Page 1

VOL. 1 NO. 4 SUMMER 2014




Transformative Fire

Keeping the wisdom alive

Sharon Gannon Laura Jane Mellencamp

ISSN 2330-2860

Yoga Among Friends

Adeoye in eka pada rajakapotasana


PHOTOS: M ary Carol Fi tzgerald

Artist profile Colin Lambides Cathy Beres It’s not every day you come face to face with an unusual, massive art installation at your neighborhood yoga studio. But that is exactly what you’ll find at the 105F Bikram yoga studio in Wicker Park. Eleven enormous panels, each measuring 4 feet by 8 feet, were painted by the late Colin Lambides in 2001. Lambides was a fixture in Wicker Park at the time, a young, free-spirited, worldtraveling artist often called “The Pied Piper Of Wicker Park” for his friendly and outgoing personality and connection to the neighborhood community. The panels were drawn and painted by Lambides as a way to advertise the opening of 105F, Chicago’s first hot yoga studio. Without an advertising budget, owner John Marcoux had to find an untraditional way to get the word out about the new studio. A nearby empty building offered Marcoux their windows, all 21 of them, as advertising space. Marcoux immediately thought of Lambides to fill this blank canvas. Lambides envisioned telling a story comic-strip style across the tall windows. He chose to depict a story he remembered learning in Sunday School at the Temple of Kriya, Chicago, where he spent much of his childhood. In the story, the gods have retrieved the nectar of immortality and want to hide it from man. They knew that man could climb the highest mountains, take a ship to the bottom of the sea or shoot a rocket to the moon to find immortality, so the gods consulted Brahma for advice. He said to place the nectar where man would never think to look: in the human heart. Lambides used bright tempura paints to bring his drawings to life. The overall effect is visually arresting and graphically stunning. In the original configuration, the drawings were followed by several panels with words that directed passersby to the studio, which was down the street. Despite the story of everlasting life depicted in his work of art, Lambides passed away several years after the opening of 105F, at the age of 29. The paintings pay tribute to the enduring power and spirituality of yoga and to Lambides’ memory in the Wicker Park community. The panels are now on display at 105F, 1344 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago. Learn more about the studio at Lambides 2001, Tempura Series of 4’ x 8’ panels


Contributors Mary Carol Fitzgerald is a lifestyle portrait, fine art and travel photographer. Inspired by nature, she loves the outdoors, craves healthy living and has a daily practice to stay physically and mentally fit.

Emily Pawlowski loves discovering alternative health and wellness businesses in Chicago. Her writing hobby grew from her desire to share her curiosity with others.

Tess DiNapoli is a yoga teacher, writer, freelance editor and artist living in Los Angeles, CA. When not on her yoga mat, she loves good movies, hiking, reading, journaling and traveling.

Teresa Gale is a teacher, mother and avid gardener. She recently co-authored “Fearless Food Gardening in Chicagoland” and has been a yoga practitioner for 13 years. Midwestborn and Californiaraised, she now calls Chicago home.

Debby is a beginning yogi. She loves to write and looks forward to sharing her journey with yoga enthusiasts as well as curious non-yogis.

Sarah Landicho teaches yoga in and around Chicago. Always a student first, she loves to observe and write about how the different aspects of practicing yoga weave throughout life.

Abby Hart

Welcome to the summer issue of illumine. We are thrilled to bring you this latest collection of ideas. This is my first issue as the managing editor, and what a fantastic experience it has been to work with fabulous talents such as Lourdes, Jason and Heidi and a spectacular team of writers, yogis, astrologers, healers and creators. Since the summer season has finally come to Chicago, tapas is the theme for this issue. Tapas has been interpreted many ways—namely, as inner fire, fiery discipline and consistency. While discipline and consistency have never been particularly strong attributes of my personality, I can tell you that my inner fire usually compels me to overdo everything—the time I went crazy on leg work at the gym and couldn’t walk for four days comes to mind. In the spirit of evolution, moderation and dedication, the articles in this issue are meant to motivate us to keep coming back to the mat, but not push ourselves too hard, to stop beating ourselves up with the question “Why?”, expand our worldviews with yoga retreats, expand our self-knowledge with regular meditation and commit ourselves to the ideal of selfless service (seva). I’m even inspired to challenge my reputation as a notorious plant killer and finally try my hand at growing vegetables and herbs in this beautiful weather! We hope these articles illuminate and delight you in equal measure, as we are inspired by you, our readers. Here’s to the summer heat and keeping our inner fires alive and burning!

Please pass on or recycle. Digital download available online at

Founder and Yogini-in-Charge Lourdes Paredes Managing Editor Abby Hart Editorial Consultant Heidi Schlumpf Print Design Jason Campbell Web Design Laura Fairman Social Media Jane Rubin

Letter from the editor


Volume 1, Issue 4 Summer 2014

Writers Heather Barstow, Marci Barth Cathy Beres, Jeff Bunn Debi Buzil, Jill Carey Tess DiNapoli, Allie Frane Teresa Gale, Abhi Ghosh Trayci Handelman, Abby Hart Areta Kohout, Jim Kulackoski Sarah Landicho, Mary Ann Lopez Mark Anthony Lord, Kerry Maiorca Pamela McDonough, Alie McManus, Daniel Mendez Lourdes Paredes, Emily Pawlowski Rhonda Schlesinger, Debby Spitzer, Paul Tootalian Monica Yearwood Distribution Cari Barcas Lela Beem Cathy Beres Jeff Bunn Debi Buzil Chris DeLizer Trayci Handelman Carol Horton Areta Kohout Linda O’Toole Photography

Pat Barcas Mary Carol Fitzgerald Scott Shigley Illustrations

Ashley Wu

Contents Like us on






ON THE MAT Beyond fitness: Lake Forest Health & Fitness Center


Studio Feature: Yoga Among Friends


Practice for peace


Keeping the wisdom alive


Freedom Yoga in Millennium Park




OFF THE MAT Illuminating the Spirit


Sutra in the city




Disruptors: Building a more sustainable future


Conscious Cocktailing


Fearless Food Gardening


Cover Photo

Adeoye at the John Hancock Building by Scott Shigley



42 29




Advertiser Profile

Beyond fitness Lake Forest Health and Fitness Center helps heal mind and body


iving in Chicago’s North Shore, I am both grateful and at times overwhelmed with the choices when selecting a studio or fitness gym/center that offers yoga classes. Some of us are deeply rooted to one yoga studio while others enjoy trying new places and new teachers. Fitness clubs and centers have realized the yoga craze and have worked very hard to expand their studio space and teacher expertise in an effort to stay competitive in Chicago’s yoga world. Though I’m typically a studio yogi, I was excited and curious to branch out and try yoga at a fitness center. I chose the Lake Forest Health & Fitness Center (LFH&FC) for two reasons: it’s close in proximity to me and yet a total unknown in what they offer in terms of yoga.

Recently the center expanded its yoga services by offering private-personalized practice, which is open to non-members. Private sessions are offered on a one-on-one basis or in groups of two to four individuals. Customized yoga sessions allow specialized instruction for individuals with special needs, therapeutic needs, injuries, seniors, or for those who feel the need to “mix it up.” LFH&FC’s yoga instructors all bring a unique and specialized

Pictured: Fiona Ricci-McCarthy has been teaching Yoga at Lake Forest Health & Fitness Center since 2009. Ricci-McCarthy is certified in therapeutic yoga for seniors and cancer survivors through Duke University’s Integrative Medicine program.


concentration to their instruction. Each has furthered his or her depth of teaching yoga through additional studies and certifications, including therapeutic alignment, senior adaptive yoga, stress reduction, trauma sensitivity, cancer recovery, physical limitations, emotional blockage and PTSD. I took advantage of a few one-day passes and opted for the classes offered in the Mind/Body Studio. The one-day passes allowed access to the entire center, including the expansive locker rooms. I snagged a spot on the floor among other regulars who were talking about their latest experience at an arm balance class over the weekend. The class itself was a gentle flow, and the instructor gently slipped in and out of routine cues, guiding us through our poses while encouraging our practice.

The Mind/Body Studio is on the smaller side of a typical studio and is equipped with bars and a mirror for other fitness classes listed on their schedule, but mats and all the props necessary are available and the room is warm and inviting. Yoga at a fitness-based club can be just as rewarding to the mind, spirit and body as a yoga studio. In addition, at some gyms you may receive all the benefits of a fully loaded workout gym, a café, fitness shop, initial medical assessment and locker room amenities. Plus you can relax in the hot tub or take a refreshing swim in the pool after class.

PHOTO: Greg McCarthy

The center is a medically-based wellness facility on the campus of Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital. The Mind/Body Studio offers a variety of yoga classes: beginner vinyasa flow, hatha, restorative, total body, mindful flow, gentle, flow to basic yoga. Their schedule offers over 20 classes per week in addition to yoga classes for seniors and now Yoga for Kids. New members receive a full medical fitness assessment upon joining the center.

Areta Kohout

The Householder Yogi “Little kids, little problems. Big kids, big problems.” Kerry Maiorca

Illustration by Ashley Wu

it would for a brand new yoga student to feel frustrated that he couldn’t balance in handstand. Without first mastering the basics, the subtlety of intermediate practices will elude you.

As a 2-year-old, my son was nothing if not committed. One summer afternoon in Lincoln Square’s Giddings Plaza, that quaint community gathering spot where children play tag and draw with chalk while an acoustic guitarist picks through a song, my son threw himself down on the sidewalk, screaming and kick-rolling over some terrible injustice. Passersby alternately stared or avoided eye contact as I helplessly watched the tornado. I finally scooped him up and struggled to carry his flailing body the 15-minute walk home while simultaneously pushing the stroller that couldn’t contain him. Rehashing every gory detail the next day to a friend with older children, I was hoping for advice on how to manage future tantrums. Instead she smiled, rolled her eyes, and said, “Little kids, little problems. Big kids, big problems.” Just as a new yoga student obsesses over proper foot alignment for Warrior I versus Warrior II, as a new parent “little problems” are your whole world. As yogis and as parents, we practice being in the level of depth that’s appropriate for the moment. It would make no more sense for a new mom to worry how to talk to her infant daughter about puberty than

It’s all relative, however—at 8 and 5, my children are “little kids” to parents of teenagers, and “big kids” to those with toddlers. After school recently when my red-faced son complained about how unfair it was that his friend cheated at soccer then bragged about winning, the challenges we worked through in his younger years (like “using your words” rather than hitting) equipped me to better help him. As I listened and asked open-ended questions instead of pushing my opinions on him, I realized the subtlety and patience necessary in this parenting situation was not unlike my experience with what used to be my yoga nemesis—navasana, boat pose. It would have been simpler to just skip it and do easier poses, but the humbling experience of facing a physical challenge taught me when to work, when to pull back, and when to embrace silence, stillness and compassion once effort was no longer needed. In just a few years our son will be a teenager, and I’m already inundated with parent war stories about the impending doom 13 will bring. Instead, I practice being mindful about recess betrayals and homework struggles, knowing that if we compassionately work through these challenges now, we’ll be better-equipped to handle the subtlety and depth of the intermediate poses of parenting when we get there. Kerry Maiorca is the founder & director of Bloom Yoga Studio and its teacher training programs.


gills or wings?

being a lover of yoga I found it in the water. combining the conscious effort of strokes and breathing. there isn’t a muscle, joint or kosha that is not included. resistance is all around you in the water so the intensity level is up to you and will always change.


Daniel Mendez

Raw and Vegan Food Resturant Originating from the vision of a world enjoying better health, raw strives to deliver only the highest in quality of fully uncooked, 100% plant-based products to an under-served community in need. Through the fresh daily packaging of the simple raw goodness of nutrient-rich ingredients & by educating our patrons, the healing mission of raw is to raise awareness worldwide.

Greg Miller, Pool Party 2010 acrylic, paper, collage on panel 48�x 60�

French Market Location 131 N. Clinton St, Suite 7 Chicago, IL 60661 Gold Coast Location 51 W. Huron St. Chicago, IL 60654

Connect with us! Chicago Raw Food




The power of

COLORS Heather Barstow

Considering the effect of color on mood, it is no wonder that color is also a stimulating factor in yogawear. Plenty of current yoga styles incorporate bright hues and vivid patterns, which can have an energizing effect.


Yoga clothing can be both functional and inspirational. In addition to color, images, mantras and words on the clothing can be inspiring to the wearer and others who see them. All of yoga is choice, and you can choose to make an impactful statement with your yogawear or communicate a subtle message. Try incorporating colorful items in your every day routine (as pictured) and note how the colors resonate with your mood and movements.


