Classes

Student Spotlight: Read Why Former NFL Player and YBD Member Chris Watt Hits the Mat

Those who practice yoga have all begun their yoga journey for different reasons. Among the many reasons, some start off by being dragged by a friend, some heard it can help with stress, some came to try something new, and others just came because they were curious. Retired NFL player, Chris Watt started his practice via DVDs watched during college football practice but really found his true enjoyment of yoga, and in turn his habitual practice of yoga, following major injuries acquired during his lifelong sport play. Born and raised in Glen Ellyn, Chris went on to play offensive line at Notre Dame. He was then drafted by the San Diego Chargers where he continued to play offensive line for three years before tearing his PCL and stepping down from his NFL career. His focus on healing his body took him to his yoga mat with us at YBD.

What got you started practicing yoga?

I felt like my injuries combined with finishing my career in football, I felt a little lost. A former teammate of mine had told me about the benefits he had experienced. His neck was so compressed until he started practicing and actually grew a half inch taller. He had benefited from an injury standpoint so I thought I would give it a try.

How has your practice benefited you?

I love practicing in the heat. I feel it loosens up my joints so I try to get to class early to move on my mat. There are definitely postures my range of motion prevents me from moving into. But it’s definitely helped with improving my range of motion thus far. I’ve seen changes in my sleep, my stress levels have lowered. I’ve been able to get out of my own head and focus more. My flexibility has improved and I do feel a lot better in general.

What advice do you have for athletes hesitant to try yoga?

I think that you should always do something that’s going to benefit you as an athlete. More people are starting to realize the benefits of yoga. It’s not just for women it’s for men too. You can get so many benefits out of it like flexibility and better sleep, all of these things so important to staying healthy and healthy on the field. I wish I would’ve done it sooner! Don’t worry about being judged on your skill level. Everyone is different and teachers are encouraging.

What is your favorite style of yoga to practice?

I like the 105 YBD HOT class and I occasionally do the sculpt classes which is tough! It’s definitely humbling as well. When I first started I had to go into child’s pose four or five times. Slowly I’ve built up my practice.

What is your favorite pose?

Going into downward dog feels good, especially as my flexibility has improved. Chair pose is probably my best pose that I’ve focused on improving on. I couldn’t do it at first because of my knee but now that it’s getting better I feel that I’ve been able to improve.

 

Meet Denice, YBD Teacher of the Month

“Denice S.’s sculpts are amazing. Her PT [Personal Training] really shows, all safe while having fun!” This just one of the many positive notes we’ve received about our new amazing sculpt teacher Denice. You will find her teaching her energetic, motivating, fun sculpt classes at all of our locations as part of her permanent teaching schedule as well as helping out by subbing for other teachers as often as she can. She’s also there to greet you with her kind smile as you enter the studio as one of our most hard working and supportive front desk attendants. She is such an asset to our YBD family we are so grateful to have her. Here’s where you can experience her fun classes:

Tuesdays, Glen Ellyn @ 430pm
Thursdays, Downers Grove @ 6:00am
Thursdays, Wheaton @ 7:15pm
Friday, Elmhurst @ 6:00am
Friday, Downers Grove @ 9:00am
Sunday, Wheaton @ 10:00am

When and how did you come to yoga?

One day I just started feeling really down on myself, full of anxiety and unable to relax.  A good friend of mine took me to a 105 degree room for 90 min and I couldn’t get enough and started practicing Bikram Yoga 5 times per week.  I started practicing Bikram Yoga about 8 years ago and know there was much more to this yoga journey than only practicing one style.  So I ventured out and started taking Vinyasa and Yin classes loving them both.

Why did you start teaching yoga?

I was tired and stressed every day coming home from my corporate job as a paralegal.  With also being a personal trainer I knew if I started teaching yoga it would be a perfect fit to my personal training as well as tone down my daily stress and anxiety.  I just wanted to be happy and whenever I was in the studio on my mat I was all smiles.

What is your favorite pose?

My favorite pose would have to be Fallen Angel with Dancer being the runner up.  I love this pose as I feel that I am so exposed to the whole universe and the feeling of this beautiful heart opener is just simply amazing.

Who inspires your teaching?

I would have to say my dad and my students inspire my teaching.  Seeing my students open up and be exactly who they are, no strings attached and leave with a big smile on their face just makes me appreciate my teaching and love for yoga even more.  Before my dad passed away he told me that teaching yoga was what I was meant to do and always wanted me to do dancer pose for him.  His favorite picture was me outside in Dancers Pose.  The smile of disbelief on his face that I could stand on one leg and hold this pose still melts my heart today.

