Daren Friesen is the director and founder of Moksha Yoga Center in Chicago which is the largest yoga center in the Midwest. An enthusiastic student and passionate teacher, his challenging style of vinyasa flow incorporates asana, pranayama, mudras, bandhas, and kriyas. Having studied with renowned teachers in the states and masters and gurus in India, Daren encourages students to use traditional elements and techniques to overcome the pull of opposites (duality) and to develop one-pointed attention. Through one-pointed attention, one discovers the keys to accessing true health and vitality. Daren’s classes offer provocative insights and opportunities for personal growth through his unique blend of a classical yet innovative approach to practice.
Jessica moved to Chicago in 2002 from Iowa to pursue an education in Dance. Jessica soon discovered that she no longer wanted to dance as a profession and pursued a career in Healthcare Management. After weekly travel and sitting at a desk all day, she discovered yoga as an outlet to manage the life of a busy traveling consultant.
With a desire to share the wonderful gift of yoga, Jessica began her training at Moksha Yoga Center in 2012 with Daren Friesen. Her studies included training with master teachers from around the world which include: Aadil Palkhivala, Tias Little, Rich Logan, Gabriel Halpern and Saul David Raye.
As a teacher, Jessica is devoted to the light within each student as she encourages her students to ignite their inner smile through love. Jessica provides a healthy and safe environment for students with a great focus on alignment (Hatha Yoga). Her classes are customized for the development of her students. Jessica’s classes are upbeat and energetic and her approach promotes students to love their life and their practice
Nicole’s passion for yoga began in 2003 while attending Indiana University. In her search for a new physical activity, she enrolled in a yoga class as an elective. Nicole was surprised to find a practice that gives not only physical fulfillment, but also mental and emotional calmness. The serenity from her first class was a sense she’ll never forget. She knew then that yoga would be part of her life forever and that she would, one day, teach this amazing practice to others.
In 2011, Nicole completed her 200-hour teacher training at Moksha Yoga Center. She is currently working to complete her 500-hour certification, and continues to educate herself by studying under inspirational teachers such as Kim Wilcox, Aadil Palkhivala, and Seane Corn.
Nicole’s mission as a yoga teacher is to share this wonderful practice of mind and body with as many people as she can, allowing yoga to positively affect others’ lives as it has her own. You can expect consistent personal attention in her breath-synchronized and alignment-based classes.
Nicole truly believes that yoga is for everyone. No matter your age, gender, shape, or size – whether you are healthy, strong, flexible, or none of the above – there is a class for you. Finding a teacher and class with which you resonate is the key to beginning and maintaining the appropriate yoga practice for YOU.
Live passionately, breathe, move, and be true.
Raquel is inspired, challenged, ignited and balanced by yoga, and is honored to teach such a sublime practice. She started on the path of yoga in 2007 while in studying Journalism at Columbia College when she discovered the subject of an assignment was also a yoga instructor. Her first downdog led to countless others, and in 2012, Raquel completed her 200-hr certification at Moksha Yoga. She leads creative and playful classes with modifications that allow students to create and own their practice.
When she’s not teaching, Raquel is working toward a holistic health coach certification through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. She remains passionately curious about yoga, nutrition, and whatever else might catch her attention, and continues her studies to better serve her students. A proud lifelong Chicagoan, Raquel also loves running, writing fiction, growing food and cooking with it, magical-realists, and mid-morning dark chocolate.
Once upon a time, an 8-year-old named Katie Thomas walked into her family’s living room only to find her father, post-jog, doing some weird looking stretchy things. Perplexed, she asked him what the heck he was doing, to which he replied, “Yoga.” Katie thought to herself, “My dad is weird.”
Since then, Katie has changed her yogic tune. She took her first class in 2004, and has been hooked ever since.
