Breath, Body and Balance

Yoga Archives

Why you should follow your yoga studio on Twitter

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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People either really love Twitter or they don't get it at all and hate it. I'm in the former category. I tweet almost every day and I've discovered amazing bloggers, cool Chicagoans, informative news articles and great companies from using the social media tool.
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Memorial Day Yoga

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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Don't let shorter hours at the gym or rooftop bbq parties stop you from hitting the mat this weekend. Here's a list of Memorial Day yoga classes to keep you focused and fit over the holiday.
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Review: Lululemon Astro Pants

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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The Lululemon Astro Pants

It's so unlike me to go this long without updating the blog. My schedule's been completely insane the last few weeks and I've been doing some serious thinking on what activities I want to pursue over summer. Change is seriously all around me. To deal with the sudden life rollercoaster, I did something that a lot of women do to find a constant among the chaos: I went shopping.
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Hipster Yoga

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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Hipster Yoga Reverse Warrior Pose

What's the most popular style of yoga in Chicago? Before you say "vinyasa" or "ashtanga," head out for a drink in a trendy neighborhoods like Pilsen, Logan Square and Wicker Park and you'll know that Chicago's Hipster Yoga scene is fierce. 
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Can YogaEarth make you better at yoga?

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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When I first heard about YogaEarth, a new line of supplements created exclusively for yogis, I was skeptical. There are so many "health" products in the market that make false claims and use low-quality ingredients like cheap chemical fillers, that I've pretty much given up on supplements and instead eat for nutrition to stay healthy.

But YogaEarth was different. The products caught my eye when I found out that Elena Brower, the New York anusara yoga instructor known for taking no-BS in her classes and most recently, as the face of the Adidas Yatra yoga line, represented them. She wouldn't just take any old chemical-laden supps, would she?
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5 health & fitness events not to miss this week!

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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Photo: Yoga Journal

Between work, family, friends and other miscellaneous responsibilities, I know first hand how hard it can be to schedule in a workout, let alone a workshop, class or something special for yourself. But these five health and fitness events are only offered for a limited time, so you'll want to make time for one -- or all- of them. Your body, energy levels and mood will thank you for it!
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Studio Review: Tru Harmony Yoga

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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The Tru Harmony Studio. It was so hot my camera kept fogging up!

I just slapped myself on the hand. Tru Harmony Yoga in River North has been opened for a year, maybe even longer, and last night was the first time I stepped foot in the studio. There are a couple of reasons why this is a big deal:

  1. All new students get a free week (5 consecutive days) of yoga
  2. It's a 10-15 minute bus ride (#66 Chicago) from my house and I pass by it often on my way to get cleaned out
  3. Baptiste Vinyasa classes rock.

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The Midwest Yoga Conference is back!

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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Photo: Midwest Yoga Conference

The Midwest Yoga Conference is pretty special to me. Not only did I have the honor of interviewing the organizer, yoga instructor Jonny Kest, it also marks the one year anniversary of Breath, Body & Balance, as it was one of the first things I wrote about for ChicagoNow!

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Designer Yoga Mats

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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Photo: Plank Designs

Just a few years ago, yoga fashion didn't exist. Now there's tanks, pants, tops and bras made for every style of yoga and personality. Finally, design-friendly yoga mats are becoming the next big thing.
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Mother's Day Yoga Guide

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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This Mother's Day, May 9, avoid the brunch crowds and busy spas and do something different with your mom! Take her to a yoga class or have fun shaking it with her at Yoga Booty Ballet. Here's a list of classes that are a great way to get your heart pumping (but won't send not-so-fit moms to the hospital), stretch your body and relief stress on her special day.
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Free Class of the Week: Core Yoga Sculpt

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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Magazine covers, locker room chat and group fitness instructors looking to give you that extra bit of motivation seemingly have one thing to say: bikini season is just around the corner! As if you needed any reminder that summer is less than two months away.

If you've been going through the motions in your normal fitness routine or need to try something totally different, don't miss my pick for free class of the week, Core Yoga Sculpt at Spring Wellness.
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Chicago's Green Yoga Studios

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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Photo: Soulistic's pilates studio

Since Earth Day is this Thursday, April 22, I thought it'd be cool to dedicate all my blogs this week to healthy eco-friendly living, eating and socializing all around Chicago. Last week I started by highlighting upcoming Earth-friendly workouts and fitness events taking place this week.

If  you can't make it to any of the special events going on, there are still places to practice yoga or take a group exercise class that celebrate kindness to the Earth everyday of the year. Here's a listing of Chicago's green yoga studios and fitness centers
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Goodbye, YogaNow Edgewater

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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A few weeks ago, YogaNow sent out a newsletter announcing the closing of it's Edgewater location. Although I've only been to the studio a few times, I was really sad to hear the news because often, people who open yoga studios do it purely for passion and love, not to make profit. My heart goes out to the Edgewater-area residents who are losing their yoga home. 
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Ana Forrest comes to Chicago

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

Ana Forrest, the creator of Forrest Yoga, the physically and emotionally challenging, sweaty practice, is making a rare stop in Chicago this weekend to lead a series of transformational workshops at Generations Yoga Center in Wilmette and Turbodog Spirit Center in Chicago.
Ana only gets to Midwest a few times a year, so this is a rare opportunity to really get an understanding for the practice, learn how to use yoga to protect yourself from physical injuries in all your athletic endeavors and work on tapping inside yourself to start healing from emotional blockages.
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Talking Yogalosophy with Mandy Ingber

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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Let's just go ahead and get this out of the way: Mandy Ingber is Jennifer Aniston's yoga instructor and she works with many celebrities and wealthy clients in California who can afford private lessons from a "celebrity yoga instructor."
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CorePower Yoga opens in Lincoln Park

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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Attention Lincoln Park hot yogis! CorePower Yoga Lincoln Park is officially open!

The new studio features the sleek, spa-inspired look and amenities (think nice showers, clean locker rooms and a retail boutique) that has become the signature for the CorePower Chicago locations. But, in comparison to the South Loop and Gold Coast studios, CorePower Lincoln Park has more of a neighborhood feel, it's smaller and you can see the stroller posse, runners and college students bustling down Webster as you practice (but don't worry shy yogis, special window shades make it hard to see what's going on inside). 
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Yoga for cancer survivors

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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Survey a group of people who love yoga and you're bound to find more than a few who turned to yoga at a time in their life when they needed strength and support. Whether it was for addiction recovery, depression or better self awareness, I'm constantly touched and inspired by the stories of the healing power of yoga. 

