Our Teachers

Alicia Boss went to her first Yoga Sculpt class in January of 2014. As a reluctant participant, she was surprised when after that first class she fell in love with the practice! Soon after, her journey began towards becoming a Sculpt teacher and she received her certificate in April 2014. Being a teacher working alongside middle school students has encouraged her to find a balance of centeredness and silliness in everything on and off the mat. 

 



Alonso Valerio began practicing yoga about seven years ago while looking for a change in his exercise routine. He took his first class at High School and was instantly addicted. He quickly discovered that yoga was begining to "cure" his nagging soccer injuries. Alonso recently became Yoga Sculpt Certified through Yoga by Degrees and when he's not teaching he is usually either working as a Studio Attendant or studying for his class at IIT.  He enjoys teaching classes that are intense yet playful. He strives to incorporate peace and serenity in to his challenging Yoga Sculpt routines. Alonso encourages his students to be present. He loves humor, hamburgers, pizza and low sugar drinks.  He likes to incorporate a playful spirit into his classes and at times, can even be caught commemorating Ali G with a  spontaneous" "Boo-Yah-Ka-Sha"! 

 



 

Amanda Kellman found yoga in 2008. She discovered the physical practice of yoga to be an amazing, beautiful, yet challenging journey, and fell in love with the flow and grace of Vinyasa and Ashtanga yoga. Her studies gave her inspirations in Anusara, Kripalu, and Kundalini. With a blend as unique as they come, each of Amanda's classes takes shape with 4 core elements breath, movement, meditation and fun to create a fun and inspiring Vinyasa practice. She believes yoga should be serious but you should not. Amanda is thankful for the opportunity to learn from and be inspired by the many amazing yogis she practices with daily.

 


Ashley Rae Swanson began taking Bikram classes in 2009 and loved pushing herself physically.  In 2011 she took her first Vinyasa class at YBD and was introduced to the spiritual side of yoga which changed her life. Through yoga she found a patience within herself and compassion and gratitude for those around her. When she’s not at the studio she can be found in the spa working as an esthetician or (her favorite gig ever) partnering with her husband John to raise their little guy "Forrest" who was born early 2014.  Ashley believes you are only as good for others as you are to yourself and encourages her students to take time to feel good about themselves on a regularl basis. 

 


Bonnie Smith began practicing yoga in 2002, but it wasn't until she took her first Bikram class the next year, that she fell in love with yoga. She enjoyed the intensity and athleticism associated with Bikram and was delighted to see her practice change and evolve the more she practiced. In 2007, she began practicing Vinyasa and was immediately drawn to how challenging and athletic the practice was, but how much less regimented Vinyasa was compared to Bikram. In 2010, she completed her 200-hour teacher training in Vinyasa at Yoga to the People in New York. Her classes aim to be challenging, but accessible, with a strong emphasis on breath and alignment. She attempts to create a safe space for students to tap into their deepest, truest selves. An avid music fan, Bonnie's playlists provide an ambiance which promote a challenging flow and rhythmic cadence. In addition to teaching and practicing yoga, she is in medical school training to be a physician.

 

 



 

Brandon Cleek Brandon has been practicing yoga for 6 years. His yoga journey began by practicing with his mom on the living room floor at age 6. He continued to be physically engaged with other activities throughout his youth. He discovered his love for yoga after his college English professor hired an instructor to teach at the school. From that first class he created his own 30 minute sequence, which he would practice on his own 3 to 4 times a week.  He realized he had a natural ability to sequence and teach. He decided to venture into a hot yoga studio, where he continued to practice for 9 months until he decided it was time to take his practice a step further and sign up for teacher training and he hasn’t looked back since. Yoga has helped him through the ups and downs in his own life and he is passionate about sharing the joy of yoga with his students. 

 

 



 


Carole Witteman  used to play tennis competitively and needed ‘something’ to soothe her tennis elbow and growing tightness in her shoulders and hamstrings. A friend recommended trying hot yoga and after her first class, she knew she was hooked. Soon after she began practicing Yoga her tennis elbow went away, she became increasingly more flexible, and started to take her yoga practice off the mat and into her daily life. After trying her first yoga sculpt class, she fell in love with the class because it combined everything: flexibility, strength training, and cardio. She was thrilled with all of the benefits she was getting from a regular yoga practice and wanted to inspire others to make yoga a part of their lives. Outside of yoga, Carole works full time as a business analyst and enjoys spending time with her family.


