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Dharma Mittra Yoga to be offered in Shepherdstown

By Staff | Nov 21, 2014

Shepherdstown yoga instructor Gena Rockwell recently returned from New York City after studying with yoga master Sri Dharma Mittra, one of the first independent yoga instructors in America and creator of and model for the famous 908 yoga postures poster. Gena will be offering levels 2 and 3 Dharma Yoga classes on a donation basis at Harmony Healing Arts Center, on Saturdays from 12-1:30 p.m., beginning Dec 13. Some prior yoga experience is recommended. For those new to yoga or just looking for a gentler practice, Intro to Dharma Yoga classes will be held at Harmony on Thursdays at 10 a.m., starting in January as part of Harmony’s regular yoga program offerings.

Dharma Mittra was born in Minas Greais, Brazil in 1939. In 1964, after leaving the Air Force he moved to New York City to study with his teacher Swami Kailashananda, a.k.a. Yogi Gupta. He lived with his guru at his ashram, leading a life of karma yoga-selfless service-until 1975. Dharma then founded the Yoga Asana Center of New York City, now known as the Dharma Yoga Center-the first independent yoga studio in America.

In 1984, as an offering to his teacher, Dharma photographed himself in 1,300 yoga poses, many variations that he invented himself, then cut and pasted 908 of the images onto the Master Yoga Chart. This poster now graces the walls of many yoga studios worldwide and is an inspirational teaching tool for students and teachers of yoga. Today, at 75, Dharma Mittra has trained thousands of yoga teachers and still teaches open classes every day at the Dharma Yoga New York Center. He is known as “the Teacher’s Teacher” and “the Rock of Yoga.”

Mittra says, “I am only here to share my knowledge with others and to help them make rapid progress on the path of yoga.”

Dharma’s style of yoga embodies all of the elements of classical yoga. Some of the key elements of the practice are: kindness, patience, humility, humor, selfless service, non-killing and compassion, as these practices form the foundation of classical yoga. The ultimate aim of the practice is self-realization. While the physical postures of Dharma Yoga can be challenging, the focus is much more on a spiritual practice and following the Yamas (ethical rules) of yoga, primarily Ahimsa (non harming). He has been famously quoted, “No Yama, No Yoga” and “Yoga is not about fancy poses”. The postures are simply a way to a strong, healthy, and flexible body so that one can settle the mind into meditation.

In the spirit of selfless service Gena is not charging a fee for the class, however, donations will be welcomed. Gena says, “I have never experienced yoga in a way that I did while studying under Dharma Mittra. His vast knowledge, kindness and humility guided me on a journey deep into the self. The practice of Dharma yoga is all encompassing in that it is energizing yet meditative, physically challenging yet restorative and most importantly, deeply spiritual. So I’d like to share the practice with as many folks that are interested.”

Harmony Healing Arts Center is located at 211 East New Street in Shepherdstown.