ILLUMINE Fall 2014

Page 1

VOL. 2 NO. 1 FALL 2014


Anniversary issue Chicago’s Yoga Roots


disciplined practice

Yoga Behind Bars

Matthew Sanford ISSN 2330-2860

Keeping the Wisdom Alive


Left column photo credits top to bottom: Mary Carol Fitzgerald, Scott Shigley, Robert Pelaski, Lourdes Paredes, Seth Kane. Cover photos top to bottom: Danielle Zhu, Kristie Kahns, Scott Shigley (2 covers), Mary Carol Fitzgerald (bottom)

With love from Lourdes Paredes


lthough I am a hard worker by nature, this year I had plenty of moments of wondering if I had taken on too much. Starting something new after 13 years of teaching, I felt like a novice again. So, I looked for inspiration everywhere: in artists of all kinds, the Olympics and other sports events, in my friends’ Facebook posts, in movies, poems and songs. And I found it! The world is never a dry desert of people who are out doing their best and doing good. Whenever I am touched by someone’s masterpiece or performance, it makes me wonder what makes them do what they do and do it so well. What is it that allows a great actor to effortlessly create a story full of deep and complex emotions? What drives an athlete to spend hours on end practicing and how are they able to consistently score points and make big plays? How does a singer move thousands of people to their feet? What inspires a chef to create impeccable tastes and textures that command month-long waits for a seat in their restaurants? Not only is it their love of what they do, but the fact that they have done it for a lot longer than a year or two. They no doubt worked hard and long hours for many years, or may have experienced a lot of rejection and obstacles along the way. They may have had many days, weeks, months or years of not looking so graceful and having things come so easily, and perhaps they may have had to totally reconceptualize what they had been working on for many years. Any good thing, as far as I know, comes from practice. To refine something or

Lourdes with Abby Hart, managing editor of illumine

develop a state of mastery takes consistent attention every day for many years. As Pattabhi Jois said, “Yoga is 99 percent practice, and 1 percent theory.” This year I practiced more in every way. I intensified my meditation and did more inspirational reading because I really, seriously needed it. In order to take on more, I knew I needed to clear out more. I deepened my relationships and connections with my community, and I recruited a team of coaches who supported me to learn new skills. Most of all, I kept showing up, and I did it for the love of it! Because I truly do love creating illumine, and I am proud that it is a beautiful magazine featuring my colleagues in the yoga community. It has been an honor and a pleasure to share good news about amazingly dedicated teachers, studio owners and writers. In our first anniversary issue, we look at sādhanā, our practice of developing and refining who we are by what we do and how we do it: Whether it’s an artist like Antonia Contro, whose sketches of small wonders in nature recently became a largerthan-life, commissioned piece in Wicker Park, or yoga studio owners who opened their doors many years ago wondering if it would at all be worth it, each person just kept showing up, loving their work and finding inspiration everywhere.

with Michael Franti

with a Drepung monk

with DJ Drez

Keep planting and watering your seeds, tending your inner fire, clearing out and creating good. Thank you for welcoming illumine into your life!

with the Starnes sisters



illumine works to expand and explore a yoga-inspired lifestyle to engage and elevate the broader community.

22 Features Chicago’s Yoga Roots Goodbye school stress, hello savasana Reading, Writing and Warrior I Yoga Behind Bars Finding the me in Mommy


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Community Illumined City Sutra in the City Artist Profile: Antonia Contro Illuminating the Spirit Musings from the Mat Inspiration: Michael Franti & Spearhead

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Traditions Jyotish Sanskrit Yoga Sutras: Inside-out Transformation Asana Ayurvedic practices for fall Keeping the wisdom alive: Matthew Sanford Vaastu

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Escapes Worth the Splurge: Chuan Spa at The Langham Fearless Food Gardening

Dancing at the Soulshine Tour, July 2014 Northerly Island, Chicago Mary Carol Fitzgerald



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Cover Photo

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illuminechicagoyoga illumine features the work of local photographers, such as Mary Carol Fitzgerald and Scott Shigley whose photos are featured in this issue. If you are an aspiring photographer and would like to photograph for illumine or share your photos, please contact

Contributors Volume 2, Issue 1 Fall 2014 Founder and Yogini-in-Charge Lourdes Paredes Managing Editor Abby Hart Editorial Consultant Heidi Schlumpf Editorial Board Abby Hart Jim Kulackoski Lourdes Paredes Heidi Schlumpf

Dr. Abhi Ghosh is a scholar, teacher and a practitioner of bhakti yoga for more than 21 years. He has travelled India, Europe, Central Asia, Middle East and the US over the last nine years sharing his ideas and practices with hundreds of individuals.

Areta Kohout is a mother of three, a not-for-profit organizer and a busy yoga teacher, with a passion for teaching adaptive yoga to the disabled.

Print Design Jason Campbell Web Design Laura Fairman Online Editors Jane Rubin Megan Suckut Writers Margot Andersen Jeff Bunn Debi Buzil Karen Carter Antonia Contro Teresa Gale Abhi Ghosh Abby Hart Alisa Kannett Jim Kulackoski Ruth Diab Lederer Mark Anthony Lord Pamela McDonough Linda Mura O’Toole Sarah Rathbone Megan Suckut Pam Udell Monica Yearwood Distribution Cari Barcas Jeff Bunn Chris DeLizer Ruth Goran Trayci Handelman Carol Horton Areta Kohout Linda Mura O’Toole Mark Ratfelders Photography Mary Carol Fitzgerald Scott Shigley Megan Suckut Videography Karen Carter

Contact Us:

Karen Carter is a filmmaker, producer, yogi, mother and community activist. After practicing yoga for 15 years, she completed her teacher training and is excited to encourage others to learn about the benefits of yoga.

Linda Mura O’Toole studied English and journalism at Boston College and spent 20 years working in public relations and marketing. Linda is also a yoga teacher who strives to teach with integrity, honesty and compassion.

Jeff Bunn is an attorney and a practicing yogi during the week at Bottom Line Yoga in the Loop, and on weekends at Yogaview and North Shore Yoga.

Megan Suckut is a senior at Northwestern studying journalism and American history. Besides writing for ILLUMINE, she spends much of her time thinking about, reading about, writing about, cooking and eating food.

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illumine’s Mary Carol Fitzgerald was on hand on August 29 to photograph this beautiful rooftop sunset yoga class for all levels in River North. Wade Gotwals and Amber Cook provided the yoga and DJ Magpie brought the beats from sunset to well after sundown, when yoga poses turned into striking poses on the dance floor. Bender yoga events focus on bringing the practice of yoga outside the studio, in unusual and high-energy locales. To get on the Bender (f)underground wellness email list, email

Photo: Megan Suckut

Bender Sunset Sessions

To suggest your event for future coverage in Illumined City, please email

Photos: Scott Shigley

Photo: Mary Carol Fitzgerald


Dharma Mittra & Sharon Gannon This summer, Chicago hosted two highly respected and beloved teachers from New York, Dharma Mittra and Sharon Gannon. In June, Sri Dharma Mittra led a day and a half of lectures and practices at the Pulaski Park Field House Auditorium, sharing his approach to living yoga. In September, Sharon Gannon arrived in Chicago for her first stop promoting her cookbook, Simple Recipes for Joy. She led a practice for an intimate group of about 40 yogis at Samgha Yoga Shala. Both have been teaching for many years (Dharma Mittra since 1967, and Gannon since 1986) in the West, and their understanding of living a life committed to studying and teaching the wisdom of yoga is evident in their presence and embodied knowledge.



Sutra in the City

A very good place to start

First lesson: The practice of yoga starts now by Debi Buzil

Illustration: Ashley Wu


hat to do on this beautiful day? A walk by the lake? Sure! Fire up the mobile geocaching app to find some hidden treasure in a nearby park? Let’s do that! Or we can just open the kitchen windows and try out that new raw truffle recipe… This was the gist of the back-and-forth I had one day with my friend Caruna. We wanted to do this and that, but it went nowhere. Then it dawned on us, and in an instant we knew what to do. We pulled out our mats. Within minutes, we had more than a half dozen children and neighbors doing yoga on the floor with us. You can make yoga happen, anytime, anywhere. Though our practice was so refreshing and spontaneous, it took some time for me to really internalize this idea of “Right now is always the right time.” The point drove itself home one night when I lay awake in bed. A familiar earworm of a song got into my head: “Let’s start at the very beginning / A very good place to start. / When you read, you begin with A-B-C...” When you study yoga you begin with the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Book One, the Samadhi Pada, describes enlightenment. The very first sutra says the study of yoga begins now. That sutra? Atha yoga anushasanam: “Here, now is the teaching of yoga.”


Aha. The right time to do yoga is now. To sincerely pursue self-realization is a significant step in life, one in which being fully in the moment is given priority. The first word of the Yoga Sutra is atha, which means “now.” We must be prepared to start. Anushasanam means “within the world.” The practice of yoga starts now.


’ve overlooked and generally skipped this first sutra, thinking it was too simple. The reality is I wasn’t ready for the profound knowledge that “this is it.” But I know yoga is always available for us, and never passes judgement when we practice. If we are weak or tired, we can begin. If we are raring to go, it is there. If our mind is out of focus and we cannot concentrate, we can practice. We can only begin where we are. Here and now. Conscious hip-hop artist Illuminati Congo’s song, “Let’s Do Yoga” (with a guest appearance from Devi 2000) gives a hip, fun exposition on the practice of “now.” We can boogie and yoke our practice of “union” to our deep-souled dancing selves. Next time a friend visits and you don’t know what to do, consider a bit of practice. Get your yoga on. Now—right now!

