YOGA TEACHER / PRACTITIONER / ENTREPRENEUR
Saraswati Om is one of today's most influential yoga teachers whose personal practice and direct experience with her beloved Guru, Sri Dharma Mittra, have impacted thousands of yogis around the world. Owner and director of Dharma Yoga Syracuse, she is fully versed in all yogic sciences, including meditation, pranayama (breathing practices), asanas (postures), and scriptural and spiritual theory. Of the nine main approaches to yoga, Saraswati is particularly adept at Hatha-Ratha Yoga, promoting bodily and mental mastery. She believes the combination of these two forms with elements of the other seven constitutes a holy science that is accessible to anyone.
Prior to cofounding Dharma Yoga in 2003, Saraswati taught yoga at Lockheed Martin and the Bright Path Counseling Center, as well as co-managed a yoga and dance studio in downtown Syracuse. She also led classes and workshops the Post Standard (where she contributed articles to its health section), LeMoyne College, Ophelia's Place and The Hearth at Greenpoint retirement community. Saraswati has also guest taught at Beit-Yanai, a small town in Israel, and at the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Stockbridge, Mass., where, at the age of 20, she completed the 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training Program.
Saraswati divides her time between Dharma Yoga Syracuse, where she oversees more than a dozen instructors, and 200 students, and the Dharma Yoga New York City Center, which is Dharma Mittra's U.S. base. (At Dharma Yoga NYC, she earned a 500-hour advanced teacher training certificate, and was named Karma Yogi of the Year in 2008.) A staff member of the Dharma Yoga"Life of A Yogi" Teacher Training Program, she leads classes, gives lectures and mentors trainees, as well as assists Sri Dharma at retreats and weekend intensives on both sides of the Atlantic.
Like her Guru, Saraswati adheres to the traditional yogic code of conduct. This is reflected in her healthy lifestyle practices, which encompasses herbology, conscious eating, and holistic living, and her ongoing involvement with the Matthew Kenney Culinary Academy, home to world-class plant based culinary programs in Los Angeles.
Over the past two decades, Saraswati has established herself as the "mother of Dharma Yoga" - the "teacher's teacher." As such, her annual retreats to Costa Rica and Iceland draw acolytes from all over the world. She is working on two book projects - a raw cuisine cookbook and a book about woman's sacred healing arts - and an album of chants and nature sounds, drawing on her extensive use of gongs and singing bowls.
For more information about classes, private lessons, workshops, teachers trainings or retreats, contact Saraswati at 315-461-9642 or firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about her teacher visit www.dharmayogacenter.com
A 1993 graduate of Boston College, Cynthia worked for many years in New York City, Los Angeles, and London as an executive recruiter for the financial services industry. Seeking balance amid a stressful career, Cynthia became a student of Yoga over twenty years ago– and her passion ignited. Yoga transformed her life.
She became a 200-Hour Certified Yoga Instructor in 2005 in order to help others reconnect to their inner Guru through the healing benefits of yoga. Cynthia believes that the spiritual aspect of why one does yoga should not be lost. Her classes are inspired by her beloved teachers – Dharma Mittra, Saraswati Om, Sharron Gannon, David Life, and Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa.
She teaches Yoga for Fertility, Couples Yoga, and Vinyasa Flow. She loves incorporating a mix of ancient chants and with modern, soulful music for an energetic, fun and spiritual flow class.
Meghan is a recent graduate of Level 1 KRI Certified 220+ hours of Kundalini Yoga Teacher training as taught by Yogi Bhajan. She continues to deepen her practice by working on her Level 2 Certifications. Meghan came to yoga as a way to calm her busy mind and has greatly benefited from the spiritual, mental, and physical effects of the practice.
As a lover of all different types of yoga Meghan found that the chanting involved in many of the Kundalini meditations worked very quickly to help her turn down the volume of stress and thoughts of leading a busy life. It helped her to tune into her true self and to be more conscious of her own mind & body.
