Month: March 2020

Meet the Teacher Krista S

Krista S has been with YBD for a few years & her classes are a Rockin’ good time (Read her answers to get the joke hehe) ✨✨

1. How did you find yoga: I found yoga on accident at a local gym after Zumba class. Immediately hooked. After trying many local yoga studios I found YBD within a year and never left.

2. What made you become a yoga teacher: I really wanted to deepen my practice but also wanted to bring the joy of yoga to others : )
3. Favorite yoga pose: It is still Warrior 2. I remember the first time I went in the pose and it felt like a religious experience. A bolt of energy flew through my body!
4. Who inspires you?: Too many to list, but I take Kyle regularly on Sundays in WS (she just has an amazing class where I can zen out). Also, I learn so much from the amazing Alex L. – he is always willing to help me and of course Andrea B. was and still is my yoga sculpt hero!
5. Tips: Try not to look around in class at what others are doing and focus on what you can do. It’s a practice and you’ll get there in time – just keep doing it and don’t push.  Find your edge!
6. Favorite quote: You are not IN the Universe – you ARE the universe.
7. How do I find you on social media: I’m only on twitter @kristasyrup

8. Interesting fact: I’m a geology professor at a local college for the past 18 years.  Want to talk about rocks?? Let’s talk!!  I’m also an astronomy enthusiast and run the telescope open viewings on select Friday nights at my college from spring-fall. Come out and stargaze with me.

9. When do we find you in the studio: Monday 9:30-10:30  HIIT Pilates Western Springs; Tuesday 4:30-5:30  HIIT Pilates and 6:00-7:00 Yoga Sculpt both in Western Springs.
10. When you are not yogaing what do you like to do?: Travel! And of course think about when I can do yoga next…
Picture is from Yosemite National Park0-1

Mindful Monday: Power of Mind Cultivation

Good morning, dearest yogis!

First of all, I want to express to you how grateful all of us are for your continued support and participation in our online community classes! It certainly gives all of us something to look forward to. And it provides a sense of continuity and stability during this interesting time.

I’ve been reconnecting with the lovely yoga sutras during this time, which lends a larger and broader perspective and also provides a play book on how we might navigate life’s challenges.

One sutra is particularly resonating with me.

Sutra 2.33: vitarka-bādhane pratipakṣa-bhāvanam

It simply means:
When disturbed by negative thoughts, opposite -positive- ones should be thought of.

Super simple but extremely challenging, am I right?

Basically, this ancient text is reminding us that happiness is a choice that we have to power to make in every moment.

And with pratipaksa bhavanam, we are learning to stop negative thoughts in the moment and immediately balance the fearfulness with positive thoughts based in love and abundance.

We see how this is merely an extension of our eight limbed practice of yoga, which have been covered in depth in previous posts! I encourage you to go back and re-read from the beginning!

The practice is not a basic: “I want a donut” “I do not want a donut”

It is watching the craving (or other negative thought cycle of fear, anger, greed, jealousy, depression, etc) without judgement and then replacing with thoughts of higher level positivity.

In the donut example, the oppositional thought may be focused on how good your body will feel if you eat something more nourishing and satisfying over the long term.

This oppositional thought process is prevalent in all aspects of the practice. From the do’s and don’ts of yamas and niyamas to the juxtaposition of our bodies in inversions!

Our practice is designed to be vigilant of our minds at all times and train the mind like we train the body.

Please share your thoughts and questions with me! See you on your mat in a virtual class soon!

Wellness Wednesday: Energy Revamp

Happy Wellness Wednesday, friends!

While quarantine has been far from comfortable, our time in isolation may have brought us in awe in how quickly the world was to connect in other forms. Our desire for others to share mindful thought and quality time with our immediate ones has now been shown through action, giving us a sense of hope in humanity and new discovery in wholesome pastime.

I have never seen so many people walking together, playing frisbee, posting at-home workouts, writing quotes in chalk, sharing recipes and hyping up one another this past week. It has been humbling to see so many pick up old or new hobbies that includes the various forms of art. Perhaps this required lock down was what we needed in order to sweep the stagnant energy we once held for so long. During this time we have been challenged to occupy our day in ways we are not normally use to. We must put on our rose colored glasses we had from childhood and return to the activities we have gone so long without when we transitioned into our expected path of life.

As humans we have this tendency to become attached to routines, relationships, ideas, material, and so on. We naturally resist change but we come to realize and accept change is the only constant. It will come and go with or without our consent so for meantime in periods of distress, we must seek ease in the smallest of ways. When we experience change, we experience a shift in energy. A shift in energy may be painful at times, or it may surprise us that it may be liberating, allowing us to feel raw and fresh all at the same time. Underlying the discomfort we experience may be emerging excitement that we take the risk of unblocking the natural flow of energy within us.

