Month: July 2017

Mindful Monday: How You Do Anything is How You Do Everything

Good morning, mindful ones! 

Have you ever noticed that how you do anything is how you do everything? Notice how you eat, breathe, move, speak, listen, kiss;  how you walk and move your body. How you greet each morning. 

It’s fascinating to get to know yourself in detail. 

From this space of observation, you will discover your deepest thought patterns. You will uncover and uproot unhealthy habits and patterns from deep within and reconnect with the newness of life. 

You will remember how beautiful and strong and worthy you are. Worthy to love and be loved. Worthy of every single compliment you receive. Worthy of success and hard work. Worthy of your practice. Worthy of each breath you take. 

So give yourself some space to watch yourself. You already know the way; as you pause and notice each breath, each bird chirping outside, each single moment of your life. Here is where all of the answers lie. 

How you change anything is how you change everything. One single breath, one day, one yoga practice at a time. 

Your mat is the perfect place to get to know yourself! The real you. 

Mindful Monday: Storms 

Good morning, Yogi friends! Happy Mindful Monday 🙏🏾

Wow – we witnessed some powerful storms this past weekend! I was driving through what felt like a tornado on Sunday. Visibility was zero; the rain was coming down in huge moving sheets; trees were dancing erratically and shedding huge branches in the middle of the street; the wind was formidable; streets were beginning to flood. 

I was pretty frightened to be honest. I was unsure about whether to keep driving slowly or to turn around and head back. This patch of weather seemed endless, but I really wanted to get home. So I slowly and steadily continued on my path home. I turned on AM radio try to get some guidance from the weather report,  but it proved unhelpful. 

It took forever to travel a few miles, but the weather started to ease up a bit. Now I could see the damage done but this violent storm. Trees uprooted and branches flung everywhere. I felt a sense of calmness and relief that the storm had passed through. 

Sometimes life gives us these types of  huge thunderstorms – sudden onslaughts that darken the sky and threaten our stability and confidence. They come in many forms: betrayals, financial challenges, losing a loved one, depression, sadness. 

 We absolutely cannot stop or calm these storms that appear.  This is where we learn to calm ourselves, because we know the storm will pass. 

There are so many things we will only learn during the stormy times. And sometimes we need the energy and force of a storm to rip unnecessary things from their roots and carry them away. And the subsequent rains provide such a cleansing effect. And we emerge stronger, wiser and more peaceful. 

The sun is shining brightly as I write this! I definitely appreciate its beauty and warmth so profoundly in this moment. Have a great week, yogis!

Mindful Monday: Yoga is the Answer

Yoga is like the surface of water. When our minds are calm and still, our practice reflects back to us life exactly as it is

Happy mindful Monday, y’all! We are starting week two of our summer challenge – those stickers are looking good on those boards! 

I’ve been practicing yoga for about 12 years now.   As I look back on my practice, I can see that it has always met me exactly where I happened to be in my life. Yoga has only one expectation: show up on your mat. Exactly as you are. 

In the beginning, I was a newly divorced mother of a young boy in a high pressure career trying to piece my life back together. Yoga offered me space to build strength and confidence. 
Through the subsequent ups and downs of life, yoga always provided exactly what I needed for myself. During “good” times, my practice was pure joy and lightness. During challenging times, a place of safety and solace. 

No matter what’s going on in my life at any given moment, yoga is always the answer. It is an opportunity to connect deeply within and anchor yourself through the daily fluctuations of life. 

It’s important to remember that yoga is a tree with deep roots and tall branches. We must measure our growth as a whole – our asanas (poses) comprise only 12.5% of our complete practice! 

Whatever you are experiencing in your life, let yoga be your answer. Consistent practice of all eight limbs provides the sweetest fruits and flowers of life. 

Have a great week, yogis! See you on your mat! 

Mindful Monday: Guru Purnima Moon

Happy Monday, oh mindful ones! I do hope you had a lovely weekend. And I especially hope that you were able to enjoy the lovely full moon on Saturday night! 
Our July 2017 full moon brings with it powerful shifting and transforming energy! Whenever we have a full moon, our thoughts, actions, intentions and emotions are magnified. So important this time of the month and always to be very cognizant of your thoughts and attitudes. Mindfully shape your thoughts, words and deeds. This time frame may turn out to be a very productive and transformative shift for you. 

During this time of year in India (and around the world), the Guru Purnima is celebrated. It is observed on the first full moon after the summer solstice. It’s a very significant day devoted to thanking and acknowledging one’s teachers. 

The word Guru is derived from two words, gu and ru. The Sanskrit root gu means darkness or ignorance, and ru denotes the remover of that darkness. Therefore, a Guru is one who removes the darkness of our ignorance. 

While traditionally spiritual and academic teachers are revered during this occasion, in practice, one can honor any person who removes darkness or ignorance. 

This year, even NASA mentioned the Guru Purnima on Twitter in a listing of all of the July full moon’s names. Pretty exciting stuff! 

Have a great week, yogis! See you on your mat. Just a reminder that today is the first day of our Salute the Sun Summer challenge! Go earn  your stickers, friends! 

July Pose of the Month

It’s hard to believe it’s true, but we’re in the thick of the summer already, so poses that are energizing and fulfilling for the entire body are where it’s at! This month, we’re offering a kaleidoscope of warrior II variations. A strong warrior II requires an even stronger foundation, which often has us focusing on the set-up and strength in our legs. With these variations, we’ll keep the hamstrings happy while giving the shoulders, upper back, and wrists something to smile about.

