VOL. 2 NO. 2 WINTER 2015
Samkalpa Intention Personal coaching:
Turning intention into action
Keeping the wisdom alive
Jim Kulackoski in Baddha Parivritta Padmasana
living in the moment could be the meaning of life
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The quarter-year resolutions Turning intention into action Bollywood bliss Embodied resilience Moving meditation
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Sutra in the city Artist profile: Marilyn Grad Musings from the mat Illumined city Illuminating the spirit Teacher feature: Suzanne Day
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Ayurveda Vaastu Jyotish Sanskrit Keeping the wisdom alive: Kino MacGregor Spiritual living
Fearless food gardening Good Food Festival Restaurant review: Prarie Grass Cafe
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The Sanskrit word for intention is samkalpa. However, samkalpa is pronounced as “sankalpa” which is a commonly accepted alternative spelling.
37 Cover Jim Kulackoski photograph by Todd Rosenburg Photography.
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Contributors Volume 2, Issue 2 Winter 2015 Founder and Yogini-in-Charge Lourdes Paredes
Rachel Grundner, is a certified yoga teacher and owner of The Yogi Within: A Traveling Yoga Studio in Naperville, IL. To learn more about Rachel, please visit yoganaperville.com.
Managing Editor Abby Hart Editorial Consultant Heidi Schlumpf Editorial Board Jaclyn Bauer Abby Hart Jim Kulackoski Lourdes Paredes Heidi Schlumpf Writers Alexia Bauer Bob Benenson Cathy Beres Jennifer Boeder Molly Boeder Harris Debi Buzil Teresa Gale Marilyn Grad Rachel Grundner Abby Hart Katie Kosinski Jim Kulackoski Ruth Diab Lederer Mark Anthony Lord Kerry Maiorca Kimberly Manning Vanessa McClure Pamela McDonough Linda Mura O’Toole Monica Yearwood Photography Mary Carol Fitzgerald Print Design Jason Campbell Web Design Laura Fairman Artwork Jillian Schiavi Online Editors Jane Rubin Megan Suckut Social Media Jane Rubin Megan Suckut Rachel Sorin Distribution Jeff Bunn Chris DeLizer Saba Haider Trayci Handelman Areta Kohout Linda Mura O’Toole Gayathri Raghavan
Katie Kosinski is a screenwriting yogi and a music lover. Her yoga life contributes to the meditative side of her writing practice. She lived in a yurt in Santa Barbara, CA during her yoga teacher training and would do it again in a heartbeat.
Bob Benenson is FamilyFarmed’s communications specialist and manages its website Good Food on Every Table. He previously was a political journalist in Washington, D.C., for 30 years before he moved to Chicago in 2011.
Alexia Bauer is a devoted practitioner of Ashtanga yoga. She left Guatemala, her home country, to start her teacher training in Chicago and share with others the profoundly transformative and awakening experience of yoga.
Kimberly Manning began practicing yoga five years ago and loves that there is something new to learn every time she steps on the mat. As a writer and editor by day and yoga instructor by night, Kim loves blending the two worlds whenever possible.
Molly Boeder Harris is a yoga instructor and founder of The Breathe Network, a non-profit organization that connects survivors of sexual violence with healers and provides education for understanding sexual violence and traumainformed care.
With love One of my first yoga teachers, Gary Kraftsow, once said something like this: “If you want an apple tree, plant apple seeds; if you want a peach tree, plant peach seeds. Don’t expect an apple tree if you’ve planted peach seeds.” With this simple but potent teaching, I learned early on the power of samkalpa, or intention. I’ve created many intentions and goals in my life: New Year’s resolutions, vision boards, daily lists of things to do. More recently I’ve explored core desired feelings (inspired by Danielle LaPorte’s book The Desire Map), reciting my samkalpa after meditation and activating the higher brain (the area of the brain that allows us to experience joy, confidence and clarity). This exploration into self-discovery and intention is a clear example of why I resonate with a quote used by my friend and health coach Katarina Arneric: “Life is not about finding yourself, it’s about creating yourself.” And yet there are many goals and hopes that I never came close to achieving. Rather than beat myself about not accomplishing something, I’ve learned to reevaluate whether it was truly my heart’s desire. As the actor Bruce Lee once said, “A goal is not always meant to be reached; it often serves as simply something to aim at.” I’ve learned that setting reasonable goals, knowing I could easily attain them, does not compare to setting goals that scare me a little, but excite me a lot. We’ve all heard where the road paved with good intentions will lead. Samkalpa, is in fact more than just an intention, it means having the resolve and chutzpah needed to make that intention a reality. In this issue our writers provide us with many points of entry into the exploration of samkalpa, or intention. Setting an intention or creating goals is nothing new, but I hope we provide some thought into how to realistically accomplish and manifest our intentions. Gary Kraftsow also made this point: If you’re leaving from Boston by boat across the Atlantic, a few degrees will make the difference between landing in England and landing in Spain. Aim well, sweet one, and enjoy the journey, fellow pilgrim!
Sutra in the City
Gone beyond Savasana provides a taste of bliss and beyond by Debi Buzil
Illustration: Jillian Schiavi
hhhhh...savasana. The quiet letting go of body and mind, my payoff for the hard work of asana practice. The big sigh at the end of class. Here I feel a moment of bliss, or samadhi. Eastern mystics say that when death arrives, it is the great samadhi. Perhaps the practice of savasana, resting in corpse pose, is the little death, a taste of samadhi. But how do we understand this experience without losing it in the process? The Heart Sutra. The Heart Sutra is a prominent Mahayana Buddhism teaching. The short form of the mantra translates, “Gone, gone, gone beyond, gone altogether beyond, oh what an awakening!” This is what my savasana experience feels like: conscious, aware, unattached. I glimpse myself in this state, and when I catch it, it’s gone! My yoga backpack of useful knowledge keeps getting bigger. This year I am studying Tibetan Buddhism with Lama Lobsang Palden, one of Chicago’s crown jewels of Buddhism. Our class has been reciting the Heart Sutra regularly, and during this repetition, my knowledge begins to deepen. Within the warm abode of the Palden home, rich with sacred altars, Tibetan butter lamps and peaceful order, I begin to find answers.
We sit. We chant, “Gate gate pāragate pārasaṃgate bodhi svāhā” This is the Heart Sutra. The translation I love best is from Sharon Gannon of Jivamukti Yoga: “Gone, gone, real gone, beyond even the most gone, only in going that gone is there awakening.” I am a yogi, I want to be awake—I want to know truth. Yoga gives us a way to move from darkness into light, by letting go of ourselves through practices such as yoga and meditation and finding the freedom of immortality, or “pure being.” Through practice, we move beyond the states of “going.” We are able to touch the unchanging nature of pure being.
ow can we pierce our mortal elements and experience the unchanging nature of pure being...beyond the beyond? I dig deep into my backpack and pull out the concept of the five koshas or sheaths. We can see our human selves as lamps that have five lampshades over our light, each with a different color and thickness. As the light, which is eternal, shines through the five different layers, we experience our lives and perceptions through different bodies—our physical, energetic, mental, wisdom and bliss bodies.
Using the koshas as a roadmap, our aim is to know the ātman or the eternal unchanging Self. The bliss body or anandamaya kosha is the most subtle lampshade but still colors the experience, as it is still a covering over our light. Only by going even further than the bliss body, “beyond the beyond” as the Heart Sutra suggests, are we to experience our own true nature. The world I experience through the koshas deepens my perceptions and experience, revealing a precious life. The Heart Sutra guides me. I rest in savasana at the end of practice. I do a tension and release exercise for my body and bring my mind to a single point at the back of my skull, sinking into a deep peace. It is here that I lie dying just a little bit. I give up who I think I am and let go of the illusion of the future. I arise from my practice renewed, present in the moment. This is yoga—beyond the beyond.
Debi Buzil is the leader of Chicago-based Kirtan group Devi 2000. She is a longtime teacher and student, and a mother of two.
Marilyn Grad Mixing media and spiritual symbols
y philosophy and approach to art is pure and simple: It is essential in life, an emotionally engaging lifeline that connects external environments with internal landscapes. My approach is to keep this precious lifeline open with passion, humor, color, iconic imagery; to allow the occasional creative meltdown; and to listen to guidance through yoga, meditation and my muses.
Photo: Patrick Fraser Photography
I use various media in my artwork such as acrylics, texture paint, molding paste, gemstones, crystals, natural stones, resin deities, glass tiles, found and recycled objects, canvas and clay. Wood is the foundational material in most of my work, as I love its distressed textures. It lends natural support, strength and durability. I have a deep attraction and affection for Asian and Indian art and culture, and I feel a strong spiritual connection to iconic symbolism and representation in the Buddha and Hindu deities. I thirst for knowledge and wisdom from Eastern religion and philosophy, which has led me to begin learning the Yoga Sutra teachings. These influences come through in my Geisha and inspirational paintings, and on the lighter end, my sense of humor comes out in my whimsical and functional art pieces. Marilyn Grad is a Chicago-based mixed media artist and yoga practitioner. To see more of her art, visit her website at marilyngrad.com
TOP: Divine Awakening (2014) 8” x 10” acrylic, wood and carnelian stone on cradled wood panel. BOTTOM LEFT: Ganesha (2013) Acrylic, resin deity, texture paint, stone tile, moss agate stone on 8”x 8” cradled wood panel BOTTOM RIGHT: Compassion Isn’t Colorblind #2 (2014) 8”x 8”, acrylic, molding paste, carved stone, on cradled wood panel 8
Musings from the Mat
Use your powers for good Parenting’s keen observational abilities can be directed inward, too by Kerry Maiorca
y 5-year-old daughter hadn’t quite been her spunky self all afternoon, so when I heard her stirring in the night I went into her room to give a kiss and cuddle. Her breathing was more labored than usual and the moment my lips reached her forehead, I knew she wouldn’t be going to school the next day. I felt like a superhero the first time this happened. WOW! Super Mommy can detect a fever without the use of a thermometer! As parents, we develop keen observational abilities as a result of the intense physicality of consistently caring for another human being. After eight-plus years of daily contact and physical interaction with my kids, my mommysenses tingle when I notice them breathing differently or moving more slowly than usual. It’s a cool party trick, no doubt, and also a practical parenting tool. But as my kids have gotten older, I’ve realized there’s another citizen-in-need who could benefit from these superpowers: me. Being a business owner and mom, it can feel like there’s not enough time in the day. For years I unknowingly ignored my body’s signals in the precious hours after my kids went to bed. With eyelids drooping and a full inbox of pressing emails staring back at me, I’d pop some dark chocolate, hunker down at my desk and work until way past my bedtime.
