Yoga for Alethya Luiselli is more than just a “workout”— it is a way life founded on a firm commitment to the moral and ethical precepts of truth, non-violence and love.
“I want yoga to be healing for my students as it was for me,” says Alethya. After enjoying years of the physical benefits, in 2012 she decided to dive in deep. Her mentor was an Ashtanga yoga guru who helped Alethya see the path to self-love and confidence. Alethya decided to channel her devotion of yoga into teaching. She completed the RYT 200-hour certification in 2016; she has taken extensive workshops and is certified to teach Vinyasa, Yin and Hot yoga. She continues to study under phenomenal teachers who inspire and motivate her to be the best, to reach her highest potential. As a teacher, she wants to empower and encourage students to fulfill their highest potential. She’ll believe in you, whether you’re striving for a pose or want to start teaching your own classes, because she sees the spark within you that has the potential to do it.
Alethya believes that one finds strength through letting go and living in the present moment which leads to inner peace and joy. She believes that Yoga is a journey and changes as your commitment to the practice gets stronger. Her children, Gianna and Eric James, share the same values as she does and they inspire and motivate her every day. By following the 8 fold path her practice continues to grow. Her dream is to share her knowledge, her experience and her passion with as many people as possible.
Allie Beyer is an E-RYT and has been teaching hot and vinyasa yoga since 2015. She enjoys challenging her students to grow in their practice and explore their power by experimenting with familiar movement in unfamiliar ways. Allie likes to remind her students (and herself!) that it’s just yoga – have fun with it and find playfulness on the mat!
Amanda Rhode still stands by what she has said for many years: “I owe everything to yoga.” Being a proud professional SAG-AFTRA film, television, and theater actor, she uses yoga as a way of solitude, and acknowledges it as a safe space free of judgement. She began her yoga journey when she was just nineteen, looking for a place to simply relieve stress and gain flexibility. Within over a decade of practice, without knowing or expecting, she captured so much more. Yoga completely changed her life, in every sense of the word. Just as she is extremely passionate in her work as an actor, the same goes when she plays the role of a teacher. Amanda completed the 200-hour teacher training program at Yoga By Degrees in early 2019. She would like to thank all the teaching staff and fellow teacher trainees for their encouragement, support, and love.
Andrea Leppert found yoga in 2014 soon after leaving her orthopedic surgeon’s office with a brochure on knee replacement. Having been a fitness enthusiast most of her life she now found that pain limited daily physical activities and felt defeated. After a week of trying yoga, “I found it met me at my level, it embraced me and I felt empowered, strong and graceful”. Vinyasa yoga felt familiar, energetic and inspiring as a former gymnast and restorative Yoga revealed a spiritual connection she had been longing for. Five years later yoga became not only a space to build physical strength, but evolved to be a solace for grief as her mom passed away in 2018 from breast cancer. In 2019, Andrea completed the 200-hour teacher training program at Yoga By Degrees and during the training was herself diagnosed with breast cancer. Yoga again shifted to meet her needs and offered some therapeutic benefits during treatment.
Andrea holds heartfelt gratitude for good health and hopes to inspire others to discover how yoga can meet them at their level and reveal it’s ever-evolving beautiful benefits and gifts.
Andrea Rocque has always had a passion for fitness. But it wasn’t until she discovered Yoga Sculpt that she found a way to combine strength training, cardio, core work and the ever elusive missing component from her daily routine; flexibility. After years of heavy weight training and intensive cardio, Andrea found herself exhausted on a daily basis. She was waking up incredibly sore with extremely tight muscles. She knew there had to be a better way to reach her fitness goals. She tried Yoga by Degrees about two years ago on a complete whim and immediately fell in love. Yoga and Yoga Sculpt became a way, not only to get an amazing physical workout but it gave her the flexibility she had never had before. The days of waking up in pain with little energy are gone and now she cannot wait to get to her mat to share the energy that yoga gives her with others. She believes that yoga should be fun and invigorating; a complete workout for the body and soul. Yoga heals and strengthens the body while simultaneously healing and strengthening the mind.
Angelique Anguiano has been a yoga teacher for almost 6 years certified in 200+ as well as the Sculpt format. She loves to be active as much as possible and mostly do yoga, strength training, cross fit, roller skating and swimming. She loves it all!
Her goal is to connect with students to help them fuel their passions through their practice and help them grow.
She started practicing yoga as a teenager as part of playing club volleyball and knew it would continue to be a part of her life.
Join her on your mat and bond through sweat, movement and dedication!
Angella Kanger has been teaching Yoga Sculpt for two years, and loves to bring an element of fun…Always up for the challenge, she has created classes that invite students to bring out their inner child to play…costumes, glow sticks, and mouse ears are always welcome in her class! She believes that music is imperative to helping students push themselves to their limit, and the right beat can inspire to push even further.
Angella discovered how healing yoga can be for the heart through a personal tragedy. Two years ago, she lost her husband and home in a fire, and lost everything but the clothes in her back. “I kept telling myself, ‘I’m a Phoenix’ and I’m going to rise from this.” A friend suggested she try yoga to help ease anxiety and depression, and Angella believes that was a pivotal part of her emotional recovery. “Teaching yoga, for me, is my way of paying it forward. I know what it has done for my mental health, and I want to share that benefit with as many people as possible. In this new world we find ourselves in, we need yoga now more than ever.”
Angie Ciella was a competitive gymnast. However, over the years, injuries and her obsession with perfectionism quickly deteriorated Angie’s overall physical and mental health. She left her 13 year gymnastics history and began to seek healing. Angie explored different types of classes at a local health club and yoga was introduced to her as an aid in her treatment for practicing mindfulness at her time of struggle. She saw yoga as an answer for genuine healing and eventully saught to share the benefits with others. Angie completed her 200 Hour teacher training through Yoga by Degrees in 2017. She encourages students to have a playful attitude toward their practice and listen to their body’s needs in order to become more in touch with themselves and their own unique practice.
Ashley Rae Swanson
Ashley Rae Swanson began taking classes in 2009 and loved pushing herself physically. In 2011 she took her first Vinyassa class at YBD and added the spiritual side of yoga that changed her life. Through yoga she found a patience with herself & gratitude for those around her. In 2013 she completed the first YBD Teacher Training. She is now in the studio full time and believes you are only as good for others as you are to yourself. Ashley’s classes encourage students to take time to be kind to themselves. Follow your dreams to live the life you have always imagined;Yogi Mom, Yogi Wife, Yogi Life!
Ashley Stiernagle, although originally from Texas, she’s lived in Geneva and now Wheaton for almost 9 years (yes! She still hate winters!). She has been married to the Love of her life, Chris, for 15 years and they have a 12 year old daughter and a 10 year old son. She started her own thriving skincare business several years ago and has been a Yoga Sculpt Instructor for 4 years. She loves that both ventures allow her to connect with people, build relationships, and watch people grow….it’s what she’s most passionate about, so she looks forward to meeting you and seeing you on your mat!