Through warmth, humor, and a strong commitment to remaining down-to-earth and accessible, Katie creates a space where students can work toward finding their true selves. In her classes, you can expect to be led through asana, pranayama, and meditation, with a focus on finding the beautiful balance between strength and lightness, between stability and motion, between alignment and freedom. Katie has a background in improvisational theatre so her teaching style is infused with a sense of play and whimsy. She believes that setting sankalpas (intentions), then consistently nurturing them on and off the mat brings concrete, undeniable changes to our lives.
To this day, Katie loves her dad and all his weirdness. She hopes to continue to live happily ever after.
Serena Brommel wholeheartedly believes that a consistent, passionate, aligned yoga practice has the power to transform your life. She is honored to guide you in this process of self-exploration.
Serena came to yoga after chronic pain, illness, and anxiety left her feeling helpless and frustrated. Finding conventional medicine lacking solutions for her particular situation, she began to explore alternative and integrative therapies, eventually leading her to yoga. Beginning as a skeptic, Serena became a believer when she could feel the effects of the practice for herself. With a committed practice, she developed a more loving and understanding relationship with her body and mind, ultimately allowing healing, balancing, strengthening, and opening to occur over time. On a deeper level, she developed the ability to quiet her mind enough to connect with her own intuition, which has wisely guided her in countless ways throughout her life. Astounded by the power of this practice, she felt driven to study yoga intensely.
This passion led Serena to enroll in Moksha’s rigorous teacher training program, where she trained for more than 800 hours in yoga asana (physical postures), pranayama (breath work), meditation, anatomy and physiology, therapeutics, yoga nidra (guided deep relaxation), and yogic philosophy. She has had the fortune of studying with master teachers from all over the world, including Aadil Palkhivala, Gary Kraftsow, Tias Little, Kino MacGregor, Leeann Carey, Nicolai Bachman, Ashley Turner, and Gabriel Halpern. She is tremendously grateful for the expert guidance, wisdom, and support of Kim Wilcox, Amber Cook, Erin Cowan, and especially Daren Friesen along the way. Serena considers herself a lifelong student of yoga and continues to study extensively to keep her classes intelligent, fresh, and inspired.
In Serena’s classes, expect to unite your movement with your breath (vinyasa) while learning the subtle mechanics and alignment of the yoga postures. She will guide you in meditation and pranayama, interweaving yogic philosophy throughout class. You will also learn to formulate and work with a heartfelt intention (sankalpa) in service of your own individual purpose (dharma). Serena hopes that you will leave class feeling refreshed, inspired, and a little more united with the wisest part of yourself, your greatest teacher and guide.
Tristan found himself on wits end. Struggling to find solace in life’s pleasures he spent his time drinking, fighting, and isolating himself from others in a numbed state that he preferred to his waking emotional pain. His deep seeded darkness found elucidation via the route of a college town Yoga studio. Amara Yoga & Arts in Urbana Illinois found its way into Tristan’s heart and left a life changing mark on his soul. This Yoga community brought light onto his dark troubles with existence. The warming smiles of teachers and students alike cast him out of his lonely reclusive spell and
welcomed him into the uniting community of Yoga. Yoga as union brought him up from dank cellar dwellings of a life not lived to an ascending quest for complete oneness with himself and the universe. Moving away from numbness,
he allowed felt sensations to re-enter and bring the joy of life with them. Knowing now that not everything felt is pain, he allows himself to feel and love life again. He didn’t, and still doesn’t, completely understand that
blissful feeling that washes over during the final resting pose of class. Yet this unawareness no longer scares Tristan from trying, but rather opens him up to more questions of what else is there to learn.
Tristan took his first Ashtanga Vinyasa class in Urbana, leaving the room drenched in sweat he was left to wonder ’what was that?’ and ’where can I get more of it?’. After graduating college Tristan found his way into the
Logan Square neighborhood in Chicago and in search of another Amara-esque Yoga studio. Moksha Yoga Center was and is that place to fill the void of his loved first Yoga studio back in central Illinois. Tristan practices a flowing yet aligned Vinyasa style of Yoga in hopes of finding the middle ground between BKS Iyengar’s alignment style and Sri Pattabi Jois’s Ashtanga Vinyasa. Through a life with devotion, knowledge, action, and meditation Tristan seeks to unite these ways to find a unifying Yoga for all.
