Inner Growth

By Thomas Tiernan



“We are all broken, that’s how the light gets in.” -Ernest Hemingway


Personal growth is often a destructive process. The dread of facing our own fears can lead to a vicious cycle of avoidance. Paradoxically, when you learn how to stop running from life’s inevitable problems, and mindfully face them head-on, you will find you are in greater control.  


Your body, your mind and your surroundings are ever changing. It’s easy to apply labels of like or dislike to what’s happening both inside and around you. It is human nature to avoid what we don’t like and gravitate toward what we find pleasing. However, if we are willing to remain present, and not push away what we label as bad or difficult, we are then able to see past the pain and into the potential.  


We are often taught to do what we can to avoid fear, rather than working through it. It may seem easier to resort to using alcohol, drugs, sex, food or any other activity that temporarily allows us to feel good. This type of avoidance adds layers of suffering that, when unresolved, will likely grow and perhaps even snowball. Learning to embrace dark times teaches us to work with the pain and see obstacles and woes for what they really are: potential growth opportunities.


Working with our inner pain takes us to the source of suffering so that it can be dealt with directly. Self reflection and meditation help us to move past what’s keeping us down, rather than masking or burying our hurts. The seemingly simple acts of sitting down, closing your eyes and having awareness of breath begins a journey of inward healing. Over time and with regular practice, meditation creates new neurological pathways in the brain that usher in new ideas, clarity and a deep understanding of why we are suffering in the first place. Practice paves the way for a more joy filled life.


Meditators are not exempt from the ups and downs of life, but taking the time to explore your inner world will most certainly make you less reactive and move positive. Then, instead of reaching for a vice, it may become easier to choose instead to close your eyes and turn within.


There can be no light without darkness. We must learn to see moments of discomfort as doorways to beautiful growth, not insurmountable walls. Just as a caterpillar moves inward, facing darkness and suffering to emerge as a butterfly, we humans are capable of turning inward to find what has been there all along; the Divine Soul.

In the words of the beloved Goswami Kriyananda, “meditate, meditate, meditate.  Meditate daily and you will come to discover two truths: who you are and what you are becoming.”


Thomas teaches meditation every Tuesday at 5:00pm. He's also leading a FREE/Dontation Meditation Workshop on Saturday, March 18th at 2:00pm.

2/20/2017   Tags:  Direct Link

Beginner Meditation Series Overview

By Susan Short



By now you have probably heard a lot about meditation.   You may have read about the benefits, the different types of meditation, and possibly the “right” way to do it.  You may be too intimidated to try it or perhaps you’ve tried and been so frustrated by your racing thoughts, that you’ve given up.


If you’d like to learn how to meditate in a warm and accepting environment, this series is for you.  I believe I present mindfulness meditation in a simple, direct, and easy to understand way.  The practice of meditation is just that – a practice.  They do not call it mindfulness perfection.  We all have times when we sit and our mind is racing.  As long as we are human, we will have thoughts.  The key is being aware of the thoughts, and then coming back to the awareness of your breath.  Again and again.


In this series you will first be guided to find the best posture for your unique body.  Finding the right support in order to maintain a straight spine is the first step.  This does not mean full lotus pose.  It might mean reclining.  It could be sitting in a chair.  The exact position is not as important as supporting a straight and open spine.


Next, we will dive deeply into your breath.  Where can you feel the breath moving in your body?  What we will focus on is strengthening your diaphragmatic breathing.  This deep belly breath can be one of the most nourishing exercises you can do for your nervous system.  Diaphragmatic breathing can calm the mind quickly when practiced regularly.

The third area we will examine is the energy of your mind.  What is the weather of your mind in this moment?  What are the velocity and intensity of your thoughts?  Can you observe this without judgment?   Your thoughts come and go.  Getting into the laboratory of your mind will help strengthen your mindfulness on and off the cushion.


All the while I will be helping you establish your own personal practice one step at a time.  You already have this ability within you – to breathe diaphragmatically and to be aware of the activity of your mind – and it is free.  In developing your daily meditation practice, you are giving yourself the most precious and priceless gift: the gift of being alive and present for your life.

