Mindful Monday: Learning to Let Go


Why is it so difficult to detach? From things, situations, people. Walking away is always hard because you don’t know what lies ahead. It’s a big risk!! You could be leaving “good enough” for “way worse”!!!

However, in choosing to stay in a less than ideal, uplifting, nurturing, inspiring situation, fear is your captor. And the greater risk is in never having tried; never having had the courage; and most importantly, never trusting in a higher power and purpose to lead and support you.

It may seem safer to remain in a known environment than risk the possibility of ending up with less than you started with. You may feel more in control of your life and feel you have more certainty and stability. Unfortunately, security and safety are states of mind – intangible concepts that are not guaranteed to any human being walking this earth. We all know life can change in an instant – and the mediocrity that we have been clinging to can be snatched from our grasp, leaving us empty handed.

On the flip side, being willing to trade in all you have and all that you have become for just a shot at the opportunity for true fulfillment, purpose, motivation, passion and freedom seems less of a gamble in the bigger picture! Look at your life backwards; how do you want your children and grandchildren to remember you and eulogize you? What will your legacy be? How will you explain your life to your Source after all is said and done?

We are all magnificent, unique manifestations of God’s purpose for us. Yet we spend so much time conforming: seeking approval from others, trying to impress them, wanting their acceptance, that we stifle the very uniqueness that makes us special and relevant.

Your journey has led you to exactly where you are destined to be right now. While you cannot predict the future,  security comes from within and is not attached to what you possess. As we continually listen to our inner voices, we can focus on fulfillment rather than “success.” And you will never look back with regret and longing for what might have been. Trust in the power and beauty of your dreams.

Mindful Monday: It’s OK to Have a Bad Day


I had a really crappy day last Monday. I didn’t wake up late and sleep through my alarm. I didn’t spill my coffee. I wasn’t late for work. I didn’t get into any disagreements with friends or co-workers. Traffic was just fine. The weather was gorgeous. It wasn’t hormonal. My teenager was at his standard level of disdain for me.

I couldn’t attribute my “blues” to anything external. It was just a rare day where I was feeling a bit down and depressed and hopeless. And the universe didn’t even afford me the luxury of having someone or something to blame it on!

But this is LIFE. Nobody ever promised us that all days would be happy and sunny and perfect. That would be great, but wouldn’t that get a teeny bit boring? How would we ever find opportunities to grow and to learn and to experience a full spectrum of human emotions and experiences?

And most importantly, how else could we experience REALITY – exactly as it is, not how we think it SHOULD be or COULD be or HAS to be. Reality exactly as it is, with each breath and each moment.

Our yoga practice is unfortunately not a magic elixir to make life become PERFECT, filled with rainbows and unicorns. It is a tool that we can use to get better at living life. It helps us learn to be more accepting and more aware and more compassionate, first with ourselves and then with those we love, those who challenge us, those who hurt and annoy us, even those who are strangers to us.

Yoga teaches us to accept that some days we may feel a little blue. The work is in finding equilibrium – working so hard to stay grounded through the constant fluctuations life throws at us! Working so hard to be compassionate with ourselves during those days. And remembering we don’t have to fix it or change it or manipulate it or force it into something else.

So I am very grateful when those blue days come along. Grateful that they are few and far between. Grateful that they help me appreciate the sunny, joyful days even more. Grateful that they teach me humility and compassion and a way to connect to others when they walk through the doors having a “bad” day.

The truth is there is no such thing as a bad day – waking up and being able to move and love and feel and practice yoga is always a great day. Some days we are challenged to grow. Some days we get to sit back and experience the sweetness of life. But each and every day is a blessing. So the next time you have one of those days, be kind to yourself! It’s not the day to make major life decisions; it’s a day to slow down, be more mindful and look for things to be grateful for.

Happy (or maybe not so happy) Monday, friends!



Corpse Pose, Savasana

October is here and with it a crispness to the air and the beginning of the holiday season! As the days get shorter and our schedules busier, it’s important to remember to take time for self-care. Which leads us to The Pose of the Month! Corpse pose is the culmination of your practice, and represents an opportunity to start fresh after each and every practice.

Here’s how to enjoy your Savasana:

  • Lie flat on your back with your arms and legs relaxed by your sides
  • As you unwind, allow your feet and hands to softly fall open
  • Soften around your eyes and relax your jaw
  • Allow your breath to become natural
  • Rest in the warm embrace of your practice

Benefits include:

  • Relieves stress and mild depression
  • Allows your body to relax
  • Helps alleviate migraines, fatigue and insomnia

“Within you there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself.” – Hermann Hesse

"Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”

― F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Mindful Monday: To Everything There is a Season

Happy Mindful Monday, my radiant YBD tribe! I’m stepping in to write our weekly blog post for the time being so that our lovely Carla has more time and energy for her gorgeous son Malcolm.

