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Aligning Your Body and Mind at Prairie Yoga

By Marina I. Jokic

Initially starting as an exclusive yoga teacher training program, Prairie Yoga in Lisle, Illinois opened its doors to the larger community in 2009 with a permanent base. Owner and director Lori Gaspar wanted to not only cultivate the best yoga instructors in the Midwest, but also open up her studio to anyone who wished to learn. Currently, the studio teaches a wide variety of yoga classes as well as offers continuing education workshops for teachers.

After two years of churning out highly skilled yoga instructors using various rented spaces across the city, Gaspar knew it was time to plant her roots and establish a permanent operation. Opening the Lisle studio in 2009, Prairie Yoga's collection of classes was now accessible to everyone, not just aspiring teachers. Gaspar chose to employ the very people she had trained to head up her classes, and provided continuing yoga workshops for them. The classes span the major yoga schools and also offer tailored instruction for people with certain physical restrictions like scoliosis, for instance.

Prairie Yoga is well known for its top tier instruction, having trained over five hundred teachers and developed a rigorous curriculum. "We have a reputation for training the very best yoga teachers and many other studios seek us out and hire the instructors we train," notes Gaspar. With satellite programs in multiple cities in Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana, Prairie Yoga boasts a talented group of instructors.

Rooted in the yogic discipline, Prairie Yoga also explores new advances in other forms of mindful movement, biomechanics, and body alignment. "We provide clear instruction with a strong emphasis on healthy body alignment and self-awareness," Gaspar adds. Students who complete the teacher training become skilled at adapting the practice of yoga to particular body types or health issues. In addition to teaching regular students, they teach seniors, cancer survivors, and people with lower back and hip issues. "Teachers that graduate from our program are skilled at individualizing the instruction for your needs, even in a group class," emphasizes Gaspar.

"We lift each other up," Gaspar says of the students and teachers at Prairie Yoga. The atmosphere at Prairie Yoga is supportive rather than competitive, intended to promote learning and self-reflection rather than just rivalry. "In addition to learning about yoga, deepening their own personal practice and learning how to teach yoga to others, the training helps students discover their strengths and find their purpose in life," describes Gaspar.

Practicing yoga can strengthen the body and also spur people to turn inward. "Many students say the training transformed their lives for the better," says Gaspar. For instance, yoga has an eight-fold path that includes ethical guidelines, breathing exercises, postures, and meditation techniques, which Prairie Yoga tries to incorporate into their lessons. Gaspar sees the mental and physical aspects of yoga as inextricably intertwined, and should one be separated from the other, it is not genuine yoga.

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