yoga

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.”

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!

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: 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: 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!

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.”

Mindful Monday: April Showers Bring May Flowers

During a huge downpour between classes at YBD Downers Grove, Bernie, Katie and I did what most normal people do – we did a little yoga in the rain!

Happy Monday, radiant, hydrated, nourished ones! Yes, yes, yes it’s been raining for days! Personally, I love the rain.

The weather is our prime example of the impermanence of all things. Annica! Annica! Annica! Be happy! Be happy! Be happy! I can still hear the words of my meditation teacher S. N. Goenka.

Without rain, all things in nature would cease to exist. We ourselves can’t survive very long without water. In fact, we are pretty much walking skin bags of water!

There are songs and movies about the rain. It’s a powerful force of nature.  We have entire genres of clothing dedicated to the rain. Poets and photographers and artists try to capture its magnificence.

Your second – chakra – swadhisthana – is the water element: its primary association is emotional health, intimacy and creativity. When swadhisthana is open and balanced, we enjoy life fully and expansively. We live authentically without fear and experience love, intimacy, sensuality honestly and non-judgementally.

Water in its form of rain can be soft and rhythmic or powerful and even destructive. It’s both formidable and without form.

These rainy days won’t last – so put on your galoshes and go jump in puddles! When my son Julian was a little boy,  splashing in the rain (and mud!) was one of his favorite activities.


Have a great week! Stay hydrated! Be happy!

Mindful Monday: Spring Into Spring

Good morning, lovelies! Happy Monday!

Yoga is a discipline that makes our lives work.But for a practice to change our lives and make them better, we have to follow it EVEN WHEN WE DON’T WANT TO. that’s what makes it a discipline. It is easy to be kind when we are in a good mood and with people who are easy for us to get along with. If we can be lovingly kind to people that are difficult, or when we are caffeine deprived or in a state of stress, THEN it transforms our lives. If we choose to practice yoga, then we must practice consistently or else we will not see lasting change. We have to set up reasonable boundaries for ourselves, and let go of expectations for results, but stick to a practice we have chosen even when we’d rather not. We find then that our preferences change and actually align with what ultimately lessens the suffering in our lives .We can take ourselves to the next step and start the process all over again.

Are you ready to kick it up to the next level? Consider my detox starting in May. It takes 21 days to create a new habit. This is the perfect reset for your heart, body and soul. Give yourself the opportunity to truly shine!