Becca Smith has been a dancer since age two and has been passionate about movement and music her whole life. In 2013, she found yoga and it immediately resonated with her passions. As someone who struggled with stress and anxiety, Becca instantly fell in love with the peace and joy yoga brought to her life, on her mat and off. After experiencing the positive impact yoga teachers had on her life, she wanted to spread yogi love to others.
Bobbi Diedrick discovered yoga at the young age of 46 after a crazy corporate career and running 9+ marathons. She started by jumping into Yoga Sculpt training, followed with Hot Fusion, and is now finishing up her 200 hour vinyasa training. Bobbi’s been married 32+ years to her Notre Dame sweetheart Larry, has four adult kids, and two adorable grandsons; outside of the studio Bobbi mentors a team of wellness entrepreneurs in Arbonne, a vegan skin care and nutrition company, plays competitive tennis and loves spin class. Bobbi loves paying forward the countless gifts yoga has given her and her family to as many people as possible, especially those feeling the long term effects of high endurance training or excessive stress.
Caitlin Coan began dancing at seven years old. At 10, she tried cheerleading as a way to get more involved at school. She took fitness classes in college, ranging from spin to pilates to kickboxing, and then in 2012, she found yoga and instantly fell in love with the practice. She says it changed her life and it was a natural fit for her mental and physical health. Caitlin graduated from Dominican University in 2014 with a BA in Rhetoric and Communications. She wasn’t sure what to do next so she took the plunge and became a 200 Hour Certified Yoga Instructor in 2015. Two years later she became certified to teach Aerial Yoga. Caitlin is forever grateful that she has been able to make a career out of her passion. She loves that she can share the boundless benefits of yoga with others.
Casey Seyller began taking yoga classes at her local gym in 2008 as a way of trying something different from her normal routine. After being a collegiate swimmer, at first Casey enjoyed the different physical challenge this brought to her body. Eventually she learned that the benefits for her mind were just as important as the physical benefits. Yoga has continually helped Casey treat anxiety, and for that alone she is so grateful yoga is in her life. Casey received her 200 hr yoga certification from Yoga By Degrees in the spring of 2018.
Catherine Bertini began her yoga journey over 14 years ago with the help of her oldest daughter who invited her to join a class. Yoga quickly became Catherine’s passion and provided a much needed outlet during a difficult time in her life. It continues to provide meditation, spirituality and relaxation in both her Vinyasa and Yin practices. In 2012 she fulfilled a dream of earning her 200 Hour Registered Yoga Teacher certificate from Prairie Yoga in Lisle, Illinois. In her life outside of the yoga studio, Catherine works as a Visual Merchandiser at a wellknown Swedish furniture store where she enjoys using her fashion design degree. Her creativity is evident in every area of her life. As an instructor she hopes to help her students enjoy the benefits of yoga giving them another avenue in which to enrich their lives. This is her mission.
Cayla Fuechsl was introduced to yoga in High School. Ever since then, she has fallen in love with the practice. Yoga has become an important part of her life. The mind and body connection developed throughout her yoga practices has opened up her heart and soul to a whole new world. During the typical work day, Cayla is a certified automotive technician, while her true passion lies within yoga. She has been inspired by instructors to become a teacher herself to indulge into the experience at a deeper level. Cayla’s goal is to pursue her 200 hour vinyasa training and become a full time yoga instructor within the next few years.
Chantel Gutierrez says her yoga journey began as a teenager. As the daughter of a yoga teacher, she learned the philosophy and was introduced to meditation but never could sit still for long enough to cultivate a strong practice. A few years later she attended her first Vinyasa class and finally discovered the thread that would lead her back to her mat and movement! Mesmerized by the flow of breath with posture, Chantel discovered the connection she always searched for through moving meditation. Motivated by her discovery, she dove into the YBD 200hr yoga teacher training to deepen her knowledge and recently became certified yoga instructor. As an avid runner, sports enthusiast, and former dancer, Chantel believes that physical movement is the most authentic expression of one’s true self. Her hope as a yoga instructor is to help students embrace their unique path to finding mindfulness and peace.
Chris Laino started doing yoga in 2008 because he thought it would help with the back and shoulder pain he had developed from all the years of being a hairstylist. Chris saw that a Bikram yoga studio had opened up close to his house, so he figured he’d give it a try. The class was tough and Chris admits he didn’t really enjoy it, but then he started seeing results so he kept going and started to enjoy it! In 2011 Chris decided to go through Bikram’s Teacher Training program. He says it was probably one of the hardest things he’d ever done, but is glad he did. Chris says he really enjoys teaching. He says yoga has been a big part of his life and it has helped him physically, mentally, and emotionally over the years. He says he likes practicing all different styles of yoga and can’t imagine ever not doing it.
Colleen LaConte 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 enjoys being outside in nature, hiking, gardening, and spending time with loved ones.
Cynthia Morel-Pence has always been active. She was a college tennis player and then a USPTR certified tennis pro teaching tennis to children and adults of all ages She fell in love with yoga in the 90’s as a great workout for the mind, body and spirit. Cynthia decided to take her practice to a new level and deepen her knowledge by getting her Yoga Sculpt certification in June, 2014. Shortly after she received her 200 Hour Certification in Power Vinyasa and also Hot Power Fusion. Cynthia has combined her love for teaching (a former teacher) and yoga as she goes into the schools teaching pre school, elementary, high school, adults and sports teams. Deep breathing, flexibility and mental focus are just a few of the many benefits of yoga. She is the mother of three grown children, Tyler, Miranda and Madison and wife to Tom. She says her family is everything to her and yoga makes her a better person. Cynthia says it’s so important for mom’s to take care of themselves without feeling guilty. She says yoga has brought her peace, calm, gratitude & compassion for herself and others. She says she absolutely love sharing yoga & giving back to others!
Daisy Lopez came to the Yoga by Degrees community in 2013. Sometimes willfully nonconformist and full of whimsy; she lives a full life…staying home, watching TV under a blanket with her furry loves: Toast (cat) and Sourdough (ferret). She enjoys playing Minecraft, Don’t Starve and Assassin’s Creed. She also loves to read and do crafting activities like sewing and knitting. She enjoys fishing, camping, an occasional romp through a renaissance faire and gardening. Musically, she likes melodic tunes from most genres including bluegrass, indie, punk, and alternative rock. She approaches her practice with discipline and great humility for this life-long journey. Having completed her 200-hour training in 2015 at YBD, now this RYT endeavours to share her love for the only physical activity that will get her to leave her house. Ultimately, she seeks to be a witness to her students’ practice while guiding them and providing them with a little bit of assistance.
