Skip to main content

Find a Class for All Levels at Buffalo Grove Yoga Studio

Sep 28, 2011 09:30AM ● By Peggy Malecki

“I am proud of the diversity of what we offer,” says Yoga Coordinator Nickie Silk, of Avani Yoga, a part of the Highland Park Hospital Health and Fitness Center (HPHHFC), in Buffalo Grove. “Many fitness facilities offer just yoga, but here, people know exactly what level they are walking into. We really do operate like a freestanding yoga studio.”

Avani offers 18 yoga sessions per week for all experience levels, including hatha, Kundalini, Gentle Yoga, alignment-based yoga and Anusara®, as well as special events and guest teachers. Ten instructors instruct club members and also many non-members that come strictly for the yoga experience. Classes are taught in Avani’s spacious studio, located in a separate area of the building, adjacent to the club’s Pilates room. Both studios are near the front entrance, self-contained with changing areas and restrooms.

“People walk into the Avani studio and say, ‘WOW!’ says Executive Director Julie Polovick. “Everyone really loves this room. Members take great pride in this place as a studio and are happy that is has been kept ‘sacred,’ and is used only for yoga.”

“Students come from all over because they like to practice in this space,” adds Silk, who has been with the studio since 2007. Decorated in calming colors and lit by studio and natural lighting, the room was specifically designed to be airy and comfortable for both cooler- and warmer-temperature yoga practices.

Silk and Polovick believe the quality and diversity of instructors is one of the biggest draws and benefits. The teachers offer classes from Level I to III, working on an individual basis to meet specific needs. Many instructors, says Silk, have backgrounds that include physical therapy and therapeutic training.

To match students to instructors, Silk talks with new students, learning about their yoga experience and physical condition, in order to find a class best suited to their needs and fitness goals. “I will steer the student so their first yoga experience is something that will bring them back again,” she says. “I also talk with the instructor in advance, so they know how to work with the student.”

“Our Gentle classes are great for people just starting out (in yoga).” Silk continues. “It’s a less scary type of yoga for someone new, but they actually do work, helping to strengthen and release stress and tension.” Avani’s Gentle classes focus on stretching, careful strengthening and breath awareness. Poses are modified to accommodate all levels, often using props to both aid and challenge the students. The exercises are suitable for those with limited mobility and chronic conditions, as well as for serious athletes coming off an injury or cross-training.

For those looking for a more challenging yoga practice, Silk recommends the Anusara classes, taught by an instructor certified in this structural alignment style of yoga. “Anusara is not offered by many studios, and it is a lengthy process to become a certified teacher,” explains Silk. “These classes are at a higher level for more experienced yoga practitioners, and can help students advance and do poses they may never have dreamed they could do.”

Polovick states that the yoga studio has evolved from being mostly a place for true yoga practitioners to including offerings of interest to more Center members, adding that the oldest student is 93-years-young. “We’re tapping more into men, seniors and many people who have never done yoga before. Students love the fact that they can take Gentle Yoga three times a week, and yet each class is different, because of different instructors.”

Polovick has worked with the HPHHFC since 2000, starting as a personal trainer and later, as the personal training supervisor and fitness manager. She recently celebrated her fourth anniversary as executive director. Polovick believes Avani Yoga fits into a perfect niche at the facility, helping to round out its offerings, as it encourages both personal and group exercise.

“People will achieve their fitness goals better in a group and when committing to a class,” she says. “People come and try new yoga classes and talk about it in the locker room. Then others will try the class. It gets people out of the mode that, ‘All I can do is go in the pool or on the track.’”

In addition to weekly classes, Avani has gained a reputation for its strong workshops and special events, including master classes by experts like Gabriel Halpern. This coming winter, Silk hopes to expand its offerings, featuring monthly workshops taught by their own instructors and others well known in the area.

Silk and Polovick say their current Friday evening special event series, Living Soundtrack Yoga, has gained a large following due to its unique and fun nature. This free monthly event is open to the public and includes a guided yoga practice accompanied by live music from award-winning composer and performer Yogi Rich Maisel. “Based on the flow of the practice and tone of the instructor,” says Silk, “Maisel does an impromptu accompaniment to the yoga. He goes with the flow of the class. It’s really a great way to end the week.”

Avani Yoga is part of the Highland Park Hospital Health and Fitness Center, located at 1501 Busch Pkwy, Buffalo Grove. For more information, call 847-229-0292 or visit