 


 


Casey Thoma took yoga classes on and off her entire adult life but it wasn’t until 2006, when she needed it most, that she completely fell in love with the practice.  She remembers organizing her life around her studio’s class schedule and freaking out anytime she could fit in one more yoga class!  Eager to share her passion with others, she got her 200-hour teacher training certification at Prairie Yoga in Lisle, IL.   She believes that everything we need is already inside of us and we just need to tap into our deeper consciousness to access our truest selves.  Whether she’s teaching a sweaty Vinyasa Flow, or a calming Restorative class, Casey’s goal is always that her students connect with their mind, body, and spirit so that they can find peace and be the best version of themselves.    

 


 

Cassandra Justine is passionate about yoga and has a strong drive to spread its joy. It has been a light in her life since childhood. An old soul at heart, she grew up a free spirit with an open mind.  Early influences such as modern dance, art and teaching gymnastics started Cass on the journey to deepening her yoga practice. On her path, she has explored many styles; Ashtanga, Iyengar,Restorative and Hatha but her heart belongs to the creative freedom of Vinyasa.  A desire to teach yoga overcame her as a college student while in savasana. She enrolled in teacher training shortly after this experience and practicing with many inspirational teachers.  Her classes are inspired by her self-practice. She develops mindful sequences and choreographs them to music. She encourages students to explore the subtle body, connect with their energy centers and most of all, to surrender. She says her intention is for students to grow, to let go and to choose joy.


Christy Landschoot discovered yoga when she took her first class in 2012, and she immediately fell in love with it.  She is a longtime athlete who found yoga to be a peaceful continuation of her wellness.  Christy enjoys the accepting nature of yoga, and she appreciates that everyone brings personal intentions to the mat.  Since beginning her yoga journey, Christy continues to be reminded of the opportunity yoga offers to strengthen the body and reset the mind. The ability of yoga to balance strength and awareness of the body and breath is something that Christy is enthused to share with her students in each class.  She looks forward to facilitating, seeing, and experiencing the growth with fellow yogis. 

 



 

Colleen Taylor first went to a yoga class seeking an active outlet and stress release. She was instantly hooked. Colleen loved the physical practice of yoga and its benefits, but as her commitment deepened she realized the mental, emotional, and spiritual fulfillment that comes along with dedicated focus. She studied Psychology in college so her yoga classes incorporate the benefit of tuning inward and becoming mindful about oneself. When she's not doing yoga, Colleen teaches nature programs at a forest preserve and enjoys hiking, gardening, and spending time with loved ones. 


Corey Kelly became a teacher after an extensive yoga practice and training with Bikram Yoga Champion, Shiva Kumar Madayya.  He believes in a "whole body" health approach which incorporates conditioning, yoga, meditation, nutrition, and stress reduction practices.  Corey has many years experience as a yoga teacher, trainer, nutrition expert and bodybuilder. He is also a martial artist and lifestyle coach.  Corey is known for his hands-on adjustment clinics and trainings.  He also performs clinical-based therapeutic work which combines elements of nutrition, Ayurveda, yoga, Thai bodywork, massage and various forms of energy work. Corey has helped his clients overcome spinal cord and intense sports injuries through a method called "Advanced Focus Training". He integrates emotional healing techniques in to his physical work.  Corey travels to India regularly in order  to further his knowledge.  His main goal is to share his passion for a well-balanced yoga lifestyle which encompasses the body, mind and spirit. 

 

Christen Bridgewater came to yoga searching for a tool to help rebuild physical and emotional health and vitality. In yoga she found potent medicine, a way to still her mind and a concrete means of opening to grace. Originally inspired by the intensity of Southern California power yoga studios, Christen's practice now draws from a number of different yogic traditions.  In 2013 she attended 200 hour teacher training.  Christen holds a BA in Philosophy from Wheaton College and she has also spent several years in self-directed study of holistic nutrition, energy work and various other mind-body therapies. With a deep compassion for others and the desire to see people meet their full potential, Christen seeks to create classes that encourage presence in the now which allows her students the boldness to move forward with confidence and grace.

 

 

 


 

 

Diana Piedra has dedicated her life to self expression through yoga and dance. She has studied with dozens of master teachers over the past decade and was certified in YogicArts by Duncan Wong in 2002. Diana has trained men and women's collegiate teams to utilize regular yoga practice, increasing range of motion, flexibility, and engagement of the still awakened mind. Diana feels her calling is to be a humble and lifelong student. Her energetic, compassionate, and sometimes humorous approach allows students to learn, grow, laugh and smile even in the most difficult of poses.