Eventually I started to wonder how well my 18 years of asana, pranayama and meditation practice were helping me in this regard. If off the mat I’m unable to notice when I need to sleep or eat or rest, what does it matter that I feel blissed out for a few minutes after savasana? Learning to observe your own state is an important piece of the svādhyāya (self-study) puzzle, but with attention focused on kids or work, it’s easy for it to get lost in the shuffle, leaving the picture incomplete. After one too many late nights, I realized I needed to find a way to observe my own state as closely as I do my children’s. Yoga has become my thermometer. When a teacher offers three variations of a pose, rather than automatically choosing the third option because it’s the most “advanced,” I tune in to figure out what’s best for how I’m feeling today. And while the asanas are important, I’ve begun to prioritize more time for practices that allow for quiet and stillness so I can truly listen, rather than continually doing. The bad news: not even Super Mommy can kiss herself on the forehead and sense that she’s a feeling a little bit off. The good news: yoga can unlock superpowers of observation, and it’s the next best thing. Kerry Maiorca is the founder and director of Bloom Yoga Studio and its teacher training programs.
Tao Porchon-Lynch by Cathy Beres
Photos: Mary Carol Fitzgerald
24 hours with
Yoga instructor and illumine writer Cathy Beres reflects on her time with Porchon-Lynch as she visited Chicago in October.
At 96, Tao Porchon-Lynch is the world’s oldest living yoga instructor, as documented by The Guinness Book of World Records. She has practiced yoga for more than 70 years and taught yoga for more than 45 years in the U.S., India and France. A former model, actress and documentarian, and currently a champion ballroom dancer, she has inspired many students the world over with her approach to life and her dedication to the practice and teaching of yoga.
he was perched curbside at O’Hare on her suitcase like a lovely bird, dressed in a purple puffy jacket, form-fitting black pants, white turtleneck and open-toed black sky-high heels, her bright red toenails peeking out. The first thing you notice about Tao Porchon-Lynch are her brilliant blue-green eyes. They sparkle and dance, engage and embrace with just one glance. She pops into the front seat of my Volkswagen Beetle. You’d never know she was injured in a stumble a few weeks prior, as she is as spry as a
woman half her age. She taught a class in Hartsdale, N.Y. that morning, then flew from Westchester County Airport to Chicago, and we are now en route to Yogaview for her evening workshop. I offer a yogurt parfait to her and to her assistant, Susan Douglass. I had learned she eats very little, likes to drink juices and has one dried prune before retiring each night. Maybe that’s her secret to longevity? She chats enthusiastically as we sit in rush hour traffic. We talk yoga (she teaches eight or so classes a week in the White Plains, N.Y. area), we talk travel (she’s been everywhere, some recent travels include France and Macchu Picchu, but her favorite place on earth is India) and we talk dance (she started competitive ballroom dancing at the age of 87 and has won hundreds of first place awards at the Fred Astaire Championships, accompanied by her 20-something-year-old partners). She tells me about her two hip replacements.
I ask her for the secret to her longevity and energy; whatever it is, I want some of it. She simply smiles and says she wakes up each day knowing it will be the best day of her life. She says her husband called her a Pollyanna, but she firmly believes if you plant a good thought in your mind it will happen. I channel her positive energy as I navigate traffic, and before I know it, we’ve arrived at Yogaview. She opens class by graciously thanking the nearly 70 yogis attending the workshop, saying, “I’m blessed that you are here.” She references nature throughout the practice, since it’s a driving force in her life. When she is upset she goes and looks at the trees. “The same energy that is moving in us is moving in the trees,” she says. “Look to nature: It comes back every season; it has something
to teach us. We all breathe the same life, even grass has a heartbeat.”
ature is her encyclopedia, and she hugs trees to feel their energy. “Trees are hundreds of years old, nobody tells them they are getting older. They recycle each year and I’m recycling too,” she declares. She talks a lot about energy throughout class. In standing poses, she instructs us to keep our fingers together to keep energy from escaping. Toes should be alive in poses, and she keeps her toes brightly painted to better appreciate them. She does a shoulder stand or legs up the wall every night to help her sleep better, and places the head of the bed facing north to relieve stress. Her strength and flexibility are amazing, and her personally written yoga nidra meditation is calming. Nobody seems to want to leave when the workshop is over. A large group of younger women sit in a circle around her on the floor like
groupies. Photos are taken, autographs signed and more talking. Little by little the crowd dwindles, and it’s time to take her to my place to rest. It’s 9:30, so I am sure she must be exhausted and starving. Not so. Does this surprise you? Back at my apartment, we crack open a bottle of bubbly along with her assistant and my friend, Maria Santoferraro, author of the blog “The Daily Downward Dog,” who came in from Cleveland for the event. We gab on the couch like teenagers at a sleepover. Yet she shows no signs of sleepiness. She says she is fueled by her “inner energy, her life force, the lord of creation that lives dormant inside each of us.” Hers is certainly not dormant; it seems to be dancing inside her all day and night! Speaking of night, she sleeps very little, usually four or five hours, and not through the night, as she often gets up with thoughts racing and will
write for a while. She is currently working on her autobiography. In the morning, over juice, we enjoy some quiet morning moments as we watch the sun rise over Lake Michigan. Porchon-Lynch makes it a daily ritual to savor the beauty of nature wherever she is. “I love to look in the sky at a flock of birds and watch them against the blueness of the heavens in the sky. Before I put any thoughts in my mind, I see the beauty of nature,” she says. “It’s nature’s way of advertising that nothing is impossible!” This is her mantra, “Nothing is impossible.” After spending 24 hours with Tao, I believe her.
Cathy Beres is a certified yoga instructor, freelance writer/marketing consultant and graduate student at Northwestern University.
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Yoga Six Putting the ‘Why’ in Yoga by Vanessa McClure
oga Six is new to Chicago and is offering a fresh approach to learning and growing your yoga practice. There are Yoga Six studios in other parts of the country: four in California and one in St. Louis. Two Chicago studios opened in the fall of 2014, with a plan for six total Chicago-area studios in the next year. “Chicago was a perfect place to centralize, as it is a large city that has not been exposed to yoga as much as it could be,” said Regional Manager Tiffanie Sperling, who believes people in Chicago will be receptive to the Yoga Six concept. The Yoga Six name and brand stem from six core values: safety, growth, passion, connection, truth and quality. The studios’ goal is to help yogis understand the relationship between those values. Sounds big, but it starts small and simple. I’ve taken several different classes offered at Yoga Six. Classes range from classic and slow flow, to power flow and vinyasa, to deep stretch and sculpt. The classes last an hour or 75 minutes. The studios are heated, and classes are labeled “warm” or “hot” and also come with a numerical ranking for difficulty level. I like Y60 Power Flow Level 2.5 Warm—that’s a 60-minute class at about 90 degrees with a 2.5 out of 3 for intensity level. By the way, since the cleanliness of heated yoga spaces is often a concern, Yoga Six studios are equipped with unique shock-absorbing antimicrobial floor panels called Zebra Mats, which make the floors easy to clean and hygienic. Teachers guide the classes verbally and through demonstration. The instructor often moves around the studio to better show the poses and offers manual adjustments, if you like them. The guidance is more than just calling out poses, however. Each flow and movement starts small and builds. You may end up in a Warrior II 12
without really realizing you’re in it, thanks to the creative steps the teachers use to get you there. Along the way, you’ll get a subtle yoga education, an explanation that goes beyond just asking you to get into an asana. It was a Yoga Six teacher who finally and simply explained the chakras to me. The class flowed through the chakras using seamless transitions while also educating the class about them. The knowledge was a gentle part of the guidance through the class. It offered me a different perspective on the purpose of practicing yoga. “We focus a lot on the why behind who we are and what we do,” explained Kari Fitzgerald, manager of Yoga Six Lincoln Park. Yoga Six began in California where founder Bill Komer discovered yoga during his treatment for lymphoma. Dino Flacco, the man who helped introduce Komer to yoga, later passed away from cancer himself. Komer wanted to share the gift of yoga and make it accessible to more people, so he collaborated with teacher Katie Brauer to better define the Yoga Six method. The method includes appointing a studio manager and a program manager at each location, which helps distinguish the business of running the studio from the yoga instruction and programming. Brauer now serves as the director of yoga programming, overseeing all locations. The six types of classes offered at Yoga Six are streamlined across all the studios. Yoga Six Lincoln Park opened in the fall; Yoga Six South Loop at the Roosevelt Collection opened in late October; and a Gold Coast location is scheduled to open in early 2015. Fitzgerald said they are still looking at other locations for three additional Chicago studios.
While the Yoga Six brand is expanding and growing, the Yoga Six philosophy remains consistent between staff members and studio locations. In fact, that is part of the philosophy: connecting the components of yoga, Fitzgerald explained.
oga Six managers, teachers and members step outside of the studio and contribute to the community. After Komer’s battle with cancer, the California and St. Louis studios joined forces with Pedal The Cause, a non-profit cycling group that raises funds for cancer research. Fitzgerald said they are currently looking to partner with a cancer-research organization in Chicago. Yoga Six is also looking for new members, no matter their experience level. Membership includes monthly fees for unlimited yoga as well as discounts on workshops and teacher training. You do not need to be a member to take classes, as there are packages and walk-in options as well. “I want everyone who walks through our door to feel welcome, part of the community right away,” said Fitzgerald. Yoga Six offers lockers, showers stocked with shampoo and conditioner, and dressing areas complete with amenities including hair dryers, towels and a high-powered overhead air blower/ dryer to dry you off if you’re sweaty but want to skip the shower. To view class schedules and upcoming Yoga Six openings, visit chicago.yogasix.com or download the free Yoga Six app.
Vanessa McClure is a business development manager at ATI Physical Therapy. She new to Chicago and is enjoying exploring the city and growing her practice by visiting the area’s many yoga studios.