9 1

PHOTOS: Megan Suckut

When I was in fashion design school, I learned that color can psychologically influence mood, feelings and emotions. It’s a fact: color communicates nonverbal messages and feelings. For children who can’t quite verbalize their feelings or have been traumatized, psychologists can study the meaning of the color used by the child to interpret the child’s emotions and make a diagnosis.                Different colors activate different responses. As a makeup artist for the Yves Saint Laurent brand, I apply my research and knowledge of color and how it makes people feel. In my line of work, it is important to ask what mood the customer wants to evoke. Does she want a day look or a daring evening look? Does she want to draw attention to her appearance or keep it subtle? The color spectrum offers an array of options. For example, nude tones make a subtle, understated impression, while bright colors communicate energy and have a cheerful effect.             Color can also positively influence your yoga practice. I find orange stimulates my senses and opens my horizon when I’m feeling stressed and/or overwhelmed. I practice yoga in an orange-painted room in my house. Surrounding myself with the color orange invigorates my inner being.


3 7 5

1. BLACK absorbs all light in the color spectrum and makes other colors look brighter. In chromotherapy (color therapy), an ancient alternative healing method, black boosts self-confidence and strength. 2. WHITE gives a sense of space and cleanliness, and is associated with celestial beings such as angels and gods. 3. RED stimulates the body and mind and increases blood flow, and also generates feelings of excitement or intensity. 4. ORANGE adds excitement, enthusiasm and warmth to surroundings and can draw attention, such as when used in traffic signs and advertising. 5. YELLOW is cheery and warm, but physiologically it can create feelings of frustration and anger. It also increases metabolism. 6. GREEN symbolizes nature, good luck, health, jealousy and fertility. In chromotherapy, it provides a calming effect and relieves tension. 7. BLUE gives feelings of calmness, tranquility, security and orderliness. In chromotherapy, blue lowers the pulse rate and body temperature. 8. PURPLE symbolizes royalty, wisdom and spirituality. It is also an imagination-enhancing color, and in chromotherapy it has an anti-inflammatory effect. 9. BROWN communicates a sense of reliability, the down-to-earth and conventional, however, it can create a feeling of sadness and isolation.



4 G U A - 13 Y L U J

4 2 - 12 G U A



I G O Y C M • A E R AV I H S • N R O C E N A E S H K U M R U G • R E K YR T S D OR • T S E K Y N N O J A M D AP • N N I F N I O E • R E W O R B A N E L E


I G OY C M • C I T N A G I G G I B • 5 C I S S A R U J E L P O E P E H T R O F E N I C I D E M & OK H A N O H C Y T • R O TAP I C N A M E • 2 D J R




WA N D E R L U S T . C O M




2 014 S U M M E R F E ST I VA L S


J U N E 19 – 2 2 J U LY 3 – 6 J U LY 17– 2 0 J U LY 31- AUG 4 AUG 21- 24


WA N D E R L U S T . C O M




S L A V I T S E F R E M M U S 41 0 2





illumine PHOTO: Pat Barcas

Yoga Among Friends

Laura Jane Mellencamp

Yoga Among Friends is located at 4949 Forest Ave., Downers Grove, IL. Learn more at

Mary Ann Lopez Laura Jane Mellencamp was a successful yoga teacher with celebrity clients in Los Angeles when, in 1995, she decided she wanted to make a change in her life. At a time when yoga in the suburbs was still a rarity, Mellencamp left the West Coast, her friends and her celebrity clients for the Midwest and Chicago’s suburbs. Her reason for leaving LA? As Mellencamp explained, “Yoga was losing its heart and becoming a business.” Before she decided to move, Mellencamp repeatedly meditated on what she should do and she heard, “go to the heart.” A close friend told her to “build a bridge of love and expand your life.” She couldn’t very well leave and not have a way to support herself. Through her meditation, she discovered she was the job. While she had taught at other studios, she realized now was the time to step out on her own. Trusting the voice within gave her the courage she needed to make the move. She found herself in Naperville, Illinois. At the time, she moved to Naperville because the demographics showed it was an up-andcoming area with many corporations, but not much else. So in 1995, she started teaching yoga in Naperville, eventually moving her classes to nearby Downers Grove, a suburb about 23 miles from Chicago, two years later. 12

Then, in 1998, she opened Yoga Among Friends in downtown Downers Grove. The name for the studio came naturally. Because Mellencamp knew so few people when she first opened, everyone who came into the studio soon became a friend, she said. The studio celebrated its 15th anniversary in 2013. When she decided to pick up and move, she had no idea what the outcome might be. “I never knew I’d have a center or be in Downers Grove,” she said. What she did when she founded Yoga Among Friends and continues to do is to meet people where they are. “A great teacher walks with you,” she said. At the beginning, walking with her students meant understanding that chanting or speaking in Sanskrit made some of them uncomfortable. However, as yoga has expanded in the city and the suburbs, views have changed. Once one of the few studios in the suburbs, Yoga Among Friends now joins many more studios throughout the area. Mellencamp’s studio has become a hub for yogis, many longtime students and some who have transitioned to teach at the studio. “Everyone is heartfelt,” Mellencamp said. “If you

come to Yoga Among Friends, you get a hug. Many students won’t leave without their hug.” That feeling of touch grounds people and they leave feeling connected, she said. Student and teacher Julie Stewart is one of the many connected yogis at the studio. She has been practicing about 20 years and teaching yoga for close to a decade. She has watched and learned from Mellencamp, emulating her ability to maintain balance in all things. “We stand on the shoulders of our teachers and they hold us up,” Stewart said. Yoga Among Friends is not a typical studio, Stewart explains. The yoga center is welcoming to students of all levels and offers a variety of classes. “I see the same people coming who have been coming here since I started,” Stewart notes. “People may come and go, but they always come back.” Mellencamp made a commitment to the community when she opened Yoga Among Friends to create a healing yoga center. She has gained a number of clients who come to her for private yoga therapy sessions. Early on in her yoga career, when she made a commitment to her own practice and teaching, Mellencamp knew she wanted to have a Western degree to back up her

? illuminating

practice, so she studied and earned a master’s degree in psychology. She created her own program that combines Eastern philosophy and Western psychology. “I never wanted to be a therapist in the traditional sense,” she said, adding that she began calling herself a yoga therapist. After meeting T.K.V. Desikachar, Mellencamp learned he wanted to start a yoga therapy program. She applied and was accepted, and over the course of six years and trips back and forth to Chennai, India, Mellencamp completed the program. She uses what she knows to help others who may be struggling with any number of issues, such as anxiety, addiction or depression. “This is my whole work, using these tools,” she explains. In addition to building a yoga community, Mellencamp, now 59, also found love and a family in the suburbs. She married husband Patrick Murphy in 2000. In 2001, the couple adopted their daughter, Colby, now 12.

the spirit

Why “why” is the wrong question Mark Anthony Lord

At some time in our life we all have either been joyously amused or deeply frustrated by the 3- or 4-year-old child who can’t stop asking, “Why?” “Why doesn’t that person have hair, Mommy?” “Why is she crying, Daddy?” “Why do I have to go to bed?” “Why can’t I have ice cream?” “Why?” “Why?” That natural wonder is comical and entertaining. It can also be maddening because it often doesn’t take long for the child to bring us to the point where we have to say, “I don’t know why!”

Of course there are appropriate times to ask “Why?” Much great advancement has been created from the simple question. When it comes to the wonders of the world and the mysteries of the body and spirit, asking “why” has brought great thinkers to invaluable revelations. However, when the question involves the self and one’s relationships with others, asking “Why?” can often cause suffering.

PHOTO: Pat Barcas

Raising a daughter made Mellencamp limit her teaching and yoga therapy to maintain balance between the studio and her family life. But in time she hopes to share more of her knowledge. She continues to mentor young teachers and students who she hopes will keep the integrity of yoga alive. “I love people,” Mellencamp said. “I love getting to the light.”

Mary Ann Lopez is a writer and yoga instructor living in the Chicago suburbs. When she’s not practicing or teaching yoga, she enjoys attempting to be creative in the kitchen and trail ​ running with her Australian Shepherd Sadie.

Why, you ask? Because we beat ourselves up with this question. “Why can’t I lose that last 10 pounds?” “Why am I so lazy?” “Why did I say that?” “Why can’t I figure out what I want to do with my life?” We get into arguments with loved ones over the question as well. “Why did you say that?” “Why did you bring that?” “Why are you late?” “Why can’t you stop doing that?”

We ask “Why?” as if we’re going to get some groundbreaking insight that will make all of life suddenly make sense. We ask it as if knowing the psychological mumbo-jumbo that lives underneath our choices will lead us into new, healthier behaviors. But it doesn’t—because it’s the wrong question. Just like the 3- or 4-year-old incessantly asking, “Why?” that cycle of thought will eventually lead you into the frustrated response: “I don’t know why!”

Who am I to be? In every situation we have a choice about what part of ourselves shows up. Taking the time to ask who you’re here to be can activate compassion and personal responsibility. What can I do about this right now? This question allows you to choose new, positive action instead of habitual reaction. What could you do differently to cause greater care, connection and change?

When is the time to handle this? It’s true—timing is everything. Taking a moment to assess your environment, energy and emotional state can really make a difference and generate positive and loving communication with yourself or others. It also helps you create boundaries that can make you happy in the moment and productive when it’s time to be. Pay attention to how often you are asking or pondering “Why?” and see if it’s really the right question. I bet you’ll discover that it’s not. Notice how often it makes you and yours more confused and frustrated.

Want to make a positive change and improve your relationships? Give up the why and get into the who, what and when. Use these questions to create kindness and transform your thoughts and language for greater good. You have the power. Rev. Mark Anthony Lord is an

internationally-recognized author, speaker,

teacher and the Spiritual Director of the

Bodhi Spiritual Center in Chicago, IL. Learn

more at and

Instead of asking “Why?”—consider changing to the following more active and empowering questions:




can choose from a plethora of studios and classes of many styles, levels and temperatures. Not surprisingly, there are also many choices when it comes to yoga gear. Let’s talk mats. To start, there are many types of mats to park our down-dogs on.

Yo g

Watch Your Tongue

Sutra in the city

Debi Buzil Oh dear, not again . . . texts, email, Facebook posts of people just diagnosed. One prominent yoga/musician friend blogged about his testicular cancer, another friend needs a somewhat radical surgery on her “girl-parts.” An email from a businesswoman with cancer asks for a meeting. A young rock-and-roll mom calls me. My BFF’s mother is beginning treatments. I am asked to share my expertise. You must know that I lived it! I was nursing my almost-2-year-old baby and found a lump. Stage 3 breast cancer (later changed to 2B). How did yoga get me through? The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali became a roadmap to find a firm base to hold on. Chapter 2, or Sadhana Padah, holds practical tools for the eight-fold path. The active presence of spiritual qualities in daily life enhanced my ability to heal. Physical practice helped me with stress. I attended a weekly Iyengar class. I never missed class—my blessed teacher would put me in a supported pose on bad days and let me rest. I did breathwork and meditation. Eating correctly let the agni or inner fire burn and purify my body. I became aware of the power of my thoughts and worked hard to create a positive inner environment. Elesa Commerse, one of Chicago’s great yoga and meditation teachers, shared Yoga Nidra with me, and it has served me well as one of my favorite tools in my yoga toolbox. Through this practice of conscious yoga relaxation, I became calm. And by being calm I developed strength and insight. 14

There is no question that yoga was more challenging before the advent of the sticky mat. Today the wood floors in yoga studios are covered with mats in many colors, densities, lengths and widths—even round mats! Yoga wasn’t always like this. Did you ever wonder how the ancient yogis practiced before “mats” as we know them today? Yoga lore suggests that the mats preferred by some of the revered, ancient yogis were tiger skins; some might have been fortunate enough to practice on softer, deerskin chamois. Truth be known, for most, the bare ground worked just fine.

Illustration: Ashley Wu

Tapas is the flame we bring to our practice— body, mind and speech. Tapas, this flame or enthusiasm, is about lighting yourself on fire. It is the zeal that gets you on the mat, over and over again. Transformation occurs through the passion you bring to your life. The “tapas of speech” taught me refinement. Not only did I become conscious of the words I spoke, I started to make choices to create my own reality. I began to change my language. The tapas of my tongue! The Rastafarian mystics shared that “word-sounds have power.” Soon my speech reflected not only my mind and emotions, but the deep heart sound of complete recovery, complete wellness. Cancer became the “little-c” and lost some of its big, scary power. I took treatments at the “chemo lounge” in my “healing chair.” I became a “thriver” as opposed to a survivor. Empowerment? Heck yeah! I did it through my speech. Using kind and gentle words, giving myself uplifting messages became a predictor of my health. My baby girl is now 8 years old. Her memories of my illness consist of the time I melted my wig cooking dinner. I’ve been through the fire and have come out transformed, just like the phoenix. The stakes are higher when it concerns your mortality, but peace and acceptance are key to meeting any challenge. Oh yes, and did I mention that my oncologist’s name sounds just like the Sanskrit word for bliss? It’s Dr. (A)nanda. Words and sounds have power!