Meghan has been a wedding photographer in the CNY area for the last 11 years and is a lover of chocolate labs (especially Hunter), green juice, travel, and adventure.
Julie found her practice in 2003 when she serendipitously picked up Baron Baptiste’s newly published book, Journey Into Power. She immediately dissected the book, and began practicing Baptiste yoga. Busy raising 4 children, she fit in her practice where and whenever possible. Baptiste yoga has been her tried and true yogic footprint, and she became a certified 200-hour yoga teacher in her hometown at East Street Yoga Studio in Skaneateles, NY, under the guidance of Judiann Cesta.
She leads her students on a journey to their own power. For, as Baron Baptiste suggests, when we discover our physical strength we become aware of the possibilities our lives offer, from that sense of new possibility we are lead to self-empowerment, moving toward finding our highest potential. Forever a student of life, as she opens the doors of her own self- discovery, she mirrors that to her students. Yoga means to yoke, to unite, to make whole; Julie provides the tools to unite her students back to their true selves, each other, and all of humanity. We are one.
Deirdre was first introduced to yoga in her high school gym class. It was a short 3 week series, but it was then that Deirdre knew yoga would someday be a regular part of her life. It wasn’t until after college that Deirdre was able to begin a regular practice of yoga. She was soon hooked, taking classes at the CNY Yoga Center, now Dharma Yoga Syracuse. It was an exciting, evolving process. Starting with the beginner classes and eventually leading her to complete the 200 hour Dharma Life of a Yogi Teacher Training in 2010 and in 2014 the 300 HR Self-Realization Immersion with Yogi Andrei Ram.
Deirdre has much gratitude for the opportunity to study under the direction of Sarasawti Om at the Dharma Yoga Center and receive formal training from Sri Dharma Mittra and Yogi Andrei Ram. It has been through the Dharma spiritual family that she has met some amazing and truly gifted teachers that continue to inspire and influence her practice. Yoga has been an adaptive process for Deirdre, in which she has extended the knowledge gained in the studio, to her everyday life. She has found that yoga has the power to meet everyone’s needs, regardless of the individual. Deirdre is excited to be sharing the practice of yoga and in hopes that it may bring you health and happiness.
Yoga continues to be an incredible journey for me. After twenty five years of studying and practicing yoga and ten years of teaching it I am still in awe of this great and healing practice. Along the way, I have been blessed with wonderful teachers and tole models. My greatest inspiration comes from my beloved teacher and friend, Lorie Bebber.
My practice and teaching unfolds from the various asana trainings that I have had. These include hatha, astanga, kripalu, and most lovingly Dharma Mittra style yoga. I continue to emphasize deep relaxation and mindfulness in any level class I teach.
Thank you everyone who has crossed my path. You have all brought me gifts. Special thanks to my ‘stars in heaven’ for offering to be the vehicles and love that carries me here. I wish to inspire you all to ‘just love’ and ‘just’ breathe’.
I began practicing yoga when my partner (now husband, James) invited me to my first class at Dharma Yoga Syracuse many years ago. I could not touch my toes and I got light-headed in half moon pose, but from the very first class, I felt at home. Practicing Yoga has changed my life and inspires me to see the world differently. When I started practicing yoga, I felt disconnected from my body, and like I was missing something, even though I had wonderful family, friends, and work. Through the practice of yoga, I work towards better connecting to my body, fueling my body with great foods, looking to my intuition for guidance, putting compassion at the forefront of my day-to-day life, doing things that must be done rather than putting them off, and finding joy in being receptive to the grace and beauty within and all around.
The experiences of pregnancy, birth, and becoming a Mother were the turning points in my life when yoga transitioned from being something I did to guiding the life I lead and being the person I am. With the birth of my daughter, Isabella, so was born my desire to teach the science of yoga, and yoga to Mothers, in particular. Through Bella Shakti Yoga, I now teach classes to Expecting Mamas and Mamas with their Babies at Dharma Yoga Syracuse. Yoga guides my Mothering and it is a joy to raise my little daughter-yogini, Bella, and two stepson-yogis, Joshua and Christopher!