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Segwoga: Yoga on a Segway

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

YogaDork is always good for a look at what's going on in the wacky, tacky and true world of yoga culture and is a great reminder to not take ourselves (and our yoga practice) too seriously. Since yesterday was April Fool's, I knew they'd have something hilarious up on the blog, but oddly enough, it wasn't a joke.
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Free community yoga classes

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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Photo: Indigo Studio

I've been hitting the gym a lot lately, going all out in 45-minute jump rope classes, and today, it hit me like a log- I miss my yoga!

Thankfully, when the craving for yoga comes along, I don't have to do too much to satiate it. I'm within walking distance to four great studios, I have class passes at another two studios, a free week at a place that's about a 10-minute bus ride away and unlimited online classes at my beck and call.

I'm feeling quite happy about my yoga wealth, so I felt it was only appropriate to pay it forward to those who might not be in the same situation.
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Healthy yoga and fitness events for Spring

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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Photo: Exhale Spa

Have you noticed? Spring has SPRUNG! All of a sudden, my calendar is full of amazing networking events, parties, special workshops and spa deals! Not everything makes the mind-body fitness and yoga cut, but thankfully, a lot of things do! Here's a roundup of some not-to-be missed things for those craving a fresh, healthy start to the new season.
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Free yoga for runners class and a yoga giveaway!

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

*Update: Congrats to Christel, the winner of the winner of the YogaDownload contest!* 

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Now that I've got running on the brain, I've been keeping an eye out for yoga for runners classes. Although I haven't been able to find any classes at local studios that fit my schedule, YogaDownload comes through once again!
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Adjusting my yoga routine for a 5K run

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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I am not a runner, but for the second year in a row, I find myself gearing up for a 5K. Last year it was Run for the Cheetahs, this year it's Chicago's inaugural Earth Day 5K Run/Walk

I have to admit that I'm pretty excited about this race. Well, not for the actual run itself, but to support a friend who is gearing up for the Chicago marathon and another who is an avid runner. They're both always up to take a yoga class with me, but when it's time for a run, I am suddenly nowhere to be found! Last year, Laurie even mall-walked most of the Cheetah race with me after did something funky to my knee. So, this time around, I want to cross the finish line with her going full-speed!
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Get Fit Event: Crave Chicago's Bloom + Tone Party

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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Women's networking and lifestyle company, Crave Chicago, hosts their first annual Bloom + Tone party this Sunday, March 28 from 1-6pm at Architectural Artifacts. This event, five hours of health, wellness and fitness, will be the kick-off to get Chicago ladies excited to get in shape this season. 
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What to eat before and after yoga

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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I've got breakfast, lunch and dinner down, but when it comes to pre- and post-yoga snacks, I can't seem to get it right. Having worked from home for the better part of the past two years, it wasn't such an issue, but now that I'm often leaving an office and heading to the studio, I'm either starving or too full during practice, both of which can be extremely distracting and not ideal for optimal performance or calorie burning. 
So I asked my friend and holistic nutritionist Jessica Marie for some advice. Jessica, who became interested in health after struggling for years with disordered eating (which lead to digestive issues and depression), now helps Chicagoans make healthy, realistic changes for their lifestyle with her company CHEW Chicago. I thought Jessica would be perfect to talk to about this, because not only did she attend New York's popular Institute for Integrative Nutrition, she's also a super busy, professional young woman on the go, so I know she knows first hand what it's like to be going full-force on most days and the importance of eating properly to keep your body and mind energized. Here are her suggestions for what to eat before and after yoga and working out.
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TheRubHub.com: Facebook and Yelp for Holistic Health

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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Getting an amazing massage or facial is a wonderful thing, but having to pay for a mediocre service at a lame spa is the pits! There's no reason to ever receive a sub-par massage, spa service, or to see a holistic therapist who doesn't specialize in your health concern because Chicago has hundreds of amazing therapists, but up until now there was no place to find them.

But thankfully, twin sisters Dawn Kuschewski Gilbert and Denise Kuschewski came up with a solution: TheRubHub.com.
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Yoga fashion trends for spring

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

Prancing Leopard Jumpsuit

For Spring 2010, fitness and yoga apparel is more colorful and functional than ever, with vibrant hues, moisture-wicking technology, slimming silhouettes and comfortable fabrics you'll want to wear around town, not just to the gym or yoga studio. Here's a gallery of some of the best gym, pilates and yoga apparel looks for the season. Use the arrows at the top of the gallery to see all 9 images.

Gallery sneak peek (9 images):

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A boot camp for yoga lovers

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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Photo: LollyKnit

When I first heard of Mind Body Boot Camp at Wicker Park Fitness, I imagined it to be tough yoga with weight training or a similar class to Core Power's Yoga Sculpt. I was wrong.
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Always bring your own yoga mat!

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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Photo: Akuppa

Oh. Hell. No. The germaphobe in me is hyperventilating while I type this. Yesterday, I read a commentary on Social Workout about an article on Yahoo's Shine Village about the 4 Germiest Places at the Gym. The number one spot, the dirtiest place at the gym: the community yoga mats. Gross.
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Music for yoga. Music for life.

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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Sometimes, I really enjoy music during my yoga practice. When a teacher plays a song that you absolutely love, it's suddenly like you know them a little better and it can give you an extra push of motivation to go deeper into your practice. I listen to music to start my morning on a positive note or to get pumped to go to the gym, but a few months ago, I realized there was nothing on my iPod to help quiet my mind and get me ready for a deep yoga practice. 
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Anusara Yoga: Melt Your Heart...Blow Your Mind

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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Sara Strother

When I first heard of Anusara yoga a few years ago, I thought it was just the latest fusion style created by a clever yogi with great marketing skills. Anusara may be one of the fastest growing and most popular styles of yoga throughout the world, but it's not just the flavor of the month. It's a rich practice with positive uplifting undertones and a methodology to help you get deep into your body, melt your heart and blow your mind.
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Finding balance between the gym and yoga

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

I recently joined a gym and started a pretty intense cardio and weight training routine. It's a nice contrast to yoga, but my muscles get so tight, that it's changing my yoga practice! I don't flow like I normally do and I don't feel in my body. The day after an intense jump rope session, my feet were so tight I could barely feel myself standing on the mat! How do I find balance between going to the gym and keeping my yoga practice going strong?

