This week I sat down with Mindy O’Keefe to talk about her yoga journey and teaching experience. Mindy completed her teacher training in 2010 at Chicago Yoga Center under the guidance of Suddha Weixler. She has practiced and extensively studied Ashtanga, Forrest, Yin, Restorative and Vinyasa styles of yoga. Mindy brings a grounding and nurturing presence to her classes that emanates from her friendly approach. Wonderfully balanced, her classes always include a bit of mindful flow along with attention to the more subtle aspects of the practice.
Mindy teaches weekly Hatha classes on Wednesdays (9:15a-10:30a) and Fridays (9:00a-10:15a) (click here to register!). She also leads a Monthly Restorative class on the Third Friday of every month (click here for more details or to sign up for the next one!). Here is our conversation.
TYC: How would you describe your teaching style?
MO: My teacher training was in classical Hatha and Ashtanga yoga, including all of the eight-limbs (guidelines for health, wellness and community), with a huge emphasis on anatomy, safety and alignment, meditation and mindfulness. The ultimate goal being greater understanding of ourselves and our connections to each other. In other words, freedom from self-inflicted suffering. I hope my teaching style reflects my training!
TYC: How were you first introduced to yoga?
MO: My first yoga experience was when I was pregnant with my 2nd child. I was looking for a pre-natal exercise class and decided to drop in. I couldn’t believe how great I felt afterward..I was hooked!
TYC: When did you first become a teacher and why?
MO: I became a teacher in 2010 after having stayed home raising my 3 children for a number of years. Yoga had helped me and my family successfully weather the many bumps involved with everyday life, as well as a number of significant losses and hardships. I was, and am, incredibly grateful. When it was time to think about going back to work, I asked myself what I would do if I could anything. I decided it would be to pass on as much yoga as I could. If I could spark an ounce of the benefits that I had received, then I would feel that I had been successful.
TYC: What are the top three things you’d like your students to learn from your classes?
MO: 1) Abdominal breathing is the secret to good physical, mental and emotional health! It is also the one way that we can influence the autonomic nervous system (meaning, through proper breathing we can optimize the systems of the body).
2) Yoga is a metaphor for life..that we can achieve absolutely anything, even those things that we are most afraid of, through smaller steps, bravery and education.
3) That each and every one of us is perfect the way we are 🙂
TYC: What do you love about the community of students at The Yoga Centre?
MO: The Yoga Centre is a warm and incredibly thoughtful and intelligent community. I really appreciate the fun-loving and non-competitive, supportive environment that is this community.
TYC: What else would you like The Yoga Centre community to know about you?
MO: I am an avid gardener, Farm-To-Tabler, and cook and right now I am very busy canning the fall harvest!
TYC: I love that! What’s for dinner tonight?
MO: Quinoa wild rice burgers (click here for recipe!) with some homemade cucumber raita (yogurt, chopped cucumber, minced garlic and mint). Served on a sprouted bun with a side of garam masala sweet potato fries.