Director of Dharma Yoga Syracuse
Director of the Dharma Yoga Syracuse in Syracuse, New York. Teaching yoga for nearly 15 years and practicing 20, in 2008 she completed her 500 hour Life of a Yogi Teaching Immersion with her guru Sri Dharma Mittra, a living yoga master, who is a proponent of a strict vegetarian diet and compassion toward all beings. In addition to teaching regularly scheduled Dharma Yoga classes at Dharma Yoga Syracuse, she is on staff of the Life Of a Yogi Teacher Training program where she assists Sri Dharma and mentors sadhakas (spiritual aspirants) in classical yoga, yogic philosophy, as well as sattvic-ahara (yogic diet).
In November of 2000, I went to a Kripalu yoga class taught by Lorie and my life changed forever! I had been heading into a series of dead-ends with relationships, career and choice making. After discovering Kripalu yoga, I was amazed at how much space was available to me. The more I did yoga, the more open I became to creating positive and welcome balance in my life. An amazing transformation continues to take place! One of my favorite quotes is, “put forth your effort with no thought of gain.” With this in mind, I now expand my practice both on and off the mat by sharing this wondrous gift with others.
Yoga inspirations – Martin Luther King, Jr.; Mother Theresa; my loving parents and 7 brothers and sisters; Lorie, Lisa, teachers and students at CNY Yoga; all of my galpals with a special shout out to Amie Shaffer-8 year cancer survivor and living her life!; Priti, Jairaj, the assistants and all of the yogis and yoginis – Kripalu YTT Class of 8/06; last but certainly not last – starting each new day with my truelove, Mike, and our 2 cats, Bud (Abbott) and Lou (Costello), is life’s greatest gift to me. Namaste and many blessings!
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.
Certified Yoga Instructor
Himalayan Institute, 2001
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, & 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”.
When the student is ready, the teacher will appear."
Kelly's practice began at a local gym, the teacher was guiding the class to relax and let go, but the mind was clearly not going down without a fight! Later on, a second 'attempt' at yoga was made at a different local gym, this time around something was different. One class a week led to two and three leaving a thirst for knowledge. When she attended the “Hot House” yoga class at CNY Yoga Center, (where they turn up the heat and play techno music) the experience shifted everything. The instructor’s voice echoed through her head for days. she began studying at the center daily, diving deeper into the practice of yoga. Kelly has much gratitude to both Lisa and Lorie (Saraswati) for all the blessings they have shown and given through their humble care, knowledge and intuition.
Continuing on the path led to 200 hour teacher training in 2007, with Dharma Mittra in NYC. Her intension is to share the teachings of Sri Dharma Mittra, as well as the lessons from all teachers she has met along the way, knowing that each student must find their own path, through their own means of discovery.
Read about Kelly's Restorative Thai Yoga Services
Meaghan was first introduced to Yoga in high school. As a former Rhythmic Gymnast, she was drawn to Yoga asana as a way to regain her flexibility & strength.
In 2008, after graduating from DePaul University in Chicago, Meaghan passed through some upsetting experiences, & was relieved to find peace in practicing Yoga. It became a natural way for her to calm the mind & lesson anxiety.
In 2008, I spontaneously decided to take the 200hr ryt Yoga Alliance training with Judiann Cesta at East Street Yoga. Judiann told me it was my passion for yoga that allowed her to waive the minimum one year of practice to be accepted into the program.
At about the same time Bonita Shear introduced to me Young Living Therapeutic Essential Oils and was a guest to harvest lavender and help with distilling at Young Living’s Lavender Farm in St. Maries, Idaho. Incorporating the oils into my life medicinally, it was just a natural progression to integrate them into my yoga practice. At the time, there were no reference material or books so I relied on my training and research. After my 200 hour certification, I began teaching oils and yoga workshops. Late 2009, Rodney and Colleen Saidman Yee taught at the Y.L. convention about integrating oils and yoga. Meeting Rodney at the conference helped to validate my path to begin to write my book “Essence Yoga – Integrating Essential Oils and Yoga.”
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 will have completed my 800hr ryt “Life of a Yogi” teacher training with Sri Dharma. I continue to teach yoga and essential oils at Mirbeau Inn & Spa and the Skaneateles Y.
Michele has a BFA in Fine Arts and worked in Boston as a graphic designer for over 11 years. www.michelegardnerdesign.com
She has had her own Design studio for over 18 years, while raising two beautiful children.
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!
Tara first started practicing yoga in 1999 at a gym in her home state of CT. She had finally found the glue of creativity, physical movement, dance, spirituality and philosophy. Introduced to yoga at the age of eight by her mother June at Ananda Ashram, she was inspired to seek out the benefits and life of one on the yogic path. While visiting Ananda Ashram Tara was introduced to the founding Guru, Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati.
This introduction and the constant yearning as a child to visit India and learn more about spiritual life would come full circle in 2003 when Tara began practicing with several different teachers such as Shiva Rea, Richard Freeman, Patabois Jois, Sean Corn, David Life and Sharon Gannon, and ultimately Sri Dharma Mittra, Tara’s divine teacher. Moving through rugged and fiery family karma in determination to find realistic peace and understanding of one’s purpose in life, otherwise known as one’s dharma, led Tara away from the gym and into the heart of yogic science. Once Tara took one class with Sri Dharma she never looked back. Dharma’s facilitation of yogic science and classical Hatha Raja Yoga resonated deep within the mind and body and brought great peace and understanding of karma and the goal of self realization. Tara honors Dharma Mittra, Chandra Om, Andrei Ram, Radhanath Swami, and Dhanurdhara Swami as her master teachers.
Tara completed certifications with Shiva Rea (Prana Vinyasa Flow, Trance Dance 2003/2007), 200hr YTT at Kripalu in 2006, 500hr advance YTT with Dharma Mittra (2008), and is currently working on her Ayurvedic Training with Maya Tawari through The Wise Earth Ayurveda School. Tara values a vegan, vegetarian, raw, and Ayurvedic food lifestyle as well as living a yogic lifestyle rooted in integrity and the understanding to integrate spiritual life in all aspects of daily life to ultimately live in balance with nature and spirit. Tara has traveled to India and has appeared in Yoga Journal in honor of her teacher Dharma Mittra and Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary.
Tara is infinitely thankful for her divine friend and director of Dharma Yoga Syracuse, Saraswati Lorie Om, for her courage, love and support in the community and world.
“Everything is perfect and nothing is permanent.” – Sri Dharma Mittra.
Om Shanti, Om Namah Shivaya, Hare Krishna, Amen and Peace
Like so many others, I was drawn to yoga as a form of stress relief. After some life changes, I was feeling physically and mentally depleted, so I began taking beginner yoga classes. It wasn’t long before I realized I was seeing a change in my outlook. Along with that mental shift, I also felt myself physically renewed. Yoga quietly became an important part of my life, and in addition to a regular practice of the physical postures, my participation in the Center's seasonal cleanses helped me to reconnect with myself.
As my personal practice deepened, my desire to share it with others also grew, and in October of 2013, I began the 200-hour Life of a Yogi Teacher Training. Teaching at Dharma Yoga Syracuse allows me the opportunity to connect with students who may have had little to no prior exposure to yoga, and my hope is to provide a safe space for them to benefit from the practice in the same way I did.
When off the mat, I teach English as a Second Language to adults through the Syracuse City School District. I also share Dharma’s teachings with my ESL students by offering them a weekly Women’s Gentle Dharma class.
I feel so grateful to Saraswati Om and the Dharma Yoga Syracuse community for their continued support and guidance along my path.