Month: September 2015

Implementing Yoga in Physical Education Training

Let’s take a look one of our ALL-NEW trainings coming up. If you’re a PE teacher, health teacher, current yoga instructor, social worker or school counselor, or a classroom teacher, get excited!

This program is designed to teach physical education teachers how to add a yoga program to their curriculum.  During this 20-hour workshop, you will learn how to confidently lead and teach a multi-level traditional yoga class modified to suit physical education curriculum, needs, environment, and standards.  Yoga classes offered in Physical Education can give students the tools they need to build confidence and self esteem, relieve stress and anxiety, and practice the 5 health-related fitness components throughout their lives.

The training includes:

  • How to teach and give modifications of basic postures
  • Partner and group poses
  • Breathing exercises
  • Lesson planning tools
  • Understanding the benefits of yoga
  • Learning different styles of yoga
  • Alignment strategies
  • Examples of yoga as a course/unit curriculum in a high school physical education program


Yoga By Degrees
1042 S. York St.
Elmhurst, IL 60126


2 Day Option:

Saturday, October 17 & 24, 8:00am-6:00pm


3 Day Option:

Thursday, October 22 4:00-9:00pm
Friday, October 23, 4:00-9:00pm
Saturday, October 24, 8:00am-6:00pm

Details to Know:

Space is limited! Payment can be in the forms of cash, check (payable to Jennifer Thiede), credit card at Yoga By Degrees or over the phone at 630-782-9642. Once payment is received, your spot will be held and you will receive confirmation.

Did you know… Many of our attendees have been able to get financial support from their districts!

Upon completion of the 20 hour workshop, you will receive a certificate of participation.  CPDUs may be available through your employer or credentialing organization.  As each credentialing organization has their own requirements, you should confirm with them that your training hours will apply toward your degree or continuing education requirements.  Application for accreditation from these organizations is your responsibility.

Contact Information:

Jenny Thiede

Mindful Monday: A Lesson in Non-Judgement for Us Eyebrow Raisers and Finger Pointers

Good afternoon, oh beautiful ones! It’s Monday again, and another fresh start. Isn’t it so freeing knowing that we can wake up every day and decide to release whoever we are and whatever we’ve done to step into who we’re capable of becoming? And if we fall short of that, we can choose to start over again, and again, and again. Part of this feels really liberating, and the other part that can turn into a slippery slope if we’re not careful makes it easy to justify our repeated behaviors by saying: I can do this thing that’s not in line with my values today, and then just become the person I should be tomorrow. Tricky, right? How can we be gentle and compassionate to ourselves without making excuses for the not-always-honorable things that we really should be making a more conscious effort to stop doing?

Good question. I’ll shed some light on this by sharing a personal experience:

Just the other day, I had an encounter with a friend that I’m not extremely proud of. I might not have even noticed that my behavior wasn’t cool, except that this friend called me out right away – leaving me feeling 50 shades of yucky. My encounter went a little something like this: I was perusing my SnapChat stories and came across some videos of my friend enjoying himself on no particular Saturday evening – drinking, smoking, girls, clubs, et cetera. In other words, he was just having fun and enjoying the weekend. The consciously compassionate person would pause before interjecting and ask: Is it kind? Is it honest? Is it necessary? But no, not this girl. Since I’m perfect and have never gone out making less-than-honorable Saturday night decisions (Riiiiiight), I felt compelled to contact him and say: Whoa dude, party much? No wonder so-and-so went “crazy” on you. With that behavior, I would too.

Then, I set my phone down. Devilishly satisfied.

The next morning I got a message from him calling me out on my unfair judgments: Who am I to point fingers? What did he do to wrong me? How did his Saturday night have anything to do with me at all?

And well, the truth is that it didn’t. It had nothing to do with me. Like so many of us are conditioned to do, my own expectations of this person weren’t met, and my personal invested interest left me disappointed, to say the least. When we attach expectations to people, judgments flow easily:

“Have you seen her social media? She’s begging for attention.”