Tristan relishes every opportunity he gets to study under and work with Daren Friesen and Gabriel Halpern here in Chicago. Other masterful teachers he has found the pleasure to study under and work with have been: Aadil Palkhivala, Tias Little, Nicolai Bachman, and Kino MacGregor. Outside of Yoga Tristan enjoys reading a great book, watching a moving film, and spending time with loved ones.
Natalie teaches Tantric Hatha Yoga. She firmly believes through a deeper connection with body, mind and spirit, yoga helps us to identify and overcome whatever is keeping us from living our best life. A path of deep healing is not an easy one. It can be painful and at times seem to move at a snails pace, but as Natalie has and continues to learn, it is so worth it. Yoga gives us the tools to cultivate new perspective and a sense of peace and serenity. Natalie believes regular practice of asana(physical practice), pranayama(breath work), and meditation(awareness without focus) helps to reveal and brighten the light that lives within each of us.
Recently, Natalie took a pilgrimage to India for the Kumbh Mela (a sacred gathering at the confluence of the Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswathi rivers) with master teacher Rod Stryker and his teacher Pandit Rajmani Tigunait of the Himalayan Institute where she was initiated into the Tantric Sri Vidya lineage. Other teachers Natalie has been fortunate to study with are, Daren Friesen, Gabriel Halpern, Aadil Palkhivala, Tias Little, and Gary Kraftsow.
Natalie teaches mindful and inspired classes that are rooted in self-acceptance, gratitude and love. Natalie’s goal for each class is to create a space for her students to cultivate and realize their own intentions, and to connect with their light and the teacher within. Teaching brings Natalie joy, and she wants to share that joy with all people!
When Natalie isn’t teaching she is working as a massage therapist, taking walks, hanging out with cats, learning about Ayurveda, reading, and thinking about what to make for dinner.
Jennifer has been practicing yoga since 2000, and is passionate about sharing the practice of yoga with others. Yoga has played an integral role in the unfolding of Jennifer’s path, the one constant along her journey through careers in finance and consulting, graduate studies in business administration, travel around the world, and the leap to self-employment as a professional actor, voice artist, and life coach.
After years of being a student of yoga, people began asking her to teach them, so she enrolled in the Teacher Training and In-Depth Studies program with Daren Friesen at Moksha Yoga. Jennifer knows in her heart that teaching yoga is a part of her dharma of service in the world, and she continues to be inspired by studying with master teachers including Aadil Palkhivala, Sara Ivanhoe, and Alie McManus. Jennifer also loves Bhakti Yoga and eagerly participates in all the mantra, kirtan, and chanting experiences that she can. In 2012 Jennifer founded Yoga for Triathletes, which offers specialty yoga classes to help triathletes balance the body and focus the mind to create an edge for intense training and racing.
In Jennifer’s classes, students will find a mindful practice that is grounded in breathing and intention. The practice flows through artfully sequenced asana, pranayama and meditation to clear the distractions of the mind and energetic blockages in the body creating space to discover the peace and wisdom that is naturally within us all.
Rachel discovered yoga in 2005 as part of an Eastern Religions class she was taking as an undergraduate. Upon leaving her first yoga class, she immediately knew of the power of the practice. For Rachel, yoga has changed the way she views herself, her body, relationships, and the world around her. Yoga ignited a deep sense of compassion and acceptance in Rachel, and since that time she has been working towards her goal of sharing this power with others.
In both her professional job as a mind/body therapist and as a teacher of yoga, Rachel strives to create a space for healing and transformation. She believes that the true purpose of yoga is to provide insight into the patterns of the mind, and by recognizing and detaching from these patterns one can become more aligned with the Self, where divine knowledge exists.