I am so grateful for the many influences I have had already on my Yoga path. I am grateful to my husband for knowing that Yoga would be important to me, taking classes side-by-side with me, building a sacred space in our house for practice and mediation, and for finding joy in our connection with Yoga. I am grateful for the incredible Yoga community flourishing at Dharma Yoga Syracuse and to Saraswati Om for introducing me to Sri Dharma Mittra and his teachings, for mentoring me through my own practice and the Life of a Yogi 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training Program, and for cultivating our Sangha: the Dharma Yoga teachers and practitioners inspire me with their karma yoga, asana, collegiality, and energized devotional spirit. I extend gratitude, also, to Sarah Oakley from MamaBirth YOGA for guiding me through my Prenatal Yoga apprenticeship.
When not on the mat (or doing handstands with my kids, husband, and pups in the backyard), I teach instrumental music (and aspects of the Yamas and Niyamas) to 6th-12th graders in the Westhill Schools, present clinics to other music educators, write music pedagogy books, and play flute in local orchestras and bands.
Kyta member - Initially I began coming to yoga classes at CNY Yoga to get relief from life’s aches and pains as well as for stress relief. After the first beginner 1 class I felt wonderful. Before the end of that first six week session I had gotten the benefits I initially wanted and was hooked. Once I stopped taking yoga and began practicing yoga I got so much more than I had expected.
Yoga means union. The union of body, mind, and spirit. What yoga means to me at this time in my practice is health. Spiritual health, mental health, and physical health.
I would like to thank my wife Sandy for her support and encouragement as we begin this new journey. I would like to thank Lisa and Lorie for their inspiration, encouragement, and for allowing me this opportunity to bring my yoga to another level.
I would also like to thank my fellow students for their support and encouragement.
Writing a biography can be very challenging if not impossible. The Sanskrit words “Ahta Yoga Nushasanam” translate into “the inquiry of Yoga”. I believe that my inquiry, my yoga, changes & morphs me daily. I invite my students to explore that possibility in their lives.
I am shaped by all the experiences & people in my life. As yoga becomes a deepening awareness & realization I have felt a shift & increase in gratitude & appreciation for all experiences & people whose paths I am fortunate to be a part of. My yoga journey began around 1999 with my first & forever yoga teacher Lorie (Saraswati Om) Bebber. It continues with my Kripalu education, my family, friends & my teaching opportunities. I am humbled by all of this & I pray that I may always welcome the challenges along with the joys on this yogic path.
Jai Bhagwan, Gail Akin – Certified Kripalu Yoga Teacher
P.S. Much gratitude to my sister, Terry, who first suggested I may want to try yoga!
“To laugh often & love much; to win the respect of intelligent persons & the affection of children; to earn the approbation of honest critics & to endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to give of one’s self; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social situation; to have played & laughed with enthusiasm & sung with exultation; to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived – this is to have succeeded.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)
Greg was a triathlete who came to CNY Yoga in 2003 hoping to increase his flexibility. He quickly fell in love with yoga. In the beginning it was the challenge of the poses that held his attention. Over time, Greg discovered a spiritual side to the practice that he hadn’t expected. It has had a dramatic impact on his life.
Greg received his 200-hour certification with Dharma Mittra in 2010. He is eternally indebted to Saraswati Om for exposing the mind & spirit to things that had never occurred to him before.
He is also grateful to his wife, Donna for her love, and her patience when he is banging his feet against the wall trying to perfect the handstand.
Julie Daniel has been a practicing speech and language pathologist with young children for 27 years. Born and educated in North Carolina, she moved to Central New York in 1986 where she continued her professional career with children with special needs at the Main St. Early Education Program in the N. Syracuse School District. She also works with children with communication disorders through the Special Children’s Services of the Onondaga County Health Department.