Debi Buzil is the leader of Chicago-based Kirtan group Devi 2000. She is a longtime teacher and student, and a mother of two.


Artist Profile

Antonia Contro M

y art and yoga practices share many similarities. In both, the ideal state is flow, a suspension of critical appraisal and an immersion with the experience itself; a noncritical engagement with the action at hand. Time is arrested, the mind is freed, and I move forward with a confident and delicious abandon. One can serve as the metaphor for the other, and each informs the other. My most recent project was to create artwork for a tower on a building designed by Wheeler Kearns Architects at 1611 W. Division that houses Intelligentsia Coffee’s newest store. Titled Scorza, it is a 92- by 27-foot digital print adapted from a watercolor painting. In the heart of Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood, Scorza is a visual counterpoint to this urban intersection. Scorza is Italian for bark or skin. The word both refers to the literal source material for my painting and alludes to the piece becoming a skin of the building. I aimed to create a contrast between the geometric architectural design and organic form, between manmade and natural. My art explores the human yearning to name, interpret, and organize the worlds around and inside us, and plays with the nuanced relationship between fact and truth. Scorza invites the viewer to look, engage and decipher.

Photo: Luke Grimm

Antonia Contro Digital print, 2014 92’ x 27’ Antonia Contro is a multi-media artist who exhibits locally and nationally. She is also the Executive Director of Marwen, a non-profit organization which educates and inspires underserved young people through the visual arts. View more of Antonia’s work at



Illuminating the Spirit

Do you have ‘worry-itis’? Here’s how to fix it! by Rev. Mark Anthony Lord


o you find yourself obsessing over how you are going to get all those bills paid? Do you too often wonder whether you’re doing well enough—afraid you might lose your job or that new relationship? Does your mind wander to the future where you fearfully see yourself alone or unhappy? If so, you suffer from worry-itis—a mental obsession that causes high blood pressure, low self-esteem, sleepless nights and that unattractive frown line on your forehead.

Simply say, “Oh, I’m worrying. Look at that!” When you become the observer of what you’re thinking, a chance to change your thoughts becomes possible, because you are no longer consumed by it. At least a small part of you is noticing, and that part can help you break the worry habit by doing something different.

To whatever extent you find yourself suffering from worry-itis, do not beat yourself up. You’re certainly not alone. Worry is pervasive, and anxiety is at an all-time high in our culture. Countless prescription and over-the-counter drugs are consumed daily in an effort to free us from the grips of worry and anxiety, but it’s not working. Sure, you can have temporary relief, but it’s at the expense of putting toxins in your body. And the source of the problem will only grow stronger, because you’re addressing the symptoms but not the core issue.


The great news is you can be free from worryitis, and the cure is 100 percent natural with no side effects…except for maybe having to deal with more happiness and peace of mind. The first and most important step is to realize when worrisome thoughts are happening.


These are some simple tips that, if done consistently, will help free you from the shackles of worry and anxiety forever: Breathe. If you are worrying and anxious, your breathing is typically shallow and constricted, and your heart will start racing. This is the time to close your eyes and take several slow…deep…breaths. This will bring you into the present moment and allow your body to know it is safe and can begin relaxing. Do this at least three times or more if you can.


Drink water. A hydrated body is emotionally healthier. Beginning your day with a big glass and continuing to drink clear, clean water throughout the day will help the mind to be more at ease. And if you’re in a worry storm, drink a big glass immediately.


Practice yoga. I have to make myself take a class where the lighting is low and the teacher is responsible for moving me through the experience. I always think I don’t

have enough time, but afterwards I’m always grateful I gave myself the gift of self-care. No excuses—you’re worth the time and self-love that taking yoga three to four times a week gives you. And it will lower your anxiety, guaranteed.


Try tapping. Finally, for those in need of serious relief, you might find tapping a helpful and effective exercise. Tapping is a technique incorporating facets of hypnosis, meditation and acupressure, using energy meridians to treat physical and emotional ailments. You can tap anywhere and everywhere, whenever anxiety strikes. Visit to learn more. Most importantly—be patient and compassionate with yourself when you feel consumed by worry. This is not the time to beat yourself up, and say things like, “Here I go again!” or “Why can’t I stop this?” That kind of self-talk will only make the problem worse. I know you can heal worry-itis and become consistently happy. I don’t know how long it will take, but whatever the amount of time, it’s worth it. You’re worth it! Rev. Mark Anthony Lord is an internationallyrecognized author, speaker, teacher and the founder of the Bodhi Spiritual Center in Chicago, IL. Visit his website at


Musings from the Mat


Musing from the mat

Bouncing back How resilience on the mat can help you in life by Margot Andersen


tripped and fell at my daughter’s wedding reception. As I went down on the wooden stairs, the guests let out a collective gasp. After I fell, I popped back up. It took only a second for me to accept what had happened, offer myself some self-compassion, take a breath and move on. I grabbed the microphone and made my speech. That is resilience. Adversity—big or small— is a fact of life. As the Buddha teaches, all human beings suffer, whether it’s illness, the loss of a loved one, career change or job loss, divorce, struggles with a parent or child, parenting a teen or child with unique needs, or the shifting tides of friendship. What is key is how we deal with the curveballs life throws us. Yoga can help us weather life changes and develop resilience. For example, when teaching Tree pose to new students who may struggle with balance, we talk about how we are “knocked off our game” so often in life. Just put your foot down, regain your composure and lift your foot back into the pose. Going in and out of this pose of balance is a metaphor for life. Resilience. Maintaining our breath in the face of adversity or a challenging pose, practicing acceptance

rather than struggling with a pose, being mindful and staying in the present moment— all of those are resilience skills.


s we find the effort and edge of each pose, we let go of that which we cannot control. As we find the ease in the pose, we find strength to sustain us during life’s crises. Every time we practice yoga, we practice acceptance of what life is offering in that moment, welcoming both the good and the bad. We can transfer those skills learned on our mats to our lives after a challenging event or crisis. Suffering can be decreased by knowing we cannot change what is, learning to breathe mindfully and leaning into life rather than resisting it. Having survived brain tumors, chronic migraines and losing a young adult son—and, yes, minor embarrassments such as falling in public, I have concluded that resilience is a learned skill. Humor helps—and luckily, that can be learned, too! As you walk off your mat and step into life, know that you are honing your skills to weather life’s inevitable adversity. Yoga helps us learn to thrive and survive in challenging times.

Basics & Beyond with

Linda O’Toole Mondays 12:30-1:30pm


(847) 786-4211 w w w. r e a c h yo g a g l e n c o e . c o m or contact Linda at (312) 375-9735 for in-home or in-studio private lessons.

Margot Andersen is a social worker and yoga teacher who specializes in teaching resilience skills. Learn more about her approach at



“Do it for the love” By Michael Franti and Spearhead

Do it for the love, not for the money Not for the guns and not for the honeys Do it ‘cause it makes you feel alive Like the way we rockin’ on Saturday night Do it for the love of it, do it for the smell of it Do it for the joy and the taste and the hell of it Do it ‘cause you love it and it makes no sense Not yens or euros or dollars or cents


All photos by Mary Carol Fitzgerald

Michael Franti and Spearhead headlined the 2014 Soulshine Tour held at FirstMerit Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island. The July 10th concert was preceded by an intimate and inspirational yoga session led by Allie Purdy and accompanied by Franti and his guitarist J Bowman.



For students new to yogaview— $29 for 2 weeks of unlimited yoga Tim Miller Weekend, September 19-21 Joan Hyman Weekend, October 10-12 Weekend Retreat in Grand Beach, Michigan with Quinn Kearney, Tom Quinn and Claire Mark, October 17-19 Tim Feldmann Weekend, November 15-17 Please visit for additional retreats, workshops, class schedules and upcoming events.

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Dr. Deepak Chopra



NAVY PIER – GRAND BALLROOM 600 E. Grand Avenue Chicago, IL 60611 CONTACT: Or 781-462-8454


Please pass on or recycle this magazine. You can find a digital download online at illu



Peeling back the layers Understanding karma through Vedic astrology by Pamela McDonough


ne of the most amazing aspects of Jyotish is how this ancient system from India can help us identify our karmic patterns in this lifetime. Karma refers to the concept that a person’s actions and intentions have consequences that can contribute to their destiny in current and future existences. The Sanskrit word Jyotish translates to light (Jyoti) of the gods (Ish as derived from Ishwara). The ancient rishis (sages) of India divined Jyotish to shine light into the dark recesses of our lives. Jyotish gives us tools to navigate the sometimes rocky and unpredictable karmas that we encounter and to help us fully explore our karmic gifts. This allows us to connect deeply with the purpose of our souls and the divine that surrounds us all. Our karmas are observable through the lens of our Vedic horoscope in a similar way that geologists are able to read the strata (layers) of the earth. Strata allow geologists to interpret the sequence of geologic events that happened long ago and led up to current conditions. Just as geologists can read the past events of the earth through its strata, our karmic strata are visible in our birth chart (also known as our horoscope).

Our horoscope is a snapshot of our karmic strata ready to be experienced during this lifetime. Each area of our lives can be seen in our horoscope: health, relationships, career, finances, family, creativity, education, friends, spirituality and more. The wisdom and healing from our Vedic horoscope does not stop here. Once we have identified our karmas, we can then use ancient and time-tested tools, such as yantra and mantra, to help soften and create ease around some of our more challenging karmic experiences. Mantras are chanted during meditation to help protect our minds, and yantras are icons with geometric designs that can be employed in meditation or used in our environment to protect us from negative planetary energies.

