Month: December 2014

December Pose of the Month

 viparita karani aka Legs up the wall

With the holiday season in full swing it sometimes leaves us stressful and with a feeling of panic. This pose is sure to calm the nerves and senses.The pose is quite simple but yet incredibly powerful. To get into the pose, sit on the floor as close to the wall as possible (outer hip touching). Lie back and swing your legs up the wall. You may notice your sit bones come away a bit. You can stay there or shimmy your bum closer to the wall. We used a few blankets rolled up under the spine as an addition to the pose. By adding rolled blankets under the spine this acts as a chest opener. This variation is just one of many options you can take in this pose. Viparita Karani is that go to pose for almost anything that ails you.
Legs up the wall pose can ease the following:
• Anxiety
• Arthritis
• Digestive problems
• Headache
• High and low blood pressure
• Insomnia
• Migraine
• Mild depression
• Respiratory ailments
• Urinary disorders
• Varicose veins
• Menstrual cramps
• Premenstrual syndrome
• Menopauseimage

“The generosity is incredible this year.” Re: The Giving Tree Program

“The generosity is incredible this year.” Said Alex Gordy of the Humanitarian Services Project’s Database Administrator in regard to the Yoga by Degrees students who participated in this year’s “Giving Tree Program” and food drive.

Both HSP and YBD staff members were overwhelmed by how many students participated in the annual program to provide less fortunate children, seniors and families with gifts and food this holiday season.  On December 8th, HSP volunteers stopped by Yoga by Degrees in Wheaton to collect all of the gifts and food. YBD students had dropped off the gifts at the Wheaton, Western Springs and Elmhurst locations.  The gifts were collected and brought to the Wheaton location for pick up by the HSP.

Each gift donor/YBD student, had picked an ornament off of a Christmas tree at one of the three aforementioned YBD studios.  There were 36 ornaments total. Those who participated, purchased the gifts listed on each ornament, wrapped and labeled them, then placed them under the tree.  (Although all of the approximately five to ten items on the list did not need to be purchased, the suggested minimum donation was $25 per recipient.)

In Wheaton, there was also a large box next to the “Giving Tree” where students could donate non-perishable food items by placing them in the box.

“This is just another reminder of how fortunate we are to be surrounded daily by such caring, warm and thoughtful people in which the Yoga by Degrees community is comprised of.  We are truly touched by our students efforts and generosity and Yoga by Degrees staff along with, no doubt, the recipients of the gifts and food, thank those who donated from the bottom of our hearts.” Said Yoga by Degrees Director of Marketing and Development, Samantha Raphael.

Humanitarian Services Project workers will be distributing the gifts and food to hundreds of children, seniors and families who are in need in the local area this holiday season.

(Please note: For those who picked an ornament but were unable to get their gifts back to a “Giving Tree” by the 12/4 deadline, you can still drop your gifts off at YBD studio (Wheaton if possible) by Thursday, 12/11 and they will be picked up and delivered to HSP on Friday 12/12 at 3PM.)

Waterfall, Stone Showers & More!

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If you haven’t yet, you definitely want to come see Yoga by Degrees fourth and newest location in Downers Grove. With all of the same crisp, clean and serene elements, colors and overall styling’s as the prior three locations, Downers Grove is no exception to YBD’s high esthetic standards. In fact, when you enter the studio you’ll notice some unique touches.

The location at: 54 Ogden Ave. between Caputo’s and Trader Joe’s, boasts some unique designs that help accentuate the YBD experience.  For example, the lighted archway serves as a welcoming beacon to students who enter through the main hallway toward the locker rooms and studios.

You’ll notice custom copper detail throughout the studio; the centerpiece, a floor to ceiling streaming waterfall in the hallway lined with a wooden perch where students can sit, relax and reflect before and after each class.

Glance to your left and right and you’ll notice copper leafed locker room doors adorned with a Sanskrit sign and an artistic geometrical design on each.

As soon as you venture in to the locker room, you’ll notice the intricate and colorful tile work along the walls.