Illuminating the Spirit
Zone Out! Just do it consciously
by Rev. Mark Anthony Lord
have a surefire way to make 2015 the best year ever! And it is the simplest thing you will ever do—in fact, you’ve been doing it since you were born. It requires no fancy workout wear (although I love my fancy wears, believe me), and it requires no towel, water or money. Establish a morning meditation practice. I know, I know…you’ve been talking about doing that for years. I also know you’ve probably started and stopped and started and stopped again and again. But you must not give up. Instead, dive in with more intention and willingness than ever before, because this practice guarantees you the happiness, peace and prosperity you are seeking. I’m a huge fan of taking a meditation class, or if you’re a true warrior, going to a Vipassana 10-day retreat, where you’ll observe total silence in an effort to explore and discover the self and the deep connection between mind and body. But putting all those big goals that may or may not happen aside—how about just starting where you are, today? First step, get any thoughts out of the way that say you don’t know how to meditate. That’s crazy. We are all wired to meditate. Every time you zone out in front of the television or computer, or let your mind drift like a cloud floating by, you are in an unconscious state of checking out. My point is, you are doing it already. Now you’re just going to do it consciously, which makes a big difference. Second, set yourself up to succeed. When I coach people, my only goals are that they actually begin and become consistent. Once you establish consistency, you can then start to grow in your practice, but not until then. Here’s my meditation success equation: 3 + 5 + 10 + 15 = A Brand New You!
January: Three minutes in the morning. Set your alarm five minutes earlier than usual. When you awaken, sit up, stretch, take some deep breaths,
hit your timer on your phone for three minutes, close your eyes and focus on slow, deep, luxurious breaths. Personally, I have to go to the bathroom first, and I like to down a big glass of water. Then I sit to do my meditation. Whatever is best for you—just make sure your meditation is the first, second or third thing you do in the morning. Don’t worry if you begin thinking. The focus is to just be still and allow the mind to be calm, but if it starts racing, it’s not a problem. Your job is to close your eyes, breathe and wait for the timer to go off. DING! Open your eyes and acknowledge that you have succeeded! If you miss a day here or there, don’t sweat (leave that for your yoga class). Just do it later or the next day. Three minutes a day, for one month. You can do that!
February: Five minutes in the morning. Same
routine as above, but now that you’ve established consistency and you’re feeling wonderful about your breakthrough success, you can up your time to five minutes. It may feel like a stretch, or maybe not. The key here is to not do more than the five. Be patient and allow yourself to grow slowly. It will more than pay off in the long run. February is five—no more.
March: up to 10 minutes, and in April, if you
feel ready, then it’s time to go for 15.
Words will not be able to convey how wonderful you’ll feel about yourself for this accomplishment. Not only that—your mind will be more at peace, solutions will flow like never before, happiness will not elude you and your body will be healthier. Even better, you will have established a positive habit that will continue to grow and grow. From there, the sky truly is the limit. Rev. Mark Anthony Lord is an internationallyrecognized author, speaker, teacher and founder of the Bodhi Spiritual Center in Chicago, IL. In 2015, he will be making the move to Los Angeles, CA to create Pride 2.0, a ministry focused on healing the world from homophobia. Visit his website at pride2point0.com.
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Suzanne Day Photo: Mary Carol Fitzgerald
Connecting canines and owners with a unique yoga class
by Katie Kosinski
uzanne Day is not afraid to walk the walk. A single mom of a teenage boy, two pit bulls and a rescued bird, her life is driven by a desire to help others heal and structured by a commitment to taking action. She greets strangers with an embrace and invites abandoned pets into her home without hesitation. A yoga teacher, acupuncturist and animal rescuer, Day’s open heart allows her to take selfless risks in fulfilling her life’s work. Day remembers herself as a hippie kid in a large animal-loving family living in upstate New York. She explains, “Each of us seven kids was allowed to have any animal we wanted as long as we took care of it. By the time I was nine, I had a goat, a pony, a young horse, a pet raccoon and a dog!” Day’s connection with her pets kept her balanced and remains an integral part of her identity. Living on the West Coast later in life, Day’s first yoga class was in the basement of a church. When her job in bartender training included travel to the Midwest, she decided to make Chicago her home.
Wanting change and acknowledging her interest in the healing arts, she studied for three and a half years to become an acupuncturist. A disciplined yoga practitioner, Day arrived to one of her classes as a student but was asked to fill in for the instructor. This unexpected opportunity inspired continued workshop study and eventually a teacher training. Though already a fitness instructor, Day welcomed the spiritual perks of teaching yoga. “It gave me almost the same high as I got from [practicing],” says Day, who adds that she aims to offer more than just a sequence of poses and thrives on the collective healing energy of her classes. “It’s just the breathing and the vibe in the room, and figuring out why people are there.” Day teaches an athletic, Vinyasa flow style that stems from her triathlon and marathon running days. She is also an anatomy junkie, studying with teachers from a variety of schools, including Ashtanga and Iyengar. “I like
Day’s intention is simple. “I want to save dogs. I just feel that animals are so pure and innocent that there’s no way they’re not a part of the whole,” she says. She finds strength for her rescue work in her personal yoga practice. “I see so much sadness and abuse that yoga helps my heart heal and stay open—open to keep saving, fostering, loving those pups, one at a time,” she says. She leads outdoor “Ruff Yoga” classes to provide time for people to connect with their dogs in a quiet, meditative way. Dogs rest in the sun while their owners fold forward into Upavistha Konasana; a pup’s warm belly functioning as a prop. Passersby may question these calm mornings in Jonquil Park but for Day, it’s another demonstration of working from her heart. “Saving animals is therapy for me. It saves me,” she says. “And yoga saves me. It keeps me very focused…so it all works.”
Jonquil Park, 1001 W. Wrightwood Ave., Chicago Spring/Summer 2015 dates: May 9, June 13 and July 11, 10:30 a.m. Please bring your pup and your own mat. All donations for class go to lovinliferescue.com. Class information is publicized on id-gym.com one month prior to each class.
Katie Kosinski is a practicing yogi, a screenwriter and an adjunct professor of visual storytelling at Columbia College Chicago.
Combine & Save.
[learning from] people who are a little offbeat, maybe not the teachers that the masses go to,” she notes.
hen Day decided to bring a dog home about 18 years ago, she learned from her veterinarian about puppy mills and the multitudes of forgotten animals at animal shelters. It changed her life. “It began that whole crusade. I started volunteering at different shelters, and now I volunteer with Linda Schifferdecker at Lovin’ Life Rescue,” says Day, who has adopted her two pit bulls from shelters. As a dedicated humane investigator, Day responds to reports of neglected or abused pets and has rescued about 45 dogs. “It’s our job not to take people’s animals away, not to threaten, but to educate,” she says. She also works directly with dogs at shelters, walking them and advocating for them, including in yoga class. “We often rescue pit bulls. [They are] usually a misunderstood breed and they take 10 times longer to adopt,” she says. When someone is ready to adopt from the rescue group, training is very seriously encouraged. “A trained dog doesn’t get returned to the shelters. An untrained, misbehaving, mischievous, bored, un-exercised dog will get returned,” she says.
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Alignment with nature Ayurvedic practices help restore connection with the earth by Monica Yearwood
yurveda teaches that by living in alignment with observable cycles in nature, we enhance all aspects of our health. It emphasizes lifestyle practices, called sādhanās, which help to awaken our cellular memory to this alignment. Although our body is constantly recreating itself with new cells, there is an element of permanence that ayurveda terms “cellular memory.” Cellular memories are the cumulative experiences of our ancestral lineage. While some cellular memories
cultivate intuition. Sitting under the light of the moon enhances vitality and is an aphrodisiac. Ayurveda teaches that when we implement the sādhanās we enhance our immunity, regulate our hormonal system and significantly increase contentment. And yet, many city dwellers are up against a very real physical separation from many of nature’s expressions. In the effort to follow a prescribed ayurvedic lifestyle, we are continuously confronted with the very things that detract us from our ability to connect.
The sadhanas restore our connection with nature as if urging us awake from a dream. are negative, we also have positive ones, such as living in alignment with nature. Our body has the “memory” of these practices inside of us, essentially “dormant” for most of us. Like a thumbprint embedded into our soul, cellular memories are interwoven into our DNA and tell the stories of when we as a people lived rhythmically with nature’s cycles.
We want to eat seasonally, but when we go to the grocery store we see imported items from all over the world. We want to maintain mental contentment, but the noise of sirens, traffic jams and trains disturb us at all hours of the day and night. We want proper rest, but artificial lighting inhibits the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that instigates the desire for sleep.
The sādhanās, or practices, align our individual biorhythm with nature’s cycles. For example, the sun dictates daily practices such as rising with the sun, meditating twice each day with sunrise and sunset, eating the largest meal at midday when the sun is the strongest and going to bed when the sun sets. Eating what is in season allows us to acquire foods with a higher nutritional content. Lunar practices, such as introspection and rest during the new moon, regulate menses and
Ayurveda teaches that making direct contact with the earth fosters alignment with nature. In the city, that means interacting with earth’s byproducts (food) intentionally through the year. How we handle and obtain our food is an opportunity to interact with the earth. City environments offer weekly markets that distribute food from local farmers grown just 20 miles away. To awaken a deeper connection with your food, try cooking a meal without measuring
cups. Use your hands, eyes and sense of smell to do your measuring. This will awaken the intuitive connection with the foods you consume and rouse the primal part of you that remembers putting his or her hands in the earth.
he sādhanās restore our connection with nature as if urging us awake from a dream. The change of seasons and the solar and lunar cycles are aspects of an interdependent system. Each one of us is inextricably connected to this system, but our lives are largely out of sync with it, and the desire to restore our relationship with nature is marred by doubt. It is important then, that we have access to teachings and practices that help restore our cellular memory. Further still, we must intentionally utilize these practices, though they may require a different, more persistent type of effort from us than from someone who lives on a farm. We live during a time when our modern conveniences contribute to the collective forgetting of our rhythmic cycles, where it is easy to believe that we are isolated from nature’s bedrock. However, ayurveda teaches that the disconnection from nature, as pervasive as it may be, is an illusion. How can we be disconnected from what we innately are? We are all part of nature, and not something distinct from it, and if we want to change our external environmental reality, we must begin within.
Monica Yearwood is an ayurvedic practitioner and founder of Hamsa Ayurveda & Yoga in Chicago.
