Mindful Monday: Thanks

Happy chilly Monday dearest loveliest ones!

How on earth is it the week of Thanksgiving is my question. 2017 has flown on wings it seems.

Here we officially kick-off the season where yoga pants come in really handy for the serious meals heading our way! I’m so darn thankful for yoga pants.

Through yoga, we know that being grateful is a daily practice. We train our minds to reframe the tendency to focus from lacking to abundance. It starts to become a habit.

And this single daily habit has the power to vastly transform your life. The practice of gratitude makes everything Whole and complete and perfect. Gradually we begin to see and understand that what we have and who we are is enough.

It always has been. We just couldn’t see it because our lens was clouded with tendencies to compare ourselves to others; to crave what we don’t have; this constant compulsion to upgrade.

Or that thing we do where we project future happiness and contentment based on a specific set of circumstances.

All of it is really pretty silly when we stop and observe ourselves. This constant spinning and circumventing and projecting and dreaming and regretting and blaming and being down on ourselves. On and on and on our monkey minds whirl.

Then we pause, unroll our mats and climb on. And all of that mental activity is paused. And we take a deep breath and let it go. And we do that again and again and again. And we fill our minds up with the sound and sensation and miracle of our breath.

And there it is. Sitting quietly. Waiting for us. Whatever the heck it was we were spinning around frantically searching for. In the stillness and the silence of our minds, we can finally hear the quiet almost inaudible whisper of our hearts.

Sigh. How lovely is it to feel the strength and flexibility of our own bodies? How lucky are we that we woke up this morning and have the opportunity to read this blog? There’s food in our refrigerator that’s powered by electricity. We have warm clothes to protect us from the harsh wind. We actually have an overabundance of anything that we need. We have the luxury to give away our excess to those less fortunate. This list continues endlessly.

Think of all the things you have to be grateful for. Fill your heart to overflowing with gratitude. And from this space, devote yourself to service. It can be anything! Just make someone around you smile. Go out of your way to help someone who can never repay you. Be kind and tolerant even when you are irritated. I know you, my dearest sweetest Yogi friend, already do so much to uplift those around you!

When we talk about service to others, we are talking about the ultimate high in terms of happiness. Nothing is more gratifying and soul feeding than that.

For the past 30 years, my family and I have served meals to those in need on Thanksgiving Day. Honestly I can’t imagine doing anything else on that day. Please contact me if you’re interested in this service opportunity. Kids love it!

And the bonus for all of us? Each of our studios will offer yoga classes on Thanksgiving day. Check the schedule! Morning classes, all formats. Schedules will vary by studio.

Happy Thanksgiving!

YBD Teacher Making Headlines!

Senior Teacher, Lara Devine has been a dedicated Yoga by Degrees teacher for years.   In addition to her intelligently taught and sought after classes, through compassion, warmth and thoughtfulness, she touches the lives of her students on a regular basis.  It’s for these reasons and more, that Lara has become a cherished YBD teacher, and why now, she’s making headlines!  Check out this beautiful article for yourself!  (Article and permission to post courtesy of Suburban Life Magazine)  




Waterfall, Stone Showers & More!

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If you haven’t yet, you definitely want to come see Yoga by Degrees fourth and newest location in Downers Grove. With all of the same crisp, clean and serene elements, colors and overall styling’s as the prior three locations, Downers Grove is no exception to YBD’s high esthetic standards. In fact, when you enter the studio you’ll notice some unique touches.

The location at: 54 Ogden Ave. between Caputo’s and Trader Joe’s, boasts some unique designs that help accentuate the YBD experience.  For example, the lighted archway serves as a welcoming beacon to students who enter through the main hallway toward the locker rooms and studios.

You’ll notice custom copper detail throughout the studio; the centerpiece, a floor to ceiling streaming waterfall in the hallway lined with a wooden perch where students can sit, relax and reflect before and after each class.

Glance to your left and right and you’ll notice copper leafed locker room doors adorned with a Sanskrit sign and an artistic geometrical design on each.

