Spotlight on the Chicago Yoga Scene — where to take yoga class, who to take class with and what to do in between
Welcome to the Windy City! Chicago is where yoga was first introduced to the U.S. — by young Swami Vivekananda at the Parliament on World Religions in 1893. Wind around Lake Shore Drive, see the sights from Willis Tower (the tallest building in North America) and catch a game at Wrigley Field. Then roll out your mat.
More than a century after its first Om, Chicago has plenty of places to get your asana on!
Where to Practice
Moksha Yoga Center
The largest studio in the midwest is Moksha Yoga Center — Chicago’s premier yoga studio, where you will find all levels and all disciplines (Mysore to Tantra-Hatha), and a calendar chock-full of events, guest speakers, workshops and musical performances. Daren Friesen, founder and director, has been practicing and teaching yoga for over 20 years. His traditional and innovative approach to Vinyasa Flow has influenced nearly all of Chicago’s top teachers.
“We feel so lucky to have a diverse community in both our teachers, including local teachers and master teachers from around the world, and our students who range from longtime yogis to beginners,” says Daren. “As the yoga scene grows in Chicago, it’s our ideal to continually educate and practice classical yoga — every class including some combination of physical practice, pranayama, meditation, kriyas and bhandas.”
Chicago’s YogaView is a fusion of Ashtanga, Anusara and Vinyasa. Tom Quinn and Quinn Kearny, co-founders of YogaView, have trained with Pattabhi Jois and John Friend. Both believe that dharana is fundamental, so each class at YogaView either begins or ends with 10-15 minutes in meditation. Looking to deepen your personal practice? Come anytime after 7:00 a.m. and before 9:00 a.m. to experiment independently under the guise of a teacher.
A two-block walk from the luxe retail haven of The Magnificent Mile is Exhale Chicago, a zen-inspired oasis where there is a flow for everyone. Seasoned students check their ego and groove to rock, hip hop, blues or reggae in Music Flow Yoga. Need to realign or de-stress? Join an Exhale Yin class. Or realign and rejuvenate with Shiva Rea-inspired, teacher Lourdes Paredes in Exhale Vinyasa Flow.
Head to the South Loop of Chicago to sculpt and detoxify with Corepower Yoga. Exercise balance and intention in Power Vinyasa, or crank up the heat in Hot Yoga. Want both? Sweat it out in Hot Power Fusion, which combines the heat and the 26 postures of traditional Hot Yoga with the fluid transitions of Power Vinyasa.
Who to Practice With
If certified Forrest Yoga Instructor Allison English is not traveling the country or training with her guru Ana Forest, then take her class at Equinox Gold Coast. Voted “Best Yoga Instructor – Chicago” in 2008, Allison is crazy about the diversity her home town has to offer.
“You can find every type of yoga under the sun in Chicago,” says Allison. “I love it here. The student community is so engaged and curious to try new things. We don’t have just yoga classes. There is a workshop for everything, all elements of yoga, beyond asana.”
Take one of Daren Friesen’s classes at the Moksha Yoga Center Riverwest location to experience his innovative approach to Vinyasa. Daren encourages his students to overcome the pull of opposites and to find one-pointedness — the key to their inner truth, health and vitality in this crazy, modern world. Class space is limited — come early!
A student of both massage therapy and yoga, Rich Logan’s classes blend his advanced knowledge of anatomy and spirituality. He empowers his students, helping them to find awareness on their mat and in their own body. When he’s not interning with Gabriel Halpern of Chicago’s Yoga Circle, you catch class with Rich at the Moksha Yoga Center Riverwest location or at Nature Yoga Sanctuary.
Yoga Happenings Year-Round
~Every summer Escape2Fitness takes class to the sand with Beach Yoga for a calming Hatha sequence overlooking tranquil Lake Michigan. If you want to skip the sand, but love the waterfront, check out Fitness Formula Club’s Yoga on the Lake.
~Yog Sadhan Ashram of Chicago hosts events year-round, like the annual Hatha & Raja Yoga Retreat where yogis and yoginis enjoy a week of cooking, studying and finding the path to love through yoga.
~If you are guest at the Ritz-Carlton Chicago, then head to the pool deck for Saturday Sunrise Yoga (weather permitting) at 7:00 a.m.
~Catch some Kirtan with Bliss Tribe.
~Stay in the know with YOGA Chicago, Chicago’s bimonthly yoga publication
The Windy City has a thing for pizza, specifically deep dish — don’t leave town without a slice from Lou Malnati’s.