 

 


Elizabeth Brooks started practicing yoga in 2011 and is extremely excited to be teaching now. She started practicing yoga daily at Yoga by Degrees looking for a way to de-stress and gain a different work-out variety other than running. Once she found out about the opportunity to teach she just couldn't say no. To Elizabeth, teaching yoga is a way to connect with others through breath, movement, and inspiration. She can't wait to help bring the benefits of yoga to others!


 



 

Eugenia Skourletos began her yoga endeavor after feeling bored, tired, and sore from repetitive circuit and strength training workouts. In search of change to her workout routine, she ventured to a hot yoga class.  After just one class, she was hooked! She was absolutely amazed at her increased strength, flexibility, and concentration. She finds Yoga Sculpt to be an invigorating blend of strength training incorporated with the essential vinyasa yoga element. Yoga has brought forth a heightened sense of physical and mental balance to her life. The energy and harmony yoga has given her has been life changing and she hopes to share her enthusiasm, genuineness, and love of yoga with her students class after class!


Fiona Jenkins was introduced to yoga while vacationing with her family and immediately felt a connection. She fell in love with how she felt after practicing yoga.  She felt strong, flexible, confident and compassionate toward herself and life. On her return she immediately began taking classes and began her journey towards her certification, which she earned in 2012.  During this journey she explored different types of practices as well as other virtues provided by those practices. Fiona is certified in both Yoga and Sculpt Yoga.


Geraldina Vaicekauskiene is a former lawyer and real estate agent.  She discovered yoga at a local gym in 2002.  Since then she has dedicated her life to yoga.  Geraldina completed a 200-hour teacher training in 2008.   She is originally from Lithuania and has traveled the world teaching yoga in three  different languages.   In her classes Geraldina invites her students to seek freedom in their bodies, minds and hearts so they can experience life to the fullest.  She believes that regular yoga practice helps to keep the body supple and creates a feeling of vitality and happiness.





Heather Avery was certified in 2008 and continued her 500 hour advanced studies in 2010.  She also works as a massage therapist so alignment is an important element to her classes to avoid injury as well as preparing for more advanced postures.   Heather strives to challenge her students while taking a light hearted approach to make her students feel comfortable and empowered.  Heather believes "The most important posture is the one from ear to ear. Bringing more joy to our practice brings more joy to our lives".

 

 

 

 

 

 



Holly Mech began her teaching journey in 2012 when she completed her 200 hour certification. Since then she has grown to love teaching beginning and advanced Vinyasa yoga as well as Restorative yoga. She loves to combine yoga with travel and spent July of 2014 in Bali doing a 100 hour advanced teacher training with Laughing Lotus Yoga. She has a B.A. in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago. 

 

 




Jacqueline McBride began her yoga journey 23 years ago.  She always felt that it would be a good counter practice for all the running and triathlon training she did.  However, being a consummate adrenaline junkie made the flow and tranquility of a yoga practice difficult for her. Then one day she discovered Yoga Sculpt and ended up taking teacher training. She has been enjoying teaching Yoga Sculpt to others.  Jacqueline is grateful for the growth of her yoga practice and the ability to share the practice with others.  She looks forward to learning more about yoga and furthering her knowledge and practice.

 

 



 

 

Jenni Antonicic, RYT came to Yoga through asana practice at her fitness center, and got hooked on the transformative powers of this multi-faceted discipline that continues to enrich her life. She completed her teacher training with Vinyasa master Rolf Gates in 2009 and has been looking forward to every teaching opportunity since. Jenni celebrates how Yoga teaches us how to cultivate and then wisely and skillfully apply our energy, whether towards improving our downward dog, or scattering joy to all beings. Her asana practice emphasizes anchoring to the breath (and our sense of humor!), building strength and stability as a foundation for flexibility and expression, and the self-illumination attained through brave and honest reflection. The wise words of Rolf Gates, to do “a little yoga a lot”, instead of a lot of yoga every now and then, catapulted her personal practice and has become the foundation of her advice for all students.   Breathe, Focus, Intention, Expression is her mantra.