In more recent times, as yoga emerged on the “exercise” scene, newer practitioners started bringing terry cloth towels or cotton mats to practice. As we know all too well, practicing on a finished wood floor with a cotton towel can lead to a yogic catastrophe. Then came Angela Farmer. Angela taught yoga in the London area and gets kudos for being the first person to address the need for a yoga surface that wouldn’t slide around as much. As the story goes, while traveling in Germany, she discovered that a simple piece of carpet padding—yes, that somewhat off-putting, multi-colored squishy material, cut down to size— provided a stable surface on which to practice. She was thrilled to get an improved grip with less strain and fear of slipping. In 1982, recognizing a potential business opportunity, her father collaborated with a local padding manufacturer and made what we commonly refer to as the “sticky mat.” Unfortunately, they were pricey to ship to the United States and did not hold up all that well. About 10 years later, Sara Chambers, founder of Hugger Mugger, worked with a chemist to develop a sturdier, stickier mat, designed specifically for yoga. The “tapas mat,” introduced in the early 1990s, was more affordable, more durable and available in an array of colors. But this was only the beginning. Today you can visit any yoga studio, browse through almost any yoga- or athletic-oriented web site or thumb through a yoga magazine and be overwhelmed with the choices. Before choosing your mat (or mats), it’s important to understand the needs of your body as well as the intensity and the type of yoga you practice.

m at at te rs

Ja jad de H Pr eyo arm Th ice: ga.c ony S ick aro om Pro • M izes nes und fe ss • N ad : 24 s: 3/ $70 ion e 1 x 6i al of • A ot 6 n a 8 e • F mo s th co- inc che h n ic fr s o p r i g t k o ien es • I rac ndo he s r cu dly or 2 tic or n 4 tic s n an my ing pra kier hy a atur x 74 a e c d b xp on l in m s t eg eri rad ition ats othe rubb che ins en ia er , it r m er s to ce, nt-h s an gri at pil ten ea d ps s l in d te th ve he s to d fl ose ry w av w oo no e ll y w ea rs t Ki ea r ou nd ra tq (fo rea ui M ve rme at f s ckly r r r o n Pr ice ly k m Th ice: vita now Ver S ic aro .co n nic • M ize knes und m as t e V s he ita • E em : 24 s: 1 $10 St xc ory x 6 inch 0 ud io iss elle -fo 8 in u Ma n a c e m h t t t) • L heir s, or for p -lik es o e igh sho tho rac fe r 2 6 e to s u x7 o t t, bu lde e lo tition l 0i hic t b rs o ok er nc i k f ulk r w ng s w he or ier he to ith s m s h n t o os han jum fte and ty n og typ ping the or w a b ica im r b ag l m ack pa ist ats ct s on an dl ike ly

R is ho a m nd a a an ssag Schl d y e es og the ing a t rap er ea ch ist er.

Sc hle sin ge r

Rh on da

Yo gea ga gee r k m

Le t’s ha ve Ma al n m d oo u a ka Pr ndu ka B ts i Th ce: ka.c lac om a k i o c r ep o S m Ma k • K izes nes und op tP s : ula n R $ : 2 • T ow 6 1 i 1 O 0 rm x 7 nch 0 he n ats a w s 1 : • B ith e we s th inch e o ac ut igh Ro es ke a d b yo ove lls R and y a ga r se oyc 26 life bag ven e o x 85 tim po f yo in un ga che eg ds ua m s ats ran tee

PHOTO: Nonpedestrian




Jyotish The Eyes of the Vedas Pamela McDonough

The Vedic horoscope is literally a karma-scope that connects us to our internal vision and our Prarabdha karma, the karmic bank balance that we begin with at birth—in short, our destiny. Although I had previously studied Western astrology, I never fully grasped the system. But I was immediately fascinated by Jyotish when I was first introduced to it in early 2000. I was between jobs and contemplating a career transformation. I decided to find a part-time job that would allow me to connect with my interests and also create a welcome diversion from my previous career. When I saw an ad in an alternative local paper to assist a Vedic astrologer, I was intrigued, even though I had never heard of Vedic astrology. It’s ironic that I was unaware of Jyotish, since I had been regularly practicing yoga for about five years. As luck would have it (or by design) I got the job. This exposure of the ancient astrology of India changed the course of my life forever. A large library of books at my workplace drew me in like a vortex. The books, which had been shipped from India, had their own unique and intoxicating fragrance. It was as if my past life memories were awakening. I had finally arrived home. I was captivated by it all: the richness and symbolism within the ancient Indian stories of the grahas (planets), rasis (signs) and bhavas

(houses); the house system and square South Indian chart style; the ancient remedial measures such as yantra and mantra and how they are used to offset negative karmas; and the beauty and vibration of the Sanskrit language. The knowledge and wisdom that can be mined from our Vedic chart is an incredible adjunct to yoga and Ayurveda. Jyotish was exactly the missing link I had been searching for, since it integrates perfectly with the other Vedic sciences I had been studying: Ayurveda, yoga, chakras and yantra. Unlike Western astrology, this ancient system from India was totally holistic. The integration of Jyotish into my everyday life felt so complete to me. Jyotish can help us see issues with our physical bodies and our emotional state as they relate to our doshas (our mind-body personalities) and our health. In traditional areas of India it is still a very common practice for an Ayurvedic physician to first analyze the birth chart before seeing the patient. If a Jyotish reading had identified the weak areas of my body in my early 20s, I may have been able to avoid back surgeries in my late 20s and early 30s. These surgeries left me with chronic pain, which yoga allowed me to effectively manage. After practicing yoga regularly, I was able to hike, mountain bike and snow ski again.

Painting by Pamela McDonough

Jyotish (Vedic astrology) is considered to be the Eyes of the Vedas—Vedachakshu. As my Jyotish guru explains it, “Vision can be both external and internal. External vision is used in everyday affairs, but internal vision is used to understand the self: body, mind and soul.”

Having this insight helped me to realize that my interpretation of my father from my perspective as a child may have been incomplete or limited. This revelation was a tremendous relief. Over the past decade that I have been studying and practicing Jyotish, this ancient system has never ceased to amaze me. Feedback from clients is that Jyotish has given them invaluable support and helped to prepare them for the transitions in their career, health, spiritual paths, relationships and family. Ultimately, the information from our horoscope will bring us closer to the purpose of our soul and Source, Supreme Being, God, the Universal Power, or whatever name it is that we use to describe our connection to the Divine. To fully understand, is to experience Jyotish for yourself and form your own opinion. Like the North Star, Jyotish shines brightly, illuminating the planetary patterns in our karma-scope and lighting our path with ancient wisdom. Pamela McDonough is a Vedic astrologer and artist. Along with her astrology practice, she collaborates with her husband Mick creating yantra and mandala

Through my personal Vedic horoscope, I also gained deep understanding into family of origin dynamics. I could see specific karmas around the difficult relationship with my father.

sculptures for yoga studios, retreat centers, spas and personal collectors.



Courage, discipline love


Q & Awith

PHOTO: Kiam Junio

Andrew Shykofsky A conversation with Meditate Chicago founder on beginning a meditation practice

Emily Pawlowski Incorporating a meditation practice into an already busy routine seems to be a common topic across national news programs and publications. It sounds easy enough in theory… but really, how and where does someone start? What does it really take? illumine sits down with Andrew Shykofsky, founder of Meditate Chicago, to discuss this and his experiences since opening his doors in July 2013. Shykofsky has practiced meditation since 1985 and received eight years of personal instruction from two Christian master teachers about meditation and inner healing techniques. He was ordained a minister Priest, which requires teaching meditation as well as practicing meditation on a daily basis. Meditation has become as The New York Times says, a very “fashionable” term. Everyone from the Harvard Business Review to USA Today raves about the benefits of taking time each day to sit in silence, tune into yourself and reflect. Can you tell us something about meditation that we aren’t already hearing? SHYKOFSKY: Well, it’s great that a lot of people are recognizing that it does something positive. You have to want it pretty fiercely. A consistent meditation practice is a challenging thing to take on. People who really want it end up committing to it and ultimately, transforming their lives. Meditate Chicago offers a 12-week Introduction to Meditation program that teaches people how to begin a routine to get there. What can people expect from your course? 18

SHYKOFSKY: After 12 weeks, you aren’t going to be a master, but you’re at least going to find out if you’re going to want to do it. It’s like learning a new instrument. After three months you’ll be able to play a few chords, but you aren’t going to be playing a concerto. Our course teaches you what to expect. We find that when you commit to something that isn’t easy, you bow against it. We highlight that aspect in our classes. You may feel irritable and impatient. A little bit of that is normal. When you’re learning something that is difficult, it chafes up against your ego that wants instant gratification. Can you spot the commitment-phobes pretty quickly? SHYKOFSKY: Certain people participate and are really engaged. Other people are stepping back and curiously analyzing it. And then there are other people, strangely, who seem so into it, but after about three weeks email me and say, “I can’t really take this on right now. I love the course, but right now isn’t a good time.” The reality is that when you take this on in the way that we’re teaching, when you go deep into yourself and see what’s up, it’s going to stir things up that not everybody wants to look at. I have a lot of compassion for that because I had to look at a lot of things that were unpleasant about myself. You do have to be courageous in facing yourself if you’re going to evolve as a soul. Will you speak a little bit about the role that our “feminine” or “feeling” sides play in meditation?

SHYKOFSKY: Courage is needed just to get into your feeling self. We have some people who have a very difficult time tuning into their feelings. My advice is this: you can’t “conquer” meditation. You have to relax and let it unfold within you. And not everybody knows how to do this. Men in particular are used to attacking things and figuring them out, and triumphing. Say somebody goes to fix a car. Most guys will get excited and say, “OK, let me hear what’s up with the car, and then let me try all this stuff out…” They’re not going to rest until they figure it out. I think that’s just part of masculine energy, wanting to solve problems. Meditation can’t be approached that way. There has to be feeling in it, which means one has to open to their feminine side—men or women. Also, as I remind my students, at some point you have to love meditation. You can’t just willfully keep doing it because you hear it’s good. You can think about a relationship like that. If you’re really attracted to someone but you don’t start loving him or her, and you’re just enamored with the image of the person, at some point the relationship is going to fall apart because it is the love that makes the thing grow. What other kinds of meditation classes do you offer? SHYKOFSKY: We have also introduced a prenatal yoga and meditation program that has been quite successful. Pregnant women engage in yoga for 75 minutes, taught by prenatal yoga teachers, and then I lead the women in a 20-minute guided meditation afterwards. Here the women focus on connecting with

their baby and seeing the labor process going very smoothly. (In visualization, you aim to be idealistic.) There is research proving that mindfulness and meditation prior to a woman giving birth has a significant effect on her confidence through the delivery process—not to mention a reduction of pain—and increases probability of a healthy, smooth delivery. When you meditate and visualize things going a certain way, that has a very tangible effect on how they’re going to go. What do you want most for your current clientele? SHYKOFSKY: I have compassion for how difficult life is for everyone. I don’t believe that it’s meant to be that way, but we’re not given the skills or guided in the ways that will truly liberate us. I feel this compassion for people who are in quiet states of anxiety and suffering, who don’t feel loved or valued, or who overvalue themselves and become egocentric as a way to survive. So when people come in here and sign

illumine writer, Emily Pawlowski engaged in Meditate Chicago’s 12-week Introduction to Meditation course from January to March 2014. Here’s her take on it. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed living and working full time in downtown Chicago. Attending Meditate Chicago’s Introduction to Meditation class once a week was my great escape from daily city stressors (not to mention Chicago’s terrible, horrible winter.) I felt honored to learn this new tool that allows me to reset my mind and feel more connected to myself and others. The classes were small and filled with likeminded, curious people. Shykofsky began each class by giving a short lesson, then leading us through a 20-minute guided meditation. Shykofsky’s lessons focus on the barriers to having a good meditation session, learning what a “good meditation session” even is and how to beat back your mind with a stick when it’s trying to distract you from the process. We had lively class discussions and I always took away several new things to think about. The flexibility of being able to attend Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday evening was helpful because my work schedule often changed which day I could attend. I found I slept better the nights that I took the class, too. Shykofsky is a regular guy, modest and earnest in wanting to share his technique. You can tell that he puts a lot of love into his lessons and his space as well. The meditation room itself is soundproof, (appropriately) dimly lit and equipped with wide, soft chairs, a gong and music during the guided meditation portion. The experience is truly transcendental.

up for the meditation course, I just want it to work for them. How do you find Chicago’s community so far? SHYKOFSKY: There’s an energy to Chicago. I spent several years in California, and I’m very aware of the contrast. I think there are a lot of people who want to live a spiritual life. In order to be truly spiritual, you have to be growing in love, which I define as our willingness to love people, love ourselves and make sacrifices for the benefits of others. When you want to learn how to love, you come up against every obstacle within yourself—all the wounds, all the anger, selfishness and egotism. What is one thing you’d like people to know about meditation? SHYKOFSKY: Meditation is the real thing. If you take this on, your life will change.