Yoga instructor and certified personal trainer Arnold Prosperos answers:
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Top tech tools to improve your yoga practice

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

YogaSTRETCH

I love SmartPhones. I love twitter. I love technology! I'm not one of those people that can't function without checking their email every two minutes, but I am grateful for how much easier technology has made my life. I've already dedicated a blog to the great websites that make having a regular yoga practice easier and here are my picks for great fitness tech tools that make staying in shape easier.

Gallery sneak peek (4 images):

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The latest yoga news

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

Lot of big things have happened in the yoga world over the last few weeks. Here's a round up of the latest yoga news.

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Photo: Ana Grillo

Wanderlust 2010 is announced
Earlier this week, tickets for the second annual Wanderlust music and yoga festival went on sale. Yoga music festivals were huge last year and Wanderlust was the mother of them all. For four days, music and yoga fans head to Lake Tahoe for classes with world famous instructors and amazing performances (and swimming, hiking and soaring over the Squaw Valley in a cable car to and from the festival site). This year, the festival takes place July 29-August 1. Musical performers include Moby, Brazilian Girls, Princess Superstar and Dave Stringer while yoga classes are taught by Sean Corn, Shiva Rea, Baron Baptiste, Vinnie Marino and More. 
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Super products to keep you supercharged

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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Some of the healthy products I always keep in my kitchen.

When it comes to buying groceries, I'm a perimeter shopper. Most of my shopping is done on the outskirts of the store where the produce, grains and non-processed foods are normally kept. I'm weary of a lot of products on the market that claim to do this or that and I don't buy things with strange manmade ingredients I can't pronounce, so when I find a product that's natural, healthy and delicious, I just have to tell everyone about it. Here are a few of my absolute favorite products that keep me energized, healthy and thriving. 
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Valentine's Day Charity Workouts

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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Image: EyeHook

On Valentine's Day, it's great to give your sweetie something special or get all dressed up for a decadent dinner, but with the earthquake in Haiti and economic woes preventing many from giving to deserving non-profit charity organizations, this Valentine's Day presents a great opportunity to spread love in a different kind of way by participating in a charity/donation class events.
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What is Thai Massage?

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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Regular massage and bodywork can relieve stress, improve immunity, aid digestion, relax tight muscles, prevent injury and even aid in sleeping, so I'm always suggesting my hardworking friends and family treat themselves to an occasional rub-down. But I know that in these economic times, finding the extra cash for massage is easier said than done, but one way to take care of tight muscles and stay on a budget is the Chicago School of Thai Massage

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24/7 Yoga

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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YogaVibes instructor Faith Hunter

Long gone are the days when you purchased a yoga DVD on a whim only to find out it wasn't what you were looking for at all. Yoga on demand, streaming classes and mp3 downloads make it possible to practice no matter where you are, as long as you have at least five minutes. 

I always found watching DVDs distracting. Poses were never explained quite enough and too often I ended up watching the videos instead of practicing. Many of the yoga video sites are actually filmed during a real class with real students, so you feel like you're actually in a class. Having been burned one too many times by bad DVD choices, I was late to the game with all the great yoga at home options It wasn't until last summer, with about five family members in town and no spare time to stop playing tour guide, that I found myself getting in a 20-minute class first thing in the morning thanks to YogaDownload. Now I never stress about not being able to make it to class or what I'll do when traveling, because I know one of these sites will keep me balanced. 
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Valentine's Day Yoga Events

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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Photo: Allofitnow

Grab a partner or a friend, invite the hottie you've been scoping in yoga or your significant other. It doesn't matter if you're single or betrothed, it's all about love, fun and positive energy at these Valentine's Day yoga events.
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Yoga for Foodies? Whatever!

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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Photo: PicApp

Last week, the New York Times reignited the yoga food debate with their article, "When Chocoloate and Chakras Collide," which talks about David Romanelli's, aka Yeah Dave's, latest Jam Session tour, Yoga for Foodies.


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Easy office yoga poses

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

Stretching at Work

New research suggests that sitting for long periods of time can lead to weight gain, heart attacks or even death, even if you're very active before or after getting into the chair. 

Working at an office for eight hours or more a day, this is a huge concern for me. Not only do I begin to get restless after awhile, I also too often catch myself slouching, with a tense neck and my shoulders up to my ears. 
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Workshops: Take your yoga practice to the next level

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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Photo: Moksha Yoga

Yoga workshops are great for deepening your practice, mastering poses that have always eluded you and diving deeper into yogic philosophy or culture. I've had the opportunity to take amazing workshops at studios and conferences and I always leave with a new perspective, more confidence and even more passion for practicing yoga. I've learned how to really wring out my spine in a twist workshop with Natasha Rizopoulos, participated in a detox vinyasa flow class led by Seane Corn and realized that I was actually pushing my hips forward too much in Camel pose thanks to Yogaview's Quinn Kearney. 
But you don't have to spend hundreds of dollars at a weekend conference to take your yoga practice to the next level. Almost every weekend, studios around the city offer amazing workshops with local and/or traveling guest teachers. Mark your calendars, because here's a selection of the best workshops coming up over the next month. Added tip, book a spa service after your workshop, keep your phone off and create a personal day of zen.
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The biggest yoga misconceptions and what we can do to change them

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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According to the 2010 Yoga Insights Survey, American's have a lot of misconceptions about yoga. The survey, funded by the Yoga Alliance to coincide with YogaDay USA, set out to determine the general level of understanding about yoga in hopes of encouraging people to get on the mat and reap the many benefits of a regular practice. It found that a majority of Americans incorrectly believe:
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What to do on YogaDay USA

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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Mark you calendar because this Saturday, January 23 is YogaDay USA. Started by the Yoga Alliance, the organization that regulates and accredits teacher training programs, Yoga Day was created to spread the word about the health benefits of yoga. This year, holistic health practitioner Jessica Marie of CHEW (Complete Health Education & Wellness) Chicago is pulling out all the stops for one of the best YogaDay USA events in the state.
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Six tips for starting a successful yoga practice

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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Photo: ihasahotdog.com

January 1st feel like it was ages ago, so if you still haven't made good on that resolution to step up, refresh or start a yoga practice, what's the hold up? For those who just need the motivation to get back into the game, I suggest trying a new class, studio or instructor. If you're completely new to yoga, here are a few tips for starting a successful yoga practice.
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New Year, New Workout Challenge

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

Yoga Aid Challenge 2009 Takes Place In Melbourne

Screw the magazine plans, the TV-doctor approved workouts and all that other mumbo jumbo. Social Workout, a site for fitness enthusiasts, gym rates and urban yogis, will definitely motivate you to get out and get active. You'll find out about the hottest classes (for now, in New York, but they're planning to expand to Chicago), the latest health news, workout trends, gear reviews, yoga news, inspiring quotes, reviews and blogs from other members and my personal favorite, the Magazine Summarizer. But hands down, Social Workout is known for their free workout challenges (and the sweet prizes that go along with successful completion).
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CelebriYogis!