Tips for beginners…

My tips for beginners would be come to your mat with no expectations and no judgments and breathe.  When you are breathing you are doing yoga.  Be who you are don’t worry what anyone one else is doing.  Yoga is all about you and what you need from your mat.  Practice makes progress, you are already perfect.

What’s your favorite quote?

Favorite quote would have to be “Do what you love, love what you do”!

 

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:

Mondays

8:00 YBD2 105 Wheaton

Tuesdays

8:00 YBD2 105 Western Springs

Thursdays

6:00 YBD2 95 Western Springs

8:00 YBD 105 Western Springs

Saturdays

7:30 YBD 2 Glen Ellyn

10:15 YBD1 Downers Grove

Sundays

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.”

Meet Hillary, YBD Teacher of the Month

We are so grateful to have Hillary as part of our YBD team! She is such a kind, thoughtful, warm soul and radiates that as she teaches. She is a strong part of our sculpt program and adds such a great energy to our community by leading workshops and events at various YBD locations. As a school teacher, she is off for the summer so will be around the studios subbing and spreading her joy! Come see her!

Mondays Sculpt 6:00pm DG
Mondays Restorative 8:00pm DG
Wednesdays Sculpt 4:30pm GE
Saturdays Sculpy 9:00am DG

When and how did you come to yoga?

About five years ago, my friend Christina brought me to my first yoga class. And I remember I didn’t really want to go because I was scared and nervous. But I soon fell in love with how it made me feel physically, mentally, and spiritually.

Why did you start teaching yoga?

For years I never felt strong, graceful, or flexible. And when I started practicing yoga, I started to feel all of those things and more. I couldn’t believe all of the benefits and how great I felt. I felt calmer yet stronger, relaxed yet invigorated. I was in love with yoga! And because of this, I wanted to share my passion and love for yoga with others.

What is your favorite pose?

Savasana is definitely on the list. I also love pigeon, half moon, crow, and tripod headstand.

Who inspires your teaching?

Everything inspires me. My boyfriend inspires me to take on new challenges and reminds me when I am strong (especially when I feel everything but that). My parents inspire me to believe in myself. My dog inspires me to stay in the moment and love everyone. My cats inspire me to rest when I need it. Nature reminds me that life is a beautiful gift. My friends, family, students, and fellow yogis inspire me to try new things, tap into my inner strength, laugh, and keep learning and growing.

Tips for beginners…

Keep coming back!

What’s your favorite quote?

My favorite quote of all time is from Shakespeare. “And this above all: to thine own self be true.”

 

Mindful Monday: Spring has officially Sprung

108 Sangha! Photo credit: Sarah Pogorzelski

Happy, happy, happy Monday, friends! As of 5:29 am today, the Vernal or Spring Equinox commenced! Spring has officially arrived!  This is a powerful time of year! Rapid shedding and releasing; tremendous transformations. The 2017 Equinox is the perfect time to honor all areas and aspects of your life and the circumstances that surround you.

More than 30 of our YBD community gathered together yesterday (a few not pictured) to harness the transformative power of this new season. What an amazing experience!

The sun’s power gives life and allows all things on earth to flourish. As we flowed through 108 sun salutations, we moved and breathed as one. The strength and Grace and power in the room was magnificent.

Four sets of 27 sun salutes.

  1.  Focused and dedicated to releasing what holds us back – Spring cleaning of body mind and soul.
  2. Planting seeds of self-love and self acceptance. Building the foundation for all good things to come.
  3. This set was devoted to people we love. Love is the most powerful energy source.  When we devote our energy to others, we are able to achieve far more  than if it was just for ourselves.
  4. One love. Dedicated to peeling away walls and barriers so that we may find a common ground in all humanity.

Practice ended with some deep yin poses and a guided meditation.

If you were unable to make it last night, no worries! It’s not too late to create your own intentions and plant your own seeds.

Now is the perfect time to bring acceptance to your life no matter the circumstances or the judgements over what is good and what is bad, and to instead honor your unique journey. We are all perfectly in progress!

It is also a time to celebrate how far you have come and how much you have grown over the course of the year. And even last year.

Has 2017 been less than stellar for you ? Well, you can start fresh ! The March Equinox is considered the start of the astrological new year. This is because the Sun shifts into the constellation of Aries, which is regarded as the first of the 12 constellations used in astrology. Never too late to begin again.

