Archive by Author

Teacher Feature: Beverlyn Baer

Say hello to our newest Teacher Feature: Beverlyn Baer!  Learn some interesting tidbits about Beverlyn in her own words below.

🎒 I lived abroad for 8 years, 4 of which were spent as a nomad traveling around South America, Europe, the Middle East and India.

🕉 I have been teaching yoga at Cook County Jail for the past 2 years.

🐶🐱I am a huge animal lover and have fostered numerous cats and dogs.

🌿 I love going on adventures outdoors and finding plants that I can propagate to add to my indoor jungle.

 I’ve been vegetarian for nearly 18 years and vegan for nearly 8.


🎨🎼 I also love using my creativity to make music and crafts.

Beverlyn teaches at Yoga For All Beings on Mondays at 12PM and Sundays at 4:30PM.

Read more about Beverlyn in her full bio…

Beverlyn began her journey with yoga in 2010 at a small shala in central Tel Aviv. With a background in ballet and jazz dance, yoga offered a different type of physical demand and a different type of mental clarity than what she had become accustomed to in the dance world.

It was the connection that she began to feel, the mind-body experience, the humbleness and acceptance of the present moment that kept her coming back day after day. She has had the great fortune of being guided by beloved teachers, including James Marks, Roee Weiss, Rolf and Marci Naujokat, Balu Thevar, Gabriel Halpern, Alexia Bauer and Bridgett Piacenti. In 2014, she completed an Ashtanga Vinyasa and Yin/Restorative Teacher Training Course (RYT 200) at Brahmani Yoga in Goa and has since focused primarily on making yoga accessible for every and anyone who is interested in using yoga to explore their world within.

She focuses on listening, paying attention to, and honoring the signals that the body sends, creating a deeper layer of mind-body connection. Her classes are trauma-informed, inclusive, and aim at taking a deeper look at mindful thought patterns, somatic awareness, and the strength and flexibility connected to resilience.

Teacher Feature: Christy DePue

Meet our latest Teacher Feature, Christy DePue! You can find Christy teaching at Yoga For All Beings on Tuesdays at 12pm. Learn a few fun facts about Christy in her own words…

🐱 I have two cats, Dinah and Hamilton. They are both rescues, but Hamilton is eternally skiddish and was born without a tail! He was named after a street names after the president, not the play! Dinah was named after Alice’s pet cat from Alice in Wonderland.

  In 2013 my now husband and I picked up and moved to Knoxville, Tennessee leaving my desk job behind. The year we lived there we discovered how much we loved hiking and we got engaged on top of House Mountain as a bad case a step throat was starting to hit me!

  The first time I ever tried yoga, I hated it! I fell in love with it years later when I discovered its magic of relieving my constant neck pain caused by scoliosis.

 Bicycling has been a hobby of mine all my life, but I was too afraid to bike when I moved to the city. It took one panic attack on the blue line to get past my fear and start riding again!

🌈 In addition to teaching adults, I also teach kids’ yoga. Working with little ones has helped show me how important it is to just let go, be silly and have fun! I love stepping into their world of make believe and leaving practicality behind.

Read more about Christy in her bio:

As a certified yoga instructor through YogaView, Christy was trained with a heavy emphasis on alignment, philosophy and meditation. A teacher to both adults and young children, she finds the light-heartedness and unpredictability of teaching children to be extremely valuable when teaching all ages as well as in her own life. Christy is always looking to learn and expand her own practice to be a better student and teacher. She seeks to share yoga with others to aid them in quieting their physical and sometimes emotional pains, and truly believes that yoga is for every age and every body.

Teacher Feature: Maria Villarreal

Meet our latest Teacher Feature, Maria Villarreal.  Maria teaches at Yoga For All Beings on Saturdays from 11:30am-12:45pm leading a Level 1-2 Vinyasa.  You can also find Maria subbing classes on occasion.  To see when Maria is teaching next, check out our current class schedule.  Learn a few fun facts about Maria in her own words below…

I came to yoga almost 10 years ago hoping to try something that I’ve never done before – looking for a clean slate. I went to a 90 minute all levels vinyasa class, and spent most of the time in child’s pose. After that class, I decided that I would keep showing up on my mat.

🏖 I love the beach – any beach. I can sit on the sand infront of water all day – reading, daydreaming, people watching, and munching clementines.

 It’s a goal of mine to visit as many Spanish speaking countries as possible. Last year, I traveled to Cuba on a yoga retreat and it was magical.

