Mindful Monday: Happy Birthday, America 

Flashback to One of my favorite Fourth of July memories!

Good morning, Mindful Ones! And happy birthday, America! 
Sunmer is my absolutely favorite season, and we are smack dab in the middle of it! This week we celebrate America’s birth with BBQs, fireworks and trips to lakefront destinations. It is such a fun, active, exhilarating time!

What’s so important for me this season is to make sure I’m still committed to my mat! I love the outdoors, and it’s easy to find something to do outside rather than going into a hot yoga studio! 

My practice provides me the opportunity to take a mental vacation for just an hour. It gives me time to balance myself out and check back in with how I’m really doing beneath the surface. 

It also helps me slow down enough to appreciate and acknowledge all of my current blessings. An attitude of gratitude makes my life 1,000 times “richer.”

As I practice mindfulness on my mat, I find myself more present off of my mat living my life! Each breath and each fun moment seems to expand and slow down rather than fly by too quickly. 

Physically, it’s great to sweat out toxins and allow my body to breathe. And it also keeps me in tiptop shape to enjoy being outside and being active. 

What are the reasons you keep coming to your mat during this time of year?

To help us stay on track, don’t forget to sign up for our summer challenge! Runs from July 10 through August 19 – we are challenging you to do 30 classes within 40 days! Sign up at the studio next time you’re there 

If you are not a member, you get unlimited yoga for 40 days for only $129! If you are a member, you’ll receive a free workshop if you complete the challenge!

I’ve already signed up! 

Have a safe, happy Fourth of July! Remember you can still take class on the Fourth! We have a shortened schedule at each of our locations!  See you on your mat! 

Mindful Monday: Raising our Vibrations 


Good morning and happy Monday, oh mindful ones! 
Last week was such an energetically charged week! We observed the summer solstice, the official first day of summer, which is an ancient phenomena. We also celebrated international yoga day, which is a very modern observance. Eid al Fitr, the festival of  the breaking of the fast, indicating the end of Ramadan, was celebrated all over the world.  Chicago hosted its annual gay pride parade. 

 Each of these events brought thousands and even millions of people together, focused on one sentiment, literally raising humanity’s consciousness and vibration. It really doesn’t matter your religious beliefs; our collective  awareness is still elevated. 

Anytime a group of like-minded people get together focusing movement in one direction, we have an opportunity to get out of the prison of our own minds by enjoying and becoming part of the flow and force of life. 

We move toward higher consciousness – “a state of elevated awareness and perception in which a person has a deeper understanding of the nature of reality, the self and various spiritual aspects of life that play an important role in one’s personal evolution and psychological development.” 

This is the same dynamic energy we experience when we come together on our mats and practice yoga. We are striving to move from the darkness toward the light. From unconsciousness to consciousness. It is a lifelong practice and our purpose here on Earth.

The four stages of spiritual consciousness are outlined below:

1. Life happens to you.

2. Life happens by you.

3. Life happens in you.

4. Life happens for you.

We move from victim to awareness. We realize that judging and intolerance are inner mechanisms of resistance – that a higher level of consciousness allows an opening to all things life provides us. 

 “Life is setup, to bring up, what has been bound up, so it can open up, to be freed up, so you can show up for Life!” – Mary O’Malley

Have a great week, yogis! 

Mindful Monday: Strength 


Happy Mindful  Monday, friends! I hope you had a lovely weekend. 
Yesterday was a special day where we honor and celebrate our fathers. When I think of my father, who I am so blessed is still with us, I think of strength. No, he doesn’t look anything like the dude pictured above.  My dad has a quiet strength that I’ve always leaned on. It’s given me an endless supply of confidence my entire life. When I was younger, my dad knew everything. And he is the most patient, kind, compassionate person I’ve ever met. 
I’m also so blessed that my son has two fathers in his life. His dad and his stepdad. These two special men are so devoted to my son. They are providers of everything my child needs to navigate this world; the most important being love and patience and support. 

