Mindful Monday: We love Mondays!

Good morning and happy, happy Monday!

Did you wake up this morning and jump right out of bed? Lol. Did you hit snooze a few times and then drag yourself into the shower?

Just remember that our perspective is everything. Monday is a hard day only for those who perceive it negatively. Reframe any negative thoughts into positive uplifting ones! Don’t let unhappiness or sadness be related to Monday in any way.

Monday is a a great start to your week – share your enthusiasm and uplifting thoughts with others. Know you already have all the tools you need to make this the best week ever!

Mondays are a fresh, clean canvas waiting for you to decorate it with your goals and dreams. Something amazing will happen to you today! I hope you’re aware and present when it does!

Have a great week, friends! See you on your mat!

Mindful Monday: You are exactly where you are meant to be

Happy Monday, y’all! Wow it feels more like March than January these past few days! Lucky us!

How are you doing with your new year resolutions? This is the time of year many people have already abandoned their shiny new goals.

Where ever you happen to be, I’m here to remind you that you’re exactly where you were meant to be right now in your life.

Repeat this to yourself: today I accept this truth that I am precisely where I’m supposed to be in all of my relationships. My relationship with my body, mind and spirit.

I’m exactly where I should be in my career and in my yoga practice. And I’m exactly where I should be in relation to any New Year’s resolutions I have created.

Today I know that with each conscious breath that comes in that I may start again no matter what has happened in the past. I may now come to my breath and breathe again.

have a great week, yogis! See you on your mat.

Mindful Monday: Yoga Etiquette

Good morning, mindful ones! This is the time of year that our classes can be pretty crowded. You may have already noticed that. So it’s a great time to brush up on our yoga etiquette.

The word “etiquette” is derived from the French word “estique” meaning to attach or stick. It describes proper conduct established by community, such as our YBD community.

It’s important to remember that the essence of etiquette begins by showing respect for others, putting others at ease, and showing kindness and courtesy to others. If we follow these mindful guidelines, we are truly practicing the ancient art of yoga.

So here goes! A few tips to make yourself and those around you at ease and comfortable:

1. Arrive on time – We are all familiar with that feeling of rushing into the yoga studio. It’s stressful to you and your classmates. Be sure to arrive on time, allowing for time to check-in, put away your personal belongings, set up your mat and grab your props. This will contribute to a more relaxing and focused experience for you. And if you arrive really early, you have a few moments to meditate or practice pranayama (breath work).

2. Leave your shoes at the door – Please remove your boots or shoes at the front door and place them in the designated trays. Especially during this time of year when our footwear is covered in snow, salt and slush. Not only are you contributing to the cleanliness of our studios, but you’re helping to create a welcoming space for all of us.

3. Revel in the silence – Yoga is the practice of quieting the mind. Once you step inside the studio, please respect the quiet space we cultivate for you and others. Take conversations to the locker room or lobby area. Many of our students arrive early to practice meditation or to just relax in the warm and silent room. For many, this may be the only time they have all day for themselves. Please be mindful and respectful of that. This of course means please leave your cell phone in the locker room. If there is a specific situation where you need to have your phone with you in the studio, please inform the teacher about it.

4. Practice personal hygiene – The majority of our classes are heated, so smells can be amplified and overwhelming in the hot room. Please come to class odor-free, meaning sans heavy perfumes and other odors.

5. Be aware of your space – Once in the studio, please be aware of your space. Our classes are very popular and can get pretty crowded this time of year, so being mindful about how much space we’re taking is important. Sometimes it is a luxury to have endless space around your mat.

If you notice a late straggler rushing into the room frantically looking for a spot, practice embodying yoga by moving your mat and creating space. This is how world peace begins. One mat at a time.

We don’t have a ton of rules at YBD, but following these few, simple guidelines will enrich our practice tremendously.

As always my yoga lovelies, so looking forward to seeing you on your mat this week!

Onward and upward, always!

Mindful Monday: Begin

Good morning, mindful ones! Here’s to hoping 2018 is off to a great start for you.

Today is Day One of our 21 day cleanse. Two dozen of our YBD family are embarking on a radical journey together: 21 days of clean, organic eating. It’s a radical reset and an opportunity to take really great care of ourselves.

I’d like to share with you the five enemies of the mind that can hinder growth and transformation that I have shared with my cleansers this morning. Have you ever experienced these mental hindrances?

1. Sloth or Torpor – this is where the mind and body become tired, heavy and dull. Many times we lack a specific direction to move energy toward and we become lethargic.

2. Craving or Sensory Desire – this is where the mind and body want to FEEL GOOD and we become driven by a compulsion for food, sweets or some other physical comfort and pleasure. Try to observe where/what is driving this compulsion. Sometimes where we think we are HUNGRY for food, we are actually hungry for something else: stress relief, distraction, quick escape. Often this is not about the FOOD but another situation in your life. Observe, journal, watch the craving dispassionately as it will soon dissipate.

3. Agitation – we are shaking up our normal routine – we are making shifts and changes and closing the door on our comforts and our woobies or teddy bears – habits that we have created as psychological safety nets. When we challenge ourselves, it becomes uncomfortable and agitating. Just sit with these sensations and observe how the body physiologically reacts according to our thoughts.