✏️ I’m an educator to school-aged youth. My current role allows me to support 6-18 year-olds as they discover their passion and develop their voice and skills as writers. Hearing students write about what excites them, or what they’re feeling, or what they’ve created in their imaginations is one of the rewards of my job.

🎶 I think that music is a great way of connecting with people. I like to curate playlists for my yoga classes that bring all kinds of cultures and sounds together. Also, I regularly dream about becoming a DJ.

📖 Reading is one of my favorite things to do. I read about a book a week and am always looking for recommendations!

Read more about Maria in her bio:
Maria began her yoga practice back in 2010 when she walked into her first class. She was totally unprepared for the 90 minutes that followed but, she knew the only way to be prepared was to come back to her mat the next day. Maria loves a strong vinyasa class that incorporates pranayama and good music to help facilitate the flow. She loves creating a class that has yogis moving, breathing and being playful in their practice while fostering a sense of calm.

Sustaining Our Intentions

by Jenni Antonicic

 

January is here, and with it high hopes and noble aspirations! We all have habits that we recognize as causing us and others suffering, as well as habits we know interfere with our deepest desires. A desire to learn, grow and change for the better is at the heart of our Yogic program, but the details, ah the details present impediments pretty quick. By anticipating those moments when our energy will fail, and distractions or setbacks threaten to set us off track, we can be ready with skillful means to sustain the project of taking our next step.  One of the first sets of skills we need to cultivate as we try to make any positive shift in our life is self-awareness, coupled with kindness and compassion. Paying attention to our habitual thoughts and feelings and how they manifest in our bodies and through our behaviors is a prerequisite to consciously changing those habits to net positive results in our lives. Kindness and compassion enable us to meet negative energy ruts with positive energy choices.

Great harm comes from our un-examined conditioning.  I do believe that people rarely move through the world trying to do harm, nonetheless we all do a great deal of it.  We don’t realize the extent to which our actions are overly protective or needlessly self-serving.  We don’t realize the extent to which fear and the more “empowered-feeling” emotion of anger generate our actions.  Mostly we don’t realize the quotidian nature of passing our suffering on to others.  Our egos minimize the offense we give and maximize the offense we take.  Most often we are completely oblivious. I have been humbled several times recently by the realization that I hurt or irritated someone and had no idea at all at the time.  Avoid the tendency to think someone else is “overly sensitive” – that is our own egos using righteousness to protect us from shame, which only leads to a further spiral downward. Examine it all closely.  Humility and a sense of humor are very useful with this work.

What happens when we try to be more persistently self-aware?  For most people trying any skill, at the beginning it is tiresome and may even feel impossible.  Exhaustion indicates too much effort, giving up far too little.  “Effortless effort” is the excellence-in-action of yoga. (Spiritual teacher Adyashanti talks about effortless effort in this link). Frustration is normal. Keep acting with principled intention and expect that there will be mistakes or oversights. Our practice is to return again and again to the task.  This is a mature attitude towards meditation, study, or a difficult project of any sort – anything we apply our energy towards in terms of long-game results.  There will be setbacks or the pace may not be what we hoped for.  At this point we dig in a little, have faith, and reapply energy in a calm, grounded way.  We must update our strategies as our understanding deepens and get better at apologizing if we’ve not been kind.  Chagrin is par for the course.

Self-forgiveness is the key to dealing with the ways we disappoint ourselves, and that is one of the greatest internal difficulties we face. Tara Brach has written and spoken extensively on this. Regardless of the magnitude of the mistake, if it wasn’t hard to forgive, it wouldn’t really be necessary. The “easy to forgive” infractions haven’t really caused offense. They are the “difficult” or “impossible to forgive” offenses that poison us. We need to forgive things that seem unforgiveable.  Grasp the radical nature of the spiritual path!  Only in the heart are such paradoxes resolved. It’s likely we’ll need to keep revisiting the same experiences and reactions repeatedly with new resources each time to digest something thoroughly.  All things have their own time-line. Any impatience with ourselves while we work through the process is actually more subtle violence to ourselves, as Jeff Foster has recorded.  Resiliency comes with practice, faith in our highest intentions, and compassion for all beings, most especially ourselves.