Julie had been practicing yoga off and on since graduating from college in the 70′s. That practice became more focused and disciplined in the last 6 years when she started studying with Lorie Bebber. During that time she began using yoga with her special needs children and noted their improved motor planning skills, attention span and ability to focus. Most importantly however, she noted how much they loved doing yoga! These observations led Julie to research programs for teaching yoga to children. It was in that search that she discovered YogaKids, an international certification program for teaching children. Julie completed the training during 2005-06 and is now a Certified YogaKids Facilitator (CYKF) and YogaKids Trainer (YKT).
Julie wishes to thank her professional colleagues, Mary Vaughn and Renee McCall who have offered encouragement and support in pursuing her dream of teaching yoga to children. She thanks Lorie Bebber and Lisa Kiefer for their model of teaching from the heart and for being open to bringing yoga for children to their center. She thanks Jackie Clarke for her constant inspiration and finally, she wishes to thank her husband Kevin for always being beside her…… “on the mat” and in spirit as he offers constant encouragement in her pursuit of bringing this gift to our youngest “yogis”.
Kristen is thankful for the opportunity to share a practice that has transformed her mind, body, heart, & spirit. She discovered yoga after years of injuries from competitive running and lifelong anxiety. On the mat she felt at home in body & mind and connected to her heart.
She is grateful for her teachers, most notably Elliott SWatlington, Dharma Mittra, Tara Stiles, Meghan Currie, & Saraswati Om for guiding her along the way..
May all beings everywhere be happy and free.
I began taking classes from all different teachers, conferences and workshops from Omega, Kripalu and NYC searching for a way to deepen and grow my practice. It wasn’t until I began going to Dharma Yoga Syracuse with Saraswati that I felt… home. It was a Dharma II class (and it kicked my butt!!) But more importantly I felt that Saraswati was the “real deal” and that this was a true spiritual community. Traveling from Skaneateles, 3 to 4 times a week was such a gift to have this so close to home. Saraswati and her devotion to Sri Dharma made me fall in love even before I had met him. It took over a year to finally be able to go to NYC to meet and experience Sri Dharma’s Holy Satsang Labor Day 2011. Before this event began, I almost ran straight into Sri Dharma. Frozen like a deer in headlights, I looked back at Saraswati who knew how much this meant to me, and I saw pure love. My teacher, her teacher and me. This lasted just seconds but it changed my life like an electrical charge. Home.
In May 2016, I completed my 800hr RYT “Life of a Yogi” teacher training with Sri Dharma.
A friend brought me to Dharma Yoga Syracuse in 2008. It smelled lovely and everyone was so pleasant...almost too happy is what I thought. "Those smiles have to be a facade; who is that happy?"
I was intrigued so I returned and began to realize it is REAL. Simply put, my life was unhappy at the time and this yummy-smelling warm feeling yoga center was making me happy.
I had the opportunity to meet/study with Sri Dharma Mittra at Kripalu in February 2009 and could see things even clearer. I was able to take Dharma's 200 hour Life of a Yogi training 10 months later. Dharmaji may be in New York City but thankfully we have a piece of him!
Pranav Soman has been practicing Ashtanga yoga for over 10 years. Though originally from Pune, India (home of Iyengar yoga), the first place he started yoga practice was in Hershey Pennsylvania, under the tutelage of Tina Stroh (Just Plain Yoga) and has been practicing ever since.
In his classes, Pranav lays emphasis on correct breathing techniques, and maintaining a straight spine. In his classes, expect to find traditional ashtanga series practice, as well as a blend of first and second series asanas (hatha vinyasa).
Most recently, Pranav was teaching Ashtanga Yoga at The Yoga School in Ithaca, NY. When not teaching yoga, Pranav can be found teaching Biomedical Engineering to his students at Syracuse University.
Tobey (Durga Om) Gifford is the co-director and founder of the Lemon Tree Yoga and Healing Arts Studio in Glens Falls and Lake George, New York. She has been a student of yoga for the last 22 years and began teaching 18 years ago.
