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.
Alexia was 5 years old when she found a yoga book in her grandfather’s library. She loved playing around with the postures she saw in the photos. She would walk around the house on her knees in lotus posture while her dad scolded, “you’re gonna get hurt.” She never saw the book again but the inspiration remained in the back of her mind. Seventeen years later Alexia realized that she couldn’t deny her hunger to learn the practice of yoga: she left Guatemala, her home country, and moved to Chicago to start her teacher training. Alexia’s teacher and greatest influence is Kino Macgregor, one of the few certified Ashtanga teachers in the country. Kino’s inspiration helped Alexia discover that her heart is in the Ashtanga yoga practice. Alexia practices everyday under the guidance of Todd Boman, who supports her practice and teaches her faith and dedication with his own shining example. She has apprenticed with Todd for the past four years in the mysore classes and continues to assist him. Alexia has found a daily practice to be profoundly transformative, calming, and awakening to self-knowledge. It is these benefits that have given her tremendous faith in yoga and passion for the practice. As a teacher, Alexia inspires students to persevere, with enthusiasm, and discover what gifts their practice holds for them.
Alie has studied yoga and meditation for almost 20 years and has been teaching for more than 13. Alie’s passion for yoga has led her to Bali, Thailand, Hong Kong, Jamaica, Greece, and across the United States studying with the world’s foremost teachers and eccentrics.
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.
Born and raised in Flint, MI Amber is a world traveler, animal and music lover. She has overcome serious physical injuries, including fractured vertebrate, through her yoga practice. Amber has also experienced peace of mind from anxiety and PTSD through the practice. Amber’s class focuses on the subtle aspects of the practice by incorporating meditation, alignment, breath, and mindfulness in a vigorous class. She uses intention as direction with an emphasis on cultivating the student’s awareness of what they personally need from their practice. Through practice, Amber believes passionately that yoga reveals one’s true nature and purpose for being (dharma). With this awareness, the student opens up to experiencing the world in a more honest and joyful way.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
David Nathan is a fourth generation Chicago native. A lifelong Chicago sports fan, he is not unaccustomed to suffering (dukha). Yoga practice helps David remove the veils of identification, misunderstanding, and habitual reactionary patterns in his relationships that cause pain and suffering. On a physical level, David came to Yoga after years of tennis left stiffness and pain in his shoulders and knees, and feet, and hips, and back, etc. Yoga practice helps David maintain his good health and build and sustain energy throughout his day. David teaches yoga in the Viniyoga tradition. Viniyoga is a holistic and integrated practice using yogic tools to gain optimal wellness on all levels of the human system: the physical body; physiological body; mental body; emotional body; and spiritual body. Viniyoga asserts that Yoga, including postures (asana), breathing exercises (pranayama), chanting, meditation (dhyana), and personal ritual, are individual tools to be used to help one affect personal transformation and growth, according to one’s needs, interests, and goals. David will lead you on a personal exploration and journey of Self using Sadhana (Practice) to help deepen your self-awareness and to help you ground yourself in the present moment. You will leave David’ class feeling more grounded, comfortable, and confident in your body, with your energy calm, relaxed, but alert. As David’s teacher Gary Kraftsow explains, “We practice to deepen our self-awareness, establish ourselves in the present, set a direction for our future and actualize our full potential.” A graduate and student of Daren Friesen’s of the Moksha Yoga Center teacher training program, David completed an advanced 500 hour teacher training with Gary Kraftsow of the American Viniyoga Institute (AVI), www.viniyoga.com David continues to study with Gary Kraftsow and is studying to become a Certified Viniyoga Therapist with AVI. A word from David about what to expect in his classes: “Viniyoga’s key insight is that the practices of Yoga are adapted to the individual, rather than adapting the individual to the practice. We will make certain choices in adapting postures, breathing exercises, sound and mantra, and concentration exercises to affect change on all levels of your system. There are four key differences in a Viniyoga asana (postures) practice: 1. Use of adaptation of postures to create specific structural and energetic effects; 2. Emphasis on the breath as a medium to measure and affect change in your system; 3. Use of different patterns of repetition and stay in postures to achieve different effects; and 4. Employing an art and science of specific sequencing to have different effects on the mind/body. Expect to have your mind as well as your body challenged!"
In 1996, Erin was living in New York City, pursuing a career in theatre and film, racing all over, hoping to be “in the right place, at the right time.” After a couple sleepless years, her health suffered, the joy within her drained, and she was simply no longer herself. Eventually, a fortunate twist of fate led her to Dharma Mittra’s yoga studio. There, at last, she took a deep breath and learned to sit. Soon, she was attending class regularly, developing her own practice, and once again feeling alive in her own skin. As her practice continued and deepened, she was eventually brought back home - to herself and the Midwest. Since her first class years ago, Erin knew that she would be a lifetime student and dreamed one day of teaching. In 2004, she completed the Moksha Teacher Training Program and has since found two teachers who continue to inspire her practice, her teaching, and her life – Aadil Palkhivala and Tias Little. Her studies with Tias Little have taken her to the Upaya Zen Center, nestled in the mountains of Santa Fe, NM, where she completed Prajna Yoga’s 200hr training and will pursue the 500hr level. In September 2009, Erin looks forward to her fourth week-long Purna Yoga training with Aadil Palkhivala at Moksha Yoga Center in Chicago. As a teacher, Erin aspires to give her students the gift she has received from her teachers, the guidance to turn inward and connect with one’s own inner light and joy, not only to enhance the life of the student, but the world we all share.
Gabriel Halpern holds a BA in Philosophy, an MA in Health Psychology, and was trained at the Iyengar Yoga Institutes in San Francisco and Pune, India. Gabriel has practiced since 1970 and gives workshops nationally. He is the founder and director of the Yoga Circle in Chicago, IL since 1985. For over twenty years he was a core performance faculty member at De Paul University’s Theater Department. In 2011, he was awarded the Elder/Mentor of the Year by the Mankind Project. Just this July, his Yoga Circle was voted the “best traditional hatha studio” by Chicago magazine. Owing to the direct influence of BKS Iyengar and over 4 decades of continuous study Gabriel’s teaching is all that is yoga: zeal in practice, science, art form, lifestyle, and mystical mentoring.
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.
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.
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.