That Friend Who Brought You to Your First Yoga Class

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In our case, it was our college buddy Paul.  Everyone loved visiting Paul Toliuszis (rhymes with delicious) when he moved to South Beach after graduating from University of Illinois.  Yoga came into his orbit and then into ours.  He took us to our first class and became our first/now “forever” yoga teacher.  Paul’s taught classes at Om through the years (maybe you were at Transformational Breathing Class way back when or that insanely crazy, fun vinyasa flow class at the old Bucktown studio).  He came back to Om to practice today.  It meant so much to us; we are forever grateful to our dear friend and yoga buddy.   

Young Yogis

We love it.... teenagers in the Yoga Studio!    We’ve shared this practice most recently with the Lane Tech College Prep Cross Country Team.   And we have connected with teenagers at Whitney Young and Lakeview High School in years past,  too. Nothing like a little de-stressing, mood improvement and rejuvenation to end the school day!     Science is studying the teen brain and how mindfulness practices (like yoga) hone their “executive function” as well as help with anxiety. Psychology Today has more info in this article  

PS:  If you want to introduce your Teen to yoga, send them along to the Basics Class (currently scheduled at Noon on Sunday and Wednesday at 6pm).   Or connect with Beth and maybe we can host a special class here or at your child’s school.  Parents Unite!   Yoga for Our Teens!  

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Chicago, IL

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Our uniquely-shaped state and this fine city were home to the 1893 World Parliament of Religions, the first formal gathering of Eastern and Western spiritual traditions.   Today, this gathering is recognized as the birth of formal inter-religious dialogue in the world.  Unity and tolerance and understanding were at the heart of this interfaith gathering.  124 years later, we are here in Chicago practicing and encouraging unity on our mat and beyond.

Interested in more on this gathering and the introduction of raja yoga/yoga of the mind?   Read Swami Vivekananda's Sept 1893 addresses. 

Summer in the City

Yoga is everywhere this summer!  And we're happy to be invited back to lead a session at Navy Pier's Vibe Up Sunset Yoga series.  With almost 100 yogis from all over the city & world, it was mega fun on a perfect Chicago night.   We love to bring a little Om on the Road into the community.

Milestones

It's a milestone day for us.   We are celebrating our oldest son Will's 8th grade graduation.   Our desire in opening up the studio 15 years ago was to do the work we love -- building community, fostering connection and health through yoga/mindfulness -- and raise a family.   Today, that all came together in a big way!  To all the Om students who shared parenting tips, tales and laughs through the years, we thank you.  To our Will, we love you & are proud of the young man you are.  

Coonley Karma

Indigo Girls, Justin Bieber,  Hall & Oats....these were some of the tunes that the Parents of Coonley Elementary School students asked to hear at their yoga fundraiser.   Everyone had a gas at this yoga party and community gathering!   Around $750 was raised for this local grade school that has been around for 100 years.    A big Om shout out to Christine, Christina, Tracy, Susannah and Robin for being co-hosts, for the delicious breakfast treats and for spreading the power of yoga -- especially after drop-off.  

Liz V (+) Yin = Yiz

Sunday/a bolster or pillows/plenty of quiet/just the right amount of warmth/mellow floor poses for two hours.  Yup, we're hooked!  And that's what these quarterly yin workshops with Liz V (aka Yiz) are all about.  Especially perfect on this rainy spring day.

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Nothing like a gathering of parents coming together to focus on yoga, health and fellowship! That's what the Bell Elementary School community got up to at the one & only yogaBELLooza. This is the third  time hosting this Om fundraiser and almost $1000 was raised.   The yoga class playlist was inspired by our kids' favorite songs as well as songs in the recent Bell play production.  That can sure make you smile during class!   And so did the yoga brunch that came together after.  So happy to be a part of our neighborhood!

(Note:  we would love to be a part of your school/church/non-profit community too;  let Beth know if you want to partner up)

Om Teacher Gathering

We have a special teacher tradition at Om on the first Saturday of the new year.   It has just the right ingredients for new beginnings...a yoga practice that we create in real time by taking turns teaching a part of it, an eclectic playlist of a few fav songs from each teacher and then fellowship over lunch and a hysterical white elephant holiday gift swap.  At the end of it all, we are energized and recommitted to each other & what we do at Om.   Yes, we love this team of Om teachers!