I hope to see you at the series.


4-Part Beginner Meditation Series

Sundays,February 5th, 12th, 19th, 26th



You can register for the series under "workshops."



1/25/2017   Tags:  meditation beginner Direct Link

Embracing Discomfort

By Thomas Tiernan


Most of us reading this are blessed enough to be living in a great amount of comfort.  We wake up in cozy beds in climate controlled homes. We have climate controlled transportation, which brings us from one comfortable environment to the other.  To top it all off, we have the ability to order products and food without ever having to venture out and impinge on our sense of well-being.

As a society, we have gone to great lengths to make sure we have access to something comfortable at all times. With the advent of technology, it would also seem that our overall quality of life is enhanced, but has technology really helped us? The downside to making sure that things feel agreeable and easy is that we either forget or never learn how to deal with discomfort. Try leaving your phone at home sometime when you leave for work. It would likely make you feel so unsettled that it would feel better and more sensible to drive back home to retrieve the phone. I’ve experienced this myself!. Our minds associate certain objects and emotions with comfort so when discomfort arises, the mind revolts until comfort is restored. We have not trained ourselves to remain centered, to embrace the discomfort and to learn from the moment. This is one of the reasons so many struggle to meditate.

When we sit down for a meditation session, we must then deal with all of the discomfort of our mind and body in the same moment. Turning within strips us of all the distractions we have created to help us remain in our respective comfort zones. I know it doesn’t seem like a great sales pitch for meditation, but bear with me. In the beginning stages, most of our time sitting in meditation is spent arguing with our ego. The mind says it is bored, that this activity is a waste of time. The mind is so convincing that it tells stories to lure the meditator away from his or her seat of stillness to other, seemingly, less boring ways to problem solve.

Then something beautiful happens. One day the mental arguing ceases and the space between thoughts emerges. Within this space, no matter how miniscule it may seem in the beginning, lies peace, equanimity, bliss, quietude and what we have been looking for all along, comfort. Over time, you’ll come to find that the type of comfort that comes from meditation is one that will never fade.

It’s important to remember that meditation, the practice of finding the quiet and peace within, is a process that will take time. Meditating requires patience. If we are gentle with ourselves, we can slowly open the door to the endless beauty of Life and create a space within that we can return to time and time again.



Thomas Tiernan teaches meditation in the Kriya tradition each Tuesday at 5:00pm at Total Body Yoga

1/17/2017   Tags:  meditation; peace Direct Link

Winter Renews and Restores



By Stephanie Rehor


As winter arrives and the year comes to an end, we have received a beautiful invitation from nature to come back home to ourselves. Each season offers a gift. The gift of winter, if we choose to accept it, is to turn inward and reconnect to our center. The shorter days of winter offer us time to go within, to create space to see what we are holding onto that doesn’t serve our best interests. What is ready to go? What are we called to detach from and what expectations do we need to drop? What is redundant and what is the old story? These are important questions to ask and all the answers lie within us. Winter is about the journey back to the darkness, the place to reevaluate and restore. Nature is giving us permission to put it down, to rest, and to reconnect. This shows us not only what it is that we need to let go of but also the ways in which we let go. Can we stop for a moment and find the places that allow this to happen? For me, I let go when I do yoga. I let go when I dance, I let go when I laugh, I let go when I am surrounded by love, and I let go when I feel safe. Most of all, I let go when I become present in my own body. Winter is an opportunity to come back home. This is a chance to connect to the nature inside of us. We are woven into nature so there is actually no division but we tend to lose sight of this amidst the busyness of life. When we reconnect, we soften our edges and allow. Letting go is not a forceful act but a beautiful surrendering. For this surrendering to happen we must move into our bodies and develop compassion from the inside out. As this happens, we connect with our hearts a little more. Yogic teachings point to the heart center as our center of being. When we open our hearts we nourish the body with love. The body deserves this, not only because it inhabits the soul, but because it has taken on everything and has housed all of our struggles and all of our wounding. Compassion, which comes straight from the heart center, heals these wounds. So even though we may be receiving wonderful, material presents this time of year, we need to remember the earth is also bestowing many gifts including restoration, introspection, and connection. When we are connected we let go with love and healing pours in. This frees up a lot of heaviness so we can go into the new year with a little more space to create fulfilling lives and align with our truth. Retreating to our inner world essentially moves us towards our highest purpose.