The energy of Aries makes it a perfect time to start thinking about what is next and what you would like the next few months to feel like. To think about it but more importantly feel it.

Perhaps make a list of all the feeling words you would like to create in your life moving forward and see if you can start creating those feelings in small ways every single day.

This year’s Equinox is the perfect time to honor the growth and the pain, the light and the darkness and all the experiences that have made you who you are today. It is the perfect time to love yourself and learn to find gratitude and peace with the journey you are taking.

Enjoy this beautiful weather! Make each breath count.

Mindful Monday: Spring Equinox and 108 Sun Salutes

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Happy Mindful Monday, friends!  Living here in Chicago,  we certainly learn to go with the flow –  especially when it comes to the weather!  No shocker when we go from glorious weather in the 60s to snowfall in the same month, right?  So we learn to go with the flow  knowing this is an unchangeable situation and it also impermanent.  Like life it ebbs and flows and is in constant flux and transition.

Regardless  of the weather forecast, our Spring Equinox will be here in a week! Join your YBD community  for a vigorous practice accessible to all levels this Sunday at our Elmhurst studio from 3:30 – 5:30 pm!  The practice itself  should take about 90 minutes.   The final 30 minutes will be a yin and restorative cool down.

While the thought of 108 sun salutes may sound daunting,  the repetitive actions create a meditative experience.  Most people feel a build up of energy as they flow  and leave practice feeling energized!

Each time I’ve been a student for this practice I’ve  experienced an unbelievable freedom  and sense of being unchained.  My practice becomes a devotion and a celebration and a meditation.   It is truly indescribable.

Some common questions are addressed below:

Will the room be heated ?

I will set the room temperature  between 80 to 85°

Do we go through 108 sun salutations nonstop?

I chunk out the practice in four sets of 27

Can anyone do this practice?

Yes I will offer modifications to make this practice accessible to virtually anyone who is in decent physical shape and injury free

What do I need to bring ?

Your mat and a towel and some water

Do I have to count them on my own?  What if I lose track?

I will be counting the sun salutations,  so students have nothing to do but flow

There is still space available!  Sign up at any studio or online!

Have a great week,yogis!  Hope to see you on your mat this week!

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4 Week Shred is back in 2017!

Looking to spark a change? Be happy. Be strong. Be healthy. Be free from what holds you back! We have a few spots open for January 2017 Shred! You will work with fitness instructor Teresa & nutritionist Susan to fit a customized plan for your life! Call or sign up at any location for an informational call to find out more & start the ball rolling to finding the you – you know you can be!

4 Week Shred is back in 2017!

Our successful 4 Week boot camp program starts January 8th in Western Springs. Don’t miss this amazing opportunity to get customized nutrition coaching, meal plans, and workouts! This is the first step toward achieving your health and fitness goals! Whether you are trying to kick start your weight loss, increase your fitness levels or live a healthier lifestyle the 4 Week Shred will set you up for long-term, sustainable achievement. Make 2017 your best year yet!

What is 4 Week Shred?

4 Week Shred is a food and fitness program designed to support, educate, and motivate. We will meet once a week on Sundays for a boot camp workout and nutrition workshop.

Program Schedule: January 8th – January 29th         

Sundays 1/8-1/29
3 pm to 5 pm
Nutrition Workshop and Boot Camp
Western Springs YBD

Due to the customized meal plans, nutrition workshops and coaching from the Shred Leads, we will have to limit the number of participants!  Secure your spot today!

Components:

  • Customized meal plan written by Registered Dietitian (RD), Susan Rizzo
  • 4 Nutrition workshops with opportunity for Q+A with RD
  • 4 HIIT boot camp classes customized for maximum results
  • Customized workout plan
  • 1 month unlimited yoga and yoga sculpt at ANY 6 YBD locations
  • Support from fellow Shredders and leads
  • Food and experience journal
  • Hard work and life changing RESULTS!

 

Pricing:

Yoga By Degrees Members: $150- includes 4 HIIT boot camp classes, 4 nutrition workshops and customized meal plan

Non-members: $275 – includes 4 HIIT boot camp classes, 2 nutrition workshops, customized meal plan, one month unlimited yoga and yoga sculpt classes at ANY YBD location

Email Teresa at 4weekshred2017@gmail.com for any questions you may have!

Are you ready to sign up? Enroll online, in studio, or over the phone at any YBD location by 

January 7th!

 If you want to read about a Shredders experience in April, please follow this link https://breathesweatsmile.wordpress.com/2016/05/11/4-week-shred-success/

 

Who are the leads?