Danielle currently teaches Yoga Sculpt. A creatively sequenced yoga class coupled with heart pumping cardio and dynamic strength training exercises. When you step off your mat, you feel challenged, nourished and uplifted. Come join her!
Darcy Harrington is a Registered Nurse and Esthetician who thrives off of her daily yoga practice. She has been a student of yoga for over twenty years and still learns something new every day! She is passionate about sharing what she has learned about living in the moment and not taking oneself too seriously. She is certified to teach Vinyasa, Hot fusion, and Yin yoga. While not on her mat she is a busy wife and mother of two kiddos and owns a Day Spa called Home Sweet Spa. Besides yoga her other obsessions are skin care, gardening, music, dance, and all things nature! For Darcy yoga brings a sense of community, empathy, empowerment, release, gratitude, awareness…. the list goes on…. She hopes to be able to share what she has learned along the way so her students can experience the full benefits of this beautiful practice.
Deb Burks Donley
Deb Burks Donley is a technology teacher by day and yoga sculpt teacher by night. She took her first yoga class at Yoga by Degrees in 2013 and practiced regularly. She remembers the day on her mat when she was “called to teach” yoga and signed up for Yoga Sculpt Teacher Training immediately. She completed it in February 2015 and has been teaching sculpt ever since. Deb hopes to inspire and empower her students both in and out of the classroom by motivating them to find their inner peace while linking breath, body, mind and spirit.
Drea Devivo graduated from Cortiva Institute – Chicago School of Massage Therapy in 2007. After she started taking classes at YBD she eventually got sick of telling all her clients to do yoga and decided to take the YBD 200HR Teacher Training so she could instruct them herself. Her experience with connective tissue work as a therapist led her to advocate the importance of Yin Yoga modalities like Restorative as an integral part of one’s personal practice.
Elizabeth Nesler started going to YBD almost 5 years ago and made the decision to teach in January 2019. She loves the combination of vinyasa, high intensity, weights, cardio, and stretching. She believes yoga works miracles for the mind, body, and soul. Yoga has helped Elizabeth with stress, anxiety, and the strong belief that living in the present moment is crucial to overall well-being and happiness.
When Elizabeth is not in the studio she is busy working downtown in property management. She also enjoys spending time with her 5 year old son and husband.
Elizabeth is originally from Saint Louis, MO and moved to the CHICAGOLAND area 12 years ago. She and her family live in Brookfield and enjoy going to the zoo on weekends.
She looks forward to meeting and seeing you all on your mats very soon!
Erin Annarella-Kreidler has been practicing yoga for nearly 20 years. Graduate school and pursuing a theater career took her all around the country; she is a former professional actress and singer, and a member of Actor’s Equity Association- the professional stage actors union. While living and working in New York City, Erin found yoga through a good friend and attended her first yoga class. With that first class she was hooked, and knew yoga would be a part of her life. Through the generous help of 105F Chicago, and after over 6 years of nearly daily practice, Erin attended the rigorous 500 + hour teacher-training at The Yoga College of India. Since becoming a certified teacher in 2008, Erin began practicing and studying other styles of yoga such as Ashtanga, Vinyasa and Power Vinyasa. Erin additionally certified in Power Vinyasa yoga, and has attended seminars and workshops with such well-known teachers as Day Christensen, Tim Miller, Kino MacGregor, Tim Feldman and others. After over 10 years of teaching, managing, and running other yoga studios, Erin opened and owned her own studio outside of Pittsburgh, The Yoga Folk.
In addition to teaching yoga, Erin has taught voice, public speaking, dialects, and acting at the college/conservatory level since 1998, teaching at Columbia College in Chicago, and the Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts (AMDA) in New York City. Erin has worked as a professional theatrical voice-coach regionally and on Broadway, still teaches voice, speech, and acting independently.
Yoga changed Erin’s life and set her on a path that once seemed unimaginable: getting married, running a yoga studio, having a child, moving all over the country, and finally settling near family in her second home of Illinois.
Erin’s mission is to make yoga accessible to all types and ages of people- it is all possible!
Erin Dameron recently completed her RYT 200 training through Yoga By Degrees. She was first introduced to yoga in college while studying theatre at NIU, and continued her practice while studying acting in Los Angeles. After a long hiatus, Erin returned to her mat with a strong will to learn everything about the physical practice of yoga along with its amazing philosophies. Most days of the week, she can be found managing the usher team at Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook Terrace. Erin is thrilled to join the YBD team, to continue learning and growing in this amazing community, and she can’t wait to meet you on your mat!
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.
Ginger Rubinstein discovered and soon after, treasured yogic philosophy while studying religious texts in college at UW-Madison. In 2009 she discovered the physical practice of yoga in the form of YogaFit classes. She practiced in a double-wide trailer-turned gym, while she was helping rebuild from Huricane Katrina on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Then, after experimenting with a few studios around Chicago, Ginger finally discovered Yoga By Degrees and immediately fell in love with the complete practice of yoga and with life. The more classes she attended, the more her inner demons dissapated. They were replaced with serenity, acceptance, vibrancy, and love. She completed her 200-Hour teacher training at YBD in August of 2013 and is excited to finally bring the same healing and happiness that she found to her students. She hopes to spend her life inspiring others to emerge from their own darkness and troubles and find their own path to gratitude, lightness, and unconditional love for all. She says: “We can ALL do it!!”
Gizel Schwartz fell in love with yoga at a small Power Yoga studio in the city after the birth of her oldest son. After trying out and falling in love with different yoga styles including Hatha, Ashtanga and Iyengar, Power Vinyasa spoke to her need to move dynamically, while simultaneously turning within. As a Pilates teacher for over 13 years in the Chicagoland area, her classes are a by-product of her experience and focus on alignment, safety and core strength. She loves creative sequencing, theme weaving and fun, uplifting music to keep her students energized and coming back for more. After eight years and an almost daily yoga practice, she finally decided to obtain her 200-hr Yoga Alliance Vinyasa Yoga certification in 2014 during her third pregnancy – she didn’t want to wait another moment! Her hopes for all her students is to have a vibrant experience on their mats and to radiate the healing power of yoga to themselves and others once they are off their mats.
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”.
Heather Buege became a certified group exercise instructor in 2008 and has taught a wide range of formats ever since. Making a career in fitness, she is inspired by what the human body is capable of. It wasn’t until 2014 however, when a family member invited her to a Yoga class at a studio near her home, that she became serious about her own Yoga practice. She fell in love with the combination of physical, mental and spiritual connection she found while practicing Yoga. In addition to being nourishing to her mind and spirit, Heather finds the practice of Yoga to be healing. Healing to her physical body after teaching intense classes or running and healing to her mind and soul during stressful periods in her life. Heather decided to pursue 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training so she could share her passion with others and completed her certification at Yoga By Degrees in December of 2019.