As soon as you venture in to the locker room, you’ll notice the intricate and colorful tile work along the walls.

Stroll in to a shower and you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to an exotic island as natural stone and sand adorning the base of each shower provide gentle massages to your feet.

Come check out our Downers Grove location, it’s a beautiful serene showpiece that is sure to guarantee you continue to feel right at home…and never want to leave Yoga by Degrees.

Teacher of the Month

Meet our Teacher, Lara. She is one of the many amazing teachers here at Yoga By Degrees as well as our featured teacher for the month of February! Read how Lara first came to yoga and how her yoga journey has lead her to where she is now.

Teacher of the Month


When and how did you come to yoga?

I was a gymnast and dancer from the time I could walk. Elements of yoga have always been a part of my life. I didn’t start a truly dedicated practice until a few years ago. Began, looking for cross-training to help my distance running. Started with a solid Bikram practice and fell in love with the heat! I quickly branched out to Ashtanga and Vinyasa. My soul felt SO alive, again. It truly was a homecoming of sorts. What started as a practical cross-training idea, quickly morphed into an opportunity to come to my mat and work on other stuff, too… perfectionism, anxiety, etc.

Why did you start teaching yoga?

True story… knew it was deep in my soul, when I began to literally demo postures in my sleep (my own version of sleep walking, I guess). When you’re dreaming about it and acting it out, it’s probably something you should explore. I found a big part of myself in yoga and hoped to help others find the best of themselves there, too. Teaching is at my core. Spent my post-college years teaching in Corporate America and definitely spend lots of time teaching as a mom of four. After class the other night, one of the students described me as a teacher who, “hugs with my words.” How neat is THAT?! The opportunity to share yoga and connect on that level, fills my heart with gratitude. Best feeling ever.

What is your favorite pose?

Hard to choose just ONE! Depends on the day, I guess. There’s nothing like coming into your breath, while flowing thru a series of sun salutations. Lots of days, I’m alllll about inversions to lift my spirits. I’ll rock out a headstand just about anywhere! Child’s pose helps me get quiet enough to hear my soul. Heart and hip openers are deeeelicious. Balancing asanas take me back to countless hours, spent on the beam. Oops. You asked for ONE.

Who inspires your teaching?

SO blessed to practice and teach at Yoga By Degrees. There’s inspiration everywhere in this beautiful community: the brave students, who open their hearts; the most amazing, supportive, fun and diverse group of teachers ever; the exceptional musicians who make time to share their talent in the live music class; the hesitant students who find a way to push fear aside and try their first few classes. YBD rocks!!

Everyday LIFE, nudges me, too… my four courageous babies; stuff I read; conversations with friends; my own struggles as a student.

Tips for beginners

The other day a friend of mine asked for tips, prior to his first class. Said this, essentially… Quiet the inner critic & enjoy. Someone next to you may look completely different in the postures. That’s THEIR journey. Be YOU! Have FUN! You are enough, just as you are. Rest, drink water, breathe, smile. Repeat.

Get lost in the feeling. It’s not just about the asanas. Read something many months back, about a group of monks who set out on a trip, in the early hours of the morning. Although they’d been rowing steadily for hours, the sun came up & they discovered they were still in the same spot. No one untied the boat! The book likened that, with doing YOGA & only putting your energy into the asanas… never connecting to the FEELING underneath, them. Untie your boat! Close your eyes and FEEL it. Mind. Body. Spirit.

There are so many different types of yoga and teaching styles. Keep searching until you find something that speaks to you.

Favorite quote

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. It is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of the Universe. Your playing small does not serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of the Universe within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

—Marianne Williamson

Western Springs Nears Completion!

Western Springs Nears Completion!

Construction is well under way at YBD’s new Western Springs location 4700 Gilbert Ave. Suite 16. We stopped by there this week and couldn’t believe how fast the contractors got the dry wall and paint up! Everything is on track and our second location is set to open October 15th! Feel free to take a drive by and take a look! All memberships, class packs and free weeks are transferable across both locations!