Refining Perception

by Erin Ipjian


Above all else, I think yoga is a collection of techniques designed to help us see with greater clarity. Breath and movement are excellent tools in yoga’s toolbox, but perhaps an even more direct method to ease the suffering our minds create is meditation.

I do my very best to start every morning like this - quiet, before anyone else in the house wakes up and before I let any of the outside world in. I don’t believe meditation is an escape from life. Bad things will still happen: illness, difficult conversations and situations, but if we can catch quiet times every day, I think we can gain greater control over how we perceive those inevitable challenges. It’s a never-ending practice and it helps to have a teacher to help you start, restart, or support your meditation practice.

This month, join experienced meditation teachers and practitioners Polly and Chuck as they kick off our four week meditation series at Evolution Yoga. Explore mindfulness awareness and mantra meditation techniques in a supportive group setting. Sign up at so we can save you a seat. ❤️

Happy International Day of Yoga!

by Erin Ipjian


People have been moving, breathing, sitting in stillness, and observing - in other words, practicing yoga - for thousands of years. How lucky am I that I happen to be one of those who discovered this beautiful practice and - even better - have been able to make it my life’s work?

On today, the International Day of Yoga, here are the top 4 lessons that I continue to learn from my daily practice and aim to bake into every class I teach:

1. You are not your body. Move your body, challenge it, explore, but please don’t ever forget - you are not your body. Don’t use this practice to sculpt, flatten, or reshape. Use it as a celebration of the incredible gift you have been given. Move as a way to root out dysfunction when possible, to build resilience, and to fully embody the precious container through which you experience this life. Your body is a gift. Treat it accordingly.

2. You are not your mind. This lesson is trickier than #1. Here’s why. Your mind is the lens through which you view and interpret the world. It will misperceive, misunderstand, and compare. It is capable of incredible creativity and innovation. It is also capable of overriding the truth and fueling destruction, as history constantly reminds us. Don’t believe everything you think. In fact, examine everything you think. Hold it up to the light of discernment. Spend time in silence, notice how your mind moves and the unconscious patterns it continually returns to.

3. Know that you are connected to everyone and everything around you. In short, their pain is your pain. Their joy is your joy. Life is not about getting ahead. It’s about fully connecting to who you are, for real, at your core, and sharing that with the world and everyone around you. Be vulnerable and honest and seek connection with those who do the same.

4. Keep practicing. It’s really easy to not make time for #1 and #2. We all get busy. It’s also really easy to forget #3. This practice only works if we continually return to it. You are never done learning. You are never done practicing. You are never done evolving. There is always a greater understanding to uncover.

Happy International Day of Yoga, dear yogis. See you on the mat.

Yoga & Movement

by Erin Ipjian


Much of modern yoga practice centers on movement. Attentive movement focuses our mind, soothes our nervous system, and is vital to living well. It’s the perfect entry point to the practice of yoga.

But, here’s the thing - ultimately yoga is not about movement. It’s not about sticking the pose. The pose is a tool, not a goal.

I think of yoga asana as a method of recalibrating the body and reigniting our awareness so that we can more effectively sit still with ourselves. The real beauty of this practice is that it provides us with a method to quiet the incessant chatter in our minds. It guides us towards the vast openness that lies underneath. That is what I hope to share with my students. And it is what keeps me coming back to this practice day after day.

Yoga for Clarity

by Erin Ipjian


All of the techniques of yoga - movement, breath, meditation - are really designed with one goal in mind: to free ourselves from the ways in which we fail to see clearly.
The om symbol itself is a beautiful and succinct visual representation of our states of consciousness and the veil that obscures our perception.
The premise is something like this: many of us live in illusion, misunderstanding who we are, misidentifying ourselves with the little “I.” We think too small. We unconsciously move through the world from a place of separateness, filtering each moment through a mind jumbled with old ways of thinking picked up along the course of our lives.