12/21/2016   Tags:  winter, solstice, heart Direct Link

The Yoga of Politics

by Stephanie Rehor


Being a yogi and political activist are two things that do not always jive. Before yoga, I had an affinity towards protests and to this day the thought of loud chaotic bantering and free flowing radical expression still excites me.  Since I’ve turned to yoga, I am still an activist but I look at things in a different light. This light is more in touch with reality and how change will actually manifest. I take this inspiration from great yoga teachers, such as Seane Corn, founder of the yoga activist group Off the Mat into the World. In one interview she talks about a moment of self-realization when after a protest she saw a picture of herself and fellow activists standing in a line with their mouths wide open and eyes shut. In this moment it dawned on her that these protests were only serving as an outlet to express anger. She recognized she was not asking the big question – what is to be done? This is often what I think of when dealing with the recent political climate. It is not new information that this country is riddled with anxiety. Especially after the debates I felt our collective energy was completely drained. This election has left most of us worrying about the future and what is going to be done about the many issues that we are currently facing. As a yogi, it is natural to want to retreat into the yoga bubble. We have access to a place where everything feels so serene. However, a part of the practice is to face what may be uncomfortable or even scary. While the releasing quality of yoga often results in a state where it feels like the weight of the world is lifted off, we are always all carrying the weight of the greater collective – whether we like it or not. The yoga of politics is about dropping the idea that we are separate. When one person suffers, we all suffer. That is why it is so important for everyone to get involved. This means voting, talking to people, serving the community, helping each other, doing what it takes to heal ourselves and the heal world. The change starts with us and there is no one better for the job than the people of the conscious community. Together, we can plant the seeds for a better tomorrow and create the type of world we want our children’s children to live in.


11/7/2016   Tags:  yoga, politics, vote, charity, karma Direct Link

TBY Teacher Feature: Audrey Craddock

TBY Featured Teacher:
Audrey Craddock
A Passion for Practice

Interviewed by Julia Jonson

Describe your journey into yoga and how it’s impacted your daily life.

In my early 20's I bought a yoga DVD and started practicing in the privacy of my living room. I wanted to become more flexible and stronger and had heard great things about yoga, so I gave it a shot. I wasn't consistent though, and eventually stopped.  Many years later I began to suffer from sciatica and was encouraged by a chiropractor to take up yoga again.  I actually took my very first class at Total Body Yoga and was just blown away by how good I felt. I walked out of class feeling like the weight of the world had been lifted off of my shoulders.  Looking back I realize I'd gotten to a point in life where anxiety was the norm, my body was in constant discomfort, and my mind wasn't in a happy space.  I immediately knew yoga would forever be a part of my life.  My aches and pains began to disappear, my anxiety started to subside. I just felt like a happier version of myself.  Over the years I've ebbed and flowed from a more vigorous practice to more gentle, therapeutic movements. I currently try to practice daily and in the last year have become much more committed to a meditation practice. It keeps me sane, happy and grateful for even the smallest things in life.


You’ve said one of your passions is offering yoga to athletes. What it’s like to teach runners, triathletes and Ironman Athletes?


I love it! It absolutely fills me to the brim to offer something so peaceful and healing to these amazing people who are so dedicated to their sport and who put so much time and effort into their training.  They are in motion so often, so giving them that hour or so of space and time to slow down, to connect with themselves and their breath, and to help their bodies recover feels very impactful.  It has also made me realize how much athletes and yogis have in common …. The focus, discipline, and body awareness.  Plus, there is a meditative quality to long runs, bike rides, swims, and walks. I hope that as I learn more through my 500 hour training, I'm able to offer even more to athletes in the area.


You’re an athlete yourself. What role does your yoga practice play in this part of your life?


