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.
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.