Letting Go

by Erin Ipjian

IMG_1621.jpg

One of our responsibilities as yogis is to continually scan the stories and mental patterns (samskaras) that shape the lens through which we perceive the world. .
.
Unless we live in a cave, it’s nearly impossible to move through life without picking up a collection of viewpoints and conditioning. By adulthood, our lens of perception (citta), can become quite muddied. Some of us spend our entire lives never examining these patterns, only making them stronger by continually revisiting them.
.
Yoga, on the other hand, challenges us to disrupt our patterns, to discern whether our mental loops are true or useful, and to let go of the ones that do not serve us.
.
And though it may seem easier to not do the work, the benefit of remaining dedicated to our practice is huge. Over time, we begin to shed our samskaras. We become more adept at meeting the world with greater clarity, authenticity, and openness. This is where life starts to get really good. We begin to effortlessly create and express what we were meant to share with the world. We become steady and sure of ourselves. We get out of our own way. We fulfill our dharma. .
.
This is what drives us to return, again and again, to our mats. Thank you, as always, for doing the work and choosing to practice with us, Evolution yogis. We’ll see you in class.

Finding Balance

by Erin Ipjian

IMG_1472.jpg

Each time we come to the mat, yoga invites us to engage in an exploration of opposing forces. A well-crafted practice will draw us to center - the place where we are neither too far in one direction or the other. One of yoga's most commonly explored pairings is that of steady, persistent effort (abhyasa) on the one hand, and non-attachment to the end-result (vairagya) on the other. 

Steady, persistent effort, without the pairing of non-attachment, sends us into an endless cycle of seeking more and more, where nothing is ever enough. Complete non-attachment, devoid of effort, on the other hand, leads to inertia. Finding the balance between these two is challenging to say the least, and that's exactly why yoga is a lifelong endeavor.

So, here's to endeavoring to strike the perfect balance -- coming back to the mat, again and again, engaging in this beautiful practice, softening into acceptance, and noticing how the balance plays out beyond the mat.

Moving into Stillness

by Erin Ipjian

IMG_4331.jpg

One of the greatest gifts a dedicated yoga practice offers us is greater skill in moving towards stillness. Like a tumultuous body of water, swirling with sand and sediment, the mind has the inclination to become clouded by thoughts. Many of us are rarely fully present in our lives: the body is in one place, while the mind is someplace else entirely. According to the yogis, this creates suffering.

While yoga is constantly evolving, some things never change. For thousands of years, yogis have been exploring practical and effective ways to still the mind, allowing us to become full participants in all of the beauty life has to offer. 

There are many tools in yoga's toolbox that can take us to this place. You'll see the breadth of those in our offerings here on our schedule at Evolution Yoga. Our wish is that, through the practices of movement, breath, and meditation, you'll regularly touch this place of stillness and clarity and watch as it disperses throughout your life off the mat.

In addition to our weekly classes, we have some wonderful offerings coming up, including:  Yoga Nidra Systematic Relaxation , beginning this Thursday 2/7, Family Yoga this Saturday 2/9, Restorative Yoga  this Sunday 2/10,  and the  Moving into Stillness Workshop later this month on 2/24. And remember that we offer Yin Yoga twice a week at Evolution. This is a practice that you can enjoy on an ongoing basis that promotes self-realization, relaxation, and a chance to experience meditation while practicing asana.

Intentions for the New Year

by Erin Ipjian

IMG_0909.jpg

Happy New Year, yogis! It’s that time of year when so many of us set out to approach our lives anew and set the elusive new year’s resolution.

This year, how about approaching 2019 with yoga’s version of the new year’s resolution - an Intention.

Resolutions involve control, sheer will-power, and often fail. Just as force does not work well in asana practice, this rigidity in the mind often fails to deliver effective change in our lives.

Yoga practice, on the other hand, invites us to get quiet and listen deeply on the mat, on the meditation cushion, and throughout our lives so that we can begin to notice the impact of our habits and align with those daily practices that serve us and those around us best. Setting your intention for the year ahead (or for a shorter period of time) from this place of awareness is an effective tool from our yoga practice to guide us along the course of life.

