Jai Ram Om--born in New Orleans as Joseph Hartel--developed a heightened interest in the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas while completing his MA in Philosophy at Marquette University. He took his zeal to Rome, Italy where he earned a PhL and PhD, respectively, in 1983 and 1988 from the Pontifical Gregorian University.
Later while teaching Asian philosophy at Divine Word College in Epworth, Iowa, Joseph discovered a thirst to learn about Buddhist and Vedic Philosophy. In 2004 he attended a Ram Dass retreat that changed his life. He traveled to India and met with KK Shah and Siddhi Ma, two longtime devotees of Maharajji Neem Karoli Baba, and in the spring of 2007, he received the name of JaiRam from Siddhi Ma.
Upon his return to the states, he began an intense study of yoga, receiving 200-hour certification each from Sri Dharma Mittra in NYC and Srivasta Ramaswami in LA. In 2012, Jai Ram received the last name Om from Sri Dharma Mittra. He subsequently completed 500-hour certification training at Satchidananda Ashram in Virginia in 2015.
As a 500-hour, registered yoga teacher with Yoga Alliance, Jai Ram has brought his skills to the Dubuque community since 2007. Besides leading Hatha yoga classes at the Dubuque YWCA/YMCA and teaching the Bhagavad Gita at Body & Soul Wellness Center, he continues shaping young minds as an Associate Professor of philosophy at Divine Word College.