Traditions Inspiration Vaastu
Build a happier home
Vaastu creates a perfect space for intention by Ruth Diab Lederer
n early September, our beautiful Dalmatian dog died very suddenly. He passed out in the soft grass of the back yard about a foot from our Vaastu cottage. I was hysterical trying to get him back on his feet before I carried him to the house. He died peacefully the next day. The day he passed, I revisited the spot where he collapsed. I could still see the imprint of his little body and became overcome with grief and hysterical once again. Painful is a paltry word for the experience. However, when I stepped into the cottage, just three feet away, I could not shed a single tear. In my mind, I needed to hold onto that grief, because it was my last emotional connection to my dog friend. However, the darkness and despair of a moment ago in the yard, gave way to lightness and hope in the Vaastu cottage. The power of that space transformed my grief into peace. Instantly. In samkalpa, or intention, we seek to define an idea philosophically and psychologically and then resolve to achieve it physically. This process is enhanced when the heart and mind are harmonious. After losing my beloved pet, my mind desperately wanted to wallow in my grief. However, my heart sought peace. Through
the ancient architectural principles employed in the careful, precise construction of my Vaastu structure, my heart and mind found what was impossible for me to imagine. Vaastu immediately created beneficial conditions for sankalpa. Vaastu is a simple binary structural system—a structure is made to be Vaastu compliant or it isn’t. There is no “making” a structure Vaastu after it has been built. Compliance requires the following measures: The structure is properly aligned to true north. A builder would work with a Vaastu professional and together they would use a compass to establish true north, adjusting for local declination. From there, they would mark the easternmost north/south wall on the site with surveyors stakes and make a line. The foundation wall trenches would be set along this line, and the builders check this line during the building process to ensure that the north/south line remains true. The structure is designed with precise dimensions. Vaastu structures can be square or rectangular up to 1:2 (width:length) ratio.
The structure is built with precision. All dimensions are exact, and the measurements will always be a proportion of the perimeter and may be as small as a 1/64 inch. The builder is effectively constructing a field for a specific wave and it needs to be as precise as possible. This is similar to radio waves—98.7 would tune you to classical music but 98.8 might be static. When these principles are applied, a unique, powerful wave of energy is created within the walls. The energy field and mental state of the person occupying this space begins to resonate with the wave of the structure, and the change begins in the person. The most common change people mention is feeling more balanced, physically and psychologically. They have fewer maladies, better sleep and better moods. The physical body is set to a new rhythm and the emotional body follows suit. The mind and heart can find what they seek naturally. Sankalpa is possible. Ruth Diab Lederer is the principal of Vaastu Consultants. Contact her at email@example.com for more information or to visit a newly built Vaastu cottage in Lake Bluff, Ill.
Love: Is it written in the stars? by Pamela McDonough
he most common questions that I receive during an astrological reading concern love and relationships.
When will [love] happen? What kind of person will I marry or be with in a partnership? I’m so confused about my relationship issues. Can I come away from a Vedic astrology reading with an understanding of why I keep finding the wrong partners? Can my chart tell me where and when to find love? The short answer is, “Yes.” Jyotish can help people with love issues, since karmic patterns, which are the basis of Jyotish birth charts or horoscopes, affect our relationships.
Read this month’s Vedic astrology forecast at illuminechicago.com.
Serious relationships can be seen from the seventh house of the horoscope, the house of partnership and relationships. Jyotish astrological birth charts are divided into 12 houses. Each house and the planets hold the keys to understanding our tendencies in relationships and all other areas of our life experience. Although many variables in the horoscope affect relationships, the seventh house is the most pertinent. Through a careful analysis of the seventh house and other key elements in our horoscope, Vedic astrology determines when a person may marry, how many significant relationships a person might have in his or her lifetime and what kind of partner a person might choose. It can also give clues regarding the kind of partner we may not want to choose! Often the root of our relationship choices extend into other areas that can be analyzed through a Vedic horoscope. For example, if people have low self-esteem or very high selfesteem, this can impact the type of people they draw into their partnership sphere.
Another example might be a difficult and lifelong relationship with a parent, which could potentially affect how a man or woman might interrelate with a romantic partner. Identifying consistent karmic patterns for clients through their Vedic chart can be a very affirming experience for the client. Each of us carries a “karmic bank balance,” meaning certain experiences from our past lives are seeking restitution in each lifetime until they are cleared. Our ability to overcome our repetitive relational patterns connects first to our awareness.
antras provide one way for us to overcome behaviors that do not support our emotional and/or spiritual evolution. Mantras come from the ancient wisdom of India, of which Jyotish is a part. We use mantras to support and clear our mind and connect us with spirit. The mental and auditory vibration of a mantra helps us to tap into our own innate clarity and wisdom. Mantras also put us in touch with a healing vibration that supports a shift in our thought process and our lives, therefore creating a state of connectedness and peace. Mantras can also be prescribed by a practiced Vedic astrologer for planetary configurations much in the same way we think of prescriptions for certain conditions in Western medicine. Specific mantras that connect to the planets and signs in our birth can help shift difficult karmic patterns in relationship or other areas of our lives, releasing some or all of the obstacles we are encountering. Pamela McDonough is a Vedic astrologer and artist. Learn more and schedule a reading with Pamela by visiting yantramandala.com.
Living a conscious life by Jim Kulackoski
Photo and artwork: Jillian Schiavi
verything that exists in creation does so within a state of constant change. Whether we are speaking of energy, a seemingly solid particle of matter or the sentience that animates a living being, for something to exist, it must do so in a continual state of flux. In the Vedic sciences, this dynamic state is called karma, or action. All of creation, therefore, is karma, and consequently everything in it is subject to its laws. From a Vedic perspective, there is a well-known law of karma: every action has a specific cause that underlies it, and the resulting action precisely reflects this cause. Two examples of the causes of karma are saṃskara and saṃkalpa. Both saṃskara and saṃkalpa lie at the basis of all action and therefore all of creation. They are like blueprints that both initiate and determine the course of an action and ultimately its result. Saṃkalpa is a consciously created intention that initiates a specific action. When one is fully present and appreciative of the intention they are acting from, they are utilizing saṃkalpa. The result is the experience of choice and agency in a situation, a true experience of free will. This is in contrast to the more common cause of action, saṃskara. A saṃskara is a leftover impression or memory resulting from past action. In yoga philosophy, one’s personality is comprised of a vast and complex web of these impressions that form the basis of their beliefs, preferences and limitations. It is the saṃskara that determine the meaning one attributes to the situations they encounter and the actions they commit. Saṃskaras therefore, reflect an individual’s potential for action, his/her “karma” so to speak. An individual’s world, therefore, could be said to be a reflection of his/ her saṃskaras. When an action results from saṃskara, it is unconsciously chosen and reflexive, merely
serving to preserve and reinforce the limited reality created by an individual’s belief system. Although it may appear as though one is acting from free will, most likely, they are simply acting in a pre-programmed manner based on their saṃskaras. The result is a reality of little choice where one is apparently both subject to and at the mercy of their surroundings and the situations they encounter. One is essentially stuck in an endless cycle, repeating the same karma again and again.
n example could be the experience of someone getting cut off in traffic. The saṃskaras that form the subconscious identity of the individual would dictate their actions such as feeling anger, indignation, injustice or even road rage. This response, while unpleasant, also reinforces the limited worldview of the actor (the person who was cut off in traffic) and their saṃskaras. In addition, they experience themselves as a limited being in a reality void of choice. Through the proper awareness of one’s default responses, one could consciously and freely choose a saṃkalpa from which they act, such as patience, compassion or even neutrality. The actual intention one creates is not important, rather the fact that they consciously create and affect it. The philosophies and practices of yoga are aimed at cultivating such awareness, allowing one to uncover, understand and ultimately transcend them their saṃskaras. This “freedom from the known” affords them the ability to act consciously in each moment from saṃkalpa, resulting in a life of agency, purpose and satisfaction. 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.
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Keeping the Wisdom Alive
Kino MacGregor by Alexia Bauer Photo: Kristie Kahns
In this recurring column, we ask Chicago-area teachers to interview their teacher about lineage and the teacher/student relationship.
LEFT TO RIGHT: Alexia Bauer and Kino MacGregor
t the age of 29, Kino MacGregor was one of the youngest women to be certified to teach Ashtanga yoga at the Sri K. Pattabhi Jois Yoga Institute in Mysore, India, the school created by the founder of the popular, disciplined style of yoga. Now an internationally-renowned yoga teacher, she is also an author, vlogger, creator of MiamiYoga magazine and co-founder of Miami Life Center, a yoga and spiritual center in Florida. MacGregor inspired me to practice Ashtanga yoga six years ago, when I became immediately hooked after taking one of her workshops. Her open heart, energetic personality and accessible approach have inspired thousands of practitioners around the world.
How did you come to yoga, and what about yoga spoke to you? MacGregor: My first yoga class when I was 19 was Sivananda style; it was more restorative and relaxationbased. I was looking for something different in my life, and although I didnâ€™t really connect physically with it, it left an imprint on me about yoga as a spiritual path. There was something about being able to tune into a space inside of yourself, even from that very first class.