When I think of a great father, it is someone who is strong and steady; wise; can fix anything; protector; sets boundaries and expectations. All of these qualities exude fatherly love IMO. It can sometimes seem like a thankless job. 

I was not able to spend the day with my dad yesterday as he is traveling in Asia. I was fortunate to spend part of it with my big brother and his family. And my mother. 

Maybe yesterday was a struggle for you. Perhaps you are missing your dad who is no longer here. I know some of you may not have had the best relationship with your father. He was lacking in some way that still causes your inner child so much pain. Or there was physical distance that separated you, as in my case. For many reasons, yesterday may have not been the happy, shiny image that you saw all over social media. 

The truth is, we give and receive this fatherly type of love to those around us all the time. We’ve all had to fill in as some type of a father figure at some points in our lives. Families pull together to plug in the gaps. Anytime someone has protected you from some external threat or shielded you from some pain. Anytime you have fixed something for someone or even wrapped them in your arms and provided a shoulder to cry upon. Tossed a baseball or football with a child. Even picking up the dinner tab for family and friends. Quietly provided and received strength and confidence. These are the qualities that embody a father – you have received this type of love from some fatherly source in your life. 

Yoga teaches us to understand that everything happens exactly as it should. Whether your childhood relationship with your father was lacking or filled with love, it has shaped you into the amazing, strong, lovely person that you are. So important that we acknowledge exactly how we feel and learn to slowly heal and nurture our own inner child. 

Do you know what the best thing about childhood is? It’s that it’s over. Your safety, security and happiness are now in your hands. Nobody elses. 

Have a great week, yogis! Looking forward to seeing so many of you on your mats this week! 

Mindful Monday: Summer Solstice 


Good morning, mindful ones!!!! Happy Monday. It feels like summer is in full effect, doesn’t it? This steamy, balmy weather reminds us of why we actually live in the Midwest – because during the harsh winter months, it’s a valid question! But I contend that there’s no better city than Chicago during this time of year!
While it may feel like some summer, the official kick off for summer is the summer solstice which according to the all-knowing internet is on Tuesday, June 20 at 11:24 pm in our Midwest time zone.  So slow your roll over there with your #summer2017 hashtags.  That was directed toward myself. 

Our YBD community will be observing the summer solstice on Saturday, June 17 from 1-3 pm with Ashley (pictured above) at our Downers Grove studio. By doing a Yoga mala together – The auspicious and revered and auspiciously revered 108 sun salutations. 

This practice can be done by most people. While it sounds a bit intimidating, once you get into a rhythm it becomes a deeply meditative experience. It’s certainly something that should be on every yogi’s bucket list! If you’ve been practicing consistently for six months, you should definititey come and try!

Spaces is still available so sign up today! I will see you there!!!

Namaste beautiful yogis. Have a great week!!! 

June Pose of the Month

I’m so happy that the month of summer is finally here! Even if you’re not in the place anymore of enjoying a summer totally off, just the nice weather alone seems to give the body a bit of a reprieve. We’re warmer and therefore less tense, happier and therefore less frantic. Life is busy, so much so that people make memes and t-shirt that say “CAN’T ADULT TODAY” and I gotta tell ya, some days I want one. There’s either so much to do that we just sit on the floor in savasana recounting an endless to-do list, or we overexert ourselves thinking we are Wonder (Wo)Man and then crash and burn. The burnout is real. I’d love to give you a good restorative pose to revive and rejuvenate, but this month is about the comeback. Get up, stand up, feel the burn, move your body. Here’s extended side angle, a core buster and hammie strengthener, and one that’s sure to give you all the stamina you need.

image1

Accessing Extended Side Angle:

  • Set up in a strong Warrior II by anchoring your back heel to the floor, stacking your front knee on top of ankle, and getting low in your lunge so that your front thigh is near parallel to the floor
  • Lengthen and pull your fingertips and abdomen slightly forward, and then exhale and hinge downward from your hips
  • Keep your arms open so that your bottom arm lowers down and in front of your knee and calf, and your top fingertips extend open and toward the sky
  • Firm your shoulder blades against your back ribs and rotate your chest open
  • Use your core to try to keep the foundation of your legs strong, and trust yourself to get deep into your lunge