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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Martha Stewart with Trudie Styler Photo: The Martha Stewart Show

With Trudie Styler (Sting's wife) on the Martha Stewart Show today and Jennifer Aniston helping her yoga instructor Mandy Ingber promote the hell out of her new DVD, Yogalosophy, celebrities who do yoga are bigger than ever! In fact, visit one of my favorite blogs, YogaDork, on any given day and you're bound to read posts mentioning cast members from True Blood, 90210 and Heroes hitting the mat. I think 2009 was a huge year for celebrities who practice yoga (celebriyogis), with Shaq, Lebron James, Jay-Z, Shenae Grimes and Parker Posey joining the likes of Aniston, Madonna and Russell Simmons for either talking about yoga or being snapped striking a pose.

Gallery sneak peek (10 images):

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Yoga is for every body

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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Chi-Town Shakti instructor Bhakti White

Yoga is for every body, regardless of if you look like Seane Corn or fit into lululemon clothing. In fact, if you don't happen to be a teeny tiny yogini, that's all the more reason to get on the mat. Yoga can decrease stress, increase flexibility and improve posture, sleep and sex. Yoga also helps us respect our bodies and get more comfortable in our own skin, something that every human being, regardless of shape, can benefit from.
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Yoga Trends for 2010

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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Photo: www.localfitness.com.au

I've read countless top 10 lists, 2009 year in review lists and fitness predictions for 2010. I love a good list, but with the exception of Gaiam's "Ten Yoga Trends" article, they lack a focus for the mind-body fitness set. So, based on the Gaiam article, the American Council on Exercise's 2010 predictions, Pilates Pro articles and my own experience running around Chicago to try different classes, I comprised a list of trends for mind body fitness in 2010.
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The Best New Year's Eve Yoga Classes

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

Getting completely wasted on New Year's Eve is for amateurs. I'm done with waking up and not being able to remember how I got home and wondering if I needed to call friends to do some major damage control for possible drunken behavior, and that's no way to start off the year. But you know what is a great way to kick off 2010? On a yoga hiiiiigh.
Say goodbye to '09, get a jumpstart on those healthy resolutions and get in a little moving meditation at one of these top yoga New Year's Eve events for 2010.

Gallery sneak peek (7 images):

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Beebliss Inspired Yoga Wear

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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Comfortable, stylish, unique and functional yoga clothes that don't break the bank can be yours in just a few simple clicks thanks to Beebliss.com.

Based in San Francisco, Beebliss is a new online yoga apparel shop for men and women. Owner and yoga instructor Kathleen Shannon started Beebliss to not only offer great workout apparel, but to also inspire change in the world.



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Yoga Studios Open on Christmas Day

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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If you need to mellow out before the big family meal, burn a few calories before brunch or are dying to try out that new yoga mat from Santa, there's a place for you to practice on Christmas. Here's a list of Chicago yoga studios open on Christmas Day. Note that many of the studios are also open on Christmas Eve, but have a modified schedule. 

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The Best Way to Combat Holiday Stress

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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I don't leave for Michigan for the holidays for another two days and I'm already stressing out. What food should I bring? Will my mom nag me the whole time about not having a coat that's warm enough? Will I be able to sneak away for at least one yoga class? My shoulders start to creep up, my jaw gets tight and every little thing seems to suddenly annoy me so much. But just when I think I'm going to freak out, I remember the most powerful tool to keep me calm and centered.
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Free Class of the Week: Hot Core Yoga at Spring Wellness Center

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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This weekend, head to Spring Wellness Center in the Southport Cooridor for two unique, challenging and cheap workouts.

Spring started as a pilates studio, but they now offer yoga, hot yoga, boot camp classes, kettlebells and personal training, so you get the variety of a gym in an intimate studio setting.  
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Please, don't get up: The importance of savasana at the end of yoga class.

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

When I started practicing yoga, I took vinyasa and hatha classes, which take at least five minutes at the end of class for savasana (corpse pose). So the first time I took a bikram class, I couldn't believe it when the teacher left the room and everyone jumped up without a proper final savasana. I've also heard the door rudely open and close during savasana in many yoga classes at the gym.

Next time you're ready to roll up your mat and rush out of class, stop and take a minute to quiet your mind in savasana. Without it, you're doing your body a big disservice. 
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Best Types of Yoga for Runners

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

Even though most runners know that a regular yoga practice helps develop core strength, lengthen muscles and keep those nasty IT band injuries at bay, I know one too many runners who avoid yoga like the plague.
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The Top 4 Holiday Workouts

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

When the weather gets frightful, it's hard to muster up the energy to leave the house, let alone workout. That's why it's important to not only make your winter workouts effective, but also fun, calorie-burning bonanzas that will leave you craving for more, seeing results and treading through the snow to get to class on time. Here are the top 4 best holiday workouts to keep you slim, happy and fit into 2010 and beyond. 

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Yoga for Men at Tejas Yoga Chicago

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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When I talk to guys who don't do yoga about why they don't do yoga, here's how it usually goes:

Me: You should try yoga. It's pretty bad ass.
Guy Who Doesn't Do Yoga: I know. I hear it's good for me.
Me: Well, let me know when you want to try a class. Lots of studios give you your first class for free.
GWDDY: But I'm not flexible.
Me: Uhm, no one can just do the crazy poses you see online in their first class. Everyone has to start from somewhere. I wasn't that flexible when I first started. You have to be strong, too.
GWDDY: Yeah, but it sucks to be that guy in the room who can't touch his toes.
Me: Sigh. 
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A Healthy Holiday Gift Guide

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

Got a fitness fanatic on your holiday shopping list this year? If you're looking for the perfect gift for the person who never misses their weekly yoga classes, freaks out if they can't make it to the gym or is committing to a healthier lifestyle in 2010, check out my picks for functional, unique and fun healthy holiday gifts for 2009.

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The American Apparel Yoga Model

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

One of my favorite blogs, Elephant Journal, posted these American Apparel yoga collection pics earlier this week. I couldn't (and still can't) tell if the joke is on them or on us. As Elephant Journal points out, "If you're going to model yoga, at least know how to do it. This young lady's alignment is gonna send her to the hospital before long--that is, if she practiced yoga, ever, which she clearly. Does. Not."

