News

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 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‚Äôs Untethered Soul: ‚ÄúYour 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 ‚Äď liberation.‚ÄĚ

Mindful Monday: The Butterfly Effect

Happy Mindful Monday, y’all! Wowzah! What a fantastic weekend! So much fun happening in the Chicago area! We are in full on summer concert mode.  Cue the graduation parties and weddings.   I hope you got out there and had some F-U-N!

Last Friday morning, I dropped my son off at school for the very last time of his sophomore year. For two school years, I’ve dropped him off. Through the heat of late summer, the crispness of fall, snow, rain, hail and Windy City windchill. And almost every single morning, I would interact with John, the crossing guard.  

I was nervous during the first few days of high school, dropping my son off in a much larger campus. John’s bright, welcoming smile during the early days was so reassuring. 

 I’ve kind of gotten to know him the past couple of years. And greeting him each morning is truly a bright spot in my day. The weather fluctuates like crazy, but John is always smiling and cheerful and kind. 

I’ll smile and wave at him most mornings. Often I’ll roll the window down, and we give each other the knuckle pound or shake hands. That brief fleeting interaction literally lifts my spirits for the rest of the morning. I always drive away with a big smile on my face.  

Some days I can’t catch his eye; maybe he’s focused on helping kids cross the parking lot without getting run over by a soccer mom who is running late; or sometimes he’s talking to his other fans. And I always experience a sinking disappointment those mornings. 

John is such a reminder of the butterfly effect – the theory that small causes, such as the flapping of a butterfly’s wings, can cause ripples of large effects. 

The truth is we never really know how much a smile and a wink can lift another’s spirits. We may never know how that brief interaction may impact someone’s entire day. 

And vice versa. An angry word or thoughtless gesture may have a large impact that becomes a long chain reaction. 

The butterfly effect is actually a scientific theory which states that a single occurrence can literally change the course of the entire universe. 

Armed with this knowledge, what effect do you choose to have on the universe this week? Every thought every word every deed has the potential to change the world. 

Thanks for reading this blog.  Have a great week!

I hope to see your beautiful soul sometime on your mat this week!

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: 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 Equinox and 108 Sun Salutes

IMG_1424

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!

img_1139-1

 

 

 

 

Mindful Monday: Spring Cleaning


Good morning and Happy Monday, dearest yogis! We are slowly inching toward spring, and honestly, I’m so ready! 

Springtime means more sunshine, warmer temperatures, that fresh smell in the air! It’s a time for lightness and shedding those dark, heavy layers! 
The official spring kickoff is called the Spring Equinox – the day when the sun aligns directly over the earth‚Äôs equator. On this day, twice a year (once in the spring, once in the fall), the length of day and night are the same: equinox means ‘equal night.’  This day has been celebrated throughout history in many different cultures for many different reasons: increased sunlight hours, the shift of the season, restoration of crop supply, Passover, Easter Sunday, baseball‚Äôs opening day. 

Many people have spring cleaning rituals this time of year. Opening all the windows to allow the crisp air to flow through and kick up and carry away all that dormant, stale winter energy. Scrubbing floors and purging heavy clothing. It’s definitely a time of renewal and hope and lightness. 

It is the perfect time to do some internal spring cleaning as well! It’s a great opportunity to take an honest look at your life and what you are creating each day. Similar to cleaning our closets, it‚Äôs a time to take an inventory of our lives, what needs to be tossed away, and what to hold on to. Through honest and intentional choices, we can see what‚Äôs missing, what‚Äôs been tossed to the side, and what is holding us back from creating something wonderful.
In observance of this auspicious occasion, yogis worldwide create a Yoga Mala this time of year. It is the practice of 108 Surya Namaskara…Salutations to the Sun, in dedication to and celebration of something bigger than ourselves. Our YBD community will come together to harness this powerful shifting of energies with a Yoga Mala. The practice of completing 108 Sun Salutations is at times physically vigorous but ultimately it is deeply meditative experience.

The number 108 has great significance in many ancient and yogic traditions. The mala that is used in meditation has 108 beads….so let our practice of Surya Namaskara be an affirmation to that which we wish to create and manifest in the new season.

Spring equinox is just a day, of course, but it represents a new start. It is a reminder to check in with our true selves. I use my yoga practice as a guide to bring myself back to center and to reflect on where and what and to whom I am sending my energy. Through my daily practice I choose one clear intention. The intention could be as simple as a word: ‚Äúclarity‚ÄĚ, ‚Äúpeace‚ÄĚ, ‚Äúcompassion‚ÄĚ, or it could be more detailed, like visualizing your dreams. But the important thing is to CHOOSE. Choose what you want to put into the world, what you want to get back, and use your yoga practice as a pathway to that end. Because once we choose to let go of what is not serving us, choose to move forward with clarity, kindness, faith and a little bit of attitude, well then, we have something to celebrate. Your yoga practice is a guide; a nudge toward your own true self.

So, join me on your mat on Sunday, March 19! Toss out the old stuff that is taking up useful space, open the windows of your view, clean out the foundation. Because then, all that’s left is the celebration of what is possible.
Springtime intentions work like magic seeds that get planted in fertile soil. What is ready to blossom in your life?