Rachel’s classes allow students to look inward through asana, vinyasa (breath synchronized movement), pranayama, mudra, and meditation. Rachel guides her students toward facing their self-judgments with inspired sequences that foster a heart-mind connection. Intention setting, psychology, and yoga philosophy are weaved throughout her dynamic and challenging classes.
Rachel’s thirst for yogic knowledge led her to complete over 700 hours during Moksha’s Teacher Training program. She thanks Daren Friesen, Rich Logan, Aadil Palkhivala, Ashley Turner, and Gabriel Halpern for continuously inspiring her practice and teachings.
Katie started practicing yoga in 2003, in hopes of healing a chronic injury from her former life as a dancer. Through the practice and study of yoga, she continues to discover not only freedom from chronic pain, but healing on a deep emotional and spiritual level. From this perspective of personal transformation Katie is eager to share the gifts of a consistent, intelligent yoga practice with others.
Katie completed her yoga teacher training certification at Moksha Yoga Center in Chicago, Illinois. She has completed more than 1000 hours of teacher training with master teachers from around the world, and finds tremendous joy in learning. She is grateful for her generous teachers and healers including Kim Wilcox, Tias Little, Erin Cowan, Gabriel Halpern, Lucien Caillouet and Daren Friesen. Katie holds an MA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and a BA from Loyola University Chicago. She continues her studies in meditation, asana, pranayama, philosophy, and somatics. Katie has particular interest in restorative practices, pain management and therapeutic yoga, and inspiring mindful and joy filled lifestyles.
As a teacher, Katie aspires to create a safe space in which students can practice this transformational work with awareness, honesty, and integrity. Her classes are tailored for the growth of her students, and always include focus on healthy and safe alignment, connection with the breath, and the powerful use of heartfelt intention.
After developing her personal practice for eight years, Jessica received her 200 hour and 500 hour Yoga Certifications through Moksha Yoga Center in 2011 and 2012. She has studied with over 30 renowed master teachers and blends their teachings into an electic yet unifed style. As a medical student and neuroscientist, Jessica also draws on her extensive training in anatomoy, physiology, kinesology, and psychology to take students deeper into their bodies and the subtle relams of their minds.
Lyndsae Rinio was introduced to yoga in early childhood by her mother, and has continued independent practice throughout her life. She was once scolded by her first grade teacher for doing shoulderstand during recess. Her formal studies began in 2000 at the public library in her home state of Alaska. As a trained dancer, she built her yoga practice on her knowledge of movement and anatomy, as well as her long-standing interest in meditation. After relocating to Chicago, she served as manager of Nature Yoga Sanctuary until 2008.
Lyndsae has been fortunate to study with several instructors who have shaped her approach to teaching, including Tias Little, Quinn Kearney, Paul Weitz, and Nadine Lollino. Her classes offer a blend of hatha and vinyasa flow, with an emphasis on intelligent muscular and skeletal alignment. She is registered with the Yoga Alliance at the 200 hour level, and also holds certification in teaching yoga for cancer recovery.
As a cancer survivor herself, Lyndsae found yoga to be an invaluable part of her recovery process. This has fueled her deep interest in yoga’s therapeutic ability to shape and rehabilitate the body and mind. Lyndsae believes that a yoga practice is an exercise in self-observation. She encourages her students to find the integrity of each pose within their own body, rather than some external ideal.