Jennifer Mayerik began her yoga journey in June of 2011 when she was looking for a new form of exercise.  Jennifer had played softball through and after college then became arunner and completed a sprint triathlon.  She instantly fell in love with the different type of exercise that yoga was giving her.  She found that Yoga allowed her an hour to herself that she otherwise wouldn't give herself.  Jennifer is trained  and certified in Yoga Sculpt. Jennifer's goal for her students is to come to each class excited to sculpt and to leave their mat with a sense of accomplishment.  Off the mat, Jennifer is a high school math teacher and softball coach.  She continues to run, spend time with her dog Sparky, hang at the pool, and read.  She values time spent with family and friends, including all of her students at Yoga by Degrees.

Jenny Bergold, is no stranger to the beauty of yoga and the art of teaching. Jenny has been practicing yoga since 1999 and taught multitudes of students about the dynamics of television studio production. Now, she has combined her two greatest talents – yoga and teaching – to provide students a revolutionary form of yoga, meditation and relaxation. A 2009 graduate of the Heaven Meets Earth Yoga Studio in Evanston, Illinois, with an emphasis in the Radiant Child Yoga Program, Hatha Yoga, Vinyasa, Kundalini Yoga, and Meditation, Jenny's teaching style is uplifting and motivational. Previous to her yoga instructor training, Jenny worked at BATV (Batavia Access Television) where she also taught television studio production to Batavia High School students. A 1996 graduate of Ball State University, Jenny also worked at WTTW Chicago Channel 11 as an associate producer on such well known programs as Handy Ma’am, Trinity Irish Dance Company, and Art Safari.

Jenny Thiede fell in love with yoga while completing her student teaching at Arizona State University. She began teaching yoga classes as part of physical education curriculum in high schools. During the summer of 2011 she studied and earned her 200-hour yoga teaching certificate on the beautiful Big Island of Hawaii. She loves sharing the powerful beauty of yoga with others and strives to create a comfortable, focused, and fun yoga class. 

 

 



Jill Keuhn began her journey into yoga 12 years ago when she took her first class looking for a way to release stress and find some quiet time for herself.  Yoga turned out to be just what she was looking for.  Then in 2010 she decided to get her teachers certification, wanting to help others discover the benefits and healing power of yoga she had experienced.  Believing you should find joy every time you step on your mat she strives to make her classes fun, encouraging and challenging for all levels. 



Yoga By Degrees

Julie Lomax found hot yoga in 2005 after moving back to the Chicago area. Knee and back pain forced her to stop running. Yoga not only provided a low impact workout, but actually alleviated the pain that had plagued her for many years. While initially a physical exercise, yoga became so much more. Yoga became an oasis where Julie could relax, rejuvenate, and refuel – physically, mentally, and spiritually. Besides alleviating the aches and pains, yoga has been instrumental in maintaining hormonal balance and dealing with depression. Julie has been on a journey to wholeness and wellness for nearly 10 years. Yoga teacher training was the next step in the path. Julie wholeheartedly believes something as amazing as yoga needs to be shared. She likes to set her students up for success by encouraging her students and providing the proper alignment for each posture, as well as explaining the benefits. Julie lives in Naperville with her husband and daughter. She can often be found walking or biking (sometimes even snowshoeing) at the Morton Arboretum. Julie is a 200 hour certified yoga teacher and has also received certifications to teach Yoga Sculpt and Yin Yoga.  



Kara Pluth began practicing yoga in 2005 and instantly fell in love!   She says the most rewarding part of practicing yoga for so many years, has been seeing how her personal practice has grown. Her passion to teach was sparked while attending school in Colorado. Kara completed her 200 hour training in the summer of 2012.  She says her practice extends off of her mat and in to her entire life. She says her teaching style challenges her students both physically and mentally and she is constantly growing and learning with them.  
 

Kara Thompson is a child psychologist by training.  After taking a year off work, she was searching for something spiritual, physical, and intellectual and discovered yoga.  She practiced for a year before she found heated yoga, after that, she was hooked. The physical and mental benefits were so significant, she felt she needed to learn more so she could share it with others.  Her classes are spiritual, energetic and physical.

 



Katie Kobilca began her yoga  journey as a means to cross-train and add flexibility to her body 12 years ago.  As a lifelong athlete, yoga was the perfect compliment to an active lifestyle.  Focusing on mind, body and spirit seemed to bring everything together. While studying various types of yoga, she completed a 200 hour hatha yoga certification in 2012.  Katie teaches a light-hearted, well-rounded class with a focus on alignment, breath, flow, and inner connection.  As an instructor she hopes to share her passion for yoga, and to inspire others to find the physical and emotional benefits of a regular yoga practice.