Read this month’s Vedic astrology forecast at

Jyotish ultimately provides us with the wisdom and tools to follow the path of our soul’s desire to evolve and perfect itself, lifetime after lifetime.

Pamela McDonough is a Vedic astrologer and artist. Learn more and schedule a reading with Pamela by visiting


Traditions Sanskrit

Practice—and rest—make perfect

Sadhana: an ancient perspective on the art of practice by Jim Kulackoski


y first love was music. As a child, I learned the cello, which exposed me to the vast and rich world of classical music. I spent many hours practicing and grew to love music more and more. In college, I decided to pursue a career in music performance, and the intensity of my practice increased. Long, intense hours of study and practice, with little rest in between, left me feeling tired and sore, rather than with a sense of accomplishment.

Art: Jillian Schiavi



The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali sheds light on Eventually I became frustrated and disillusioned. how to attain an efficient and effective art of The very love and enthusiasm I originally had for practice. The sutras (literally “threads”) are short the cello and for music started to wane. While I had statements, each containing a the drive and talent to be successful, complex meaning. One such sutra I did not then understand how to gives a formula for the art of perfect practice effectively. What I wished I practice: Abyāsavairagyābyhām had known earlier was what I learned Tannirodhah, “The ultimate goal of in my study of yoga philosophy, the Abyhāsa yoga is accomplished through the concept of sādhanā. alternation between intense practice or abhyāsa and its opposite state, vairāgya, or rest and detachment ādhanā is a Sanskrit word meaning “the means from that practice.” by which something is accomplished.” It is a way of practicing in which an art or Abyhāsa or “practice” is the act of skill is perfected to a state of mastery. strongly cultivating focus toward a Sādhanā is not only the act of practice, desired goal, idea or action, from but also with a particular emphasis on practicing the cello to learning how to how to practice. Vairāgya ski. In this state, attention is directed towards a particular area of study to develop a Whether the goal is mastering a cello concerto or deeper level of understanding and expertise. self-realization through yoga, practice is necessary for success. As the old saying goes, “practice makes Vairāgya, or detachment from practice, on the perfect.” But what makes perfect practice is often other hand, allows attention to be free from the a mystery.


object of focus and practice. This required state of rest allows what is studied to naturally develop and integrate within the body and mind. Just as practice enhances a skill, rest allows that skill to cultivate deep within the body and mind. This simple, yet profound approach mimics the cyclical rhythm of nature, ever-evolving and always moving towards a state of perfection and balance. As a confirmed “Type A” personality, this was far from my usual approach. As I began to incorporate the idea of sādhanā into my life, I now spend less time in practice, and more time noticing the benefits that accrue from it. Finally, the act of practice is no longer an obligatory effort and more of a meditation.

Jim Kulackoski holds an adjunct faculty position at Loyola University Chicago and runs Darshan Center, where he leads and develops programs such as teacher trainings, workshops and a healing clinic.


Traditions Sutras

Inside-out transformation: Why the Yoga Sutras are better than any self-help book by Abhi Ghosh


hen I once mentioned in a public talk that the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali could be called the world’s first self-help book that worked for practitioners for more than two millennia, a student interjected, claiming that despite best intentions, self-help books don’t “work.” A self-help junkie herself, she had read dozens of books, attended seminars and workshops, chased gurus and participated in retreats. Although all of them had good things to offer, they had not “worked” to help her feel better, beat procrastination, become more effective, manage time and try to win friends and influence people. So she lumped the Yoga Sutras with the myriad other stuff from the multiple billion-dollar self-help industry.

On the other hand, an inside-out transformation, as the Yoga Sutras suggest, assumes that a transformation from the core of our being will not only be long-term and real, but will naturally lead us to take care of all the other external aspects of transformation we tend to focus on.

In my defense of the ancient Indian sage Patanjali, I explained that his “bestseller” actually worked for sincere practitioners over two millennia

Unfortunately, most of these repetitive thoughts are negative: regrets about the past or fear of something that might happen in the future.

The key to an inside-out transformation is yoga that Patanjali defines as “citta vrtti . nirodhah” . (1.2), which literally means “pausing the turbulent fluctuations of our mind.” It has been said that an average human being has about 60,000 thoughts in 24 hours. About 90 percent or so of these thoughts are repetitive; they’re more or less the same thoughts that you’ve had in the last few weeks and probably will have over the next few weeks or months.

If we aren’t able to control these turbulences of the mind, then we start (mis)identifying with them and become one with those fluctuations – vrtti . sārupyam itaratra (1.4), which means, “otherwise, the inner witness identifies with those fluctuations”. And when we start letting our uncontrolled mind control the rest of our lives, chaos ensues. It is difficult to control the fluctuations of the mind. For those who have ever tried and failed, the Sutras offer hope. The process to befriend and tame the mind is a difficult feat achievable only through sādhanā: regular practice. As we give ourselves to the process of sādhanā, a mastery of our mind comes through commitment to and a regular practice of the eight limbs of yoga: yama (restraint), niyama (observances), āsana (physical postures),

An inside-out transformation, as the Yoga Sutras suggest, assumes that a transformation from the core of our being will not only be longterm and real, but will naturally lead us to take care of all the other external aspects of transformation that we usually tend to focus on. because it focuses on a holistic inside-out transformation. Most self-help books or practices in our times focus on external quick fixes: how to diet to get a slim figure, how to make appreciative statements to make others feel good or how to get rich quick. Most of these external transformative moves aren’t sustainable in the long term, as we find ourselves putting on weight after our diet is over or making short-term friends. Trying to “quick-fix” external aspects of our personality or situation leads to an outside-in transformation. 18

These kinds of negative thoughts are the “noise,” according to the Sutras, that drown out the voice of our true Self, Purusha. When we’re able to pause these turbulent fluctuations of our mind and silence the constant noise that goes on both inside and outside of us, we’re able to clearly listen to our purusha. And at that point, says Patanjali, drastuh .. . svarupe avasthānam (1.3) – “the inner witness becomes situated in its own true nature.”

prānāyāma (breath regulation), pratyāhāra . (retracting senses), dhāranā . (concentration), dhyana (contemplation) and samādhi (meditative absorption). Making friends with the mind through this eightfold path and beginning an inner transformation is the most effective and longterm way to achieve a healthy body, refined senses, relaxed mind, focused intelligence and an overall sense of happiness and well-being coming

from the depths of our inner self. Yoga, according the Sutras, thus explains the the spiritual practice, sādhanā, of “connecting” or “joining” to our real Self and our ultimate source, the supreme being, Ishwara. It must be practiced in solitude, and also with other like-minded yogis to enhance learning and encourage each other. When we invest our own passion and commitment to sādhanā, and have a support system of fellow yogis, the theory of the Sutras will slowly and gradually start transforming us inside-out in ways we have never imagined in our practical, everyday life. And though the sādhanā required to experience this transformation might feel tough when we start out, practicing yoga and living the Sutras regularly—individually and collectively—will eventually help us to effortlessly manage our mind.

Opening Yoga to Everyone with Matthew Sanford

November 21-23 Join Forever Om Yoga and Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association (GLASA) in welcoming nationally-recognized yoga teacher and speaker Matthew Sanford. On Nov. 21-23, Forever Om Yoga in Lake Forest, Ill. will host a transformative three-day workshop of traditional and adaptive yoga, as well as a keynote speaking event by Matthew Sanford. For more information on the event, please visit

Dr. Abhi Ghosh is a scholar, teacher and a practitioner of Bhakti yoga for more than 21 years.

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Traditions Asana

A special intention

Bringing sadhana into your yoga practice and your life by Pam Udell


ow often do you practice yoga asana with an intention? There is no right or wrong answer here, however, setting a conscious intention or sankalpa may make your asana practice more impactful in your life. Consistently setting an intention with a goal in mind is an example of sādhanā, or a means of accomplishing something. The disciplined practice of sādhanā can lead to a feeling of connection to something greater than yourself. Some people connect to a higher power, some to nature and some to something explicitly spiritual, but what matters is that whatever you are connecting to has meaning to you, and this in turn can help bring more meaning to your practice, and most likely, your life. Some yoga classes seem to tap into a feeling of connection better than others—there’s the breath, a sense of oneness with a higher power and the freedom in our asanas. You can go back to the same

time I got in my car, I made a conscious effort to be a hundred percent focused on my breath. After about a month of practice, it started to come naturally. I was completely hooked to the melodic rush that swam through my body: my breath. And so my sādhanā began. I can often see some students in class who make their time on the mat a true reflection of sādhanā. Whether they know they are or not, through their consistent practice, they are creating a spiritual connection. The graceful movements, the deep breaths, the sparkle in their eyes when they leave class seemingly walking on a cloud. That’s what keeps me coming back to my mat—I want that feeling as much as I can get it. Even when I teach I need to feel a connection, a feeling of grace, to feel like I’m leading a class that will help guide students to that special place. That’s a lot of pressure to place on myself for each class, and it’s one of the reasons I only teach a


Choice. Choose a pose or activity. Is there a pose that makes you feel alive, or one that makes you feel grounded? Regardless, choose a pose, and each time you come into that pose, consciously set an intention. If you don’t practice yoga, visualize something you do regularly: maybe it’s driving, taking a walk or even brushing your teeth. Each time you partake in that activity, recall and recite your intention.