Kat holds her yoga teaching certification through Yogaview in Chicago. Knowing that all bodies and personal histories are different, her teaching philosophy is to give all participants opportunities to develop their practice in healthy ways. Encouraging and challenging, her yoga classes incorporate breathing and mind-focusing techniques into full-bodied hard work. Kat is certified in AcroYoga MTL by Eugene Poku and Jessica Goldberg. Montreal-style AcroYoga is a combination of Yoga, Acrobatics and Modern Dance. Whether working as a base, spotter, flyer or coach, Kat’s joy and continual process in Acroyoga is to balance challenge and safety while maintaining compassionate communication with all playmates. She and Joe Yonek have been acro partners since 2010. A working theatre professional with an MFA in acting from Ohio State, Kat creatively blends numerous techniques and disciplines into her classes, including pilates, dance (ballet, jazz, hip hop), martial arts (Tang Soo Do), and the Alexander Technique.
Joe’s journey inward began as early as when he was eight or nine and started to learn methods in self hypnosis to draw himself inside and explore his inner world. Since that time he has traveled extensively studying with teachers of vastly varying esoteric traditions experiencing their practices and exploring their practical applications in his personal practice and his daily life.
In 2002 Joe began practicing yoga as a moving extension of his meditation practice.
In 2011 he became a certified Hatha and Vinyasa yoga teacher as well as certified to teach the Montreal Style of AcroYoga. Joe’s mission in the classes that he teaches is to help students cultivate a sense of joy and playfulness in their practice. He believes that there will always be new challenges to face and to overcome, but joy comes from the process of exploring those areas where you do have success and allowing them to lead you to discovering success in ways that you didn’t know where available to you.
In addition to teaching both Hatha/Vinyasa and AcroYogaMTL Joe also actively practices and provides sessions in Thai Bodywork and Shamanic subtle body energy healing.
Zoey VanDuren has had a passion for movement and creativity ever since she took her first ballet class at the age of three. In her studies, she has continued to pursue the understanding of movement, alignment, and health through as many mediums as possible. While obtaining her BFA in dance at the University of North Texas, Zoey took her first yoga class and was instantly hooked. It was through yoga that she first accessed the connection between mind, body, and spirit that continues to motivate her in all that she does.
After studying under many different teachers and investigating numerous styles, Zoey found her yoga-home at Moksha and completed the 200hr training program with Daren Friesen in 2009. Among many of the wonderful teachers she has had a chance to study with, those who inspire her most are Kim Wilcox, Rich Logan, Todd Boman, Tias Little and Bryan Kest.
In Zoey’s classes you can expect to find dynamic flow paired with an intent focus on alignment. Interweaving the power of breath and intention, Zoey asks her students to release themselves from the constant fluctuations and judgments of the mind, and to connect with the true self in the present moment.
“When firmly established in integrity, all riches present themselves freely.”
Kristin began doing yoga while living and working in southern Spain. She was helping to start a company and was very stressed. A friend of hers recommended a yoga class to her saying, “if you do yoga consistently and over time, it will change your life.” As her practice grew she began to feel and see the affects in her daily life and in her relationships, and began to feel the transformation of yoga. She says, “In yoga, we connect to our inner light, essence, or soul, and learn that the answers to our questions cannot be found outside of ourselves. We turn inside to find that we hold the answers inside of us.” Kristin is a certified yoga teacher and completed her teacher training program through Moksha Yoga. She teaches vinyasa, a type of yoga which synchronizes breath to movement resulting in a dynamic and flowing class. In class, Kristin aspires to help her students in discovering and living the consistent transformation that is yoga. Her classes are vinyasa-inspired with a focus on pranayama. As a teacher she is inspired by Iyengar principals of alignment, the physical challenges of Astanga, and the balancing principals and breath techniques of Tantra. Expect to move through a challenging class, and leave feeling balanced and refreshed.