The meditation he teaches can be thought of as a form of contemplation. The practice is to relax the body and rein in the mind and emotions to contemplate the deeper truth of your being and the universe from within yourself. He instructed us to meditate on practical issues in our lives as well as deeper spiritual principles, depending on where our attention was needed. Beyond my own personal satisfaction, this was a fun thing to do with my significant other. A meditation class was outside our weeknight routine of dining out with friends, watching TV or running errands, and we really enjoyed learning about it together. Our walks home were always filled with interesting conversation about what we had encountered within ourselves or in the class. Since taking the course, I feel less reactive to things that used to get me riled up: getting cut off in traffic, things not going my way at work, missing my train. I recognize that I don’t always have control over those things, and I let them go more easily now and get on with my day. When making decisions, I let my heart help me with the decision rather than just my intellect. Overall, I feel happier and more relaxed. I recommend the course to anyone curious about meditation or currently meditating and looking to enhance their practice. Shykofsky is a wonderful teacher. It was truly an eye-opening and heart-opening experience.

Meditate Chicago is located at 4237 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. See course offerings at



Practice for peace: A lesson in ahimsa at the


Interactive Classes & Workshops - Kids of all ages can practice for peace with local instructors including Mira Binzen of Global Family Yoga, Mia Park, Yoli Maya Yeh of Peace within YOUth, Yoga Gardens NFP, Smarty Pants Yoga, Tammie Ciuciura (Author of “Namaste”) and more.

Allie Frane Ahimsa: The idea, consideration and belief in the sacredness of all living creatures. To avoid doing harm or violence against another. As one of the five yamas—a foundational ideal of the eight limbs of yoga—nonviolence is essential on our yoga journey. We strive daily to practice compassion and kindness, whether it’s nonviolence to others or even to ourselves. Our beloved city of Chicago is suffering from an astonishingly high rate of crime and violence, and it’s time to start making some serious changes within our community. We have a responsibility to our children to teach them about ahimsa, about the importance of nonviolence, kindness and compassion, and to practice for peace.


Sunday, August 17 marks the first annual Chicago Kids Yoga Fest. The entire city of Chicago and Chicagoland area, yogis, non-yogis, musicians, artists and kids of all ages are invited to help celebrate, support and promote this mission of peace and nonviolence among our Chicago communities. The free event will take place from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. at the Garfield Park Conservatory and feature a variety of activities for all to enjoy. Everyone will have the opportunity to begin their own individual journey towards peace and compassion—to begin to truly understand ahimsa. It’s time to take action. It’s time to build a community that is rooted in kindness, compassion and peace. It’s time to practice ahimsa. And it all starts with our children.

Family Scavenger Hunt – Wander Garfield Park Conservatory with a map in hand to each location; decode clues to find activities, games, treasures and information on health and wellness for the whole family. Music Stage – Get up and dance or sit back and listen to live music by The Householders, Devi2000, The Bliss Tribe, DJ Taz, Bhakti Caravan and Low End Theory. Family Friendly Fire Jam – Watch in awe as Pyrotechniq takes the stage with a magical choreographed fire performance created especially for #ChicagoKidsYogaFest. Chic-a-go-go Dance Party – Dance your heart out with Ratso and Miss Mia as they tape their next episode from the fest. Art Studio – Channel your inner Picasso and create a masterpiece of your own to take home with you as a wonderful handcrafted souvenir from the day. Food & Drinks – The Kids’ Table and Chicago Kids Yoga LLC will provide free snacks and VitaCoco—the official beverage of the #ChicagoKidsYogaFest— will be there to quench the thirst of guests throughout the entire day.

Smarty Pants Yoga

Jill Carey


After teaching entrepreneurship for two years—and becoming Network For Teaching Entrepreneurship’s 2013 Teacher of the Year—Annie Warshaw decided to put her curriculum into practice. The result is Smarty Pants Yoga: a mobile yoga business that empowers elementary-age girls to realize their leadership potential.

Get the personalized feedback and mentorship you need to become a great yoga teacher. 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training begins September 2014 85 hour Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training begins January 2015

Smarty Pants Yoga specializes in empowering girls through its eight-week after-school program, though it also provides in-school intervention, art therapy workshops and birthday parties. Each onehour session incorporates reading, yoga, crafts and more—it’s not your typical sit-with-a-book-andsound-it-out enrichment program. The girls moo and meow while moving through yoga postures at the pace of turtles, rabbits and Illumine Ad_June 2014_Bloom Yoga Studio.indd rocket-fueled cheetahs. Then they cozy up with a book that chronicles the adventures of two girls who encounter the joys and travails of the modern miss: finding security in self, overcoming labels and discovering the awesome power of womanhood.

773-463-YOGA (9642) 4663 N. Rockwell, Chicago, IL 60625


6/9/2014 3:50:22 PM

All in all, it’s one hour that sets girls on a path toward becoming confident change-makers. To boot, it’s a vehicle toward educational equity. “The achievement gap is part and parcel with the gender gap,” Warshaw explains. “Until we see a 50/50 balance of males and females in Congress, we’ll see imbalances in America’s classrooms.” The program is currently available in more than 20 Chicago-area schools and community centers. Parents have lauded Smarty Pants Yoga, principals have ranked it as the top-enrollment after-school program, and girls have screamed for it as if it were all five members of One Direction scooping ice cream. To begin a partnership, enroll in a session or get more information, visit or contact Jill Carey at


Passport to peace Retreats help yogis cover their mats in memories

Reflect on the inner space and regain balance.

Affiliates in Counseling

Psychotherapy Children, Adults and Couples and


Gavin Mullen, Psy.D. Chet Mirman, Ph.D. John Gobby, Psy.D. Jason Price, LFMC

910 Skokie Blvd. Northbrook


Tess DiNapoli It was a Friday. I had spent the last six days practicing yoga in an outdoor yoga pagoda at Hotelito Los Suenos in Sayulita, Mexico, salt on my skin from sweat and sea. I was walking from the beach after my surf lesson with six other yoginis, probably smiling like a fool. My skin had darkened not with a tan but with freckles, and my hair was in between unshowered and ocean-kissed; I was OK with that. Each morning, I unrolled my mat and sipped my Mexican coffee with a touch of brown sugar, and I practiced.

Study the world map. Where does your gaze go? Go there. Get curious about yourself and your world. Explore more. Here are some tips for your next journey:

I take this mat everywhere. It’s small, thin, lightweight, portable—simple, no frills and cost much less than the passport I neurotically safeguard (if only because I misplace everything). The passport and the yoga mat allow journeys far beyond your comfort zone, and when you use both to step past the borders of the familiar, horizons expand. I’ve learned about letting go and riding the waves of my breath while attempting to surf in Mexico. On another trip, while navigating a deceptively arduous trail in the Cinque Terre of Italy, a smooth, even breath and steady, calm mind—and some high school Italian—helped me approach a group of strangers for help with my mother who was suffering from heatstroke.

Bring one inspirational yoga book and one “fun” book. On the last retreat I went on, I brought Judith Lasater’s “Living Your Yoga” and juggled it with Christopher Moore’s “Sacre Bleu: A Comedy d’Art”, a murder mystery about Van Gogh and the 19th century Parisian art world. The yoga text will deepen your practice while you’re traveling and deepen your work with svadhyaya. The more frivolous read is because it is, after all, a vacation.

Although the dust on my mat from Tuscany and the traces of sand from Mexico have washed away, the memories from unrolling it on random floors far and wide are still there. I’ve covered my mat in memories. When you pair yoga with travel in yoga retreats, you can devote yourself to your practice, to your teacher or maybe a teacher you’ve never met before. You don’t need to travel far and you don’t need to put a big dent your wallet; explore locales in your home state and consider weekend getaways or maybe a road trip to a place in your country you’ve always wanted to visit. Devote yourself to opening to the possibilities travel offers, keeping in mind that some of those possibilities are not always comfortable. Your work on the mat translates to how you go about your adventures. Commit to living completely in the moment, because the only place you have to be is there.

Not sure where to go? Get inspired. Buy guidebooks for your dream destinations. Make a vision board of your travel bucket list. Seek out your favorite teachers’ yoga retreats on websites like SeekRetreat. com, the online marketplace for all things wellness-, travel- and yoga-related.

Be open to change. Agendas, schedules and plans don’t always go as, well, planned. Resistance to change can affect your enjoyment of the trip. Take a big breath in. Pause at the top. Let it go. Big sigh. It will be OK. The best travel memories are born from spontaneity. Vow to unplug for at least one day of your vacation or yoga retreat. If you’re on a yoga retreat, it’s possible the retreat organizers have that planned for you. But even if they don’t, make it a priority to detach from your toys and sit and people watch and swim and just be where you are, now. Write. Journal. Doodle. Even if you’re not well-versed in journaling or self-reflection, write what goes through your mind after a day of snorkeling and practicing yoga, or write your reflections on your wanderings through Italian cities or Egyptian marketplaces. Express the colors of your hike in Utah with pastels; express your travel experience with more than just Instagram. You’ll connect to each place in a much more profound way. And your latent creativity might surprise you. Tess DiNapoli is a yoga teacher, writer, freelance editor and artist living in Los Angeles, CA.



t Har iam l g A gail Abi

PHOTO: Scott Shigley

Make Your Mark Nearly 100 forward-thinking yogis packed into the event space at Wicker Park’s Chop Shop and 1st Ward April 24 for the “Make Your Mark” event with goals coach Jacki Carr. The Lululemonsponsored evening kicked off with a centering yoga session by illumine’s own yogini-in-charge, Lourdes Paredes. Carr led an eye-opening visualization exercise and spirited conversation about personal values with the group.

Sky High Yoga at 360 Chicago In celebration of Earth Month, Unite Yoga and Aveda Experience Center presented Sky High Yoga at 360 Chicago (formerly known as the John Hancock Center Observatory Deck) April 26. More than 60 early risers drank in the breathtaking city views and the sunrise over Lake Michigan during the Vinyasa class, co-taught by Angie Starz and Rachel Vurpillat. All proceeds from the event benefited the Alliance for the Great Lakes. Attendees came away with a goody bag from Athleta on Southport filled with the Spring Issue of illumine, Aveda product samples and class passes from studios such as Zen Garage Yoga, Village Yoga Chicago and Moksha Center. Sky High Yoga would also like to thank its additional sponsors, Jamba Juice and Kind Snacks.

Wanderlust Chicago More than 8,000 yogis attended the second annual Wanderlust Chicago festival May 31, on a gorgeous cloudless day in Grant Park. Festival sponsors including Kashi, Luvo, Exhale Chicago, Resource Natural Spring Water and Health magazine held court at the Kula Market booths flanking the stage, while noted teachers Lourdes Paredes, Rebecca Niziol, Lizzi Edwards, Mia Park, Kelli Moore and Stephanie Starnes created a rejuvenating celebration of movement. DJ Taz Rashid kept the positive vibes flowing between sessions with his upbeat dance mixes. 23


Musician, author and yogi Sharon Gannon is best known for co-founding, along with David Life, the Jivamukti Yoga Method, a path to enlightenment through compassion for all beings. A student of

Keeping the

wisdom alive

Robert Pelaski

Brahmananda Sarasvati, Swami Nirmalananda, and K. Pattabhi Jois, she is a pioneer in teaching yoga as spiritual activism. Gannon’s latest book is Simple Recipes for Joy (Penguin Putnam, 2014),

which contains more than 200 vegan recipes as well as information about veganism and its effect on the planet and on individual spiritual awakening. Gannon lives on a 12-acre wild forest sanctuary in upstate New York.

PHOTO: Provided by Jivamukti


Q & Awith

Sharon Gannon

Discover your unique passion for living and teaching yoga.

Sharon Gannon will begin her 17-city national book tour in Chicago with various events Sept. 19. On Saturday, Sept. 20, she will lead a 10 a.m. asana class, followed by a Q&A, book signing and reception from 1:30-3 p.m. at Samgha Yoga Shala, 2961 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. For more information or to register, visit

Who are your teachers and what have they taught you? GANNON: I try to learn from every encounter with every person. There have been a few special persons in this life who have been incredibly kind and have patiently preserved to provide me with specific yogic teachings that have helped and guided me. These saintly beings include Randy Hall, Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati, Swami Nirmalanda, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois and Shri Shyamdas. They have taught me that there is nothing in this world that is not God—all is God appearing in many disguises. How do you define guru, and how would someone know when or if they have discovered one? GANNON: Guru is a Sanskrit word that directly translates as “remover of darkness” (Gu= darkness as in confusion or ignorance; Ru= that which removes, or remover). Whatever or whomever helps to remove what is obscuring the truth is the guru. Guru is the enlightenment principle. Enlightenment is the state where ignorance and confusion are absent. Guru helps you to remember what you forgot. When there is an increase in satchitananda (truth, consciousness and bliss), you know the guru is present. Jivamukti Yoga is quite vigorous. Can you explain its core philosophy and the process for the one-month residential teacher training? GANNON: The practices of Jivamukti yoga are vigorous because most of us need some shaking up to help us let go of our negative habits and perception of ourselves as victims. The onemonth teacher training course we offer four times a year in the U.S., Costa Rica, Germany and India is for people who either want to become Jivamukti yoga teachers or who want to immerse themselves in an intense program—a crash course in how to attain enlightenment in one month. We also offer a 800-hour apprentice/mentor program. This is available through all Jivamukti Centers for those who have graduated from the 300-hour course and want to go deeper. What is the most misunderstood aspect of yoga today?