Her formal studies began with Ashtanga yoga under Nancy Gilgoff, Kathy McNames, and Manju Jois. In 2003, she met her teacher and Guru, Sri Dharma Mittra, who began to teach and transmit yoga in a way that spoke to directly to her heart and soul. She began to shift and study with Dharma and started to deepen her knowledge of hatha-raja yoga and all the limbs of the practice, with special emphasis on the Yamas and Niyamas. She watched yoga in action through Dharma; especially, the qualities of kindness, compassion, strength and discipline. She went on and completed her 500-level studies in 2008 and in 2013; she completed the 800-level training under him. Today, she continues to study and tries to copy the teacher (physically, mentally and spiritually) and shares the teachings in her community and wherever she is asked. She is forever grateful for the opportunity to practice in this lifetime.
In addition, she offers her experience as an exercise physiologist, reiki master, and yoga therapist through Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy. She is also a Y12SR (Yoga and the 12 Steps of Recovery) facilitator, certified children’s yoga teacher, mindfulness practitioner in Thich Nhat Hanh tradition, Unnata Aerial Yoga Teacher, and fitness instructor. She also has a strong background in gymnastics through her childhood and later as a competitive coach for 20 years.
All is within. - Sri Dharma Mittra
First And foremost Helena LOVES everything yoga and has been living and teaching dynamic yoga since 2001.
Helena unites physical and esoteric anatomy steeped in Pranaflow®, Tantra, Alignment, Polarity and Ayurveda and is a qualified therapeutic Yoga Teacher.
As a R.N. and Polarity Therapist, she is a "hands on teacher" with loving guidance and deep humility in the art of a breath centered sadhana. Anatomy runs deep in her bones as a nurse with an orthopedic background and intensive study of integrative and structural anatomy.
A Certified Pelvic Floor Teacher and mother of three, Helena teaches Embodying the Female Pelvis Workshops and HastaPada® courses.
She is the Foundress of the original empowering HastaPada® (a yoga strap that is used with ease and stability for therapeutic and advanced yoga poses as an evolutionary tool to discover the poise in each pose).
Helena is a Fierce Bhakti and forever a soulful student of the Heart.
Brendan Lentz is a devoted teacher in the lineage of Sri Dharma Mittra, currently pursuing an advanced an 800-hour certification through the prestigious Life of a Yogi Teacher Training program. He has travelled extensively and has taught at festivals, teacher trainings and retreats. He enjoys sharing the knowledge he has realized through many years of sustained practice under the guidance of his teacher.
In the 1970s I picked up a pamphlet, ‘Yoga for Runners,’ and tried a few breathing exercises along with four or five of the simplest poses to use as post-run stretches; and that was all I knew about Yoga for the next 25 years or so when I retired from the Army. A more formal introduction came in 1998 when Audie (now my wife) took me to a class, but I still wasn’t hooked.
It was not until we had moved to the Syracuse area and met Lorie (Saraswati Om) Bebber and Lisa Sarik at CNY Yoga (now Dharma Yoga Syracuse) in 2002 that I began to appreciate Yoga as greater than simply a physical practice and began to grow in my practice. Audie encouraged me to consider becoming a Yoga instructor and the opportunity to attend Dharma Mittra’s 200 Hr certification course administered by Saraswati presented itself in the Fall of 2014.
Sharing the practice of Yoga compliments my guiding philosophy as an RN and Certified Personal Trainer of encouraging both a physical and mental/emotional quality of life. In retrospect, it is easy to see how each experience in my life has helped shape the person I am, and becoming. I am grateful to Saraswati Om for guiding my practice – becoming a teacher has made me a better student; to my daughter Emma, who introduces me to activities I never would have considered on my own; and most especially to my wife Audie, who continually challenges me to be a better person.
Gretchen came to yoga in 2006 stressed out and overweight.
Looking for a cure she found so much more. Ten years later she received her 200 hour yoga teacher certification from Sri Dharma Mittra with her mentor and teacher Saraswati Om looking on. She is blessed and honored to serve the community that brought her to herself, both as a teacher and as a karma yogi behind the desk.