Pierce is passionate to share the teachings of yoga as gifts that have been passed on to him. Starting his yogic path in 2004 with friends jump-started an interest in making a regular commitment to contentment and joy. Having a desire to spread and share this joy and inner-luminosity the yoga practice enables one to see within all beings, has been his daily inspiration and quest. Life is one of an evolving nature, and the study and application of yoga allows you to mature along with it interactively in a positive way as it progresses. Pierce took part in the 200 hour year-long Moksha yoga teacher training in Chicago with Daren Friesen in 2010, and started teaching shortly thereafter. The power of the continuous practice of teaching greatly informs his desire to delve deeper into his own practice. He is big on “teaching your experience,” versus teaching something you saw someone else do once. This has the greatest connection to the transmission of yoga. His classes most definitely involve a deep connection to the breath as a way to physically and mentally align the body and mind. From this point, the sadhaka (practitioner) is lead towards a focused self, with intention. Then you have the ability to decipher what best serves you in that moment…both on, and off the yoga mat. Expect a supportive environment of growth, introspection, and sthira/sukha in his class using the many elements of asana (postures), pranayama (breathing practices), and meditation (continuous focus). Pierce has had the privilege of studying with and his teachings are informed by: Rich Logan, Kim Wilcox, Gabriel Halpern, Daren Friesen, Jim Bennitt, Aadil Palkhivala, Rod Stryker, Tias Little, Nicolai Bachman, and Gary Kraftsow.
Betty Olson (500hr CYT) began her journey as a dancer/choreographer and it did not take her long before she was determined to find a deeper understanding in the movement. Her path led her to Chicago from Kansas City in 2001 obtaining a MA in Dance/Movement Therapy from Columbia College Chicago. Upon graduation she found a lot of joy working in an in-patient psychiatric unit bringing movement, meditation and body awareness to the patients. Devoting her time to understand movement Betty enrolled in Moksha’s exceptional Teacher Training program under the guidance of Daren Friesen and was certified in the fall of 2010. She continues to further her studies through workshops with Master Teachers, such as Tias Little, Ashley Turner and Leeann Carey. Betty’s classes focus on the individual, brining awareness to the mind-body connection. Through vinyasa, breath-syncronized movement, she supports the student’s individuality and helps facilitate growth with non-judgment. Betty donates her time by teaching a yoga class to help sponsor the Ride for AIDS Chicago. She believes in supporting her community and does a fundraiser yearly. Betty did her first ride with RFAC in 2010 and is excited about the next ride and fundraiser in July 2012.
Lindsey has been a dedicated yoga student since 1990 and is a certified yoga teacher. She has taken teacher trainings in yoga for both adults and children, as well as yoga for injuries and pregnancy. Lindsey holds a degree in psychology from the University of Michigan and a law degree from Northwestern University. She taught pre-school as well as counseled abused women and children. Lindsey practiced law for eight years and also has certifications in nutrition, anatomy and meditation. Lindsey continuously educates herself, so she can better serve her students. She is devoted to her yoga practice. She practices regularly and studies with yoga masters from around the world. While the list of teachers is too numerous to delineate here, the following styles have had a significant influence on her: Power yoga, Astanga yoga, Forrest yoga, Anusara yoga, Jivamukti yoga, Universal yoga, Yogic Arts, Kwando and Dance. Lindsey’s classes reflect her sincere appreciation, understanding, and passion for all aspects of Yoga. In each class, she blends her training and thirteen-plus years of experience into a creative, challenging, and soulful vinyasa flow. She takes her students on a journey through every part of the body, exploring the workings of their minds and their connection to spirit. She inspires her students to become self-aware - mentally, physically, emotionally, energetically, and spiritually - and teaches them how to use the practice to move energy and balance themselves in any way they need. Lindsey seeks wisdom in action, so she constantly reinforces the principals of alignment and offers variation in each pose so students of all levels can feel safe and get what they need. She makes up a new class each time and uses the classes to teach her students how yoga is a state of mind and being, not a measure of flexibility. Lindsey cherishes teaching yoga and embraces the opportunity to help people on their journey. She sincerely thanks her teachers, students, family, and friends for supporting and inspiring her on her own journey. Currently, Lindsey teaches group and private classes for people of all ages, gives corporate wellness seminars and provides nutritional counseling.