As we cleanse and revamp the energy that once was stagnant within us, we may discover the “little things” that make us experience genuine joy. These little things may remind us of comforting memories we carried before our life became chronic chaos. Luckily these little things can be accessed to us at any time, and that is a promise made to us. We naturally want to share this joy with others. We learn it becomes infectiously contagious (no pun intended). This is something that can be carried on from this day forward, harmonizing our innermost self to our external world.

Stay safe and Namaste!


Meet the Teacher Kelly OH!

Kelly O’Halloran, is a recent graduate of our YBD Teacher Training program & one cool cat to get to know! 🐾🐾
1. When & how did you come to yoga yourself?
In 2012 I started strength training regularly and I knew I needed to increase my flexibility, but I never made the time for it. I started going to traditional heated yoga classes as a way to stretch, sweat and hold myself accountable. I then found yoga sculpt and fell in love because I was familiar with all the movements. Through sculpt, I learned the importance of linking breath with movement. Soon after, I started taking vinyasa classes and have not stopped since!
2. What made you decide to start teaching (or take TT)?
I constantly found myself influencing friends and family to start taking yoga classes for their overall health. I have always been interested in the physical benefits of yoga but I wanted to dive deeper into the mental and spiritual practice. It took me a few years to finally sign up for teacher training but I am so happy I did.
3. Favorite yoga pose: forward fold
5. Tips for beginners (or advanced yogis maybe): I always try to encourage mindful breathing!! If you are taking mindful, intentional breaths, you are practicing yoga.
6. Favorite quote: “Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance” – Eckhart Tolle
7. Instagram name: kellyocakes <—Give her a follow!
8. Interesting fact about you: I have two Bengal cats 🐾🐾
9. Regular teaching schedule: Day/Time/Format/Location
Monday’s 6pm level 1 Wheaton
Thursday’s 6pm level 1 Wheaton
10. When I am not doing yoga I like to;
Cook, create and make skin care products, snowboard, strength train, health coach, spend time with family and friends

Mindful Monday: Anandamaya Kosha

Love is all we need

Good morning, mindful ones! As we begin week two of self quarantine, it is so serendipitous that we have reached the bliss kosha in our studies.

The final of the five koshas is anandamaya kosha—the bliss sheath. Anandamaya encompasses not the feeling of bliss, but rather, the experience of bliss.

At this innermost layer we feel bliss which in my fleeting experiences is simply feeling more alive as we are freed of blocks on a physical or energetic level. Each breath is in acute focus, everything around is experienced in Technicolor and surround sound audio.

When we are in a state of bliss we are feeling happy, full of purpose and able to experience unconditional love for self and for others. We are liberated from suffering.

The anandamaya kosha is referred to as the true self. Connection to this layer can be described as “coming home.” It is the state of samadhi. 

In contrast to vijnanamaya kosha, you do not witness the bliss sheath, you are the bliss. Bliss can be thought of not as an ecstatic happiness or even joy, but a steady state of being, no matter what circumstance arises.

It’s so important to note that it is a state of wholeness and completeness with the moment and it is completely independent of any external circumstances.

Anandamaya is still a sheath, or an illusion, a layer that can be peeled back. When anandamaya is peeled away, we reach atman—our very center. Atman is our direct connection with the divine, with the essence of all that is. It is our pure consciousness. The soul.

Striving to reach anandamaya kosha is a futile attempt, for it is only revealed when we release any form of mind control over it. Anandamaya is not of the mind. It is a deeper experience than that which can be contemplated. Even describing it in words is not completely accurate. The bliss of a child fully immersed in the moment—that is anandamaya.

Yet, even this bliss, however wonderful it is, is still a covering, a sheath, a lampshade covering the pure light of consciousness. It is the subtle most of the five koshas. In the silence of deep meditation, this too is let go of, so as to experience the center.

Atman is the Self, the eternal center of consciousness, which was never born and never dies.

Atman, the Self, has been best described as indescribable. The realization of that, in direct experience, is the goal of Yoga. Both on and off our mats.

Have a great week, my mindful ones! Stay connected with us through our virtual classes! You can sign up online or on the app via our Elmhurst studio. All classes are streamed via the Zoom app.

I’m so proud of you for using this time as an opportunity for self-care and self-reflection. ❤️🙏🏾

Wellness Wednesday: Connection In Isolation

Happy Wellness Wednesday, friends.

