Some might think of yoga as something that the young enjoy, but Steven Bleeke, 65, of Dayton, knows otherwise. A father of two with three grandchildren, Bleeke didn’t find yoga until 2000 when a friend invited him over to see an introductory yoga DVD. He also teaches a free one-hour meditation class at The Hithergreen Center in Centerville.
“I immediately recognized that this was what I’d been looking for my entire life,” said Bleeke, who began studying Hata Yoga under Jaggi Vasudev, also called Sadhguru. “I started seeking and what I have found is that when you are seeking you actually manifest what you seek in your life.”
Bleeke graduated from Westfield High School in New Jersey before moving to Ohio to study theater at Heidelberg College in Tiffin. He earned a follow-on fellowship in theater at Wayne State University in Detroit, Mich., but decided to change his major to Recreation after realizing the importance of play in one’s life. He moved to Dayton where he worked in the City Recreation Department for eight years before accepting a position in The Dayton City Schools where he worked as a systems analyst and programmer for 24 years before retiring.
Bleeke began studying under Sadhguru attending his programs at the nonprofit Isha Foundation in Nashville, Tenn. In addition to his yoga training in Tennessee, Bleeke took classes in Columbus and has traveled to India four times to study the classical Hata yoga taught by Sadhguru. A great challenge was the teacher training course that pitted Bleeke against classmates who were much younger. Bleeke persevered and completed the 21-week course and then went on to open his own nonprofit Dayton business, Spiritual Yoga of Southwest Ohio (spiritualyoga-swohio.org) at 1105 Yorkshire Place in 2013.
“I’m a conduit for the Sadhguru, but I package what I teach in different ways to target different groups,” said Bleeke, who teaches yoga camps for children and groups for pregnant mothers, corporate executives and seniors. “It helps with memory loss prevention and improves flexibility and balance. The physical part of yoga supports meditation, because when you’re stressed and stiff, it’s hard to get into meditation.”
Bleeke emphasizes that guidance and instruction are essential in order to apply skills that will leave people with a sense of well being.
“I’ve found the real purpose for my life,” said Bleeke, who finds satisfaction in partnering with Sadhguru. “I just want to make sure that everyone has a positive experience from yoga. The response from people has been very positive and I have a full class and I’m really having fun.”