This weekend, we invite you to join us for Debbie W’s New Year Restorative Yoga, in which you will enjoy an extended restorative practice, intention setting for the new year, and optional reiki.

Between weekly classes and upcoming special events, we have lots of opportunities to stay connected to your intention in 2019. Check out evolutionyogaglenview.com for our full schedule. Looking forward to practicing with you in 2019, Evolution yogis!

Yoga for Connection

by Erin Ipjian

IMG_0380.jpg

We are entering the holiday season, a time of celebrating and connecting with those around us. Although yoga may, at first glance, appear to be a way of escaping the stressors of our lives (and there are more of those this time of year!), it is truly a practice of connection, both within ourselves and, much like the intention of the holidays, with each other.

At its most fundamental level, yoga guides us to identify less with what separates us and see more clearly what connects us. We express that sentiment at the end of class with a “namaste,” and we strive to carry it with us, seeing and appreciating the world and people around us throughout the holiday season and beyond.

In addition to our weekly yoga class schedule, we have loads of special events and workshops, suitable for all levels of practitioners and yoga teachers coming up this winter. Check it out at evolutionyogaglenview.com. Thanks for connecting with us on your mat this holiday season!

Accessing your Gratitude: a Meditation

by Liz Geifman

IMG_0036.jpg

It’s human nature to focus on the negative.  A hundred things can go right in a day, most of which we won’t even notice or realize. Yet one wrong thing happens and we completely lose our minds. We obsess, we beat ourselves up, and we waste precious emotional energy allowing the negative to take over our day.

How do we redirect our focus and reframe our perspective?

We access our gratitude.

Gratitude is defined as the quality of being thankful; a readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.

Gratitude connects us to the greater world that we live in.  It elevates our mindset, refocuses our energies and reminds us of our priorities.  Accessing our gratitude can dig us out of the despair we might find ourselves sinking into when life gets stressful and overwhelming.  It reminds us of our value to ourselves, our community, our world.

There are times when true tragedy impacts our lives. Our focus and our emotions must give these situations the attention they require and deserve.  But, in order to live the fullness of our existence, we must allow ourselves to be aware of and to appreciate the blessings in our lives.

We live in a world filled with natural beauty.  Breathtaking landscape full of vibrant colors, scents, and sounds.  Whether your happy place is in the mountains, on the beach, or your own backyard, allow your mind to imagine that place.  Find gratitude for the beauty of this world we are so blessed to live in.

From there let your mind travel to your home, whether it’s your own private sanctuary, a place you share with a partner or with your loving family.  Find gratitude for the roof overhead, the shelter from the storm, the place where you can let down your guard and be the most authentic and relaxed version of you.

Let your mind travel to your family, the people who you are the most grateful to have in your life.  The love you share knows no bounds or conditions.  It is heartfelt and pure.  Find gratitude for the love, the deep sense of caring, and the unbreakable bond that is family.

Sometimes the lines between family and friends blur.  There are those in our lives whose love and support are essential to our making it through each day. It is with these amazing friends that we choose to share our struggles and our joy, and it is with much gratitude that we recognize that they have chosen for us to be in their lives too.

We are blessed with all of this good because we are blessings.  We have so much that is positive and good to offer. When we give of ourselves, when we allow our unique selves to shine, the world is enhanced by our brilliance.  When we look at ourselves with compassion, when we truly see and appreciate the many layers that make up our being, we can access our gratitude and find love for all of who we are.

With the holiday of Thanksgiving on the horizon, we are reminded to think about the blessings in our lives.  Gratitude is available for us to access always.  Find moments throughout your day to notice blessings.  A loved one’s smile, a meaningful conversation with a friend, a triumph at work.  Let these moments sink in deeply.  The more you look the more you will see, and in doing so, you will undoubtedly have found access to your gratitude.