 

Ditch the Resolution and Set Your Sankalpa

by Danielle Dickinson

 

A sankalpa can be thought of as a heartfelt desire or as a specific intention that both stem from a place of inner wisdom and aim to bring us towards our highest self.  If you’ve ever heard your yoga teacher ask you to set a sankalpa at the beginning of class (Yoga Nidra is a practice where it’s traditionally done each time), they are referring to a vow that you resolve to set for yourself- something that is deeply personal and comes from a place of loving intention.  When we think of new years resolutions, we often think of some big change.  Sometimes these new years goals are ego driven with superficial reasons behind them.  A sankalpa is formed by our heart-mind and is void of judgment.  So, we can distinguish a sankalpa from a resolution because with a sankalpa practice there is a recognition that we already have inside of us that which we are seeking.  We look beyond the what and the how by also seeking out the why behind our intention.  This provides us with insight into our own selves- who we are and who we want to be at our deepest core.

A sankalpa should be made in the affirmative.  And when reciting our sankalpa, we should use be using the present tense.  As Richard Miller, PhD, a psychologist, author, and yogic scholar explains, “A sankalpa isn’t a petition or a prayer.  It is a statement of deeply held fact, and a vow that is true in the present moment.”  Instead of saying something like, “I will loose weight” or, “I will get in shape,” you might say something like, “I have respect for my body and I treat it well with nutritious food and healthy exercise.”  Instead of saying, “I will start a yoga and meditation practice,” you could say, “I am healing my body and nourishing my mind.”  More simply, if your intention is to be more loving, instead of saying “I will be more loving,” you’d recite to yourself, “I am loving.”

Void of ego, a sankalpa can take us towards our greatest potential.  In the words of spiritual teacher and author, Sally Kempton, “When you make a true sankalpa, you call on the power of your personal will, and align your personal will with the cosmic will.”  Because new years resolutions often have goals that stem from a place of ego, see if you can look to an affirming sankalpa instead.  Let your heartfelt desires direct your dharma (living your true purpose).  A new year doesn’t have to mean the need for a ‘new you,’ but it can encourage the wisdom to look within and foresee a better and attainable version of the same, wonderful you that was always there.

 

Teacher Feature: Caitlin Pike

Meet our latest Teacher Feature, Caitlin Pike!   Caitlin graduated from Yoga For All Beings very first Teacher Training program and starting teaching at YFAB in October 2016.  Read on to learn a few fun facts about Caitlin in her own words below.

  I’ve been practicing yoga since my early 20s. Though I quickly came to love it, I was so intimidated in my first few classes that I never corrected a teacher who for some reason thought my name was April until it was too late… I let her call me that until I moved away.

✂️  Besides yoga, my passion is making things by hand. I’ll try almost any craft (weaving, pottery, sewing, embroidery, bookmaking…) but I always come back to my first love, knitting. I also like to make soap, candles, and various bath/body products. You can read some craft tutorials I’ve written at http://f52.co/1ZSUf5d.

  I love being outdoors and in nature – camping, hiking, biking, etc. This summer I’ve gone on (and absolutely loved) my first backpacking and bike camping trips. 

🐱 I have a big, fluffy black-and-white cat named Henry Bear. He loves belly rubs and is the apple of my eye!

Find Caitlin on the regular schedule Mondays at 6:15pm for Vinyasa Level 1-2 and you can also find her subbing classes at YFAB on occasion.

Read Caitlin Pike’s full bio below:

After a decidedly unathletic adolescence, Caitlin found vinyasa yoga in 2009 and loved how at home in her body it made her feel. As she continued to practice, she found that her physical, mental, and emotional wellness were more deeply intertwined than she had ever imagined. Yoga helped her find more balance and ease in everyday life, along with space for exploration and play—yoga is fun!

Caitlin joined the Yoga for All Beings community shortly after the studio opened and completed her 200 hour teacher training with YFAB in spring 2016. She is honored to share this practice with others in classes that create space for mindfulness and self-care. Most of all, she is grateful for how yoga can teach us to inhabit our poses and our lives with integrity, strength, and grace.

Teacher Feature: Melissa Kirschner

Our latest teacher feature is YFAB yoga teacher, Melissa Kirschner.  Read on as Melissa shares some fun facts about herself with our community! 

1. I took my first yoga class in college almost 15 years ago…and didn’t like it at all! I could not get my inhales and exhales to match the teacher’s cues. I reluctantly returned to the mat three years later and I’m so glad I did–I have been practicing ever since!