It plays a huge roll. I use the physical practice to keep myself stretched out and to help keep all of my stabilizing muscles strong.  When I don't find time to practice daily, even if it's only 15 minutes, I'm a tight, uncomfortable mess. I really credit yoga as the reason I've been injury free thus far. I also meditate daily and find that it helps with my training as well.  It allows me to stay focused without being too insanely attached to the outcome of things.


How exciting that you’ve chosen to earn your 500 hour yoga certification! I know the program you’ve chosen is truly one-of-a-kind. Please elaborate.  


I have to thank Brooke Cline, who also teaches at TBY, for encouraging me to apply for the Yoga Medicine 500 hour teacher training program with Tiffany Cruikshank. I've so far completed one 60-hour module that focused on Chinese Medicine and Myofascial Release. The program is unique in that it allows you to pick and choose which modules you'd like to take, so you're able to focus or specialize in different areas. I plan to take the orthopedic modules (hip, shoulder, spine, etc) along with a yin and meditation module and possibly even a module that works on cadavers. It's very anatomy based, so I'm learning so much about our fascinating bodies. I can't wait to continue to grow my teaching so I'm able to offer more to my students.


When I practiced with you recently, I felt like we did some really deep work with tennis balls that truly left me feeling really at ease, balanced and even well rested. Tell me about the myofascial release work that are often part of the framework of your classes.


Self myofascial release (SMR) is awesome! It's the same concept as foam rolling but I typically use tennis or lacrosse balls. I find you're able to get into smaller, more isolated areas of the body with these smaller objects. You essentially use your bodyweight to work through the different layers of fascia to help hydrate the tissues, break up adhesions, reduce friction, and improve range of motion.  It's a great way to work into areas of discomfort or tightness because of an injury, scar tissue, bad posture ….  the list goes on. It's a perfect compliment to yoga so I've been including it more in my classes. Each week I try to give students different ideas as to how they can use myofascial release to address their tightness so that they are able to do it on their own.


Yoga used to be this obscure and mysterious practice and now it’s everywhere. Why do you think yoga continues to grow in popularity?  


I think it's simple: people realize how much better they feel when they practice yoga. I feel like our society really thrives on keeping us super busy and we're finally starting to realize that maybe that such busyness isn't good for us. Taking the time to slow down, to unplug from technology, to appreciate our breath and to connect with our internal body are all things that yoga encourages. Being present can make you feel more alive.


Any favorite thing, guilty pleasure or little-known fact about you that you’d be willing to share with the TBY community?


Ha! Well, I do have a weakness for fun shoes, hip-hop music and pickles. Not in any particular order. I've also become known for wearing crazy, fun or wild yoga pants.  The more outrageous the pattern the better!  They make me feel strong and invincible and put a smile on my face.

Audrey's Teaching Schedule:
Sunday 11:00am Basics
Sunday 12:30pm Gentle Basics
10/30/2016   Tags:  yoga, running, myofascial release Direct Link

TBY Teacher Feature: Michelle Fiore

TBY Teacher Feature
Michelle Fiore: The Path to Joy


Interviewed by Julia Jonson

Michelle Fiore’s love of music combined with her journey into yoga has led to a very interesting path in life. She’s a musician who plays the bass, the guitar, drums, gongs, you name it. Michelle is a recording artist, teacher of Tantra and a Kundalini Yoga teacher at Total Body Yoga. She explains Kundalini energy as the powerful creative energy that dwells in all of us. Kundalini yoga is a technology for awakening this energy. When awakened, it can help us to live in our fullest creative potential, supporting us in all of our hopes and dreams. Practicing Kundalini yoga is very healthy for the body because it works all the internal systems. Practitioners typically report leaving class feeling refreshed, renewed and revitalized. I had the joy of sitting down with Michelle and hearing about her life path.

J: I loved talking with you recently about your Midwestern roots and your musical background. Paint a picture of your journey to your yogic present through your musical past.

M: I found yoga just when I needed it. It saved me. I was young, healthy, had a great marriage, financial security, a successful business and all the material items I was told would “make me happy.” I was far from happy and this is when my soul search began and when I discovered yoga would lead the way.