Find Liz at Evolution:

Mondays 5:30-6:45pm Vinyasa Flow

Wednesdays 5:45-6:45pm Mixed Levels

Yoga & the Holidays

by Erin Ipjian

IMG_4281.jpg

The holidays are drawing near, and I’m going out on a limb here guessing I’m not the only one experiencing a palpable increase in the chatter of the mind. Longer to-do lists, hopes of fulfilling expectations around the holidays, and the complications of family relationships are just the kind of fuel the monkey mind loves.

Thankfully, we have yoga. As the outside world becomes more frenetic, we find our time on the mat to be even more precious. With patience and curiosity, we mine the body and mind, shining a light on the habits, thoughts, and patterns that unconsciously shape the way we move, think, speak, and act in the world. And we empower ourselves with a greater awareness that allows us to do better. With this clarity, yoga begins to expand beyond the four corners of our mat, to the holiday dinner table, and into the rest of our lives.

So, here’s to a holiday season grounded in greater awareness, understanding, and compassion. If you’d like to practice with me, you can find me at my weekly yoga offerings @evolutionyogaglenview .

Tuesday’s 9:30-10:45am mixed levels
Thursday’s 9:30-10:45am mixed levels
Sunday’s 12:00-1:00pm intro to yoga/gentle

Thanksgiving morning, my Thursday 9:30am class will be a donation class benefiting the Greater Chicago Food Depository. Sign up online or join us in the studio. Use your class package, membership, or drop in and we’ll donate the proceeds. 

Spotlight on Yin Yoga

by Chuck Frenkel, E-RYT & Yin Yoga Teacher

IMG_4151.jpg

Yin yoga is a yoga practice of mostly seated asana shapes while being in a relaxed state. But yin yoga is so much more than that, as it encompasses the yogic aspects of breathing, meditation, working with our energies/emotions, body awareness, and how we relate to our thoughts. Yin helps us to (re-)connect with ourselves and creates the environment and opportunity in which to do so. We learn how to use our breath and our bodies to better connect with each moment. We learn and practice techniques that help us to observe and relate to our thoughts rather than just react to them. A regular yin yoga practice also helps us to enjoy a better balance in our lives as we (re-)learn how to relax and just “be,” taking some time for ourselves to restore and replenish. -Chuck Frenkel, E-RYT & yin yoga teacher

Practice yin yoga at Evolution:

Monday’s 7:00-8:30pm yin with Chuck
Thursday’s 6:45-8:15pm yin with Polly


Advancing your Yoga Practice

by Erin Ipjian

IMG_3815.jpg

Ever think about what it means to advance in your yoga practice? Yoga is an embodied practice and with time practicing intelligently on the mat, we light up awareness in areas of the body, allowing us to move in ways not possible before. Over time, we might find ourselves moving more deeply into a posture or even balancing on our hands.
.
Ultimately, however, the poses are intended to serve as a vehicle for creating a greater understanding of ourselves and the world around us. And while movement is an important component of a well-rounded yoga practice, so is the ability to slow down and turn more directly towards the heart of what this practice is all about.
.
This Sunday, join Polly at Moving into Stillness: Mindfulness in Moving, Standing, & Seated Meditation. This special class will be an exploration of developing mindfulness on all levels - physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Move through gentle yoga poses as a moving meditation, explore what it is to stand in your own two feet, and cultivate spatial awareness within and without. Practice will culminate with a seated meditation. The only prerequisite is an open mind.
.
Sign up to reserve your spot at evolutionyogaglenview.com.

Stillness

by Debbie Woods

IMG_8569.JPG

When was the last time you experienced complete stillness of body and mind? For me it was yesterday after work. Still in my work clothes I rolled out my mat, threw my legs up the wall, rested my head on a blanket, gave myself the "savasana tuck" and voilà, stillness for 15 minutes. This little miracle cure is something I do often. Sometimes 15 minutes, sometimes 30. 

I know many people take time after work to transition to home life. Most say they "veg out" in front of the TV, read the paper, or use the time to scroll social media while sprawled on the couch. Others go for a workout or run errands to decompress. When we participate in these activities, our body seems relaxed, but our mind is still going a mile a minute. If our mind is going a mile a minute, is the body truly relaxed?

