Spiritual Lineage

Swami Rama

 

Swami Rama, also called Bhole Baba and known as Rama Dandi – especially in the Himalayas, founded the Himalayan International Institute of Yoga Science and Philosophy with centers throughout the world. Swami Rama was initiated in early childhood by a great sage of the Himalayas, known as Bengali Baba. Swami Rama studied with many adepts and then traveled to Tibet to study with his grandmaster Mahavatar Baba, known as Babaji of the Himalayas.

Swami Rama’s master wanted him to learn and experience the many different methods and techniques of yoga. From his early childhood Swami Rama practiced the various disciplines of yoga science and philosophy in the traditional monasteries of the Himalayas. From 1938 to 1944 Swami Rama taught Hindu and Buddhist scriptures in several monasteries. Throughout his childhood and adolescence Swami Rama lived and traveled with the saints, yogis, and fakirs of Garhwal, Kumaon, the Kangra Valley, Kashmir, Ladakh, and Tibet, with retreats in other parts of India. Swami Rama studied closely with many spiritual adepts, including Maharshi Ramana, Sri Aurobindo, Anandamoyee Ma, and Rabindranath Tagore

At the young age of 24 years Swami Rama became Shankaracharya of Karvirpitham in South India, succeeding Dr. Kurtkoti to one of the highest spiritual positions in India. He renounced the dignity and prestige of this high office in 1952 to return to the Himalayas to intensify his meditative practices in the monasteries.

While Swami Rama founded many worldly organizations, his greatest gift to humanity was in his bringing the depths of the wisdom of the ancient sages to the modern seeker in highly accessible ways. He did this through his writings and his lectures, and most importantly through his individual presence when training students one at a time.

Swami Rama of the Himalayas

Swami Veda Bharati

Swami Veda Bharati has spent the last 53 years as a teacher, lecturer, and writer. He was raised in a family of Sanskrit-speaking scholars in India. He attained degrees through the Ph.D. level in the 1960s at the University of London. He was a professor of Sanskrit and Indian religions at the University of Minnesota from 1965 to 1973. He has written numerous books, including, an exhaustive commentary on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Swami Veda was initiated into the Dhyana (meditative yoga) tradition in 1969 by H.H. Sri Swami Rama, his spiritual teacher. Since then he has been instrumental in setting up and providiing spiritual guidance to yoga meditation centers throughout the world. He is the spiritual head of an ashram in Rishikesh, India; a 200-acre medical complex near Dehradun, India; and this Meditation Center in Minneapolis, MN. In March 1999 the Shankara Order of Swamis in India conferred on Swami Veda the title of Mahamandeleshvara – he is one of 30 or so Indian Swamis to hold this honor. Swami Veda has spoken before the United Nations and met with the world’s major religious leaders, including the Dalai Lama. He understands 17 languages in varying degrees of fluency.

Swami Veda Bharati (Founder)

Spiritual Guides/Spiritual Committee

Swami Ritavan Bharati

Formerly Pandit Ananta (American name Daniel Richey) has been serving H.H. Swami Rama of the Himalayas and Swami Veda Bharati’s work for the past forty years with single-minded devotion and dedication. His educational history includes degrees and multiple advanced degrees in theology, philosophy, psychology and education. He is also a highly trained and experienced teacher of Yoga and Meditation, holding many certifications and is Yoga Alliance certified (E-RYT-500). Swami Ritavan joined the Dhyana-Mandiram (Meditation Center) Ashram in 1970 and has since then remained in spiritual life in a steadfast manner. By the grace of Swami Rama of the Himalayas, he was conferred the monastic vows of samnyasa (swami) in 2007 and earlier in 2001 the vows of  Vanaprasthi, having lived a married life for 22 years. In 1995 he had received the sacred thread and the title of Pandit by Swami Veda Bharati.

Swami Ritavan, in addition to his duties as spiritual guide of the  Meditation Center Ashram which he has directed for 20 years in the absence of Swami Veda Bharati,  also spends much of his year serving, teaching, and practicing disciplines and meditation at Swami Rama’s Ashrams in Rishikesh. Swami Ritavan has been traveling and teaching internationally for the past ten years, teaching throughout North and South Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Southeast Asia.  In addition, he has been a much appreciated presence as an advanced teacher at Swami Rama Dhyana Gurukulam in Swami Veda’s Ashram in Rishikesh. He also spends much of his time in guiding the International Himalayan Yoga Teachers Association in training numerous yoga teachers, having taught for the past 38 years. He is gifted in guiding and conducting numerous Silence and Meditation retreats throughout the world. A man of few words, his primary focus is on the inner life. He continues to be trained and further guided by his guru, Senior Acharya Sri Mahamandaleshvar Swami Veda Bharati from his Rishikesh Ashram.