“He keeps saying he wants to make a career change, but anytime I freely offer the help and support it’s going to take to get there, it goes in one ear and out the other. What’s wrong with this person?”

“Her energy level is way up there, and it needs to be way down here.”

“Really? You’re my waitress and you’re going to give me attitude? Isn’t is your job to put a smile on your face and serve me?”

“Do you need a rules of the road handbook? How do you even have a driver’s license?”

And so on. The list can go on forever. So how might we be stronger forces of love for one another on a daily basis? How can we let go of expectations, create a greater capacity for empathy, and start living in a way that establishes a safe space for people to be exactly who they are?

  1. Condition yourself to find slivers of space between action and reaction

Often, we can put a stop to our judgmental behaviors by adding a simple mindful pause between the stimulus of that thought that creeps in, and the response of however we choose to react: eyerolls, gossiping with others, a direct comment. What if the next time our stream of consciousness is one unfair opinion of someone after another, we just stop, label it as “judgment” and then drop it entirely before reacting? Maybe instead, we think of the various scenarios that Person A or Person B might be dealing with that we have no idea about. Doesn’t everyone have a bad day? If we want to be entitled to our own bad days, shouldn’t we give others that same grace? Maybe we admit that we were just road-raging hard last week, and so today this particular driver gets a free pass while we get a lesson in patience.

  1. Apologize

If you get to the point where you can be a mindful witness of your silent judgments before projecting, then you’re ready to admit fault. It’s hard to release our expectations of people, and everyone’s guilty. It doesn’t feel good to be judged, and on the flip, it doesn’t feel good to be the person who is then labeled as elitist and judgmental. Neither party feels good. Label the judgment, extend sincerest apologies for casting stones without warrant, and sweetly let the recipient know that you’re working on being more mindful of reacting from a place of compassion and kindness. I guarantee you’ll be heard, and it might even open the door for a conversation about holding each other accountable, where constructive criticism is welcomed.

  1. Set a new intention to become more introspective

Introspection brings us into the realm of another favorite 8-limb, svadhyaya. Sit down, and write down your core values. What do you stand for? How do you want to be perceived? Are your thoughts, speech, and actions in harmony? What are you doing to propel yourself even closer to living your very best life? It’s unlikely that your judgments will dissipate entirely, but if you can train yourself to become aware of when you’re maybe being unfair, you’re heading toward a shift in consciousness where authenticity is on point and interactions are received with lightness and the ability to LOVE people without stopping to inquire whether or not they’re worthy.

If you’re anything like me and you’re wearing a bright scarlet letter that screams: HER! RIGHT THERE! JUDGEMENTAL! Just be gentle with yourself and place the greater importance on your desire to improve. It’s okay to feel sorry, awful, or embarrassed of your behaviors when they aren’t kind. But, if your compassion doesn’t include yourself, it’s incomplete. Be your own teacher. You are not that judgmental thought you had last week. You are not the two mistakes you made yesterday. You are not the ugly words that came out of your mouth when you reacted emotionally and without thinking. Carry on, warriors, and remember: a little less judgey, a little more lovey!

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Mindful Monday: Reinvent Yourself with Our 21-Day Detox

Mindful living is conscious living. It’s making a choice to be introspective and to reevaluate if the decisions you’re making on a daily basis are propelling you into your best and most actualized self, or conversely, if your habits are crippling you in a place of stagnant complacency. Maybe you’re aware that the life you WANT to be living and the life that you actually ARE living aren’t in harmony, but you’re not motivated to make a lasting change. Knowing what’s right for your state of wellness and actually doing what’s right for your state of wellness are not that same.

Our 21-day detox provides the opportunity to reboot your body and mind, to feel calm and focused, and to find a cleaner, lighter, and happier you – all with the accountability you’ve been craving to make your intentions of healthy living a reality.