4. Aversion – there may be certain unpleasant truths that we don’t want to deal with – we avoid these thoughts and situations with wine, chocolate or other physical activities to avoid stillness and thought.

5. Doubt – this is where we begin to question why we are doing something. We begin to feel uncertain and our commitment is tested.

Just as there are five enemies, there are also five friends on this path.

Draw upon the strength of these friends.

1. Awareness – simply observing the inner challenge without

succumbing or reacting.

2. Concentration – focus your energy on your goal.

3. Wisdom – knowing everything is bound to change. Acknowledging the impermanence of all feelings and challenges.

4. Effort – determination to stick to your goal.

5. Equanimity – calmness of the mind, non-reactivity.

Whatever your intention or resolution for the year may be, be on the lookout for the mental roadblocks and remember always that you are much stronger than any temporary thoughts, feelings and cravings.

Have a great week, friend! Onward we go.

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


* 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.


* 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: Happy New Year!

Good morning, mindful ones! Happy, happy new year!

Today we begin again. A fresh clean slate. This is the year that we can finally get it right!

We begin this new chapter with so much hope and enthusiasm. And resolve.

Take some quiet time for yourself today to reflect on where you are in your life. Celebrate how much you have grown, endured and survived!

Focus on all of your blessings. When we see through the lens of gratitude, we attract more abundance, opportunity, and success. Be humble and grateful, and the world will lay itself at your feet.

Consider the possibility that you are perfect exactly as you are. You are not broken. You don’t have to fix anything. Every moment of your life has been deliberate and meaningful. All of your life experiences converge to bring you right here, right now; this beautiful, expansive moment.

Life has been conspiring on your behalf since you took your very first breath. Crafting lessons and challenges, each designed specifically for your growth and development.

There are no mistakes. There are lessons. No regrets, just pure, painful growth. Every compliment, criticism, promotion, setback, good vibe, illness, heartbreak or really, really long line you have to wait in is a gift that was meticulously designed to make possible your becoming more than who you were and, ultimately, happier than ever before.

Your path toward happiness and success is not a delineated path at all; it’s actually a metaphor for the time it takes for you to really love yourself. To be happy with who you already are, where you are right now, and what you already have … no matter what.

So set your resolutions this year, but not to fix or improve yourself, but resolve to open your heart, trust more, do scary things. Be happy. So let’s welcome in the year 2018 … It’s all about awareness and gratitude!

Our studios are open today with a variety of class offerings. Check us out on our YBD app.

If you really want a radical experience in self awareness and growth, I challenge you to join or 21 day detox!

In 2018 … May you transcend, rise above, and live happily in abundance, health, and harmony…

Anicca! Anicca! Anicca! Be happy! Be happy! Be happy!

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!

Mindful Monday: Yoga Mala

Happy Monday, mindful ones. Well Chicago is definitely living up to its name. Wow! That brisk wind blasting my face this morning is exhilarating. Like a double shot of espresso!

It’s getting colder and darker, and I keep reminding myself that it’s OK. In fact, it’s necessary. So I really try to catch myself before I go on auto pilot and just start complaining about it. Practicing mindfulness with my thoughts and my words is a lifelong practice.

I’m really excited to begin preparations for Yoga by Degrees’ winter solstice celebration. We will observe this auspicious time of year by completing a yoga mala – 108 sun salutations!

According to Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, founder of Ashtanga yoga, each vinyasa (sun salutation) is like a bead to be counted and each asana (pose) is like a fragrant flower strung on the thread of the breath. The garland of yoga adorns us with peace, health, knowledge and self-awareness

While this may sound intimidating, it’s actually a practice that is super energizing. Sun salutations are the perfect way to lengthen, strengthen and flex the main muscles of the body while distributing prana throughout your whole system. Anyone can complete a yoga mala, regardless of physical limitations. Some will modify and some students actually intensify the practice!

When you begin your YBD classes with a handful of sun salutes, you right away feel your heart rate increasing, right? Sun salutes improve circulation, purify your blood and strengthen your physical body. Your lungs, digestive system, as well as your muscles and joints all benefit from this ancient practice. The more you do, the more vital prana circulation is increased, removing energy blockages and unlocking pathways for more energy to flow through you. The natural high you experience from the yoga mala is indescribable.

Our practice together will focus on the shortest day of the year as a turning point – emerging from a place of darkness to a place of light mentally, physically and even emotionally.

Some other benefits of sun salutations are:

• Promotes healthy digestion.

• Strengthens and tones abdominal muscles through alternate stretching and compression of abdominal organs.

• Ventilates the lungs, and oxygenates the blood.

• Rids body of enormous quantity of carbon dioxide & other toxic gases.

• Quiets the nervous system and improves memory.

• Promotes sleep and calms anxiety.

• Normalizes the activity of the endocrine glands – especially the thyroid gland.

• Improves muscle flexibility.

• Improves grace and ease.

Improves flexibility, especially your spine.

So what are you waiting for? Sign up at your studio today! I guarantee you will not regret honoring the changing of the season in this way. Plus it’ll be a great way to blow off some pent up holiday stress and pressure!

Have a great week, yogis!!!