At Yogatomics in Mystic, cleanse the mind and feel the beat

At Yogatomics in Mystic, cleanse the mind and feel the beat

The Westerly Sun

STONINGTON — James Conlan is turning traditional yoga practices upside down.

Not only does he offer therapeutic yoga done in an anti-gravitational trapeze, he produces percussion-based, healing sounds that he calls theracoustics, which vibrate through the body during yoga practice.

“I’m a percussionist so I teach classes with about 40 different instruments,” he said. “When people are on their mats practicing, I’m playing the singing bowl or the djembe or a shaker instrument or something that correlates with what’s happening in the classroom, and they can feel the vibration through their bodies in different postures.” The djembe is a goblet-shaped drum.

Conlan, 49, is the owner of Yogatomics Training and Wellness, which he opened in 2015 in a collaboration with Mystic Shala Yoga. The two studios have separate entrances, one in the front and one in the back of 80 Stonington Road in Mystic, and the spaces connect with a 4,000-square-foot complex on the second floor that includes a large outdoor deck. Amy Zezulka, owner of the shala, is also Conlan’s life partner, and he helped her design and build her yoga studio, where he also teaches.

The shala, which began in 2006, is an official Baptiste Studio following the tenets of the Baron Baptiste Power Vinyasa method. This is a type of hot yoga, performed in a room heated to 90 degrees with 40 to 60 percent humidity.

“People feel cleaner, more detoxified after a hot, sweaty yoga class,” he said. “It also challenges the mind more because you’re thinking, oh my god, I’m sweating, oh my god, it’s hot in here — we’re really working on calming our minds in the practice.”

Conlan studied with Baron Baptiste for five years, beginning in 2008. “I probably have about over 1,000 hours directly with Baron Baptiste and I have thousands and thousands of hours teaching,” said Conlan, who also practices and teaches meditation.

He calls Yogatomics, with its atomic-style logo design, the arts and sciences division of the shala, with “om” in the middle.

“I teach teacher trainings over here, we have meditation over here, hand-drumming, the yoga trapeze, massage therapy,” he said. “It’s really to provide more service to our existing clients at Mystic Yoga Shala but also to introduce a whole new client base with the services that we offer — we have the cool temperature, more gentle classes, the meditation aspect, so it’s a much more well-balanced space throughout.”

Conlan said he discovered his passion for yoga after bartending for 13 years at Mohegan Sun. He was one of the original employees in 1996.

“I was there for so long but I was tired of the lifestyle, tired of being inside in that environment, I’m more of a child of nature,” he said. Before that he served four years in the U.S. Air Force as an avionics technician.

Among its benefits, yoga is an antidote to the fast pace of today’s technology, he said.

“In our age of information and digital world, it’s very important to maintain a barefoot practice because the pace of the world is moving so fast and more and more people are being drawn to this practice because they can’t keep up with all the information their mind is trying to absorb,” he said. “They need to purge and cleanse and surrender a little bit and that’s what this practice is all about.”

For the yoga novice, Conlan advises, “Just drop your fear and walk in the door for the first time, put out your hand and say hello.”

Fear is the most challenging part of any yoga practice, he said.

“Most people fear what they don’t understand and that fear is what keeps them from trying something new,” he said. “The whole point of this practice is to shed that fear and the first step is to walk in the door and get on a yoga mat.”

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