I simply observed the natural ebb and flow of my breathing, I felt much calmer, my body relaxed, and I felt the aches melt away. As the days progressed I added full yogic breath to get air down into the lowest regions of the lungs in order to prevent mucus buildup there, and also viloma. In viloma, one inhales only partially, then holds, then inhales a little more, holds, and so on until the lungs are full.  With the exhalation, one lets the breath go. Interestingly, when the breath let go, so did all anxiety about the healing process, and I was in a much better mood when I was finished.

And even when I didn't feel like moving at all, I could do meditation practices. These helped me rest more fully and I am convinced they lessened my need for pain medication.

Now, over a year later, I am fully healed. My yoga practice helped me remodel my scar tissue and regain my full range of movement. I am more convinced than even of the healing power of yoga, and I am eager to share this benefit with anyone who needs healing.

This post was adapted from a newsletter article for the North American Gurukul. You can read the original post on their website.


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