Gallery sneak peek (5 images):

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Thanksgiving Yoga Class Guide

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

Thanksgiving is just a few days away. The 2009 holiday season is practically here and 2010 is creeping in. 
While retailers paint pictures of holiday cheer and the "most wonderful time of the year" most of us are stressed, unhappy, in bad food situations (think holiday work parties), imbibing a little too much and running on empty. It's unfortunate that when we need it the most, we seemingly can't find the time or energy to sneak in a workout. But remember, next time you're about to pass out at your desk, falling asleep on the bus ride home or hitting snooze again instead of getting up for that brisk morning workout, exercise improves mood, helps you sleep better, boosts energy and helps keep the dreaded winter weight gain at bay. So why not start out the holiday season on a healthier note by sneaking in a workout before gathering round the table for Thanksgiving? Here's a list of studios open on Thanksgiving Day.
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Action Figures do Ashtanga Yoga

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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Aquaman teaches Silver Surfer and Storm Shadow Virabhadrasana I and II.

It's time for Yogabeans!, the hilarious website that shows action figures doing ashtanga yoga

Gallery sneak peek (7 images):

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AcroYoga: Once the Play Flows, the Ego Goes

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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Photo: Tyler Blank. Taken from the cover of the Acroyoga 2010 calendar, Magical Reality.

Looks can be deceiving with acroyoga. The photos of nimble men and women twisted into beautiful poses while balancing simply on the foot or hand of another looks like it came right out of Cirque Du Soleil, but you don't have to be an acrobat to learn to fly
.
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Hot Yoga Skin Care Guide

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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Photo: CorePower Yoga

There are generally two types of yogis, those who love hot yoga and those who stay far away from it. Two years ago I was in the former category, but now I can't get enough of the heat, especially during fall and winter. I'm nearing the end of the Eat Whatever You Want for Thanksgiving Yoga Challenge and while I'm all for the sculpting, stress-relieving and detoxing benefits of a hot practice, it can be very dehydrating and irritating to the skin.
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Free Class of the Week: Moksha Logan Square

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

Just a few months after celebrating 10 years of being at the forefront of yoga in Chicago, Moksha Yoga announces the opening of their third studio, Moksha Yoga Logan Square and to celebrate, all classes are free from now until November 7.
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How to Save Money on Yoga Clothes

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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Photo Credit: M. Connors

When I first started working out, I didn't understand why anyone would pay $40 for a tank top or $100 for a pair of pants that you were just going to get all sweaty and I was completely content with working out in ratty shirts and cheap black pants. I learned the hard way that playing tug of war with ill-fitting clothes can be a major distraction during yoga and now I practically live in workout clothes, so it's important for me to have durable, flattering and functional yoga apparel that easily transitions from day to downward dog. When I'm not on the mat, I write content for an online shopping site, BradsDeals, so I've become an expert at searching out coupons and perusing sales. Here are my top tips on how to save money on yoga clothes and accessories, including a listing of stores with great deals currently going on, because updating your exercise wardrobe shouldn't take away from your budget for classes.
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Halloween Yoga Parties

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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Photo: Andy Hay

Halloween isn't just for kids, slutty costumes and binge drinking, check out these fun and healthy Halloween events around Chicago.
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Forrest Yoga was Made for You

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

Forrest Yoga ain't your typical yoga. On a physical level, Forrest Yoga, developed by Ana Forrest, was designed for the Western body. When yoga was created there was no sitting at the computer for 8-10 hours or using your shoulder to keep your cell phone glued to your ear, so Forrest is very conscious of keeping the neck relaxed, opening the hips and shoulders and strengthening the core. There's a deep focus on the breath to get students into their own bodies and to help flush out toxins. Poses are held longer and your encouraged to find your edge yet respect your limits. 
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Lotuspad Eco Yoga Mats

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

There's so much I love about my Lotuspad yoga mat, I'm not even sure where to start. After months of testing, searching and inquiring among friends to find the perfect yoga mat, I never thought Twitter would lead me to the best eco mat.
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The Eat Whatever You Want for Thanksgiving Yoga Challenge

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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The holidays are right around the corner, which means the seasonal stress, food, travel and cold weather are almost here, too. For most of us, this is a one-way ticket to fatassville, but what if you could actually get fitter this holiday season?
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Hot 'n Sweaty: CorePower Yoga's Grand Opening Celebration

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

I think I loved CorePower Yoga from the moment my first C2 class started. It was last winter and I had just finished the $29 unlimited month at Bikram Wicker Park. I craved the heat but was bored with the monotony of the same 26 poses. I needed to move and even though the challenging Bikram classes kept me focused, sometimes I seriously wanted to bust out a chaturanga to urdhva muhka svanasana (upward-facing dog).

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A Closer Look at Yoga Chicago Magazine

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

Before blogs, fancy websites and Twibes, Chicagoans looking for studios, ayurvedic health information and all things yoga turned to Yoga Chicago magazine.
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The CHEW Chicago Health & Wellness Tour

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

Walking shoes? Check. Fall fitness gear? Check. VIP access to Lincoln Park's best health and wellness establishments? Check.
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Fresh Fitness Looks for Fall

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

I've made the decision. This season I'm going to live in my yoga and workout apparel. I practically do anyway, but after seeing all the great styles, colors and fabrics from the lululemon athletica and breath, body & balance function show, I'm convinced I don't really need to wear much else.

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Global Mala 2009: Get on your Mat for a Good Cause

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

September is Yoga Month and a time for Global Mala, a gathering of the global yoga community to practice for charity and peace. This Saturday, September 26, Chicago's yoga community comes together for a day full of classes and events to benefit two amazing organizations.
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Green Your Workout with Natural Fitness

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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My poor natural rubber and jute yoga mat has seen better days. For the past few months, I leave a trail of rubber bits and pieces at every studio I've set foot in because my mat is literally falling apart. It's gotten so bad that it nearly ruined my favorite pair of Lululemon Wunder Under tights. The rubber embeds in the fabric and is nearly impossible to get out, so it must go.

My new mat must be green, pretty thick and durable. It must stand up to a variety of styles and it can't be too heavy or thick to cart around on the bus. I also wouldn't mind if it came in a cool color. 

