Mindful Monday: Shattered Pieces

“For a star to be born, there is one thing that must happen: a gaseous nebula must collapse. So collapse. Crumble. This is not your destruction. This is your birth.” -Unknown

May you rise with a fresh perspective today. Of course it’s easy to feel somewhat hopeless when you’re surrounded by your own shattered pieces. Sometimes we look around and the pieces are all we see. Where’s the connecting thread? How can we ever pull our pieces back together into something that makes sense, something with purpose, something new?

Just remember that there are pieces to every whole, and while “whole” infers complete, every single tiny piece has great contributing significance. Don’t worry about how the pieces come together. Think about sitting down to put together a 1000+ piece jigzaw puzzle. Maybe you have a strategy. You group all the border pieces together first, or your start making piles of like colors. I bet even with a strategy in place, you find that pieces start to come together outside of the plan. Stop worrying about how they will come together. Work joyfully and patiently with the piece(s) that are right in front of you…the shattered piece that’s before you right now, begging for your attention and maybe crippling you in the past and hindering you from moving forward at all.

There are so many unique pieces to you, and if they’re shattered and broken, this isn’t the end. It’s not your destruction. Trust that your pieces have a purpose, and let them come together in a timing that might not be your own.

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Mindful Monday: The Art of Nothing

Happy Monday, y’all, and also on a random side note: happy free slurpee day…yep, get yourself on over to 7/11 today for an impromptu freebie!

I say impromptu because that’s my new jam lately, and maybe you want to try it out too. I’m officially 6 weeks away from becoming a mama for the very first time, and I’ve entered that super antsy and excited season where it’s become increasingly hard to find peace in patience. The waiting is the hardest part, right? Naturally, I was talking to my partner the other night about making a pre-parent bucket list, where we’d give life to a super long list of all the things we have to do in the next few weeks before our lives change entirely and irreversibly for the better. This idea came over me like a bright light bulb and I was super amped up about it because I’m someone who loves making plans. Something about always having something to do keeps me relatively “in control” and I’m all over that.

My partner listens with an obligatory smile as I rattle off idea after idea of things to do and places to see and projects to complete. Then he offers, “I have an idea! How about on your list you put absolutely nothing.” And I’m all like, “B-b-b-b-b-ut…”

In reality, while there are a lot of things to do and places to see and projects to complete that we probably won’t be able to put our full energy into doing or accomplishing with a new baby, the times will be very few and far between when we’re actually able to do absolutely nothing. I sat agape for a few minutes, partially in my own disappointment of my own shot-down idea, but mostly in an “Aha! Moment” that eerily brought some peace.

Doing nothing. But how?

Surely I’m not the only one out there who has a hard time sitting idly, even when the season calls for it and the time’s appropriate. We’re hardwired to want some level of control. We love making plans and drawing maps that’ll detail exactly how we’re going to get from Point A to B to C. The problem isn’t in having an ambitious vision or keeping busy with plans, but rather in our way-too-tight grasp on our vision of how things could or should be. What ends up happening when things start to look colossally different from our self-made vision is that we become unfortunate victims to disappointment we created ourselves.

Get excited about the future, but loosen the reigns a bit. This week, be gentle with yourself as you practice the art of doing absolutely nothing.

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Jenny P

Meet Jen P, Teacher of the Month

July is the time for celebrating our love for our YBD Teacher of the Month, Jenny Penny! Jen P (on the schedule) has a great attitude, strong customer service skills, connection to her students, and her continued effort to grow and evolve in her teaching makes her an exceptional yogi and instructor. Come take her class! See her schedule and Q&A below:

Tuesdays:

YBD Restorative 1:15-2:15pm Elmhurst

Yoga Sculpt 7:15-8:15pm Wheaton

Wednesdays:

YBD 2 95 6:00-7:00am Downers Grove

Yoga Sculpt 6:00-7:00pm Downers Grove

YBD 1 7:15-8:15pm

Fridays:

YBD 1 8:00-9:00am Wheaton

YBD Restorative 1:30-2:30pm Downers Grove

YBD1 4:30-5:30pm Glen Ellyn

Yoga Sculpt 6:00-7:00pm Glen Ellyn

Saturdays:

YBD1 2:00-3:00pm Wheaton

YBD2 105 4:00-5:00pm Wheaton

Sundays:

YBD1 8:30-9:30am Glen Ellyn

Yoga Sculpt 10:00-11:00am Glen Ellyn

YBD Restorative 1:15-2:15pm Elmhurst

When and how did you come to yoga?

