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.
PaintedYoga™. The idea of combining yoga and painting first came one summer, while I was watching my boys paint with their fingers on huge blank watercolor papers. As toddlers, they had fun stepping all over the painted papers – a pure expression of their creativity. In my heart, I know it’s now time to bring the idea to life and share this wonderful experience to rest of the world.
Merging my passions for both art and yoga, I started Painted Yoga™ to inspire creativity and encourage others to express and rediscover themselves through art and the practice of yoga. One of a kind canvas paintings are created using the body and the practice of yoga as art media.
I have been practicing yoga for eight years and also a martial artist. After getting injured in Tae kwon do, yoga helped me to recover emotionally and physically. I then decided to become a yoga teacher to share the healing and physical benefits of yoga to others. My classes are a lively mix of balance, strength and flexibility, focusing on alignment and breathing.
Thank you. Remember, there’s always an artist inside of us. Art and Yoga don’t have to be perfect, that’s why it’s called a ‘practice’.
Founder and Creator
Deepen your practice in a safe and exclusive environment.
Maureen’s passion for yoga and enthusiasm for life creates a class experience where students can harness their inner strength, find stillness within and become more self-aware, opening the individual to what is truly possible.
Awaken Yoga offers private, small group, and corporate classes. We welcome all levels, from beginners to more advanced yogis, who want to deepen their practice. Awaken Yoga stands apart, offering custom programs to fit clients’ capabilities and objectives and monthly progress reports to measure success and development. This type of individualized and intimate attention allows each student to grow at their own pace. Our mission is to not only help people heal and stay healthy, but to help them foster the best in themselves and achieve a new level of self-awareness, awakening them to their inner light. We would be honored to hold a space for you.
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.
Lindsay started practicing yoga sporadically in 2005 as a way to manage chronic pain. While yoga did help her back then on a physical level, it eventually changed the course of her entire life. In 2011 when her job relocated her from New Jersey to Chicago, her chronic pain escalated to debilitating levels. This not-so-subtle warning from her body finally woke her up. Lindsay quit her corporate job and took charge of her life. By starting a stronger yoga practice and lifestyle, she began to eliminate and reverse the physical damage to her body caused by stress and fibromyalgia. She went from wrist braces to arm balances – from medication to meditation.
To date, Lindsay has completed over 1000 hours of teacher training, including the completion of two 200-hour programs at the American Yoga Academy in New Jersey and at Moksha Yoga Center in Chicago. Additionally, she studied with Judith Hanson Lasater to become a certified a Relax and Renew© Restorative Yoga Teacher. Finally, as the owner of Dharma Inspired Business Coaching (www.dharmainspired.com), Lindsay helps other yoga teachers to succeed as entrepreneurs.
In Lindsay’s classes expect a strong, slow, and mindful flow. Her teachings are greatly influenced by traditional hatha yoga, vinyasa flow, viniyoga, and restorative styles of yoga. She challenges students to focus on alignment while relaxing the mind, to strengthen their bodies while flowing with the breath, and to let go while remaining grounded. She knows first hand of yoga’s ability to transform lives and hopes that through yoga, she can help facilitate transformation in the lives of her students.
Janine has been practicing yoga since 2006 and completed Moksha Yoga Center’s 200-hour Teacher Training Certification Program in the spring of 2013. She came to yoga seeking personal healing and transformation and with diligent and passionate practice, gained deep awareness, acceptance and transformation. She desires to nourish an empowering experience for all of her students, so that they too may restore and make the changes they seek in their lives; ultimately progressing towards their best life.
She personally believes that high quality instruction is essential to meeting the needs of all of her yoga students. She takes the time to create intelligently sequenced asanas; transforming awareness from the physical to energetic. Her classes ask students to bring awareness within and find peace through intention, honesty and action – students should expect to be challenged within a warm, intelligent and supportive environment. Because she values excellent teaching, she has studied and practiced with some of most brilliant instructors Chicago and the world has to offer: Daren Friesen, Gabriel Haplern, Rich Logan, Kim Wilcox, Alie McManus and Amber Cook; along with visiting Master Teachers: Aadil Palkhivala, Saul David Raye, Kino Macgregor and Ashley Turner.
