Month: January 2014

Yoga by Degrees Helps Fight Hunger with a Donation to the Greater Chicago Food Depository


Sasha and Patti Boheme support each other in tree pose and in finishing the Gratitude Challenge.

Yoga by Degrees, a leading provider of yoga services and proponent of the fight against hunger, is giving back to the community with a donation to The Greater Chicago Food Depository.

Yoga by Degrees is a company dedicated to bringing the greater Chicago area a positive, uplifting and peaceful space to practice Yoga.  Yoga by Degrees is a small business that first found their unique niche in Wheaton three years ago.  Inspired by the gratitude of the Wheaton community, Yoga by Degrees opened arms and hearts to two more locations in Western Springs and Elmhurst. Throughout the past few years, our students, staff, and teachers have cultivated long lasting relationships that come with the community practice of yoga. Yoga by Degrees strives to bring more than just a yoga practice to these communities by supporting local charities and non-profit organizations. This initiative to support community oneness is inspired by the yogic principle, “May all beings be happy and free.”

In order to cultivate happiness and freedom in the community, Yoga by Degrees has had fundraising events at all three locations for the Greater Chicago Food Depository over the past few months.  During the Anniversary event for the Western Springs location, Yoga by Degrees collected $125 and a collection of food donations for the Greater Chicago Food Depository. In addition, Yoga by Degrees offered a Gratitude Yoga Challenge to all their students. If a student signed up and completed 30 classes in 40 days, Yoga by Degrees pledged a $10 donation to the Greater Chicago Food Depository. With over 30 finishers and 100 participants, the Yoga by Degrees community raised over $300 for the Greater Chicago Food Depository.  One mother/daughter team shares their experience:

“Doing the YBD challenge takes commitment and some endurance. Doing it with someone else is great because you can share the experience with someone that really understands what it takes to do 30 classes in 40 days. Especially around the holidays!  We have to say by class 17 we thought OMG 13 more classes to go can we make it. In fact we started putting stickers on before class to make sure we did not forget! The last 2 weeks were the hardest in fact we did 14 classes in 15 days.

At home each day we checked in to see which classes we were going to take, and though we both have busy jobs this definitely became a priority. Towards the end of the challenge we were both tired but determined. I finished December 23rd, but took another class December 24th to be with my daughter when she finished.  Taking yoga together has been both fun and inspiring. Sasha is always encouraging me. We have both done a lot of different physical things, but the program at YBD is unique.  The teachers are amazing and the personal positive culture has been our best experience yet!”

It is with huge hearts that we thank and congratulate Sasha and Patti Boheme and all the participants of our challenge.  With a total of $425 funds raised, we appreciate your efforts and donations.  Yoga by Degrees plans on having more yoga challenges and will continue to support community oneness through local causes and charities.

Finding Contentment


“As long as we depend on objects and activities for our happiness—chocolate, shopping, napping, or even sticking to the poses we love most—we will constantly be searching outside of ourselves for happiness,” says Cyndi Lee, Yoga Journal contributor.  Instead of using external conditions to create good vibes, the key is to find unconditional happiness. The first step towards contentment, or santosha, is to open up to all experiences and let go of our narrow definition of happiness.  Santosha is the second of the niyamas, or moral restraints, which are outlined in classical yoga philosophy.  The niyamas are guidelines that take a deep dive into our attitudes about life and how we feel about ourselves.  This time of year is so focused on making new changes and jumpstarting New Year resolutions.  Perhaps we should be focusing more on cultivating gratitude for what we already have and where we already are instead wishing for things we don’t have or daydreaming of the future.

Maybe you have spent the last few days hunkered down to avoid the snow and extreme temperatures.  There tends to be a lot of negativity when our routines get interrupted or we are thrown out of our comfort zone.  Our own perceptions create how we define discomfort and constriction and how we define freedom and happiness. No one can take the freedom of your own spirit away from you.  Instead of viewing the weather as a hindrance, can you find some appreciation?  Even if you are in an uncomfortable yoga posture or crammed in snowy, rush hour traffic, how can you find contentment from within?  Practice remaining calm in both successes and failures. See if you can spend less time and energy focused on thoughts of liking or disliking what is.

Just as the physical yoga poses take practice, so does the experience of santosha. So if your teacher calls out your nemesis posture, notice where your mind goes.  Many times the postures we resist the most, are the ones we really need.  Instead of engaging negative thoughts towards the postures (or your teacher!) see if you can step back, practice santosha and find some inner calm to sit with what comes up.  Work for a grounded foundation of contentment that can’t be shaken by the external activity.  Even when you are uncomfortable, can you find peace or relaxation? Make the hard choice—stay present, hold the vision, and trust the process.  If an affirmative mantra helps you practice santosha, repeat the following to yourself anytime you need:

I am content.

I am grateful for what I have and for what I do not have.

I learn from the joys and disappointments life brings me.

I honor the good in myself and others.

I refrain from criticism and fault finding.

I accept life just the way it is.

I enjoy life!