How does spirituality play a role in yoga?


How important is it to have a dedicated teacher or a teacher who is part of a lineage? GANNON: When you have a teacher who is part of a lineage—a long line of teachers and teaching—it connects you to that long line of teachers and teachings. Yoga is about letting go of your small self and all the normal petty cravings for recognition that come with identification with ego. No one teaching yoga today made it up—yoga is an ancient tradition. A teacher who acknowledges that they are part of a lineage and has studied with a teacher tends to be humble. They feel fulfilled to be passing on the teachings—by being part of a larger picture. Humility is the greatest virtue for a teacher or a student to cultivate. How do JY Centers worldwide and its affiliate centers keep the lineage alive? GANNON: By providing a place for people to come and create satsang or community. Without community the teachings cannot be shared. The name of Robert’s yoga center, Samgha, means to keep and maintain the association of others who believe that awakening is possible. What literature can you recommend for students to gain more insight about yoga? GANNON: Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Bhakti Narada Sutra and the Bhagavad Gita. But in order to absorb the subtle mystical teaching inherent in these holy books, a student must have a teacher and a satsang to help them contemplate, immerse and gain insight into the application of the wisdom in these teachings. It is very difficult to do this alone.

300-Hour Advanced Yoga Teacher Training in Highland Park at

Healing Power Yoga January 2015 through April 2016 Wednesdays: 9:00 - 3:00pm Break: June - September


Lourdes Paredes and Pam Udell and guest instructors

What is your hope for your students, particularly since they are spread across the globe? GANNON: Happiness.

GANNON: I don’t think all people understand the real potency of asana practice, that asanas can lead to enlightenment by helping you to resolve karmic relationships with others.

House of

GANNON: Yoga means to join with the eternal holy spirit. The nature of God is satchitananda existence consciousness and mostly bliss. Yoga practices help us to let go and let God. They help us to experience an expansiveness leading to the realization that we are not just a body and mind, but that we are eternal spiritual beings whose true nature is joy.

Robert Pelaski owns Samgha Yoga Shala, 2961 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago which specializes in Jivamukti, ashtanga and vinyasa yoga.


info@Houseof www.Houseof 25

yogaview teacher trainings and continuing education for teachers visit for details


For students new to yogaview— $29 for 2 weeks of unlimited yoga Yoga for the Midday Stage of Life: A Workshop for Women's Health with Robin Rothenberg 7/18 -7/20 (at yogaview Wilmette) A Weekend Workshop with Tim Miller 9/19-9/21 Please visit for additional retreats workshops, class schedules and upcoming events.


2211 N. Elston, Chicago 1231 Green Bay Road, Wilmette 773.342.YOGA


Discovering the light within M LI

Excerpted from the book “The Secret of the Yoga Sutra”



The Secret of the Yoga Sutra





Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, Ph.D. fear and feelings of animosity vanished. I did not need anyone or anything to protect me. I was not lonely, for I was embraced by the luminous Divinity who spontaneously emitted the light of discernment and profound joy.


I grew up steeped in the ideals of the sages. I revered Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi, and was certain I had no animosity and no enemies. But this conviction was shattered early one morning when a gang of bullies knocked me down and threw me into a compost pit. The bullies—my distant uncles—were trying to get a disputed piece of land by terrorizing my family. Enraged and shouting at the top of my lungs, I climbed out only to be thrown back in. Very quickly, the people from the village formed a ring around my uncles and me. These were our neighbors—my friends and friends of my family—so when no one came forward to protect me, let alone defend justice, I was overcome by a torrent of anger and sadness. Everyone seemed like my enemy. All I could think of was to destroy everything and everyone, even myself. At this point, my uncles picked me up and hurled me into the pit again. With this, something shifted. Lying in the bottom of the pit, I thought, “What is preventing them from beating me and killing me? Who’s protecting me from serious injury?” I saw myself—a lonely and helpless fellow hoping for others to protect me. I saw the feeling of animosity inside me and the enemies outside. I saw the element of fear, as well as its source. I saw my mind drowning in sorrow. Yet right next to my afflicted mind, I saw a luminous being and instantly recognized it as (my own) essence—my inner self. It is the Divinity in me. I looked at my mind through the eyes of this Divinity and found it as pure and bright as the Divinity itself. I was overcome by joy, and my

I climbed out of the pit. My uncles were still loudly claiming the land, but the crowd was now condemning the violence. I could clearly see and hear everything happening around me, but my mind was pulled inward, trying to assimilate the experience I’d just had. I was thrilled to realize I had found a new mind. With this new mind, I saw a beautiful world, and I also saw it was contaminated by fear and greed. More or less everyone was afflicted by pain. To be born as a human was clearly a gift, yet people didn’t seem to know what to do with this gift. A thought swept my being—I must not let this divine gift go in vain. The world run by fear, doubt and the desire for power and possessions is trivial. Even the biggest achievements are smaller than the life force. My job is to tend this gift and watch it blossom. I can do it and I must do it. As the months went by, the intensity of the experience and the clarity and confidence it engendered faded. I was back in the same chaotic, unfriendly world, but what bothered me most was my own restless mind. My mother offered a solution—have faith in God and worship him with rituals, as she did. My father told me to recite scriptures. The teachers at my Sanskrit school advised me to meditate on a mantra. I did all these things, but my list of complaints kept growing. Five years passed. I had recently met Swami Sadananda, a master who embodied the austerity and wisdom of the ancient sages. In his company, I had found some solace, yet I was still haunted by fear and doubt. I told Swami Sadananda about my experience in the compost pit and asked him to guide me to that experience again. He gave me a mantra, and I undertook a long and intense practice of that mantra. I completed the practice, but was utterly disappointed. I had not gotten even a glimpse of the experience that had once infused me with inner clarity and love for life. When I shared my disappointment with Swami Sadananda, he said, “The experience you had

in the compost pit was a blessing. You were in the full embrace of the Divinity. You received her protection and guidance. Enlightened by her light, you saw your whole being, and you saw both the light and the darkness that had enveloped your inner and outer worlds. You saw life’s purpose and realized you had all the tools and means to achieve it. But because the Divinity did not have five heads or a long trunk or ten arms and was not riding on a bull or a lion or sitting on a throne, you did not truly value it. Attachment to the notion of a god outside you is a curse. You must overcome it. Rediscover your luminous self and embrace it wholeheartedly.” With this, he expounded on the concept of God as described in Yoga Sutra 1:23–1:29. His explanation of God was deeply reassuring, but it was only after he taught me the practice of meditation described in Sutra 1:36 that I understood the true source of sorrow. We have all experienced physical and emotional pain and know how to manage it, at least to some extent. But we do not know the nature and the source of our most fundamental pain— the pain of loneliness. The feeling of being isolated, abandoned and unloved is pain, and the world offers no remedy. This deeply rooted pain manifests as fear and doubt. Most of us are afraid of losing what we have and anxious about what the future may bring. This feeling of disempowerment breeds anger and a sense of hopelessness, and only a few of us conquer it. As time passed and my study and practice matured, I came to experience vividly what I had been taught to believe: each of us is a pure, selfluminous being. In the light of our inner luminosity, we experience both our essential nature and our eternal relationship with the Divine Being. Our feeling of loneliness vanishes forever. We are free from fear, doubt, anger and the sense of hopelessness. We are clear and confident. We are grateful for what we have and enthusiastic about achieving what we need to complete our quest.

Secret of the Yoga Sutra can be ordered at until release in September 2014. 27

Quiet the chatter

and listen to the wisdom of your soul.

Non-yogi Yoga for the

Debby Spitzer

YogaKids® Camp Ages 4–8 & 9–12 July 21–25

21 Day

Summer Yoga Challenge Mon–Fri, August 1–29

JJ Gormley

Chakra Healing September 19–21

Chase Bossart

Deeper Tools of Meditation October 24–26


Annual Winter Yoga Retreat February 21–28, 2015

4949 Forest Ave, Downers Grove


Visit our website for classes, workshops and special events


With a challenging job, two kids and my favorite need to so that when they return to work they yoga teacher (my sister) a half hour away from me, have a renewed sense of well-being. She also likes I had stopped doing yoga. It was just too difficult watching students grow—students who started to fit into my day. But one day at work, a colleague out not knowing exactly what yoga is or perhaps suggested I try the yoga class offered in our not being able to do a traditional chatarunga but office twice a week during now can do so confidently lunch. Before I knew it, I was and beautifully. I discovered that doing one looking forward to going yoga class a week improves to yoga class and even felt Since employers may concentration, focus, mental disappointed when I had benefit from reduced health strength and flexibility. to miss a class. I now leave insurance rates by offering According to Yogaaah, a class relaxed and ready to wellness programs that Toronto-based corporate and tackle my stressful job. include yoga, ask your human stress-reduction yoga company, resources department about doing yoga at work also has the It turns out I was not the adding a yoga class at your following benefits: only one who felt this way. workplace. If attending a Improves mental concentration “This class centers me corporate yoga class isn’t and focus by teaching the art of and helps me deal with an option or you don’t work single pointedness. the chaos of my day,” said in an office, check out your one fellow corporate yogi. local park district or health Improves problem solving skills “It fits in well with my day, club. Many times you don’t by harmonizing the left and right and I come back to work have to join the health club to sides of your brain. feeling energized,” said take classes. another. Others reported Reduces back pain by building how it improves balance, Our lives are busier than stronger and healthier backs. helps focus on staying in ever, and we spend our the moment and helps with time racing from one event Reduces stress by allowing you to stay calmer. overall positive well-being. to another. The problem is this racing around is usually Gives you more energy and For me, taking a yoga class for other people—not for vitality by tapping into hidden during my lunch hour was ourselves. A yoga class is reserves of energy within a tapas. Tapas refers to the focused on you, and you your nervous, endocrine and heat and light produced deserve the “me” time. It cardiovascular systems. by friction, but on a mental will improve your health and emotional level, tapas and mood, which will make Makes you feel happier by can refer to breaking you happier and better increasing endorphins in the blood. the patterns and habits able to handle the stresses Improves your body’s immunity we’ve built over the years. in life—whatever they may so you miss fewer days of work. “Friction is produced when be. You will be happier and we go against the grain,” so will your boss, family and Increases team-building skills by said Yoganand Michael everyone you interact with. helping communication and trust. Carroll, acting dean of the Yoga is a tapas well worth Kripalu School of Yoga. doing. Corporate yoga instructor Sherry Hana loves knowing she makes a difference for her students. Yoga quiets their minds and helps them reflect and work with their bodies in whatever way they

Debby Spitzer is an educational marketing manager with the Houghton Mifflin Company. She has also traveled around the country speaking at conferences and school districts about literacy and writing.


Freedom Yoga Millennium



PHOTO: Dan Paz

Alie McManus There is a certain magic to Chicago on Saturday mornings in the summer: the sun rising magnificently over Lake Michigan, the city sleepy and still before the tourists begin to bustle around downtown. For the past few years I’ve had the honor of teaching yoga in the heart of this worldclass city, in the famous Millennium Park. This free event allows everyone to enjoy the benefits of yoga. This practice is sacred: Rising early. Rolling out your yoga mat in the dewy grass. Inhaling the fresh, early morning air and feeling the crispness of the new day. Drinking in the wide open expanse of the park and the bright blue sky above. Joining together with fellow Chicagoans in contemplative movement. Breathing together. Stretching, strengthening, discovering balance and maybe even a new friend. Experiencing exhilaration and excitement that gives way to centered calm. It was because of my parents’ encouragement and support that I was able to create Freedom Yoga in Millennium Park. The DVD includes three 50-minute guided classes showing real people doing yoga for all levels, and it allows yogis to enjoy this special practice year-round. In these sessions, I reference the earth, the sky and the trees, encouraging practitioners to use their imagination and sense the way the earth is supporting them, the way the tree roots grow into the earth providing stability and the vastness of the wide, open sky. Whether you can join Freedom Yoga in the park this summer or via the DVD, the practice will help you tune into the magic of your own body and leave more connected to who you truly are. Alie McManus has studied yoga and meditation for 20 years and has taught for 15. For more information go to Find her DVD, Freedom Yoga in Millennium Park with Alie McManus, on Amazon. Join her in

Millennium Park this year on July 5, 12, 19, 26 and August 2 from 8 to 9 a.m. 29

Private, Semi-Private Yoga first time students

only $75 for the first session

30 Lake Forest Health & Fitness Center | 847.535.7173 |



The Yoga Sutras: Why do we need commentaries? Abhi Ghosh Once upon a time, there was a small group of mystical yogis who lived in a hermitage on the bank of a river in India. Across the river from the hermitage was a bustling village the yogis frequented when they wanted to get their supplies, and they would often walk on water on their way there. The villagers were always awestruck by the yogis’ magical feats, and whether it was out of respect or disbelief, no one in the village ever attempted to walk on water. The yogis never bothered to talk about their ability to walk on water to anyone either; they kept the secret of walking on water to themselves. However, after watching the yogis come and go from his village, a young boy wanted to learn the trick of walking on water. So one day when one of the yogis was visiting the village, this boy took the courage to walk up to him and said that he too wanted to become a yogi and learn to walk on water.

