New owner continues Atma Center's mission
On April 1, amidst the COVID-19 virus and stay-at-home orders, Cleveland Heights native Julie Schlemmer became the new owner of Atma Center, the yoga studio in the Cedar Lee district, at 2319 Lee Road.
The center opened in 1997 through the vision of former owner Swami Atmarupa (aka Beverly Singh), who wanted to establish a holistic wellness center that offered yoga, massage therapy, meditation, and a retail source for vitamins and physical wellness products.
According to Swami Atmarupa, she opened the business well before yoga came into the American mainstream. Even so, the yoga aspect of the center is what took off. Satyananda yoga, with its focus on the traditional yogic meditative practices of breathwork and relaxation, was accessible as a lifestyle practice for people of all physical abilities. Now, 22 years later, Schlemmer plans to continue to focus on integrating yogic tradition as a lifestyle practice, not just a fitness craze.
A native of Cleveland Heights, Schlemmer credits her father with first piquing her interest in yoga.
“As a child of the '70s growing up in Cleveland Heights,” she recalled, “my father talked about the benefits of yoga, and I began to wonder what magic it held that so captured his attention. When I was finally able to take a class on my own, I became captivated too!
“I fell in love with the movement of yoga, the strength and fluidity it generated in my body, and the deep sense of stillness and gratitude that followed. I quickly embraced its teachings of the heart and mind, and loved how it all fit together. I learned that by understanding myself, I could better understand the world around me.”
Schlemmer’s initial training was in Vinyasa, also known as Flow Yoga. Over her 16 years as a teacher, her care for the unique physical needs of her students led to additional training in the specialty of yoga therapy, which she applied to her work at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation for seven years.
Schlemmer is a Reiki master and holds a certificate in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). She recently added two additional certifications through the Integrative Medicine Department at Duke University: as an integrative health coach, and advanced training in integrative yoga for seniors.
“There are many different ways to teach and practice yoga,” explained Schlemmer, “yet the essence of it will always remain the same for me—it is a healing practice. It invites us to learn about our body and understand what makes it work physically, emotionally and mentally.”
Schlemmer is grateful to Swami Atmarupa, and to all of the Atma instructors that have continued to teach during these uncertain times. “The Atma Center is a special place, where yoga learning and practice is the essence of its foundation,” stated Schlemmer. She assures clients, “Your beloved and gifted teachers will continue to teach in this community as it is one that is stable, steady and ready to continue to serve, connect and unite.”
Atma Center is offering a full schedule of online classes during COVID-19 restrictions. These include vinyasa (flow), chair yoga, pranayama (breathwork), and yoga nidra (a relaxation tool). The website, www.atmacenter.com, offers links and instructions on how to access classes. Students are encouraged to call 216-371-9760 if they have any questions. TWhile classes remain online, the Atma Center storefront, which offers yoga mats and props, Ayurvedic herbs, and various gift items, re-opened on May 4.
Hallie Beth Durchslag
Hallie Beth Durchslag grew up in the Roxboro neighborhood and is a proud alumna of Heights High. She continues to live and work in the Cleveland Heights community, where she teaches, writes, and maintains a private practice as a Jungian-oriented psychodynamic psychotherapist.