Cleveland Is My “Ommm.” A Yogi Reflects on the Region

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The electric energy and powerful collective breath that occurred on that warm summer evening was beyond magical.

Can you feel that?  That humming, buzzing, positive vibration our corner of Ohio is giving off?  You may have felt the seismic shift a few weeks ago with the RNC decision, Lebron’s return and the positivity surrounding the Gay Games.  But Cleveland and this entire region have been going through an exhilarating evolution for some time now.  Emerging new businesses are filled with notable passion and you can’t go anywhere these days without seeing a tshirt that boasts Cleveland pride. This elevation of positive energy is radiating through the streets of our beloved city and soon there will be no way to escape it.

It is rare that an idea that starts with the question “what if?” turns into something brilliant but when it does, it can take the world, or a rustbelt city on the lake, by storm.  That is exactly what has happened with the Believe in CLE yoga movement happening in Northeast Ohio.  Believers, Tammy Lyons, owner of Inner Bliss Yoga Studio and Adam Tilocco of Lululemon Athletica Eton-Chagrin proposed this exact question and after hard work, strong partnerships, and a lot of love, Believe in CLE came to fruition last summer.  Believe in CLE has committed itself to raising the vibe in our city by collaborating with local yoga studios, businesses and creative spaces all over the city to host events that are filled with yoga, music, art, education, food, and most importantly, believers from Northeast Ohio and beyond.

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As a native Clevelander and avid yogi, I was immediately drawn to this concept and eagerly signed up for the first Believe in CLE event last August 2013 at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  The electric energy and powerful collective breath that occurred on that warm summer evening was beyond magical. Tammy Lyons led a 75 minute vinyasa flow class that sent a life affirming spark of inspiration through all of the glowing participants.  I didn’t know the other 1,400 people present that night but I felt connected to them through this empowering practice.  As I posed in downward facing dog and looked up at the Cleveland skyline, my heart overflowed with love for this city and the future it holds for me and everyone else who comes here to live, work and play.  I knew that if this event were to happen again, I had to be a part of it somehow.  I anxiously waited to receive email updates and social media postings about the evolving Believe in CLE and then signed up for their next event February 2014 at the Cleveland Museum of Art.  This event was smaller, a mere 850 yogis filled the epic atrium but the abundance of hope and love filled each corner of that space as we breathed together as one for Cleveland. Believe in CLE went on to have another more intimate event at 78th Street Studios in March 2014 and then announced their second Rock and Roll Hall of Fame experience on June 2014. In one year, the question of “what if” transformed an idea into an unstoppable movement of positive energy elevating our city.

On August 8th, Believe in CLE held another momentous event in collaboration with Land Studio and Aha! Event that attracted thousands of believers to Mall B in the heart of downtown Cleveland.  As blissful greeters welcomed yogis and guests of the International Gay Games 9 to this peaceful space, spectators and food trucks lined the mall.  Yoga mats began to spread out across the grassy knoll while many popped into poses and smiles at the #ThisisCLE display by Positively Cleveland. The Cleveland pride was glowing and I knew right away this event was going to be more magical than ever.

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Cleveland Police Deputy Chief, Ed Tomba began by inspiring the sea of believers with his authentic words from the heart about how he found yoga as a mode of self-care to cope with his challenging yet rewarding work of protecting our city. He left us with the classic yet appropriate reminder of “don’t stop believing” as the sun radiantly set into Lake Erie.

As we began to flow and glow together with guidance from Believe in CLE co-founders Adam and Tammy, the initial question of “what if?” began to echo off the surrounding Cleveland landmarks.  What if we believed in our own strength?  What if we embraced ourselves exactly how we are?  And what if we did the same for our city?  As these questions lingered in the air above the space we practiced, the amazing illumination of Aha! Festival of Lights began to jet across the sky in a rainbow colored spectrum.  As I lay on my mat, softened by the grass below me, streaks of light above me, I couldn’t help but feel grateful. For those who believe in me, who believe in my neighbors, and for those who believe in Cleveland.

You might not think to spend your Friday night doing sun salutations or breaking into a dance party after savasana let alone trying yoga for the first time. But for what it’s worth, I hope you give it shot. It’s not about the ability to bend but your willingness to open your heart and mind to possibility.  Take a chance on yoga, take a chance on yourself, take a chance on your city.  I guarantee you’ll leave as a believer.

For more information about Believe in CLE and to register for their Friday, August 8th event visit www.believeincle.com.

Katie is an active young professional and proud Clevelander. When not working to create positive change in communities, she enjoys celebrating and exploring the many facets of this great city.  You can find Katie riding to the beat at Hingetown’s Harness Cycle, shopping with friends at the Cleveland Flea, or enjoying a delicious scoop of Mitchell’s Ice Cream by the shores of Lake Erie.  Katie shares her journey and adventures of cultivating love everywhere in Cleveland and beyond through her Instagram account, @cleverincleveland.