Commitment. Decide if you’re going to do this every day or once a week. Whatever frequency you decide, commit to it. Commit to a time period as well—14 days, 30 days or maybe longer. Once your time period is up, reflect on what happened, then choose another intention for your pose or activity. Let it become more infused in your life.


Intention. Let’s say you choose tadasana (Mountain pose) or brushing your teeth as a time to set your intention. Sankalpa in your sādhanā is not just coming into the pose or the act of brushing your teeth, it’s connecting in a deeper way and bringing the pose or action to life by using intention. With this intention, we connect. Say something to yourself—it can be any phrase, mantra or prayer that has a deeper meaning to you. If you are religious or spiritual, your intention can be something such as: “I am connected to God,” “Baruch Atah Adonai” or “Praised be you Adonai, our G-D” for someone who is Jewish), or any other prayer that you know from your religion. It can also be as simple as: “I am open to listening with my full attention” or “I am strong in body and mind.”

“What matters is that whatever you are connecting to has meaning to you, and this in turn can help bring more meaning to your practice, and most likely, your life.” instructor and they could teach the same class, but the connection you had in the class before just isn’t there. What’s going on? First of all, that’s life. We have our good days and bad days and the days in between. However, through setting an intention/ sankalpa, we do have some control over having more good days on our mats—the days that we leave not quite sure what just happened, but we know it was something beautiful. When I first started yoga I spent a long time setting the intention to be more connected to my breath. I didn’t realize at the time I was using sankalpa (the intention itself) to create sādhanā (practicing to reach the ultimate goal of connecting my mind and body to my breath), but I was. Every


few classes a week. However, with that intention comes magical moments for me as a teacher: a spiritual buzz in the room. Now, before my classes I sit in a quiet place, recite my mantra and breathe deeply. This sādhanā starts my class off with the feeling of union with something much bigger than myself. When I’m in a lull, I make an extra effort to connect to my breath. For me, my breath joins me to the spiritual, and it allows me to feel the moment and to let go. Here are some steps to help get you started in your sankalpa/intention in your life and foster a sense of connection in your practice.

I hope that this practice will bring you more moments of grace on your mat and in your life. Pam Udell has been a yoga instructor and anatomy enthusiast for over 20 years.



To everything there is a season Ayurvedic practices for fall by Monica Yearwood


s a lifestyle practice and a medical system, ayurveda emphasizes rhythm. Our body’s rhythm can be observed through the heartbeat and respiration, while nature’s rhythm can be detected through the seasons and planetary cycles. Ayurveda teaches that our inner rhythm is profoundly influenced by nature’s rhythms. Since disease comes from living out of alignment with these rhythms, we can enhance our health by living in synchronicity with them. To align ourselves with nature, ayurveda emphasizes seasonal practices called ritucharya. Each season has rising qualities that can be augmented through our behavior to prevent imbalance. For example, during the fall season, dryness and mobility are reduced by adding more oils in the diet and stillness in our yoga practice. Fall is a time for building the immune system for the winter months ahead. It is also one of the most important times of year to get adequate rest and to meditate regularly. Other ritucharya practices for fall include:

Favor a cooked foods diet During fall, most of us crave warm, cooked foods. Ayurveda teaches that this is a healthy desire that should be rewarded. Soups, stews, curries, steamed veggies and grains are nourishing and easy to digest. A heavier, wetter and denser diet helps to reduce the qualities (light, dry, mobility) of the fall season. Oil the body daily The fall season can be drying. Dryness can prompt mucus production. Excess mucus can breed bacteria and trap viruses that lead to illness. By oiling regularly, you protect your body and stave off cold and flu. Use a traditional ayurvedic oil called a thailam in place of lotion and apply to your limbs and lower abdomen after a shower. If you are unable to obtain a thailam you can safely use untoasted sesame oil at this time of year. Place a few drops in each ear and nostril. Build the immune system Immune system builders include healthy fats and carbohydrates that come from seasonal

fruits (especially citrus fruits), vegetables (root vegetables, in particular), legumes, nuts and ghee (clarified butter). Sweet herbs, such as shatavari and ashwagandha, strengthen the body and immunity. Shatavari and ashwagandha are gaining popularity in the United States. Both can be purchased in capsule form from many supplement stores and organic grocers. I recommend a consultation with an ayurvedic practitioner to help you determine the dosage and form (capsule, powder, tea, etc.) that is best for you. Ayurvedic treatments such as abhyanga (oil massage), shirodhara (medicinal oil poured over the hairline) and swedana (herbal steam) also balance the nervous system, especially during the fall.

Monica Yearwood is an ayurvedic practitioner and founder of Hamsa Ayurveda & Yoga in Chicago.

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Keeping the Wisdom Alive Sanford: I am always mourning the loss of my father and sister. Grief never leaves. My mother, brother and I survived. From that day on I have always felt I needed to push to survive. I had been a really athletic kid, and I missed team sports and being active. I tried wheelchair sports, but it was not the same. I felt sad I had to let go of playing sports. Then at 14, I broke my neck again. After that I felt it was too much of a risk to play a sport. So, I spent my time studying.


How did you deal with your sudden disability?


Sanford: I don’t recall ever really feeling angry or depressed, but I became a bit self-destructive and partied a lot in college. I guess it was an outlet for me. I adjusted outwardly, but I felt like I was just going through life. I felt heavy, like I was dragging two-thirds of my body every day.

Matthew Sanford by Areta Kohout

You found yoga 12 years after your accident. How did the journey through yoga lead you to teaching today?

In this recurring column, we ask Chicago-area teachers to interview their teacher about lineage and the teacher/student relationship.


n 1978, Matthew Sanford and his family were traveling from Minnesota to Missouri to spend Thanksgiving with his mother’s extended family. On a cold but sun-filled day, about an hour into the family’s drive home, the car skidded off an overpass on an icy road. The accident took his father and sister’s life and left 13-year-old Sanford paralyzed from the chest down and confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. For years after the devastating accident, Sanford felt a “silence” between his mind and his body. This disconnection compelled him to study philosophy in graduate school in search for answers. It was when he was first introduced to yoga that he began to explore what it truly meant to live in his body. Sanford has been teaching yoga from his wheelchair for 20 years. He began with private sessions for individuals living with a disability and expanded into rehabilitation and medical-based therapeutic settings. In 2002, he opened his Minneapolis-based Mind Body Solutions Studio (MBS), from which he also runs a nonprofit organization dedicated to transforming trauma, loss and disability into hope and potential by awakening the connection between mind and body. Today MBS is a full-service studio with a daily schedule of traditional and adaptive yoga classes, weekly workshops and three- to five-day adaptive yoga teacher training workshops throughout the year.


The author of Waking: A Memoir of Trauma and Transcendence (2006), Sanford is dedicated and deeply passionate about sharing his vision of mind-body integration. His approach promotes healing on many levels: mental, physical, spiritual, psychological and emotional. As a trained B.K.S. Iyengar teacher, Sanford stresses the importance of alignment and surrender in every pose, allowing the student to feel the asana and potentially awakening the connection between mind and body.

Sanford: I really missed my body. I found yoga because I wanted a way to reconnect with my body after my injury. The pressures of my life began leading me to need to come home to my body. I practiced for six years before I thought about teaching. Yoga gave me the benefit of living vibrantly through my body, despite my disability. I wanted to share that feeling with others who were living with trauma, loss and disability. The motivation was to give back and share the transformation that I was having. Where did you study yoga?

Sanford: I found Iyengar yoga at 25, and have been practicing for 23 years. I was in graduate school in Santa Barbara studying philosophy, and traveled What was life like after the accident? to San Diego weekly by Amtrak to study with Jo Sanford: I had gone through years of physical therapy Zucovich, who began studying with B.K.S. Iyengar and rehab. My body had gone through an incredible in 1979. amount of trauma and paralysis. After my surgeries I would experience emotional and physical flashbacks Jo is an amazing practitioner who was willing to explore how yoga traveled through my body and of the accident. how B.K.S Iyengar yoga could be the frame. She was As I slowly healed on the outside, I easily moved right very grounded, intuitive and empathic. Jo passed along the energy that I needed to experience yoga back into school and a busy student life. I had a lot despite my paralysis. of friends and stayed active, but I ignored my body. Yet I was drawn academically to philosophy, and I wanted to learn more about consciousness. I wanted No other style of yoga possessed the depth, precision, adaptations and knowledge to welcome my paralyzed to understand and find a different way to live in my body into the world of the asana. It turns out that body. I began to realize that I missed my body and Iyengar yoga’s revolutionary approach transcended needed to feel it more. my severed spinal cord, allowing me to gain access to What was life like for you before the accident and living sensation within my paralysis. how did you deal with the grief after the accident?

Please see p. 19 for more information about Matthew's November workshop Describe the first time you first felt a connection with your body again through yoga. Sanford: When Jo asked me to do namaste with my hands in the traditional prayer pose, I felt the connection through my body right away. Then I took my legs wide into upavistha konasana. As soon as my legs went wide I felt this loud, humming sensation in my body, and tears came down my face. I realized I had not had my legs wide in 12 years. It was an energetic and emotional relief, suddenly living in my body, in more space. I realized I had been living in such a small space. You don’t need to go bungee jumping to feel more space, you just need to bring your legs out wide. This is what it feels like to have a whole body. When did you begin thinking about sharing your mission and training yoga teachers to teach adaptive yoga? Is yoga something people with physical disabilities think of as available to them? Sanford: I believe that anyone who teaches yoga already realizes the benefits of yoga and wants to share it with others. Then there are the people that have endured trauma, loss and disability. I wanted to open yoga to people who have been shut out of their experience physically. Fifteen years ago most people with physical issues would not have looked to yoga as available to them, but I started MBS so that people can see that yoga is an option.