As I went deeper into my own practice and into certification programs to become a teacher, my life began to change. Others around me began to notice an inner joy.

All of this led me back to my musical roots. I began incorporating my music into some of my classes, which elevated my own practice immensely. I saw it affecting practitioners too.

Yoga combined with music have empowered me to maintain things in life that both fulfill and fuel me. Music and yoga help to bring purpose to my life.

J: Andrew and I were humming along to the lovely sounds of you, and fellow Kundalini yoga teacher Carol Crawford, rehearsing recently. Tell us about being a recording artist with your band Preet.

M: I wasn’t even looking to start a yoga band, but life’s synchronicity's led me to become part of “Preet.” My yogic name is Puranpreet, fellow member Carol is Sahejpreet and band member Kitty is Sangatpreet, hence the name. The word “preet” in Kundalini yoga is one form of unconditional love. How fitting!

Our signature sound is a unique blend of acoustic guitar music that is decorated with celestial harmonies. The message of our music is all about going within (oneself) so that we can create more love in all aspects life.

We have performed at Kundalini Yoga Summer Solstice Celebration in New Mexico, which is the World’s largest annual Kundalini Yoga gathering. More recently, we appeared at the Midwest Women’s Yoga Retreat held in Wisconsin. We have regular events in various studios throughout Chicagoland and our CD “Celestial Essence” will be out later this year.

There are few greater joys in my life than sharing this music in combination with yoga.

J: There’s a huge theme of “sound” in your life ….

M: Sound is such a gift! I started playing the guitar when I was eight years old. Music always stayed with me. I completed college at NIU with a Masters in Music Performance. Every single time I perform I feel comforted, soothed and healed.

Whether I’m playing with an orchestra, harmonizing with friends around a firepit, singing on a Saturday night, or performing in a “Preet” event, music offers the magic of joy and connection for me.

In fact, the vibration within sound is so transformational that I have come to know vibration as one of the languages of yoga. It is so powerful.

J: You have so much education and experience teaching yoga. I was excited to hear that you were invited to start the process of teaching teachers. Please elaborate.  

M: It has been a dream of mine to become a Kundalini Yoga Teacher Trainer, which will be my 5th yoga certification. It’s a dream that’s coming true as I’ve been invited to be a junior trainer at Spirit Rising Yoga (the main Kundalini Yoga training center in Chicago). I’ll be working closely with Shiva Singh Khalsa and Shabad Kaur Khalsa, who are my trainers. Both of them studied with the master Kundalini Yoga teacher Yogi Bhajan.

As the Latin proverb goes, “by learning you will teach, by teaching you will learn,” I know this will take my knowledge of the ancient teachings of Kundalini Yoga to a whole new level.  While it will take me many years to complete my training, I’m committed and feel a great sense of purpose. I’m blessed to be fulfilling my destiny while helping others to find their own passions.

J: How would you describe your teaching style?   

M: I consider myself to be a dynamic teacher. In a typical class, I will offer ways where the practitioner can expand their awareness around Kundalini Energy so they have the potential to have an experience in their very first class. That is balanced out with quiet moments so the practitioner can really “tune in” and listen to what is occurring for them. It is so much about simply raising awareness. When the student learns the capacity to work with intention, and then sets their focus on that intention, awareness is raised so much that it  can expand!

J: In your opinion, why do you think yoga, in its many forms, has exploded in the Western world?  

M: We live in a time where people are seeking. We want something more than our parents had. We want fulfillment on a deeper level. Yoga offers this. That feeling of peace, calm and clarity keeps us coming back to the mat. This inevitably seeps into daily life, and suddenly the toolbox is filled with tools to keep us uplifted.

J: Tantra is a subject that is very often misunderstood. I know you’ve gone through extensive training for this and your husband and you both teach the subject matter together. Why tantra, and how did you get involved?

M: Yes, I am a Certified Level 3 Tantra teacher, a process that took more than 3 years. My husband John and I have been together since 1990. In terms of our intimate connection, we got to a place where old patterns and habits were creating blocks to expanding our connection. Studying and practicing Tantra helps us to see and to break through those obstacles or blockages. The result has been better communication, more compassion and deepened sensitivity. And while Tantra is not all about sex, it has deeply affected our sex life too. When our intimate life is connected, flowing and prosperous, all else in life tends to flow more smoothly as well. Who doesn’t want more of THAT?? J

J: Tell us something we’d be hard-pressed to know about you, like a favorite pastime. 

