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.
Mia Park teaches Tantra Hatha in the Moksha Yoga 500 Hour Teacher Training and is a certified ParaYoga Level I instructor, 500E-RYT, and Rest and Renew restorative yoga teacher. In addition to having over 1,000 hours of teacher training, Mia received the Usha Yoga Foundation Scholarship and is becoming a Registered Children’s Yoga Teacher (RCYT). Mia is passionate about sharing how the power of yoga transforms us by revealing our highest self and how the right yoga practice helps us live peacefully and vibrantly. Mia found yoga while teaching cardio kick boxing in 2002. Yoga offered her the perfect weave of physical health with internal peace that she needed to balance her active life style of playing in rock bands and professionally acting. Mia draws on her creative life style to bring a warm, joyful attitude to this ancient science of self evolution. Mia trains extensively and broadly in yoga. She recently spent a month in India, studying the tantric lineage of Sri Vidya with her main teacher, Rod Stryker, and his teacher, Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, Ph.D. Mia also studies the Desikchar tradition with Gary Kraftsow and Chase Bossart. In the Iyengar/alignment tradition, Mia studied with Aadil Palkhivala, Gabrielle Halpern and Barbara Benagh. Mia has learned Anusara practices from Geri Bleier and Mitchell Bleier and practiced Ayurveda at Arogyaniketana Ayurveda Ashram in Hariharapura, India. She’s also studied with Dr. Robert Svoboda. Nicholai Bachman is another Ayureda teacher she studies with and learns sanskrit from. She has learned when to apply appropriate force in yoga from Ana Forrest, when to soften from Swami Shankardev, when to laugh from Dharma Mittra and Mark Whitwell, and when to deeply trust her number one teacher: her highest self.
It was in Belgrade, Serbia, Gordanas home country, where she took her first yoga class. It was 1996 when she went to a dance studio to take yoga class wondering what yoga was. The book inspired her to search for the meaning of the word yoga and, her curiosity led to a three-year journey of Hatha Yoga. After this sequence of her life, she lost practice and for many years she had no thoughts of yoga. One day the circumstances of her life led her to move to the US. Desire for yoga was awakening again and, Moksha Yoga Center became her home. She practiced with different teachers there and, one of them, Jim Bennitt inspired her to continue deeper exploration of yoga through Teacher Training. In 2010, she completed Teacher Training program under the guidance of Daren Friesen. After taking workshops with master teachers like Tias Little, Aadil Palkivala, Rod Stryker, she was led to Ashtanga practice Mysore style one morning. In the silence of self-practice and Todds patient guidance, Gordana found her true practice. Daily practice was teaching her how to synchronize mind and body, overcome habits, relax within discipline, learn how to be open and fearless and find sacredness in everyday life. She discovered something that was always available, inexhaustible and impossible to posses.
In 2011 meeting Richard Freeman and reading his book The Morror of Yoga was the reaffirming moment when she decided to work towards teaching Ashtanga practice.
Gordana has been teaching since 2010 and, she feels she is just beginning. She has practiced Ashtanga for three years and, in 2013 she traveled to Thailand, India and Nepal drawn to search for the roots of yoga, meditation and Buddhism. She spent 7 weeks practicing with R. Sharath Jois in Mysore India, which helped her to reach a deeper integration of the practice. In Nepal she studied Tibetan Buddhist Meditation and Buddhist philosophy.
Gordana continues her daily practice with Todd Boman who teaches her courage, dedication, discipline and trust every day with his own example. As a teacher she aspires to inspire and guide students to go deeper within and search for more balance and depth in both yoga and life. She is interested in reaching harmony in body and enabling energy to flow freely through all channels, joints, muscles and organs. She is interested in reaching levels of oneself that otherwise one could never reach and feel who/what we are instead of who/what we think we should be. With practice, Gordana challenges both herself and her students to rethink what asana is about and potentially work on marrying asana and meditation to reach a deeper practice where it could be possible to meet stillness in movement and experience flow in stillness.
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.
Referred to as “Yogi Rae” by her dearest friends and students, Rachel is a Yoga Teacher in and around the Western Suburbs of Chicago. She received her certifications under the guidance of Swami Sarasvatyananda (Mary Samano) at The Temple of Kriya Yoga, Nikki Meyers of CITYOGA and Y12SR, and Lela Beem and Cassie Rodgers of the Amala School of Prenatal Yoga. Specializing in therapeutic based Hatha Yoga, Yoga for 12-Step Recovery, and Prenatal/Postpartum Yoga, Rachel’s focus is to encourage proper structural alignment while my students move deeper into a meditative state at their own pace. She uses a number of techniques to strengthen the body, tame the mind, and improve the spirit – each session being completely customized to meet her students needs. As the Beatles sing, “When you move beyond yourself, you may find peace of mind is waiting there,” Rachel aims to promote a sacred atmosphere for students to let go of their outside distractions and find peace within.
Blanca began her training at Moksha Yoga Center in 2003 at the young age of 18. It was her mother who first inspired her to to pursue the path of yoga and has supported her journey ever since. From that point on she has studied with master teachers Shiva Rea in Vinyasa flow, and aliginment based Iyengar from Aadil Pahkivala. Her recent study with Astanga teacher Kino Macgregor has sparked a passion for the astanga practice. She has dedicated her daily practice to this traditional form. Blanca has a degree in dance from Columbia College Chicago and also intensively trains the Brazilian martial art capoeira. It is no surprise to experience a blend of these beautiful practices within Blanca’s creative vinyasa flow classes. Her priority as a teacher is to offer a space where her students can deepen their practice, receive a balanced practice of pranyama, asana, and meditation and leave class with an overall feeling of ease and wellbeing.
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.
Allison English found yoga as a teenager while recovering from serious sports injuries – she stayed with it through a dizzying array of life’s experiences, transitions, and traumas. As her Spirit Path would have it, she was exposed to Forrest Yoga first and fell in love with this methodology of practicing, teaching and healing – that was over 15 years ago and she hasn’t looked back! Allison is trained in anthropology and romance linguistics, along with chemistry and mathematics, but she began teaching yoga 10 years ago at the gentle nudge of her first teacher who saw a spark in her for guiding and inspiring others. She found her life’s passion in becoming a healer through the practices of Forrest Yoga, and has since studied many forms of yoga, hands on healing, anatomy, and energy medicine. Allison is a certified Forrest Yoga Teacher and travels the world as one of Ana Forrest’s assistant teachers and business consultants, leading her own retreats, conference sessions, teacher training, and workshops along the way. In her classes you will find a clear focus on setting personal healing intents, strengthening connections to your core, deepening the flow of your breath consciously, and playing with the power of practice to transform you. She is a healer who draws on energy work, ceremony, expert hands on assists, humor, and clear sequencing to help her students embody Spirit. Every practice with Allison is unique and tailored to all levels of students.
At Shine, in downtown Batavia, IL, we offer yoga classes, meditation, wellness workshops, events to evoke inspired living, offbeat activities, kids’ yoga, live music and performance, yoga clothing, active apparel, yoga props, self help books, DVDs, and eco-conscious gifts.
At Shine, our mission is to uplift you on your journey through life. We aim to support and inspire as you move within, learn about yourself and grow to your full potential.