YBD Teacher of The Month

Yoga By Degrees Teacher of The Month

Meet Sarah, YBD teacher of the month

Feeling low on energy with the shift in seasons? Spend some time on your mat with Sarah W. and we are positive she will share some of her infectious joy with you! Sarah’s warm smile and fun flowed classes are just a few of the reasons we love this sweet yogi! Here’s where you can find her and experience this fun for yourself!

When and how did you come to yoga?

I started practicing yoga about 16 years ago (woah-how am I that old?!?!?!?) I had been in a car accident and physical therapy wasn’t really helping me strengthen my back so the therapist suggested I try yoga and see if that helped! I enrolled in a class at the YMCA by my house and HATED IT!!!!! But I kept coming back to class because it was hard for me and I wanted to “conquer” yoga

Why did you start teaching yoga?

I started teaching 15 years ago. I was a group fitness instructor and the yoga teacher went on maternity leave and since I had been practicing for a bit, my supervisor asked me to take over the class. Not an inspired reason at all, but thank goodness that happened!!!!!!

What is your favorite pose?

I have a bunch of favorite poses but probably the one I feel most graceful, beautiful, strong and free in is trikonasana/triangle pose. It is my ultimate TA-DA pose!

Who inspires your teaching?

It sounds cheesy but my students inspire my teaching the most! I love seeing them lay out their mats, watching them carve out that time for themselves and surrender into their practice, and leave happier, calmer, more grounded. I love watching them fall in love with their practice, discover their strength, tap into their stillness and embrace who they are. I am the luckiest girl in the world that I get to witness this each and every day! It inspires me and energizes me!

Tips for beginners…

My biggest tip for beginners is to keep showing up! Stay with it. Keep coming to your mat and moving and breathing. Don’t try to do everything perfectly; don’t THINK… just feel the way it feels to move and breath. And when things get hard, smile and then take another breath.

What’s your favorite quote?

I think one of my favorite quotes is by Eric Shiffman, which I discovered while studying with Rolf Gates. Eric says that yoga is a way of moving into stillness to experience the truth of you are really are. It’s a matter of looking inwardly always and then simply being daring enough-and trusting enough- to do as you are prompted to do. This quote reminds me to get out of my head and start to practice from my heart.

 

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

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.”

 

Meet Julie, YBD teacher of the Month

This May, we are happy to honor our Senior teacher Julie! Julie just celebrated her 5th anniversary teaching at Yoga By Degrees and we couldn’t be more grateful to have her as an integral piece of our puzzle and our May teacher of the month. The moment you enter the studio, you’re greeted by Julie’s warm, infectious smile. Her classes seem to be so effortlessly created yet are so uniquely woven together and always leave you feeling content, challenged, and grounded. We are huge fans of Julie and we know you will be too! Here’s where to find her:

Mondays, 8:00 am YBD-1 – Wheaton
Tuesdays, 6:00 am YBD-2 95 & 9:30 am YBD-Hot – Wheaton
Wednesdays, 6:00 am YBD-2 95 – Glen Ellyn
When and how did you come to yoga?
My yoga journey began about 20 years ago with mindfulness, meditation and the mind-body connection, really starting with the book “Minding the Body, Mending the Mind.” Nearly 15 years ago I stopped running because of pain in my back and knees. After moving to Naperville in 2005, I took my first hot yoga class. As I lay in savasana I thought “Oh…this is what it is like to be calm.” That was the beginning of my addiction to yoga. (It also helped my back and knee pain, as well as all the other aches and pains.)
Why did you start teaching yoga?
I love the therapeutic benefits of yoga and the calming effect it has on the mind-body, which is really what yoga is about. I had thought about teacher training for a while, but was always too busy. Then when the market crashed and I found myself without a job it was the perfect opportunity to start teaching yoga – one of the best decisions of my life.
What is your favorite pose?
How do I choose just one? It would have to be savasana. As I explained to a friend the other day…the entire class prepares you for savasana, that is when the yoga really happens.
Who inspires your teaching?
The students inspire me. They show up to their mat. They make it a priority.
Tips for beginners…
Let go of how you look (or think you look) and tune in to how you feel. Focus on your breath…if you can breathe, you can do yoga.
What’s your favorite quote?
Again, how do I choose just one? One of my favorites is by Edward Teller
“When you come to the end of all the light you know, and it’s time to step into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing that one of two things will happen: Either you will be given something solid to stand on or you will be taught to fly.”

