Sunday, May 8

The Yoga Boutique | Chicago, IL

LOCATION: The Yoga Boutique is just off the lake on Irving Park Rd near Montrose Harbor. Navigating to it was fine with my Tom Tom, but parking in the city is never fun. I eventually found street parking, which was free, but I'm still not sure if it was a permit only location... and I just lucked out? Who knows.
COST: Drop-in fee was $15

STUDIO: This space was even smaller than the last location I visited. You enter a city building and the Yoga Boutique is on the first floor (easy signage to get you to the right spot). As you enter there's an area with cubbies (that locked), shoes & a coat rack, which opens to a space for a desk to check in. There was a telephone booth size curtained area for changing near the desk (which I used after class) or a bathroom on the other side of the studio space... I opted for that since I drove straight there from Champaign and needed to use the bathroom before practice anyway. Very clean, inviting, and simple. The practice space was small, but there were only five of us including the instructor, so it worked out fine. I believe they offer mats for free, which is unexpected these days (and very nice), but I had my own mat so I didn't test this option. The space is kept warm (cozy, not sauna) and dark, two candles were "burning" (they were battery operated) by the instructor's mat with her tibetan bells (used after savasana).
CLASS DESCRIPTION: Vinyasa Yoga—Vinyasa means breath - synchronized movement. This class is a flowing class using classical yoga poses intricately sequenced. It is focused on building internal heat in order to purify all layers of the body.
INSTRUCTOR: Danielle Robinson is a vinyasa yoga, Pilates, and cardio dance teacher who just recently moved to Chicago from Italy. She started practicing yoga while pursuing her degree in Psychology back in 2002. Soon after graduation and her jobs in the real world both in the States and abroad, she felt inspired by fellow yogis and her own quest for physical and mental challenges to pursue teaching as a career. She studied under yogis in Florida, Italy, and New York City and now she hopes to parlay her training and teaching style into a fun and rewarding career teaching in the great city of Chicago. She's excited to be in the city, to meet new people, and to have the opportunity to teach at Yoga Boutique.
CONTACT:The Yoga Boutique

I was feeling a bit rushed, which always seems ridiculous when going to yoga, but there you have it. Danielle was very welcoming when I entered. I ended up being early enough to fill out the waiver form and change, what a relief. The space was small, as I said above, but there were only four students total, so we actually had quite a bit of room... And mirrors. I have to start with the mirrors, because I find them so distracting. It's really hard for me to focus when there is a mirror in front of me reminding me of what I unfortunately view as flaws. Recently, I wondered if reintroducing mirrors into my practice would be a good idea, since I can't really tell what I'm doing. But nope... not focused enough, not confident enough, not ready enough. It's ok, I just closed my eyes when I found myself looking at the mirror instead of the instructor or focusing on the pose.

Whew, glad that part is over so I can actually tell you about this wonderful class. The music was drastically different than my last review, but still current. It was refreshing... for example, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes' Home was on the playlist. Someone requested we work on core... you love and hate that person when they do that, don't you? I mean, who really wants to work on their core, but when it's done you are so grateful you did. The little bit of sore I'm feeling this morning is very rewarding. Danielle focused on breathing more than usual, which I always appreciate. I'm just starting to understand the benefits of breathing in practice, and it's my best way to focus... counting my inhale and exhales while making a little bit of noise... Ujjayi breathing. Think of it as the noise you make when you're trying to fog up a mirror... that constriction on the back of the throat while slowly breathing is suppose to be energizing and relaxing. The magical combo.

Danielle followed through the traditional flow, adding poses in that work the core. I was sweating my butt off. No one else was though, so I'm not sure exactly what was going on... but I'm not suppose to care, am I? Close eyes. Ignore mirrors. I also have to add that, with the small class, Danielle was able to walk around and adjust us a lot. It's like a private lesson, I imagine, and I love to be spoiled with this. Anyway, the practice pose she was warming us up for was crow pose or Bakasana (looks like Yoga Journal calls it crane pose). This pose has come to be one of my bigger challenges to date, and it all comes down to trusting myself (or in my case, lack there of). I can get into the position, I have the strength to hold it for a little bit, but when asked to remove my toes from the mat to balance; my brain takes over and I'm convinced I'm going to fall. Today, Danielle introduced starting on blocks. I really like this, because it puts you closer into the hovering position, and I knew what it was suppose to feel like. I didn't lift my toes long enough to find the balance to hold it, but there was no fear. Wow! I can't tell you how great it felt to just overcome that fear... with blocks. I will definitely practice it this way til I build more strength to hold it longer and then remove the blocks. I'm excited!

After a challenging & sweaty session, it was time for savasana. Music switched to tibetan monks chanting, which somehow worked wonderfully with the indy pop music playing for the past hour. Danielle walked around to place eye pillows on our eyes (I love eye pillows, I even bought them for all the ladies in my life for Christmas one year, they're so soothing) and adjusted our shoulders. I don't remember her talking much through savasana, just giving us the time to cool down and relax. Three chimes of the tibetan bells and we slowly moved back to sitting.

I found Danielle's class to be a wonderful mix of challenging physical work with comforting traditional poses, and the class being smaller allowed for me to feel like I bonded with these women I didn't even really talk to. After class Danielle was very interested in what I thought about the class, what brought me to the area and the studio, and what I did in Champaign. From start to finish, this was a great way to spend my Saturday afternoon before a rugby game (the reason we were in Chicago to begin with). Thank you Yoga Boutique and especially Danielle!

1 responses:

  1. I have to add to this... when we started this class Danielle said to recognize our energy. If we were feeling rushed or wound up—place the hands palm-side down on the lap. If we were feeling drained or tired—place the hands palm-side up in the the basic hand muddra where you touch the thumb to index finger.

    Every time I start class, I think of this, I find it comforting, and is a great way to recognize the present moment.

    Thank you Danielle!