You don’t have to have to have a physical disability to feel a mind-body disconnect. What can ablebodied yogis learn from disabled yogis?

Chase Bossart October 24–26

Sanford: That a yoga pose is much more than the ability of what the outer body can or can’t do. Yoga is not about if you can take your legs behind your head. Disabled yogis learn the heart of yoga, the essence—yoga teaches how to be present in your body. To open the depth of one pose is the heart of yoga—all in one pose. Finish this sentence: “Each time I practice yoga, I feel…” Sanford: Hope. I feel connected. I feel a sense of appreciation for being alive, which is a definition of hope. Where would you like to see your work moving in the future? Sanford: My goal is to have our principles become more widely accepted in the healthcare and wellness community. Humanity gets unleashed when ability and disability come together in the same space and work together to create a mind-body relationship that transforms us. Learn more about Matthew Sanford’s approach and nonprofit at and

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We have trained over 500 yoga teachers around the world to open yoga to everyone and unlock the connection between the mind and body. Over the years, the teacher training developed into a three- to five-day certification training workshop. The work is deep and intense, and the teachers need to own up to why they want to help people. We hold training workshops for healthcare and wellness professionals as well, teaching yoga principles of mindbody awareness.

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What is the most important thing a teacher who wants to teach people with disabilities needs to know? Photos: Mind Body Solutions

Sanford: I first ask my teachers that I train to ask themselves why they are training, who are they saving? Then I teach that the principles of yoga do not discriminate, but the poses do. Yoga needs to be explored when taught to disabled yogis through the universal principles of acceptance, depth and understanding.

4949 Forest Avenue Downers Grove


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A modern cultivated ethic to an age-old practice.

Traditions Vaastu

Build a happier home

Creating harmony with Vaastu by Ruth Diab Lederer


ow’s your life? Your health, relationships, personal growth, finances? Are you moving in your intended direction? Unless you have the good fortune to reside in a special place, chances are things could use improvement.

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We offer nearly 2 dozen classes a week ranging from Gentle Yoga, Basics to Master Level Vinyasa Flow. 459 Central Avenue Highland Park, IL 60035 847.432.9642 FIRST CLASS COMPLIMENTARY


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We live, work and play in a variety of spaces. Do these spaces comfort, support and enliven us? What if there was a design system focused on delivering comfort, support and liveliness? How would it feel to live, work and play in spaces designed to provide these attributes? The rishis of ancient India knew how to deliver such perfect attributes architecturally. They designed homes, public buildings and towns using the architectural system described in the Vaastu Shastras. Fortunately this system is coming into prominence once again in both India and the West. Imagine the universe as an infinite field of energy waves, and picture yourself as a unique wave pattern with peaks and troughs. Every person and place you encounter either complements or collides with your particular wave. When the wave is complementary, you will feel emotionally and physically balanced. Alternatively, when the wave is a contrast you will most likely feel unsettled. Now think of this wave pattern as it pertains to a building. Every structure has a specific wave pattern (such as light waves, sound waves, or the waves that result from our heartbeats). A building constructed according to the prescriptive methods of the Vaastu Shastras has been designed with extraordinary care with regard to its wave pattern.

Among the initial considerations are the physical orientation of the structure (to true north), the quality of the land on which it will be built (clean and vibrant) and the slope of the land that will support the structure (level is best). The perimeter of the building is calculated to provide wealth, physical welfare, fearlessness, happiness, friendship, physical comfort and mental peace. If the structure is a family home, each person is considered in the perimeter calculation, with prominence given to the female head of the family. As some people say, “If the momma is happy, everybody’s happy.” Depending on the availability of space, Vaastu structures can be as small as 3 feet square or as large as an auditorium. In the Western world, it is common for people to build garden cottages about 7 feet square with a cathedral ceiling of about 9 feet at the peak. The Vaastu effect is most powerful when a person can inhabit the space, although just being in the nearby vicinity can deliver benefits. Several homes of about 2,500 square feet now dot the landscape in Patagonia, a small town in Southern Arizona. Residents have reported an improved quality of life in the town, as more people are engaging in social activities and businesses have reported gains.

Ruth Diab Lederer is the principal of Vaastu Consultants. Contact for more information or to visit a newly built Vaastu cottage in Lake Bluff, Ill.

Photo: Mary Carol Fitzgerald


Chicago’s Yoga Roots illumine interviewed some of Chicago’s first yoga studio

owners and some longtime teachers. Here is a sampling of the rich stories and reflections from the conversations.


wenty-some years ago, in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, a small and mighty group of visionaries courageously set down roots for a movement not only in this corner of the country, but also in the world. The men and women who started the notion of communal practice and opened the first studios in Chicago are, at turns, serious and humorous, devout and irreverent, studious

practitioners of a centuries-old discipline and phenomenal free-thinking innovators. They took financial and professional risks, all the while nurturing the hope that providing the experiences of yoga would be somehow become fruitful. They are investors, so to speak, of their own energy, prana and passion, and we, the Chicagoland yoga community and its over 300 studios and thousands of students, benefit from their investment. 25


On the Chicago yoga community Chicago is an easy place to be because people are friendly and open and accepting. It was easy to stay here. I like the vibe of the city, my friends, my students...Chicago is a powerful and unique place for yoga and spiritual practices.

—Suddha Weixler There’s something warm, endearing and honest in Chicago. I have a loyal community. When they say they’re going to be here, they’re going to be here. The first thing they say is, “What can I bring?” You feel it, it’s palpable. Teachers who visit from all over say, “People are really kind and generous here.”

—Laura Jane Mellenca mp I’m probably very biased, but Chicago yoga is fantastic. Chicago’s actually a really good city to do yoga in. There is a lot of intelligent instruction, but one of the of the nice things about Chicago is that it’s a “celebrityfree zone.” I feel like there’s a little bit less pomp and circumstance around a lot of the teachers in Chicago.

—Quinn Kearney

—Pa m Udell I’ve heard from other people who have gone to places like LA or New York to teach that you just disappear, get lost in bigger communities. Chicago may be in the middle, boring, stable, but it’s manageable, there’s the Midwest values.

—Paula Kout

owner, White Iris Yoga Therapy


­— Tom Quinn

owner, yogaview

The fact that Chicago suddenly has as many studios around as New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco—there’s only one way to look at it, which is “Hooray for yoga!” We’re getting more popular.

­— Claire Mark teacher, yogaview

Yoga in Chicago is what Chicago is like in general. It’s more laid-back. You go to New York and it’s “snap to it, get dressed, get undressed and on your cell phone again.”

—Mary Schmich teacher, yogaview

Article images from video by Karen Carter

The growth of yoga in Chicago makes instructors and studio owners strive to be better. I like to call it healthy competition, where we all want each other to succeed because ultimately we’re just trying to get people to do yoga.

I think the gift of yoga in Chicago is something that’s a little more grounded…People are looking for a community, and that’s what we’re really offering here more than anything, a place to get away from the vigor of life in the city and be able to take a few minutes out and to take care of themselves. That’s what we’re really providing.

On opening a yoga studio In 1998, I decided to move. I knew that I needed to move for my own stability of mind. I needed more quiet. I needed roots, I needed trees. So I thought I’d go to the Western suburbs. And there was nothing out here in 1998. Some people get Nairobi, some people get Central America. I got Naperville, IL. It was a call.

—Laura Jane Mellenca mp owner, Yoga Among Friends

I do have students who have been with me over 20 years, so that’s a really daunting experience, to have people who are still interested in you and think you have more to share. We say that students remind teachers of what they love, and teachers have to continue to give substance to feed the devotion, but that really gets daunting when you realize that people are just coming to hang out with you and that the technique is secondary. So that’s where it gets very sweet, and then it’s fun and you want to have a good time together.

Gabriel Halpern

owner, Yoga Circle

I loved it when I did it. I’m so glad I did it. But for me, what happened was it became too much of a business, and I did it because I love yoga and I love people and I loved mixing those two together. So my advice would be, if you were going to open a yoga studio in today’s day and age, know that you’re going to be running a business and that yoga and business are not always easy to blend together. So just be aware of that.

— Pa m Udell

founder, Healing Power

When I began with yoga, it was not in interest of money, to become rich or to open a business. It was basically karma yoga. You do something without expectation. You do your best—you accept whatever comes whether it’s failure or success. Yoga wasn’t a commercial business in the beginning—it just happened. Over the past 30 years, the industry has shifted. Now it’s a big business: yoga mats, yoga whatever—it’s an enterprise.

—Suddha Weixler Good teachers practice consistently and conscientiously and are able to “hold space” for their students—that is, empathize with, listen to and support them.

—Amy Treciokas owner, Yoga Now

I was just really going deeper into my own practice…I went to India to study with Pattabhi Jois, and that even brought it more so. And then coming back, it was like now it’s time to introduce this to people. It was very slow going, and I did it because it was me doing it because I believed in it, not because it was going to make the studio money or anything else. I just did it because I was committed to this as a practice I believed in.

—Sharyn Galindo Everyone has a different constitution, so the practice needs to be individualized to meet the needs and the goals of the student. So we [at Moksha] offer different styles and systems that assist in the process…We also have freestyle, which goes along with the American spirit…I believe that we need to balance between tradition and innovation.