M: I love to watch football. Most people are stunned when they hear I'm an NFL fanatic. I’m 5’2” tall with a small frame, but I sure do know how to root for my team. When I was a kid I played football with the boys all the time. I can still throw a helluva TD pass too! J

Michelle's Teaching Schedule:

Sunday 8:00am Kundalini Yoga
Tuesday 6:30pm Kundalini Yoga
Saturday 4:30am Kundalini Yoga Sadhana

*Saturday, October 1st, Gong & Music Event: Good Vibrations 
9/29/2016   Tags:  kundalini yoga music kirtan Direct Link

Sacred Space for Your Home Practice

by Stephanie Rehor

In the yoga community I often hear quoted “we create our own reality.” Meaning whatever we plant inside will surface and bloom on the outside. While this notion is lovely, I can’t deny I often find myself challenging it. Universal law states that everything is constantly connected and the outer and inner worlds are permanently linked. So, in that, can we cultivate what’s on the outside to create a better experience on the inside? 

Asking this made me to realize that I don’t only have to travel to a yoga studio to be immersed in the divine energy of a sacred space. I could use my outer experience to enhance my inner experience by building one in my own home.

So how do we do this? While a sacred space can include a whole room it does not necessarily have to be that. My altar is in the corner of my room and it works just fine. Wherever this place may be, there are some important aspects to keep in mind. This involves lighting, energy enhancers, energy clearers, symbols, and journals.

First and arguably most important is lighting. Lighting creates the mood, as different wavelengths of light will affect different functions of the brain. Usually the physical practice of yoga requires a soft brighter light. As we get more into meditation the lighting should be minimal but not total darkness. I have two forms of lighting in my space, a brighter small lamp and a rock salt lamp. For yoga, I put on both lamps and during meditation only the dim rock salt lamp. It is important to note that natural lighting is best and if a natural light source is available it should be utilized. 

As well as light, energy enhancers and clearers are also very important in building this space. Within our spiritual practice we tend to release a lot of energy, so we want to make sure this space is clear and calm and that it will assist us is getting to a meditative state. For me, I use crystals as energy enhancers. There’s an amethyst stone, which balances the crown chakra, aiding in emotional balance and the opening of our spiritual centers. I also keep a clear quartz crystal, which absorbs any negative energy. There are a lot of different crystals that serve different purposes so it’s important to do some research and find a crystal that resonates. I find that amethyst and clear quartz are good ones to start with. To balance energy, we also need energy clearers. In my space I use white sage. When in doubt, smudging is the way to go to clear energy. Burning sage will cleanse, purify, and protect the space. Again, it is necessary to do more research about sage and how to smudge properly. If the smell is unpleasant or if smoke is bothersome, try using essential oils in a diffuser. Some good ones for clearing are rose, frankincense, or lavender.

Additionally, using symbols can be a very powerful in a sacred space. I find symbols are the basis for making it personalized and unique. This can be anything that holds importance. A couple I have in mine are laughing Buddha to symbolize my intention to not take things too seriously, and the word “serenity” to symbolize my intention to uncover peace within. Again, the symbols in the space can be very personalized. For example, someone may put a feather on their altar as a to represent freedom and letting go. These are what we make them; just make sure that they represent the intention of the practice.

Finally, it is good to have a journal in the space to record anything that may come up during the practice. When we clear the mind we are more receptive to messages, some which we desperately need to hear. Resist the urge to resonate on it; this is why it’s good to write it down to look at it later.

So while it’s no secret that our inner experience affects our reality, we have choices about our surroundings. If we consciously make the choice to fill it with sacred energy then we see the space was within us all along. 