Hillary started yoga in her thirties. She had no athletic background nor the flexibility to touch her toes. When she started doing yoga it surprised her in the most awesome ways, literally changing her life! Hillary found strength, flexibility, and confidence that she never knew was possible. In an effort to bring yoga and its benefits to people of all ages and abilities, Hillary earned her children and family certification from Rainbow Kids Yoga and completed her 200 hour yoga teacher training at Wild Abundant Life in 2014. In addition to being a yoga teacher to both children and adults, Hillary is a junior high school teacher and has worked with children of all ages for over 15 years. In 2014, Hillary won the Illinois State PTA Outstanding Teacher of the Year award. Join Hillary for a playful class where she’ll lead you through a practice you can take off your mat.
Janna Jackson has been practicing yoga for over a decade. She began her yoga journey when she moved to Chicago and experienced her first vinyasa flow. She says that yoga introduced her to mindfulness and helps her stay present in everyday life and care for her physical and mental health. She finds that yoga naturally creates an inclusive culture and believes everyone deserves to feel safe during their practice. Her wish is to create an atmosphere that encourages students to cultivate kindness and compassion for their minds and bodies. A constant student, Janna is always seeking to learn from the wisdom of those around her and share her own experiences with others. Janna received her 200 Hour RYT certification from YBD in 2019.
Jen Briguglio is a mom, wife, sister, daughter, instructor, and coach… but most importantly, she is passionate about inspiring others to achieve their goals in health and fitness! Jen has been in the fitness industry for over 30 years. She exudes a love for Pilates, Yoga Sculpt, fitness and health. Jen’s quick wit, contagious sense of humor, and can-do attitude fits perfectly with her bold, bright teaching style which boosts the energy and mood of the room. Jen brings a multitude of skills and experience to the table. Her cardio, cycling, HIIT, and tabata experience combined with her yoga knowledge makes her an all around fitness expert. She enjoys challenging her students to a heart-pounding fun format and pushing them to the next level.
“Yoga has taught me to harness my wild mind, and to let go of self-doubt. In my life, I have become the person I am on my mat. Courageous, fearless, dedicated, patient, and compassionate. I want to share this with my students.”
Jenni Antonicic, is E-RYT 500 hour certified through Yoga Alliance. She 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.
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 and went on to develop a training for fellow teachers to learn to do the same. 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. She is currently part of YBD’s 200 hour teacher training facilitator team.
Jill Lansu has been practicing yoga for over 20 years. It has become her primary form of exercise for the last seven years after knee and hip surgery stopped her from running. While she has always enjoyed the practice, she didn’t fully experience its benefits until 2007 when life drastically changed and left her feeling completely out of control. Jill found strength through the practice of yoga. In addition to discovering physical strength, she also found a mental and emotional clarity which allows her to accept any life challenge with the confidence that she can overcome. Jill completed the YBD 200 hour certification in 2016 and will soon complete her Yoga Sculpt and Sculpt Fusion certifications. She looks forward to helping her students find their own inner strength.
Jocelyn O’Malley began practicing hatha, vinyasa, and power yoga in 2003 while working at a local health club during her studies at Elmhurst College. Eager to learn more she found Bikram Yoga in April 2005 after two unsuccessful knee surgeries, and slowly began to unlock yoga’s infinite potential to teach her how to heal herself. Yoga has profoundly shaped the road that is her life. Chronic pain and old injuries faded away, it was like riding downhill from there. Jocelyn attended Bikram Yoga teacher training and began teaching in November 2007, she was instantly hooked, there is nothing quite like the energy in “the room”! She is extremely grateful for those it has given her the opportunity to connect with, and the ways in which it has opened her to the world of natural healing. So much so that in 2013 she decided to open her own practice as an ANMA Board Certified Naturopathic Doctor. Yoga continues to give her peace when she needs it most, strength, courage, and the confidence to persevere through whatever challenges this life may bring our way. In her own words, “Teaching yoga we witness firsthand the amazing process and true power of connection via group meditation. Body, mind, spirit, all soaking wet in the hot room, there’s no place else I’d rather be!”
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.
Juliet Low began practicing yoga roughly 20 years ago casually as a way to stretch and recover from intense endurance training as a competitive triathlete. After moving to Singapore in 2012, Juliet cultivated her yoga practice as it challenged her in new and exciting ways. She definitely didn’t have the flexibility of other students but she learned with patience and consistent practice her body began to open allowing a new fluidity of movement. The family moved once again in 2017, this time to Shanghai, China and she received her 200 hour teacher training. Juliet absolutely loved their 7 years abroad having learned from so many teachers from around the world. Her family moved back to Glen Ellyn in 2019.
Her passion is strength based yoga, having fun with inversions and arm balances. It’s not about the end result, it’s all about the journey of self discovery.
Kaitlin Kulovitz grew up as an athlete and always enjoyed challenging workouts but never made stretching or self-care a priority. Finally, tight hamstrings, lower back pain and a desire to release some stress brought her to discover her first hot yoga class. She fell in love with the healing practice, including the physical, emotional and spiritual benefits, and she was hooked. Yoga challenged her, increased her flexibility, and brought her a peace and stillness that she had not experienced in other workouts. She now hopes her students can experience these benefits through her classes. Kaitlin completed her 200 Hour Vinyasa and Sculpt Teacher Training certifications at YBD and has taught yoga and wellness classes in Knoxville, Tennessee and throughout the Chicago area.
Kasia Beben found yoga in 2016 after searching for a way to find balance with her high-stress job as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), helping children on the autism spectrum and their families. Despite always being active with running, hiking, and lifting weights, Kasia felt her daily life was missing an important psychological and spiritual component that traditional exercise couldn’t offer. After just one vinyasa class, Kasia was hooked on the feeling of peace, clarity, and mind-body connection that yoga gave her. As Kasia’s practice has continued to strengthen and evolve over time, she has grown more passionate about the way in which yoga principles align with her vegan lifestyle and beliefs. Bringing veganism and daily yoga practice together has brought Kasia closer to a feeling of being “at home” in her body and soul. Kasia completed her 200 hr teacher training in 2018 at YBD and strives to instill an environment of compassion, positivity, and empowerment in every class.
Kate Pohl began attending YBD in 2018 while going through some major life changes. She instantly fell in love with yoga sculpt because it helped her feel strong, empowered and focused. In early 2020, Kate completed her yoga sculpt training while she was pregnant with her second child. Though the pandemic put a delay on her teaching plans, she is thrilled to be back at YBD as an instructor! Currently on her own wellness journey, she is excited to share her passion for the practice with her students. Kate is a junior high music teacher. She enjoys spending time with her family, exercising, singing and playing bass in a 90’s cover band.