Right now is a weird time for all of us. We may feel disconnected from the world one moment and extremely connected the next knowing each bit of our lives are impacted in some sort of shape and form together.

We each are bound by an invisible connection and we each have an impact on people and the environment around us whether we perceive this as positive or negative. If we remind ourselves to be conscious of this invisible connection between all things, we can find comfort knowing we are not alone.

Our sense of autonomy might be the result of our desire to turn our focus inward at this time. Perhaps our time of isolation is an opportunity to self reflect and consciously devote time for ourselves in order to see what is truly important and create wholesome intention. Intention is what sets the foundation to cultivate purpose. What may seem as a day that lacks productivity may be seen as a day of healing. Solitude is essential piece of this process in order to clearly send energy to where it is needed most. We may take this time to put effort in conversation to those we have not talked to in much time, pick up a hobby we once loved or participate in small acts of kindness.

We become much more hypersensitive contemplating the things that need attention in our lives and our ability to act upon our observations. If we give ourselves the permission to accept and attune to the unsettling stillness we currently all experience, our anxiety will be minimized. We soon can reestablish and gain a sense of grounding.

Staying conscious of our connection to all things and beings can help remind us that we are powerful enough that what we do and say can echo through the lives of people we may never meet. The effort to mindfully acknowledge the situation around us may bring comfort that we are intimately connected with all beings whether we know them or not.


March 2020 POTM: Hanumanasana

Good morning dearest yogis! Our March 2020 POTM is Hanumanasa or full front splits.

Hanunanasana Pose

We’ve intentionally curated this pose during this challenging and unprecedented time, because it embodies the spirit of trust, devotion, a belief in miracles and a willingness to do what needs to be done to serve others.

Hanuman was a half monkey avatar of Lord Shiva. Out of devotion, he leapt from India across the ocean to Sri Lanka to comfort Lord Shiva’s wife who had been kidnapped. He also delivered Shiva’s ring to let her know she would soon be rescued.

In another instance, Hanuman leapt to the mountain to obtain a special healing herb for Lakshmanan. Because he’s a monkey, he wasn’t sure which herb it was! To save precious time, he just carried the entire mountain back down to save his life.

So as you can see, this is a very beautiful pose representing valor and devotion.

Here’s how!

1. From a kneeling lunge, start to straighten your front leg as you slide your back leg behind you.

2. You may use blocks on either side of your mat to help position yourself.

3. Lift the ball of your front foot up and slide you front leg as far as your hamstrings will allow. You might first want to stop at Ardha Hanumanasana, the Half Split Pose, take a few breaths there, and then continue.

4. As your front leg straightens, start pushing your back knee backwards so your back thigh is getting closer towards the floor. Make sure your back leg remains straight from the hip and is not extending towards either side.

5. Keep your hips square towards the front of the mat (warrior one hips) and focus on leveling your pelvis rather than reaching it to the ground. Press your inner thighs towards each other to help support your pelvis.

6. Once you become stable, recruit your core and adductors as you lift your arms to the sky. Hold for 5-20 breaths.

7. Remember yoga is a process not a destination!

Mindful Monday: Vijnanamaya Kosha

Good morning and happy Monday dearest mindful ones.

We are definitely in a situation right now. Remember that calm minds will always prevail! And the universe is always working directly on our behalf, but we may not always see the bigger picture immediately.

How interesting that the next kosha in our study is about the intellect and discernment part of our mind!

The fourth of the koshas is Vijnanamaya kosha. Vijnana means knowing. It is the sheath of wisdom that is underneath the processing, thinking, reactionary aspects of the mind or the Manomaya kosha, our third kosha.

Vijnanamaya is pure awareness. It encompasses intuition and intellect. It is that aspect of our consciousness that is not entangled in what we are doing or thinking, but rather, acutely aware of what we are doing and thinking. It serves as an impartial witness.

Have you ever experienced a moment in your yoga practice where you are much less distracted by random thoughts or occurrences and much less caught up in the anticipation of the next posture?

From this deeper practice, you find that you are more able to feel the pose. You know what is happening deeply within your body and your mind as you settle into the posture, noticing the subtle nuances. This awareness is achieved when vijnanamaya kosha is properly developed and activated.

As we discussed last week, the manomaya kosha can be either useful or detrimental, depending on how we train the mind. We use our yoga practice to become more aware of the auto pilot responses and knee-jerk reactions and judgments.

