November 12, 2009

Holiday Schedule

Seems like we just reluctantly said goodbye to summer and suddenly the Holiday Season is upon us.
We are fortunate this year that none of the traditionally celebrated holidays fall on any of our regularly scheduled classes, so for the first time in a long time I'm happy to say that there will be NO cancelled classes for this holiday season. Yeah!
The Wednesday night class before Thanksgiving is a great time to rev up the metabolism for the feasting that follows. In addition, the classes during the holiday season will be focused on stress reducing, deep breathing, and joy seeking. Don't miss out!
Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice or the arrival of the New Year, may this time be a reflection on the good in your life and in your heart. Again this year the holidays symbolize an opportunity to connect with the ones we love and to what is really important in our lives. As this season can bring out increased emotions and sometimes be quite stressful, please remember to take the time to breathe.....literally! Set aside a little time each day for stillness and you will find this time even more enjoyable. A blessed holiday season to you all!

November 04, 2009

Loving Kindness

This month brings a new closing inpirational quote for our classes. Since it's a little challenging I thought I'd write it down for you so that you can take more energy to absorb it's meaning and vibration and less to just hearing it. Of course we will have this closing for several months so it will become easier with time. Namaste

Put away all hindrances. Let your mind, full of love, pervade one quarter of the world, and so too the second quarter, and so the third, and so the fourth. And thus the whole wide world, above, below, around and everywhere, altogether continue to pervade with love-filled thought, abounding, sublime, beyond measure, free from hatred and ill-will.

Adapted from the Digha Nikaya

October 10, 2009


Lately I've been asking myself, "Is it me or is it getting noisier in here?" But all jesting aside, I have noticed a trend towards more noise of many varieties in yoga classes lately. Sometimes it's the loud slapping of a mat against the floor, especially apparent when a participant is late. Or maybe it's the chatter before class that on occasion seems to escalate into a dim roar. Although I highly encourage community and freedom of expression in classes, I also want to remind you that this is a sacred space, and for some participants, their only quiet sanctuary in a very noisy world. So to help us all come back to the relative quietude, here's some friendly suggestions.

1) Pre-Class Chatter. I love that you all want to communicate with each other. So plan an outing after class! Some of you have done this and find it to be really fun! And please try to keep pre-class chatter not only soft, but pertinent to the practice. Politics of any kind is banned! Try to use the time before class to do some prep work for your practice such as warming up, practicing some clarifying breathing (Nadhi shodana perhaps?) and calm down from your day. You will get much more out of your practice. And if you must communicate vociferously with someone, perhaps go in the hallway as to not disturb others.

2) Coughing, Sneezing and Other Bodily Functions. While we can't always control a cough or sneeze (or other bodily functions) do your best to handle them appropriately. There will of course be an increase in sneezing etc. as the winter rolls in, so practice safe sneezing and for Pete’s sake cover your mouth!(an elbow is best for this). And there really is no need to say "bless you" to someone everytime they sneeze or cough. They are already blessed, divine beings! If you think you may still be contagious, please don’t share…...stay home and heal. We will send you blessings from class for a speedy recovery.

3) Verbal Utterances. While I encourage you all to really FEEL the shifts and awarenesses in your body as you practice, it's not always desirable for you to share your feelings verbally with the class. Yawning is a sign you are not breathing properly, or you need some sleep. Not so significant in and of itself, but when we are in the middle of a thought provoking practice a yawn can come across as rude and inappropriate. Please be aware of how your yawns, moans, groans, comments etc. are being received by the rest of the class and your instructor. Although Yoga is a journey within, we are still practicing as a community...please be mindful of respecting the peacefulness of others in that community.

4) Questions. I love, love, love questions! I think it shows a real desire to learn and I’m always excited to see if there is a way I can help you understand the practice better. But like everything else there is a time and a place for questions. The very best time is during a private yoga lesson. That gives you the opportunity to have one on one time with your instructor and cover every single thing you may want to. If that’s not an option, then try to remember your question for when the class is finished, or perhaps ask it before the class starts. As most of you know there is a flow to the class that is an important building block for the energy flow, physical awareness, and mental clarity. It’s best to not interrupt that flow if possible.

So here’s the thing. We all want to get the most out of our practice. I want you to get the most out of your practice. So practice with gusto, but remember to check in now and again with the principles of the Yamas and Niyamas (codes for living soulfully and ethically with others as well as ourselves.) Peace and Namaste.

