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Meet Teri, YBD Teacher of the Month

Trying something new and challenging in the new year? Our South Naperville and Glen Ellyn locations offer Traditional Hot classes; the perfect way to detox after the holiday season! Our Traditional Hot instructor, Teri, has been teaching for over a decade! Her experienced classes are nurturing and welcoming. She adds a lightness and humor to her classes that provides a sense of comfort and fun! She is a very helpful and dedicated part of our YBD team and we hope you get a chance to spend time with her on your mat this year!

When and how did you come to yoga?

My yoga experience started with Bikram yoga in 2004. I graduated Yoga College Of India Los Angeles in spring 2006. I wanted to teach yoga because I am a people person. It’s my nature to want to help people and i saw first hand the many benefits a yoga practice can bestow on the regular practitioners, myself included.

Why did you start teaching yoga?

My personal practice has led me to Vinyasa where I love the gymnastics of it, the upside downs & backbends… however I feel the mix of the different yoga styles is best.

What is your favorite pose?

Currently Scorpion (Vyaghrasaba-Vrscikasna)

Who inspires your teaching?

Students are my best inspiration for teaching! Seeing their practice grow hearing the personal wins, healing, and accomplishments is so rewarding and encouraging. My favorite mentor is Emmy Cleaves a long time hot yoga teacher that is still teaching beyond her 85th year.

Tips for beginners…

The best tip I can pass on to new students is to come well hydrated and to begin an electrolyte regimen.

What’s your favorite quote?
My favorite quote is more of an expression – Live, Love, Teach!

Pose of the Month January 2018

Prasarita Padottanasana – Wide Leg Forward Fold

Benefits:

* Stretches as well as strengthens inner & outer legs & ankles – perfect for post work or after a long car ride.

* Great for fatigue or headaches by getting blood moving towards your brain – it is an awesome pick me up.

* Rushes fresh healthy oxygenated blood to the face giving you that beautiful post yoga glow.

How to:

* Begin in Tadasana & turn towards the long edge of your mat.

* Take a wide step out allowing your feet to take up 3-4 feet of mat space.

* Press firmly into the outer edges of your feet, your arches/big toe side has a tendency to collapse, bring your feet closer together to maintain a solid foundation rooted through parallel feet. Option here to bring toes in & heels out.

* Bring hands to hips & inhale to lengthen your spine, keep your chest open & reach the crown of your head to the sky.

Exhale hinge at the hips & begin to fold over your legs, keeping hips over heels. Do not allow your weight to press back.

* Encourage your shoulders away from your ears & put more weight into the ball mounts of your feet (imagine being able to slide a piece of paper under your heels.)

* Take a couple of breaths & ease into the position.

Options:

* For low back pain allow a gentle bend in your knees.

* Place your hands on the earth, reach for your ankles or legs.

* Place one palm on the earth & reach up introducing a twist into your spine (Pictured – repeat on opposite side). 

* Interlace your fingers at the base of your spine & lift your fists up away from your hips.

Allow yourself time to explore this pose, feel the sensation of being upside down. If you are working towards handstands or tripod headstand you can place your palms down & begin lifting your heels off the earth to strengthen the backs of your legs even further & feel yourself growing confident in the change of gravity.

 

Mindful Monday: Merry Christmas!

Good morning and Merry Christmas, dearest yogis!

Not all of us observe Christmas as a religious holiday, but we can all appreciate the spirit of this day.

My father is from India and is Hindu; my mother is from the Philippines and is Catholic. I was raised in both faiths and we celebrated Christmas mainly from a cultural perspective.

Whatever your faith, we can all appreciate a day off from work! and of course precious time to spend with family creating lifelong memories.

Some among us may be struggling during this time of year – missing their loved ones or facing financial challenges. It’s so important for us to be especially kind and compassionate to those around us. While this is “the most wonderful time of year,” for some it is quite lonely or particularly stressful.

This is a great opportunity to count our blessings and cultivate gratitude for all the abundance in our lives. We all face challenges, and looking through the lens of gratitude gives us a lovely perspective on what we may be experiencing. This is not to diminish the trials we face, but to realize it could be worse. And to recognize a chance to grow and evolve.

May today be filled with peace and joy for you, my friend.

On behalf of all of us at Yoga by Degrees, happy holidays to you and your loved ones.

Mindful Monday: Intentions

Good morning and happy Monday, yoga loves! We are in the home stretch here … sliding into Christmas as we wind down 2017.

Such a great time for reflection and introspection. And of course, with each new breath that we take in, always an opportunity for mindfulness and focusing on intention.

The truth is we don’t have to wait for the advent of a new year to commit to big changes or even little tweaks. But something about the shiny, fresh slate of the new year makes it more exciting and seemingly more possible to really begin to live the life we were meant to.

Before I practice my asanas (or begin meditation), I ask myself a few questions to authentically figure out where I am in my life physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Here are a few questions that I ask to be more open and honest with myself.

What do I need to address to be healthy in my body and mind?

How do I need to practice in order to see myself, to understand and feel myself better?