 
 

 



Katie Shannon has been active her whole life.  She was a swimmer and water polo player from the age of five through college.  After college she felt burnt out with all water related sports and took up running.  Katie fell in love with outdoor running and progressed from 5Ks to marathons.   All of the running was taking a toll on her body so a friend suggested yoga as a way to keep flexible and avoid injury.  One time on her mat was all it took.  Katie immediately saw the unending physical, spiritual and emotional benefits of yoga and began to broaden and strengthen her practice.  She considers her mat a sacred space and she credits it for her good physical health. It has also enabled her to learn to “breathe through” challenges in her life including raising her four children.  If Katie could, she would put yoga into a box, wrap it up and give it to everyone she knows. 

Kristina Reyes started her yoga journey at Illinois State University where she studied Theatre and English education. While using yoga and guided meditation as a tool for directing character development and stage movement, she observed how the yoga practice transformed stage fright into fearlessness.  Kristina became increasingly interested in the phenomenon of the mind-body connection; she began to study how meditation and yoga influence long lasting changes in the brain and body.  She now integrates yoga practices in her theatrical teachings; helping performers overcome fear to embrace their own self-efficacy.  She also uses yoga as a tool for students with learning disadvantages; helping ease anxiety, build confidence and maintain focus.  She would like to thank her YBD brothers and sisters for their genuine kindness and generosity. “You all are what make this establishment welcoming and beautiful. You inspire me and make me feel proud to work for Yoga By Degrees.” 
 

 





Lara Devine completed her certification through the Chicago Yoga Center and is a registered teacher with the Yoga Alliance. As a distance runner, Lara turned to yoga as a means of cross training. Yoga instantly touched her soul, allowing her to reconnect with the gymnast/dancer of her childhood. As a mother of four, business owner, and athlete, Lara relates to the many different reasons people turn to yoga. She is passionate about helping her students find the strength & peace within. 

 

 



Laurel Williams has been into fitness since her many years as a gymnast. After becoming a mother of twins she needed a little something extra to keep busy, because apparently the twins weren't enough. Yet she wanted to be able to continue her workout regimen.  Laurel first became certified in Pilates. She then discovered barre classes. After she trained and taught for more than five years, a close friend introduced her to Yoga By Degrees. Laurel started at YBD in November 2012 and was immediately hooked. She quickly knew that this is where she wanted to be.  Yoga and Yoga Sculpt have helped strengthen her mind and body, as well as brought back some flexibility. YBD classes have also helped Laurel immensely with running. In fact, Laurel will be running a couple more half marathons later this year.Laurel received her yoga sculpt training from YBD and is thrilled to be sharing her energy and enthusiasm in her classes with all of you.


 

 

 

 

 



Lindsay Feyer discovered yoga after her back was aching from digging too many holes in the ground making soil survey maps. Apprehensive about practicing yoga in public, she started to practice privately in her own home and immediately started feeling the emotional and physical benefits. After several years of home practice and a running injury,  she found the confidence to venture out to an actual yoga class and she was hooked!  In 2013, she completed her 200 hour Certification and in 2014 she went on to add Yoga Sculpt to her repertoire. She loves teaching sculpt because she gets to squat, sing and cheer!   Lindsay wants to share all the amazing benefits that yoga has brought into her life. She strives to create a safe, welcoming and energizing environment where every student can challenge himself/herself to find the positive changes a regular yoga practice can bring into their lives.

 

 


Lisa Brennan fell in love with yoga in 1997, while pregnant with her second child. Even though her big belly got in the way of most poses,  the healing and restorative power of yoga got her hooked. She continued to practice for the next 15 years, eventually becoming a teacher herself, completing YBD's Teacher Certification Program in Jan. 2014, after being inspired by the amazing teachers here! Off the mat, Lisa spends her free time embarrassing her three teenage children and unsuccessfully attempting to get them to unload the dishwasher. She is also owner of a private Counseling practice in Western Springs, "Harmonious Healing," specializing in Women's issues (Anxiety, Stress Management, Divorce), & Family Therapy. For fun, Lisa also loves to bike outdoors, sing & play the guitar...which does not embarrass her teenagers at all.

Lisa's passion for Yoga, coupled with her Counseling background, and training as a Music & Sound Healing Practitioner, provides her with a unique perspective and set of skills as a Yoga teacher. She enjoys combining the use of Yoga, music, sound, meditation & psychological concepts to help promote healing the body, mind & spirit. Lisa also believes laughter is the best medicine...so if this Yoga gig doesn't pan out, look for her on the stand-up comedy circuit, or pursuing her dream of writing skits for Saturday Night Live. But for now her dream is to just get a good night's sleep, and to get that darn dishwasher unloaded.