As always, so much goodness is happening in our yoga community. Nearly 30 dedicated yogis gathered during the Autumn Equinox at our Wheaton studio and busted out 108 sun salutations! What an amazing evening of effort, devotion, sweat, smiles, magic and so much love! And some pretty sore hamstrings and abs the morning after, for sure.

While some of us may mourn the end of summer’s long, sunny days, there is so much to celebrate about Autumn: pumpkin ANYTHING; football; apple picking; apple cider; the advent of the holiday season; haunted houses; fireplaces; hay rides; crisper, cooler air; daylight savings time; boots, sweaters and jackets; and the most breathtaking time of year to witness nature’s final blaze of glory.

As always, we seek to find BALANCE each day, and it’s particularly important to feel rooted and grounded during this blustery season of transition. We are shifting from the fire of summer to the  cooling of fall and winter.

We are moving from:

Sun to Moon
Light to Dark
Yang to Yin
Fire to Water and Air
Growth to Hibernation
Building up to Letting go
Movement to Stillness
Outer Achievements to Inner Reflection
Action to Contemplation

This week, try to carve out some time for inner reflection, perhaps while walking through nature. Some points to contemplate:

Where am I currently? Emotionally, physically, spiritually, financially
Which seeds did I plant in the spring?
What harvest am I currently reaping?
Which seeds never took root?
How will I find balance in these opposites?
Which routines do I have to keep myself nurtured, nourished and grounded?
What must I shed and release? Those things that do not ELEVATE me. Habits, relationships, thought patterns

“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”  – F. Scott Fitzgerald


Meet Indre, YBD Teacher of the Month

Where do we begin the list of wonderful things about this yogi? Indre is one of our managers and instructors at YBD’s newest South Naperville location. Indre is the heart and soul of the Bikram practice at Yoga By Degrees. Her strength coupled with her kindness provides a space for practitioners to find their best selves both on and off the mat. If you haven’t tried YBD’s newest class offering, the traditional Bikram series, come visit South Naperville and take Indre’s class soon! Her schedule varies but here’s when you can find her next week:

Wednesday, October 5th 4:00 & 6:00

Thursday, October 6th 10:am

Friday, October 14th 5:30am

See her full schedule here:



Get to know Indre:

When and how did you come to yoga?

I took my very first hatha yoga class in 2008 due to the intention of spiritual growth. My body was fine, but my soul was longing for meaning. The ideas of Eastern pfilosophy has always been intriguing to me, therefore starting my own yoga pratice seemed like a great way to elevate my knowledg from books into a experiential and more tangible level.

Why did you start teaching yoga?

Discovering Bikram yoga has changed my attitude towards life forever. Practicing yoga has helped me to live my life in a more healthy and happy kind of way. I am so grateful for this opportunity to share my passion with others. I have completed an intense Bikram Yoga teacher tarining in 2013 and have been teaching yoga since. I wanted to pass along the power of yoga because western culture is so attached to the idea of searching for  happiness outside. We live in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, however we are far away from being the happiest. Various addictions and depression is like a highly contagious virus. How come? What are we missing out? If you have no idea, get yourself into a yoga class to find out.

What is your favorite pose?

My favorite pose changes from time to time. At the moment I really enjoy practicing triangle posture. Different variations of this asana helps not to only open up the hips more, but also strengthens every major muscle group of the human body.

Who inspires your teaching?

My students. The commitment to their yoga practice inspires me to be on my own mat as often as possible.

Tips for beginners…

Keep your mind opened – the body will follow. Breathing and alignment comes first, the depth will come with time. Be your best friend, not your worst enemy.

What’s your favorite quote?

“The bird of wisdom needs two wings to fly. They are awareness and equanimity.” S.N. Goenka

Mindful Monday: Don’t Quit

Happy Monday!

Every once in awhile you need to reroute. And I don’t just mean turning another direction, or getting off the train for a minute to wait for an express, but rather jumping tracks entirely. A new destination.

This can be scary. New faces, new scenery, maybe a fresh intention for living altogether.

Newness sometimes causes us to abandon our soul work. How many projects left unfinished? Slightly broken friendships never tended to? Half-read books? A goal unachieved?

Fresh is good. If you need to hop tracks, do it. You can still keep your integrity on a freshly paved route by bringing unfinished work with you. Take caution not to let a new decision or forward-moving vision cause you to leave really important or unfinished matters in the other lane. Pick a new path with the intention to reroute, but not as an escape route. Dealing with current hurts and pains is difficult, but not impossible. Go slowly & don’t quit.


Mindful Monday: Soul Work

Happy Labor Day, mindful community!

In spirit of the holiday, it’s the perfect time to reflect not just on your 9-5, or the title on your business card, or how many years of schooling you’ve had, or what you do day in and day out that yields a paycheck. Sure, these things are important, and maybe they even contribute in some way to our sense of being and pride. Today’s a celebration of the working masses, but let’s redefine that a bit.

Who are you?