Mary Kay passionately believes that yoga is for everyone…all ages and body types, and that we all must just “start where we are”, every day, and every moment. She approaches yoga as a process of self-discovery, acceptance, and transformation that builds strength, stability and flexibility in the body, the mind and the spirit. Focusing on alignment and the breath, Mary Kay helps students attune to the intelligence in their own bodies, feeling and gaining awareness of what is right for them at any given moment…both on and off the mat. Believing that yoga should be practiced with a sense of play and deep enjoyment, Mary Kay helps her students keep a smile in their hearts as they discover what is possible.
Mary Kay is a Moksha Yoga trained and Yoga Alliance certified teacher at the 200- hour level, and almost through her 500-hour certification. Mary Kay is grateful for the teachers who have influenced her approach to practice and teaching, particularly Daren Friesen, Aadil Palkhivala, Tias Little, Gabriel Halpern, Rich Logan, and Kim Wilcox. Mary Kay has interned under the direction of Gabriel Halpern at the Yoga Circle, working one-on-one with students addressing specific healing goals. Mary Kay also practices Vipassana meditation. Mary Kay is a graduate of Northwestern University, and holds a Masters in Design from the Institute of Design at IIT. Mary Kay is an artist/designer, mother, and grandmother, who credits her yoga practice for her excellent health, and the unbounded creative energy that fuels her very blessed life.
Angie shares the gifts of yoga through creative, challenging and accessible vinyasa flow. Her teaching style is heavily influenced by her primary teachers Alyson D’Souza, Daren Friesen, Sara Strother and Danielle Dickinson.
As a very fortunate 15 year old, Angie was required to take a yoga course to fulfill a physical education requirement – little did she know that this requirement would quickly become a lifelong practice that cultivated fitness for her in body, mind and spirit.
Ten years later, in early 2012, Angie had an epiphany: she held the key to her own happiness and yoga was that key. She felt the call to teach others how to unlock happiness through their own yoga practice. She completed her 200hr teacher training with Daren Friesen at Moksha Yoga Center and continues to study at Moksha. She has been honored to study with master teachers Sadie Nardini, Kathryn Budig, Jason Crandell, Tias Little, Aadil Palkhivala and Seane Corn.
Through intelligent sequencing, each of Angie’s classes aims to honor a specific intention – like opening the heart or opening the hamstrings. Angie’s classes focus on utilizing the physical tools we are given by yoga asana – movement and breath – to unlock the mental and spiritual gifts that the yoga tradition offers. No matter the initial intention of a class, the outcome is always the same – you leave feeling stronger, lighter and happier!
Julie grew up in Moline, Illinois, and found dancing and creative writing to be her passion at a young age. After discovering a love and flair for teaching high energy dance and fitness classes, she graduated from Illinois State with a major in Exercise Science. Upon graduating and moving to Chicago, Julie has worked as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor, feeling blessed to inspire people to be healthy and happy. She once assisted a client in losing 40 pounds in 12 weeks, positively changing the woman’s life forever.
After popping into Moksha for a change of scenery and taking her first yoga class with Amber Cook, Julie knew she wanted to explore the world of yoga.
She enrolled in the Moksha teacher training program to build upon her fitness resume, not knowing it would transform her life and career intentions. She has now traded her pompoms for sun salutations and was blessed to travel to India for a month with a couple beloved friends from her teacher training group. Julie is loving teaching yoga, leading challenging physical classes but also has found a love in connecting with students. She has found a special home as the resident yoga instructor at Arts of Life, where she teaches yoga to adults with disabilities. The light and love that radiates from these dear yogis has been a powerful influence in Julie’s yoga path.
Come to Julie’s vinyasa class prepared to sweat and smile as you mindfully move with grace and power. Expect interesting flows blended with intense restorative stretches that will leave your body feeling fulfilled and open.
George’s passion for yoga finds root in inspiring others and making people feel good within their comfort levels. One must do a combination of things to be happy in life, and he believes yoga is one of them.
George’s class is a body and mind practice, which consists of asana (physical practice), pranayama (breath-work) and meditation. In every class, modifications will be offered to suit each student’s level and to ensure that everyone leaves practice feeling light and refreshed.
George has been studying yoga since 2005, and in 2011 he completed Moksha’s Teacher Training under the guidance of Daren Friesen. George continues his study of yoga through personal practice in addition to regularly attending workshops and trainings throughout Chicago. George is inspired by the teachings of Jim Bennitt, Saul David Raye, Richard Freeman, Gary Kraftsow and many others.
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.