Meet Linda, YBD Teacher of the Month

We’ve had quite the year over here at Yoga By Degrees! One of our most exciting additions to our offerings has been the addition of Traditional Hot classes at our South Naperville and Glen Ellyn locations. With our new locations and class format we’ve been blessed to also gain some amazing instructors to our team. Linda has been such a wonderful addition to our YBD team! She’s has a strong knowledge of the practice and leads her classes seemingly seamlessly. Her students love her kind presence in and out of the studio and we at YBD are so grateful for her. Here’s where you can find Linda:

Wednesdays
9:30am Traditional Hot Glen Ellyn
Sundays
9:30am Traditional Hot Glen Ellyn

When and how did you come to yoga?

I began a serious yoga practice in 2010 after my husband and I both decided to make career changes. We wandered into a Bikram Yoga studio without really understanding what it was. The first class was intense, but by the time I got home I was feeling great and decided to practice a couple a times of week. Very soon, a couple of times a week became almost everyday. It began as a way to relieve stress and evolved into a way of life.

Why did you start teaching yoga?

I started teaching because I wanted to share what yoga has brought to my life.

What is your favorite pose?

My favorite pose is continually evolving. I believe the most difficult pose in anyone’s practice is the pose they need the most. As you gain mastery of the pose you open both physically and psychically. Right now, for me, that pose is Salamba Sarvangasana.

Who inspires your teaching?

I am continually inspired by my teachers Tia Little, Surya Little and Gabriel Halpern.

Tips for beginners…

It took a lifetime for your body and mind to come to the place it is today. Be patient, it will take some time for changes to become evident.

What’s your favorite quote?
I am a lover of poetry. This is one of my current favorites:
“Are you looking for me?”
Are you looking for me?
I am in the next seat
My shoulder is against yours
You will not find me in the stopes,
Not in the Indian Shrine rooms,
Nor in synagogues,
Nor in cathedrals,
Not in masses,
Nor kirtans,
Not in legs wandering around your own next,
Nor in eating nothiing but vegetables.
When you really look for me,
You will see me instantly-
You will find me in the tiniest house of time…
The breath inside the breath.
-Kabir

 

 

 

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

Meet Erica, YBD Teacher of the Month

Erica has been attending classes at YBD since 2011! She started as a dedicated student, then became a loyal studio attendant, and now she is one of our most beloved sculpt and vinyasa teachers. Her classes are fun and always challenging! Here’s where you can find her:

Tuesdays
7:15PM, Yoga Sculpt, Downers Grove
Thursdays
6:00AM, Yoga Sculpt, Glen Ellyn
Fridays
6:00AM, YBD 2, Downers Grove
 
Sundays
4:30PM, YBD 2, Glen Ellyn 

When and how did you come to yoga?

I found yoga during college. I have been an athlete my entire life and after playing volleyball in college I got a job at a gym. The gym offered yoga classes, so I started taking classes, realizing that they were a great workout. In law school I used yoga as a form of stress relief, and started taking hot yoga classes near school my first year. After I started working full time, I settled back into taking yoga more on a daily basis and have enjoyed it ever since as both a great workout and a form of stress relief.

Why did you start teaching yoga?

I started teaching yoga sculpt about 2 years ago. After teaching sculpt for a year or so, I decided to take the plunge and do vinyasa teacher training.

What is your favorite pose?

I love any power pose, specifically any arm balance. I’ve always been the yogi that was strong, but not as flexible, so I relish in those moments in the poses that make me feel strong, especially when my arms or hands are holding the weight of my entire body.

Who inspires your teaching?

I’m inspired by any of my favorite teachers. Every teacher brings something different to class. I try to learn from all of the different aspects of my favorite teachers and try to evolve my own teachings in similar ways. I pull some of my best ideas from collaborative collections of poses taken from some of my favorite classes with my favorite teachers.

Tips for beginners…

Do not feel like you have to be “good” at yoga to go to class. Usually when I ask my sculpters why they haven’t tried a vinyasa class yet or why a level 1 student hasn’t tried a level 2 class yet, the typical answer is somewhere along the lines of, “I don’t think I’m good enough at yoga yet,” or “I don’t know all of the poses”. Yoga isn’t about what your neighbor is doing or how deep you can get into a pose. One of my favorite teachers always jokes that when you nail a peak pose in class, you don’t achieve enlightenment. Its the path to get into a pose that makes it yoga. Its how you treat yourself and its how you approach a pose which makes it yoga. Its knowing how your body feels and knowing that sometimes pushing yourself is not what you need that specific day. So, beginners, don’t worry about what anyone else thinks in the class, or even what the teacher thinks. The class is for you and for you to grow.

What’s your favorite quote?

You cannot control anyone but yourself. I have to remind myself that I cannot control how others act, how others perceive me, or how others may react to something. I can only control how I myself, react to others’ actions, and how I react to others’ perceptions of me.

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.