2. I LOVE travel. Aside from yoga it is truly my passion. Especially international travel and experiencing new cultures.

3. I work, in addition to teaching yoga, in study abroad 🙂

 4. I was an art major in college and still enjoy drawing and painting…when I can find the time!

 

 

Melissa teaches at Yoga For All Beings on

Mondays  6:30am-7:30am  Sunrise Vinyasa

Thursdays  7:15pm-8:45pm  Candlelight Effort & Ease

You can also find Melissa subbing classes at the studio.  To see our current weekly schedule, click here.

Read more about Melissa Kirschner in her full bio below: 

After over a decade of practicing yoga, Melissa Kirschner was inspired to deepen her practice by participating in OmBodies teacher training program. It was a transformational experience! Not only did she learn more about her own practice, but came to realize how much she enjoyed teaching and sharing yoga with others.

Melissa’s goal as a yoga instructor is to make yoga accessible to everyone, with a particular interest in sharing yoga with underserved populations. Her classes focus on alignment, breath, and providing space for students to explore each pose. Students can expect a balance of effort and ease, and to leave class feeling more relaxed and centered.  

Wild Thing vs Flip Dog: What’s the Difference Between These Two Poses?

A common question I get from yoga students is about Wild Thing vs Flip Dog… what is the difference between these two poses?  Let’s first start with their commonalities.  Both of these postures are backbends, where the spine is in extension, but the degree of backbend (usually) differs in each of these poses.  Both poses are also balances where the individual is baring weight on just one hand (with both feet on the earth).  The shape of the legs and feet, however, is quite different in each of these poses, including each pose’s variation that might follow its initial expression.  In wild thing, the legs and feet are asymmetrical while in filp dog, they are symmetrical. 

In this black and white collage, you can see in the first two photos of wild thing pose (the 1st being the initial expression with the right leg leg bent and the 2nd being the expression with the right leg straight).  The toes, while of course pointing in the same direction as the knees, are pointing in different directions with respect to right and left feet.  And the left foot is (usually) not completely flat onto the ground but rather pressing firmly into the pinky side knife edge of the foot.  The reason the feet are doing different things has to do with what the legs are doing. In both the 1st and 2nd photos of wild thing, the front leg (pictured here as left leg) is rotated externally in the hip and the back leg (pictured here as right leg) is internally rotated in the hips.

 For flip dog, the legs are symmetrical and the thighs are internally rotated.  If you look at the 3rd and 4th photos in the collage of flip dog and wheel pose, you will see the toes point in the same direction on both sets of right and left feet- in other words, the feet are parallel to each other and the legs are doing the same thing on right and left sides (seen in above photos of flip dog and wheel, respectively).

To help you understand these postures a little better, consider the starting positions for each. For Wild Thing, you’ll {typically} start in side plank where your hips are about in line with your shoulders (see photo on the left).

For Flip Dog, you’ll {typically} start in downward facing dog where your hips are well above the height of your shoulders (see photo on the right).  And in the final expression of each respective posture, the hips are at different degrees of height. You’ll notice (and hopefully feel in your own body) how the hips are lifted higher in flip dog than in wild thing.

Here is the initial expression of the wild thing, where the leg that moved up and over (landing off of the mat) stays bent with the leg in about a 90 degree angle.  And, like mentioned earlier, t’s good to note that on the stationary foot (on the mat), the big toe side is usually lifted, with the pinky side edge of the foot firmly pressing into the mat (which you cannot see very well in the photo here).

Here, you can see a photo of the flip dog pose… which is really like a one armed wheel pose (urdhva dhanurasana).  The leg that came off of the mat is similar to that of the same leg in wild thing… it’s the stationary leg that has changed shapes.  In flip dog, the leg on the mat adjusts to bend at a 90 degree angle making both legs parallel to each other.

A variation of the wild thing is where the leg off of the mat straightens completely like in this photo here.  To find this variation, you will start in the initial expression of wild thing and then adjust the pose in order to straighten the leg off of the mat.

A variation of the flip dog is where the arm that initially extends overhead plants next to the

grounded hand at a distance of about shoulder width apart (and the grounded hand has to first adjust to face the opposite direction… towards the feet) and this expression becomes wheel pose.  It should be noted that not only is wheel is an advanced pose that requires a lot of opening and warm up in various areas of the body to move into it safely, but the transition from flip dog into wheel is particularly tricky and should be taught and practiced under the guidance of an experienced teacher if trying this out for the first time (or few).  In each of these poses, we want to find continual lift in our heart space and firm grounding though hand(s) and feet while maintaining a constant flow of prana (think smooth and steady breathing) and slow transitions in and out of poses.  I also recommend engaging mula bandha in these poses (including while transitioning in and out of them).