—Daren Friesen

founder, Moksha Yoga Center

When I began White Iris Yoga in 1991, I started teaching out of my home to keep overhead costs down. I was acting out my dharma and felt very compelled to do this at the time, it was like flying off a cliff and free falling. The evolution of my studio was lovely, a slow build, organic. Until 2002, when I had to teach less because I had to manage a demanding business, I realized that this is not what I wanted. I’m a yoga teacher first.

—Paula Kout 27


The future of yoga The large corporate yoga chains are viewed by some as a threat to small independent studios. The threat [is] that yoga is losing its soul, and its spirit and its traditional purpose…but where you look is what you’re going to see. And we also see lots of independent studios and lots of great teachers and lots of great practitioners.

—Daren Friesen I just try to remind myself, whether it’s in a class or the world at large, let people be. Let them be, the culture’s going to do what the culture’s going to do. There remains a wide range of options out there in Chicago—the kind of yoga that might correspond to who you are right now.

Because there’s a lot more yoga studios, there’s a lot more choice. There’s a lot more ways to start your practice, so I think we will attract the right people that are looking for this style of practice. The one great thing about all the yoga studios is that there are more people doing yoga. People are getting more tuned into it, maybe more open, and we hope that they’ll go deeper into the practice.

—Sharyn Galindo

owner, North Shore Yoga

If something is uplifting for person or society, it’s a good thing. It’s a way of uplifting the spirit human condition. Bhakti, going to Wanderlust, doing Kirtan, chanting—it’s great potential.

—Suddha Weixler

owner, Chicago Yoga Center

—Mary Schmich We’re kind of all going back to not the basics, but going back to slowing down a little bit, knowing that our practice is our own journey and that we don’t need to keep up with the person next to us. So I think that’s the responsibility of owners of studios and instructors to just remind people of that, so that’s where the growth will come, is that they’ll continue to be coming to classes 20 years from now.

— Pa m Udell I think yoga will survive all of “this.” The essence of yoga is grounded, and all of the chocolate, wine, naked yoga…whatever, will come and go, but the true essence of yoga will remain.

It’s great that there’s so much yoga available and that people are getting into it. And now you’ve got all kinds of doctors and different kinds of healing practitioners that are understanding how yoga can work to make somebody a lot more healthy and recommending it.

—Quinn Kearney owner, yogaview

Paula Kout

—Geri Bleier 28

teacher, yogaview

Article images from video by Karen Carter

Special thanks to Jeff Bunn and Karen Carter for capturing the insights of these yoga visionaries. Please visit to watch the extended interviews from this project.

The community is growing. It’s growing in that more people are doing yoga and more people are taking teacher trainings. A lot of health clubs and non-studio facilities have really good quality yoga. I think the community is bigger and stronger…People build relationships from seeing each other every day, every week, so I think the community is bigger and stronger.








“Developing teachers and inspiring students is my passion”

“I am thrilled to represent a community that is so completely committed to the growth and evolution of all who enter the studio”

“I am so excited to utilize my years of experience as we grow the Yoga Six community in Chicago”




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Goodbye, school stress Hello, savasana


Colleges and studios try to make yoga affordable and convenient for students

by Megan Suckut


very Monday afternoon, Chelsea French leads hatha yoga for Northwestern students and faculty at the Henry Crown Sports Pavilion in Evanston. French connects with her students not only through asanas, pranayama and meditation, but also because she first discovered yoga while completing her master’s degree at Northwestern. “I was looking for a way to feel physically healthy in grad school,” she says. “When I first took a yoga class there in 2003, from the first class, I was like, ‘Whoa, this is awesome.’” A few years after she completed her master’s degree in trombone performance at Northwestern, French, now 36, became certified to teach yoga. While she initially began her practice for the physical benefits, she stayed for the mental and emotional benefits. “I wish that I had had yoga in undergrad,” she says. For many students on a tight budget, yoga classes can be difficult to afford. But several universities, such as Northwestern


and the University of Chicago, have come to recognize the benefits yoga has for stress reduction and have started to offer classes for free or at significantly discounted prices in their athletic facilities. This has inspired many students to maintain a regular yoga practice. “It is expensive and you have to go to a [class] to practice with a good instructor,” Julie Bloom, a 21-year-old Northwestern student, says. “When athletic facilities are free, it’s hard to see the benefit in paying for an additional workout.” Yet Bloom makes it a priority to take a class once or twice each week because of the focus and relaxation it has brought her amid her strenuous pre-med class schedule. “Yoga acts as a form of mental and physical release,” Bloom says. “It has taught me to be patient and react mindfully. I believe every individual would benefit to adding a little yoga to his or her life.” College life often involves late nights spent in the library finishing problem

Here are some resources for Chicago universities:

Northwestern Free university yoga classes at SPAC (Henry Crown Sports Pavilion and Aquatics Center); Hatha, Vinyasa Flow, Athletic. Local student-affordable yoga studios: Dharma Yoga ($8 drop-in for students; Dharma, Hatha, Vinyasa) and Grateful Yoga ($12 drop-in for students; Hatha, Gentle)

University of Chicago Free university yoga classes at Ratner Center; Hatha, Yin/Flow Local student-affordable yoga studios: TriYoga Chicago ($12 drop-in for students; Hatha, flow) and CorePower Yoga ($16 drop-in for students; Power Yoga)

University of Illinois at Chicago Free university yoga classes at the Student Recreation Facility; Ashtanga, Restorative, Vinyasa Local student-affordable yoga studio: Bikram Yoga West Loop ($17 drop-in for all; Bikram)


In h a

J to

sets and research papers, as well as dining hall binges and weekend parties that may lead to the classic “Freshman 15” weight gain and physical and mental stress. While yoga benefits students in terms of stress level, it can also help them be more present, which may inspire them to make healthier choices throughout the day.


rench believes so strongly in yoga’s benefits for college students that she has made sure her one of her weekly classes at Chi-Town Shakti, where she teaches many Loyola University students, has a “pay-what-you-can” option available. Having spent a couple of years unable to afford steady yoga classes after finishing graduate school, French appreciates the

opportunity to guide college students through a new yoga practice and believes it can help them find their strength through the unsteady time that is college. “A lot of times, students live in their heads and let themselves ride along with the flow of consciousness, which is not always healthy,” French says. “Yoga allows them to let themselves root in deeper and find that spot somewhere where they’re steady, peaceful and content. If you can find that and live from that spot rather than let your thoughts lead you, you’ll be happier and more yourself.” Megan Suckut is a senior at Northwestern studying journalism and American history.

DePaul University Free university yoga classes at Ray Meyer Fitness and Recreation Center; Hatha. Local student-affordable yoga studios: CorePower Yoga ($16 drop-in for students; Power Yoga) and The Chicago School of Yoga ($19 drop-in for all; Ashtanga, Hot, Vinyasa, Yin)

Loyola University Free university yoga classes at Halas Recreation Center; Hatha. Local student-affordable yoga studios: Chi-Town Shakti ($12 drop-in for students, as well as paywhat-you-can classes available; Hatha, Vinyasa, Restorative)


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Yoga in the classroom helps to keep students calm and focused


by Linda Mura O’Toole


n 2004 Carla Tantillo was teaching English at a grade school in South Lawndale on Chicago’s West Side. One morning before the first bell rang, shots rang out in a fight between two gangs. One of the teenage boys who was shot attended Tantillo’s school. Many of her students knew him and were understandably distressed. Unable to calm them, Tantillo quickly recognized that her students had no tools to manage their stress or even anger. Having recently completed a yoga teacher training program, Tantillo decided to use breathing exercises and yoga poses to help her students relax and become more focused and less agitated. It worked. “We started with simple breathing exercises and a few basic poses like Tree and Child’s pose,” she says. Tragically, during the past 10 years, gang violence has escalated in Chicago. While no one would suggest yoga is the answer to eradicating gun violence and gangs, many educators believe it can help children students deal with anxiety and stress at school. Since that incident, Tantillo’s own journey has taken a few twists and turns. She left teaching the following year to pursue graduate studies in education, but it wasn’t the right fit. Although Tantillo came from a long line of educators and shared her family’s passion for teaching, something was missing. One afternoon over lunch, Tantillo’s mother, a retired school principal, showed her an article


about a school offering yoga and suggested she teach yoga in school. “It was one of those ‘Aha!’ moments,” Tantillo says. “I had a regular yoga practice, had completed my 200-hour teacher training program and didn’t want to leave the classroom.” Tantillo packed up her apartment, put her belongings in storage and moved back in with her parents. After a sabbatical in Italy, where she wrote the yoga curriculum, she signed up eight schools by the 2006-2007 school year. In 2008, she founded Mindful Practices, based in Oak Park, which creates wellness programs for schools. Tantillo believes yoga is perfect for kids because it is non-competitive, non-threatening and adaptable to all skill levels. For example, Tantillo worked with the Academy for Global Citizenship (AGC), a Chicago charter school with 350 kindergarten through sixth grade students, to develop its wellness program for all grades. The Southwest Side school serves the “whole” child, with an emphasis on fostering international understanding and promoting environmental awareness. Each day this learning laboratory begins with an organic breakfast followed by a school-wide, 15- to 20-minute yoga session. The yoga practices help “meet students’ specific needs, whether it is to help calm, energize or refocus,” says AGC founder Sarah Elizabeth Ippel. Each classroom features a Yoga Corner, where students can practice individually. For example, if a student has too much energy and can’t sit still, he might visit the Yoga Corner and

practice Child’s pose. Or if a student is tired and needs more energy, she could practice Warrior I pose. “The wellness program is adaptable based on a student’s grade level or individual needs,” Ippel said. “In kindergarten, yoga poses might be introduced or taught using a story. A teacher might say, ‘Walk thought the forest and see the trees,’ at which point the students would stand in Tree pose.” In first grade, students learn to become yoga leaders and work with the teacher to lead a class. In second grade, a student might be able to create his or her own Vinyasa Flow class using yoga pose flash cards designed by Mindful Practices. Ippel is convinced of the yoga program’s benefits to students. “It’s a smart investment that goes a long way,” she says. “The world would be a better place if we could implement a yoga program in every school.” Other schools are following suit. Founded in 2004 and located on the Southwest Side, the Namaste Charter School takes a holistic approach to education with an emphasis on nutrition, health and wellness. Each student begins the day with a nutritious breakfast and Morning Movement, including yoga and breathing exercises. “We know if children are healthy and active, they will perform better in the classroom,” said Allison Lipsman, director of development for