 

 


Lisa O'Brien stepped into a yoga studio for the first time four years ago.  Her passion for yoga took off! The sense of calm, inner peace and reflection have proven beneficial in her life as well as her practice.  She took the plunge in 2013 to become a teacher. Her love of helping others, education and physical activity are what drives Lisa to grow and learn each and every class.  She is the mother of four active children. She enjoys cooking, family and any opportunity she can get to challenge herself.

 


Loreta Medoniene s a teacher by profession and by calling.  She holds a BA in linguistics and a 200 hour Teacher Training certificate from Prairie Yoga. She says she has a pure heart and pure soul which is searching for liberation and enlightenment as a human being. She is a true believer that a teacher approaches when the student is ready.  Loreta teaches vinyasa style in her classes and emphasizes the importance of conscious connection between movement and breath, playfulness and determination.  She also believes in the the significance of two core principles of Yoga: Practice and Non-Attachment, on and off the mat.

 

 


Lou Affetto discovered Yoga when he decided to take responsibility for a less than healthy lifestyle.  His practice taught him to swallow his pride and directly address any changes he wished to make. In short, yoga taught Lou a new kind of strength. With boundless energy and enthusiasm, Lou wishes to promote the love of health and one's self with a class full of posture, breath and control.

 

 



 

Margaret O'Mullen has been practicing yoga for most of her adult life.  Her teaching style reflects her interest in many styles of yoga.  With grace and ease, Margaret guides her students through breath-synchronized movements that promote self-discovery, personal growth and a feeling of satisfaction.  With her positive and uplifting personality, she encourages her students to embrace their abilities as well as their disabilities and is inspired by the courage and humour her students bring to their mats. She delights in the way yoga has infused all parts of her life and is excited to share the benefits of yoga with everyone.  Margaret enjoys spending time with her husband and two sons, reading and playing tennis in addition to furthering her education and volunteering in her community. 

 



Marlene Stotz says a balanced fitness regime has always been important to her. She spent many years doing resistance training and aerobic activity. In 2009, she began experiencing back pain and after an evaluation discovered she had severe scoliosis.  She had two options: surgery or strengthen her core.  She chose the latter, took her first Yoga class and never looked back.  Marlene became Yoga Certified in 2010.  A few years later, she was introduced to Yoga Sculpt and immediately knew it was a perfect fit for her.  She became Yoga Sculpt Certified through YBD and is excited to share her passion with her classes. 

 

 



Yoga By Degrees

Meghan Rohde was first introduced to Yoga during her college career at University of Wisconsin, Madison. With an intense schedule as a Dance major Yoga was consistently used by her Professors as a tool to open the body in class and focus inward before performances. After graduating college in 2009 she took her first HOT yoga class and she instantly became addicted. Yoga became the perfect complement to her dance career. Yoga has become an inspiration in her personal life as well as in her dance choreography and teaching. After moving to the Chicagoland area in March 2011 she decided it was time to further her love for Yoga and decided to pursue her Yoga Certification at Prairie Yoga in Lisle, IL where she studied with an amazing faculty.
Meghan is continually amazed with how Yoga has strengthened her body while helping her find more inner peace and gratitude for all of life’s moments. She is passionate about sharing this with her students in a comfortable and rewarding environment. She believes Yoga is a gift that is truly for everyone. Believe her when she says your mind, body and soul will love it!




Nadja Lalvani took her first yoga class in 2005 and has been obsessed with it ever since!  When her duties as the spokesperson for the City of Naperville began to interfere with her yoga practice, she knew it was time to follow her passion and take a leap of faith, boldly ending a 15 year career in politics and government.In June 2012, Nadja completed her 200 hour teacher certification under the direction of Jonny Kest and Victoria Sturenfeldt-Rowell. She is qualified to teach ashtanga, vinyasa and slow flow. Nadja's teaching style is fun-loving, heart opening and healing. She believes the three most important elements of her class are connecting with students, helping them to connect internally with their authentic selves and to challenge and guide them to their edge for maximum growth and transformation. She believes in the amazing inner journey that yoga facilitates and is thrilled to share yoga's life changing powers with her students and fellow yogis and yoginis. Nadja is a first generation Pilippindian or Indopino. (Her dad is from India and her mom is from the Philippines.) She lives in Glen Ellyn with her other obsession, her spectacular son Julian. She currently serves as president of the PTC board for Glen Crest Middle School. 