(Missing from photos:  Liz Gill, Kelly Moore & Nina Shariff)

Magical Mornings for Deaf Yogis

When the teachers of Bell School's deaf students tell us that Wednesdays are THE BEST day of the week because yoga starts the day, we smile big.  Days are smoother, students and teachers are happier and it is a real highlight of the school week.  This program really serves these students!  The Culminating Class for the winter session included making meditation bead bracelets, some mandala coloring and craft time.   And thanks to the full funding of this Yoga Residency from lululemon athletica and it's Here to Be Grant, there will be another Deaf Yoga Residency in Winter/Spring session in 2017.    Namaste to that!

HERE to BE!

We got the biggest yoga surprise ever! So heart-warming that we got a bit teary.   Our lululemon friends selected us for a HERE to BE Ambassador Grant.  And this grant funds a special program -- the Yoga Residency for Deaf Students at Bell School.

How did it all happen?   As lululemon ambassadors, we were invited to submit a grant request earlier in the year.  The HERE to BE grant parameters are clear:  bring yoga to underserved communities.  What a perfect fit with our efforts at Bell!    

We co-founded this program in 2011 and, along with yogi friends, got the residency funded through numerous gifts from a variety of sources.   So, this grant is a real & powerful acknowledgement of yoga in the community.   There will be two residencies underwritten during the 2016/2017, plus lululemon topped it off by shipping new mats and blocks for students!  

Hats off to HERE to BE and lululemon.   And our gratitude to those who helped start this with us.... Bonnie & Rufus &Irene/Katherine & Anita/ Ba & David, Sheila, Kathy & Susie, Katie/Amanda/Andrea/Brooke, everyone at Bell, Wish List supporters like Steve/PIE, Eboni & Peggy & Mary Frances, Teri and the Om community.  

Yoga in the Curriculum for 2016!

It's Fall...it's back to school time...it's the first day of the Yoga Residency for Deaf Students at Bell Elementary School!    At the heart of this weekly class is Sheila Fox Tam (RYT who leads the class) and Kathy Casillas (Bell teacher & parent & residency advocate).  They took this photo for us and it makes us smile!  We hope it makes all of you smile, too, because the Om community helped foster and fund this sweet yoga program.  

Namaste Europa-style

Ahhh.....summer....and an opportunity to take life and yoga on the road.

Our road led us to a Italy and a Tuscan farm house with friends.   Yoga was part of most mornings at Casa Mennone.  Leisurely mornings.  Our body & soul time reminded us that it really doesn't matter where you are -- in a studio like Om with all the trimmings or on a little deck outside on an odd shaped mat -- because Yoga Works Every Time.   

Add in new perspectives, family time and sweet friendships and you get a road trip with fresh yoga blossoms. 

The BYF

We hosted the BYF last night...that's the BIG YOGA FUNDRAISER...with Africa Yoga Project Visiting Teachers Ba Yubrah and David Ndirangu.  Man, was it amazing!   This was the third time hosting our fellow yoga teachers from Nairobi and AMAZING is what goes down each time.  Om yogis left talking about how fantastic and inspired they felt. Co-hosted with Eb & Flow Yoga Studio & Divine Power Yoga Studio, the BYF raised $2500 to support AYP outreach in Kenya as well as the Yoga Residency for Deaf Students at Bell Elementary School here in Chicago.

Mature Person + Yoga/Meditation = Stronger Thinking Skills

A recent study led by a UCLA professor shows that meditative practices stave off mental decline. When doctors start calling yoga results "potent" and note mood improvement, stronger visuospatial memory, and brain communication to improve language skills and attention control, we take notice!  

Partially funded by the Alzheimer's Research and Prevention Foundation, read more in this New York Times article.  

WATCH THIS!

Our son Jack and his fellow 6th grade friends at Bell Elementary School made this short video about Bell's Yoga Residency for Deaf Students.  Please stay-tuned through the end for two reasons:  

  1. You'll see that the seed for this program was an outreach yoga class by Africa Yoga Project Visiting Teachers Rufus Ngugi (deaf since childbirth) and Irene Auma
  2. Because "The Meme Team" of 11 year olds would love lots of YouTube views!

Walking among Giants

 

 

Terry led a special class today in memory of Maggie Gibbs -- a dear friend, lover of life and yoga believer.   Maggie's character sparkled, healed and inspired.    She led with love and was unstoppable in so many ways.    We honored her at this class and signified the privilege of walking in life with friends like her.

Thanks to all who helped raise a $500 memorial gift to support the good works of the National Breast Cancer Foundation in Maggie's honor.