Every morning since I can remember I would wake up and go through a set of poses like cat/cows, forward folds, etc. At the time, I didn’t even know I was doing yoga poses. So, I guess since I was in this world I have been doing yoga.  I started taking regular yoga classes in college at a local gym where I fell in love with the mind, body, and spirit connection. I was always active in dance, volleyball, basketball, and running BUT nothing compared to yoga. Once I found it, I was hooked.

Why did you start teaching yoga?

I wanted to pass along the power of yoga. I went through some difficult health issues and yoga is where I found solace and vibrancy again.  I wanted to teach yoga to give others a way to relax, rejuvenate, and increase their health and wellness as I had done.Yoga created a peace and awareness in me that changed my life. So, I decided to leave my corporate job last year and pursue yoga teaching and my nursing degree. I jumped into teacher training Fall 2014.

What is your favorite pose? 

Chair pose. This pose challenges my patience, strength, and body awareness.  It allows me to find my fierce side and channel that energy through my breath. You sink into your chair and work through that mental frustration in the intensity to then release into the next pose.  It feels amazing to transition from chair to other more surrendering poses.

Who inspires your teaching?

My mom.  She has been my role model my whole life and has taught first grade for over 20 years.  Her ability to give her whole heart to what she does and her graceful teaching inspires me to shine my light to my students to fully be present. She tells her kids the bumble bee quote “Aerodynamically, the bumble bee shouldn’t be able to fly, but the bumble bee doesn’t know it so it goes on flying anyway.” – Mary Kay Ash.  When I teach I try to instill this in my students to look beyond their “limitations”, fears, or routine and allow new space and breath to take them to a place of growth. Also, current books I read inspire me. When words speak to me, I try to make a sequence that embodies that energy and inspiration.

Tips for beginners…

Don’t let fear hold you back from freely flowing and finding your peace. Just breath, smile, and accept yourself exactly as you are on your mat every day. Hakuna Matata –No worries just feel the peace and ease.

What’s your favorite quote?

“Peace is not something you wish for; it’s something you make, Something you do, Something you are, And Something you give away. –John Lennon

Mindful Monday: My Favorite Freedoms

Waking up with the luxury of a few private minutes to write down my blessings

Stepping outside to breathe in air that’s fresh and pure and cleansing

Clean water straight from the tap

Having access to and being able to read books of all genres for both knowledge and for pleasure

Hopping in the car and effortlessly crossing state borders to visit parks and beaches and friends at any time that fits my schedule

Having a closet of clothes to wear that are comfortable and enhance my unique style

Meditating to an intention of my choice to a god or power or energy that makes sense to me and that doesn’t have to fit a particular stencil or definition

Not being scorned for doing so

Eating for both sustenance and for enjoyment

Spaces to practice yoga that are pleasing to all senses

Crying in public

Leaving my children with nurturing caregivers I can trust

Being able to leave my doors open and unlocked when it’s appropriate

A private bath tub and shower

Vehicles that allow me to get from point A to point B quickly and safely

Watching HGTV for 3+ hours and feeling only mildly guilty

The choice to be who and what and where we want to be, and the ability to change direction at any time

These are a few of my favorite freedoms. Thanks to everyone who helped make this list so real. Can we add anything else? Contribute in the comments! Happy 4th, mindful ones!❤

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July Pose of the Month

Since we just passed the summer solstice, which is the gateway to all things sunny and bright, we’re appropriately bringing you Gate Pose for July. Gate Pose is a yummy side body stretch that also works the hamstrings, and it’s a sure favorite!

  • From kneeling, activate your core to extend one leg out to your side
  • Ground the sole of your foot into the earth so your big toes are forward facing
  • Spread your fingertips wide and inhale your arms up overhead
  • On the exhale, bend over your extended leg and lightly rest your same-side fingertips on your knee or shin.
  • Keep your hip stacked on top of your grounded knee as your rotate your lifted arm and shoulder back to keep your heart up and open instead of dropping your front torso

Benefits of Gate Pose:

  • Opens shoulders
  • Stretches the side body and spine
  • Stretches hamstrings

Happy July, yogis. Breathe, sweat, and smile!❤

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Mindful Monday: Feel All The Feelings

Feelings can be good or bad. They can be warm and fuzzy and sustain us for a good day of walking on sunshine, or send us into a spiral of negativity. Sometimes this causes us to think black and white when feelings arise. The good ones we welcome openly and want to create more of, and the bad ones we want to send away on a one-way ticket. Because our feelings have the power to affect us one way or the other, we feel like we need to act.