Gretchen hopes to guide students on the path the way she was guided by her teachers and the teachings, with love, gentleness and compassion.
Be receptive to the grace within you and all around you.
Ade first walked into Dharma Yoga Syracuse in the winter of 2013 for an information class on the Yogi Winter Cleanse. Always a believer in self healing through diet and nature, she was looking to heal her body with food in order to feel better “emotionally”. The following day she took Gail Akin’s beginner yoga class and it was in that weekend that the direction of her life was forever changed - and for the better. In a short period of time, she realized that true health and wellbeing involved more than just changing her diet and Dharma Yoga Syracuse gently awakened her to that reality.
Ade became a Karma Yogi for DYS in 2015 and is grateful for the opportunity to give back to the center in this way. She has had the opportunity to travel with Saraswati and other teachers to both Iceland and Costa Rica which sparked her desire to explore yoga on a deeper, more personal level. In 2016 she began the Life of a Yogi Teacher Training and received her 200-hour certification in September of 2017.
The last several years have been a journey of positive transformation for Ade. Yoga has become her sanctuary, and it is both on and off the mat that she has learned to slow down, breathe and be present in order to restore inner peace and gratitude for the life she has been given. While her yoga practice and study will be lifelong, she is honored to be able to share the self healing practices of Sri Dharma Mittra with others. Endless love and gratitude to her beloved teacher Saraswati Om, as well as Gail Akin, Frank Abbott, Paul Fenwick and Gretchen Darrow who have guided and continue to support her on her path of Self discovery through selfless service and love.
“Heal yourself, heal the world.” - Ade
A student of the Dharma Yoga lineage since moving to Syracuse in 2009, Jennifer began her yoga practice as way to bring balance amidst a stressful career and to help facilitate alignment with her most authentic self. It didn't take long to realize that she had found her home with the Dharma Yoga Syracuse community. As a means to continue deepening her practice, in 2015 she studied under her beloved teacher, Saraswati Om, during the 200 hour LOAY Teacher Training. Jennifer has extensive gratitude for this journey as a yoga practitioner, as it continues to be a daily practice of mindfulness and dedication as well as a process of self-exploration.
When not on the mat, Jennifer spends much of her time in the service of her other great practice, the alchemy of baking at her eatery, The Sweet Praxis. Experimenting in the kitchen with vegan pastries is a pleasurable practice indeed!
Sarah first discovered yoga while living out West. It was after taking her very first yoga class that she knew she had found something wonderful in yoga. She practiced for a few years in Portland, Oregon before moving back East to be closer to family. Once she arrived in Syracuse, she began looking for a place to practice. She was very particular about what type of yoga center she was seeking as she wanted to find a place that taught yoga holistically; with an emphasis on meditation and breathing techniques, as much as the asana practice. After researching the different centers in the area, Sarah took her very first class with Saraswati Om in 2009. It was a beginner level class and by the time the class had ended, she knew she had found the place she had been seeking. She has been practicing yoga at Dharma Yoga Syracuse ever since.
Sarah has had the opportunity to work as a Karma Yogi at Dharma Yoga Syracuse for several years now. She offers service to the center whenever possible to greet clients as they arrive for class, help with administrative tasks, and set up for events that are happening. You will often find her dog, Piper, there too; typically helping to greet clients and sometimes even attempting to practice yoga with them!
Sarah completed the Life of a Yogi Teacher Training through Dharma Yoga Syracuse in the fall of 2016 and has recently received her 200 hour certification. She has also had the opportunity to assist Erin Tapia on a regular basis teaching prenatal yoga to Mamas in the Community. She hopes to be able to complete a training and attain her certification in prenatal yoga soon. She is grateful to all of her teachers for their loving wisdom and guidance. They have each inspired her and helped her along her path. She is especially grateful to her mentor and teacher, Saraswati Om, for always being the light and for nurturing and supporting this incredible sangha.