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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.

 

Mindful Monday: Just Breathe

Good morning, dearest ones!

As we launch into this new work week, remember to breathe!

If you’re running late, just breathe

If your kids are moving at less than optimal speed, just breathe

If there’s a long line in front of you at your local coffee shop, just breathe

If you catch every single red light, just breathe

If the person next to you on the train is loudly talking on their phone, just breathe

If your meetings are filled with long-winded monologues, just breathe

If the IT person is taking forever to look at your machine, just breathe

If on the way to yoga class today you’re stuck behind the slowest driving person in the history of mankind, just breathe

And as you breathe, remember to count your blessings. One by one.

I always count you among my many many blessings.

Make it a great week, yogis!

Mindful Monday: Go With the Flow 

Happy happy Monday, y’all!  How about that extra hour of sleep you got last night? What a perfect way to begin today with a feisty attitude of gratitude!

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”

Would you like to be happy for the rest of your life? Then follow that one simple idea by Lao Tzu. It’s truly that simple. Yet … 

We’ve been resisting change literally since birth! Born into a cold, loud world, we start our lives crying and in shock. 

And change continues to happen so rapidly. And we fight it every step of the way … even before we learn to actually articulate the word, “No!”

It continues through childhood. Resisting the rules and expectations first from our parents then our teachers and society at large.  

Do I even have to mention teenage rebelliousness here?

And finally as adults … we continue to resist! Yes, one side of us strives to fulfill our social duties, obligations and expectations in exchange for acceptance from our family, friends  and colleagues. But the other side of us craves to revolt against every belief, dogma and standard that has ever been forced down our throats! We long to throw caution to the wind and live with our own rules and experience freedom. 

Just think of how you react when you show up to yoga and your favorite teacher had to sub out class last minute. Or you open up an app you use every day and it’s been completely updated and it’s super hard to navigate. We simply don’t like change.  Which makes us resistant. Annoyed. Inconvenienced. Not happy. 

And this is just the little stuff, right? 

Some big stuff has happened in my life lately, and I’m struggling to accept and go with the flow. So much easier said than done. A friend of mine who I’ve known for nearly thirty years – my best friend during my rebellious and exploratory, toeing the line 20s – was placed on life support recently.  I’m still reeling from the shock of it. Disbelief. Regret. So much inner resistance. 

Other stuff too. No need for details. You get it. We are all struggling and battling with our own inner turmoil each day. 

So how do I deal with this huge curveball that life has thrown at me?

Each time my feelings and thoughts overwhelm me, I just breathe deeply and allow myself to experience whatever bubbled up. 

I then direct my awareness to so many fond memories and I feel grateful for all the time we had together.  And I dedicate my efforts to her throughout the day. Doing things on her behalf that she may not ever do again.  Or truth be told, she would never do anyway. I could never get that girl on a yoga mat! 

And I remember that despite the lie we all whisper to ourselves, that there is enough time, life is fragile and amazing and each moment is a blessing. Each breath truly a gift. 

My work is non-resistance. To open and accept and laugh and love as much as I can for as long as I am able. 

Let’s stop wasting time complaining about the weather or other things we cannot change. Let’s live with purpose and joy and acceptance. 

Something magical will happen to you today! I feel it coming. Best. Monday. Ever. 🙏🏾

Meet Jill L. YBD’s November Teacher of the Month

On days that feel a little gloomy with the clouds and early sundown, spending an hour with Jill feels like sunshine! She is a warm, kind, and loving soul which very much so translates to her teaching. She completed her teaching training with YBD in 2016, and has been sharing her love of yoga through all of our class formats with others ever since! We are grateful to have her on our YBD team; for her connection to her students and for always showing up with her contagious smile. Here’s where you can find her!