The truth is, you don’t need to do anything about your feelings. This is important to understand, because if you feel like you need to act when it comes to certain feelings, emotional energy is blocked, stopped, denied, or repressed. Emotional energy, no matter what the emotion, needs to be discharged. But know that discharged doesn’t mean doing anything. You don’t have to act on every feeling that arises. You don’t need to control every emotion or to let your emotions control you. Simply feel whatever it is you’re feeling. Become fully and completely conscious of it. Take responsibility for the way you choose to express your feelings, yes. Then let your feelings go. Release the emotional energy. When you allow yourself to feel all the feelings, the learning is already underway. You’ll begin to know what to do next and to learn naturally the action that’s right for you to take. It’s a new and healthy kind of control. The only thing you need to do about your feelings is to feel them.

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Mindful Monday: Summer Solstice Love

Ahhhh, we’ve finally reached the peak celebration of summertime when the days are longer than the nights. Tomorrow marks the official start of summer, and we’re experiencing more *light* each day. Around the world, there are thousands of ancient sites created around solstices and equinoxes that were built to honor our connection to the Sun as the source of our light.

It is a time of celebrating the fullness of life and of taking the time to raise our energy to regenerate abundance and manifest our dreams. In doing so, we are not merely reviving something of the past but rather tapping into something that is eternal. It’s time to honor our dependence on the physical Sun, but also the spiritual fire within each and every one of us. Now that’s reason to celebrate and be grateful! Here are 4 mantras to get you started. And now, get out there and move in your light!

Releasing What No Longer Serves: Today I free myself from destructive fears and doubts

Making Space for New Breath, New Life, and Fresh Awakenings: Today I create a wonderful new day and a wonderful new future

Staying on Track and Feeling Rooted, Safe, and Sure: Today I acknowledge that every decision I make is precisely the right one for me

Honoring the Connection: Today we are all family, and knowing that this planet is our home, I feel deeply connected to the Sun, the Earth, and all beings.

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Mindful Monday: The Good Uncertainty

Sometimes we don’t know what we want, what’s coming next, what we think is best for us, or what we think our lives will look like a month or a year or a few down the road. That’s okay. If the answer is I don’t know, then say it. Say it clearly and out loud.

For a long time, I made it my personal mantra to honor the space between no longer and not yet, and more than that, to let that space inspire me and not terrify me. If you’re feeling called to set some new intentions for summer, let yourself be at peace with not knowing…with the in-betweens.

There are so many reasons for not knowing. And no matter how much control we like to have over our lives, some uncertainty is good. Maybe we can’t know what’s coming because it’s going to be so different than anything we’ve experienced in the past that there’s no other way to enjoy the newness of it all other than this element of surprise. Maybe the reason we can’t know what’s coming is because it would be too difficult or too confusing to process right at the moment, so we’re put in this “waiting line” to eliminate unnecessary fuss and worry while our hearts and Spirits are being prepared to be unafraid.

Sometimes knowing would deprive us of the very experience we need to go through to discover the answer or truth we’ve been looking for. And sometimes the process of learning to trust that we will eventually come into that truth at exactly the right time is more important than knowing anyway.

Find the good uncertainty. Stay there for a bit. You might even love the view.

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Mindful Monday: Stop Trying to Prove

We live in a society of metrics. We measure success by how many degrees you have, how fast you can run, how much you can produce. There are first, second, and third ribbons. There are promotions, title changes, and recognition and awards ceremonies to seal it all up with ribbons and pearls and plaques. Results. Results. Results.

This sets up a tricky dynamic where a push to be motivated to living our bests lives gets too easily blurred with people-pleasing and an underlying obsession with hitting benchmarks and a “just because” mentality of living to win. But why? What are you trying to prove?