 

 


 

 

Nicole Orr believes we are all constantly evolving beings and that yoga is a perfect example of how we can transform our bodies and minds through focus and dedication. Yoga entered Nicole's life unexpectedly. Following an accident in which she broke her pelvis, in 2003, Nicole was restricted from high impact exercise. It wasn't long before Nicole was hooked on yoga.  Almost immediately, Nicole felt a difference. She was amazed at her improved strength, focus and physical and mental balance. She believes the principles and practice of yoga help us reach balance within ourselves and the universe in which we exist. As a student of yoga, Nicole imagined how, as a teacher, she could help her students gain strength, agility and balance and could also help them see how fun and inspiring yoga can be. 

 



 

 

Nosa Ebomoyl discovered Yoga while using the p-90x, a series of home workout dvds which included yoga. He was impressed at how the body could be challenged so rigorously without the use of any weights. What was most inspiring to him was how with patience, breath and daily practice he could push past physical limits. A tool he uses in his personal practice, particularly in difficult balancing postures, is to silently repeat the mantra "calm down". Through this he finds that he gets into challenging postures with a little more ease, much like the calm in a storm.  Nosa believes with each passing day we meet on our mats and we are given the opportunity to learn something new about ourselves, whether it is physical, emotional or spiritual. He strives to bring a combination of tranquility and endurance that leads to strength of mind among his students.

 


 

Rachel Reid Chadesh first triedYoga in the 90’s as a way to spend time with her Mom.  She enjoyed it but it was not until 2007 that her practice became a regular part of her life.  An avid runner, she took a class in order to recover from a foot injury, but soon found that in addition to the physical side of the practice, the breathing, chanting and meditation were what really spoke to her.  As her practice deepened, she was impressed with each instructor’s ability to bring different dimensions to each class.  In 2009, the opportunity to study under Moksha Yoga Studio alongside Master Teachers and esteemed instructors became available.  This was a life changing decision.  Teacher training connected the dots in her life.  Rachel feels that practicing Yoga can affect every student on many levels.  As the practice grows, so does the practitioner.  With a background in athletic training, Rachel likes to create safe, challenging classes. And she loves to throw in a joke or two and watch the serious faces smile back up at her.  

 



 



Ruth Elliot was transplanted from Southern Ontario to Naperville just over eleven years ago, with three, now mostly grown, children. A constant dabbler, she has tried everything from meditation to martial arts and warrior dashes to kayaking. As an avid photographer, writer and artist she had experimented with various types of yoga on and off for years and used it as part of her recovery after a major car accident and then from hip replacement surgery. Early in 2012 a friend dragged her to her first heated vinyasa class. Two weeks later she was hooked. Yoga became her physical, emotional and spiritual refuge. It continues to be her daily grounding and her source of growth both on and off her mat. Ruth is honored to expand and share her yogic experience through teaching.

 



Yoga By Degrees

Samantha Raphael has been practicing Yoga for over a decade and teaching for many years. She's registered with the International Yoga Alliance and has trained with several Masters and teaches in a variety of yoga styles. Samantha strives to lead a yoga class that makes the practice a truly inspiring adventure. She offers a unique and pragmatic approach to teaching that focuses on nourishing your mind, body and spirit while leaving you feeling energized and uplifted. She says: “I believe working towards the strongest, flexible body possible for ‘you’ helps you feel more ‘at home’ in it.”

Through movement and breath, Samantha guides her students on a journey of self-discovery where they're encouraged to let go of past judgments and criticisms, and learn to cultivate mindfulness that transcends to living each moment to its fullest, both on and off the mat.

 



Sarah Pogorzelski started on her yoga journey three years ago while doing P90X in her basement.  What started as just a workout turned into so much more and eventually led her to Yoga By Degrees in 2012.  Yoga has become such an integral part of her life, from reaping the benefits of yoga as cross training to the peace she's found in dealing with everyday challenges.  In 2014 Sarah decided to take a leap of faith and completed the Yoga By Degrees Teacher Training program.  What she learned there, encouraged by her amazing husband and sons and surrounded by her inspiring yoga family, has given her a unique voice that she loves to share with her students. 