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Building on your Warrior II:

  • Get low in your stance and trust yourself to sink down to stimulate active hamstrings
  • Keeping a solid foundation in your legs, experiment walking your fingertips forward, pausing to linger in the pose when your knee starts caving forward – energize it back!
  • Crawl your hands back, and then switch it up by coming up to your tip toe in your lunge
  • Criss-cross your arms and point your fingertips toward each other
  • Press into your palms to stretch your wrists and forearms
  • Come into a cat back to stretch and strengthen your upper back and shoulders while you’re there

Benefits of Warrior II Variations:

  • Stretches inner thighs, groin, and knees
  • Stretches wrists and forearms
  • Strengthens upper back and shoulders
  • Encourages a strong mind-body connection

Meet Kristin, YBD Teacher of the Month

Happy July yogi friends! This month we are happy to honor our teacher of the month Kristin. She started as a dedicated student at Yoga By Degrees in 2014, completed our 200 hour Teacher Training program in 2015, and is now sharing her love of yoga with so many students as an instructor. Kristin is dedicated to creating a supported, caring space for her students to practice. She pours herself into her sequences and dedicates herself to growing and blossoming as an instructor so that her students have the best experience with her in class. She is a wonderful asset to our YBD team and we are so grateful for her! Here’s where you can find her:


8:00 YBD2 105 Wheaton


8:00 YBD2 105 Western Springs


6:00 YBD2 95 Western Springs

8:00 YBD 105 Western Springs


7:30 YBD 2 Glen Ellyn

10:15 YBD1 Downers Grove


12:00 YBD2 95 Downers Grove

1:30 Restorative Downers Grove

4:00 YBD2 95 Western Springs

5:30 Restorative/Meditation Western Springs

When and how did you come to yoga?

After the birth of my son roughly 10 years ago, I started taking yoga at the gym. I immediately loved the challenge of vinyasa yoga and started noticing the benefits quickly. My balance improved in no time and my pants became easier to put on, not just because I lost a little weight, but because my balance and flexibility had improved. When I moved to the suburbs, yoga was not offered at my gym and I drifted away from vinyasa practice. After suffering from a herniated disc, I returned to yoga. I sought out exercise that was low impact to avoid further injury to my lumbar spine. When I found Yoga by Degrees, I found my new home away from home and was completely hooked.

What is your favorite pose?

Savasana wins hands down. There is nothing like a great savasana after a satisfying practice. My favorite flow posture is Prasarita padottanasana (Wide legged forward fold). Not only does it feel so good on the hamstrings and low back, it is a pose that offers playtime for other poses that I love: inversions and arm balances.


Who inspires your teaching?

YBD has a truly remarkable and inspiring community of students and teachers. The well is full, for which I am tremendously grateful. I am continually inspired by students overcoming physical and mental challenges with continued yoga practice.  My husband and kids are a constant source of ideas for dharma themes.  Also, I am inspired by so many books and videos and audio recordings which include offerings from Thich Nhat Hanh, BKS Iyengar, Bernie Clark and Shakti Gawain.


Tips for beginners…

When I first walked into yoga, I found it sharpened my listening skills. It is helpful to listen attentively to the cues while focusing on your breath. It helps people to move into and deeply feel a pose. Learn to rely on the cues and your breath, and try to only look at a teacher’s demo if you really need a reference for an unfamiliar pose. Breath is one of the most important primary tools for growth and transformation in practice. Remove your ego as much as you can and awaken your senses within. Honor your intuition (which means skipping postures and adding others in when you need to) to nourish your body in practice.


What’s your favorite quote?

A favorite excerpt from Michael A. Singer’s Untethered Soul: “Your inner growth is completely dependent upon the realization that the only way to find peace and contentment is to stop thinking about yourself. . . letting go allows you to free your energies so that you can free yourself. Right in the midst of your daily life, by untethering yourself from the bondage of your psyche, you actually have the ability to steal freedom for your soul. This freedom is so great it has been given a special name – liberation.”

Mindful Monday: Happy Birthday, America 

Flashback to One of my favorite Fourth of July memories!

Good morning, Mindful Ones! And happy birthday, America! 
Sunmer is my absolutely favorite season, and we are smack dab in the middle of it! This week we celebrate America’s birth with BBQs, fireworks and trips to lakefront destinations. It is such a fun, active, exhilarating time!

What’s so important for me this season is to make sure I’m still committed to my mat! I love the outdoors, and it’s easy to find something to do outside rather than going into a hot yoga studio! 

My practice provides me the opportunity to take a mental vacation for just an hour. It gives me time to balance myself out and check back in with how I’m really doing beneath the surface. 

It also helps me slow down enough to appreciate and acknowledge all of my current blessings. An attitude of gratitude makes my life 1,000 times “richer.”

As I practice mindfulness on my mat, I find myself more present off of my mat living my life! Each breath and each fun moment seems to expand and slow down rather than fly by too quickly. 

Physically, it’s great to sweat out toxins and allow my body to breathe. And it also keeps me in tiptop shape to enjoy being outside and being active. 

What are the reasons you keep coming to your mat during this time of year?

To help us stay on track, don’t forget to sign up for our summer challenge! Runs from July 10 through August 19 – we are challenging you to do 30 classes within 40 days! Sign up at the studio next time you’re there 

If you are not a member, you get unlimited yoga for 40 days for only $129! If you are a member, you’ll receive a free workshop if you complete the challenge!

I’ve already signed up! 

Have a safe, happy Fourth of July! Remember you can still take class on the Fourth! We have a shortened schedule at each of our locations!  See you on your mat!