When Kathleen O’Donnell was first introduced to YBD in 2016, the balance between calm and challenge instantly drew her in; the spirited teachers and beautiful practice environment made it a perfect fit for her. Kathleen is passionate about helping others grow, and spends her days teaching, coaching, and empowering others to help themselves. Bringing those skills into her “yoga life” through teaching has been an inspiring and fulfilling learning experience.
Katie Martin began her yoga journey in 2010 practicing Bikram Yoga. She fell in love yoga’s physical and spiritual benefits. As a busy mom, she knew she needed to tend to herself so she could give her best to others. Katie took her first vinyasa class at YBD and instantly was hooked. The beautiful flow reminded her of her days as ballet dancer. Katie has been teaching ballet for 20 years and yoga has helped her to remain strong and flexible, especially after pregnancy. Katie resides in the south western suburbs with her husband and six children. She is thrilled to be sharing her passion for movement and self care with her students at YBD!
Katie Mesha began practicing yoga in 2008. Yoga creates a true mind, body, and soul connection for Katie. Throughout undergraduate schooling, corporate roles, and earning her MBA, yoga became her anchor. She took her relationship with yoga to the next level in 2018 and completed the YBD 200 hour teacher training. Yoga has taught Katie to meet herself where she is, rather than where she “should” be, and she encourages her students to do the same. Off the mat, yoga helps Katie be a better mom, colleague, writer, and human.
Kelly McNulty started practicing yoga as a way to stretch after her strength training sessions. She would feel amazing after every class and her anxiety levels started to decrease, so she began practicing habitually. Once she learned how to control her breath and the power of her mind, everything clicked. She began to experience her spiritual practice. Yoga has given Kelly the tools she needs to live a more fulfilling life. Yoga has taught her the importance of self-care, the value of being present, and the courage to follow her intuition. Kelly graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science and works full time as a corporate wellness specialist and health coach. She hopes to inspire others to explore beyond the physical practice of yoga and to help stimulate more happiness in her student’s lives. She believes yoga is the core of health and well-being.
Kelsey Bogdan first began her yoga journey when she attended a sculpt class with her best friend in 2016, and has been a devoted student ever since. Kelsey played college basketball, and initially took exclusively sculpt classes to try and stay in shape over the summers before the season. However, as her practice deepened, she started trying out other forms of yoga, and began to understand that yoga was so much more than a good workout. Kelsey is passionate about using yoga as a method of presence, connecting the mind and body in ways that are unattainable elsewhere. She also believes in the healing power of yoga and the yoga community, and respects the mat as a sacred space where we can put our problems aside and just be. Kelsey views herself as a lifelong yoga student and is excited to continue her journey as a sculpt teacher! She has always been passionate about exercise, and is so grateful to be able to help her class attendees become stronger inside and out.
Kim Vlach has been practicing yoga on and off for over ten years, but it wasn’t until she found Yoga by Degrees in 2016 that her practice turned into a passion. She initially started practicing yoga for both the physical benefits and the stress relief, but now she feels truly at home on her mat and feels a deeper connection to her mind and body. Yoga became the anchor that helped her through difficult times in her life. Working as a commercial photographer, she was always more of a creative than an athlete, but practicing yoga allowed her to set personal goals that she never knew she could accomplish. Kim received her 200 Hour RYT certification from YBD in 2019 and is excited to share her passion with her students.
Krista Syrup started taking vinyasa yoga classes at a local gym in January 2014. She loved that it was a great workout and a “therapy” session all in one. She quickly became addicted to the yoga high; a strong connection of mind, body and spirit. Shortly after, she found Yoga by Degrees and that became her home away from home.
Krista branched out and started trying new classes. She fell in love with Yoga Sculpt in July of 2016 and began taking up to 5 sculpt classes a week. Yoga Sculpt not only changed her body, but it resonated with her soul. She loved the combination of gaining strength while maintaining flexibility. The next logical step was YBD sculpt teacher training. She wanted to share those feelings of strength and energy to other people. Krista teaches a fun, high energy class. She will work your whole body and get you sweating!
When Krista is not taking or teaching yoga you can find her teaching geology at a local college, traveling with her son or getting all of her energy out at a Zumba class.
Kristin Brindle is a mother of 4 and an elementary school teacher who began her yoga practice more than 10 years ago as a way to enhance her running, but she quickly fell in love with the rigor and discipline of Bikram Yoga.
It wasn’t until she faced her first major health challenge that she truly found the depth of the benefits her yoga practice. One of her yoga instructors once told her -“You never know what your yoga practice is preparing you for.”-
In some of her best dreams and even her worst nightmares, she could not have imagined what hers was preparing her for. But it not only prepared her to survive, it held Kristin gently until she was strong enough to move forward again.
Now that her 4 children are older, she chose to follow this passion and she hopes to share her love and trust in the practice of yoga with others. She completed her 200 hour Original Hot Yoga Certification with The Hot Room in Indianapolis in June 2019.
Kristin Sassi is a Yoga Alliance E-RYT 200, a Yoga Alliance Continuing Education Provider (YACEP) and is also a graduate of YBD’s 200 hour teacher certification program. She began yoga in 2001 at a time when everything in her life needed to change. Seeking ways to overcome a health crisis, yoga became a key part of her physical, emotional and spiritual recovery. As her health recovered, she became a holistic health advocate, counselor, and colon therapist in Lincoln Park for 12 years. The meditative side of yoga helps her to stay calm while raising two high-spirited boys with her husband who also is a supportive and avid yogi, or “bro-gi.” Music has been another channel of creativity for her; she spent years on the Chicago indie music scene as a singer-songwriter. She now channels a lot of her creativity into her vinyasa sequencing and brings her love of music to her classes with diverse playlists, singing crystal bowls and sacred sounds. She looks for ways where she can inspire and encourage healing and provide an experience that students take with them when they roll up their mats and leave the class.
Kyle Sellers first came to yoga during her student teaching experience in college seeking a fun, stress relieving outlet. As a former gymnast, she instantly connected with the strength and grace of yoga. Now, her practice helps her find balance among the many facets of her life. Kyle loves to bring the mindfulness she harnesses from yoga into her daily life as a special education teacher. In 2015, she took her practice one step forward by completing the YBD 200 hour teacher training. Kyle believes all yogis are perfect exactly where they are on their mat. She hopes to empower her yoga students by linking the mind, breath, body and spirit to find peace in the present moment.
Lara Devine is passionate about empowering her students to live their best lives on and off the mat. She teaches a fluid, powerful Vinyasa Flow and is also known for her nurturing Yin and Meditation classes.
She graduated from Illinois State University with a B.S. in Communications, enjoyed a career in management with Procter & Gamble and eventually left to raise her four children.