How can I move in a way that opens tightness in my body and strengthens where I feel weak?

How can I be more open, kind, loving and understanding and less self-absorbed?

What do I need from my practice to find balance off of my mat?

The answers to these questions are different each time I come to my mat. Which is why it’s so important realize that whatever I’m seeking is also seeking me. And it’s the stillness of my mind which allows the answers to arise from deep within myself. In the quiet I can hear the whispering of my heart. It always centers me and sets me back on track.

With this new clarity, I can create meaningful intentions which provide focus and direct my actions. This is a daily practice.

Well, my fellow yogis, have a beautiful week. Stay centered with intention even when things seem so chaotic around you.

Have a great week!

Meet Jenny P. YBD Teacher of the Month

Tis the season to sweat! The perfect place to warm up during the chilly days is on your mat in Jenny P.’s sculpt and pilates classes. Jenny’s classes are fun, challenging, and inspiring. Her sequences and playlist are thoughtfully created to cultivate a personal connection to her students in the space. No doubt a great addition to your day and a great way to take time for you this holiday season. Read more about Jenny P here:

Jenny’s Schedule:

Tuesdays in Western Springs

9:30am Sculpt

Wednesdays in Western Springs

12:00 HIIT Pilates

When and how did you come to yoga?

I started yoga years ago in the city ago practicing Bikram. I loved the repetitive nature of the sequence because it forced me to let go of any outside thoughts, stresses and insecurities and focus on the intricacy of each pose. The heat left me feeling cleansed and more limber each time I practiced. Fast forward a few years and I was living in the burbs with babies.

Exhausted and craving that same mental focus I found with Birkam, I found my way back to hot yoga, but this time it was with a yoga sculpt class. You hear this all the time, but it’s true for so many of us. After the first class I was hooked, and never looked back. Each yoga sculpt class is a competition with myself. Before each class I take, I set a goal for myself…do every chaturanga, every push up, or truly surrender at the end of class. I have fallen in love with yoga. The flow with a Level 2, the intensity of sculpt, the release of a restorative class…
Why did you start teaching yoga?

Before I had kids, I was a 5th grade teacher, so the teaching bug has been a part of  me for a long time. I thought about teacher training for a good year and a half before taking the plunge, and I can’t really express how happy I am that I made the decision to do it. Teaching yoga has given me so much joy and satisfaction. Seeing my students leave class happy and refreshed is what it’s all about.

What is your favorite pose?

My favorite pose is child’s pose. I love everything it represents…a clean slate, fresh start, and in class, I like to say a 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th chance, because life is full of amazing, wonderful things, and it’s also full of making mistakes and feeling guilt, so to have the opportunity at the end of class to breathe in forgiveness and leave with a fresh start is a beautiful thing.

Who inspires your teaching?

Oh my gosh, where do I start?!

First and foremost, my fellow teachers. I take their classes to feed off their strength and get inspired, and we are so lucky to have a team of amazing teachers who set the bar so high for me week after week. Also, each playlist I make is personal. I choose music that I have a real connection to…a song might take me back to a specific memory of my childhood or remind me of a dear friend or loved one.

Tips for beginners…

I say these things time.. Take class at your own pace. Use weights or don’t. Listen to your body, it knows best. Each day in your body is different, find where you are today and go with it. It’s your class, not mine, I’m just here to guide you through. The point of this class is to leave feeling happy and challenged, not pushed beyond your ma and frustrated…I could go on and on:)

What’s your favorite quote?

‘If you can’t fly then run, If you can’t run then walk. If you can’t walk then crawl. But whatever you do keep moving forward.’

MLK

Mindful Monday: Moving Towards Darkness

Good morning and happy Monday, lovely people!

We have hit the jackpot with all of this bonus sunny, warm weather lately! How on earth is it even December?!

Of course, all of the homes adorned with Christmas decorations, a digital overload from advertisers, busy stores and the heavy mall traffic ground us firmly back into the season. Am I right?

And the shorter days and looooonger nights remind us we are smack dab in the middle of that time of year where we continue moving towards darkness.

What are your thoughts and feelings when you think of darkness? Sometimes I think it gets a bum rap.

We become so obsessed with lightness that we can easily overlook the depth and beauty of darkness. Yet we cannot have one without the other!

Popular culture overemphasizes reaching for the light: positivity and affirmations are ubiquitous. And obviously that’s all good! But learning to connect to our “dark side” is essential for a full, rich and complete Life experience.

Our yoga practice is a dance between light and darkness. We arrive on our mats on a quest toward lightness and moksha, and along the way we encounter and get acquainted with our own darkness.

Our darkness or shadow selves encompasses the parts of us we avoid, repress and even suppress: the not so pretty stuff; painful and messy stuff; shame; unhealed wounds; raw and disowned fragments of ourselves.

It’s very understandable that instinctually we avoid the dark aspects of ourselves. But when we do this, our chances for true happiness and joy are in serious jeopardy.

What? Why?!?