Photos: Top: Academy for Global Citizenship, Mid-right: Grant Kessler, Bottom left: Kristie Kahns for Ditlo

Reading, writing and warrior I

Students at the Academy for Global Citizenship, located on Chicago’s Southwest Side, greet each day with a 15-to 20-minute yoga session.


the Namaste Charter School. “Movement helps students refocus and re-energize,” Lipsman continues. “Likewise Tree and Child’s pose makes children more relaxed, calm and able to do their work.” Although it is difficult to measure the impact of yoga in the classroom, nearly 98 percent of Namaste students met or exceeded state standards—20 points higher than that of their counterparts across Chicago Public Schools. A number of recent studies, including reports from Harvard Medical School, revealed that yoga could reduce stress and enhance concentration in children. According to the International Association of School Yoga and Mindfulness, more than 1,000 schools in the U.S. offer a yoga and mindfulness program with more than 25,000 professionals trained to teach yoga or mindfulness in schools. However, some are skeptical about yoga’s teachings and are demanding that school administrators roll up the yoga mats. In April 2013, attorney Dean Broyles from the National Center for Law and Policy, a

conservative Christian legal group, filed a lawsuit on behalf of parents in the Encinitas Union School District (EUSD) in California. The suit alleges that EUSD incorporated Ashtanga yoga, which “unlawfully promotes religious beliefs” and violates the U.S. Constitution. Three months later, Judge John S. Meyer ruled that the instruction method was not religious and agreed with the school assertions that yoga classes are strictly for health and wellness purposes and had been stripped of “cultural components” that some claim were religious in context. In a July 2013 article from the Union-Tribune San Diego, Judge Meyer added that the district curriculum and lesson plans show no promotion of religion or spirituality. “The physical education, health and wellness class is no different,” Meyer said, “except that the physical aspect instead of kickball or something else is yoga.” Broyles and the parents he represented are planning to appeal the decision. The Encinitas yoga program was started with a $533,000 grant from the K.P. Jois Foundation. The group promotes Ashtanga and is also

funding a study of yoga classes in hopes of showing its benefits to students. “My hope is that all schools honor and recognize the connection between students’ social and emotional needs, the physical body and student achievement. For me, yoga is a vehicle to empower students, parents and teachers to meet those needs, but it is not the only one,” said Tantillo. “If we can empower students, teachers and parents with tools to cultivate self-awareness and self-regulation, we have prioritized lifelong learning...educating the whole child and honoring the importance of the community in which that child is housed.” (Note: In late September, the first-ever National Kids Yoga Conference was held in Washington, D.C. A primary goal is to standardize and secularize the practice of yoga, according to the conference sponsors.)

Linda Mura O’Toole is a registered yoga teacher and received her certificate of training from House of Shanti. She currently teaches at Reach Yoga in Glencoe.

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h e b a g yo W

e e all have our stories of how we wer ille, Cam for but a, yog to introduced her story is bittersweet. Camille at the Cook first learned yoga while incarcerated County Jail. a for Recovery Thanks to the non-profit group Yog for female red offe been (YFR), yoga classes have ram at Prog ice Just ’s men Wo inmates in the Sheriff the jail for seven years. ,” says “You are angels and are saving lives (not her real name).

sensitive yoga, program specifically teaches traumam and help syste ous nerv which aims to reset the , relaxed able fort com e traumatized people feel mor ies. bod and ds min and at peace in their own

ture the innate Its mission is to “recognize and nur strength, calm r inne ss acce ability of every woman to conditions for the ate “cre and clarity on demand” to This, in turn, ” ion. mat their own personal transfor community, the out ugh creates a positive effect thro t. men state according to YFR’s mission


regularly, even Now released, she still practices of her sister’s hen kitc the rolling out her mat in Bloom Yoga class nt rece a g place. When attendin at first that sure n’t was Studio, the teacher was planned to ala i-m min the Camille could handle ed the 54 rock e “Sh tice. Sols celebrate the Summer poses but nce adva of use sun salutations, not beca Dede said on,” icati ded and because of her energy . YFR for rs Fuentes, who voluntee Camille to That energy and dedication has led ram for prog each outr on pris start a not-for-profit ived rece dy alrea ch whi en, Spanish-speaking wom its first grant of $600. ld Photos: Mary Carol Fitzgera

has been a Offering yoga in jails and prisons depiction of growing trend, even before the ange is the “Or s serie flix Net downward dog on the created ect Proj a Yog on Pris New Black.” From the ect, Proj on Pris da nan hida Satc by James Fox to the , vard Har to Post n ngto Huffi to articles written by the e facilities agre supporters of yoga in correctional ce stress and redu , ates inm that yoga can comfort prisoners in that d foun y stud improve mood. One accuracy ter grea ed show also a 10-week yoga class n. ntio atte and ity ulsiv imp in a computer test of y Maguire, Yoga for Recovery, founded by Kat County. The offers five weekly classes at Cook 34

n have mixed As a volunteer teacher for YFR, I ofte ia to teach forn Cali and feelings as I travel to 26th the South to e driv I As jail. my monthly class at the teach my to s idea with ry Side, my mind is a flur of the jail ine outl ing bod students, but the gray, fore of the ness drab The se. pau on the horizon gives me jail the ring ente of ess proc facility and the security always shakes me up. in the parent/ Once through security, and settled students to my for wait child contact room, I r standard thei ring wea in, le arrive. Slowly they trick the mats. to way r thei ing issue uniforms and find but an her teac a yog ced rien I am not a highly expe take to best my do I and experienced practitioner, feel ost alm can I . class d nde them through a well-rou gh thou them take I as the air change in the room t. simple poses and alignmen has become By savasana, the feeling in the room xation— Rela . calm and n one of self-introspectio rcerated inca for ible poss something not usually . eved women—has been achi very, please visit To learn more about Yoga For Reco

for 14 years and has Alisa Kannett has practiced yoga fication. She is a certi her teac hour completed her 500n daughters. grow two married interior designer with

s r a b d ehin ates m in s lp e h m ra g ro p ry ve co e R Yoga for peace e m so d n fi il Ja ty n u o C k o o C t a ett by Alisa Kann

Teaching Trauma-Sensitive Yoga: Science, Methods & Social Awareness training Sunday, October 19th 9:30 am-3:30 pm Yogaview Lincoln Park $60 (Note: Discounted rate available for qualified Yoga for Recovery teachers) This six-hour workshop will lay the foundations for teaching trauma-sensitive yoga, including its scientific bases, core methods and social context. Contact Alisa Kannett ( for more information. 35

F inding the me in

Mommy me

by Sarah Rathbone


Becoming a parent is, of course, a huge transition for anyone. For me, finding the “me” in Mommy has been another journey all its own. With my daughter’s increasing independence I find I have more time—and greater urgency—to nourish myself and dedicate time to those things that make me, “me.” My evolution on the mat and my relationship with yoga has paralleled my early intro to parenting. Pre-pre-baby. I began going to yoga in 2008 at a nearby studio. Yoga allowed me to build on my background in dance and gymnastics, while incorporating an element of stillness essential for my then fast-paced urban life. I sporadically attended class for a few years, but when a


studio opened in my office building my practice became more regular— at least twice a week during lunch. Yoga helped me find balance amid increasing responsibilities at work and my home life. I also found a community of diverse folks all interested in getting some clarity and better health through yoga. Pre-natal. After a two-year journey, I was elated to finally become pregnant. In the first trimester, I was so zapped that I wasn’t able to keep up my yoga practice. I was dealing with classic morning (and evening) sickness and all the worries about keeping baby healthy along with a cross-country move.

Photo: Scott Shigley

ell, class, looks like our sub wasn’t able to make it tonight…” “Oh, man,” I thought with disappointment. This was my third time back at the mat solo after having my little one. But then, like a like a sun ray catching evening’s last clouds, a feeling of joy began to spread in my heart. I was taking time out for myself, tending to my physical and spiritual wellness, but now in a yoga class without a teacher I had a whole hour to do whatever I wanted no strings attached. What a gift!