Vijnanamaya builds on the foundation of the previous, outer sheath—manomaya kosha. Manomaya lays the groundwork for reaching vijnanamaya. We must first navigate the seas of our turbulent and busy minds before we are able to rise above the waves of thoughts that pull us away from our center. With this practice, we develop a steady mind and are able to view ourselves from a distance. Vijnanamaya allows us to step back from our current situation and view it from a better perspective. This is where insight comes from.

The lessons on our mats can always be applied off of our mats! In fact that is truly the point of practice. We can apply this lesson to our current situation. How easy it is to react to all of the fear and uncertainty around us!

Vijnanamaya navigates through those thoughts and finds an island of stillness where we sit in our hearts and observe. From this vantage point, we clearly see how temporary the waves are.

So over the uncertainty of the next couple of weeks, observe your mind and notice when you let it take over with fear

Yogis: have a great week! Use this involuntary vacation as a time to study the deeper limbs of your yoga practice. To allow yourself to rest, relax and reset. What a gift of extra time we have to work on all of our organization and cleaning and purging projects that we’ve been putting off!

Make it a great week of self-love and self-care, yogis!

Wellness Wednesday: Our Internal Clocks

This past week we lost an hour of sleep to welcome the beginning of spring. Our internal clocks may not have adjusted quite as quickly as we may want it to. We may be gavitating towards our bed, feeling sluggish throughout the week in attempt to shed the weight we have carried before such change in daily hours. These longer days are a warm reminder that the sunlight we experience will only become more pronounced as we embrace the lighter energy we desired for so long. Today our ongoing environments have made it possible to provide for ourselves regardless of what cycle nature is currently in. While most of us no longer depend directly on nature’s seasons for our basic needs, our bodies’ internal clock still know on an innate level that a change in season means a change in us too. It is something that we can physically feel. If we do not acknowledge these subtle changes, we may feel out of sync, as if we had lost our natural rhythm we rely so greatly on.

When we become out of tune with this rhythm we become more sensitive as to when we should rest and when we should progress. If we push our bodies to work beyond it’s natural rhythm, our ability to renourish diminishes. While it is easy to feel obligated to impel faster than what is natural for us, it may be beneficial we detach and reflect what feels organic to us at the current moment. If we become in tune with our natural rhythm, we can achieve all we need to do with less effort.

The brighter days encourage us to become more adaptive as we become more motivated to avoid resistance, a defense we often shield ourselves with. When we trust our natural rhythm to sync in harmony with the unvierse’s, we see the bagagge we carry lighten just as the days get brighter.



Mindful Monday: Manomaya Kosha

Good morning and happy Monday, Mindful ones!

Today we are studying our third kosha: manomaya kosha.

To quickly review, the first kosha -Annamaya – is the outermost sheath, literally the physical body comprised of muscles and bones. The second kosha -Pranamaya -is the energetic layer.

The next of the koshas is Manamaya kosha. This sheath can be described as the mental layer. It is the connection point of the first two and last two koshas.

Manomaya encompasses the processing of thoughts and emotions. It involves the functions of the mind that relate to everyday living and our individual interpretation of life, our physical senses. The manomaya kosha can be either useful or detrimental, depending on how we train the mind. We use our yoga practice to become more aware of the auto pilot responses and knee-jerk reactions and judgments.

During your practice, your mind will come up with all sorts of thoughts about your practice—your ability, your strength, your balance, what your pose looks like. It will also judge the postures of other people. It will comment on the teacher or the teaching. You will make assumptions, you will judge, and at times you may be overcome with emotion. Getting caught up the mind’s constant commentary is a sure way to end up frustrated or unhappy!

But it is all part of the process. This is how the mind works.
Now we can see how important the concentration we place on the breath, postures, and gazing point during yoga all help to train the mind to stay present. Instead of being pulled into the stories we tell ourselves about our experiences, by keeping the attention on the breath, the asana, and the gaze, we become more able to simply notice the commentary as it arises, and to let it fall away as we remain steady.

The next time you find yourself getting caught up in the stories you tell yourself, notice that you’ve done so, and bring your attention back to the breath. This constant return of focus to the breath takes work, but eventually it will become an inherent practice that allows us to be more of a witness to our mind rather than held in the grips of our crazy, irrational thoughts.

If you have ever used your breath to help you calm your mind from an overwhelming experience or difficult emotion (on or off the mat), you have felt the two aspects of manomaya kosha.

The ability to rise out of thought patterns that do not serve us is perhaps the most valuable aspect of this practice we call yoga. The mind is a powerful force, and we have the ability to train the mind as a way to find ease in life. This is the potential of manomaya kosha.

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