Class Schedule…

Tuesday – Downers Grove
Sculpt Fusion 4:30pm
YBD2 95 6:00pm
Wednesday – Elmhurst
Yoga Sculpt 12:00pm
HIIT Pilates 6:00pm
Saturday – Wheaton
Yoga Sculpt 9:00am
Saturday – Elmhurst
YBD2 105 4:00pm
When & how did you come to yoga?
I have been practicing yoga for over 20 years! Yoga became my primary form of exercise in 2009 after knee & hip surgeries kept me from running. It was then that I truly found my love of yoga. I began feeling strong. Yes, I became physically stronger but, more importantly, I found an inner strength that I had not known before. As I continue to grow in my physical practice of yoga, I also continue to grow mentally and spiritually. This is a very powerful combination! Yoga fuels me and allows me to feel prepared for the ups and downs of life.
Why did you start teaching yoga?
I found YBD in 2014 and quickly felt it was my second home. I was excited every time I went to class, and always looked forward to the next one. I completed YBD’s 200 hour RYT program in 2016 with hopes of sharing this love of the practice with others. I believe in the healing and strengthening powers of yoga and hope that each of my students experience this as well.
What is your favorite pose?
There are many poses that could be favorites but dancer pose comes to my mind first. This pose requires balance, strength, flexibility and patience. It makes me feel calm and graceful yet fierce and strong.
Who inspires your teaching?
My students inspire me! I love to  watch students grow in their own practice and in themselves. And most of all, I love the “yoga bliss” I see in students after class!
Tips for beginners…
Find and hold on to whatever it is that keeps you coming to your mat. Resist the urge to focus on just the physical practice of yoga. Pay attention to how your practice makes you feel inside and out.
What’s your favorite quote?
“Strength and growth come only from continuous effort and struggle”
Napolean Hill

Mindful Monday: Letting Go

Good morning, yogis! Happy Monday! Happy Columbus Day! I’ve been loving our rainy weather we had last week! Rain is so cleansing and renewing, doncha think?

Especially this time of year — watching the waning of summer into autumn and eventually winter. Observing the trees graciously surrendering their foliage, one leaf and bud at a time. 

As we age, we go through the same process. One by one surrendering the things of our youth. The goal is to age as naturally as possible. To embrace anicca, the impermanence of life. To appreciate what we have while we have it; so when the time arrives to relinquish, we can do it with an open heart filled with love, gratitude and acceptance. 

As I have grown older, some things have been fairly easy to yield to my youth: competitiveness, worrying what people think, focusing on superficial things, equating status with success. 

Some things, however, are more of a struggle. Particularly, watching my baby boy grow into an amazing young man. Of course my heart bursts with so much pride at what a talented, hard working, compassionate human being he has become. Each stage of his life has been preparing me for the inevitable time that he will fly from my nest. 

The latest stage is too quickly approaching. I’m writing this blog from the Purdue campus in West Lafayette – we are actually on our second college campus visit. 

Purdue campus visit, Sunday, October 8, 2017


Even in this picture, you can see him pulling away from me. 😭

As parents, regardless of race, gender, social or economic status, we all feel the same thrills and pangs of parenthood. Some of you are young parents, struggling with getting a full night of sleep. Or spending each and every weekend watching your kids play sports. Some of you are empty nesters, learning to rebuild a life not dominated by incessant demands of your time. 

Like the trees, we parents are all on the same path of letting go. Each milestone in our children’s lives is another practice of releasing. In order to be a successful parent, our children should walk away from us, fully equipped to function and thrive in life.  

I’m so grateful for all of the moments I have with my son. And thankful for all of the strong, brave parents showing me the art of letting go. 

Anicca. Anicca. Anicca. Be happy. Be happy. Be happy. 

Mindful Monday: Labor Day

Happy Labor Day, friends! Yikes! This three day weekend got me confused. Lol. So this is coming a wee bit later than normal. 

These long weekends are hopefully filled with good times. And that means different things for different people. 

Some of us may enjoy being surrounded by family and friends at the lake or in someone’s backyard. Others may enjoy the downtime to simply get re-grounded and relax. For me, the best is a balance between both. 

Labor Day is meant to honor the laborers, the backbone of our country. The hard working men and women and their contributions to the strength, success and prosperity of our nation. 

The word Labor is also applied to any hard work, especially that requiring physical exertion. Like childbirth. Or teaching yoga. 😜

I think of Labor as an expression of love. Anything that we undertake that challenges us, physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally takes focus and dedication. It IS work. But within that work carries the seeds of  growth and transformation. 

We get to witness the fruits of our own Labor. And we experience the pure joy of time spent doing, feeling, contributing, giving and just being alive. 

However you have chosen to spend this weekend, perhaps you even worked today, I hope it is something that feeds your soul, honors your spirit and makes your heart happy. 

In case you’re wondering why the image of the Rock was selected for Labor Day … the pic should speak for itself. ❤️

 

Meet Gizel, YBD teacher of the month

Wow, how is it September already?! Amidst the hustle and bustle of the school year starting, the seasons changing, and life in general, make sure you carve out time for yourself! We cannot think of a better way to fill your own cup than flowing on your mat in one of Gizel’s lovely classes. Gizel shares her kindness and joy with her students in all of her classes. Her smile is contagious and her classes are thoughtful and fulfilling. Here’s where you can find her:

Fridays @ Wheaton

4:00 *YBD 1* 85

5:15 *Fun Flow Fridays (themes change weekly)* 85

When and how did you come to yoga?