Susan Rizzo, RD, LDN, CDE

Registered Dietitian

Susan has been a Registered Dietitian (RD) for over 30 years. She is passionate about the value of good eating and exercising for its role in health. For the past 15 years she has enjoyed educating clients as nutrition counselor and diabetes educator for AMITA Health-Alexian Brothers. Over the years she has been involved with various weight loss programs including Weight Watchers, the YMCA and The Solution Program.  Recently she has advised clients involved with The Daily Herald’s Fittest Loser competition. Susan holds certifications of training in Adult and Pediatric Weight Management with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Her expertise in nutrition has helped many clients individualize their food choices leading to improved weight and health status.  She is dedicated to educating people with the tools needed to self-manage their weight and meet health goals. A long time believer in the powers of physical activity she has enjoyed a variety of pursuits throughout her life including running, walking, yoga, tennis, ice skating, soccer, biking and dancing. She raised 4 children and is sensitive to the needs of busy lifestyles.

Teresa Larem

Yoga Instructor/ Yoga Sculpt Instructor/Shred Facilitator

Teresa has always been a lifelong athlete, starting with soccer in kindergarten and continuing with tennis, basketball, softball, track, yoga, dance and rock climbing. If it’s active she likes it! Teresa discovered Yoga sculpt in 2013 and has been in love ever since due to the intensity, fun and results she has received from sculpt and fusion.  She began teaching Yoga in 2014 and soon followed with Yoga Sculpt in 2015 and has recently helped train the latest group of teachers at YBD. She loves teaching sculpt and fusion because she loves to have fun and motivate people. She truly believes that being active is the key to a long and healthy life and hopes to make working out fun for her students. Her other hobbies include soccer, CrossFit spin, walking her dog, reading, and yoga.

Meet Loukia, YBD Teacher of the Month

Meet our first Teacher of the Month of the new year! Loukia has such an amazing story of transformation and following your heart. After leaving her career as a high school administrator, she completed her teacher training with us at YBD and has been inspiring students ever since. We are very grateful to be part of Loukia’s road to happiness and are grateful she shares her joy with our YBD community!
Monday

6am, YBD2 95°-Western Springs

Tuesday

6am, YBD1 95°-Naperville

Wednesday

4:30, YBD1 85°-Elmhurst

Friday

4:00, YBD1 85° & 5:45, YBD2 105°-Downers Grove

Saturday

12:00, YBD2 95° & 1:30 Restorative-Western Springs

When and how did you come to yoga?
I began regularly practicing yoga in 2011 when YBD in Wheaton opened. I had a number of physical ailments so I thought yoga would help. I was also looking for a way to reduce stress from my role as a high school administrator.  The heated studio felt detoxifying and relieved my stress after a long day of work.  The candles of the dimly lit studio exuded an aura of calm and it was a rare opportunity for quiet time in my day. I found yoga to be physically challenging with the added benefit of challenging me mentally every time I stepped onto my mat.  As I began to move in and out of the poses in the vinyasa flow classes, my body began to feel alive, my mind began to quiet, turning my negative self-talk into positive, self-love.

Why did you start teaching yoga?
I experienced a series of losses in 2014 and practicing yoga healed me from the inside out. Being on yoga mat helped me heal and come to terms with all the pain of my loss and grief. In 2015 I decided that if I could help even one person feel better and find peace through yoga, then training to be a yoga teacher would be worth it for me. I completed my training in the fall 2015 and have been enjoying the journey of being a new teacher this past year.

What is your favorite pose?
My favorite pose is tree pose, vrksasana. The essence of tree pose is to find balance. However, in tree pose you might sway, like a tree does in the wind but your foot stays rooted in to the ground. Allowing myself the freedom for my body to move and find its balance while I visualize still being rooted into the earth allows me to find acceptance of my body and my life in that present space and moment. Balance is something I work really hard at on and off the mat so I love tree pose because of that!

Who inspires your teaching?
My own yoga teachers have been my inspiration.  I’ve been blessed to have caring, kind, and compassionate yoga teachers and realize the impact a teacher can have on students every time they step on the mat.

Tips for beginners…
Learn to live in the uncomfortable.  You will inevitably find your first class challenging and a bit awkward and uncomfortable as your body moves in and out of the various poses.  Learn to live with that uncomfortable feeling of a beginner because everyone at one point or another was a beginner, even your yoga teachers!

What’s your favorite quote?
Life is a balance of holding on and letting go.

