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.


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!


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's back to school'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. 


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.  


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.  

Yoga Outreach Benefits the Community

It has been bountiful around the studio these past couple months as we hosted some yoga benefits!

Family Yoga with Liz V benefitted our local church/school -- St. Andrew's Parish -- and had an ALL THINGS GREEN theme.  Yoga games, yoga poses and family connection were in abundance.  This photo of "Crossing the Green River" makes it clear this is not "yoga as usual"!  



And the annual Partner Yoga Benefit was sold out again this year with new & returning couples who love a sweet yoga connection through partner poses, partner assists and Thai Massage.   Double downdog anyone?  Terry's Mom selected The Chicago Lighthouse while Beth's Mom chose the Museum of Contemporary Art's docent education program as the beneficiaries.   

These benefits raised more than $2,000, so CHEERS to all supporters!   HOORAY to Om's yoga outreach giving back to the community!  YEAH to unique yoga benefits 14 years strong!

Om's Golden Birthday

A Golden Birthday only happens once....and that's if your lucky.   Om turned 14 years old on Sunday, Febuary 14, 2016.   The opportunity to celebrate with family and friends made the day really memorable.   When we opened our door for that first class on Valentine's Day 2002, we knew we were starting on a journey fueled by our passion for yoga, but we had no idea how our family would expand to include so many amazingly talented & thoughtful teachers and studio volunteers throughout the years.   We had no idea of the depth of relationship & personal connection we would experience with so many friends every time we open that door again.  We feel love and gratitude every day!

Yoga...feel it in your bones!

Paul Rogers for the New York Times

Paul Rogers for the New York Times

Oh my aching bones!  But getting better with yoga.  This recent article in the New York Times gets specific about how yoga stimulates osteocytes, the bone making cells.  And it highlights the decades long effort by a Columbia University physiatrist Dr. Loren Fishman who is researching yoga as a complementary medicine to osteoporosis.  We especially like the list of "side effects":  better posture, improved balance, enhanced coordination, greater range of motion, higher strength, reduced levels of anxiety and better gait!

Holiday Yoga Gold

Holiday lights and candles get a golden glow going in December.   And it got us thinking about the "gold" of yoga.  So, at our Christmas Eve class, we invited every student to let us know why yoga is golden to them.  Let these replies make you feel warm and bright:

YOGA is golden to me because...

  • It gives me peace & strength.  -- Kelly
  • It's quiet and gets me out of my mind.  -- Mary Clare 
  • It brings me light.   -- Shayna 
  • I can't live without it.  -- Adam
  • It reminds me that I am not perfect...and that's a good thing. -- Garrett 
  • It shows me that I am enough, right now, as I am.  -- Emily
  • It sets me free! -- Carrie 
  • It keeps me young, in body, mind and spirit, but most of all at my heart.  -- David 
  • I always feel so much better after a practice, sometimes because of the practice, sometimes because of the smiles between friends, but most times both;). -- Nicole 
  • It reminds me to breathe.  -- Freddie 
  • It feeds my soul & my body needs the attention! - Jennifer 
  • It gives me inner peace, strength & confidence -- Melissa 
  • Annie saved me a spot!  -- Tim 
  • It enlightens me! -- Randy 
  • It centers me in a crazy stressful world.  -- Krenna 
  • It brings peace to my soul & oneness with the Earth - Jake 
  • It ignites my spirit and fills my heart with a profound ability to love. -- Maya 
  • The more you heat it up, the better it flows.  -- Amy 
  • It turns me into a calm, focused mammal!  -- LJ 
  • It helps me remember who I am.  -- Anonymous
  • It gives me a gift every time I am in the room: the gift of mindfulness. -- Jen
  • It reminds me that I was created with perfection & anything that makes me feel otherwise isn't the truth.  -- Diane 
  • It brings me back to my authentic self.  -- Bonnie 
  • It reminds me to slow down.  -- Glenn 
  • Because it encompasses Body & Spirit. -- Miriam
  • It gives me calm & gratitude.  -- Rakesh 
  • It helps me live my values.  -- Melissa 
  • No matter how exhausted & broken-hearted I feel, the practice brings me back to joy, peace & grace -- Marty
  • This is the most earthy leftish yoga studio ever. -- Colin
  • It's complete peace of mind for the 60 minutes I'm on my mat.  It's my time to just let go.  -- Misha
  • It centers. -- Shayne 
  • It gives me one hour of peace and to myself. -- Sara 
  • Of the opportunity to focus internally.   -- Robin
  • It brings me peace, which then brings peace to others. -- Gina
  • It clears me (mentally & physically) -- Emma
  • It's food for my soul. -- Jackie 
  • It's the time when I don't have to think about sad, or happy or busy.  Just me and my mat and my body. -- Marla
  • It makes me feel alive (and most importantly, it keeps me regular!) -- Anonymous
  • I have a special needs 4 year old.  -- Courtney
  • It gives me one hour of peace.  -- Erica 
  • It helps me prove to myself how strong I am.  -- Krista 
  • It's a quiet moment amidst the chaos of raising toddlers.  -- Karen 
  • It makes me a better person.  -- Suzanne 
  • It centers my reason, purpose & body. -- Becca 
  • It's my Om away from Home.  It grounds me and centers me in all parts of my life.  -- Jenny 
  • It is my refuge, my center, my space of play, exploration, ease.  -- Sharon 
  • It brings me peace & vitality -- it connects my spirit to my soul in the comfort of my body. -- Sheila 
  • It helps me be the best version of me everyday.  -- Annie 
  • It helps you remember the simple things. -- Molly 
  • It has help me "mine" my true strength -- Susannah

Being of Power at Om on the Range

Om has been hosting Baptiste Yoga Programs for the past decade and we love bringing these yoga immersions to Chicago.  We just finished up the "BEING of POWER" all-day workshop with 60 yogis from all over the Midwest and as far away as New Orleans and Vancouver.    Plenty of Om students & teachers attended plus Annie, Nina, Liz V and Beth were part of the Assisting Team.   We tip our hat to Tami Schneider from Cleveland  Yoga for masterfully leading the day and to Pino, Kristen and Melinda for being part of the program delivery team with us.  We look forward to the next time...Baron Baptiste, we invite you back any day!

Does Mindfulness Make a Better Athlete?

Jonathan Fennell for The New York Times

Jonathan Fennell for The New York Times

The Well section of the New York Times is a continual source of insight and curiosity for us.  This recent article was especially interesting.  It tells of a study which documented how mindfulness practices improved the performance of a unique group of elite athletes...BMX racers!  “We called it ‘tactical training,’” said Lori Haase, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry who led the new study. The athletes “rolled their eyes if we called it mindfulness,” she said."

Of particular note was how the "scientists defined mindfulness to mean an absorbed concentration on signals to the brain from elsewhere within the body."  Talk about turning inward!

Dr. Hasse advises athletes who'd like to benefit from greater mindfulness to start “thinking about your feet. The goal of mindfulness training is focused attention and bodily awareness, and when you are concentrating on your feet, you aren’t thinking about other things.”