While all this was going on with the boy, the chief among yogis on the other side took notice of the boy’s determination and sincerity and called his friends, saying, “I think this boy on the other side has passed the initiation and has mastered the art of yoga. Now shall we tell him now where the stones are and how to walk on them?” Trying to make sense of the Yoga Sutras or any other sutra literatures from ancient India is quite like trying to walk on water when you don’t know where the stones are. The Sanskrit word “sutra” not only sounds very similar to the English “suture,” but means approximately the same as its English cousin, “a strand or fiber to sew” or “a uniting of parts.” The elegance and effectiveness of the sutra literatures lies in their ability to explain the assumptions and conclusions of a philosophical school with brevity and conciseness. The insider joke among the writers of such sutra literatures

look familiar to them since they knew how to read the code. But for the sake of those who have the sincere desire to master yoga but require some help, the savants have unpacked the meaning of these sutras in their essays, making the secrets of the Yoga Sutras accessible to audiences who were not only far away, but also to ones who could access them beyond the commentators’ own lifetimes. Thus, for many generations of yogis stretching over several centuries, the commentaries on the Yoga Sutras remain an indispensable aid in understanding the meaning of the sutras. My essays on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are meant to add another rock in alignment with an already existing path, with the intent of making your walk across the river a little smoother. To further explore how traditional commentaries work, I recommend Edwin Bryant’s translation and essays, Yoga Sutras

“Trying to make sense of the Yoga Sutras . . . is quite like trying to walk on water when you don’t know where the stones are.” For the sake of walking on water, the boy was willing to give up everything and join the hermitage if necessary. The visiting yogi was quite surprised at the boy’s eagerness and promised to teach him whatever he knew, on the condition that the boy would give proper effort into his practice of yoga. The boy promised to put in diligent effort, and on the instruction of this yogi began to sit and meditate on the bank of the river every day. He was convinced that yoga would give him mystical powers. As he sat on the riverbank on the side of his village, he gazed at the hermitage, determined that one day he was going to make his guru proud by walking on water and visiting his hermitage. Minutes turned into hours, hours into days and days into weeks and very soon, months began to pass. Each day after finishing his yogic and meditative practices, the boy tried to walk on water like all the other yogis from the hermitage. And he failed. But rather than turning his failures into frustration, he kept growing determined to walk on water.

was that it’s less painful to see the death of one’s son than to have an extra syllable in a sutra sentence. As explained in Śrīharṣa’s Naiṣadhīya[a] Carita 9.8, these thinkers believed that “true eloquence” was “essential truths expressed concisely.” Yet they wrote in a language that to us today would look like code language. Whether we get their joke or not, the fact remains that the grammar of these sutras is extremely complicated, and a literal grammatical translation of these sutras would make no sense at all. For example, the first sutra of this book defines yoga as atha yoga anuśāṣanaṁ, which literally translates as “now/thus yoga discipline/teaching.” That’s it, no explanations. The lack of explanation is precisely where commentaries, or the “stones in the river,” help as we try to cross the knowledgestream of yoga. Since the original sutras were written for people who were already longtime practitioners and thus insiders of the tradition, the string of coded ideas would

of Patanjali: A New Edition, Translation and Commentary, published in 2009 from North Point Press. This edition is by far one of the most scholarly editions available today that makes the classical commentaries of the sutra accessible to a contemporary intellectual audience. The path of yoga is not armchair philosophy. These commentaries are like cookbooks meant to be taken off the shelf, opened, thought about and its recipes experimented with. If after walking over all these “rocks,” you don’t end up practicing anything that gives you a healthy body, refined senses, clear mind, sharp senses, clarity of thought and a sense of contentment within, you’re treading on the wrong rocks, or just standing on one too long.

Abhi Ghosh has a doctorate in Eastern Religions from University of Chicago. Look for his articles illuminating Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.



Beyond the gift of mobility


ur white van climbed over the rocky terrain until it could climb no more. We pulled over into a clearing on the side of the road. Our partners from the local municipality of Santa Cruz Michapa lifted the wheelchairs from the truck that had followed us up the hill. The eight of us women hiked up a steep path in the 85-degree heat, pushing two wheelchairs until we had to pair up to lift both chairs over tree roots, bushes and large boulders.

Our primary goal is to offer dignity and mobility for a disabled person who cannot otherwise afford a wheelchair. Even more than that, the chair provides an improved quality of life for those who care for the recipient. What I realized in El Salvador that day was that we also bring the essence of yoga. We bring seva (compassion) and metta (lovingkindness), two of the cornerstones of the yoga philosophy. What’s more, yoga teaches us to believe that even in the face of scarcity and despair, abundance exists and the universe provides. We brought that message to the needy family we met at the top of that hill. As we approached the cinder block house with openings where windows and doors might be, we could hear the labored, rumbling breathing of 18-year-old Herbert. We found him slumped in a broken-down chair, his legs limp and misshapen. His tiny widowed mother tenderly supported his head as he fought to catch his breath. We watched as she struggled to lift his man-sized body in an effort to ease his breathing. Herbert had contracted an infection at 3 years old that almost completely shut down his breathing, eventually paralyzing him. He had little control of his bodily functions and relied on his mother to provide 24-hour care for all of his needs. A few feet across the dirt floor sat Herbert’s 16-year-old brother, Jonathan, who suffered complete paralysis at just 7 32

months old. The boys’ three younger siblings stood shyly nearby among the clucking, flapping chickens that seemed to live with the family. It pained me to imagine the daily battle this mother must endure to care for her two disabled sons. How her back must ache under the weight of carrying them to bed, to the bathroom or even just to get a change of scenery. Who ever cared for her? Did she ever experience a moment of peace? I recalled my first desire to teach yoga, to share with others the peace and ease I found in the practice. Past the physical release of tension, there was the connection with something larger: a feeling that no matter what would arise, I was supported and cared for by something divine. I wanted to share the compassion and loving kindness that the practice of yoga had taught me. This giving, selfless mother deserved a taste of that.

PHOTOS: Linda Ragins

So began Day Three of our trip to El Salvador in February. It was our Chicago-area team’s fourth official mission with Free Wheelchair Mission of Irvine, California, which manufactures and distributes wheelchairs to needy disabled people in developing countries. Our recipients must crawl or be carried until the day we bring them a wheelchair.

Marci Barth

The Free Wheelchair Mission Chicago-area team of ambassadors has raised nearly $500,000 from the local community over the last five years. Find more information and opportunities to support FWM at

While our team was busy with the necessary adjustments required to situate the boys in their new wheelchairs, I led their mother to a chair outside the house. With the aid of our interpreter, I asked her to sit up tall and take a few deep breaths. With a firm touch, I encouraged her tight shoulders to relax. With some forward folds, twists and side bends, her back began to release. In time, her breath deepened and she closed her eyes. She softened. She relaxed. A small smile came to her lips. I saw the ease wash over her. It was in that moment that I knew we had delivered something bigger than mobility to


Herbert, Jonathan and their mother. While the wheelchairs were a gift of epic proportions to this fragile family, it was clear that a simple moment of yoga provided even more. A gentle suggestion of movement, of pause, of a deep breath offered another expression of love and service this dedicated mother may have never experienced before. Beyond the gift of mobility, we brought peace, and a feeling that the universe provides. We brought yoga.

Healing Power Yoga Highland Park IL 847-432-9642 (Yoga)



Tapas and Agni Transformative heat

Jim Kulackoski

According to the ancient Vedic sciences of India, the entire universe is in a constant state of flux or action. This perpetual state of transformation is what makes existence possible, for when something ceases to evolve, it ultimately ceases to be—in a more familiar contemporary ideology: “If you are not growing, you are dying.” The Vedic ideas of agni and tapas are interrelated in this cosmic evolution. In the Vedic interpretation, tapas is an intense drive or “burning desire” towards accomplishing something. It is an intense persistence or devotion to an idea that allows one to carry it out to completion. As one encounters a number of obstacles on the path to completing any task, they must ultimately transcend those obstacles in order to complete that task, leaving them a different person. In Tantric philosophy, tapas has another meaning: the internal heat

generated during certain yogic practices. This heat is the result of the conversion of the body’s fundamental essence (ojas) into a refined form of prana, bio-energy used in the development of soma, a higher state of consciousness brought about by physiological integration. In both definitions, tapas is the catalyst for transformation. The principle of transformation that occurs due to the “friction” created from the persistence of tapas, is called agni. Because transformation is a necessary component in existence, agni is one of the most important devatas, or laws of nature. Agni is an accelerated state of energy, the result of which is heat, and thus, agni and tapas are both associated with the idea of heat.

Sacred Fire

Paul Tootalian

Purifying the spirit

Fire. By scientific definition, fire is a process of rapid oxidation that releases, heat, light and energy. But with a makeup far more mysterious, fire is at the same time a wild force of nature, an element untamed. Why do so many religions and spiritual paths depict fire as a divine spirit enveloping us? Part spirit, part dancing deity, alive and breathing, fire symbolizes the sun, resurrection and transformation in action. Inner fires invoke the archetypal reality of purification of the human spirit, an image that opens us up to deeper dimensions. Outer fires reflect this passion as they light the spiritual path, from the wildness fire pits of Native American ceremonies and flaming Shinto altars, to Christian shrines aglow in candlelight. In Plato’s ancient Allegory of the Cave, prisoners are chained in a cave, riveted by the flickering shadows of objects projected


on the cave wall in the light of a fire. Misguided, the prisoners believe the shadows to be real, however, the fire itself represents reality’s true form. This is the power of Hinduism’s agni, primordial fire, God aflame. “As a lamp in a windless place does not waver,” is how the Bhagavad Gita describes the focused, purified mind. India’s sacred text goes on to praise fire in the light of glorifying spiritual masters, who, “with the torchlight of knowledge,” opened eyes blinded by the darkness of ignorance. This is the sacredness of fire.


Monica Yearwood

Summer is the perfect time to learn about how the ancient yogic healing system can help balance the heat in our bodies

and the fire element

Ayurveda, the ancient system of natural healing, regards fire as a central life-giving source. Fire and its variants, light and heat, are used to describe internal processes within the body such as digestion and metabolism as well as mental acuity and emotional tendencies. We also generate fire and heat through spiritual discipline that benefits our intuition and connects us with the divine. Fire sustains the entire planet as the manifestation of the sun. Light, a byproduct of fire, illuminates our path and enables us to see. The sun, a primary source of fire for the entire universe and its inhabitants, dictates the daily practices that make up ayurvedic lifestyle, called dinacharya. Ayurveda teaches that practices such as waking up with the sunrise and eating our largest meal at midday, when the sun is at its strongest, offer numerous health benefits. Ayurveda teaches that a sacred window opens just at sunrise and sunset each day, a time that supports deeper introspective practices such as meditation and yoga. Meditation and yoga burn away karma and enhance the fire of intellect. Surya namaskar, often translated as “sun salutations,” is a specific set of yoga postures dedicated to the sun. This series strengthens the body, but also burns away toxins in the body and purifies the mind with its heat. Many of the physical practices in yoga are used to burn away impurities in the mind, blockages in the energetic channels and obstructions in the physical body.

themselves from a variety of heat-related disorders. Kapha types, who tend toward low agni, need to constantly stoke their internal fire with pungent spices and regular fasting. Each tissue in the body has a corresponding agni that regulates its proper metabolism. The jatharagni is the central, digestive fire in the body. Ayurveda describes four types of agni that regulate our digestion: • visham (variable) agni, most common in vata types; • tikshna (high) agni, most common in pitta types; • manda (slow) agni, most common in kapha types; • and sama (balanced) agni. Appetite can assess the function of our digestive agni. If we are constantly hungry and seldom satisfied, our agni is tikshna. If we have lost interest in food, our agni is manda. If we continually lose and gain our appetite, our agni is potentially visham. Ayurvedic practitioners teach breathing practices to help regulate prana (the life force), which in turn regulates the fires in the physical body. Some breathing practices can increase agni, burn away blockages and stimulate digestion. Other practices can reduce agni if it is too high, or regulate agni if it is inconsistent. If one’s breathing is complete, deep and unobstructed, it is a good sign that agni is functioning properly.