Three years later when I joined my first Ashtanga class, I started integrating yoga in my daily life. It felt like the whole package, including the physical aspect that really spoke to my body. Yet the most important thing is that yoga is a spiritual path and provides an answer to how to live a more peaceful life. Could you speak about the style of Ashtanga yoga and how it is taught? MacGregor: Although known for its six predefined series of dynamic postures, Ashtanga yoga is traditionally taught in what’s called the Mysore-style setting, where the teacher guides the students at their own individual level. It’s named after the city in the south of India where the Institute in honor of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois is located. The more contemporary way of teaching Ashtanga in Western-style group fitness classes has everyone doing the same thing at the same time, but to get to the advanced postures it’s really recommended to practice the Mysore-style way. Ashtanga gets a bad rep for being really disciplined and dogmatic, and it may seem rigid and regimented if you don’t experience the Mysore method. In a Mysore-style room, people are doing all different things, working with different injuries. When you practice within a Mysore-style frame, you can find the freedom to explore the different aspects of your body, the practice and ultimately your life as well. What made you seek out your teacher, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois? MacGregor: At a Mysore-method class in New York City one day, the teacher said he wanted to wish two students a good trip to Mysore because they were going to meet his teacher. I immediately felt this yearning and thought, “Oh, I want to do that.” I really didn’t know who Pattabhi Jois was; I was just trying to do my backbends every day! I asked the teacher how I could go to India, and he recommended that I read Yoga Mala, Guruji’s [Pattabhi Jois’] book. The night I finished Guruji’s book, I had a dream about him and woke up with a sensation that I just had to go to India. That was the first moment in my life I definitely knew that there was something I wanted to do. I bought my ticket two weeks later. When I looked into Guruji’s eyes, I knew I had
found my teacher, and this heart opening happened. I can look back now and see how that meeting really changed the course of my life. What is your experience as a female practitioner of yoga? How do gender roles inform one’s practice? MacGregor: For me, the interesting thing about being a female practitioner is trying to understand what it means for me to be strong as a woman. Sometimes what happens with gender identity is that women try to be “strong” like men, or men think that they need to be more like women. Over the 15 years that I’ve been practicing, I feel there has been a neutralization of those assumptions. Younger students are simply people, and everything else is secondary. Yoga can change the subjective experience of our own bodies, which is so rooted in gender identity. So as we change the subjective experience of our bodies, our gender identity shifts as well. That can be really liberating. Instead of usurping someone else’s gender identity, you start to become more of your authentic self, and we all come to this equanimous place free of preconceived notions of gender or class. I really saw Guruji embrace that shift within the men and women who were practicing. It didn’t really matter if you were a man or woman, you could do any of the asanas. How important is it to have a teacher who is part of a lineage, that is, one who has been a student of another teacher? MacGregor: I think the most important quality of a teacher is compassion, the ability to embrace the student in totality in their journey. Only teachers who have been on the student’s journey can have true empathy for the moments of suffering that come with confusion. It’s the fallibility of the teacher that makes it possible for students to believe that one day they might be able to attain similar results through practice. It’s not the perfection of the teacher that gives students inspiration, it’s their imperfections that inspire students to keep going. How do you approach passing on the wisdom of Ashtanga from your teachers to your students? MacGregor: The traditional way the yoga
tradition has given information from teacher to student has been dependent upon the questions of the student. For me, sometimes I wake up with an idea, and I end up making a video or writing an article about it, or it will eventually be a part of a larger project that I’m working on. After that point, the questions students ask affect how the message is transmitted. For example, if I have a student who’s really interested in learning backbends, I would teach them about that journey. Or if I have another student who is interested in creating a little more peace in their lives, I would approach yoga from that perspective. I think it’s really about meeting the students where they are. Why did you start the Miami Life Center? Was there a turning point in your journey that prompted you to start it? MacGregor: My husband, Tim [Feldmann], is from Denmark, so we travel around Europe, particularly Northern Europe, in the summers. We were in Ireland one cold and rainy August, and I remember thinking, “Wow, if I have a beautiful, sunny, warm place by the sea, what am I doing here?” That’s when I got the idea to create a spiritual center in Miami. There are beautiful centers all over the world, but there was nothing here in Miami. It was really about coming back to where my family is from, and what says home to me is the sunshine, the sunrise and sunset, a warm day, a blue sky, the clear ocean and a little bit of sand. What is your hope for your students all over the world? MacGregor: My hope is that they’re inspired to practice every day and that they understand that yoga is a spiritual lineage. It’s not just about the physical form and the shapes of the postures. It’s a disciplined, spiritual practice that can transform every aspect of your life—in other words, yoga is a spiritual lifestyle.
Alexia Bauer is an Ashtanga yoga practitioner and teacher in Chicago. She left Guatemala, her home country, to start her teacher training and share the transformative and awakening experience of yoga with others.
A spiritual path for all stages of life
by Dianna Oles
In traditional Hindu culture, there are four stages of life, called “āśramas” in Sanskrit. They are:
brahmacarya (student life),
which begins upon entering school and typically ends after college;
after moving into the workforce and usually marrying and having a family;
(retiring to the forest),
a time to turn attention inward, after retirement from a full-time career and the accumulation of offspring, wealth, a house and possessions; and
the ascetic stage focusing on obtaining selfknowledge through svādhyāya (self-study), reading scriptures and meditation.
The gṛhasthin (householder) makes the other three āśramas possible by supporting them in every way. For example, with many of the basic needs taken care of by the gṛhasthin, the student can focus on her studies, and the vanaprasthin can play more of a supportive role in family affairs. A saṃnyāsin also depends upon support from the gṛhasthin donated either directly to him/her or to the monastery or hermitage he lives in. The gṛhasthin also helps sustain society by volunteering and donating to the poor, arts, education and to spiritual and charitable causes. In this way, the gṛhasthin is the sustainer of the whole āśrama system—all four stages of life. He/she is a karma yogi/yoginī who enables everyone to fulfill the duties of their particular life stage: studying, worldly life, retirement or full renunciation. Yet, he/she is not better than the other āśramas. All roles are important and necessary. How do the yoga practices of the four āśramas differ? The goal of yoga practice is always the same: attaining the knowledge of Brahman/ātman/selfknowledge. However, many of us don’t realize this is the goal and we spend our lives pursuing sensual pleasures, power, wealth, fame and material objects. The following verses from the Kaṭha Upaniṣhad affirm there are two paths of life one can choose: spiritual well-being (śreyas “superior”) or material (preyas “more agreeable”) well-being.
Śreyaśca preyaśca manuṣyametastau saṃparītya vivinakti dhīraḥ l Śreyo hi dhīro’bhipreyaso vṛṇīte preyo mando yogakṣemād vṛṇīte ll 1. 2. 2 The wise person distinguishes between the two paths available to mankind: spiritual or material pursuits. Indeed, he chooses the spiritual path over the material life, but the dull-witted chooses the material path for living in comfort. While some start to move in the direction of self-knowledge after a tragic loss or near the end of life, others never seek this knowledge. However, a small handful of people seek spiritual wisdom from an early age, such as Srī Shankarācharya, who as a youth took saṃnyāsa vows, or Buddha, who suddenly moved out of his gṛhastha stage directly into the saṃnyāsa stage, though he had a young child, wife and a kingdom to rule yet someday. So strong was their desire for the direct experience of self-knowledge, that they couldn’t give serious time to anything else. The real difference between saṃnyāsins and gṛhasthins is their focus. One has a singular focus on the pursuit of the knowledge of Brahman, and though the other may also be focused on attaining that knowledge, they have many other concerns or interests that demand their attention, such as their career, partner, children, love, vacations, etc.
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Then we go on with our everyday life: we wash the dishes, do laundry, eat our meals, practice, read books, bathe and breathe air. For the householder, there is much to do to keep you grounded. For the ascetic, there is service to the world. For both, there is no longer my house, my child, my possessions, neither mine nor yours. We go on with total dispassion following the roles we are living to the best of our ability, enjoying the experiences of life as we live out our days. Living dispassionately, we do not stop living our life, we simply stop chasing impermanent pleasures and resisting what we find disagreeable. Instead, we invite all to come to the table and are unchanged by who shows up (or not).
marycarolfitzgerald.com Robert Miller, Senior RKC Instructor
In the pursuit of knowledge, we continually prune our unhealthy/limiting tendencies and replace them with more clarity and more wisdom. As we practice to the capacity we are able, we may get small glimpses/hints of knowledge along the way, until one day, we stumble upon truth. It comes all at once. There is no partial knowledge; either you know truth or you do not. Once we know, there is no going back. What then?
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Dianna Oles holds an MA in Eastern Philosophy with a concentration in languages and culture. She has been studying yoga, meditation and Ayurveda for 15 years and currently teaches in Chicago.
The quarter-year resolutions Cutting a year into bite-sized chunks by Kimberly Manning
Yoga in the Western world has become a practice of reversing the effects of daily life: sitting at a desk for 40-some hours a week, hunching over the wheel of a car, typing on a computer, walking in heels. We do damage to our bodies daily. This is why yoga is so important, and remembering to tune into the subtle body is key. Here are some tips to help you affect positive change in your yoga practice.
t’s human nature to embrace new beginnings, a fresh start and the possibility of a different, better and more successful life. As the clock strikes midnight each new year, people set their goals and venture into the next calendar year with high hopes and excitement. Unfortunately for many, their goals go unachieved. In a culture where reality television glorifies becoming rich and famous or losing massive amounts of weight in just a few months, setting a yearly goal can be daunting.
Remember the “Aha!” moments It’s that moment when something clicks in the body. Something you’ve been trying to obtain for months, weeks or maybe even years finally happens. These little “aha” moments are the hook that draws yogis in, even if those moments are few and far between. Those subtle actions build upon one another over time, and in an instant everything comes together and makes sense.
At the end of 2013, I wasn’t in a good place: unemployed after leaving my dead-end job without one to replace it, depressed, unhealthy and unmotivated. With just a few weeks left in December I accepted a job that would begin Jan. 2. I was thrilled to start a new year fresh and was motivated to change other aspects of my life.
Listen to cues Sometimes yogis are so into their practice they tend to tune out the cues the teacher is giving. While it’s wonderful to focus deeply on the sensations and movements in the body, tuning into the teacher’s cues can provide valuable information that can bring you deeper into the pose.
Setting and following through with a New Year’s resolution was never an easy task for me. I set my sights too high and fell too quickly. But this year something needed to be different. I vowed to change my daily habits slowly, inch by inch, quarter by quarter. Instead of setting one resolution to keep for 12 months, I decided to set four, three-month mini resolutions that I would build upon as the year progressed. These resolutions would be easy, almost too easy, to achieve, leaving little room for disappointment and plenty of room for growth and achievement.
Make over your yoga practice
Notice the feeling, not the look It’s easy to compare yourself to fellow yogis in a class, but the power that comes from not comparing yourself will bring you deeper inside. It’s important to know that everyone is on a different path in their yogic journey, all with different baggage. Each time you step onto the mat, take inventory of the way your body feels. Think granular, scanning your muscles, bones and joints. Then as you move through practice, notice what feels different, better or worse.
On April 1, I added drinking at least one cup of tea, hot or cold, each day, followed by incorporating flossing into my everyday regimen starting July 1. For my final quarteryear resolution I vowed to remove Facebook from my phone, which was the first goal I set that would eliminate something from my daily routine—yes, I checked Facebook on my phone daily, even multiple times a day. By setting these small goals, I was able to refine my habits. I had to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables every time I went to the grocery store. I eliminated my afternoon coffee—a habit I had previously been unsuccessful in breaking—and
replaced it with a cup of tea. My teeth felt unclean whenever I went without flossing. I found myself keeping my phone in my bag to and from work, focusing on one thing at a time. And as time went on, I added even more fresh produce and multiple cups of tea, although I must admit I still dislike flossing and continue to only do it once a day.
y purpose of cutting my New Year’s resolution into bite-sized chunks was so it wouldn’t be scary and I wouldn’t set myself up for failure. And I didn’t. In fact, I set myself up for more success than I had imagined. Looking for new goals to set, I feel more confident than I ever have before, healthier and happier. By adding these things into my routine, I took out the habits that I could have never simply given up. The mind is a powerful thing, and it can work with you or just as easily work against you. Tricking the mind by adding in good habits slowly eliminates the bad because there’s simply
no room for it. Promise to eat an apple before you have a cookie and that apple could curb the initial craving. Of course it’s not always that easy and slip ups are bound to happen. But accepting them and moving forward without shame or regret is equally as important in meeting the final goal. Incremental change isn’t the most glamorous or exciting, but it’s rewarding to meet a goal. If that goal is unattainable, you may feel worse than if you hadn’t even set it. Miniature goals over the span of a year, five years, 10 years, adds up to a whole lot. Seeing the steps lined up in front of you to meet the finish line gives you more power to haul through the race.
