Archive for the ‘Yoga’ Category

State Street circa 1907

State Street circa 1907-pre mass-produced cars! Image via Wikipedia

By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

OK, so it’s just for a few hours for one day. But it sounds like fitness fun for all you urban hikers!  Check out “Open Streets on State Street.”

When: Saturday, October 1, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Where:   State Street from Lake to Van Buren

On Saturday, October 1, State Street will be transformed into the ultimate urban playground—allowing pedestrians only to play, walk, bike and enjoy healthy recreation in a car-free environment. Open Streets on State Street is presented by Chicago Loop Alliance and Active Transportation Alliance. It will include activities such as a modular skate park, free yoga classes and breakdancing demonstrations. Plus, several Loop businesses are teaming up to offer special discounts for one day only at area restaurants, retail destinations and cultural institutions.

The event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit OpenStreetsOnStateStreet.org or connect on Facebook or Twitter @OpenStreetsChi.

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Starting September 5, 2011, Working Well Massage is offering table massages in the new Wellness Club! And from Sept 5 to October 5 we have a special offer for our table massage clients. We are offering a free yoga class voucher to all our clients that book a one hour table massage! Yoga classes are held in the Wellness Club’s yoga room.

To book your next relaxing, therapeutic massage with Working Well Massage, call the Wellness Club 312-202-6444.

Working Well Massage Massages in the Wellness Club
Hours: Mon-Fri, 11am- 8pm, Sat-Sun, 9am-7pm
Location: Whole Foods Market Wellness Club
Mezzanine level
1550 N. Kingsbury (between North Avenue and Division Street)
Chicago, Illinois 60642

Free parking available in the garage, enter on Kingsbury.


Wellness Club Members: $65/hr massage
Non-Wellness Club Members: $80/hr massage

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By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

First came Ratemyprofessor for students to rate college professors.. Then there was Yelp for consumers to rate just about everything. Now there are  a number of websites offering reviews on all kinds of things. One of the latest review websites to catch my eye is the new Rate my yoga.

On this new website, you can rate your yoga teacher, rate your yoga studio or look up a variety of products offered such as yoga videos and props.

Listings for studios and teachers that want to promote themselves are on the site are FREE. (Don’t you love Free in this day and age.) And the cost to write a review: your time and effort only.

So, if you are looking for a yoga studio, or are a yoga teacher or studio owner that wants to get yourself listed, check out Rate my yoga.

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By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

I’ve been practicing yoga on and off for about  20 years now. I’ve been appreciating art since my brother drew his first crayon drawing and my mom hung it on the fridge. With great delight I found out today that one woman is now mixing art and yoga–just a block from my office! After 22 years in the art gallery business Melanee Cooper Gallery will be transforming its space into a yoga studio at the same location. The new yoga studio, Yoga House, will offer free yoga during Art Chicago for gallerists and artists.

From Gallery Owner to Yoga Teacher

Photo: Brendan Lester

Melanee Cooper received her BA from the University of Michigan in 1984. Opening her first gallery at the age of twenty-six, she has exhibited and represented hundreds of contemporary artists, which contribute to her experience and fascination with the surface, texture and process of the artwork. After twenty years in the art business working with collectors, art professionals and artists, the gallery’s focus is to educate and provide outstanding personal client service. According to an article about Yoga House in Time Out Chicago, Melanee received her teachers training certification in yoga at the Nosara Yoga institute in Costa Rica.

Her new yoga studio offers classes in hatha yoga, vinyasa flow yoga and restorative yoga. And artwork will still be features on the walls of the studio!


First class with YOGA HOUSE – complimentary

class: $17.00

class packages:
5x – $65 (one free class)
10x – $140 (two free classes)
20x – $285 (three free classes)

Lunchtime yoga – one hour – $12.00

Class packages are non-refundable.

Class schedule here.

Yoga House's New Home!

Melanee Cooper / Yoga House

740 N. Franklin (60654)
Tel 312-202-9305


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MIAMI BEACH, FL - JUNE 11:  (L-R) Hector Garci...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

Last night I enjoyed the advantages of 2010 technology. I watched an episode of the show “30 Days”  on my television downloaded from Netflix! 30 Days is a TV show is about people spending 30 days in an environment fairly different from their own. The episode I watched was about a highly stressed man that visited a Life Coach and spent 30 days doing “New Age” therapies to  reduce his reaction to stress. While some of the “therapies” were of questionable merit, many of them helped the man and he ended up becoming a calmer, happier man and building a closer relationships with his wife!

One of the things the man enjoyed, and continued to keep up after the 30 days had ended, was yoga.  More and more research is coming out about the benefits of yoga. I don’t see yoga as a New Age therapy, but then I’ve been doing yoga for about 17 years. And yoga has been around for much longer than the U.S has been a  country (as has acupuncture). As more and more Western style scientific research is done on the benefits of yoga and more people in the U.S.  incorporate it into their daily lives, yoga has become more “mainstream.”