 

 



 

 

Yoga By Degrees

Sarah Yerkes has always been an avid runner, loves fitness and new challenges. After taking her first yoga class, she realized the amazing health and mental benefits of various types of yoga. She was immediately drawn to the profound healing aspect of yoga and feels it has truly helped her become stronger in all arenas of her active life. As a high school teacher and yoga sculpt teacher, Sarah loves sharing her passions with others and helping others discover the powerful benefits of practicing yoga. Yoga is a gift and inspiration which helps all of us find stillness and peace throughout this crazy journey we call life.


 




Shannon Flanagan says fitness has always been an important aspect of her life.  She played competitive fastpitch softball until the age of 22. She was recognized as an elite softball player on the high school and junior college level.  After her high school senior year, she represented the United States while playing in Holland, France, and Germany. After softball ended, Shannon became passionate about running.  She has completed nine full marathons, including a 31 mile charity run.  Shannon discovered that hot yoga helped alleviate achey joints and facilitated a speedy recovery after long runs and strength workouts.  Yoga became a regular practice and after taking several yoga sculpt classes, she decided to get certified and become a yoga sculpt teacher. Her motto: "When you feel like quitting...think of why you started!"

 

 



 

Shaun Emerson was encouraged by his wife, Lisa to start his yoga journey three years ago in the heat of a Bikram studio. After an eight-month love affair and four month long breakup with Bikram, Shaun found himself at Yoga by Degrees. YBD Sculpt became a family affair often attending classes with his wife and two daughters. Prompted by his girls and curious to learn more, Shaun entered and completed the YBD 200 hour Teacher Training program. During his training, Shaun shifted from sculpt to flow and found, not only his breath, but a love for it’s quiet, yet vigorous, elegance.


Stacey Zagortz began practicing yoga in 2000.  She initially came to the mat for yoga’s physical benefits and to break up the tedium of a normal exercise routine. After several years of practicing, she began to incorporate yoga’s breathing techniques into her practice which allowed her to enrich her practice, on and off the mat. She credits yoga for helping her be calmer and to be a better wife, mother, and person. A former school teacher, she is a registered yoga teacher (RYT) with Yoga Alliance and has a Master’s of Education. Married with two sons and two cats, Stacey recently moved to Glen Ellyn from Dallas, Texas. 


 

Stephanie Findon considers herself passionate and purpose driven. After some recurring knee injuries, she felt her yoga practice calling her back in early 2014.  She was thrilled to discover how yoga not only helped heal and strengthen her body, it also forged a deeper connection between her mind, body and spirit. She has continued to practice yoga and her passion led her to Yoga Teacher Training.  She says it was one of the best decisions she has ever made.  Stephanie is passionate about connecting with others which is why she loves travelling, volunteering and spending time with friends and family. She leads a heart opening vinyasa class that combines her love of flow with the traditional practice of yoga. In her classes, students learn to surrender to the divine within. Her wish is that each of her students can discover success, joy and growth in their personal practice.

 



 

Teresa Rizzo initially practiced yoga for the physical benefits but was surprised to discover, that after consistent attendance, yoga had changed not only her body but also her outlook on life.  She soon realized that by doing yoga ,she not only was stronger physically but she was much more content, fulfilled and more herself than ever before. Teresa completed her 200 hour yoga teacher training at Yoga By Degrees in June 2014.  She says she found her purpose in life as a yoga teacher. She encourages her students to find confidence and self awareness in her classes by challenging themselves both physically and mentally.

 



Todd Combs found yoga several years ago as a workout to counteract the effects of thousands of miles of cycling. As a newbie yogi, and not understanding the benefits of moderation, he let his ego drive him to take 340 yoga classes at YBD the first year it opened in Western Springs. Once skeptical of yoga's "spiritual side", his interest in the deeper meaning of yoga led him to sign up for YBD's 200 hour teacher training course. Yoga transformed his life both physically and spiritually. Todd is the proud husband of Dr. Irene Combs, who has a private optometry practice in Western Springs, and father of three daughters and one son.  He hopes to see you on your mat soon! 

 



Tomek Bilan has been a yoga student and teacher for over three years. A main focus in his classes is proper breathing so that students can push themselves beyond what their minds perceive as limitations, thus building strength in their practice. His classes offer options for advanced postures while at the same time offering modifications for beginners. Students will learn how to use breath control, which will not only help them during asana practice, but also during everyday life and especially during stressful situations. Each class is designed to be different, challenging and fun. Tomek blends the physical asana practice with the spiritual yoga tradition, leaving you with new insights to examine your life. He stresses the importance of getting into the experiences of the class and leaving your outside world behind.