There’s an awakening on State Route 51 east of Toledo and west of the Lake Erie Islands in a rural community called Genoa. An RN, and mother, experienced what she describes as a Lakshmi moment and is in the process of developing 33-acres of the family farm into a plot of land that promises healing with a yoga studio and future plans for composting and organic vegetables. On this International Yoga Day we are given a glimpse at how the comics are coming into alignment.

The Property

“My husband’s family farms and they wanted to ensure businesses and industry aren’t going up across the street where their grandson is growing up,” owner Heather Zeller explains.

The yoga property sits on 500-acres and students can delight themselves with wildlife sightings as they become ever the more mindful with mantras. On this particular day we saw a groundhog and rabbit scamper by.

Statues of the Hindu gods greet students.

Statues of the Hindu gods greet students.

Colored squares of fabric showcased above the statue outline the seven chakras. In the Indian culture they believe these are spiritual power points through which our energy flows.

“Just coming onto the property promotes a feeling of serenity,” Zeller outlines. “It’s really hard to be here and not be connected with nature. That alone starts to put you into that meditative mindset. It’s also a lot different than walking onto a yoga studio in a busy shopping center situated between a hair salon and a movie theater. I’m not knocking that experience. It’s great to have yoga everywhere. This is an opportunity to bring  people into a rural setting to integrate their practice with nature that takes us to the next level.”

Zeller believes Lakshmi came and said, "here ya go. Enjoy!"

Zeller believes Lakshmi came and said, “here ya go. Enjoy!”

Zeller the Visionary

Heather Zeller is a petite nurse by day and lifelong student. She works as an Registered Nurse and has about two decades of experience in mental and psychiatric nursing. She also works with women in addiction recovery at an alcohol and drug treatment center offering metaphysical counseling, reiki and hypnotherapy.

On the day we gathered material she appeared utterly and effortlessly comfortable in her long, black patterned yoga pants, Flashdance-style one-shoulder marbled top and with Mala Tulsi beads draped loosely around her neck hanging down to her sternum.

A bindi is permanently tattooed on her third eye center.

A bindi is permanently tattooed on her third eye center.

“The bindi shows that as a yogini I am seeing life from a spiritual perspective. I’m committed to a path of dharma,” she clarifies from her space on the red yoga mat.

More tattoos sprawl from her knuckles down her forearm and onto her collar bone to her back and beyond in what she refers to as her living sarcophagus.

“I equate this to what Egyptians do at the time of death. On their sarcophagus there would be different pictures of their life and pictures of gods and goddesses and those pictures are what would carry them into the next life. For me every piece of art is connected to my spirituality and my journey; huge lessons, blessings and heartache,” Zeller speaks to what we can all relate to.

The Yogis and Yoginis

Dressed in purple yoga pants that resemble a constellation in the sky and black tank top with a Fitbit fastened to her wrist observers wouldn’t reckon Rebekah Schwab, a resident of Genoa, Ohio, is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran.

During boot camp she fell off of an obstacle course on Parris Island during boot camp and busted up the bone in her spine.

“My back injury has given me a curvature of my spine. Then this past April I felt the calling to work on inversions. I’ve been working on them for two months now and am getting back into alignment and finding that inner space space to connect. This is an onward journey,” Schwab supplies.

Her interest in the practice began in 2008. For the past two years she’s been showing up regularly on the mat and believes there is healing in the holistic practice.

“My friends told me I needed this and that’s when the practice clicked for me. This is a mind, spirit and body coming together in this healing atmosphere.”

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Schwab is securing her education at Heidelberg University in Tiffan with a major in History and Minor in Archaeology. She is spiritual years beyond her young age having been raised in a Christian non-denominational home. There has always been a very spiritual aspect to her life. She was encouraged to study world religion and visit synagogues.

Tattoos of her Marine experience and Christian upbringing cover her limbs. They depict POG lifeTuefel HundenRose of Sharon, the Song of Solomon and other symbols deeply rooted in theology.

“This one reads, ‘I will go,'” Schwab describes what her ink illustrates, “every woman’s story in the bible she says to step out in your calling, to your dharma.”

She doesn’t know what career path she’ll take upon graduation, but is committed to becoming a certified instructor with hopes to hold a veterans’ yoga night.

Schwab is stoic, “all of us come back with turmoil from deployment or the transition of getting out and going in. Right now twenty-two veterans commit suicide per day. My hope is to give them a place of safety to connect with themselves and find a place of healing.”

Spouses will be encouraged to join with proceeds going to the 22 Foundation.

The Lessons

In this space do not be surprised for a twenty to thirty minute psychology session between you, Zeller and the other yogis and yoginis to take place. This given session equanimity, or the ability to hold even mindedness (peace) in all situations, was the core class focus.

Schwab shares her exploration into this, “this is fun to talk about because for the last two months I have started to practice. There’s something to learn here and I am going to go into this with grace and stay on an equal level.”

The practice may sound simple but in the world we are all constantly tested to hold our space, which is easy when practicing together with like-minded individuals where the energy field supports your own.

Enter Zeller, “the paradigm world doesn’t support this focus. The world is very materially focused and very egocentric. The small eye is ruling. We’re coming up against that energy. Whether we’re in a traffic jam, in a line at the store, or we’re dealing with family members. Our practice allows us to hold that space. We learn who we really are. We learn we don’t have to respond to all of the negative stimulus the way that we used to.”

She points out that if we begin to navigate our karma, even stressful periods can bear spiritual fruit and allow us to grow. This is more peaceful than trying to find a recipe to escape your destiny because of your own behavior. We are programmed to cling to past pleasure and pleasurable experiences as well as avoid those that are painful.

IMG_6836Yoga becomes tangible when students realize they can tap into a higher power that is within them and not an esoteric or abstract idea. Genetic programming can be changed by influencing the energy fields around us. We can turn proteins around us off and on by the foods we eat and mindfulness, or consciousness we practice.

“When were not in alignment,” Zeller expresses the rococo of yoga, “we are functioning from the reactive receiver. For most of our lives we have built our responses out of recreating pleasurable experiences or avoiding displeasureable experiences and people. If we are not present we are responding to every situation and not living in equanimity.”

Chanting positive mantras, exercising, eating clean unprocessed food and reacting to situations in a conscious state of mind versus using the subconscious wired with old reactive, negative programming are the main keys to building a positive well-being.

Zeller takes the class to Schedel Arboretum and Gardens in Elmore at 6:30 pm every Thursday evening. For other class times check the Mindbody ap or visit her on the web. See you on the mats!

Om Shanti Om. My soul honors your soul.

Om Shanti Om. My soul honors your soul.

Josie is a former tv anchorwoman and award-winning journalist. She has USF course credit in Religions of India, studied Catholicism on the island of Islamorada and spent two years studying theology in the basement of Cleveland's St. John's Cathedral.

Josie is a former tv anchorwoman and award-winning journalist. She has USF course credit in Religions of India, studied Catholicism on the island of Islamorada and spent two years studying theology in the basement of Cleveland’s St. John’s Cathedral.

Make sure you read the Forward for definitions of the complexity of this article. If you have a story idea you’d like to share, you can email her at josie@josiekoler.com 

 


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