The truth is, you don’t have to prove anything to anyone, not even yourself. A subconscious desire to prove ourselves is hiding at the root of our fears, the root of our tension and pent-up stress, and the root of our desire to do more and be more. And with it comes the burning belief that we aren’t good enough or that we need to compensate for some deficiency in ourselves in order to claim our place in the pecking order. It starts to feel like we need to earn our right to be here. Like we’re being watched, and judged, and graded. Because sometimes, we are.

Remember this today and always: You don’t have to prove anything to anyone. You’re fine just the way you are now. You have an energy that is uniquely your own and you bring something to the plate that this world desperately needs. You have particular gifts and talents that are yours and yours alone. Without doing anything extra or claiming any flashy title or setting out to become more than you are right in this moment, step right up and take your place. It’s already yours.

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Heather

Meet Heather, YBD Teacher of the Month

Heather has been an integral part of Yoga by Degrees so it is about time that we celebrate the amazing gifts she brings to our community. She is YBD’s senior manager, overseeing Wheaton and our western studios, a leader of our 200-hour Teacher Training and is one of our only 500-hour level certified instructors. Heather pours her heart out into everything she does and backs up that nurturing energy with a strong support of anatomy knowledge. Come check out her class at the Wheaton studio:

Tuesday, 9:30am YBD1

Wednesday, 1:30pm YBD2 95

Thursday, 9:30am YBD1

Thursday, 12pm Restorative

Saturday, 8am YBD2 85

Saturday, 10:30am Restorative

Saturday, 12pm YBD2 95, 75 minutes*

Get to know Heather better below:

When and how did you come to yoga?

I began a consistent practice in 2007 after the separation from my ex-husband.    While I had “dabbled” with practicing yoga this time it stuck.  There was a little studio walking-distance from my house and the more I practiced the better I felt.  When I began I couldn’t touch my toes; down dog was NOT a resting pose and chaturanga (yoga push up) was torture.  After it was all over I felt strong, empowered, calm and centered.  No matter how bad the day was or how difficult my life was at the time, I felt at peace.  Over time my physical practice improved but no mater how I struggled in my practice, I was at home on my mat.

Why did you start teaching yoga?

The funny thing is I never intended to teach yoga.  I never wanted to teach yoga.  I got my 200-hour yoga certificate in 2008 as a way to deepen my own practice and dive deeper in the philosophy of yoga.  I wanted to understand why I felt so good even in times of struggle.  My teacher training was for personal growth and nothing else.  One day a fellow teacher asked me to sub one of her classes while going out of the country for a month.   I said no without hesitation.  After a lengthy conversation about why I was not a yoga teacher she said to me “Heather, I think my students would like you and please think about it.”  After some searching I said to myself, “You are a sub.  If you aren’t good at this they never have to see you again.” So I subbed for the month and I fell in love.  I just shared what I loved about the practice and let that lead the way.  I am a very different teacher today than I was back then.  I received my 500-hour teaching certificate back in 2010 and use my knowledge of anatomy and kinesiology to help students in their practice.

What is your favorite pose? 

This a difficult question to answer.  Even poses that aren’t my favorite, I love what they do for me.  A few favorites are pigeon, down dog and wild thing.  Wild thing (camatkrasana) is a heart opener that makes me feel loving and graceful.

 

Who inspires your teaching?

There is no one person that inspires my teaching.  Inspiration can come from anything at any time.  I am inspired daily by all my fellow instructors and students.  Watching my students practice, seeing their moments of success, struggle and acceptance makes me want to be a better teacher for them.  In the end, it is about their experience.  I am blessed to work with wonderful teachers that ALL bring something special to the mat.  I try to use everything as an opportunity for growth both personally and as a teacher.

Tips for beginners…  

Remember that you ARE good at yoga.  I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard “I’m not good at yoga, but…..”  (I’d have some serious coin). Yoga means to yolk or unite.  Yoga brings us together.  Yoga doesn’t care how strong or how flexible you are.  Yoga accepts you in THIS moment just the way you are.  That means tight, feeling weak, injured (please honor your body. If it hurts, don’t do it), happy, or sad.   Show up on your mat for you, work toward self acceptance, and self improvement comes along for the ride.  Your time on your mat belongs to you and it is a chance to breathe, move and reconnect with yourself.

What’s your favorite quote?  

I say this every class: “Practice makes progress. You are already perfect.”   The more you practice, the more your practice improves. Perfection is already within you. We just cover it up with fear, expectations, judgments and thoughts that don’t serve us.  Strip it all away and there lies your perfection.