When I suggest complete relaxation to people, void of external stimulation, they ask me what the difference is because they're "relaxed" while vegging out on the couch and they watch something that's "mindless". The difference is this: in a restorative posture we support the body with props so the muscles are relaxed (think of how you sprawl on the couch, what shape your body takes and the use of muscles to hold you up). When we find the body completely supported and relaxed, the body opens and the mind goes to that quiet space. You are familiar with this place, it's that space where your mind goes right before you fall to sleep. This act of relaxation and stillness of mind helps us be more present. 

Remember Etch-A-Sketch? (One of my all time favorite toys as a kid!) You would draw your art and when your masterpiece was complete, you would shake it to get a completely clean slate which allowed you to start again. This is what my little legs up the wall, still mind routine did for me. Giving myself that time of complete stillness does it's etch-a-sketch job and wipes the mind slate clean. Afterwards, do I still have thoughts and emotions? Heck yeah! But thoughts and emotions seem to be put into perspective and my very busy brain seems to have switched to a much more tolerable pace, which in turn creates more space between the thoughts. When we do this, we allow ourselves to be more present. My end result? I was much more present in the dinner conversation with my friend last night. I felt lighter, happier and I think I laughed more (all good things). Not to mention my legs were quite thankful after my usual 8 hours of alternating between sitting and standing in front of a computer.

While practicing a restorative posture at home on a regular basis is great for our bodies and mind, going to a full-blown, traditional restorative practice cannot be beat. You don't have to worry about where the left leg or right arm should be. You don't have to give yourself the savasana tuck. You learn the benefits of the posture: is it helping with digestion and opening the 3rd chakra? You let the teacher do all the work so you can experience complete relaxation and bliss. On top of that, there's always aromatherapy to enhance your experience.

Join me, on Sunday, October 21 from 4:00 - 5:30 for a traditional Restorative Yoga practice, savasana tuck included. 

Reserve your space online so I can set up your props before your arrival. 

Yoga for Life

by Erin Ipjian

IMG_3750.jpg

We often think of yoga as being poses on the mat, but the best part of the practice truly happens outside of the studio.
.
I took this photo when my then 4 year old daughter and I were returning from half day preschool. While I wanted to rush her inside the house to get on with my to do list, she wanted to play a game of jumping over the sidewalk cracks with me. My immediate reaction was, “no, we don’t have time.” But, here’s where the yoga training comes in...
.
Yoga and meditation hone our ability to pause, hold our thoughts and emotions up to the light of discernment, and meet each moment with greater awareness.
.
While I have missed the mark in many moments in my life, in this particular one, I was able to catch myself. I could clearly see my impulse to get inside the house for what it was. The truth was I did have time. My work was under control. And while there are always more items I can check off my to do list, if I fail to see the moments in which I can connect with people around me, especially those I love, I am truly missing out on life.
.
I don’t practice yoga to attain enlightenment and float off into the ether. I practice yoga to become more fully grounded and present in my life. In this particular moment, my yoga practice allowed me to see past the busyness of my mind and connect with my daughter. That’s something worth practicing for.

Counting by Breaths

by Britt Chemla Jones

IMG_8482.jpg

Here’s a yoga teacher secret for you... When I’m teaching asanas, I time each pose by counting my breaths. For example: we’ll hold this pose for five breaths, or I’ll count three breaths on one side and three breaths on the other side. Having an Iyengar background, there are times I like my students to hold poses (usually restorative) for a couple of minutes, and then I use a timer. But most of the time, I just count my breaths. Or to be more precise, I count my exhalations.
.
I heard somewhere that the inhale represents self-assertion, and the exhale represents surrender. Yoga and teaching yoga are certainly about surrender... letting go of expectations and releasing the ego... so I count my exhalations.

.
Lately, I’ve noticed that I keep count from the moment I enter the studio, until I walk out the door. I might be describing a pose, or demonstrating, or walking around the class, or talking to a student, but under the surface I am continuously counting my exhalations. And at any moment, I can choose to bring the counting up to consciousness.
.
I like this a lot. I like that my mind has started counting my breaths without any conscious prompting from me. It reminds me that the yoga studio is also always a meditation space... where life proceeds at a calm, steady rhythm... where we are encouraged to surrender the insecurities of the ego... where we can just breathe and be our own unique, beautiful, brilliant selves.