As a distance runner, Lara found yoga while searching for a way to cross train. The movement felt intuitive, due in part to her years as a dancer & gymnast. Her soul felt at home in the quiet of each breath. Lara fell deeply in love with the peaceful practice. It became her way of life and something she knew she had to share. She completed her teacher training at Chicago Yoga Center.
Beyond her role as Senior Teacher, Lara works with Africa Yoga Project as a Mentor to aspiring teachers in Kenya and Tanzania. She is a Certified Reiki Master and a Legacy Ambassador for Lululemon Athletica. Lara was also featured on the January 2016 cover of Suburban Life Magazine.
Laura Lusson is passionate about people and drawn to yoga for its many benefits, including balance, perspective, contentment and strength. She is 500-hour certified and registered with the Yoga Alliance. In 2009 she discovered hot yoga, which she found challenging and cleansing. A few years later, she stepped into YBD and instantly felt at home. She grew up with dance and music, which she still loves, along with writing, nature, sports, psychology, learning and teaching. Laura practices with others in hopes she can help them look inward, find peace, and shine brightly.
Laura Sue Colella
Laura Sue Colella has been a yoga teacher for almost 6 years certified in 200+ as well as the Hot Fusion, Traditional Hot and Sculpt formats. She loves to do as much yoga as possible. You will likely see her at the 6:00 am classes!
Her goal is to connect with students to help them fuel their passions through their practice and help them grow. She loves to make different playlists for her classes and is always looking for musical suggestions.
Her mother taught yoga and started Laura Sue on her journey.
Lisa Bremner began practicing yoga in 2003, at first simply to deal with tight hamstrings after a skiing holiday. She started out with Rodney Yee DVDs, practicing alone in a dingy basement in Spain. She graduated to a group practice in a real yoga studio class while living in San Francisco a year later. She has been lucky enough to practice yoga all over the world including Edinburgh, Scotland; Oxford, England; Sydney, Australia and even at an animal sanctuary in New Jersey among the cows and the turkeys! The serenity and pure calm that came from a group practice was like nothing else she had experienced. Lisa found that the more she practiced, the more she appreciated the benefits of a regular yoga practice. Yoga became her escape route to quiet her mind and de-stress from her demanding corporate job.
Liz Axelrod attended her first yoga class in 2005 after a friend encouraged her to give yoga a try. Although reluctant, she found it to be the perfect balance to her running schedule. Over the years she realized that yoga is more than the practice of asana and she has witnessed the power and benefits of a consistent practice both on and off the mat. It has carried her through, lifted her up and at times has been her saving grace. She believes the practice and teachings of yoga allow us to love more, embrace each day, live in the moment and welcome every experience. She hopes her classes will help others to uncover and embrace their true selves to find peace, love and self acceptance.
Lizzie Blaszak found yoga in early 2017 when she was looking to supplement her 23 years of intensive dance training. What started as purely a physical practice, soon flourished into a journey of growth and self discovery on and off her mat. She unveiled a true love for yoga, and has committed herself to all of its physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects. Lizzie completed her 200 hour yoga teacher training in the spring of 2018, and soon thereafter acquired her yoga sculpt and hot yoga certifications. Lizzie’s fine tuned style of teaching provides a class that inspires students to dive deep into themselves through a multi sensory yogic experience. As a passionate creative, she carefully weaves musicality into her sequencing and theming. As a yoga instructor, she is honored to brighten the lives of her students with health and happiness while providing a medium that allows students to lose themselves while finding their truth.
Lizzy Steiner discovered hot yoga back in 2017 when she was going through some difficult times in her life. Although she had always practiced some form of yoga, she finally saw and experienced the true meaning of yoga on her mat at Yoga By Degrees. Since then she was hooked and would practice nearly every day. Yoga has helped her deal with life’s unforeseen happenings by learning that everything has a purpose and an opportunity to be better and OK. She has also found that yoga helps her body strengthen and heal while she is training for half marathons. Apart from practicing yoga, she enjoys running (working on her goal of a half marathon in every state), spending time with her cat, and looking for her next adventure.
Mandee Driscoll teaches yoga sculpt and sculpt fusion classes with an emphasis on correct form and working smarter, not harder. She has been on her yoga journey since 2010 when she attended her first studio class and teaching since 2017. Mandee is pursuing a Doctor of Chiropractic degree and has extensive knowledge in human and functional anatomy. She completed her yoga sculpt certification in January 2017 and holds many other certifications that have influenced her teaching style. Yoga sculpt has helped meld her love of hot vinyasa, power flow yoga with aerobic training and conditioning and her classes reflect the best parts of both- breathing & centering and getting the workout that you came for, leaving the sweat on your mat and welcoming prosperity into your life!
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.
Mary Ward is an RN trained in Healing Touch and Cranial Sacral Therapy. She understands traditional medicine and how yoga empowers the link between the body, mind and spirit, bridging an inner awareness to your own health and potential.
Her teaching style aims to align with the positive power of the mind while building flexibility both mentally and physically.
Come unwind, lengthen/ strengthen and watch your journey unfold!
Meg Febel began practicing yoga in the early 2000s just as another option in her exercise routine, but when she started to experience benefits beyond fitness—better sleep, more energy, a greater feeling of peace, and a calmer mindset—yoga became her central focus. She spent the next decade or so taking as many classes as possible and reading every book about yoga that she could get her hands on. Finally she decided to take the plunge and signed up for teacher training here at YBD in the fall of 2017. Meg is incredibly excited to be sharing her love of yoga and all of its benefits!
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!
Melissa Voetberg started practicing yoga seven years ago as a way to find balance and calm her mind. When her family was relocated from Colorado to Illinois in 2014, she stumbled on YBD in Western Springs while on a house hunt. She knew right away that she’d found a home. In 2015, Melissa enrolled in YBD teacher training program to deepen her practice. She now finds balance between her family, her graphic design business, teaching, practicing, and learning something new every day.
Monika Marynowski’s journey with yoga started with her second pregnancy. To avoid another Cesarian section she prepared her body with Yoga, and was successful. After having the baby she found Yoga and was hooked. Yoga is also the only form exercise she has found to help with back pain. Off the mat, Monika holds a Masters Degree in Finance and Banking. When she first came to the US from Poland, she advised people on how to invest their money, now she helps them to invest in their physical well being by reshaping their bodies, feeling better and having fun, all at the same time.
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 Cavalea took her first yoga class in 2014. She was looking for a way to recover physically from having a baby. Nicole was hoping hot yoga would help her to lose some of the weight and increase her flexibility. She didn’t realize the profound impact it would have on her life. It did help her lose some weight, but after a couple of months of regular practice she noticed that she started to feel better overall. Nicole was much calmer and happier. The anxiety she had been suffering from the premature birth of her daughter and loss of her twin was much better. She discovered the positive mental effects the 90 minute moving meditation had was something she couldn’t live without. Nicole decided to take the leap and attend teacher training in May of 2017. Now, as a teacher, she gets to share the wonderful Traditonal Hot yoga series with her students. She is ecstatic to be able to do what she loves every day.
