Month: March 2015

Meet Todd, Yoga by Degrees Teacher of the Month

Todd in Warrior 2

Todd in Warrior 2

Todd is an inspiration as a yoga teacher, YBD teacher training alum, and a yogi in our YBD community. We value his loyalty and the great effort he puts into every one of his classes. Your teaching insights, playlists, sequences and readings come from such a unique perspective. Though successful and busy as a business owner, Todd shares his passion for yoga any chance he gets. Todd, we notice and appreciate you going above and beyond. Thank you!

When and how did you come to yoga?  

I had taken a few classes before YBD, both at a Bikram studio and at the gym, but didn’t seriously begin yoga until the day YBD opened in Western Springs.   I had been a cycling enthusiast logging thousands of miles annually on my bike, and thought it would be beneficial to take up yoga to improve my flexibility.

Why did you start teaching yoga?  

I enrolled in YBD’s first teacher training session because I wanted to deepen my knowledge of yoga beyond what I could learn in classes and workshops.  The consistent messages about the spiritual benefits of yoga I was hearing on my mat from the teachers at YBD were intriguing.  Although I hadn’t intended to use the training to actually start teaching, after completing the certification requirements, I was moved to start sharing the love I have for the practice with others.

What is your favorite pose?  

If I had to pick a favorite, I suppose it would be Ardha Chandrasana, Half Moon.  The combination of strength and grace the pose demands, along with the opportunity for continual refinement, make half moon a consistent challenge, regardless of one’s ability.

Who inspires your teaching?

I am constantly inspired by so many of the teachers at YBD…..there are so many wonderful teachers  who inspire me daily….and I learn something from nearly every class regardless of who is instructing.  Though each is unique in their style of teaching, Loreta, Meghan, Colleen, Lara, Nadja and Bonnie consistently inspire me through their intelligent sequencing, their deep spiritual messages and their obvious joy of teaching.

Tips for beginners…

Simple.  Show up on your mat….consistently….as many times a week as you possibly can….show up and practice.  And then let go of your expectations for the results.

What’s your favorite quote?  

Abhyasa and vairagya.  Never give up.  Always let go.

Yoga??!! Why you (or someone you love) should come to a FREE workshop on 3/8

Written by YBD Teacher, Shaun Emerson: A little less than four years ago, my wife, Lisa, suggested that I join her at this new Hot Yoga place near our home. In a marriage, a “suggestion” can take on a variety of connotations. In this instance, I didn’t detect any secondary intention so was free to assess the offer for what it was.

Yoga???!! I was a former football player, weight lifter, and runner. My body was worse than tight. Rigid, inflexible, compact. What I thought I knew about yoga (I knew nothing) intimidated me. Goofy stretching, right? The longest I ever really stretched was pushing against the garage in a weak lunge for a millisecond before I hit the street for my jog. If I went to this class, it was going to be ugly.

She offered, “It is 105 degrees. You’ll sweat your ass off.”

I was in. All the other stuff be damned. Despite some fear, I love a new adventure and I love to sweat more.

A little less than four years later, I am still pretty tight. I have creaky hips (right, Lara?). And I am an actual yoga instructor. Really, I am a yoga instructor/nerd (though my kids would omit the qualifier…just nerd). How can you not be a nerd about something that changed your life (will save the sappy stuff and how I got here for another time)?

Anyway, I think yoga and asana can be daunting for first timers. We, at YBD, want to make it less so. Therefore, we are putting on a free workshop in Downers Grove on March 8th to demystify, educate and flow. The class will be an opportunity for folks to get into a studio, on a mat without the pressure or concern of walking into a live class. We’ll talk about what yoga is, how a typical class is structured, introduce some of the common postures and have time for questions throughout.

If you are YBD regular and reading this, I am sure you have people close to you that are curious about your yoga practice, but not curious enough to willingly jump into a class with you. Maybe, you want to make a “suggestion” that they come to this workshop. Whether you place any secondary significance on the suggestions is up to you.


About The Author/Blog Contributor:shaun  Shaun Emerson is a Teacher at YBD. He says he was encouraged by his wife, Lisa to start his yoga journey three years ago in the heat of a Bikram studio. After an eight-month love affair and four month long breakup with Bikram, Shaun found himself at Yoga by Degrees. YBD Sculpt became a family affair often attending classes with his wife and two daughters. Prompted by his girls and curious to learn more, Shaun entered and completed the YBD 200 hour Teacher Training program. During his training, Shaun shifted from sculpt to flow and found, not only his breath, but a love for it’s quiet, yet vigorous, elegance.