Yoga: Self Care Practice or Something More?

by Erin Ipjian

IMG_3248.jpg

Yoga is often presented as a self-care practice. We are told that if we practice yoga, we will feel better, get stronger, reduce stress, etc. And while those things are true, to me, this view of yoga is incomplete.

While our initial experiences of yoga may be centered on the impact it has on ourselves as practitioners, with time we begin to see that its potential reach runs much deeper.

Through yoga, we become more attentive to the breath, the sensations in the body, and the inner workings of the mind. Our practice develops into a moving meditation in which we are gently guided towards identifying less with the persona we present to the world. We become more fully connected with what remains - what yogis call the Authentic Self.

When we practice with dedication and an open heart, we experience a sense of union within and without. And at the end of a practice, when it’s time to step back out into the world, we never forget the truth that we see while on our mat — that we are whole, that this world is beautiful, and that we are connected to everyone and everything around us.

Exploring Yin Yoga

by Chuck Frenkel

CF0_5126-4 (1).jpg

Yin yoga encompasses the yogic aspects of breathing, meditation, working with energies/emotions, BODY AWARENESS, and the practice of changing how we relate to our egoic thoughts with emphasis on breathing and meditation.  Yin teaches us to CONNECT and creates the environment and opportunity in which to do so. We learn to connect with our breath, our bodies (physical being), our true selves (spirit) and with EACH MOMENT of our existence.  We learn how to RELATE to our thoughts rather than just REACT to them, getting caught up in our mostly negative stream of mind stuff and getting distracted. 

Dealing with the mind/ego relationship is usually the most challenging for yoga students, not just with an asana practice but with all facets of a yoga practice.  In a yin yoga practice we work on letting go of judgments and expectations, becoming more fully present moment to moment, concentrating on the practice in each moment while being patient and compassionate with ourselves.  We try to embrace and incorporate the ideas of satya (being truthful) and ahimsa (non-harming) and move towards the just “being (in the moment)” rather than always “going and doing”. 

The yin practice helps us to be with ourselves without distraction, which, in some cases, can be a scary proposition.  This is where a good teacher comes into play.  That teacher can work with a student and help guide them through a safe and productive practice.  A good teacher can help guide the student as they make their way along their path, hopefully towards a more balanced practice and a more balanced life.  As our bodies find that balance, so does our mind and we become less reactionary and more observant.  As our mind slows and becomes less cluttered, we gain more clarity.

Many times, I have students come up after class and tell me they had no idea where the time went – it seemed like we had just started our practice.  This is a good indication that a student is starting to get out of their thinking mind, and instead they are starting to become less distracted by their thoughts.  When you’re in your head, caught up in your thoughts, being distracted by those thoughts and perhaps just waiting for the practice to be over (so you can be distracted somewhere else), you’re more aware of time.  When we are just “observing experience” (breath), we can lose sense of time’s passing and live our practice more fully, moment to moment, indicating that we are more fully present in each moment, more fully immersed in the meditation that is our wonderful yin practice.

-Chuck Frenkel, E-RYT & Yin Yoga Teacher

Practice Yin Yoga with Chuck and Polly:

Mondays 7:00-8:30 pm Yin Yoga with Chuck

Thursdays 6:45-8:15 pm Yin Yoga with Polly

Saturday, 9/22, 4:00-6:00 pm Exploring Yin Yoga Workshop with Chuck and Polly

 

 

Yoga as a Path to Stability

by Erin Ipjian

IMG_2681.jpg

I’ve never been a positive vibes only/rainbows and unicorns yoga student or teacher. 

In my mind, yoga acknowledges and embraces the full range of human emotion. It asks us to bear witness to both the light and dark within ourselves. And its accompanying practices gently, over time, direct us towards the place within each of us that is capable of observing our passing thoughts and emotions.