Ayurveda sees the human body is a small microcosm of the universal body, thus the sun and its byproducts, including light and heat, can be found within our physiology. Ayurveda recognizes agni (fire) in the physical body as a primary facilitator of health.

Tejas is the fire of the intellect, and the essence of pitta dosha. It enables correct perception, clarity and illumination, and is cultivated by spiritual study and concentration exercises. The yogic practice of trataka, for example, involves staring at a candle flame. By resisting the urge to blink, the body eventually produces special tears that wash the eyes, purify the perceptual senses and develop tejas.

Ayurvedic practitioners assess the function of agni in their clients through the assessment of the doshas. Vata types, who tend toward variability, need to maintain consistent agni. These types are advised to adopt regularity in their eating and sleeping times. Pitta types, who tend toward excess agni, need to implement a cooling diet and herbs to protect

We can assess the propensity of our tejas by observing the clarity with which we approach our activities. Tejas bestows confidence, faith and trust in our choices. It illuminates our path and allows us to correctly perceive impending obstacles. If the mind is marred with confusion, self-doubt and apprehension, most likely tejas has been dimmed.

Tapas is the heat produced from spiritual efforts. It is generated by our willpower, selfchallenge and endurance. In a Vedic mythic story about the goddess Parvati and the god Shiva, Parvati falls in love with Shiva but is initially rejected by him. In her determination, she dedicates herself to spiritual austerities. She performs all the traditional mortifications, such as sitting in the four fires in the middle of summer and standing on one leg for years. Parvati eventually exceeds all of the great sages in her efforts and generates so much tapas that the gods begin to get uncomfortable by her power. The gods beg Shiva to grant Parvati’s wish to be with him to get her to stop. The teaching of the story is that by generating tapas we are granted spiritual boons. In spite of all of these positive connotations of fire, if uncontrolled, it can destroy. Excess fire, mostly related to pitta dosha, can burn the body and cause disease. Symptoms of heat such as skin inflammations, acne, liver toxicity and loose bowel movements are symptoms of excess pitta. Unlike tejas, which creates illumination and clear perception, pitta dosha intensifies criticism, anger and desire to control. In general, pitta types are most susceptible toward these imbalances, which can be remedied by Ayurvedic lifestyle programs. Damaging inner fires can be reduced through a cooling and drying diet. Bitter leafy greens such as Swiss chard and kale reduce pitta’s oily and hot qualities. Coriander seed, chamomile and aloe can be taken internally if pitta is provoking digestive heat. Turmeric can assist with calming the irritability and control of a pitta-type liver. The heat, humidity and longer periods of light in summer provoke pitta dosha and expose all types to excess pitta. The earth provides the antidote by offering an array of cooling fruits and vegetables. A higher carbohydrate diet from fruits provides the energy required for heightened activity physical. Swimming, sitting in the shade and avoiding outdoor exercise in the strong, midday sun can help everyone stay in balance. 35

Eric Huffman

Healing Samurai

Tepid tapas

Finding the heat without getting burned

Trayci Handelman DH Reflexology

For years I over-chaturanga’d. “Over,” as in over the limit in how many a yogi should do in a class, a day, a month; over the limit that a mortal shoulder could take. “Over,” as in overused until the rips that I had created in my shoulder had to be sewn and screwed into my rotator cuff with metal anchors. Now I am conservative with the chaturanga and realize I have tendencies to over-chaturanga in other ways. Tapas (Sanskrit for “heat”) is the third niyama, or spiritual observance, in the Yoga Sutras. It refers to the “burning off” of negative energies in order to follow a true path of spiritual devotion. Within our society the mere mention of fire, burn or heat tends to lead to thoughts of the extreme and excess—the idea that more must be better. For yogis, this can mean hotter classes, more workshops, more studios, harder arm balances, crazier

Tapas Tunes: Healing the world, one sole at a time™

Quality foot reflexology specializing in: Energy clearing and balancing • Deep relaxation • Rejuvenation 773.895.4415 220 W. Huron St., Suite 4004, Chicago, IL

Songs that sing of summer Orange Sky, Alexi Murdoch Southern Sun, Boy & Bear Summer Breeze, Seals & Crofts Hard Sun, Eddie Vedder Sunshine (go away today), Jonathan Edwards Rain in the Summertime, The Alarm Fired Up!, Funky Green Dogs Blinded by the Light, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band Sun Light, MC Yogi Burn it in the Fire, Wade Morissette The Sound of Sunshine, Michael Franti & Spearhead The Boys of Summer, Don Henley She’s A Rainbow, The Rolling Stones Desert Rose, Sting Follow The Sun, Xavier Rudd Hearts on Fire, Passenger Long Time Sun, Girish Soak Up The Sun, Sheryl Crow Over The Rainbow, Israel Kamakawiwo’ole

sequences. Why do we push ourselves to excess, instead of finding a place of comfort before the burnout? “Too much of everything is just enough” comes to mind, a lyric from a Grateful Dead song. We have been programmed to want more, bigger, stronger, hotter. Yet any niyama should be considered within the context of all five of these concepts. The interesting part about the niyamas is that they intertwine, lean on each other, even reference each other, in very subtle ways. Santosha, another niyama, means contentment, to be satisfied and grateful that what you have is enough. Svadhyaya speaks of self study, specifically pertaining to gaining more knowledge to deepen the understanding of the self. In the Yoga Sutras, the true meaning of discipline and purification is for the greater purpose of contentment and spiritual growth/ devotion. Can we use these niyamas without burning out or overdosing on the notions? This answer, like most answers in all areas of yoga—spiritual, physical, emotional—is found within ourselves. Find the tapas—the thing that lights you up from the inside. Tap into it. Follow it, trust it, commit to it. If it starts to burn you, or worse—starts to fade you or weaken you— pause. Breathe and reflect. Is it too much, too soon, too intense? Only you will know. Follow that inner fire, the internal tapas, and more than likely you will never get burned. This is actually referred to as Mati, one of the 10 traditional niyamas, developing a cognitive, spiritual will. Yoga is about self-acceptance, not self-improvement. If we can keep focusing in, rather than seeking out, the answers should never be farther than the corners of our mat. Trayci Handelman is a yoga instructor in Highland Park. She teaches at several studios and is available for private instruction.




Musings from the mat Why we keep coming back Jeff Bunn

oga is my ritual of choice. I first came to the practice (or rather, it came to me) through sheer serendipity, at the age of 58. Once-a-week classes during lunch hour at work became twice-a-week lunch hour classes at a nearby club. Which led to four-times-a-week, including an early morning class and a class on Saturday. Now I am a certifiable, seven-day-aweek, yoga studio nutcase.

Aside from the obvious kinds of things I’ve learned (my left leg is misaligned and my balance is a lot more tenuous than I had thought), I have learned a healthy dose of humility. I also have learned that even when I feel strong in my yoga practice, I like to use props—even though that may seem counterintuitive. My personal favorite prop is one that is all too often overlooked, even though it is literally all around us: the wall. Or, as one of my favorite teachers half-jokingly refers to it, “the wall of shame.”

can focus on the shape and/or strength of certain poses. My personal favorites when working the wall are the three Warrior poses, but it can also be a tremendous prop to help work on other poses like Ardha Chandrasana (“half moon”), Trikonasana (“triangle”) or Uttitha Parsvakonasana (“extended side angle”).

Yoga has helped me with personal transformation. I have become a better listener and I enjoy the physical discipline, a lot more curious about the which serves my need for power of conscious movement, exercise. I enjoy the faces and The wall can help create sound meditation and mindfulness. the places and the spaces that muscle memory, help focus I am also considering how my practice has led me to attention on aspects of particular those things might be experience, which serves my poses that are sometimes better incorporated into a need for adventure. I also enjoy ignored and, for old timers like traditional yoga practice, or the abiding sense that I have me, can minimize or eliminate better marketed to the wider become—I think—a better person. the aspect of balance, so we community of Baby Boomers.

Yoga has made me a better attorney. I’ve even thought about how meditation and mindfulness might be incorporated into a law school curriculum—or any professional program, for that matter. For me, the practice of yoga has opened up more than just my body. It has also opened up my mind, my receptiveness to new ideas and new experiences, and yes—dare I say it—it has opened up my heart. That’s not an easy thing for a 60-year-old guy to say, especially one who has been practicing law in the Loop longer than most younger yogis and yoginis have been alive.

Nurture and grow your practice.



New Students - 2 wks unlimited yoga for $30

3946 N. Southport, Chicago, IL. (corner of Irving Pk) 773.472.0930 37


Disruptors Building a more sustainable future Lourdes Paredes


personal tapas can cause deep transformation that forever changes our actions, mind and heart. For example, many of us have made personal changes to respond to ecological and environmental concerns: recycling, composting, living more simply, driving a hybrid or fuel-efficient vehicle, and choosing organic foods and products. These personal changes, in turn, can lead to broader, societal transformation. In some industries, there are folks who are shaking things up dramatically. Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen calls them “disruptors.” In the article by Caroline Howard, “Disruption vs. Innovation: What’s the difference?” Christensen says, “[Disruption] is at once destructive and creative.” In the field of construction, organizations such as DIRTT, a sustainable design firm, and Rebuilding Exchange, a building-material salvage and reuse company, are helping people rethink change on a macro scale. They are disrupters. DIRTT, which is an acronym for Doing It Right This Time, is a Canadian company that provides sustainable options for designing and building interior spaces. “DIRTT’s mission is to reduce the amount of interior construction that goes into designing a building,” says founder Mogens Smed.


Instead of building permanent walls, DIRTT uses modular fixtures that can be repurposed for multiple uses. This prevents reconfiguring the interior drywall construction and infrastructure of a building as a business grows or has new purposes or needs for their space, as well as for each new business that inhabits that space. Some of the company’s modular designs are displayed at the DIRTT Green Learning Center, located in downtown Chicago. Future-proofing a business and the interior space of a building minimizes waste and emissions involved with construction, and maximizes the design potential and possible uses throughout the lifetime of a building and business by giving thought in the planning stages for what a company may need for their future, Smed says. DIRTT’s clients include Google, LinkedIn and Levi Strauss, as well as projects in health care and education. The company hopes to bring its products to residential spaces soon. Rebuilding Exchange (RX) is another company in Chicago that is disrupting the construction business. They are creating positive environmental change by taking the materials from the deconstruction of buildings and repurposing and reusing those materials and architectural design elements in new and existing structures.

As stated on the RX website, their mission is “to create a market for reclaimed building materials. We do this by diverting materials from landfills and making them accessible for reuse through our retail warehouse, by promoting sustainable deconstruction practices, by providing education and job-training programs, and by creating innovative models for sustainable reuse.” In addition to the impact on building materials, RX provides a job-training program for people with barriers to employment. Realizing that a trained workforce will enable a sustainable local economy, RX’s hands-on training programs in deconstruction, materials management, retail warehousing and carpentry empower Chicago residents with the skills and confidence to reenter the working world. By disrupting traditional thinking and methods and making changes now, companies can begin to impact the future of the economy, the environment and workforce.

The yoga of Thai massage


Sarah Landicho

first experienced Thai massage a few years ago at a workshop designed for yoga teachers. It was a little dip into this world of bodywork that introduced me to new ways of assisting and adjusting my students.

As limited as this presentation was, it grabbed my attention. The intention behind Thai massage seemed more embedded in therapy and love than alignment or depth of a posture. But what really struck home was how fantastic it felt to give. The compressions and stretches I gave from my hands or feet derived from my body’s weight rather than strength, and the rhythmic, rocking motions were fairly hypnotic. It was good for me, too.

PHOTOS: Provided by DIRTT

That’s not an unusual discovery, says Paul Fowler, yoga teacher, registered Thai therapist and director of Blue Lotus Healing Thai Studies in Bucktown, which offers training in Thai massage. “The way I look at it is learning Thai massage is a way for the practitioner to engage in a self-healing modality,” he explains. “It’s really a practice of helping yourself. If you’re comfortable and energy is flowing in you, then you can help energy flow in the other person.” That’s very much what this practice is about, adds Chuck Duff, president of Thai Bodywork School of Massage in Evanston. “Thai bodywork is very unique in its ingenious combination of compression and movement, and the underlying principle of moving stagnation in the body,” he explains.