Kim Manning is a content marketing strategist at a technology company and a yoga teacher. She loves finding new ways to be creative, both on and off the mat.
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On Jan. 1, I started with my first quarter-year resolution of eating at least one serving of raw or uncooked fruits or vegetables. Seems too easy, right? For those who eat fresh produce regularly, this may seem like a cop-out, but my daily intake of fresh fruits and vegetables at the end of 2013 was almost nonexistent.
Turning intention into action Coaching offers a hand to help create positive change by Abby Hart
shley Koehn was two years into her fast-paced job as a marketing manager in Chicago when she realized she needed a change, immediately. She lived in a constant cloud of stress, working all hours of the day and night. She relied heavily on food to relieve her anxiety and found that her sense of self and selfworth was bound to her success in her job. By coincidence, shortly after this revelation, Koehn was introduced to Stacy Levy, a Chicago holistic health coach, at a work event. She completed an initial consultation with Levy, and found that her philosophy of holistic wellness and her approach to goal-setting appealed to the athlete in her. Koehn describes her first six months working with Levy on wellness, self-acceptance and vulnerability, as “like marathon training, except I wasn’t training for an event, I was training for my life.” These days more and more people are lacing up their shoes and trying coaching. According to a 2012 study by the International Coach Federation, there are 47,500 professional coaches globally, with revenue in excess of $2 billion. A December 2014 Forbes.com article also lists coaching as a hot trend in personal branding and professional development for 2015. The industry covers a variety of areas such as life/ personal, health, career, executive/leadership and financial. Coaches usually collaborate with clients on setting goals and benchmarks for measuring their progress during and after the agreed-upon coaching period. In addition to weekly or bi-weekly sessions, some coaches integrate worksheets, readings and journaling, and potentially exercise or meditation, depending on their coaching practice and the clients’ needs.
Rebecca Niziol, a certified life coach in Chicago, refutes the perception that coaching is someone telling you how to proceed with your life. “Coaching isn’t someone telling you what to do, it’s someone guiding you to the answers that you already have inside,” she explains.
he coach/client relationship can provide a feeling of support, which helps motivate people to create action and change in their lives, Niziol says. “What I’m most trying to give people is confidence, clarity and peace of mind,” she says. “I love to help answer the question, ‘Who am I?’” Because the language of coaching includes selfintrospection and discovery, some believe coaching is an alternative to therapy. Stephen Patton, personal coach and owner of Patton Coaching, clarifies that therapy is more about dealing with one’s past. “Coaching is about working on how we’re showing up today, and how we’ll show up in the future, and also creating awareness and practices to improve how we’ll show up from this day forward,” he says.
People who work with a coach are intentionally deciding to create change in their lives. Coaches help them along that path. Virginia Aherin, a certified coach in Southern California specializing in corporate wellness, says her intention is to be of the highest and best possible service to that client and serve their agenda and goals. “I want them to feel they are heard,” she says. Jeff Radtke, Chicago-area leadership coach and co-owner of Beacon Street Coaching, often sets the tone for his sessions by asking, “What is the intention or outcome of this meeting? A year or two years from now, what do you want to look back at say, ‘I created this’? Where you place your intention is where your attention goes. Without intention, we’re really just chatting.” Though Radtke’s specialty is working with leaders of companies and higher-level management, he stresses that you don’t have to be a CEO to reap benefits from professional coaching. Radtke observes, “Anybody who sees the value in coaching will benefit from it. If you’re smart enough to know that there is always something to learn and to think,
If you are considering coaching: Shop around
Coaches often offer a complimentary session so potential clients can get a feel for their approach. Jacki Carr recommends getting referrals from friends, or doing some sleuthing on coaches’ websites, blogs and Facebook pages.
Know what you’re looking for
Are you looking for a nurturing type of coach or a hard-charging personality to challenge you? Someone with a particular type of training or specialty? Knowing yourself and what you want out of coaching will help you narrow down and zero in on a possible connection.
Do the work and commit
After you’ve selected a coach, do the work. If it helps, Niziol recommends recording your sessions to listen to them later or taking notes. Participate fully in the conversation, listen carefully and complete the exercises or journaling. Paying attention to any shifts in your thoughts or perspectives is critical to getting the most you can out of coaching.
A modern cultivated ethic to an age-old practice.
‘maybe what got me here isn’t enough to get me there,’ you’ll recognize that maybe you need to try something different.” Like their clients, coaches have a thirst for learning and are continually modifying their toolkit of methods. Jacki Carr is a consciousness coach, founder of her personal coaching business Goals on the Rocks and co-founder of Rock Your Bliss, a Venice, Calif. movement focused on helping people achieve their goals through a combination of yoga teaching and coaching. Carr has attended trauma trainings and chakra workshops in an effort to find greater connection with her clients.
ince her time working with a life coach, Koehn is no longer the stressed manager she used to be. She is sleeping better and has learned how to meditate. “I’m not cured of anything because I got life coaching, it’s not about ‘curing’,” she says. “It’s a conscious way to improve your life. It’s continual self-improvement.”
photo copyright wayne cable
She has integrated impromptu “pop-up goals” sessions into her repertoire, taking to social media to announce group outdoor hikes or meet-ups at coffee shops where the conversation centers on topics such as dealing with your inner critic or getting unstuck. Carr also seeks advice from two coaches herself. “The relationship with coaching is sometimes taking the blinders off and getting out of my own way,” she says.
Certified health coach Katarina Arneric supports people and helps them develop healthy movement and mindset for their lifestyle and provides tools such as outsourcing healthy food options, demonstrating meal preparation and devising workable exercise schedules. She compares it to cooking: “You say ‘I have carrots, apples and lettuce, what can I make?’ So [clients] say, ‘I want this, I have this and I have this, and I say OK, here’s what we’ll do.” Arneric’s approach weaves the client’s lifestyle and health concerns together into a tailored regimen.
Abby Hart is a freelance writer, editor and marketing consultant. She enjoys living the city life in Chicago with her husband and dog.
Be aware of your inner critic
Don’t coach others
Stephen Patton advises, “Your inner critic can obscure your blind spots. Coaching is a process of illuminating our blind spots, and it is in those moments that we are best served to proceed with humor and curiosity.”
Virginia Aherin cautions against being too passionate about what you’re learning in your coaching sessions. “Be aware that you are the one who decided to receive coaching, not your significant other or spouse or your family.”
Koehn says of her experience with a life coach, “Be openminded. Things will come up that you won’t expect and sometimes you won’t be ready for them, but that is the beauty. Embrace the process – don’t fight it.”
We offer nearly 2 dozen classes a week ranging from Gentle Yoga, Basics to Master Level Vinyasa Flow.
www.healingpoweryoga.com 459 Central Avenue Highland Park, IL 60035 847.432.9642 illuminechicago.com FIRST CLASS COMPLIMENTARY29
Bollywood bliss B’indya Yoga blends yoga tradition and joyful dance by Rachel Grundner
he room fell silent as the entrancing beats of a tabla replaced the once vibrant sounds of nervous giggling. We waited in anticipation as our teachers, decorated in ornate traditional Indian dresses, began to demonstrate their elegant movement. With gentle guidance, we were encouraged to follow. At first, our movements were slow and rigid. It was noticeable that each of us were working hard to hide our inner child’s yearning to release creativity. Saba, one of our teachers, paused as she lightly scanned the room with her nurturing eyes. “This is B’indya Yoga,” she said, “There are no rules. Do not be intimidated and do not be so serious! Just. Have. Fun.” And with that, the giggling returned as we surrendered to our innate need for childlike adventure. What is B’indya Yoga? According to Saba Haider and Gayathri Raghavan, it is a celebration that combines the movement of dance, the intimacy of yoga and the reflection of meditation to help connect with the true Self. The two local yoga teachers have developed a practice that ties the ancient traditions of yoga with the modern movements of Bollywood dance. “We forget that it is OK to smile and giggle in your own yoga practice,” says Raghavan. “Many times we end up rigid, as we are always striving for perfection. There is nothing wrong with that, but I think when it comes to a fusion like dance and yoga, you start with the dance and forget everything else. When we release our own inner dancer, we express happiness and joy. The fact that it may be a completely new experience does not inhibit us, but rather we are able to surrender to the freedom of expression that it offers.” Photos: Venkat Srinivasan
Both dance and yoga have been used as forms of therapy for thousands of years, whether in communal ceremonies or, as in the West, at your local studio, treatment center or health club. Dance has been shown to boost mood more than exercise alone, according to Psychology Today. In another study at the University of London, researchers found that dancing significantly reduced anxiety. Recognizing that yoga can sometimes be seen as intimidating and serious—or only for those with a specific body structure or flexibility, Raghavan and Haider try to make yoga and dancing accessible and enjoyable. Their goal is to help students on their paths to self-discovery and renewal while enjoying the mental, physical and even spiritual benefits of movement. “Like the lotus,” Raghavan says, “we occasionally find ourselves in the ‘mud’ of life. From there, it is hard to see through the murky water. However, there is sunshine waiting to greet you on the other side. Bollywood yoga provides the movement to navigate through this perceived murkiness. It inspires your own lotus to arise from you, to seek that sunshine and to spread the happiness.” For more information on B’indya Yoga, visit aranyayoga.net. Rachel Grundner is a certified yoga teacher and owner of The Yogi Within: A Traveling Yoga Studio in Naperville, IL. Learn more at yoganaperville.com.
Come to a Bindya class at: lululemon Naperville 21 W. Jefferson St. Naperville, IL February 28, 9-10a.m. Namaskar 3946 N. Southport Ave. Chicago, IL March 7, 1-3p.m.
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Reaching survivors of sexual violence through yoga by Molly Boeder Harris
he number of yoga classes geared specifically toward survivors of sexual violence and other trauma continues to grow, yet many choose not to attend such classes for a number of reasons, not the least of which is fear of outing themselves as a survivor. Those who regularly practice at studios and gyms sometimes connect with a teacher or setting that supports their healing, but others may experience unwanted adjustments, the anxiety of partner poses or terror of not knowing how or whether they have the option to exit a triggering pose. This is unfortunate because it limits the chances for survivors of sexual violence to use yoga as part of their healing. Given the fact that a person in America is sexually assaulted every two minutes, it’s important for the yoga community to learn about how trauma manifests in the body and acquire techniques for creating a nurturing and empowering environment for survivors.