Swami Ritivan Bharati (Spiritual Director, Initiator)

Swami Ma Gita Bharati

Swami Ma Gita Bharati was born and raised in Minnesota. She has practiced yoga since the late 70’s. She was made a Swami of the Bharati order in 1999 in Rishikesh,India by Swami Veda Bharati. She has been a psychotherapist for many years and offers spiritual guidance to many.

Swami Ma Gita Bharati 

Swami Ma Radha Bharati

Swami Ma Radha Bharati earned an M.A. in philosophy and commenced doctoral studies in Eastern and Western philosophy with emphasis on views of the self and mind. She has taught philosophy at a number of schools including the University of Hawaii. She received a fellowship from the Humphrey Institute in Public Policy. Swami Ma Radha was initiated by H.H. Sri Swami Rama 33 years ago and has been an active member of The Meditation Center community ever since.

Swami Ma Radha Bharati (Initiator)

Pandit Dabral

Pandit Dabral has been a student of Swami Veda Bharati for over 15 years. He was recently appointed by Swami Veda to serve as the spiritual director of the Association of Himalayan Yoga and Meditation Societies (AHYMS). As such, he is second to Swami Veda in guiding the International Himalayan Yoga Teachers Association (IHYTA). Pandit Dabral was born into a family of Sanskrit scholars in India. He has a master’s degree in Sanskrit literature and a Ph.D. in Indian philosophy from the University of Garhwal in India. He has worked throughout the world as a lecturer and meditation instructor. He is based in Calgary, Canada. He is a registered yoga teacher through Yoga Alliance.

Pandit Dabral (Initiator)

Stephen (Stoma) Parker

Stephen Parker was initiated in the Himalayan Yoga tradition by Swami Veda Bharati and was given the initiate name Stoma in 1971. Among the first teachers certified by the Himalayan International Teachers’ Association, H.I.T.A., he began teaching hatha-yoga in 1974. Stoma is a Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher at the 500 hour level of the Yoga Alliance (E-RYT 500). A member of the International Association of Yoga Therapists, he serves on the faculties of the Meditation Center in Minneapolis and the Sadhanamandir and Sadhaka Gram ashrams in Rishikesh, India. He is also a senior faculty member of the Himalayan Yoga Tradition Teachers’ Training Program. He has lectured on yoga, meditation and spiritual practice in the U.S. and Canada as well as in Carribean countries, Holland, Italy, Austria, Hungary, South Africa, Korea, Hong Kong and India. In 2004 he helped originate and teach the first course on yoga in an American medical school at the University of Minnesota Academic Medical Center. In 2007 he received took preliminary vows of renunciation from Swami Veda and the Shankaracharya of Karvirapitha.
Stoma has been a licensed psychologist in private practice in St. Paul, MN since 1985. He also serves as Adjunct Assistant School Professor of Counseling and Psychological Services at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota and Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Graduate School of Professional Psychology at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, MN. He teaches on the faculty of the Introductory Workshops of the Minnesota Society of Clinical Hypnosis. In addition to authoring journal articles and book chapters, Dr. Parker edited volume two of Swami Veda’s definitive scholarly work on the Yoga-sutras of Patanjali and he has been a peer review editor for the Journal of Men’s Studies, the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry and the International Journal of Yoga Therapy.

Stephen (Stoma) Parker PsyD, E-RYT 500 (Initiator)

Michael Smith

Michael Smith has been teaching yoga for over 36 years and is currently a curriculum coordinator for the International Himalayan Yoga Teachers Association. He has also been certified by the Himalayan Institute Teachers Association and the Behram Guard School of Yoga Meditation (an Iyengar-based Hatha Yoga School). He was a public school teacher for 35 years and also a professor of Comparative Religion at North Hennepin Community College. He has edited and/or illustrated many books on yoga and has lectured widely on stress management (the topic of his Masters Thesis) and also on holistic health.  Currently he is very interested in the cultivation of a yoga-based life style, incorporating the principles of Ayurveda.

 Michael Smith, E-RYT 500

Jim Nelson

Jim holds a Masters degrees in Education and Counseling Psychology.  He worked as a Consulting Psychologist and therapist for Family Life Mental Health Center for almost fifteen years, while teaching psychology at Blaine High School.  Jim received the Medtronic Outstanding Teacher Award in 1997 and was selected to the Whose Who of American teachers.  He served five terms on Blaine City Council championing environmental causes, and served on the Anoka County Mental  Health Advisory Board for several years.  He currently is in private practice and worked until his recent retirement, at Transition Plus as a Psychologist, serving students with learning disabilities and mental health issues.   For almost 20 years he was on the Meditation Center’s Board of Directors serving as President or Chairman of the Board for most of that time.  Jim has taught at the Center for over 25 years. He currently serves as Vice-President of AHYMS-A and is on the executive committee of AHYMSIN—the International organization dedicated to spreading the teachings of Swami Rama and the Himalayan Tradition.  He has traveled broadly in North America speaking at conferences on a variety of psychological and Philosophical topics.  He currently finished writing a book—Running on Empty”–an assessment of the destructive changes and challenges, that have eroded the well being of adolescents and young adults.