Odds are, when asked, one of the first ways you’d answer this question is with your work role. Teacher. Mother. Lawyer. Union worker. Athlete. Chef. Nurse. Analyst. Salesperson. Office clerk. Waiter. Customer service rep. And so on…

But, who are you?

If you’re attending weekly classes, or into personal development, or consider yourself spiritual on any level, or have ever contemplated your existence, you’re already probably able to take this question a bit further.

Today, let’s celebrate the fruit of our labor on a deeper level, by the things we do every day that start a ripple of change or make someone smile. This is where the real work comes in. The soul work. Write out your gifts, and then go out and create something. We bring energy to everything we do. The conversations we have, the meals we cook, any big or small task we perform. When it comes to soul work though, merely getting the job done isn’t always enough. Consider the energy you’re putting into everything you do. There is honor in all work, in all tasks, and in all the things we create. Today, make it a labor of love.

And, to celebrate the one week anniversary of my own labor of love, meet the newest addition to our growing Yoga By Degrees family, Baby Malcolm:

image1 (6)

Alex TOM

Meet Alex L., YBD Teacher of the Month!

We are so lucky to have Alex L. teaching at Yoga By Degrees. He comes to our YBD community from teaching in Missouri and we couldn’t be happier about it! He greets everyone he meets with his cheerful smile and kind presence. That positive energy is brought with him into all of the classes he teaches. If you haven’t gotten a chance to take one of his classes, it is a must!

Check out his permanent schedule:


6:00am YBD 1 95 Degrees Elmhurst

12:00pm YBD 1 85 Degrees Downers Grove

1:30pm YBD HOT 105 Degrees Downers Grove


1:30pm YBD 2 95 Glen Ellyn


6:00am YBD 2 95 Degrees Elmhurst

8:30am YBD 1 85 Degrees Elmhurst

6:00pm YBD 2 95 Degrees Downers Grove

8:00pm YBD 1 85 Degrees Downers Grove


6:00pm YBD 2 95 Degrees Western Springs


Get to know Alex:

When and how did you come to yoga?

I started practicing yoga about 5 years ago when I was going to school in Columbia, Missouri. A hot studio opened in my neighborhood that combined both styles of vinyasa and Bikram, although at the time I had no idea what that meant. None the less, I started practicing regularly and became hooked on the benefits, both physically and mentally. 

Why did you start teaching yoga?

I decided to go through teacher training as a way to deepen my own practice. I had only been practicing about a year and I was eager to learn more. The studio I had been attending was holding a month intensive 200 hour training and things just started to fall in place, so I went with it. I wanted to learn more about yoga philosophy and anatomy so I could guide others on their own yoga journey. 

What is your favorite pose? 

I have many, but my favorite are the warriors. They’re such strong and powerful poses that make me feel grounded and connected to something bigger. 

Who inspires your teaching? 

I pull inspiration from a variety of places including my family, friends, peers, and personal experiences, but my main source is whoever shows up for class. I always have a few things in mind for class, the rest is reading the room and trying to incorporate what each individual student wants for class, or more importantly, what they need. Finding a balance between pushing their limitations and finding comfort and control in each posture. 

Tips for beginners… 

Just keep showing up. Yoga is a life long journey that is different for everyone. Simply by being present on your mat you’ll learn and grow in your own way. 

What’s your favorite quote?

“…and the tree was happy.” –Shell Silverstein, The Giving Tree

jill bridge

September Pose of the Month: Bridge

Bridge Pose, Setu Bandhasana

September is a great time to open up and prepare the body for seasonal changes. Bridge pose is an amazing place to open the heart and throat chakras. Here’s how you do it:

  • Lie on your back
  • Plant the soles of your feet at hips distance
  • Reach your hands toward your feet and raise your hips
  • Clasp your hands under your hips and press them into the earth
  • Lengthen your neck
  • Option to raise your leg!

Benefits include:

  • Extends your thoracic spine
  • Lengthens your hip flexors
  • Opens your shoulders and chest
  • Calms your mind and reduces anxiety


Mindful Monday: Weekly Reminder

This is your Monday morning reminder that you can handle whatever this week throws at you!

Important deadline gets moved? No problem.

5 minutes late to yoga class? We forgive you.

Caught at every red light? Make a wish every time you’re at a pause. You’re okay.

Spill your drink on the floor? Happens all the time.

Accidentally scream at your kids when they’re misbehaving? Have you been told this week what a rockstar parent you are? Because you are.

Someone cuts you off in the parking lot? You meant to let them through anyway.

Major headache and the start of a change-in-seasons cold? This too shall pass.

Friend cancels plans? Hey, didn’t you need to do that other thing anyway?

Today is Monday, and a beautiful, glorious, new start for us all. Who knows what this week will bring, and why does it really matter? Wake up and think for just a moment what a gift it is to be alive. You are beautiful. You are loved. You are doing the best you can. You are worthy. You can do it!