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Turbodog Spirit Center: Chicago's First Non-Profit Yoga Center

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

Community is a word heard at yoga studios all around town, but oftentimes, once we roll up our mat and head out the door, we take our involvement in the community with us. So I was really touched when I heard the story of Turbodog Spirit Center.
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Fitness, Function and Fashion at Blogapalooza

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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On Thursday, September 24, the ChicagoNow bloggers take over the 900 North Shops for our first ever Blogapalooza. I'm teaming up with lululemon athletica for a Function Show, an informal fashion show featuring their cute, fun and functional apparel for yoga, running and the gym. Argo will be providing delicious tea samples and I'll be answering all your mind body fitness questions and passing out gift bags filled with class passes to some of the hottest new studios in the area.

 

Stop by and see me! I love meeting new people, getting feedback about the blog, finding out what readers want to see covered and as evident in previous posts, talking about lululemon!


Blogapalooza takes place at the 900 Shops at 900 North Michigan Ave. from 5-7 p.m. on Thursday, September 24.

Vote for Yogaview!

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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Photo: Chicago Tribune

Yoga should be affordable and accessible to all, which is why I was thrilled when Yogaview opened up a donation-only studio in Wicker Park. Since late May, dedicated yoga students and those new to yoga have had the opportunity to explore the healthy benefits of a regular practice led by inspiring teachers.

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Jay-Z the Yogi?

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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Photo: WireImage.com

Fans of yoga and Jay-Z (yes, they do exist) will surely get a kick out of this: apparently, Hova is getting into yoga. According to one of my favorite blogs, Yoga Dork, a song from Jay-Z's new Blueprint 3 album was leaked and this is what he says in response to haters calling him a poser.

"Poser? No Sir/ My Hustle So Russell/I stretch work/yoga/you know I got it down dog."

There was an actual sound clip of the song floating around on the internet, but you know Jay-Z's people got word of it and shut that down. Oh well. You'll just have to snag a copy of Blueprint 3 to check it out. Either way, kudos to the king of the hip hop vegan yoga world, Russell Simmons, for turning Jay-Z on to yoga!

Yoga Poses for Oprah's Chicago Party

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

If you're braving Michigan Avenue to party with Oprah in Chicago, you may need more than a comfortable pair of shoes and a bottle of water to help you through the day. Standing for long periods of time can do a number on your back, legs and feet, so here are two of my favorite poses from the Yoga Journal pose directory that will help ease the pain.


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Photo: Yoga Journal

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Happy Yoga Month!

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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In case you didn't know, September is National Yoga Month. It's also California Wild Rice Month, Apple Month, Mold Awareness Month, Library Card Sign-Up Month and National Coupon Month. But Yoga Month is likely the only one recognized by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion as an official health observance.
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Yoga pics from around Chicago

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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Look around you. There's health and wellness all over Chicago. Sure, the bars, hot dog and deep dish pizza restaurants may get in your view, but keep looking and you'll likely find a studio (or a sign for a soon-to-open studio) just down the block.

Here are just a few yoga shots from around Chicago. Thanks to Pam (the best camera phone photographer ever) and Rebecca for the photos. 

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Lululemon + Equinox= Awesome Free Fitness Challenge

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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Fall is just around the corner and what a better way to kick it off with a little healthy competition? For the first two weeks of September, Lululemon and Equinox, my recent pick for best Chicago gym for yoga, team up to challenge you to Get Winded in the Windy City. Stop in to your local Lululemon store to get a class punch card, take 10 classes from September 1-14 at either Lululemon or Equinox and if you complete or exceed the challenge, you get the (underrated) gift of health and self-satisfaction. All classes, even those at Equinox, are complimentary and while I don't think there's a big shopping spree grand prize, the better mood, slimmer body and boosted esteem that comes from working out sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me.

You must register for the challenge, so be sure to RSVP to your local Lululemon store to participate. 

The Best Gym for Yoga in Chicago

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

Most of the time, doing yoga and pilates at the gym can be a drag. The loud clang of weights being tossed around and the booming bass of high energy dance music doesn't support the kind of focus and energy most people need to "go within" during mind body exercise.

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How to Choose a Yoga Mat

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

Yoga mats have come a long way since the generic blue PVC mat. In fact, now that I'm shopping around for a new mat all of the options are a bit overwhelming, so I asked Selena Stirlen from the How to Clean Your Yoga Mat video for advice.

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Free Class of the Week: Yoga Booty Ballet

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

Instead of the usual morning yoga, Lululemon Michigan Avenue mixes it up with Jaclyn "JJ" Jones of Indigo Studio for a free Yoga Booty Ballet class this Sunday, August 23.

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JJ leading a Yoga Booty Ballet class at Lululemon.

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An Intro to Yoga Speak

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

Yoga is intimidating. The Sanskirt words don't help. The good news is, if you stick with yoga long enough, just like ujjayi breath and vinyasa, recognizing (and eventually understanding) Sanskrit words becomes second nature. Heck, you might even find yourself sliding back into downward dog faster than your teacher can say "Adho Mukha Svanasana." Until then, fake it 'til you make it with this basic Yoga Dictionary from Women's Health. 

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If you were told to move into parivrtta parsvakonasana from this pose, would you know what to do?

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Breath, Body and Balance on WGN Morning News

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

In case you missed it, I had the opportunity to be interviewed by Dean Richards on the WGN Morning News on Friday. This was a dream come true, as I watch WGN news every day and love Robin and Ana more than you'll ever know!

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It's Time for the 4th Annual Yoga Charity Event

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

It's time for yoga instructor Wade Gotwals' annual party for charity, where he gathers up the community for a sunset yoga class and outdoor party to benefit a great cause.

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Last year's Yoga for Charity class. 

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Yoga for Runners

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

As far as I'm concerned, we're in the peak of Chicago's running season and it doesn't end until that first serious snow hits the ground. If you love hitting the pavement (or the treadmill) and want to be able to do so for years to come, a combination of yoga and bodywork is a must to keep your body healthy and injury-free. 

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A seven-day luxury spa staycation for $40

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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Imagine having the opportunity to transform yourself in seven days with an unlimited amount of unique tummy-toning, booty-lifting and leg-slimming classes; top of the line spa treatments with earth conscious products and a discount on fancy products like high-end Japanese skincare and jewelry.

Sounds like something only those living the lifestyles of the rich and famous get to enjoy, right?


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Do Yoga, Eat Less

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

It's normal to be pretty hungry after a vigorous yoga class, but are you more likely to go for a double cheeseburger or a filling salad? If you said the latter, there's a reason for that.

