Since I was a little girl, I have always had an internal compass and was in tune to the guidance of my soul’s voice. When I moved to this country at the age of 21 from Israel to be with my American-born boyfriend (and later husband), I was overwhelmed by the cultural differences and being far away from my family and close friends. I had to forge a new life path and dived into my studies in criminal law and philosophy at the University of Illinois at Chicago. With all of these major life changes, I entered survival mode and worked hard to succeed in life’s outer trappings.
Yet, I lost touch with my inner voice, which was a source of great pain for me. This became all the more poignant when I visited home for the first time in a year – I truly realized for the first time that I had made a decision to leave home and that I spent an entire year disconnected from my spiritual self. I knew then, that in order to come back to the US and continue my journey there, I had to reopen a connection with my inner essence and to bring ALL OF ME into this new chapter of life.
One day while I was studying on the patio of a coffee shop in Lakeview, I lifted my head from the books and there in front of my eyes came a sign that my soul was speaking again to me. “The Peace School, now offering free yoga classes.” All of these words were meaningful to me on their own – I have always fought for peace. I am the consummate student. Strapped for cash, free was exactly what I could afford. Finally, yoga intrigued me and in my gut, I knew I was searching for it without knowing. My time at the Peace School exceeded far beyond my expectations, as it combined philosophy, meditation and yoga practice seamlessly. Little by little, I was reconnecting with my true self.
When I left Chicago for Madison, Wisconsin to be with my husband during his surgical residency, I continued to deepen my practice with yoga, becoming acquainted with the idea of heat and yoga. Later, as I became a stay at home Mom with two small boys, I resorted to a home practice, inspired by Brian Kest’s power yoga. Body flow, Ashtanga yoga and Vinyasa Flow yoga soon followed thereafter. I was lucky to have different yoga experiences and mentors, from Chicago to Wisconsin and later Florida. All these experiences were transformative in nature, allowing me to enter a zone of stillness during my yoga practice, allowing my body to be guided by the simplicity of breath and movement.
Coming full circle as my family of 6 moved back to the Chicago area in 2015, I was blessed to find a home in a community where I am surrounded by a number of excellent yoga studios. But it wasn’t until the Winter of 2016 that I arrived at a class that would change my life’s path forever. The studio was packed, body to body, the lights were dimmed and there was sensual music in the background.
I could sense the camaraderie amongst the students, the eagerness in their faces and the room’s energy felt perfect. I was ready to begin. The class was beautifully orchestrated and when I felt the first adjustment from my teacher, something clicked within me. She would become one of my greatest teachers.
Indeed, I have completed my 200 Yoga teacher training and have learned from many teachers at Lifetime Fitness Old Orchard, who I am honored to now call my colleagues as I teach a weekly heated Vinyasa flow class there. Knowing what yoga has given to me and wanted to spread it among my loved ones, my friends and my neighbors, I have taken a picture my 8-year-old son drew for my birthday of me doing the yoga dancer pose as inspiration to do more in the field.
My husband realized that an empty loft space above the garage would be perfect for the vision I had in mind. He would give up his man cave to breathe life into Neshama Yoga Studio. “Neshama” (meaning soul in Hebrew) has become a place for all who wanted to enter the world of yoga in an intimate, non-threatening soulful environment. I like to think of it as my neighborhood’s “sacred space.”