All positive changes either come from starting something, or stopping something. Committing to a detox is a commitment to purging all negative toxins from the physical space that is your body – releasing and renewing so that you’re able to restart. It’s like hitting your own personal reset button so that your liver, kidney, and colon can start optimally functioning again. And, because everything that’s happening inside of your body is interconnected, internal organs that are healthy and working properly allow you to absorb more of the good nutrients your body needs, which yields a healthy immune system. Happy immune system = happy you!

Give yourself a fresh start! Together we will gently clean our bodies and minds from the inside out using whole, complete, and delicious foods paired with simple lifestyle suggestions.

We’ll meet on four Sundays in October from 3:00-4:30 to develop a personalized health plan that’ll help you experience the mental clarity you need to reinvent yourself from within.

When? October 4, 11, 18, and 25 from 3:00-4:30

Cost? Non-members $125 and Members $100

Questions? Email instructor Nadja Lalvani at

Sign up at the studio, over the phone, or at!

Mindful Monday: Our New Community Space


Good morning, beautiful people! We’re so happy to announce that we’re restructuring our blog a bit so that it’s a community space where you can come to meet our teachers and staff, learn new postures, and nourish your mind, body, and soul with meditations, healthy recipes, short sequences, and personal stories that’ll inspire you to start living your best life.

Everyone comes to yoga for a different reason, and so while we’re collectively gathering to flow-‘til-we-glow, we all bring something to our mats that is uniquely our own. Whether you’re a veteran practitioner or a student entirely new to yoga, a more disciplined practice and a commitment to merely showing up often yields a personal transformation that encourages us all to “live our yoga” both on and off the mat.

So, what does living your yoga look like? Well, that all depends.

Maybe today you live your yoga by waking up one hour early to make a smoothie before work instead of hitting snooze four times before ultimately waking up on the wrong side of the bed anyway.

Maybe you pay a stranger a compliment, or you de-clutter the space in your home where you spend the most time.

Maybe instead of responding with your favorite swear word to the hurried human who cuts you off during rush hour, you take a deep breath, exhale to the count of five, and let it go.

Maybe you’ve been carrying around a lot of resentment and you have someone to forgive. Maybe that person is yourself.

Living your yoga isn’t a place. It’s not a mark to check off on a long list of “Ways I Should Act” or about your level of calm during any given day. Think about living your yoga as more of a process of unlearning than learning. We’re all human. We all have deeply embedded behaviors and personality traits that can either cripple us with labels of untruths or propel us into inspiring models of compassion with a great capacity for love. And you know what? It’s never consistent. One day we’re centered and compassionate and vessels of grace, and the next we’re dropping F-bombs and acting 10 years younger than we really are. We are both the thunderstorm and the sunshine. Living your yoga is less about shedding layers that don’t serve you and more about becoming a silent witness to all of the many strengths and weaknesses that make us so unique. It’s about finding balance.

Maybe you have a tendency to anger easily, and because aggression and anger aren’t positive emotions, you’re made to feel less-than in your mishaps or ugly moments of being a little too reactive. Yoga is the perfect safe space to be curious about your multitudes. So, if you’re the person who easily angers, you’re not going to set out on this journey to become a person who never gets mad, right? No way! Not only does that seem like an impossible feat, but it’s just ludicrous, right? Put your hand on your heart. Feel that? That’s your capacity to feel anger. Your humanness. The thing that connects you, to me, to the rest of the world.

So, you know all that junk? All your downfalls? All your negative behaviors? Your sensitivity? Your rollercoaster of emotions? All the times when you just can’t get it right?

Yoga draws a circle around all of that and says: “There’s room for that here.”

Yoga meets you where you’re at and trains you to add tiny slivers of space between stimulus and response, or action and reaction. So, if you’re the person with a terrible temper, maybe you watch the anger as it bubbles up. Feel your skin get warm. Acknowledge your rapid heart rate. Allow your fists to clench. It’s counterproductive to not allow yourself to feel emotions as they pop up. You’re in a state of meditation when you see anger, name it, and then release it. You’re watching it instead of acting on it. Say to yourself: “Oh, anger. There you are. Hi, anger. I see you.” Let it come, feel it fully, and then choose to move on.