September 15, 2009

Welcome to Fall

Well, it's interesting. Even though the calendar says it's September I believe the weather has been warmer than in August! Believe me, I'm not complaining. I love it! But the gently turning leaves, and the already shorter days remind me that indeed Fall approaches. Fall is a beautiful time and I encourage all of you to embrace it. It it natures way of slowing down from the frenetic pace of an active summer...a season when we often feel we have to get in as much as possible before it ends.

As we enter into Fall there will be some wonderful yoga to be experienced. The classes will remain the same time and format, but I will really be focusing more on staying true to the level the class is listed as. For example, there have been several Tuesday nights when only intermediate students showed for a beginning level class. So, my teaching bumped up to an intermediate level. Seemed reasonable at the time, but I feel it's really important to remain true to how the class is posted. That way a new student can feel free to start at anytime, and a returning student can know that if they want their practice to be a little lighter they can attend the beginning level class. As a reminder, Monday is Open Level, which means anyone who has studied yoga before is welcomed. It is not intended for first time participants, but will accommodate them if there is no other option. Tuesday is the Beginning Level class, and it will stay at an inviting slower pace. Returning students are very welcomed to this class to refine their practice and work at a deeper spiritual level. And of course Wednesday is the Intermediate Level class and will always include challenging asanas, inversions and more advanced pranayama techniques. Students are encouraged to study for at least 3 years before attending this class.

Having said all that, I am really looking forward to some exciting and enriching yoga this season and into the next. I have a few interesting ideas up my sleeve... :-)

Let's all take time to feel the pace of nature and bring a little more breath into our practice and our lives. Fall can also be a wonderful time to show gratitude for all the riches of our lives, the beauty that surrounds us, and the deep connections we have to those we love.

May this season bring you a harvest of joy....

August 12, 2009

Vacation Time

It has been a delightful summer of study. There has been wonderful participation in such classes as Sensory with Gong, Yin Yoga, Inversion Workshop, Pranayama and Chant, Partner Yoga, and many more. Thank you all for your willingness to participate in new and different focuses. It is a wonderful way to expand our awareness, learn new techniques, and perhaps face and conquer some fears. Those of you that participated in the specialty classes should be quite proud of yourselves!

We still have a couple more coming up. This Friday (8/14) is the special Dance of Yoga Workshop. It should prove to be a really wonderful evening. Find more info on the webpage calendar. Go to, then click on Adult Yoga, scroll down to find the calendar, click on the class for more info. And, last but not least, Tuesday the 18th is Restorative with Gong Bath. Plan on leaving class blissed out!!

The following week (August 24-26) I will be on vacation so there will be no classes. Perhaps boost your home practice this week! As we move into fall I look forward to another season of learning, breathing, expanding and exploring. Let's enjoy the rest of summer and look well to approaching season....

July 08, 2009

Important Class Update

I hope you are all enjoying summer! I've seen many of you at regular class and some of the specialty classes. We've had some great experiences up to this point (Restorative, Partner, Chakras, Moon Salutations) and I'm looking forward to many more!(Sensory with Gong, Yoga by the Lake, Yin Yoga to name a few) There is one change to the specialty class calendar that you need to know. The Inversion Workshop was scheduled for August 19th, but because so many of you said you couldn't make it that date I've switched it to August 12th. Please make a note of it...

Also a reminder about the Special Workshop on Friday August 14th. We'll start with a super fun Yoga Dance class, follow it with Yoga Discussion, and finish the evening with a veggie pot luck. The evening will begin at 6p.m. and go until 9-ish. The cost is $20 and a veggie dish for the pot luck dinner. Sign up at the studio or send me an email. Please sign up by July 24th....I envision this to be a wonderful gathering of all my students, a chance for us to work together, breathe together, play together, eat together and share those deep philosophical thoughts!

So here's to summer, a chance to have some fun exploring different aspects of yoga, and connecting with the wonderful community of yogis and yoginis you share this beautiful practice with. Thank you all for sharing your practice with me.


June 17, 2009

The Adventures of Yolanda the Yogini ....... by Ranya Verson

Yolanda had been doing yoga for 18 years or so when she first discovered her super powers. She was a devote yogini, first training under one of the most established teachers in Chicago, moving on to receive a certificate to teach yoga herself and finally finding Tracy Von Kaenel as her ultimate inspiration for claiming her super powers at last.

When Yolanda first began her adventure in yoga, many things hurt. Her lower back constantly pinched and ached, her neck and shoulders screamed and her over-flexibility met praise and accolade, in spite of imminent danger. Like many yogis and yoginis alike, she was a devoted student, making slow but steady progress, completely unaware of her super powers.