Nikki Bergman discovered Yoga by Degrees back in 2014 as a way to beat the winter blues. Nikki always struggled to keep motivated with a fitness regiment but after her first sculpt class, she was hooked! She never realized that working out could be fun yet challenging! It took a little longer to muster up the confidence to take a yoga class but once she did, there was no looking back. She realized that everyone could reap the benefits of yoga no matter their athletic ability or flexibility. In the fall of 2017, Nikki decided to take the next step and completed Sculpt Teacher Training followed by 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training in 2018. When she is not on her mat, Nikki works as a Registered Dietitian and encourages a mindful eating approach, which has strongly been influenced by her yoga. She is also the mother of one amazing, high energy daughter!
Nikki Perley found yoga 4 years ago after some physical health issues. She needed something with less impact on her joints. No more running and heavy cardio and lifting. Yoga helped her mentally and physically. It became the highlight of her day. She started with Power TT and immediately completed Sculpt training. She loves both formats and connecting through music. She loves offering the benefit of both vinyasa and sculpt to students and sharing a lot of positivity and acceptance.
Pamela Rogers says her yoga journey began as a student in 2002. She says yoga helped bring her body and mind back into balance after the birth of her second child. Pamela believes through a steady, mindful practice you can resolve your fears, anxiety, and find inner peace. She is 200 hour certified and is an enthusiastic and inspired teacher of vinyasa flow yoga. Her true desire is to help students express their potential by feeling the poses rather than forcing their bodies. Pamela believes this can be achieved with the right alignment and breath work. She says she is currently enjoying hot style yoga because she loves the way her body feels after class and days after. Pamela says her yoga journey is continuously changing and she finds herself exploring new classes, teachers, and studios. She says letting go of expectations and being in the present moment, helps her stay humble.
Parna Mazumdar is a dedicated teacher who began her practice of both yoga and meditation in her childhood. She believes that we all have the power to mold our future into something worth living. Her desire to grow led her to a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Master’s degree in Sociology. The intersection between the study of life, society, and Yoga was enhanced in 2010 by an “Advanced Anatomy and Physiology” course. The beautiful thing that yoga teaches us is that the life is about more than being perfect or competitive. Life is truly about working towards our goals while accepting our true selves and allowing them to blossom. She strives to create an anatomically and emotionally safe atmosphere where all students find joy and peace. To that end, she completed the 200 Hour Power Yoga Training at Core Power Yoga in December 2014 and has since added Core Restore, HPF, and Yoga Pilates to her repertoire. She recently added another 200 Hour Yoga Instructor course consisting of Asana, Pranayama, Meditation, Kriyas, Chanting, Yoga Philosophy, and Teaching Methodology. This Yoga Instructor course had an emphasis on teaching patients with Diabetes Mellitus and was conducted by Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana – Houston. Parna truly believes that the peace yoga can bring into any life is something that should be shared. She meets her students wherever they are and offers gentle encouragement when she sees opportunities to expand their practice. Parna is driven to share beauty and joy with others, she loves music and teaching piano to children.
Paula Greiner took her first yoga class on a dare. She thought it would be easy, and a bit boring since she is a high energy person. Her first lesson from yoga was “don’t believe everything you think”! She has been practicing ever since, and became 200 hour certified in 2014. While Power Vinyasa is her first love, she is certified in Hot Power Fusion, Yoga Sculpt, Restorative and Aerial Yoga as well. Paula appreciates the growth that coming to her mat has afforded her, and it is her intention to share that with others through her playful approach to teaching, eclectic tastes in music, and deep regard for the asana and pranayama. She cherishes the sense of connection within the yogi community, and wants everyone to feel welcome just as they are! Outside of teaching, Paula excels at freestyle exhibitions of Acro Yoga with her six year old, committing minor social faux pas, and dancing in her car at stop lights.
Polly Berry discovered yoga in 2010 when she took her first Bikram yoga class and became hooked on all of the medical and healing benefits of yoga. In 2016 she completed her 200 Hour Certification and started to teach hot power fusion. She says yoga has not only brought her peace, gratitude & compassion for herself and others it has also physically made her healthier. Polly is the mother of 3 boys, Dru, Brody and Jackson and wife to Lloyd. When she is not in the studio teaching or practicing she is helping clients with their real estate needs or on the soccer sidelines cheering her boys on!
Rachel Kuhn is a graduate of Bikram’s Yoga College of India. Rachel’s yoga journey began in Chicago in 2008. This is when she took her first Bikram class and began to experience the profound impact of yoga. She felt connected to the vast healing, empowerment and transformation this yoga offers humanity. Rachel is forever grateful and has not looked back since! Rachel graduated from Bikram’s Teacher Training in 2011 in Los Angeles. She has had the privilege to teach and practice with yogis ages five to 82 years young, in private sessions to sessions of 75 plus yogis. Chicago, Chicagoland, Istanbul, London, Cambridge, UK, Kauai, Vienna and Colorado mark the initial places Rachel has gotten to share this healing practice. She is also the co-founder of the “Feed the World Yoga Tour”, a global movement empowering yogis to make a difference beyond their mat. To date, the Feed the World Yoga Tour has raised over $15,000 in the effort to end starvation and malnutrition in children.
Rachel Shulka sparked an interest in yoga in her tween years after routinely attending Sunday morning yoga classes with her dad. Her academic pursuits of earning dual undergraduate degrees in Biology and Psychology from Loyola University Chicago briefly pulled her away from her regular yoga practice, but after enduring in personal hardships from an arduous attempt at a career that not end up aligning with her strengths, she parted from the field all together with tenacity and humility and returned to yoga to heal from her setbacks. Over time she began noticing gradual, steady, and measurable progress in her physical, mental, and emotional strength. Importantly, she began noticing improvements in her relationship with her own self which is when she realized what she was doing was meaningful and worthwhile. As weeks turned into months which prospered into nearly two years of consistent yoga practice, she decided it was about time she combined her passion and fervent desire to pursue what she truly felt she was meant to do for the world: become a yoga instructor; and so she did! Rachel completed her 200-hour yoga teacher training with Yoga by Degrees in February 2020 alongside working full-time as a medical assistant in the field of orthopedic surgery where she is a part of a team of dedicated individuals that specialize in joint replacement, sports medicine, and fracture care. Rachel has a kind, clear, and welcoming voice, and she holds a special interest in anatomical alignment, creative sequencing, and Vedic philosophy. Rachel is proud to be a first generation Indian-American yoga teacher, and she hopes to inspire students of all ages and backgrounds to believe that they are capable of doing so much more than they can imagine.
