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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. ūüėú

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. ‚̧ԳŹ

 

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.‚ÄĚ-Bren√© 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 jalape√Īo 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 ‚ÄúDo what you love, love what you do‚ÄĚ!

 

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! ūüôŹūüŹĺ

Mindful Monday: Today is the BEST day 


Good morning and happy Monday, dear wonderful, beautiful you! 
Today is the perfect day to be alive!  As the warm air moves, let it flow through your body. Expand each precious moment by tuning in to each of your senses. So that each breath engulfs you in the eternal. Let your day be sensual; immerse yourself in the depth and height and width of each teeny, subtle sensation. 

Allow yourself to FEEL. Everything. Pleasure and pain. Excitement and disappoint. Happiness and sadness. Love and fear. The entire gamut. 

Notice what makes you happy and uplifts your energy and feeds your soul, then continue to move in that direction! It’s that simple! 

Be aware of what zaps your energy, causes stress and unhappiness, then evaluate it and find clarity. 

You have a single decision to make today: do I want to be happy? If you choose YES, then the rest of your day is smooth sailing. You’ll find many, many reasons to stay happy!  If you choose NO, you’ll find many, many reasons to be unhappy. 

TODAY is the Best. Day. Ever. Because it’s yours! And it’s here. And it’s NOW. What did you decide? 

Mindful Monday: Light and Dark

I snapped this image a few years ago (while driving – eeeek!) but the sky was soooo amazing I had to capture it!

Happy Mindful Monday, dearest yogi friends! I hope you had a lovely weekend. Friday was pure magic – so sunny and warm and fresh – it truly felt like Spring! And Saturday and Sunday, IMO, just as magical and beautiful – but for other reasons … the darkness, cloudiness and the pensive chill from the rain. Also an essential part of this season.

The universe always seeks balance: the yin and the yang, the light and the dark, the feminine and the masculine, water and fire. There is a scientific theory on the balance of nature that states that ecological systems naturally exist in equilibrium. It’s a fine balance that is easily affected by any small disturbance, which will then auto-correct itself to come back to its stability.

So it is with us. Within each of us there is yin and yang, light and dark. Most of us, definitely me, struggle with finding and maintaining this balance each day. We shift too far to one side, and we are thrown off balance. We must then look within and steer our way back to center. Our character and ultimately are lives are determined by that which we feed – the dark or the light within.

There is a need for both, as darkness is the absence of light. But without it, how would we understand and appreciate the light? Without loneliness, how can we appreciate companionship? Without hate, how do you know love?

There is an ancient Indian proverb that describes the four paths in life. Which path are you following?

Those in darkness moving toward darkness
Those in darkness moving into the light
Those in the light moving toward darkness
Those in the light moving toward the light

Namaste, dear ones! Hope to see you on your mat this week! 

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 РSpring 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 Р 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 Р5:30 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¬į

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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Meet Geraldina, YBD Teacher of the Month

This sweet soul has been such a huge part of Yoga By Degrees for years. We are so blessed to have her as part of our team. She will greet you with her warm smile while working the front desk, and fills her class with love while instructing. In addition to her permanent schedule below, she always helps out by subbing when she can. Hopefully you get a chance to check out one of Geraldina’s classes soon!

Mondays
1:30pm, YBD 2, Western Springs
7:15pm, YBD 1, Downers Grove
Tuesdays
8:00pm, YBD 2, Elmhurst
Wednesdays
9:30am,  YBD1, Western Springs
Fridays
12:00pm, Restorative, Elmhurst
4:00pm,  YBD 1, Elmhurst
When and how did you come to yoga?
Compleatly by accident! I was dragged by my friend¬†to yoga class at ¬†local gym…and that changed my life.
Why did you start teaching yoga?
Practicing yoga felt so good! It shifted my life in such positive and joyful experience, that I wanted to share that with as many people as I could.
What is your favorite pose?
Side crow or parsva bakasana
Who inspires your teaching?
Mostly my students. Also, Hindu philosophers and working at YBD.  Being in such a positive environment, surrounded by amazing staff and learning new things everyday.
Tips for beginners…
Practicing Ahimsa (non violence) while doing yoga-not overdoing, or pushing too hard. Take it slowly and make it a pleasant experience.
What’s your favorite quote?
“The river that flows in you also flows in me.” Kabir