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The Hippie Weirdo Yoga Farmer

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

Weirdo Hippie Yoga Farmer is the latest viral video from everythingisterrible.com. Farmer Yogi Ogi Dogi gets much respect for possibly being the most limber agriculturalist in North America, but some of those hugs are suspect.


Honestly, I bet this video is kind of cute without the hilarious editing. A friend who taught kids yoga would mention things like having the kids slay dragons, so it all makes sense now.

Rasta Rooster...I have no words for.

The Yoga Party of the Year

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

Moksha- The liberation from the cycle of death and reincarnation. A release from suffering and worldly existence. A realization of bliss and true self.

Moksha wasn't Chicago's first yoga studio, but it has developed into the epicenter of the city's yoga community. Over the past 10 years, Moksha has become the go-to place for great classes, workshops led by local and world-renowned teachers and a tightly knit community. My first community class, first shoulderstand and first memory of experiencing a truly energetic yoga high all took place at Moksha and I always recommend the studio to people interested in trying yoga because I know they'll get an authentic experience here. 

Ten years in business for an independently-owned yoga studio is no small feat and owner Daren Friesen and studio manager Ashley Bush (both in the video below) have put together an entire day of free classes, demonstrations, lectures, a dinner and a party to celebrate.


This is definitely one of the highlights of the year for the yoga community, and, like the website says, regulars, old friends, new friends are all encouraged to come.

Moksha Riverwest is located at 700 N. Carpenter St., two blocks from the Chicago, Milwaukee and Ogden intersection. Visit their site for the special class and party schedule.

August is for Ashtanga

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

It's my yoga birthday! This time last year I decided to start a regular yoga practice again. No more community classes here or the occasional power yoga class at the gym. I needed to return to that structure, focus and mindfulness that I had so easily lost. Since making the commitment, I've seen a staggering amount of positive changes in my life and I know yoga played a huge part in getting me to where I am. 

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Ashtanga: The Yoga We Were Meant to Practice

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

Challenging, yet freeing and empowering, Ashtanga Yoga is easily one of the most influential practices to ever make its way to the Western world. Without it, there would be no power yoga or vinyasa flow classes.
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Yoga vs. Weight Training

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

Dear Elle-

We have a problem. Your recent article, "Iron Maiden," which claims that when compared to "faddish" yoga and pilates, weight training is the most affordable and quickest way to change your body, isn't entirely true.

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Yoga for Drunk People

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, the guru of Ashtanga yoga once famously said, "Ashtanga yoga is for all people, old people, young people, fat people, skinny people...the only people who cannot practice are lazy people."

Well, from the looks of these pics, discovered by a ChicagoNow editor on Twitter, even lazy, unconscious drunk dudes can do yoga! So, if you've never tried, what's your excuse? 

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Get Fit, Sexy and Centered for Free on Saturday

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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Get fit for free at this year's Women's Health Are you Game? event.

Contact your workout buddies and fitness friends and tell them to cancel their plans on Saturday. With all the free, fun and healthy activities going on, you won't have time for (nor will you want to do) anything else.

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Manifest Cleanliness (on your yoga mat)

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

I love the detoxifying, deep sweat of hot yoga classes like Core Power and Bikram, but unfortunately, my poor Eco Rubber yoga mat does not. Realizing my mat was in need of a serious cleaning, I searched online and at studios for the best, eco-friendly way to de-germ my mat and found the answer in local, green company Stirlen Chi.

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Free Class of the Week: Nature Yoga Community Class

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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This week's free class pick is an old standby: the Sunday afternoon community class at Nature Yoga.

Located in the heart of Wicker Park at Division and Damen, this week's instructor is AJ, a new instructor at Nature who teaches a hatha vinyasa style class (I took a class with him at Crunch last week and really enjoyed his laidback, lighthearted teaching style).

I love this vibrant and friendly studio and so do plenty of others, so if you plan on attending, get there at least 15 minutes early to secure a spot.

If you can't make the free Sunday afternoon class, which starts at 3:30, Nature also offers donation and discounted rate classes throughout the week.

Nature Yoga is located at 2021 W. Division St.

Chicago's Best Prenatal and Kid-Friendly Yoga Studio

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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A few months ago, a pregnant friend asked me for a good prenatal yoga class recommendation and I immediately told her to head to Bloom Yoga Studio in Lincoln Square.

Bloom has Mom & Baby and Prenatal Yoga classes almost every day of the week; hosts a free monthly homebirth meet-up group and offers a slew of workshops for expectant parents.

Starting on July 8, there's a three-week Yoga for Pregnancy class that teaches poses to help relieve tension in the body, strengthen the spine and release the hips and pelvis in preparation for birth.

On July 12 there's an Infant CPR and First Aid class and on July 16 there's a Breastfeeding Basics workshops for couples.

Bloom also offers doula referrals, family yoga, kids yoga classes and so much more.

I've attended their unique Midnight Yoga class (discontinued until the fall) and would likely be a regular if I lived closer. Bloom is bright, clean and very welcoming and I often recommend it to people who live in or near Lincoln Square because in addition to all their family-friendly offerings, there's a full schedule of hatha-based classes and workshops, including an upcoming exploration on the sun salutations on July 18.

Visit their website for more information on classes and special events and mark your calendar for their free Intro to Yoga class on July 11 at 2 p.m.

 

Got 20 minutes? Download a Free Yoga Class

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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About seven close family members rolled into town this weekend, and while I've had so much fun with them, I haven't had much time for my daily workouts and yoga practice.

By Saturday morning, I was desperately missing yoga, so I finally decided to check out YogaDownload.com.

Since I love to run around town checking out new studios, trying different classes and of course, going to my weekly favorites, I rarely find the time for a home practice, but YogaDownload makes it so easy.

The site is full of audio class downloads for a variety of styles and levels. I find myself easily distracted by videos and as I've experienced in bikram, listening to the instructor instead of watching others, really engages your mind and makes you more aware of sensations in your body. Do your hips feel level? Is your back as flat as it could be? By listening, you learn to feel the pose, which is crucial to a well-balanced practice.

YogaDownload also has a pose guide for each video (including printable guides) and they've got a yoga info section, which makes them a great site for people who've always wanted to try yoga but were too embarrassed to take a group class.

Downloads range in price from $2.95 for 20 minutes up to about $6.95 for 90 minute classes or you can opt for a monthly membership for either $9.95 (6 downloads a month) or $19.95 (unlimited downloads). But before you grumble about having to pay for classes, you should know that a portion of proceeds is given to two different charities and YogaDownload offers free classes to members of the armed forces.