Sadly, the mental, physical and spiritual shock of sexual trauma often results in an initial fissuring among the body, mind and spirit of a survivor. Some experience momentary or ongoing sensory disconnection from their bodies, while others develop a fierce protectiveness of their bodies plus panic from the feeling of disembodiment. The denial of one’s right to bodily freedom and the silencing of one’s voice that are part of sexual violence can lead to an automatic shutting down of sensation and intuition. This April, Molly Boeder Harris will bring her expertise to the Chicago yoga community. Her workshop will explore resilience after trauma, teach considerations for survivors and identify the parallel practices of both yoga and healing, with the intention of creating sanctuaries for survivors seeking healing through yoga.
Why should we settle for only designating certain yoga spaces as appropriate for survivors and narrowing opportunities for healing? Can we re-center survivors’ rights to feel safe and to heal while receiving the incredible benefits that yoga affords alongside our general community?
“Teaching Sexual Violence Survivors Infusing Your Yoga Instruction with a Trauma-Informed Lens” yogaview Lincoln Park 2211 N. Elston Suite 200, Chicago, IL. Saturday, April 18, 2-5:30 p.m. Cost: $40
As a survivor of sexual violence and a yoga instructor, I am inspired by the growing conversation about the many benefits of yoga as a tool for trauma recovery. Yoga is steeped in the belief that the body, mind and spirit are interconnected, thus the practice of yoga is ideally situated to nurture trauma healing.
Yoga can be the key to helping survivors begin to safely re-experience sensation in their bodies, since its techniques help build an intimate relationship with the body and ground practitioners in the here and now. Through yoga, survivors can navigate through
the aftermath of trauma with an assistance in self-knowledge and self-care. Yoga can also help survivors see their bodies as tools that can carry them through and beyond the deepest layers of their pain.
ow can teachers create a yoga class environment that is safe and furthers a survivor’s inward exploration? This requires thoughtful consideration, personal reflection and a willingness to be guided by the student. I believe that once teachers have been sensitized to the mind, body and spiritual impacts of sexual trauma, designing classes that are inclusive and welcoming to survivors becomes quite intuitive. Seasoned yogis and sexual trauma experts agree that symptoms—be they physical, psychological or more subtle—are messages that we need balance and naturally direct us towards the places within that require our attention. Refining this kind of self-trust through practicing yoga fortifies a survivor’s resilience. Our communities benefit tremendously when yoga teachers learn about how trauma manifests in the body and acquire techniques for creating a nurturing and empowering environment for survivors. Engaging with the practice of yoga to support my healing as well as teaching survivors has shown me that there remains great deal of nuance left to be uncovered in how we understand and implement trauma-informed yoga. Molly Boeder Harris is a yoga instructor and founder of The Breathe Network, a non-profit organization that connects survivors of sexual violence with trauma-informed holistic healers.
Photo: JPhotography CHICAGO, NEW YORK
Chopra in Chicago The Akshaya Patra Foundation hosted its Chicago Food for Education benefit at Navy Pier on Oct. 19. In his keynote address, Dr. Deepak Chopra wove together his research on the science of extreme hunger and its affects on the molecules in the body, the possibility of healing through meditation, mantra and selfreflection in addition to proper nourishment, and the call for “yoga in action,” specifically the mission of Akshaya Patra to nourish the children in India. In a moving and inspiring address, Executive Director Emily Rosenbaum, shared how the Akshaya Patra Foundation is addressing the problem of malnourished children and simultaneously promoting education for underserved children in India. She states that “only $15 a year can feed a child, who is hungry for school and eager to make it in this world.” In Sanskrit, Akshaya Patra means abundant and inexhaustible, and this term has its origins in the great epic Mahabharata referring to a pot of food which provides endless nourishment. Akshaya Patra has made a Commitment to Action as part of the Clinton Global Initiative, which calls together global leaders to develop solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. As reported in an Akshaya Patra press release President Bill Clinton visited one of the foundation’s kitchens in Jaipur, India in July 2014. He remarked, “The lunches served are not only healthy meals for kids, they are also tools that help to get more children into the classroom.” For more pictures from the event, please go to illuminmagazine.net, and for more information on Akshaya Patra, please go to foodforeducation.org.
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g g g g n g n i n n n i i i i v v v v v o o o o o M M M M M g g g g n g n i n n n i i i i v v v v v o o o o o M M M M M meditation by Jennifer Boeder
f you were to look up “dynamic duo” in a dictionary of Chicago artists, the definition might very well read “see Nadine Lollino and Bob Garrett.” Lollino is a dancer, massage therapist and yoga teacher, while Garrett is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, producer and most recently percussionist for the Chicago production of Sting’s musical The Last Ship. The pair co-founded PosterchildArt, a multimedia art group that allows them to combine their love of choreography, performance and live music. But PosterchildArt doesn’t simply make art— they’re striving to create change, break down barriers and bring movement to the masses by offering a workshop they call “Moving Meditation.”
I sat down with Lollino and Garrett at their Temple Gallery space in Pilsen to find out more about Moving Meditation, why most of us are so afraid to dance, why movement is so good for us and what they hope students experience at their workshops.
What was the genesis of Moving Meditation? How did you two come up with this idea? Lollino: I studied dance and movement therapy in college, so I’ve been aware for a long time of how movement can help people to heal themselves. When I first moved to the city, I saw a flyer up for a “trance dance” event that described how people could come and move,
bring journals, write about their experiences— and I thought, wait, that’s dance therapy! Not in a clinical form, but still, it was my first realization that you could do movement therapy with people even if you didn’t have a master’s degree in the subject.
mind telling my body what to do, and paying attention to what that feels like. So it’s a mindful practice where you’re watching thoughts and emotions arise, and being aware of what comes up as you move. I wanted meditation in the title for that reason.
Garrett: Early on in our artistic partnership, we were talking about ways we could work together as dancer and musician. We began by doing performances at Links Hall that incorporated live music and performance, which led to the birth of PosterchildArt.
Why are people so terrified of dancing in public?
Lollino: Bob toured nationally for four years with “The Lion King,” and I did massage and taught yoga to the cast and crew. That tour was when we first started doing what we called at the time “trance dance” or “ecstatic dance.” Why don’t you call it trance dance anymore? Lollino: I didn’t want to call it dance, because I didn’t want people to immediately think it was something they couldn’t do. I really want people to think of it as movement. Trance also has some connotations of leaving your body or of being taken over, and I wanted people to think of this experience as more coming into your body. When I’m dancing in this free-form improvisational way, I’m moving without my
Garrett: My theory is that when language was first developing, there was a single word that meant music and dance. To me, they go hand in hand and are so often the same thing. We’ve separated the two in Western culture, which is I think part of why people have such trepidation about dance these days. People become scared and self-conscious about dancing, because we’ve been taught that it’s something you go see, something you can be a spectator of, not something you can actually do.
Lollino: Something I hear over and over from moving meditation students is that this experience brings them back to their childhoods, to a time where they felt uninhibited in their movements. When we were first performing as PosterchildArt, people would come up afterwards and say “That made me want to get up and dance!” That was super exciting—and
g If someone already has a yoga or meditation practice, why should they try moving meditation? How are they different? Lollino: One participant told me she felt moving meditation allowed her to move more three-dimensionally. Yoga has these specific forms with the asanas, and sometimes we can get stuck just moving on one plane, trying to move the way we are told. Dance allows for so much movement in all directions. I think it can help yoga students develop more whole body awareness. Moving meditation can help you learn about your body in a very loose, free-form way, which you can then take into yoga and apply specific techniques and alignment to. Garrett: It’s more about intuitive movement than a traditional asana practice is. I’m not playing prerecorded music; it’s all happening live, so I kind of end up steering the ship for a lot of the journey. We’re encouraging students to connect to the music and the rhythm.
Photos by Brian Kallies
I wanted them to have a way to do that. This is why I studied dance therapy: I wanted people to be able to find the same freedom and healing through movement that I did. So the question became, how can we create an environment where other people are able to join in the movement?
As PosterchildArt, Nadine Lollino and Bob Garrett team up to create a uniquely transformative experience— helping people connect to the power of their bodies through dance and the rhythm of live music.
Lollino and Garrett facilitate the Moving Meditations workshop at various spaces in Chicago and plan to offer it in other cities. Upcoming workshops will be at yogaview Chicago, 2211 North Elston Ave. Learn more at posterchildart.com.
Continued on page 36 illuminechicago.com 35
Continued from page 35
What would you say to someone who said “I could never do this workshop, I’m a terrible dancer. I have no rhythm. I’d be way too embarrassed”?
Garrett: It’s similar to when people say they can’t do yoga because they aren’t flexible enough. You don’t have to wait to feel fearless before doing this meditation—the same way you don’t have to wait to become flexible before starting yoga.
Lollino: Truly, if people feel embarrassed or inhibited about moving, that’s actually a great reason to do the workshop. We want to encourage people to perhaps do the thing they are afraid to do. And know it’s OK to be afraid; you can work with your fears in a mindful way. In practical terms, I reassure people that we keep the lights very low; everyone is in their own space, paying attention to their own experience, and you don’t have to interact with anyone. We do our best to create a calm atmosphere. If you feel some fear, you will definitely not be the only one! So many people have said to me, I was so afraid to do this and that’s actually why I came.
Lollino: Working with and through that fear is a huge part of why we’re doing this.
What is your hope for these workshops? What would you like practitioners to leave the room with?
create a space with no judgments and no labels, to give participants a place to shake out the cobwebs of hours of inactivity and stresses, to let loose the rigidity of hitting their marks throughout the day and to find joy in taking the time to be with themselves. Jennifer Boeder is a writer and editor who has been teaching yoga in Chicago for 15 years. See more of her work at jboeditorial.com.
Garrett: We hope people feel that their ears have been opened up a little bit. We’re trying to offer a way for them to tap into that childhood effervescence, that completely un-self-conscious movement. Lollino: We want moving meditation to help
Read an extended version of our interview with PosterchildArt at illuminechicago.com.
d o o f s s e l r Fea
g n i n e d r Ga land in Chicago
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 petersongarden.org.
y January most of us have settled in for the long haul. While you’re stuck indoors daydreaming about warmer temperatures, why not imagine and plan your garden for the spring? Location, Location, Location Location is critical, so consider it carefully. Most crops need “full sun” in order to thrive, which means six or more hours of direct sunlight a day. Less sun will slow plant growth. Still, some vegetables can do well in “part sun,” meaning two to four hours of morning or midday sun, while others will tolerate dappled shade under a tree or lattice.