Jim Nelson, MA

Lori Beron

Lori Beron is an initiate and certified teacher through the Himalayan Yoga Tradition as well as a Certified Holistic Nurse, she has an MA in Holistic Health Studies and is employed as an RN on a surgical oncology unit at the University of Minnesota Health.

Lori took a 3-year Vanaprastha Vow from Swami Veda Bharati during the 2013 Sangha Gathering. (Vanaprastha-a stage in life where one lessens worldly attachments.)

Lori Beron, RYT 200

Active Teachers

Barbra Bloy

Barbra’s first exposure to Yoga was from reading about it in a book in the early 1970’s. Barbra started teaching on her own in 1997 because of people asking her to teach them. She was introduced to the Himalayan Tradition by her friend and fellow teacher Mary Bowman. She did her teacher training at The Institute of The Himalayan Tradition (IHT) in St Paul, Minnesota. In 2003 she became initiated. Barbra is a RYT-500 hour member of Yoga Alliance.

Barbra is happy to teach for the Meditation Center in NE Minneapolis. She is also a fine artist, massage therapist and a landlord.

barbbloy-smBarbra Bloy, RYT 500

Mary Bowman-Cline

Mary Bowman-Cline CMT, ERYT 500, has been teaching Hatha Yoga since 1986 in Michigan and Minnesota and was initiated into the Himalayan Tradition by Swami Veda in 1998. She was a member of the Yoga Teachers Association of Greater Detroit before moving to Minnesota in 1993 when she discovered the Himalayan Tradition. Mary loves to bring laughter into her classes and encourages students to incorporate yoga into their everyday lives. Besides teaching Hatha l and ll, and center drop-in classes, she regularly teaches Anatomy in Clay workshops and assists with Anatomy and Physiology of Respiration with Paul Emerson. Mary also serves on the faculty with the International Himalayan Teachers Training Program and is a Certified Massage Therapist specializing in rehabilitation and oncology massage.

Mary Bowman-Cline, E-RYT 500

Rosann Chamberlain

Rosann Chamberlain has been practicing yoga since the 1980s. She became kalyanamitra (spiritual friends) with Sig Martel at Teacher’s Training in 2001, when they discovered they’d grown up 10 miles from each other near La Crosse, WI.  Together they teach the Wednesday morning Gentle Yoga class. Join this Wednesday group for a truly relaxing experience!

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Rosann Chamberlain

Roxanne Currie

Roxanne began meditating in the attic with Dr. Usharbudh Arya in 1971 and was initiated into the Himalayan Tradition in 1972 by Dr. Arya.  She attended the First International Yoga Conference in Chicago where Elizabeth Kubler Ross, Charles Bates and Swami Rama, Swami Bua, and Swami Satchinananda were her earliest teachers. While working at emergency services for substance abuse and psychiatric care, Roxanne became Certified to teach yoga through the Institute of the Himalayan Tradition with a specialty in Gentle Yoga in 2008. Recently, Roxanne wrote and produced “Stretch Breathe Relax” a dvd of gentle stretches, relaxations and breathing exercises, as well as a narrative on the eight rungs of Yoga, with goal of making yoga available to everyone.  She has taught “Boardroom Yoga” to executives at firms around the Twin Cities. Roxanne’s daughter, having grown up in the Tradition, is also a yoga instructor and her granddaughter began her yoga meditation and postures practice at the age of three.

Roxanne Currie, RYT 200

Paul Emerson

Paul Emerson is a biomedical engineer with a Ph.D. He is the authority on the physiology of breathing for The Meditation Center and has been teaching yoga for over 30 years. Paul has worked as a research scientist, has been a manager of clinical research with a major biomedical company and a university instructor. In addition, he holds eight patents in the areas of dialysis and sleep therapy. he is a scholar of ancient yoga texts. Paul was certified by the Rockford School of Yoga and began teaching in 1975.

Paul Emerson, PhD

Veena Haasl-Blilie

Initiated in the Himalayan Tradition in 1985 by Swami Veda, Veena has lived in the ashram on two occasions, completed the Teacher’s Training Program (TTP) in 1998, and completed the Teacher’s Training and STP Programs at the Himalayan Institute in Honesdale, PA. Veena has worked with The Center’s Board of Directors since 2001, becoming a member in 2002 and currently serves as its President. Veena holds a Master’s Degree in non-profit management and conflict resolution from Hamline University and prior to starting a family she was a director of MAP, a consulting firm that serves other non-profits.Veena is an Ayurvedic Practitioner providing consultations and treatments in NE Minneapolis and Stillwater, MN through Saumya Ayurveda.

