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Mindful Monday: Receive 


Happy Monday, lovely ones! Another spectacular week and weekend in the books! I hope your week was as lovely as you. 

I celebrated another trip around the sun last week — my birthday is always a time for reflection for me. Another year older and wiser. And a perfect time to check in with myself and to own ALL of my stuff. It’s super easy for me to own the seemingly “bad” and “negative” parts. I tend to dismiss the “good” and “positive.” But I’m practicing owning it all without labels or judgements. Soaking everything in as an opportunity for continued awareness and growth – therefore it’s all good! Painful things help me grow. Amazing blessings soften me with gratitude. 

This year, I worked very hard to practice receiving. A dear friend of mine challenged me to only RECEIVE on my birthday. Wow! That’s a tough gauntlet thrown down!

I realized that so often people try to “give” me a compliment, and it’s so difficult for me to receive it that I end up rejecting the compliment and often times unintentionally offending the giver! How insane is that?! But isn’t it so hard to just smile sincerely, receive the offering and intention, and simply say, “Thank you?”

I had to remind myself that  giving and receiving  is a dynamic universal exchange. It’s part of the yin (receive) and yang (give) of life. You can’t give without someone to receive. And you can’t receive if nothing is offered. We need both. 

So how could I practice truly receiving the tremendous outpouring of love that flooded my life on that day? 

Yes, yes, yes gratitude for sure! But even with gratefulness in my heart, was I truly receiving the offering?

The art of receiving demands some serious yoga discipline. First, we must have the awareness to recognize that something is been offered. Someone is trying to give you something. In my case, each happy birthday greeting and gift was an offering of love and appreciation.  Secondly, we must practice being open to truly hear and see and feel the offering — this requires STILLNESS. Third, we cultivate gratitude for the intention behind the offering. So… you’re all with me so far, right? Seems simple and straightforward. 

The fourth step is the most challenging for me. It’s to actually fully absorb and assimilate and accept what I’m being offered. And that means that I have to feel deserving of love and appreciation. To feel truly worthy to receive the remarkable gifts offered. 

The word “receive” comes from the Latin word recipere, which means “to take back.” This implies that what we receive is already ours in the sense that we do, indeed, deserve it, that it completes something within us, or simply that we’ve attracted it by the nature of our being.

In the picture above, I’m practicing the art of receiving from my dear friend Sarah P. The benefit of being able to receive in this pose is that physically my body can fold more deeply. But Sarah is offering so much more with this adjustment– she’s offering her love and support for my well-being and my practice. The more I opened and received, the more relaxed and truly nourished and fulfilled I felt. 

Receiving is a yoga practice in itself! The more we cultivate the art of receiving, we become more in tuned with the abundance the universe offers us each moment, each day. 

Have a great week, Yogi friends! 

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. 😜

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. ❤️

 

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 jalapeño business! 

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

Mindful Monday: the American eclipse

Good morning, mindful ones! Wow!  Today’s the big day! Total solar eclipse! This is such a significant event astrologically, astronomically, scientifically and spiritually. On all levels of our human existence. 

This is an electrically charged time in our lives. Perhaps you’ve been feeling it over the past week building up to today?

I certainly had an interesting week. I was super edgy and agitated all of last week. I spent a lot of time trying to stay grounded and rooted. Even with my calming practices, I was supersensitive to a sense of chaos surrounding me. Many things came into my life to “trigger” some of my deep-seated and outdated mental and emotional patterns. 

Emotionally I vacillated between old patterns of anger and hostility to overwhelming sadness and despair. Many times last week I was caught off guard with straight up sobbing and ugly crying every time I went into a forward fold on my mat. I practiced being gentle  and being so compassionate with myself. And I also felt overwhelmed with gratitude for all the love and support surrounding and enfolding me. 

Which makes so much sense! This total  solar eclipse is comparable to the beginning of a new year. The energy of change and transformation is so abundant right now! We must feel and experience stale patterns in order to facilitate letting them go. 

Here are a few things you can do to take full advantage of this rare phenomenon. 

This is the time to write down new intentions and goals. Harness  this energy for self-transformation. 

If you have malas, let them sit outside and soak in this powerful energy. You can do the same thing with water and any healing stones you have.  I have mine all set to go today!

Meditate during this powerful time.  Get synced within yourself. And then sync up with the universe. 

Be safe! Only look at the sun with protective glasses on, please!

Connect with others. Truly meaningfully connect  with those around you. 

Take great care of yourself today. Stay hydrated. Protect yourself from stressful situations and people. Get a massage. Make sure you have enough downtime. Definitely take a yoga class!

Practice forgiveness. This is a fresh start for you. Release any resentments you’re harboring. This is for YOU to feel light and happy and free. That other person will deal with his or her own karma. It’s not for you to administer karma, right? 

Get grounded. Spend some time with your butt directly on the earth. Walk barefoot in the grass. 


I would love to hear from you about any rituals you performed during this auspicious time! 

Here’s to a fresh new start for us all!

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

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”!

 

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: 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!

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! 🙏🏾

Mindful Monday: You are exactly where you have manifested


Good morning, Yogi friends! Happy Mindful Monday! Today is the BEST day of your entire life. You have this entire day to look around at your life; to really see your current situation – physical, mental, financial, emotional – with the realization that you have manifested all of it. 

To know in your heart of hearts that every burden bears a gift, my friend, every challenge brings a treasure, and every setback hides a blessing.

“You are exactly where you are suppose to be right now in your life.”

Try this affirmation that I use with my cleanse/detox  students and my private lessons. 

Today I accept this truth that I am exactly where I am suppose to be in all of my relationships; my relationship with food, my body, mind and spirit.

It is through this greater understanding that we feel deeper self-acceptance, unconditional love and the freedom to change.

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 begin again.

The secret is that it is truly that simple! All you need is a fresh breath and an unshakable faith that everything is unfolding perfectly. 

Have a week that you want and deserve: it’s up to you to make it amazing or crappy. You alone have that power. 

Namaste. Annica! Be happy!