When we arrived in our new home and the glorious second-trimester, I sought out a nearby studio with pre-natal classes. Structured as a community class, the courses began with introductions around the circle and advice/requests, building a wonderful energy of empathy and support. I rarely missed a weekly class during this time. It felt great to stretch and connect with my changing body. As it does for many moms, yoga during the third trimester took on a different tenor. It was all about preparation. Breathing techniques, strengthening exercises, even endurance building became my primary focus. For many others there, this was their first introduction to yoga. Most had come to the mat to be more ready for labor and delivery—each feeling that primal pull to connect more deeply with her body and the little person growing inside. Like deep-sea divers suiting up for an epic oceanic dive, we shared our anxieties and excitement as we practiced together. Post-natal. After 42 weeks of pregnancy, baby’s arrival was very welcomed! With a healthy baby and smooth recovery, I was ready to get out of the house and get back to movement by the time Anna was about eight weeks old. It was great to be back at the studio with some of the same women and their babies. Post-natal yoga focused on body recovery and how to engage with our smooshy little babes. Class always included a healthy dose of commiseration and support from the community—which anyone who has gone through a major life change can appreciate. Post-post-natal. When my baby started climbing over the bolster fort I’d built to contain her, I had to stop going to weekly class. Surely a combination of factors (like a wrangling a nonstop toddler and more

months of interrupted sleep) were at play, but during my yoga hiatus I began to have significant aches and near-crippling pain in my hands. My mood was often unusually low and I was back to grinding my teeth at night during the hours I actually was able to sleep. My very wise partner suggested I get back into doing something for myself and return to yoga…alone. It was a revelation, acknowledging that I deserved time to myself. That I needed time to myself, to care for me and my body. To take control of my physical and mental health. Of course, this meant admitting the difficult truth that my baby wasn’t actually a baby anymore. Instead she’s fully on her way to personhood. This was a big step for me on my lifelong journey. If we are fortunate, our lives are full of these transitions. Each one bringing a little pain perhaps, but also with it growth. I hope that through my continued practice, I will become a stronger, healthier mom—but more importantly—I want to be a stronger, healthier me. Back in class, after my fellow yogis and I heard that our sub hadn’t made it, we all decided to stand together and start our practice as a community instead. As we set our intentions in silence and prepared for class, I gave thanks for the opportunity to care for my mind and body, for myself and for my family. A Chicago native, Sarah Rathbone lives in Seattle with her husband, Jon, their daughter, Anna, and their cat, George.

Listen to Tey Punsalan on iTunes or Spotify, or see her live. Go to for Tey’s yoga and kirtan schedule.

Mention this ad when you sign up for the email list and receive the entire CD for download. 37

Alexia Bauer at Lincoln Park Zoo

ALEXIA BAUER being photographed



Spa review

Worth the splurge Chuan Spa uses the elements to create sublime spa experiences by Abby Hart


67-foot indoor swimming pool. Make time to try the Chuan Bathing Ritual, which includes a Himalayan salt sauna, a chamomile steam room and a sage, rosemary and mint herbal sauna— ideal for awakening the senses, clearing the respiratory system and preparing the body for deeper relaxation.

The Kerstin Florian organic aromatherapy facial that followed the massage produced radiant results. The slightly off-putting smell of the vitamin- and protein-rich spirulina algae mask aside, the service was enjoyable from start to finish and included a thorough cleansing and skin examination.


The Chuan Spa experience was spectacular and exactly what my tired mind and body needed. I would definitely return to try another treatment, such as the hot and cold Chuan Stone Therapy Massage or perhaps an acupuncture session.

Photo: Chuan Spa at The Langham Chicago

he study of yoga promotes the idea of mindful, intentional practice—the practice of coming back to the mat, of wellness and self-love through sweat and mindbody connection. The idea of self-care in the form of massage is another vital expression of wellness and can often have benefits beyond soothing muscles and providing a sense of relaxation. I tried a signature treatment at the Chuan Spa at The Langham Hotel Chicago to find out if the benefits measure up to the cost. Chuan is Chinese for “flowing water,” and the signature treatments of the spa incorporate the five elemental forces of earth, wood, water, fire and metal. One’s element changes depending on a number of factors, such as diet and time of year. I selected the Body Elements massage and facial package ($265 for two hours, MondayThursday, $290 during weekends and holidays). Though the price is on the steep side, the package offers a considerable savings over booking the treatments a la carte. The luxe spa experience began as soon as I stepped off the elevator and through the elegant “Moon Gate” arched entrance of the spa. The receptionists politely greeted me and provided a short questionnaire to determine the element for the signature treatment. That day, my ruling element was earth, which is related to the spleen, stomach and muscles as well as to a tendency to worry and be anxious. Clearly, this spa day could not have come at a better time. Guests should plan to arrive an hour early to relax and enjoy the spa’s amenities, and even earlier if they plan on breaking a sweat in the fullyequipped fitness studio or taking a dip in the

s luxurious as the spa facilities are, the treatments were the star of the show. The Chuan Harmony massage blended Swedish massage techniques with traditional Chinese acupressure to create harmony of qi, the body’s natural life-force. The spa therapist explained that by applying pressure to certain points on the body, the massage would stimulate the body’s energy channels, or meridians. The acupressure awakened muscles and organs that are often overlooked, and provided a revitalizing sense of connection with the whole body. The service also included deep breathing exercises at different intervals, which helped re-center my mind and anchor the energy and flow of breath in my body, very similar to such exercises in a yoga class. I left the massage more connected to my breath, body and the energy flowing through it, with my earlier tension and anxiety completely melted away.

Though there might not be room for a high-end spa visit in everyone’s budget, there are plenty of options for a fabulous spa experience in the city, at a variety of price points. Whatever services you choose, you owe it to yourself and your well-being to commit to the practice of intentional wellness and relaxation. Please visit to read our spa and wellness reviews for a range of spa treatments at different price points.

Abby Hart is a freelance writer and editor. She lives in Chicago with her husband and dog. 39



d o o f s s e Fearl

g n i n e d r a G land in Chicago


ctober usually marks the close of Chicago’s growing season, with our first frost arriving around Oct. 23. This month you’ll need to monitor the weather closely. If there’s any chance of frost on a given night, harvest your most tender crops that day. You can leave cold-resistant crops in the ground for a few more weeks (they actually grow sweeter when exposed to cooler temperatures).

so disturb them as little as possible. Use pruning shears to cut off your plants at the soil level, so the roots that remain can break down into the soil by next spring.

Garden Clean-Up You’ve worked hard all season. Give yourself a break, if you haven’t already! Chicago weather can stay mild into November, so there’s no need to rush clearing out your garden beds. You might tidy up in stages as your plants start to die off, or save it all for a sunny day when you have the time. When removing spent plants, avoid pulling them out by hand. Uprooting plants, especially ones with large root systems like tomatoes and squash, can be difficult and messy. But more importantly, turning the soil in this way is disruptive to your soil balance. All those tiny soil-dwelling organisms are doing a fine job conditioning your soil and keeping it healthy,


Illustrations: Scott Westgard

by Teresa Gale

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

“But it’s the end of the season. Why should I care about my soil now?” you might ask. Because with a raised bed, you use the same soil from year to year. Taking special measures to nurture your soil—before, during and after the growing season—can dramatically improve the health of your garden for years to come.


ost of your garden “waste” can actually be recycled. We recommend composting it rather than throwing it the trash. Simply cut your trimmings into small pieces and spread them directly back over your soil. They’ll start to decompose and immediately return nutrients to the soil (this is a form of “passive” composting, as it requires little effort on your part, except to set the process in motion and let nature do the work). The trimmings will also act as mulch to help insulate your beds over the winter. If any pieces remain in the spring, you can remove them or gently mix them into the top layer of your soil. Some gardeners choose to compost continually throughout the year (not only at the end of the growing season) and find it a very meaningful practice. Fall is an opportune time to start, since you’ll likely have a surplus of garden waste you can use as raw materials. You can compost all plant parts—leaves, stems, roots, unripe and overripe fruit—as long as they haven’t been affected by disease or pests. Sometimes bacteria and fungi can survive the

Hardy plants can tolerate hard frost Broccoli Brussels sprouts Cabbage Collards Kale Kohlrabi Onions Parsley Radishes Spinach Turnips Leeks


Semi-hardy plants can tolerate light frost Arugula Beets Carrots Cauliflower Celery Lettuce Peas Swiss chard

Frost tolerance of vegetables


Sensitive plants damaged by light frost Basil Beans Cucumbers Eggplants Okra Peppers Summer squash Tomatillos Tomatoes Melons

winter, and bug larvae can linger on plants and emerge again in the spring. You don’t want any of that stuff coming back into your garden, so make sure to discard affected plant parts in the trash. Some organisms can also overwinter in the soil, especially if temperatures are mild. If you have diseased or pest-ridden areas of soil, remove them and put them in the trash, too. And set aside any stakes, trellises or tools that came in contact with diseased plants, as you’ll need to disinfect them.


An illumined life Manifesto

Yoga is a place of refuge and contemplation, a contradiction to our world’s emphasis on external signs of success—money, social standing, a conventionally sexy body and go, go, go! Yoga is stay, stay, stay still and go inside, breathe, move thoughtfully, with heart, with intention. Find your limits, brush up against them and breathe, relax, accept yourself where you are today, as you are today, and breathe. Over time your body will grow more flexible and strong, but better still, your heart will grow more flexible and strong! Your mind will learn to rest in stillness and in movement. You will feel peace inside yourself. You will radiate peace out to the world. Namaste!

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


Photo: Mary Carol Fitzgerald

—Ruth Giles Ott

Ruth Giles Ott is a stay-at-home mother and wife. Before motherhood, she was a child welfare lawyer at the Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago and assistant general council at the Illinois Human Rights Commission. She is a proud member of the Chicago Smelts, a masters swim team for adults, and swims competitively at pool meets and in open-water races. She recently competed in the 10K open-water nationals in Lake George, N.Y., as well as in open water and swimming races at the Gay Games 9 in Cleveland, Ohio. 43