Atma Center celebrates 20 years
Cleveland’s longest-running yoga studio, the Atma Center, is celebrating 20 years of health, education and community service in 2017.
Its director, Beverly Singh, worked at the Cleveland Clinic before opening the Atma Center on Lee Road in Cleveland Heights. She had become seriously ill; her internist suspected Grave’s disease, fibromyalgia and lupus, and prescribed several medications.
While starting the regimen of prescriptions, Singh took a crash course of daily yoga from a friend, who flew all the way from Australia to teach her. After three months, Singh was off several of her medications and had reduced her dosages of the rest. She was sold on the healing power of yoga, and started teaching in her living room to share its benefits with others.
The Atma Center focuses on accessible stretches, breath techniques and meditations, and on the therapeutic benefits of yoga. Group classes, private sessions and workshops consistently prove the studio’s motto of providing “Yoga for Every Body.”
It is common to see students of various genders, backgrounds, ages and abilities in any given class.
The Atma Center also brings worldwide attention to Cleveland Heights as host to the Yoga Academy of North America (YANA), an international nonprofit that has welcomed trainees from 30 states and 20 countries, including India.
“It is a source of great pride to us that many of our international visitors comment on how beautiful Cleveland Heights is,” Singh said. “People have often heard negative things about Cleveland and are hesitant to come, but once they experience all it has to offer, they can’t wait to come back.”
Both YANA and the Atma Center have a mission to serve their community. The Atma Center donated more than 500 pounds of food to the Heights Emergency Food Center in 2016, and supported the Center for Senior Dogs with a January fundraiser. YANA provides free yoga classes for Orca House, Cleveland Sight Center and inner-city youths. It also hosted a sew-a-thon for Days for Girls International, helping young women in underdeveloped countries.
“We are so lucky in this country,” said Singh, who received her spiritual name of Swami Atmarupa Saraswati during one of her many visits to India. “I feel strongly that it is important to remember and assist those who are less fortunate. And our students always respond generously to these projects. We are lucky to have such a wonderful community.”
Laura Santoro is assistant director at the Atma Center and is on the board of directors for Yoga Academy of North America.