Rashida Sallie is originally from Knoxville, Tennessee. She moved to the Chicago area in 2020 to teach Hot yoga, the 26+2 series. She has been doing yoga for over 20 years. Rashida fell in love with Bikram yoga back in 2013. After her first class Rashida was hooked. After years of running many half marathons Rashida knew she had to make yoga part of her lifestyle to keep her body from breaking down from all the running. After working in the corporate world of healthcare for over ten years in physical therapy Rashida knew it was time for a change. She knew she still wanted to help people but wanted to do something that she loved, so she went to yoga teacher training in 2020 and received 250 hours of training in the hot 26+2 sequence through Evolation Yoga in Santa Barbara. Rashida looks forward to gaining knowledge and receiving other teacher trainings soon. Yoga is everything to Rashida. She couldn’t imagine her life without it. Teaching yoga is so rewarding and Rashida looks forward to doing it for many more years to come.
Ruth Elliot was transplanted from Southern Ontario to Naperville 13 years ago, with three, now grown and somewhat sassy, children. A famous dabbler she has tried everything from meditation to martial arts, from warrior dashes to Greenland stick kayak rolling, but Yoga has remained her physical, emotional and spiritual refuge and the only thing that slows down her ‘madly off in all directions’ brain. Having completed her 200hr Yoga training she then became certified in Yoga Sculpt, Fusion, Yin Yoga and level 2 Vinyasa sequencing. She also leads teacher trainings in multiple formats. She is currently working towards her 500hr certification and has completed training in Yoga as Integrative Medicine, Advanced Yoga Assists, and Advanced Vinyasa teaching. She has a wicked cool crystal singing bowl and an equally cool ocean drum and she’s not afraid to use them. She is also an avid artist, photographer, writer, and editor, and has been known to dabble in Improv comedy, you know, on the side, in her spare time.
Ryann Jackson has always been interested in creating a mind, body, soul connection, but did not find yoga until her friend took her to a Bikram class in 2010. She began taking Vinyasa classes in 2011, but did not fully commit to a consistent practice until she found YBD. What began as more of a physical practice, her journey with yoga has allowed her to find the mental and spiritual connection that she has not otherwise found in traditional exercise. After going through personal struggles and realizing the powerfully positive impact yoga had on her life, she decided to get her 200-hour Registered Yoga Teacher certification through YBD in 2015. As a yoga instructor, she hopes to help others discover and express their true self on and off the mat.
Sara Hoshell started practicing yoga in 2010 and found YBD shortly after and absolutely fell in love with the studio! Sara started practicing yoga regularly and found that yoga was the only thing that didn’t make her feel limited having been born with one hand. Every instructor was more than happy to help Sara when she would struggle and she found a sense of community with these lovely yogis! After practicing on and off for several years, Sara started working as a Studio Attendant to dive deeper into her practice and finally took the leap of faith and went into teacher training shortly after. Sara is an Esthetician and Makeup Artist full time and believes in taking care of ourselves from the inside out. She wants everyone who takes her class to feel as confident and as empowered as she does when she takes a yoga class.
Sasha Boheme would never have considered practicing yoga had she not been encouraged by her mom. Together, they attended a variety of Vinyasa and Sculpt classes which eventually developed into a regular (and very sweaty) practice. For Sasha, yoga not only became a fun alternative to working out at the gym but it also became a significant outlet for reducing stress, anxiety and depression. She believes that yoga and mindfulness have the power to restore physical and emotional balance, as well as to improve self-acceptance. As a speech-language pathologist, Sasha encourages her students to communicate openly with themselves and to be in tune with the language of their minds, bodies and souls. Sasha completed her 200 hour training through YBD.
Serafina Barnes discovered yoga through her mom when she would come home for Christmas break from college. Serafina is a longtime athlete who played basketball and soccer from the age of five through college. She was skeptical of yoga at first, questioning its intensity, but once she took her first yoga sculpt class she instantly fell in love. Serafina was hooked on the challenge sculpt gave her, that incorporates flexibility, stress/tension reliever, strength training, and cardio. Serafina’s classes are an amazing fusion of a yoga class and a gym session. Serafina loves the relationships formed with her students, and loves that YBD has turned into a place safe place after recently having a baby.
Stacee Raber Nault (200 ERYT, BFA Dance) began practicing yoga in 1996. At the time she was a professional dancer performing eight shows a week on Broadway in NYC. Coming from this highly charged, competitive and often critical dance world, yoga provided her with a much needed body holiday. She learned to treat her body (and eventually her whole self) with kindness, patience and gratitude. What followed was a profound healing in all aspects of her life. She has been a devoted yogi ever since, studying with notable teachers throughout the US including John Friend, Naime Jezzeny, Amy Ippoliti, Shiva Rea and Richard Freeman.
Stacee began teaching yoga in 2001. Forever a student, she continues to learn something every time she unrolls her mat whether guiding a class, practicing solo or taking a fellow yogi’s offering. Stacee loves sharing her passion for yoga, meditation, health and nutrition. She hopes to empower people to love themselves and live their best life.
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.
Susan Jacobs has always had a passion for fitness, nutrition and wellness. Working in the corporate world, 5:30 a.m. Group Fitness classes and early morning runs jump started and energized each of her days. In 2017, her body was taking a toll from her frequent high impact workouts and her spirit was craving something more. At the encouragement of her close friend who had just completed yoga training, she began practicing yoga at Yoga By Degrees and immediately became hooked. The mind/body connection was something that she had not experienced before and it quickly became an outlet for releasing stress and gaining perspective on what’s truly important in life. She loved the variety of classes – Vinyasa, HOT, HIIT Pilates and Sculpt – that provided a well-rounded fitness routine for both her body and mind. In 2019, she decided to take the leap and became 200 Hour Certified, and soon after in early 2020 added her HOT, HIIT Pilates and Sculpt Certifications. Susan has grown so much from the many wonderful fitness and yoga instructors that she had practiced with, and now she wants to be able to give back to her students providing them with the encouragement that they need to create their own personal health and wellness journey.
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 father of three daughters and one son. He hopes to see you on your mat soon!
“There are no mistakes, no coincidences. All events are blessings given to us to learn from.” -Elizabeth Kubler Ross. As a nurse working in an ever-evolving stressful environment, Vanessa Luna was taking care of others but often not taking the time to take care of herself. After having the death of two family members and the loss of a professional position, she decided it was time to take care of herself. Vanessa enrolled in a two month Bikram based training.
Being able to practice and teach is a gift to herself and also one that she gets to share with others. Being able to share this as a nurse, a woman, and human being, she feels is one of the greatest gifts she can give to others.