Upper left: DIRTT incorporates client-specific elements, such as this antiqued barn door, into their designs. Above: Living walls bring nature indoors and beautify and detoxify interior spaces.

While bodywork isn’t traditionally associated with the eight-limbed path of yoga, it certainly falls under the umbrella of the third niyama, tapas. “This niyama is about using discipline to create movement, cleansing and releasing stagnation, and I do see Thai massage as very helpful,” Duff adds. “The flow of energy in the body through breath and releasing blockages is a core principle of Thai medicine. The Thai bodywork can make our [yoga] practices easier to maintain and perhaps to experience the feeling of flow in a new way.” Often referred to as “lazy man’s yoga,” Thai massage requires that clients be placed in various yoga-like poses during the stretching and compressing of the bodywork. “If you think of yoga as asana, and if you think of yoga as a larger picture of connection to spirit and things like that, then yes, [Thai massage] is certainly a way of gaining understanding of your body, learning where you’re holding and not and getting to know yourself in that way,” Fowler says.

But there are differences, too. For example, muscle compression isn’t often a part of yoga asana, he explains. Through compression, muscles relax and stretch, which improves energy flow. Additionally, the various bodily manipulations during Thai massage and the one-on-one experience between practitioner and receiver provide immediate feedback not often received during yoga. In this way both people learn where the client is creating habitual holding patterns in the body—something that might never be discovered in a physical, active yoga practice. “[Thai massage] works on different levels: mental and emotional,” Fowler adds. “It helps to teach the body to become aware of those blocks and holdings and how they’re created through the mind. And then, maybe, in [the clients’] lives, they can start to recognize what’s going on and start to let it go.” “People always say [Thai massage] is like nothing else,” says Paul Weitz, registered Thai therapist and co-founder of Blue Lotus Healing Studies. “One of the reasons is because it works deeply on the physical, energetic and spiritual levels.” That’s true for both the practitioner and the client. “There’s a certain feeling when it really works,” Weitz explains. “When a person really clears out, there’s an energetic shift that takes place in the client and the practitioner. It’s a clearing, a freedom, a lightness...It brings prana, good energy, to both.” For Fowler, practicing Thai massage is a form of turning inward. “A big part of the practice for me is the meditation art,” he explains. “When you are touching someone’s body, there is a certain requirement of absolute attention…When you’re working on someone else, you’re putting [that person’s] trust in your hands, so there’s an attention that needs to be paid. I don’t have to even try; it’s automatically there. And when I do that for an hour and a half, whatever I’ve been chewing on in my life, it’s pretty much gone.” Maybe that’s why I keep turning to Thai massage as part of a rounded yoga practice. It simply balances my energy in a different way whether I’m giving or receiving. And that’s what I’m always looking for: balance. 39

PHOTO: Provided by Koval



Cocktailing The benefits of organic spirits Abby Hart With the proliferation of the green, farm-totable restaurants in the current marketplace, is organic alcohol also getting its due? Illumine talks with a local distiller and mixologist to discuss the upside of imbibing sustainable spirits. Summer in Chicago is exhilarating, especially after the frigid and seemingly endless winter. The parks and beaches stretch far and wide with people relaxing, picnicking and sunbathing. Restaurant sidewalks and patios are packed with al fresco diners, enjoying world-class cuisine paired with cold, refreshing cocktails. Summer is also prime time for browsing the enticing stalls of Green City Market and other city farmers’ markets. For many Chicagoans, choosing whole, chemical-free, organically grown food is a way to ensure the health of their families and the preservation of the environment. The latest place for organic foods to make an appearance is in your cocktail glass. Koval Distillery in the Ravenswood neighborhood is Chicago’s first since the mid-1800s and has been completely organic since its 2008 opening, a challenging undertaking for co-founders Robert and Sonat Birnecker. The husband and wife team chose to go organic because, as Sonat Birnecker puts it, “We believe in eating organic and being healthy, but also supporting farmers and those who care for the land.” 40

The Birneckers have housed the entire operation in their distillery to ensure quality—milling grain, mashing the milled grain with water and distilling and bottling the liquor on site. Sonat Birnecker notes that this is a departure from common industry practice, in which milling and mashing occur offsite, but explains, “We like to have as much control over the final product as possible.” The process of creating a completely organic alcoholic product is daunting and lengthy, and the Birneckers scout plenty of local organic farmers and ensure that the vendors they work with have organic certification. To become certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, farmers must submit to having their produce rigorously tested for pesticides and additives, as well as successfully complete soil testing to ensure no cross-contamination or downdrift from non-organic crops. Certified distillers are subject to yearly testing as well. Making an organic product has forced the Birneckers to be creative and resourceful. Though much of the produce used in Koval’s products is local, or from the Midwest or California, certain other botanicals and flowers used in their offerings are imported from as far away as Peru, the Czech Republic and Japan. Koval creates whiskeys with unique organic

grains such as spelt, oat and millet. The creative and sustainable methods don’t end with the liquor itself, as the distiller’s whiskeys and bourbons are aged in wood barrels from Minnesota sealed with beeswax, rather than the traditional method of sealing with paraffin. It makes sense that a restaurant featuring locally-sourced, farm-to-table cuisine would implement an organic cocktail program. At Prasino (Greek for “green”)—with three locations in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood, suburban LaGrange and St. Louis—the cocktail menu has grown to include a wide range of certified organic liquors, infusions and housemade syrups made with organic produce. Prasino’s beverage director Todd Ekis, believes that the organic movement represents the idea of “going back to the basics,” before transportation and additives changed the production of food and drink. “It’s really becoming a lifestyle again,” he says. Ekis often uses products from Greenbar Collective, a Los Angeles-based organic spirits producer, which plants a tree in the Central American rainforest for every bottle sold. As of December 2013, Prasino alone is responsible for the planting of 2,927 trees. “It comes down to flavor. Not to generalize, but there are a few traditionally-made citrus

vodkas with a sort of chemical aftertaste. With these [organic] vodkas, the flavor is extremely clean and bright,” explains Ekis. The flavors of organic liquors allow for mixologists make a more spirit-forward cocktail, because the spirit shines on its own and inspires cocktail crafters to find fresh and bright ingredients to complement that flavor. After Ekis recently received a bottle of pineapple-infused brugal, an extra dry rum, he used it as the defining spirit in the Poco Verde, a creation comprised of an organic housemade verdita (a blend of fresh pineapple juice, cilantro, mint and seeded jalapeno) and finished with a bright pineapple leaf and a solid cube of frozen pureed cilantro. The result is a slightly sweet, herbaceous and incredibly refreshing concoction.

Summer is the time to give a big “Cheers!” to making it through the winter and for the glorious feel of the sun on our skin. ILLUMINE found the mocktails inviting at the South Water Kitchen, 225 N. Wabash, Chicago, and then we tried the cocktails! All of the concoctions are herballyinfused with syrups made in-house. We raved over the flavors of the Lavender Soda mocktail, a specialty that includes sweet and floral lavender syrup mixed with muddled blackberries, topped off with tart lemon juice and soda water for a refreshing fizzy finish.

The taste and environmental benefits are clear, but what about the hangover? Since all of the additives, chemicals and pesticides are stripped away, will organic alcohol leave you feeling less foggy the morning after? “Well, I can’t say that alcohol in any high volume will result in not having a hangover the next day,” says Koval Distillery’s Sonat Birnecker. “But knowing that alcohol was created with respect for the land, doesn’t that leave you feeling a little better?”

PHOTO: Abby Hart

Learn more about the organic philosophies of Koval Distillery and Prasino Restaurants at and

PHOTOS: Provided by South Water Kitchen

The Porch Swing, a ginbased cocktail, marries basil strawberry syrup, aperol (a bitter orange Italian liqueur), tangerine bitters, lemon and egg white in a uniquely delicious combination. You’ll wish you were sitting on a porch swing while enjoying these summer sips. The restaurant’s riverview outdoor seating is an excellent urban alternative, however, and among the best scenes in the city.

Prasino’s Poco Verde coctail


illumine Excerpt and illustrations from “Fearless Food Gardening in Chicagoland” reprinted with permission from the Peterson Garden Project. The book is available for purchase at

d o o f s s e l r a e F

g n i n e Gard Teresa Gale

Yoga and food gardening are two of my favorite things. For me, both are equally effective antidotes to stress. Both my mat and my garden are sacred spots where I turn off and tune in. Everything else can wait.

grandparents on the farm. We always ate freshpicked veggies. I loved inspecting their freezers full of home-grown food. The basement stock of jams, pickles and other preserved goods was equally intriguing. It all seemed so foreign.

Like yoga, food gardening makes me feel grounded. Yes, I’m literally digging in the dirt. But on a more spiritual level, the experiences of food gardening—planting a seed, picking a tomato, eating a snap pea straight off the vine—engage my senses and keep me present. Neither yoga nor food gardening gives me instant gratification. With each, progress is incremental and I observe without judgment.

Years later I ended up here in Chicago. The summer my husband and I moved into our new home coincided with the birth of our daughter. We now had a small plot of land, and he suggested we start food gardening. In my new-mom stupor, I said something like, “You mean growing our own vegetables? That’s too much work.” But he managed to persuade me otherwise.

We often describe yoga in terms of nature. We salute the sun and stand rooted like trees. We attune our bodies and minds to cycles of the natural world. As in nature, a summer yoga practice offers ample opportunity for growth and abundance. Yoga asks that we be mindful both on and off the mat. While eating is a routine act, it is also a conscious choice. One way to eat mindfully is to choose fruits and vegetables that are in season and, if possible, grown locally. July and August are the high point of food gardening season here in Chicago, with favorites like tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini multiplying by the minute. Read on for tips on how to make the most of your garden bounty, whether you’ve grown it yourself or brought it home from the local farmers market. Writing this Book

In the summers we would visit my 42

If you can’t possibly consume all your tomatoes while they’re still fresh—don’t worry! Frozen tomatoes are great to have on hand for sauces, soups and stews. Paste and beefsteak varieties take well to freezing, while cherry tomatoes don’t (enjoy these while they’re still fresh). Tomato skins don’t break down well when cooked, so it’s best to “blanch” your tomatoes to remove their skins from the flesh prior to freezing. The blanching process is quick and easy. Prepare your tomatoes by cutting out the stems. Using a slotted spoon, lower the fruit into a pan of boiling water, with only a few tomatoes in the pan at a time. Leave them for about a minute (you might see the skins start to crack or peel back from the top), then transfer them into a bowl of ice water to stop them from cooking. Once the tomatoes are cool, peel off the skins by hand. You can freeze them whole or cut them in half, remove the seeds and freeze the halves. Since tomatoes are juicy, they have a tendency to stick together as they freeze. To keep the pieces from turning into one big chunk, arrange them in a single layer on a baking pan to freeze. Once they’re frozen solid, transfer them into a freezer bag, and you can pull them out one at a time as needed. If you don’t want to spend time blanching your tomatoes, it’s OK to freeze them whole with the skins on. When you’re ready to use them, let them thaw out first and then peel off the skins with a knife. This method requires a bit more peeling than a blanched tomato, but works just fine.

Illustrations: Scott Westgard

My family’s roots are in rural Indiana. When I was very young, we moved to the West Coast. I grew up in California’s central valley at the epicenter of modern “agri-business,” but personally disconnected from agriculture. From time to time, my grandma would write me letters about what she was growing in her garden back in Indiana. Corn, beans, kohlrabi. These letters were quaint and endearing, but inconsequential.

I remember feeling so proud of our first harvest. “We did this ourselves!” I marveled. And for the first time, I felt connected to a family history that had always eluded me. Food gardening became truly magical once I saw it through the eyes of my daughter. These special moments—tracing the curve of a pea tendril, hiding in the tomato “forest,” watching a butternut squash vine so high we couldn’t see the end—have convinced me never to stop.

Blanching and freezing tomatoes

An illumined life


Slow down. Breathe deeply. Calm your mind. Be present. In the hectic times we live in, yoga for me is a source of strength and renewal through which I explore the self and learn to accept what I find. After practice I am inspired, joyful, peaceful and grateful for the asana practice—its challenging physicality and closing rest.

Photo: Mary Carol Fitzgerald


Joanna Taylor is a marketing professional with leadership experience in both non- and for-profit organizations. Most recently motherhood inspired her to create the Nicholson School, a play-based preschool located in Bucktown, where she is executive director.

An illumined life regularly features the manifesto of an inspiring Chicagoan. Send your nomination to 43

breathe deeply and appreciate the moment. lululemon athletica lululemon athletica ambassador chantal o’sullivan

grounds for happiness


Illumine Magazine-Issue 4. Summer 2014  

Illumine Chicago is your new yoga-inspired magazine. A magazine for leading a more yogic lifestyle.

Illumine Magazine-Issue 4. Summer 2014  

Illumine Chicago is your new yoga-inspired magazine. A magazine for leading a more yogic lifestyle.