It is always a good idea to address specific asana related questions directly to your teacher in person so that you can be certain of proper alignment and staying safe in your practice.  Come see us for class at Yoga For All Beings to learn more about the wonderful world of asana and so much more that the yoga practice has to offer.  Our current class schedule can be viewed here.

Yoga is Balance: Sthira & Sukha On & Off the Mat


Yoga is balance. A fine and tricky balance, to say the least.  But if attained, this balance can provide both calming and grounding energy in addition to giving way to enlightening inspiration and positive change.  In order to get to this sought-after neutral place, one must play with the delicate dance of opposites… hard and soft, dark and light, rough and smooth.  How can we navigate our way to this sweet nectar in the middle where bliss lives?  How can we find our own sense of peace and calm amidst the the back and forth see-saw of lows and highs that is life?  In a word… yoga.

One of the greatest gifts we receive from our yoga practice is that irreplaceable feeling of pure bliss that we are afforded after practice.  And in practice, what we are truly doing is balancing out effort and ease, the well-known yoga concept of sthira and sukha.  In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, he gives us the following aphorism (from sutra 2.46): “sthira-sukham asanam.”  This sutra is most commonly translated as “asana (postures) should be stable {sthira} and comfortable {sukha}.  Being established in a good place- that is, getting grounded, finding proper alignment, diligent focus, engaging the right muscles, and harnessing energy correctly coupled with maintaining a healthy prana (breath/life force) is what this sutra is all about.


We aren’t looking to feel exhausted after a yoga class… in fact, many teachers would argue we’re doing something wrong if we feel this degree of depletion after practice. Instead, we should feel alive yet relaxed at the same time.  We should be practicing in a way that regenerates our energy, not in a way that depletes it.   To achieve this, we ought to be checking in with our breathing often (is prana moving freely?) and we can also do a post class check to see how we are feeling as a whole (are we feeling balanced?).  In the words of T.K.V. Desikachar, we are looking to find and maintain sthira, “alertness without tension” while also finding and maintaining sukha, “relaxation without dullness.”

Hard to both attain and maintain, balance is really the key to one’s yoga practice and if we’re
thinking about yoga in it’s entirety, this translates to balance being the key to living blissfully.  Sure, we need to find both steadiness and ease in downward dog and warrior II, but we also need this delicate balance of embodying enthusiasm and liveliness while at the same time staying focused and keeping our feet firmly planted in our everyday lives.  This is where the yoga practice becomes a life practice.  Striving for that sweet nectar in the middle will bring us toward our perfect happy medium… our own personal bliss.  That nectar of bliss only becomes attainable to us when we are living a life in balance, a life of yoga.

Teacher Feature: Denise D’Agostino

Meet Yoga For All Beings teacher Denise D’Agostino! We are so fortunate to have this lovely yogini on our team. If you haven’t made it in to one of her classes yet, you’re missing out!  Learn a little more about Denise below…

-Denise used to have severe & almost daily migraines until she found nutrition and yoga as a young person. She has been fully vegan for over a decade!

-She loves music and has studied singing since college.

-Denise is a committed Ashtangi and loves the discipline and progression of the daily practice.

-Denise hopes to bring others the gifts of self inquiry that yoga asana and philosophy have and continue to give her.

Meet Denise on the mat at YFAB on Thursdays at 12pm for All Levels Vinyasa and find her subbing other classes at the studio as well!

Read Denise’s full yoga biography here:

Denise guides her students towards the natural balance, peace and potent, unconditional bliss in body and mind that the yogic teachings have to share. She started her health journey when severe allergies and migraines consumed her life during college. Through the help of self-study on nutrition and lifestyle, she was able to slowly unravel her feelings of sickness and to begin a corporate career in NYC. After moving to Chicago, she began a more regular practice of yoga battling stress and the feeling of being overworked, which quickly left her partially transformed and curious about this vast “new” world of experiential knowledge called yoga. Moksha Yoga Studios opened her entire world up to the classical, pure roots of yoga where she received her 200hr training. She is a committed Ashtangi and enjoys a strong but healing practice.

In class, you will experience the full integrity of the physical postures, ease of the breath and tools to explore the inner self. Denise aims to guide each individual towards discovering his or her unchanging spirit in a safe and nurturing environment. It will be a gift to teach you!

Find Denise online at https://www.facebook.com/DAGyoga/