The true gift of yoga - far better than any fleeting “vibe” - is that with time and dedication, we become steadier and more focused. It’s not that we stop having emotions. Rather, we are training the mind so that we find ourselves being swept up and carried away by thoughts and emotions with less frequency and intensity.

All that we are asked to do is continually revisit the practices with dedication and an open heart.

Erin's current teaching schedule at Evolution:
Tuesday’s 9:30-10:45am mixed levels yoga
Thursday’s 9:30-10:45am mixed levels yoga
Sunday’s 12:00-1:00pm intro to yoga/gentle

Inspiration

by Debbie Woods

FullSizeRender (26).jpg

One of my greatest sources of inspiration is my yoga students. Each week they come to the mat with courage, strength, perseverance, an open mind, an open heart, curiosity, a playful attitude and more. They come to see what their bodies can achieve and many times they’re drawn back to class and don’t know why. It takes courage just to walk into a yoga class for the first time. We find strength in asana and peace in opening our hearts. We come to the mat to move forward with ourselves. Sometimes that forward movement is deepening a posture other times forward movement is finding stillness in the mind. We persevere week in and week out on what challenges us. We listen. We learn. We ask questions. We revisit and try again. We change. We grow. We thrive. We evolve. We inspire.

Let's inspire each other!

Find Debbie W on the mat at Evolution:

Tuesdays, 5:15-6:16pm Basics and Beyond

Saturdays, 8:00-9:00am Basics and Beyond

Saturdays, 9:15-10:30am Mixed Levels

Restorative Yoga once a month, Sunday's 4:00-5:30 (check website for dates)

 

Yoga as Training Ground for Life

by Erin Ipjian

IMG_0491.jpg

I like to think of yoga practice as training ground for life. Within each posture is a lifetime’s worth of opportunities to explore and refine. Each pose is an invitation to identify where we are exerting needless energy, focus our attention and resources, and observe how we respond in the face of challenge or failure. We test the frailties of the ego by playing with our edge and learn over time to develop a genuine curiosity for the noise the mind creates both on the mat and off so that, ultimately, we can begin to see beyond it. 

The Power of Restorative Yoga

by Debbie Woods

IMG_1648.jpg

My teacher, Judith Hanson Lasater refers to Restorative Yoga as radical self care. I love this! Before I studied restorative yoga, I was like many thinking why would I want to spend time in what seemed like a few savasana postures when I could be at the gym, riding my bike or be on my mat with intense flow and arm balancing?

Eventually it all clicked & I realized that I felt better physically, mentally and emotionally the week following a restorative yoga class. Yes, all types of movement are great. But I saw the biggest change in myself after restorative yoga. I was able to think more clearly, be more productive, sleep more soundly and the list goes on. We live in a world where more intensity and speed are revered. But eventually, you burn out. This radical self care practice can help you reset and recharge. You’ll find that with radical self care you actually can accomplish so much more and (warning) you may find yourself accomplishing more with grace and ease.

Come practice restorative yoga on Sunday, June 10 at 4:00 Evolution Yoga Glenview. Sign up online to reserve your bolster.

Deepening your Practice

by Erin Ipjian

IMG_0160.jpg

"Don't believe everything you think." -Byron Katie

It's a common story we all have heard -- "I came to yoga to get more flexible/stronger, but what I found was so much MORE."

At the very beginning, we, as yoga practitioners, are often caught up in the physical details, "right foot forward, left food back, and where is my pelvis supposed to be?"  With practice, we start to sense positive shifts happening in our bodies and even discover that we can execute poses that we never thought possible.

As we spend more time on the mat, however, we begin to appreciate that the point of the practice is not nailing the perfect pose. Moving to the rhythm of the breath and refining the details of the poses all serve a deeper purpose -- to become more aware of the noise the mind creates and spend more time connected to the awareness that lives beneath our thoughts and emotions.

This week, we have two wonderful opportunities to delve a little deeper and explore the inner workings of the mind with two meditation and mindfulness classes:

Meditation Series with Polly, Thursdays, 5/10-5/31 5:30-6:30

Mindfulness for the Restless with Kira and Allison, Saturday, 5/12 3:00-5:00pm

Sign up to reserve your spot here.