Smile, breathe, and go slowly!

September Pose of the Month

Happy September, glowing yogis!

As we’re transitioning into a new month and preparing for a change in season, remember that nothing in this sweet life is permanent. Night turns to day and summer morphs into spring without pausing to consider if anyone is ready. Change doesn’t wait for an invitation. Even in our own personal journeys, a path appearing to have taken unexpected twists and turns could really just be a beautiful change in perspective, spiraling you into something that’s even more serving to your personal growth.

Remember that you are exactly who and what and where you need to be, and you are lovely.

Life is full of surprises and serendipity. If you try to plan every step, you may miss those wonderful twists and turns that propel us toward the spaces or destinations we need to inhabit most.

This month, we’re embracing the unexpected twists and turns with Parivrtta Trikonasana, or Twisted Triangle Pose:

revolved triangle

  • From Tadasana, step your right foot 3-4 feet in front of your left, squaring your hips to the front of your mat.
  • Maintaining a flat spine, hinge forward out of your hips to enter Pyramid Pose, or Parsovottanasana.
  • Plant your left palm onto the floor or a block at the inside of your right foot, and then twist from your low belly to the right.
  • Open your chest by drawing your shoulderblades in and down your back, and send your right arm up overhead
  • Allow your gaze to meet your lifted fingertips

Benefits of Parivrtta Trikonasana, or Twisted Triangle Pose:

  • Strengthens and stretches both legs
  • The twist stimulates and rinses the abdominal organs, aiding in healthy digestion
  • Stretches the hips and spine
  • Great twist for mild low back pain

For an added challenge in this posture, bring your left hand to the outside of your right foot. Inhale to lengthen, and exhale to deepen the twist.

Meet Alex, YBD Teacher of the Month

This September, we tip our hats to Alex, our Teacher of the Month! Alex’s fierce energy and motivation that she gives off will blow you away. Alex is a mother who has been teaching for 7 years and was a scientist before that (Who knew? You’ll have to ask her about that one!). We are so grateful to have her as a mentor and leader in our community pushing our sculpt students and teacher trainees out of the comfort zone and into new thresholds of growth and change. Thanks, Alex for all the passion you give in your teaching and presence around Yoga by Degrees!
Here is Alex’s current permanent teaching schedule:
12pm Sculpt on Mondays in Western Springs
9:30am Sculpt on Tuesdays in Elmhurst
9:30am Sculpt on Thursdays in Western Springs
4:30pm Sculpt on Thursdays in Western Springs
6pm Sculpt on Thursdays in Western Springs
9am Sculpt on Fridays in Downers Grove
9am Sculpt on Saturdays in Elmhurst
Get to know our girl a little more below:
When and how did you come to yoga?
I started yoga 7 years ago after the birth of my last son.  Like many avid runners, I used yoga to cross train.  I realized pretty quickly that I loved one thing more than running:  YOGA!
Why did you start teaching yoga?
I started teaching at the urging of my yogi friends who felt I had the form and the heart to teach others.
What is your favorite yoga pose?
My favorite pose is a handstand because it took overcoming lots of fears and a lot of time for me to get there!
Who inspires your teaching?
My children and husband inspire my teaching hands down.  It’s important to be happy at what you do and to feel good about yourself.  That positive karma affects everyone in your life!  Plus I think it’s great for my boys to see their mom work outside of the home doing something she loves.
Tips for beginners?
If you’re just starting out at any of our studios, stop and talk to people…anyone!  Yoga is all about the community and friends you make.  Hop into a class confidently and don’t take yourself too seriously.  Remember :  “The expert in anything was once a beginner.”
What’s your favorite quote?
I am the MUSIC sculptor!!!
“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.”
Bob Marley