Benefits of Extended Side Angle Pose:

  • Strengthens legs, knees, and ankles
  • Stretches inner thighs, groins, spine, and shoulders
  • Stimulates abdominal organs
  • Increases energy

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: Memorial Day 

Memorial Day on Navy Pier


Good Morning, Mindful Ones! It’s Memorial Day! An extra ‘day off’ for many of us. (Ha! Not for me – I’m teaching 9:30 am sculpt and noon restorative at our Wheaton studio – hope to see you on your mat today!) 
What does Memorial Day conjure up in your mind? It’s the unofficial kick off to summer. BBQs. Beaches. Long weekend out of town. An extra day to sleep in. Picnics. Party time. Pool openings. 

While all of this may be true, it’s important to be mindful of the true meaning of Memorial Day. It is a day set aside to honor all of those who gave their lives during active military service. More than a million Americans who died to protect the ideals we hold so dear as Americans: freedom; liberty; democracy; the ability and right for all of us to pursue happiness, prosperity and success.  

My deep love, appreciation, respect and gratitude for our military began back in my political/governmental days. Working for State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka, a huge advocate for veterans and a military mom to her JAG officer son ‘Pepi,’ this day was filled with bustling activities. We attended several Memorial Day parades and ceremonies,  and I was able to see firsthand just what we were observing and honoring. 

On this day, I am mindful how hurtful the words ‘Happy Memorial Day’ may be for Gold Star families and others who have lost their loved ones in the line of duty. Remembering that the cost of of our freedom is very dear indeed. 

Today, let’s be mindful of what this day symbolizes. By all means, we should continue to spend the day with family and other loved ones – But with the spirit of gratitude for our fallen. 

Mindful Monday: It’s All Good


Greetings and Monday morning salutations, dearest ones!!! We talk so much about the impermanent nature of life – Annica – which can be so readily evidenced in Chicago weather.  Last Thursday I was literally sweating in my booty shorts at Herrick Lake, and Friday night I was in my winter coat and boots freezing at my son’s sectional track meet! What can we really do but laugh at the absurdity of it all.  (By the way, he qualified for State finals! #proudmommabear). 
As I was driving Saturday evening, I literally gasped as I glanced up to see the sun setting. I immediately stopped my car and pulled over to capture this picture. 

As I was watching with so much awe and wonder, I was overwhelmed by a deep sense of ease and peacefulness. And the realization that it truly is ALL GOOD. No matter what transpires during any given day, we can be sure that the day will come to a close in a blaze of fire and glory. And no matter what happens throughout the night, we know FOR SURE that the sun will rise. 

That thought was extremely comforting to me. As much as possible,  I try to witness the sun rising and setting each day, and I also make an effort to notice the sky periodically throughout the day. As I’ve looked up throughout the decades,  I’ve  never once been disappointed. And I’ve never once seen the same sky or the same sunset or sunrise. Even the clouds form into unique, fleeting, never to be seen again shapes and textures. 

Recognizing the impermanence of the sky cultivates a true appreciation for what IS and negates any expectation of what or how it ought to be or should be or is supposed to be. Yatta Butta – reality AS IT IS. Not how we want it to be. 

With the understanding of the impermanent nature of all things, we now have the space and opportunity to appreciate a person, place or thing for what it is in that moment. We learn to cease expecting and be more aware of every moment as it unfolds. Without attachment or expectation.  

As I was sitting for almost 5 hours undeneath cold, windy and rainy skies on Friday night, I reminded myself that this was quite likely the last meet of this season. Of his sophomore year. This meet would never come again. That knowledge awakened a deep sense of gratitude within my heart. 

It truly is all good. 

I hope you have a great week ahead of you! Yatta Butta, baby! 

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! 🙏🏾