6/21/2016   Tags:  sacred space home yoga practice Direct Link

June 21st, International Day of Yoga

What a gift it is to practice yoga! This ancient discipline that's been around for thousands of years is a seemingly perfect way to connect to the heart of who you really are. Yoga makes you healthy, vibrant, more aware, more alive and ultimately more peaceful. Yoga, which has the full attention now of many Western healing models, also has the attention of the United Nations. They've named June 21st International Day of Yoga since U.N. officials see the healing value of yoga when it comes to making people and entire communities more peaceful and connected. Won't you join us for practice tomorrow? In celebration of this special day, that coincides with the Summer Solstice, all Total Body Yoga classes are $10. So bring yourself, or bring a group -- and get connected with your highest self and your community.

Wishing you peace.

6/20/2016   Tags:  international day of yoga Direct Link

Teacher Feature: Christine Stock

TBY Teacher Feature:
Christine Stock
Yogi and Lover of Life! 

(Christine pictured in Revolved Side Angle Pose)

interviewed by Julia Jonson

You are a dancer, have a degree in dance and used to teach. Explain how moving from this discipline into yoga was transformative for you.

I love the way the body moves. I think it is fascinating! Dancing gave me this precise awareness of my body’s posture, and movement to music. But yoga gave me this mind-body connection that actually made me more in sync with my body, more than dancing ever did. Yoga heightened my awareness of my emotions, my breath, and even my organs. Yoga taught me how it feels to live in my body and to appreciate it, flaws and all. It has taught me how to nourish my body starting from the inside and then moving outward. And I love sharing that feeling with my students. I want them not to just think that they are doing a pose correctly by looking at me or another person in the room and mimic that, I want them to really feel it. “Does it feel good?”  How can they move into a pose and even out of it and make it more integrated? Yoga is about being kind to your body and making it work at its most optimal level. Yoga is very personal and a different experience for every student. Each practitioner has a different story, their bodies and minds have been through unique journeys. So the same pose to me is going to feel different to someone else. I am a stickler for proper alignment though. Practicing a pose (asana) correctly is essential to makmg you stronger and more aware.

Like so many Sanskrit terms, the word dharma has different meanings. Using the interpretation of “doing what you were meant to do on this planet,” explain how your chosen path of yoga teacher is your true calling.  

Yoga, for me, is the ultimate elixir and feels like a cure-all.  When I’m sad, I do yoga, when I’m happy … yoga, when I’m tired or not feeling well … the same thing, yoga! It may be just 5 minutes in Child’s Pose or 5 breaths in Downward Facing Dog. Practicing always brings balance. I like teaching and sharing this knowledge and my experiences. If someone says that they do not feel good, I want to help. I believe that yoga is medicine that can improve all qualities of your life. The connections that I make with those I teach are priceless. I love watching them progress and it brings me joy when they say “thanks that is just what I needed today.”

Your path into teaching is fascinating. Describe your teacher training and then the teacher training you’ve been a part of leading.

I got my 200 hour certification in 2003 through Lotus Yoga under the direction of Shirley Walter. My mom was taking classes with Shirley and introduced me to her. Shirley (also known as Sarla) is one of the earliest disciples of Swami Rama and one of the founding directors of the Himalayan Institute in the United States.  She also helped produce some of the first yoga publications in our country. Her instruction and knowledge of Hatha yoga and meditation was invaluable to me. She was an important catalyst in bringing yoga to the U.S. Soon after my certification, I assisted her in her teacher trainings, until she became ill and stopped holding teaching in that way. During and after my training, I studied with Gabriel Halpern, Paul Grilley, Seane Corn, Nicki Doane and Eddie Modestini, Desiree Rumbaugh, as well as  many others to enhance my practice.

You’re embarking on an exciting new chapter as a yoga teacher. Tell us about your upcoming 500 hour training.

I am beyond excited to start my 500 hour teacher training with Tiffany Cruikshank, the founder of Yoga Medicine. I share her a holistic approach to health and wellness and her love of anatomy and the human body. I start on May 7th. I will be in Sedona for a week studying the function and dysfunction of the hip joint. I can’t wait to come back and share what I learn. This training will take me a few years to complete because it is all retreat based but, I get to travel to some beautiful places.