When she learned how to use her breath properly, she thought she had found her super power. Although extremely useful, she was to discover that breath alone would not lubricate her limbs into alignment with her core. When Yolanda got certified, she discovered a modicum of upper body strength and was able to do chattaranga with increasing ease. Much to her chagrin, chattaranga did not enable her to transcend into the power and release of a meditative flow. Then Yolanda met Tracy V. Tracy V., a super hero herself, was not forthcoming of where precisely to locate a yoginis super powers. She surely demonstrated super powers and taught her students in the hopes that all her yogis and yoginis would find their super powers, but alas, many wonderful tears and releases later, but still no magic flow.

Then one day Yolanda opened her closet and starring right in front of her was her Bolivian wool blanket that she heroically captured while running over the boarder from Peru to Bolivia in search of much needed warmth from the chilly Andean air. Without a thought, Yolanda toted this blanket to Tracy V's yoga class .

When the blanket appeared in yoga class, her fellow yoginis were suspicious, not to mention a tad jealous. Tracy V. noticed the blanket and named it bankie. Yolanda’s class mates teased her because of bankie in spite of a secret desire to get close to it. With bankie at her side and without warning, she began to feel and move differently.

Then, one day without thought or effort, Yolanda engaged her core, aligned her limbs and stretched into a glorious Warrior One pose. Bankie was at her side. Another evening, Yolanda’s classmates became concerned about the increasing temperature of the room. Yolanda, with a reptilian-craving for warmth, shivered with dread when someone requested that a fan be turned on. The sensation was enough to throw her yoga practice into the toilet, yet she imagined bankie thrown over the fans in the room and completed her “impossible” last chattaranga within form and without collapsing. After following Tracy V, in her re-energized, super-sweaty, Spring sessions, Yolanda welcomed savasana with new meaning as she laid bankie down, creating a cocoon for relaxation. She traveled to an unknown place and deep relaxation that is not of this world.

With bankie at her side, Yolanda can journey to places that she has not gone before. The illusive and hard won, meditative flow is within her reach. Yolanda has found her super powers.

Where do your super powers lurk?

May 06, 2009

Important Class Updates

Summer is right around the corner and with it comes a couple adjustment to the regular schedule. Most of you know that I am a performer in the acrobatic/aerial dance company AMEBA and our concert this year is June 4-6 and 12-13. Due to numerous technical and dress rehearsal before the concert I need to cancel a few classes. So, here's the scoop. If you would like more information on the concert check out It's a great show...something for everyone, tickets are cheap, and if you go with a group of 10 or more they are even cheaper! The show usually sells out early, especially for the second weekend, so if you are interested in coming, get tickets quick!
Thanks for your support and understanding. I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

Classes will be cancelled the following days:
Monday May 25th--in observance of the Memorial Day Holiday
Tuesday June 2nd
Wednesday June 3rd

Stay tuned for more information about the specialty classes for summer! And keep sending in those ideas....

April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day...April 22 2010 !

My favorite quote for Earth Day is simply "Everyday is Earth Day" by an unknown author. Indeed, if we treated Mother Earth in this manner things would be very different today. But as spring flowers are blooming and the trees budding and the chirp of birds returning I find I am still very passionate about the beauty of this Earth, despite the dire situation we've put her in. Passionate enough to try and live everyday as if it were Earth Day. Here are a few more quotes that I love, as well as a few ways to help keep Mother Earth happy.....Have a blessed Earth Day!

"Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed." Mahatma Ghandi, Spiritual Leader 1869-1948

"I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in." John Muir, Preservationist 1838-1914

"To see a world in a grain of sand, And a heaven in a wild flower, Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, And eternity in an hour." William BlakePoet, painter1757-1827

Some "green" tips:

Consider going vegetarian, at least occasionally. There is more toxic waste produced from animal fields, slaughter, processing, and distribution that there is pollution from passenger cars. And besides, going veggie is paramount in the practice of of the first rules of yoga..."non harming".

Shop everywhere with re-usable bags. Some stores even offer you a discount if you bring your own bag. And some are now offering to plant a tree if you purchase one of their re-usable bags.

Turn off the water when you brush your teeth, or combine teeth brushing with showering.

Collect the running bath water while you wait for it to heat up for your shower. You can use it on plants, to wash dishes, or the next time you flush the toilet.

Recycle your old yoga mat. They make great sticky strips for drawers, closets, or shoe racks. They provide extra cushioning on a hard chair. You can also cut it into really small pieces and use it for packaging padding. (remember to tell the recipient of your package to re-use it too!)

Don't throw away that junk mail. Much of it can be used for scratch paper!

Wash out freezer baggies and re-use them. I find I can get at least 10 uses out of one bag before it's spent. Saves money too!