After the birth of my oldest, I needed something that would fill my
soul and be kind to my body.

Why did you start teachi
ng yoga?

I just wanted to share my joy for the practice with others and the
peace it brings me in this hectic life.

What is your favorite pose?

Triangle. I was a math major in college and love all the angles and
freedom the pose brings.

Who inspires your teaching?

I have great respect for the seat of the yoga teacher, so I’m always
grateful and inspired by every single teacher who has guided me
through my practice.

Tips for beginners…

Don’t compare your yoga practice with anyone else’s- it belongs
uniquely to you and is an expression of your personal, beautiful
journey.

What’s your favorite quote?

 “Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic,
imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be
greater than our level of self-acceptance.”-Brené Brown

Mindful Monday: Keep Your Head Up 


Good morning, my lovely mindful ones! Happiest of Mondays to you. I hope you had a lovely week and weekend. 

Last Monday I shared with you the erratic emotional swings I experienced leading up to the eclipse. This past week was filled with moments of pure sublime joy and happiness. I had such moments of clarity and peace that I was truly present for. 

That’s not to say that each and every moment was like that. On the contrary, I had the usual “ups and downs.” Whatever I’m feeling, I feel it so very deeply! Heartbreak is a physical pain in my chest. Happiness makes my heart want to leap out through my sternum. I literally lose my vision when I’m angry! I can’t see straight. And sadness, it overwhelms me to my core. When I miss someone (and there is someone in my life I miss terribly) my entire body weeps. But then life will send me something to laugh about and my body will vibrate with it. And when I feel love …. ahhhhhh. My heart belts out an opera solo. 


Last week, I was somehow able to pull myself back and stay a little more connected to this underlying current of endless peace and happiness.  It’s so different than the roller coaster of moment to moment emotions. It’s steady. It’s always there. Just beneath the surface. It’s your soul. 

It’s why we love yoga so much.  Yoga gives us a taste of our authentic state of being. Even while we struggle to hold a challenging pose, we connect to sense of beauty in the struggle. We feel without a doubt that we can endure anything for five breaths. 

In my my moments of sadness and despair last week, I reminded myself that I could only feel the depth of such sadness because I know the incredible highs of happiness. My despair was because of my extreme optimism. My loneliness was because of my deep connections in my relationships. We simply cannot have one without the other, can we?

Whatever you’re suffering through my friend, you can always use the tools of our yoga practice to find stability. Just keep your head up. 

Or. This. 

What does a nosy pepper do?

Get jalapeño business! 

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

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”!

 

Mindful Monday: Unconditional Love


Good morning and happy Mindful Monday, dear friends! Yesterday we celebrated the mothers in our lives – something we hopefully observe the other 364 days of the year as well!

It’s important to note that some among us struggled yesterday. Many are missing their mothers each day,  and it was especially felt while others so poignantly posted on social media about their special day. It reminds us of the natural cycle of life. Tempis fugit, carpe diem et memento mori: Time flies, seize the day and remember to die. We are blessed for each and every fleeting moment we bask in our mothers’ love. 

The overall theme of Mother’s Day is to honor our moms as well as the maternal figures in our lives. Any one who has nurtured us, wiped our tears, held our hands, cheered us on from the sidelines, those who have shined unconditional love on our hearts. 

Perhaps you never felt that type of love from your mother and you yearn for it now. You’ve looked for it in other relationships or tried to fill the void through other external sources. And learned that you never quite grasped it. 

The truth is that the fierce, sacrificial, tender and compassionate maternal love already resides within your heart. You don’t have to look anywhere but within yourself to tap into it. And that is the type of love you should lavish on YOURSELF. 

Can you love yourself through the loving, forgiving, proud, gentle, understanding and caring eyes of a mother looking with tenderness as her newborn sleeps in her arms? 

We get to practice that type of love each and every time we unroll our mats! That’s why we refer to it as a ‘practice.’ We are constantly practicing unconditional love toward ourselves on our mats so that we can slowly learn to extend that type of acceptance toward all other living creatures. It must start within. 

Have a great, great week yogis! Congrats to all our of recent college graduates! Thank you to all of our ‘mothers’ out there from our teachers who provide a space for us to explore to our studio attendants who  literally clean up after us to our students to whom I’ve witnessed countless times comforting and supporting and cheering one another! 🙏🏾