What are your thoughts on modern, western yoga? It seems like the practice itself is morphing, changing, evolving as well as being more readily available. What do you think are some pros and cons of this explosion in popularity.

When I first started yoga, it definitely was not as mainstream. People thought it was a religion or an exercise for “hippies.”  I believe that the modernization of yoga is a positive and creative response to this rapidly changing world. Yoga is popping up everywhere -- in studios, the web, and in corporations. I think that is great and I would love to see it incorporated into more schools. There are so many benefits that come from practicing yoga. I think everyone on this planet should try it. Some of my favorite classes to teach are my corporate classes. The people who attend work so hard all day long sitting at a desk or standing on a factory line. They are so thankful to have this offering at their place of work. They say it improves their work day on many levels by making them more excited to come to work, not to mention the camaraderie of meeting fellow co-workers in class. The not-so-good side of so much yoga … well,  I think you have to be careful and really make sure to find a qualified teacher and a quality studio,  like TBY, to avoid injury.

Do you have a favorite pose, or group of postures that you like to practice or teach? (And why?)

I have a few favorites one of them being the dancing warrior sequence. Where you move from Virabhadrasana I to Virabhadrasana II -- to “reverse warrior” (Parsva Virabhadrasana) then on to side angle pose (Parsvokonasana), then through a basic vinyasa. Linking these poses together and  flowing through them with my breath as my guide is a little dance for me. Also, I love doing core work. If you have ever been to my classes, you know I will try to sneak it into every class because I believe that strong deep-abdominal muscles give you better posture and makes it easier to move not just in your yoga poses but in everyday life.

Family life can be hectic, draining, joyful and awesome all at once. How does being a student of yoga help with being a wife and mom?

All I can say to answer this question is that it has taught me how to breathe, breathe, breathe! And I tell my family to do the same. They may roll their eyes at me but they know that whenever life gets to be too hectic, or too overwhelming, the one thing that works consistently every time is to -  “just, close your eyes and breathe!”

Your eyes light up when you are talking about your family. You beam as you talked about your daughter and two sons. I know it will be challenging to keep it brief, but tell me a bit about your very interesting children!

I love to talk about my children. Tyler is my oldest (21). He is my rock star. He is at Mizzou studying Mechanical Engineering but his passion is in his music and his band, Ray Wild. He plays lead electric guitar, writes his own music and performs. I love to watch him play. I’m his biggest groupie, but have been instructed not to stand in the front row, because that is too embarrassing. My 2nd oldest, Matt (18) is my entrepreneur. He is at Indiana University in the Kelley School of Business.  He loves sports, especially baseball and basketball. Right now thinks he is smarter than his parents, which he is, but please don't tell him that. My daughter, Isabella (15) is  beautiful, smart and talented. She dances with the Stevenson Dance Company and Midwest Dance Collective in Barrington. She loves to sew and wants to go into the fashion business. She is my perfect shopping companion.

You’re so filled with life and such a gorgeous smile. You painted an awesome picture of dancing around your kitchen while cooking. Please elaborate and share some other little-known fact about yourself.  

Haha, thank you! With the right music blaring in the background, it makes everything more fun. Growing up in an Italian household, everything revolved around food, and still does. I love to cook healthy vegetarian meals. I believe you are what you eat, so why not eat a nutritious meal and fuel your body to create a vibrant healthy life. But also, if I want some dark chocolate and a glass of red wine, I’m not going to deprive myself.  I think cooking can be relaxing. I like experimenting with new recipes, but mostly just throwing together whatever I have on hand.

My husband and I love going to all kinds of concerts. I am an 80’s hairband girl at heart. Bon Jovi is my favorite and, I also love country music. This summer, I’m going to see County Thunder, Windy City Lakeshake and the Zac Brown Band -- just to name a few. I like to have fun, travel, dance like nobody's watching, do the things that make me happy. I can really say I have a love for life!
Christine's Schedule:
Tuesday, 9:15 - 10:30am Level 1
Tuesday, 10:45 - 12:00pm Basics
Wednesday, 1:00 - 2:15pm Level 1
6/8/2016   Tags:  Christine Stock Direct Link