Originally from France, Swami Atma discovered yoga in the early 80s. At that time he became a vegetarian and gradually learned yoga in the tradition of Swami Sivananda Saraswati of Rishikesh.
At first progress was slow as he did not have a live teacher but studied with the excellent books of famous author and teacher Andre Van Lysebeth: "J'apprends le yoga" (Yoga Self Taught), "Je perfectionne mon yoga" and "Pranayama, la dynamique du souffle".
In the mid eighties he stepped up his practice by taking a couple courses in Spain with Andre Van Lysebeth himself. Around that time he also became involved with kriya yoga and was initiated in Paris by Swami Shankarananda Giri and Swami Hariharananda Giri, the latter being a direct disciple of Sri Yukteswar and Paramahamsa Yogananda.
Meeting the Master
The turning point of Swami's spiritual life came in January 1987 at which time he took the International Sivananda Yoga Teachers Training Course (TTC) in Neyyar Dam, Kerala, South India. This powerful immersion program had a profound effect on his mind and during the flight back to France, he clearly knew that he was to become a yoga teacher as his main vocation.
The highlight of the experience was the meeting with his guru, Swami Vishnu-devanandaji, founder/director of the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centers (ISYVC). The connection he felt with the great Master was at once intimate and remote, friendly and severe, cheerful, joyful, wisdom-filled, emotionless and yet very emotional.
The combined effects of the TTC course and the meetings with his guru prompted Swami Atma to fully dedicate himself to the Sivananda path of yoga.
That year he met Swamiji - as Swami Vishnu is referred to by his disciples - two more times for programs in Paris and Blois, France. The combined effects of the TTC course and the meetings with his guru prompted Swami Atma to fully dedicate himself to the Sivananda path of yoga and he has not looked back since.
After the TTC he gradually got more involved with the Paris Sivananda Yoga center, traveling there from Normandy about once a month. This led to the next natural step: joining the ISYVC as a volunteer staff member.
There he trained with senior swamis and disciples of Swami Vishnu-devananda for over twelve years. This included rigorous training in the yoga of synthesis of Swami Sivananda with a marked emphasis on karma yoga.
He received mantra initiation in August 1988 and sannyas initiation in December 1991, both from Swami Vishnu-devanandaji.
In the ISYVC, Swami Atma was trained in a variety of Karma Yogas which led him to direct the Chicago and Los Angeles branches for quite some years.
In December 2000 he left the Sivananda Organization and soon after this, founded the Advaita Yoga Ashrama (AYA) and its web site, Yoga108.org. The AYA has now several affiliated teachers in Texas, Pennsylvania, Australia and the Netherlands.
Swami Atma has taught Hatha Yoga, Bhagavad Gita, meditation and philosophy in teachers training courses in California, Upstate New York, Bahamas, Germany, Costa Rica, Canada and India.
These courses have been organized by the ISYVC, Yoga Vidya, the Texas Yoga & Ayurveda Institute and Yoga Rasa.
He presently resides in Europe and travels around the world to lead retreats, workshops and teacher training courses. He will move to Slovakia in November '08. Please see his travel itinerary for more details.