Month: June 2016

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

June Pose of the Month

It’s officially the first month of summer, and there’s lots to celebrate. Later in the month, we’re honoring the summer solstice with 108 sun salutations at the Glen Ellyn Studio, and today we give you our pose of the month: the strengthening, heart-opening Reverse Plank!

  • From Dandasana, place your palms six inches behind your seat with fingertips facing forward
  • Release your breath and then press your palms and feet into the ground
  • Lift your hips high without squeezing your glutes so tight
  • Press your shoulder blades against the back of your torso to energetically lift your chest
  • Option to drop your head back

Benefits of Reverse Plank:

  • Strengthens arms, wrists, and legs
  • Builds core strength
  • Stretches shoulders, chest, and front ankles

Give this one a try. Lift and shine!

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