Well…. because light and dark are both sides of the same coin. The only exist in relationship to one another. So as you embrace the dark side of yourself, you are paradoxically supporting the lightest and brightest and most authentic you.

Give yourself permission to feel sad, depressed, jealous, uncomfortable and confused or even to be unclear about what you’re feeling! But whatever it is, allow yourself to feel it and experience it. Sharpen your awareness. Move boldly to the depth of these dark feelings. Once you work through them, you are moving directly back towards the light.

See darkness isn’t so bad after all! Yoga teaches us to embrace the full spectrum: light and dark, expansion and contraction, ease and effort.

Trust your own complexity. Embrace your shadows. Say yes please and thank you to all of life’s experiences. Especially the challenging ones! Graditude for the opportunity to grow and transform.

I will be leading a very special practice where we will explore darkness through a moving meditation on Saturday, December 23 at 2:30 pm at our Western Springs location. Please talk to any of our locations for more information or to sign up.

Have a great week, beautiful ones!

Mindful Monday: Know Your Mind

Hello Dear Ones!

Another Monday has arrived. A beautiful fresh clean slate.

Remember that your mind doesn’t control you; you control your mind!

So fill your thoughts with abundance, acceptance, love, happiness, joy, prosperity. Fill your heart with compassion, laughter, tolerance.

Look for the goodness in every single person you meet. Even if you may need to look really, really long and hard.

Happiness is a choice. Entirely 100% up to you and you alone.

Through mindfulness practices like yoga, we begin to ascertain the deeply seeded thought patterns and reactions we’ve supplanted into our own minds. How easy it is to go on auto pilot and just react to situations that appear to be similar to those we’ve experienced in the past.

These samskaras become so deeply embedded into our subconscious that we are unaware of its effects on our thoughts, attitudes and behaviors.

We become trapped in this karmic wheel which keeps spinning around and around as we continue to react again and again.

These patterns are deeply rooted into our psyche. It takes deep awareness and dedication to acknowledge and uproot the samskaras.

To truly know your mind, you must find mental stillness in order to observe. From this place of observation and non-judgment, slowly one moment at a time our samskaras will reveal themselves.

Your yoga practice is such an amazing place to explore and familiarize.

Practicing yoga at least three times a week will have a profound effect in your life physically, mentally, emotionally and metaphysically.

Let’s commit to our mats during this crazy stressful and awesome holiday season.

This week Will be only as awesome as you decide to make it.

So much gratitude for you! Namaste.

Mindful Monday: Thanks

Happy chilly Monday dearest loveliest ones!

How on earth is it the week of Thanksgiving is my question. 2017 has flown on wings it seems.

Here we officially kick-off the season where yoga pants come in really handy for the serious meals heading our way! I’m so darn thankful for yoga pants.

Through yoga, we know that being grateful is a daily practice. We train our minds to reframe the tendency to focus from lacking to abundance. It starts to become a habit.

And this single daily habit has the power to vastly transform your life. The practice of gratitude makes everything Whole and complete and perfect. Gradually we begin to see and understand that what we have and who we are is enough.

It always has been. We just couldn’t see it because our lens was clouded with tendencies to compare ourselves to others; to crave what we don’t have; this constant compulsion to upgrade.

Or that thing we do where we project future happiness and contentment based on a specific set of circumstances.

All of it is really pretty silly when we stop and observe ourselves. This constant spinning and circumventing and projecting and dreaming and regretting and blaming and being down on ourselves. On and on and on our monkey minds whirl.

Then we pause, unroll our mats and climb on. And all of that mental activity is paused. And we take a deep breath and let it go. And we do that again and again and again. And we fill our minds up with the sound and sensation and miracle of our breath.

And there it is. Sitting quietly. Waiting for us. Whatever the heck it was we were spinning around frantically searching for. In the stillness and the silence of our minds, we can finally hear the quiet almost inaudible whisper of our hearts.

Sigh. How lovely is it to feel the strength and flexibility of our own bodies? How lucky are we that we woke up this morning and have the opportunity to read this blog? There’s food in our refrigerator that’s powered by electricity. We have warm clothes to protect us from the harsh wind. We actually have an overabundance of anything that we need. We have the luxury to give away our excess to those less fortunate. This list continues endlessly.

Think of all the things you have to be grateful for. Fill your heart to overflowing with gratitude. And from this space, devote yourself to service. It can be anything! Just make someone around you smile. Go out of your way to help someone who can never repay you. Be kind and tolerant even when you are irritated. I know you, my dearest sweetest Yogi friend, already do so much to uplift those around you!

When we talk about service to others, we are talking about the ultimate high in terms of happiness. Nothing is more gratifying and soul feeding than that.

For the past 30 years, my family and I have served meals to those in need on Thanksgiving Day. Honestly I can’t imagine doing anything else on that day. Please contact me if you’re interested in this service opportunity. Kids love it!

And the bonus for all of us? Each of our studios will offer yoga classes on Thanksgiving day. Check the schedule! Morning classes, all formats. Schedules will vary by studio.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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!