Stroll in to a shower and you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to an exotic island as natural stone and sand adorning the base of each shower provide gentle massages to your feet.

Come check out our Downers Grove location, it’s a beautiful serene showpiece that is sure to guarantee you continue to feel right at home…and never want to leave Yoga by Degrees.

Sarah Kay’s Personal Yoga Journey

We were so inspired by this YBD student’s heart-felt story about her yoga journey
we just had to share it with you:

“Safe Haven”

By: Dr. Sarah Kay Welch, DO

My heart pounded against my ribcage. Sweat beaded on my forehead. Fear seeped
into my chest. I knew what was coming. In a matter of seconds, I transported to
a personal hell from twelve years prior. I knew this response was not logical;
it did not make any sense. I tried everything I could think of, but nothing stopped
the flashbacks. As a physician, I worked endlessly to treat patients, yet I could
not cure myself.

As a result of sexual abuse as a teenager, I suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
(PTSD). Associated with it, I experienced uncontrollable flashbacks and nightmares.
During those flashbacks I could see, hear, feel, and smell sensations from tragedies
of times long ago, even when I was somewhere completely safe, like reading in my
office. My mind incessantly ruminated on thoughts of what happened in the past.
I dissociated completely from my body. I felt like a failure because I felt out
of control and blamed myself for what happened so many years before.

I tried many avenues of healing, including medication and psychotherapy, which helped,
but my symptoms still tortured me. I poured over research on PTSD and anxiety by
the Justice Resource Institute and other sources. Inspired by the research, I walked
into a yoga studio. Finally, I found some relief. I started to feel at home in
my body. During my practice in the studio, the flashbacks ceased. However, they
restarted when I left the practice space. The style I practiced was too rigid and
I needed something more. My search began again.

Then I tried Yoga By Degrees and found my safe haven. From the beginning, the instructors
embraced me as a member of their community. They invited me to feel the sensations
in my body and do what felt right. They encouraged me to listen to my own body
and turn my yoga practice into what I needed. My aggressor stripped me of my choice
on how to use my body and even how to feel. Class by class, I regained control
of my sensations and emotions. My confidence increased as I learned to focus on
the present moment. The flashbacks and nightmares significantly decreased in intensity
and frequency. When the flashbacks did occasionally occur, I utilized the meditation
techniques I learned at Yoga By Degrees to cope and soon the dissociations stopped.
I thrived in the positive energy created by the compassionate students and dedicated
instructors as their constant encouragement kept me motivated to continually deepen
my practice mentally, emotionally, and physically.

As I glided through the poses, instructors uttered soothing encouragements such
as, “You are enough, just as you are.” As I stretched on my mat, my body and mind
became open to this new idea. I was neither the PTSD nor the trauma from my past.
Instead of a failure, I transformed into a survivor with the ability to heal myself.
Under the guidance of the well-grounded and always accepting instructors, I learned
to accept myself as I am. My personal and professional life improved as I became
more focused, calm, and compassionate towards the many family members and patients
I am lucky enough to have in my life.

Now, I hope to give others the safe haven I was given by the amazing teachers at
Yoga By Degrees. Fortunately, the studio runs a training program. I am learning
to lead safe classes that offer students the opportunity to find their own transformative
experiences. Soon, I hope to help trauma victims and anyone else seeking their
own peace of mind just as Yoga By Degrees helped me turn a terrifying and horrific
situation into a future of hope, peace, and contentment.”


Yoga by Degrees Mission:

“To cultivate peace, joy, and community in a compassionate environment by promoting
a balance between courage and acceptance. We make yoga accessible to everyone,
through linking breath with movement. We guide you on a path of self-discovery
that enables you to cultivate the strongest most flexible mind and body to live
each moment to the fullest on and off the mat.”

With this mission in mind, Yoga by Degrees asked its community to share their yoga
story in order to share the word about the highs and lows, breakdowns and breakthroughs,
and transformative powers of the yogi path. There was an outpouring of inspiring
responses. Stay tuned for more stories on our blog, coming soon.