I came across a great article from Yoga Journal on “Banishing Burnout.” In the article, author Jennifer Pirtle shares some information about current research on yoga and stress relief.  She shares some insights into how doing yoga can help you learn to react less to stressors in the workplace. I am sharing some excerpts with you below:

More Bad News About Workplace Stress

Recently, a team of researchers at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) found that stress may even accelerate aging at the cellular level. The study found that the blood cells of women who had spent many years caring for a child with a health condition appeared to be, genetically, about 10 years older than the cells of women whose caretaking responsibilities were less prolonged.

Although the study focused on caregivers, the findings apply to overworked employees, too. “People with other sources of life stress showed similar relationships between their levels of stress and cell aging,” says Elissa Epel, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at UCSF and the study’s lead author.

Stress itself, Epel emphasizes, is neither inherently good nor bad. Instead, how you perceive and react to it determines how it will affect your health. “In the study,” she explains, “the perception of stress was more important than whether one was under the strain of caregiving or not.”

Making your work less stressful doesn’t have to mean leaving it behind for good. (And how many of us can hope to do that, anyway?) Instead, the key is to transform your relationship to the stress so that it no longer overwhelms you. More and more people are discovering that mind-body practices like yoga, qi gong, and meditation can be hugely helpful in shifting the way they react to stress.

How Does Yoga Help With Stress?

You’re likely to feel many of yoga’s benefits the first time you step onto the mat, says Timothy McCall, M.D., an internist and Yoga Journal‘s medical editor. “When you’re doing Downward-Facing Dog, your mind is saying, ‘I want to come down now; my arms are tired,’ but if your teacher tells you to hold the asana a little longer, you find the strength to do it,” he says. “At that point, you realize that you don’t have to respond to every urge you feel. At other times, when your body says it needs to come down, it really needs to. Yoga teaches you to tune in to what your body is telling you and to act accordingly.”

With practice, this awareness will spread into other areas of your life, including your work. “As you learn to separate the urge to act from the reaction, you begin to find that something like a canceled meeting or having a last-minute project handed to you may not rattle you as much as it once did,” says McCall. “You can detect stressors—what Buddhists call the spark before the flame—earlier, then pause long enough to think, ‘Well, maybe I don’t need to respond.'”

That’s what happened for David Freda, a 41-year-old software engineer in Pasadena, California. He had practiced yoga sporadically to help him deal with job-related anxiety in the past, but after he took a new position at an investment company in 1999, he decided to get serious. “I have very high standards as an engineer. As a result, I have a pattern of getting fed up with co-workers and bolting from my jobs,” he says. “When I took this job, I decided to stick it out to see what I could change in myself. I had a strong sense that yoga could help me do that.”

“When I’m doing a challenging posture such as Revolved Triangle [Parivrtta Trikonasana], I can stay in the posture, focus on my breathing, and perhaps not push quite so hard,” he says. “That approach helps me in my job. When I’m confronting someone who is making a bad technical decision, I consider what I could say that would facilitate what I want to achieve. In the past, my emotions would have gotten the best of me, but now people are more inclined to listen and to engage. Even my boss has commented on the changes.”

Read the entire article with many more great insights into how yoga can help you learn to battle workplace and life stress here.

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Yoga Video Tree Pose - Vrksasana
Image by myyogaonline via Flickr

By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

I started practicing yoga about 18 years ago. I was working at a computer all day and went to get my first professional massage. During the massage, my massage therapist lifted my arms over my head to  stretch and I thought, “Wow, I never move my arms anywhere but up to my keyboard and mouse. this arm stretching stuff feels great!” At that time I didn’t stretch much and if I did, it was my legs that I stretched, not my arms or back. She recommended yoga and I joined my first yoga class at the local YMCA.
Through the years, I’ve been able to attend many yoga classes, workshops and do my own home yoga practice. I find yoga not only helpful to my body, but is also very calming, relaxing and stress reducing. Now research shows that practicing yoga actually has a chemical effect on your brain in that it increases levels of a neurotransmitter, GABA, believed to calm the nervous system.

Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine found that for experienced yoga practitioners, brain GABA levels increase by 27% after a session of yoga. This suggests that the practice of yoga should be explored as a treatment for disorders with low GABA levels such as depression and anxiety disorders. Authors of the study conclude that future studies should compare yoga to other forms of exercise to help determine whether yoga or exercise alone can alter GABA levels.

The Study

The sample subjects of the study included of 8 yoga practitioners and 11 comparison subjects. The Yoga practitioners completed a 60-minute yoga session and comparison subjects completed a 60-minute reading session. According to Suite 101, “Magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging conducted before and immediately after each intervention indicated that the yoga practitioners had a 27% increase in GABA levels after the yoga session but no increase after the reading session.”