Switch to organic, eco friendly products wherever you can. It really makes a big impact. And pretty soon the farmers markets will be them and support sustainability!

Go to Uncommon Ground on Devon Ave and order a "tree-tini". For every '"tree-tini" purchased a tree is planted....and it's yummy too!

However you celebrate Earth Day, I hope you do it with a smile! That too makes the Earth a much better place!

March 11, 2009


This poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson has a simple but important message. In this time of great uncertainty about the future, this reminds us to not only be here now, but to really enjoy the now. Have a great day!

Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year. He is rich who owns the day. And no-one owns the day who allows it to be invaded with fret and anxiety. Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in. Forget them as soon as you can, tomorrow is a new day. Begin it well and serenely, with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your own nonsense. This new day is too dear, with its hope and invitations, to waste a moment on the yesterdays.
***Ralph Waldo Emerson

February 09, 2009

Have You Tried YOGASSAGE?

In case you haven't heard, I'm now offering a special practice called Yogassage! Yogassage is comprised of passive yoga stretching (meaning you lay there, I gently stretch you), acupressure, a little Reiki, a little traditional massage, a little meditation, a little chakra balancing, and a whole lot of tension release. It's very similar to Thai Yoga Massage, but with added stuff (Tracy style). Sessions are done on the padded floor, you stay fully clothed, and they last about an hour to an hour and 1/4. The fee is $85 a session. You will leave feeling soothed, refreshed and relaxed.

Here's what some Yogassage recipients are saying:

"Yogassage is a truly unique, therapeutic, wonderful form of body relaxation! It really ought to be called YogAHHHssage. I liked so much about it: the combination of beneficial elements that Tracy (and ONLY Tracy!) knows how to employ; the fact that it is not entirely passive (There is no risk of falling asleep and drooling or snoring, during a yogassage session!). With her extensive knowledge of the entire body, glandular and muscular-skeletal points, Tracy addresses very gently all regions, tip to toe. I had not requested work on any particular problem area nor muscle strain, but it is apparent that this kind of relaxation therapy would be quite helpful for sore muscles. I did find it to be very relaxing, releasing, healing and pampering. Afterwards, I felt distinctly soothed, invigorated and cleansed! I would absolutely recommend this to anyone----it is a delightfully innovative, highly effective experience! I look forward to my next yogahhhssage!" Miriam Sturm
"I've had a variety of massages across the globe and always like to try out new treatments. I'd recommend Yogassage for dancers, yogis, and other active people who exercise regularly. I don't think it would be a good option for people who are out of touch with their bodies as they probably don't know how to relax! There's something unique about how the stretches and manipulated adjustments lead to relaxation verses a Swedish massage where it's motionless. The closest examples of similar massages would be Thai or Shiatsu. By relaxing and giving into the movement, a deeper relaxation is achieved than typical massage. Still, it's completely relaxing since the practitioner is doing all the work and the recipient is passive. I think a few sessions will ultimately help anyone's yoga practice as one benefit is a better understanding of the range and limits of movement. I'd recommend Yogassage to all your students, friend, and family as a way to both be pampered and learn a little more about their own bodies." Sona

"Yogassage: Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh! What more is there to say? Tracy’s Yogassage is unlike anything I’ve experienced before. A large part of Yogassage is Tracy moving your body in Yoga or yoga-like movements while you’re on the floor. The more you relax, the more she can move you deeper than you can go by yourself. This sounds scary, but it feels wonderful and I have felt released, not sore, afterwards.

I’ve had three Yogassages so far. Twice I’ve gone because of shoulder pain and stiffness in my neck (not surprising considering this winter!). Once I went for general tuning and relaxation. After each Yogassage I feel like I’m floating, and the tightness and pain are gone. It’s difficult to decide if I should stay for Yoga afterwards (which I’ve done twice and have felt an amazing level of fluidity and joy), or if I should go home and wrap myself in the peace that follows the Yogassage.

I think the critical element of Tracy’s Yogassage is Tracy. The same compassion and strength/gentleness and knowledge that are the hallmark of Tracy’s yoga teaching style come through in her Yogassage technique. She just KNOWS where I need work. I think the biggest responsibility we as Yogassage recipients have is to make sure we tell Tracy beforehand of any injuries or medical issues we have so the level of massage will be appropriate.

I found that I got more out of the 2nd Yogassage, and even more out of the 3rd, because I knew what to expect and was able to relax into them more. Can’t wait for the next one!"
Renee Schwartz

So why not treat yourself to a Yogassage session soon? Just contact me anyway that's convenient to set up an appointment. I'm looking forward to seeing you soon!