Body & Brain Yoga Tai Chi for Holistic Healing
Body & Brain Yoga Tai Chi, a national group of centers with 13 locations in the Chicago area, is a leader in health, wellness, and integrative lifestyle education. Deanna Lee is the manager and head instructor at the Northbrook location, and says that Body & Brain Yoga Tai Chi is a place for people to focus on a healthy mind, body and spirit. “We help clients heal themselves so that they can experience optimal health, more energy, a positive attitude toward life and can be more conscious contributors to the community,” says Deanna.
The inspiration for Body & Brain Yoga Tai Chi is founder Ilchi Lee, a Korean energy healer who used Tao principles and ancient holistic traditions to heal the community. He opened his first studio in Korea in 1985, and while he stays true to the original principles and intentions of these practices, he has modernized and systematized them over time to make them more convenient and adaptable to modern society, now known internationally as brain education. Today, the practice stresses five essential goals. They help people open and cultivate their energy system, develop their full brain potential, understand their true value as a whole person, live for the benefit of others and live life as a journey toward fulfillment and completion.
“Our philosophy is based on the Earth Citizen Movement (EarthCitizen.org), which says that our primary responsibility is to care for the people and the planet. We work together as a community to create a healthier, safer and more sustainable world. The more people are connected to and understand themselves, the better able they are to recognize their impact on the world around them. They are more in control of their relationships, actions, habits, thoughts and emotions, which has ripple effects in their workplace, social groups, family, household and larger community,” says Deanna.
Body & Brain Yoga Tai Chi offers a variety of classes that combine East Asian healing and energy philosophies for overall health and wellness. Their flagship Body & Brain Yoga helps to strengthen, relax and destress the mind and body. The Core Strengthening class supports flexibility and strength in the hips, diaphragm, back and organs, and includes postures to enhance the immune system and improve gut health. The Energy Movement class uses rhythm, sound, tapping and vibration to release stress and tension in the body and brain. Tai chi uses slow, deliberate movements and breathing to help restore balance, circulation and alignment.
The studio also runs regular workshops, tours, retreats, and other special programs, including book groups and participating in community events such as the Body, Mind, Spirit Expo. “Our main workshop is focused on emotional healing and letting go of stress in the mind, which can create blockages in the body and affect relationships. We have more advanced courses that help people release their blockages through acupressure, meditation and energy healing, and also offer private sessions where clients can work one-on-one with a practitioner using life particle healing, which is similar to reiki,” states Deanna.
The studio encourages students to take small breaks to recharge and relax. They offer a free app, called One Minute Change (ChangeYourEnergy.com/1MinChange/Chicago) to set reminders throughout the day. People can tailor the app to help with stress relief, weight management, core strength, stretching and deep breathing. “The app is a way to incorporate simple, practical tools into your busy lifestyle, and helps to mindfully and intentionally reset, whether that’s one minute of quiet or one minute of movement,” says Deanna.
Students can sign up for monthly or annual memberships, buy 10-class punch cards or just drop in. “Most people enjoy the accountability that comes with going to a studio. They owners and instructors greet them by name and they feel part of a community with the other students. Our smaller class sizes allow for personal attention, guidance and feedback,” explains Deanna. The studio offers classes seven days a week, including evening classes to accommodate busy schedules.
Lee acknowledges that some of the ancient practices and beliefs can be easily shared with people of any background, but stresses that it all comes back to focusing inward, not just paying attention to physical health and conditioning only. “We see holistic health as a lifestyle that includes the body, thoughts, spirit, emotions, connection to self and community. Focusing outward on external factors depletes your energy and can make the chakras and the body weak. When you are centered and grounded internally, then you are able to help others and be a positive force in the community,” says Deanna.
Carrie Jackson is an Evanston-based writer and frequent contributor to Natural Awakenings magazine. Connect with her at CarrieJacksonWrites.com.