Veena Haasl-Blilie

Daniel Hertz

Daniel Hertz has an MS Degree in Counseling and is a long-time employee of the Minneapolis Public Schools.  He has been giving Yoga and Meditation classes in the U.S., India, and Panama since 1995.  He is also Nationally Certified (BCIAC) as a Biofeedback Practitioner and offers individual Biofeedback sessions at the Meditation Center.  See the the Biofeedback link on the Center website for more informaton.  Daniel is the author of Swami Hari: I am a Simple Forest Monk, available at The Center’s bookstore and Amazon.com.  All proceeds go to SRIVERM, a vocational school in the Himalayas founded by Swami Hari.

Daniel Hertz, E-RYT 500

Brian Hoffman

Brian Hoffman began teaching Hatha and combined Yoga classes at the Mediation Center thirty years ago following initiation into the Himalayan Tradition by Swami Veda. Hatha and Meditation training began in 1978 through the gifts of several accomplished Yoga teachers and resulted in study at the Himalayan Institute in Honesdale PA. Additional learning in the systems of Tai Chi, Healing Energy, and Martial Arts provided further understanding into mind-breath-body understanding. As a graduate from the University of Minnesota, Brian continues work in public service management in the metropolitan area, providing opportunity for an occasional Yoga class in the City Council Chambers or around a conference table. 

Brian Hoffman

Rodney Huff

Rodney Huff first came to the Center in January of 2000 and quickly took as many classes as he could. Since then he has traveled to India to study at Sadhana Mandir and Sadhaka Grama in Rishikesh. He began teaching Hatha yoga in 2003 and has been a regular teacher of Hatha Yoga (I & II) as well as Meditation I. Rodney is grateful for the opportunity to teach at a place as special as the Meditation Center. The teachings he received transformed his life, and he hopes that each of his students can have an equally rewarding experience.

Rodney Huff

Jennifer Manion

Jennifer found the Meditation Center in 2007 and was initiated into the Himalayan tradition in 2008 by Pandit Hari Shankar Dabral. She has taught hatha as well as Meditation I, II and III at the center and in studios in the Twin Cities, and is continuing on with the 600-hr teacher training program of the Association of Himalayan Yoga Meditation Societies International. She has served on the center’s board.
Jennifer earned her MA and PhD at the Johns Hopkins University, and has taught philosophy and women’s studies to college students in Minnesota and the East Coast. She has a particular interest in mantra practice and science, as well as the metaphysics, epistemology and philosophy of language underlying ancient Yogic texts.

Jennifer Manion, RYT 200

Signe Martel

Signe Martel has been practicing yoga since the 1980s. She became kalyanamitra (spiritual friends) with Rosann Chamberlain at Teacher’s Training in 2001, when they discovered they’d grown up 10 miles from each other near La Crosse, WI.  Together they teach the Wednesday morning Gentle Yoga class. Join this Wednesday group for a truly relaxing experience!

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Sig Martel

Eric Ness

Eric Ness has been teaching meditation and yoga for over ten years.  His teaching is based on the experiences that he had while immersed in a meditational environment.  He deepened his study of meditation while participating in the residential program at the Meditation Center.  He also trained for three years at the Swami Rama Institute for Meditation in India.  His calm teaching style brings students the tools they need to move toward a peaceful state of mind.

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Eric Ness

 Nicole Roberts

Nicole Roberts has been a guiding yoga since 2010. She got her first 250 hr teacher training at Joos Yoga in Saskatchewan, Canada.  Nicole recently obtained her second 250 hr teacher training though the Himalayan Yoga Tradition at the Meditation Center. Currently, Nicole is on the Thursday night rotation of Hatha guides. Outside of the Center, Nicole is a Social Worker and enjoys partnering to do the subtle but profound pranayama and joints/glands series with her clients. Nicole is certified RYT 200 through Yoga Alliance. Nicole is a Himalayan Tradition initiate through Linda Billau.

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Nicole Roberts, RYT 200

Jesse Tordsen

Jesse Tordsen is a certified yoga teacher, RYT 230, and has been teaching since 2013. He was initiated into the tradition by Pandit Dabral in 2014. Jesse’s journey began through the practice of zen Buddhism and martial arts over 15 years ago which lead him to achieving a black belt degree in taekwondo and his practice inevitably lead him to yoga. Jesse has always been athletic by nature and is focused on  living his truth through yoga.  Jesse is passionate about hiking, camping and being submersed in nature.  He was a certified rock climbing guide in his past and continues to explore the great outdoors.

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Jesse Tordsen, RYT 230