Meet Lola, YBD Teacher of the Month

Have you gotten to take this beautiful yogi’s class yet? Lola completed her teacher training at Yoga By Degrees in the Winter of 2015. Since then, she’s been sharing the yoga love with all of our studios and students. She fills the room with her loving, grounded, positive energy from the moment she walks in the door. We are so grateful to have her as part of our community! Here’s where you can find her:

Wednesdays – Wheaton

YBD 2 105 8:00pm-9:00pm

Thursdays – Western Springs

YBD 2 105 8:00pm-9:00pm

Saturdays – Wheaton

YBD 1 85 2:00pm-3:00pm

YBD 2 105 4:00pm-5:00pm

Sundays

South Naperville

YBD 1 85 9:00am-10:00am

YBD 2 95 10:30am-11:30am

Wheaton

YBD 2 95 4:00pm-5:00pm

 

Get to know Lola:

*When and how did you come to yoga?

I started practicing about 10 years ago and consistently 4 years ago at YBD.

*Why did you start teaching yoga?

In the hopes of Inspiring others and to support and promote all the positives that yoga brings to me and those I know.

*Tips for beginners…

Keep practicing and have an open mind!

*What’s your favorite quote?

Osho: You are not accidental. Existence Needs you, without you something would be missing in existence, and nobody could replace it. That’s what gives you dignity that the whole existence will miss you […]

4 week SHRED

4 week Shred

Due to the success of our first session, we are thrilled to announce round two of the SHRED program at Yoga By Degrees! The 4 Week Shred will be starting June 1st at Yoga By Degrees Downers Grove.  The 4 Week Shred is a two part boot camp program designed to set you up for success in achieving your fitness and health goals- whether it is kick starting weight loss, building lean muscle while shredding fat or getting into the best shape of your life! You will learn how to fuel and move your body to achieve maximum, long term results. The 4 Week Shred will give you the tools and motivation you need to succeed.

Program starts: June 1-June 26

Sundays, June 12 and 26: 4-5:30pm Nutritional Workshops

Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays: 6-6:50am High Intensity Fusion Class

Due to the customized meal plans, nutrition workshops and coaching from the Shred Leads, we will have to limit the number of participants.

Want more information? We are holding two information meetings on the following dates. Both Teresa and Susan will be there to address any questions or concerns you may have.

Free Information Meetings:

May 18, 7pm at YBD Downers Grove

May 25, 7pm at YBD Downers Grove

Can’t make the meetings? Want more information? No problem! Email Teresa at 4weekshred2016@gmail.com for any questions you may have!

Pricing

Yoga By Degrees Members: $275

Nonmembers: $400 (includes 1 month unlimited yoga!)

Meet your 4 Week Shred Leads!

Susan Rizzo, RD, LDN, CDE susan

Dietitian

Susan has been a Registered Dietitian (RD) for over 30 years. She is passionate about the value of eating right and exercising for its role in health. For the past 15 years she has enjoyed educating clients as nutrition counselor and diabetes educator for AMITA Health-Alexian Brothers. Over the years she has been involved with various weight loss programs including programs for the YMCA, Weight Watchers, and The Solution Program. Recently she has advised clients involved with The Daily Herald’s Fittest Loser program. Susan holds certifications of training in Adult and Pediatric Weight Management with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Her expertise in nutrition has helped many clients individualize their food choices leading to improved weight and health status. She is dedicated to educating people with the tools needed to self-manage their weight and meet health goals. A long time believer in the powers of physical activity she has enjoyed a variety of physical activity pursuits throughout her life including running, walking, yoga, tennis, ice skating, soccer, biking and dancing. She raised 4 children and is sensitive to the needs of busy lifestyles.

 

Teresa Larem Teresa 2

Yoga Instructor/ Yoga Sculpt Instructor/Shred Facilitator

Teresa has always been a lifelong athlete, starting with soccer in kindergarten and continuing with tennis, basketball, softball, track, yoga, dance and rock climbing. If it’s active she likes it! Teresa discovered Yoga sculpt in 2013 and has been in love ever since due to the intensity, fun and results she has received from sculpt and fusion. She began teaching Yoga in 2014 and soon followed with Yoga Sculpt in 2015 and has recently helped train the latest group of teachers at YBD. She loves teaching sculpt and fusion because she loves to have fun and motivate people. Teresa truly believes that being active is the key to a long and healthy life and hopes to make working out fun for her students. Her other hobbies include soccer, spin, walking her dog, reading, and yoga.

Are you ready to sign up? Enroll online, in studio, or over the phone at any YBD location by June 1st!