I opted for a free level 2 Power Yoga class that was a perfect way to help me wake up, energize and prepare to hit the town with my family.

Now that I've checked out YogaDownload, I'll definitely be downloading classes whenever I'm pressed for time, traveling or just in the mood for a quick pick me up. 

Free Class of the Week: Workouts in Millennium Park

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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Photo: Millennium Park

This week's free class of the week is for the early birds. Fellow ChicagoNow blogger, the Local Tourist posted about the free workouts on the Great Lawn in Millennium Park weeks ago and now that the weather isn't as rainy, I second that notion.

Classes start at 7 with Tai Chi, then it's on to Yoga at 8, Pilates at 9 and the workouts come to a close with a high energy Body Combat/Body Jam class at 10 a.m (in July it switches to capoeira with Gingarte Chicago).

I don't get to Millennium Park enough, but when I do, I'm always so proud to have this beautiful park in Chicago. Now that there's a three-hour block of mind body fitness classes, I like it even more.

Visit the Millennium Park website for more information and be sure to check the Facebook page for cancellations and schedule updates.

Antigravity Yoga Party at Crunch Fitness

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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For my birthday, I like to celebrate in a fun and healthy way; no bottle service at a club or gorging at a restaurant. Two years ago it was an epic game of laser tag, last year I got together with some girlfriends for a hoopjam in the park and this year, it was antigravity yoga.

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Everyone listens intently as our instructor, Prima, explains how the "wings" work.

Part yoga and part aerial performance, antigravity yoga made it's way to Crunch Fitness Chicago over the fall. I'm a member at Crunch, so I've been talking about this class since it started. Most of my friends were interested, but because I can only bring in a guest a month, it was hard to coordinate a time with each one to come check it out. When I noticed a sign for private group classes, I knew I had the perfect idea for a birthday celebration.

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Our first group flight. Weee!

Antigravity yoga really allows you to be fun, free and weightless and it makes going into inversions (something that always scares me a little in my practice) super easy.

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My friend Lenette, going into star pose.

Some of my friends got the hang of the "yoga wings" faster than others, but everyone seemed to really enjoy it (and no one complained about the fact that it's actually a pretty tough core and upper body workout)!

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A unique savasana.

After class, we headed over to a friend's rooftop patio for a very special raw vegan cheesecake from Chicago Diner.

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Best birthday cake EVER!

Oh, and I can't bring up antigravity yoga without including this hilarious clip from The View. 



For more info on antigravity yoga or to host your own private class, visit Crunch.com.

Free Class of the Week: Sculpt Fusion at Core Power Yoga

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

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Colorado-based Core Power Yoga, which landed in Chicago's South Loop less than a year ago, offers a signature hot yoga class that I'd describe as Bikram meets vinyasa flow with a section of core work thrown in for good measure. It provides a detoxifying, invigorating sweat (the room is heated to 98 degrees) with the freedom and movement of power yoga that's challenging yet completely addictive.

Their signature class is definitely more suited for experienced yogis, but newbies will still get a challenge in the level one variation that isn't heated. There's also Hot Power Fusion (similar to a traditional Bikram class), Yoga Pilates and Yoga Sculpt, a full body workout blend of weight training and power yoga.

All new students get a free week of classes, which gives you the opportunity to try out all their unique class offerings, peruse their yoga boutique and get to practice yoga while enjoying a great view of the South Loop and the Sears Tower.

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If you've already done the free week, this Friday, June 19th they're offering a free Sculpt Fusion class from 6:30-7:30 p.m. From the description on the website, it sounds like this class is similar to Yoga Sculpt, but with more of a focus on hip and shoulder opening yoga poses in between toning sessions.

This is a new offering for the Chicago location, so I'm excited to see what it's all about. Plus, I can't think of a better way to get the weekend started than by sweating away the stress of the week in this class.

As an added perk, Core Power has clean locker rooms, showers, hair dryer and other amenities, so you can get your workout in, clean up and still have plenty of time to meet your friends out for dinner or a night on the town.

If you can, bring your own towels (one for soaking up your sweat and another for the shower) and mat and save on the $1 rental fee for each.

 

Core Power Yoga is located at 555 W. Roosevelt Rd. in the South Loop. Visit their website for a class schedule and more info.

Yoga with Barack

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

Dear Mr. President-
You have a lot going on. This will help.
Namaste-
Maya


Free Class of the Week: Pilates & Stretch at Lululemon

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

Many of my friends are young artists and professionals who can't afford a gym or yoga studio membership, so I'm always on the look out for free and cheap ways for them to stay active and healthy. Thankfully, Chicago's got plenty of fun fitness freebies for all of us, regardless of age or profession.

My free class pick of the week is Lululemon Bucktown's Pilates & Stretch, a yoga and pilates fusion class with certified pilates instructor Lindsay Stryffeler at 8:15 p.m. on Thursday, June 11.

Lindsay is a Lululemon ambassador, a local fitness profession who "embodies the Lululemon lifestyle and culture."

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A photo from an acroyoga demo at the Bucktown store. This won't be happening in pilates class!

 I mentioned in a previous post that all Chicago-area Lululemon locations host weekly free classes and workshops and I can't recommend these workouts enough. The store provides mats, there's no pressure to buy anything (although I usually find it hard not to) and no one will give you the side-eye if you show up wearing something that isn't from the store.

If Thursdays don't work for you, the Bucktown store also has a weekly Sunday morning yoga class.

Yoga and Pole Dancing

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Maya Henderson

Your source for all things yoga and wellness in Chicago.

A good friend and fellow yoga enthusiast came over the other night and told me I just had to watch the video below. It's from the US Pole Dance Federation Championship and it's absolutely amazing. Never again will I associate a shiny metal pole with Jerry Springer, trashy strippers, cheesy Carmen Electra cardio strip tease videos and baby mama drama. These women are fit, graceful and strong and they make working the pole look fluid and easy! The entire 3:25 video is great, but if you're impatient, it gets fierce around the 1:25 mark.


Your core has to be incredibly strong to pull off these jaw-dropping moves and to do it in 6" lucite heels is no small feat! The winner, Jenyne Butterfly, obviously practices yoga, because I spot at least 3 poses in her routine, including Bow and One-Legged Wheel. My friend and I whooped and hollered through the whole thing and now we're both thinking of trying out a pole dance class at Flirty Girl Fitness or S-Factor Chicago.

Now I see the difference between modern pole dancing and dirty stripper routines, although I'm still not sure these dancers should be performing for high school students

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