Illustrations: Scott Westgard
Survey your outdoor space, keeping in mind that sun exposure changes throughout the year. In midwinter, the sun is much lower in the sky than it is in summertime. Areas that are now blanketed in shade might actually enjoy full sun at the height of summer. Observe how the sun moves over the course of a day, then project where your sunniest spot will be. Areas facing the south will have more exposure, and the more sun the better. Situate your garden in a place that’s convenient to you—preferably somewhere close to the house or garage. You’ll be more attentive to an area that you see and pass by regularly. It also should be near your water supply and tools, which you’ll need to use on a daily basis. You want gardening to be an enjoyable experience, not a chore.
What to Grow
As you ponder what to plant, time and space will be your main considerations. Since our growing season in Chicago is relatively short, we recommend focusing on high-yield and continuous-yield crops, such as tomatoes, beans, peppers and leafy greens, which will continue to produce a harvest throughout much of the season. These crops will net you the most for the space they occupy.
As you finalize your plant list, consider how much space each plant will take up once it reaches maturity. Then start planning your garden layout. An effective technique is to divide your bed into a grid, with each square measuring one square foot, then organize your plantings per square foot. So if you have 12 square feet, you’ll have 12 squares in which to plant.
Be selective about planting space-hogging crops like squash, melons and cucumbers. They’ll grow rapidly and produce creeping vines that can easily take over your garden. The best way to accommodate a vining plant is to grow “up” rather than out. This means securing the vine to a vertical structure such as a trellis, cage, fence or even a tree, as it grows. A plant growing vertically will cast a shadow, so make sure not to plant other sun-loving crops too close—at least not directly to the north where they’ll be shaded.
Plant spacing is determined by mature plant size, which varies widely. Cabbage and tomato plants, for example, are large and should be allotted one square foot each, at minimum. On the other hand, beets and spinach are small and can be planted up to nine per square foot. This method of planting is often called “intensive” because it yields high productivity in a small space.
If you’re growing food to save money, you can measure a crop’s value in terms of price per pound, bearing in mind that vegetable prices vary depending on region, season and where you shop. You can also determine value by how much a crop yields relative to the space it takes up. Of course, taste buds and sentiment might win out over economics. It’s always OK to grow something for the sheer joy of growing it!
Now is a good time to sketch out a simple garden map. This will be your guide as you start planting, and it will be especially handy when plants are young and it’s hard to identify what’s what. Your map will also serve as a historical reference for future garden planning.
he largest and oldest trade show devoted to locally- and regionallyproduced foods will include a festival day that will welcome the public to participate in the “good food” movement. The indoor fair will take place on Saturday, March 21 at Chicago’s UIC Forum and will be the closing event of the 11th annual Good Food Festival and Conference, which runs March 19-21.
All photos on this page by Kaitlyn McQuaid
by Bob Benenson
Jim Slama is president of FamilyFarmed, the non-profit organization that stages the event. Prior to founding FamilyFarmed more than 15 years ago, Slama published the award-winning holistic lifestyle magazine Conscious Choice and ran the environmental advocacy organization Sustain. A native of Ohio, he has lived his adult life in the Chicago area and has devoted himself to advancing these causes.
Slama notes that while there are many interpretations of what “good food” means, the one that guides FamilyFarmed and the Good Food Festival is “delicious, healthy food, accessible to all, produced as close to home as possible by family farmers and producers who use sustainable, humane and fair practices.”
Demand for local and sustainably grown food has in fact soared in recent years, spawning what is now widely known as the good food movement. Slama defines this as “a fastgrowing movement creating vast numbers of jobs and economic development by providing people with food that matches their values.”
ore than just about eating and drinking, the consumer-oriented festival will feature interactive programs that show the important role that good food practices play in helping individuals and families maintain a holistic lifestyle. Continued on page 40
Pictured are a sampling of the abundant opportunities for learning on the Good Food Commons, Chefs At Play demonstration (Rick Bayless), Localicious bites, and mini DIY workshops.
Photos: Kaitlyn McQuaid and Barry Brecheisen
Continued from page 39
The focus of the festival’s teaching and discussion programming is the Good Food Commons, which consists of six “resource centers,” including “Make Your Own,” “Raise Your Own,” “Grow Your Own,” “Preserve It,” “Compost It” and “Community Building.” Attendees last March learned from experts, many of them local and sustainable food entrepreneurs. The sessions covered a wide range of topics, from how to make heirloom yogurts, condiments and cheeses to raising goats, bees, chickens and rabbits. Other workshops explored preserving, fermenting and canning food; building your own composting system; and starting or participating in programs such as a community garden or a seed-saving library. The Commons will be located outside the main hall where dozens of vendors will present and sample their products and services, and where food and drink will be available for purchase.
Workshops, open to festival attendees, will be held elsewhere in the UIC Forum building. The first two days of the Good Food Festival and Conference, focused on local food issues, also are open to interested members of the public who register and pay a fee. The Good Food Festival will be preceded, on Friday night, March 20, by Localicious, one of Chicago’s premier annual food and drink tasting events. This ticketed event features sample offerings from top area chefs who incorporate locally and regionally produced ingredients in their menus, and from craft beverage makers from Chicago and the upper Midwest. Friday morning and afternoon will feature a Local and Sustainable Products Trade Show, a School Food Conference and a Food Policy Conference.
Thursday, March 19 will feature the Good Food Financing & Innovation Conference, which will mark the public debut of the first group of participants in FamilyFarmed’s new Good Food Business Accelerator. The group will pitch their business plans to investors and financiers with a proven interest in food entrepreneurship. The Good Food Business Accelerator was created to assist promising food businesses through mentoring, technical assistance and networking.
Bob Benenson is FamilyFarmed’s communications specialist and manages its website Good Food on Every Table. He previously was a political journalist in Washington, D.C., for 30 years before he moved to Chicago in 2011.
yogaview teacher trainings and continuing education for teachers visit yogaview.com for details
For students new to yogaview— $29 for 2 weeks of unlimited yoga Noah Maze—Yoga Teacher Enhancement Intensive February 17-20, 2015 Teacher Trainings Spring 2015 Level 1: March 14 - May 24 Level 2: March 12 - June 11
Please visit www.yogaview.com for retreats, workshops, class schedules and upcoming events. 40 illuminechicago.com
2211 N. Elston, Chicago 1231 Green Bay Road, Wilmette 773.342.YOGA www.yogaview.com
Chef Sarah Stegner in the Prarie Grass Cafe kitchen.
serves up sensational and sustainable cuisine by Linda Mura O’Toole
n 1999, Prairie Grass Café chef and cofounder Sarah Stegner, Chicago food writer Abby Mandel and a handful of Chicago’s top chefs joined forces to create Green City Market, Chicago’s premier farmers market in Lincoln Park. Green City Market has become a Midwest institution, and Stegner currently serves as its co-president. Given her background, it’s only fitting that the menu at Prairie Grass Café in Northbrook features salads, appetizers and entrees made with locally grown and sustainable fruits, vegetables and meat.
Photos by Grant Kessler and Ron Kaplan, provided by Prarie Grass Cafe
Stegner’s numerous accolades, including two awards from the James Beard Foundation, are well-deserved. It’s no surprise that she, along with Prairie Grass Café co-founder and chef George
Bumbaris, can take a popular menu item like the all-American hamburger, give it a makeover and transform it into something fresh, flavorful and unique. Voted by Chicago Magazine readers as the #1 sirloin burger in the city, Prairie Grass Café’s version pairs this classic standby with Amish blue cheese, a juicy beefsteak tomato, grilled onions and potato wedges that outdo French fries any day. It’s presented without a bun— an ideal choice for proponents of a high-protein, low-carb diet. A restaurant located in the Midwest can’t ignore beef, but vegetarians won’t be disappointed. The seasonal vegetarian dinner boasts quinoa cakes and roasted vegetables as well as a phyllo strudel of mushrooms, glazed onions, Gruyere cheese, butternut squash and turnips with hazelnuts. Prairie Grass Café is a member of the Shedd Aquarium’s “Right Bite” program, guaranteeing that all of its fish selections are from ecologically sustainable fisheries. The ahi tuna seared rare combines savory and slightly sweet flavors and includes baby bok choy, shiitake mushrooms and a spicy soy sauce with sesame seeds. For the diehard Midwesterner, the menu features a sautéed Lake Superior whitefish with creamy mashed potatoes complemented with a basil remoulade. My favorite dinner entrée is the crispy half boneless chicken with brown sugar glazed acorn squash and wild rice with toasted pine nuts. Whoever said chicken is boring needs to visit Prairie Grass Café.
Dessert, including seasonal pies created by Stegner’s mother, should not be missed. Upon one visit, I enjoyed a cupcake that looked just like a Hostess cupcake from my childhood lunchbox, but this one had adult-size chocolate flavor with a swirl of creamy vanilla frosting. Prairie Grass Café features a Sunday and Saturday brunch that equals any trendy city hot spot. A quick drive to Northbrook on a Sunday morning and you may get served faster than the time it takes to stand in line outside your favorite Chicago pancake place. Ingredients from local sustainable farms, menu items for vegetarians and meat-lovers, and awardwinning chefs make Prairie Grass Café a delicious destination for suburbanites and city dwellers. Prairie Grass Café is located at 601 Skokie Boulevard, Northbrook; (847) 205-4433. The restaurant serves lunch Monday through Friday and dinner Monday through Sunday. Brunch is served on Saturday and Sunday. For more information, visit prairiegrasscafe.com. illuminechicago.com
An illumined life When we enter the world, weâ€™re numbered. 21 inches long 7 pounds 6 ounces As we grow, we accumulate more numbers. 1520 SAT score 1328 Michigan Avenue There comes a time when men and women begin to take on different numbers. Trump: $4 billion net worth Marilyn: 37-23-36 Our attachments to numbers grow and grow. And yet, in the end, we all boil down to 1: the indivisible number. The sum of purity, security and wholeness. This is our manifesto: to bring all humans back to oneness, to unity. To reconcile inequality. To advance the message that there is no true separation between one and another.
Photo: Katie Schuering
An illumined life regularly features the manifesto of an inspiring Chicagoan. Send your nomination to Submissions@illuminemagazine.net.
A lifelong advocate for women and girls, Annie Warshaw (left) fights for equality as the cofounder and CEO of Smarty Pants Yoga, an enrichment program that empowers young girls through yoga and reading. President and co-founder Jill Carey (right) calls upon her background in media and graphic design to develop Smarty Pants Yogaâ€™s original curriculum of 75 storybooks.
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