According to Barry Keate of Arches, Tinninus Formulas, this ability of yoga to increase GABA also has promising applications for sufferers of tinnitus due to its abilility to increase GABA levels. In his article, “How Yoga Increases GABA Levels And Improves Tinnitus” he quotes Dr. Chris Streeter, the lead researcher of the study and a yoga practioner herself about the implications of her study:

Dr. Chris Streeter stated in a newspaper interview “I’m quite sure this is the first study that’s shown there is measurable change in a major brain neurotransmitter with a behavioral intervention such as yoga. What’s really fabulous is this is hard science that is able to clearly document neurochemical changes in the brain.”

Dr. Streeter learned that the National Institutes of Health gave a high score to her research grant proposal for a larger yoga-GABA study and hopes to begin soon. “It will be a much bigger study,” she said. “We will use yoga-naïve people to gauge how regular practice can change GABA levels. It will also include more ability to gauge the positive effects of yoga over time.”

How Do GABA Levels Affect Anxiety and Depression?

Read the excerpt which follows from Laura Owens article in Suite 101, “GABA and Yoga: Decrease Depression and Anxiety: Yoga Boosts Essential Calming Neurotransmitter in Brain”

GABA or gamma-aminobutyric acid is an amino acid made in brain cells from glutamate. It functions as an inhibitory neurotransmitter, meaning it blocks nerve impulses. Without GABA, nerve cells fire too often and too easily. GABA is especially abundant in the cerebral cortex, where thinking occurs and sensations are interpreted, (Jacob J. Schor, N.D. and Rena A. Bloom, N.D.,“GABA: Gamma-Amino Buytric Acid,” Naturopathic Clinic News. Accessed January 14, 2009.)

As one of the primary neurotransmitters, GABA is responsible for inhibitory processes. It elevates the production of alpha waves associated with feeling relaxed (without drowsiness) while boosting mental alertness. Moreover, GABA lowers beta waves that contribute to a state of nervousness, racing thoughts and hyperactivity.

Research, including one study published in the Trends of Pharmacology Science indicate that a dysfunction in the GABA system can contribute to anxiety and depression. (Cryan JF, Kaupmann K, ” ‘B’ happy!: A role for GABA (B) receptors in anxiety and depression.” Trends Pharmacology Science, 2005 January 26 (1):36-43.

Read more at Suite101: GABA and Yoga: Decrease Depression and Anxiety: Yoga Boosts Essential Calming Neurotransmitter in Brain

For an abstract of the actual research on Yoga and GABA, click here.

How Does GABA Effect Tinnitus?

Barry Keates explores research on GABA and tinnitus. Read an excerpt from his article, “How Yoga Increases GABA Levels And Improves Tinnitus” below.

Dr. Andrew Shulman

In 2002, Drs. Abraham Shulman, Arnold Strashun and Barbara Goldstein, from the Martha Entemann Tinnitus Research Center, published a paper describing the common central pathway through the brain through which all tinnitus symptoms must travel. (Shulman A, Strashun A, Goldstein B. GABA-Benzodiazepine-Chloride Receptor-Targeted Therapy for Tinnitus Control. Int Tinnitus J. 2002;8(1):30-6.) This pathway, they determined, is the chemical receptor called gamma-aminobutyric acid-benzodiazepine-chloride receptor (GABA/BZ/Cl) in the medial temporal lobe system. The researchers stated the function of the GABA receptor is to inhibit central nervous system synapse activity.

Deficiency in the GABA receptor is directly related to the worsening of tinnitus, which is marked by increased emotional difficulty, anxiety, stress, depression and fear. Impairment of GABA function also leads to convulsions, which provides clinical support for the concept that tinnitus is an epileptic-like auditory phenomenon.

Read Barry Keates entire article here.

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By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach,  ACSM Personal Trainer

Yoga Journal

I took my very first yoga class about 15 years ago at my local YMCA in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Yoga was not as popular at that time and when I moved to Chicago, I relied on fliers and word of mouth to find a yoga class I enjoyed. Now, like most things, the internet makes it so easy to find a yoga class!

If you are a yoga novice looking for your first class, or if you are new to Chicago and want to find a yoga group that fits your practice, check out Yoga Chicago. Yoga Chicago is a local magazine that has a complete directory of yoga classes in Chicago and surrounding suburbs. They also post articles and info about upcoming workshops and yoga oriented trips.

To view a list of classes in your area, click on this link here.

Read one of the interesting articles in the current issue of Yoga Journal, “Neuroscience, Hatha Yoga and Creativity: A New Paradigm for Teaching” by By Michael McColly. Click here to read his article.

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