Yoga, on the other hand, gives us the tools to break free, to see ourselves and those around us for who we truly are without judgment, and to move forward in our lives with newfound clarity. All that is required is our dedication to the practice. See you on the mat, Evolution yogis. ❤️
my teaching schedule:
Tuesday’s 9:30-10:45am / mixed levels
Thursday’s 9:30-10:45am / mixed levels
Sunday 12:00-1:00pm / intro to yoga
(all at @evolutionyogaglenview )

Yoga & Grief

by Erin Ipjian


This week has been tough. My lovely grandmother passed away on Thursday at the age of 96. She was amazing. Right up until a few months ago, when a cascade of events began that ultimately led to her passing, she lived independently. With the help of her children, she lived on her own, cooked and prepared her own meals. She was engaged with the world, stayed on top of current events, and never stopped learning. She read books on her kindle until she couldn’t see the text anymore. She spent most of her time with or talking about her beloved family.
She, along with my late grandfather, was a major part of the village that raised me. On days when my parents both worked, they would pick me up from school and bring me home or to any activity I had that day, often ice skating lessons. On days I had skating, she and my grandfather would watch from behind the glass and he’d comment on my “triple lindies” (not the technical term :)) She always supported me, through all sorts of career and life transitions.
She lived through a lot - immigrating to the US from Northern Ireland when she was 6, losing her mom when she was 11, the Great Depression, World War Two, and the untimely deaths of two of her grandchildren. All these experiences made her who she was - incredibly resilient and completely in love with being with her family.
I feel so fortunate that she was a part of my daughters’ lives. She would sit with them for hours, totally invested in whatever fantasy world or game they had conjured up that day. My oldest daughter loved to talk with her about her childhood home in Ireland, how - as a little girl - she would pick buttercups to give to her mom, wash her doll’s clothes in the brook by her home, and help her mother churn butter to sell in town.
So, for right now, my practice is to make space for my grief and try to do the same for my girls. It sits like a dull ache at the center of my chest. And then there are moments where an understanding emerges — that my grandmother’s life and her relationship with me and my daughters was a gift. And part of what makes that gift so precious is that it can’t last forever, at least in a physical sense. ❤️

Letting Go

by Erin Ipjian


One of our responsibilities as yogis is to continually scan the stories and mental patterns (samskaras) that shape the lens through which we perceive the world. .
Unless we live in a cave, it’s nearly impossible to move through life without picking up a collection of viewpoints and conditioning. By adulthood, our lens of perception (citta), can become quite muddied. Some of us spend our entire lives never examining these patterns, only making them stronger by continually revisiting them.
Yoga, on the other hand, challenges us to disrupt our patterns, to discern whether our mental loops are true or useful, and to let go of the ones that do not serve us.
And though it may seem easier to not do the work, the benefit of remaining dedicated to our practice is huge. Over time, we begin to shed our samskaras. We become more adept at meeting the world with greater clarity, authenticity, and openness. This is where life starts to get really good. We begin to effortlessly create and express what we were meant to share with the world. We become steady and sure of ourselves. We get out of our own way. We fulfill our dharma. .
This is what drives us to return, again and again, to our mats. Thank you, as always, for doing the work and choosing to practice with us, Evolution yogis. We’ll see you in class.

Finding Balance

by Erin Ipjian


Each time we come to the mat, yoga invites us to engage in an exploration of opposing forces. A well-crafted practice will draw us to center - the place where we are neither too far in one direction or the other. One of yoga's most commonly explored pairings is that of steady, persistent effort (abhyasa) on the one hand, and non-attachment to the end-result (vairagya) on the other. 

Steady, persistent effort, without the pairing of non-attachment, sends us into an endless cycle of seeking more and more, where nothing is ever enough. Complete non-attachment, devoid of effort, on the other hand, leads to inertia. Finding the balance between these two is challenging to say the least, and that's exactly why yoga is a lifelong endeavor.

So, here's to endeavoring to strike the perfect balance -- coming back to the mat, again and again, engaging in this beautiful practice, softening into acceptance, and noticing how the balance plays out beyond the mat.

Moving into Stillness

by Erin Ipjian


One of the greatest gifts a dedicated yoga practice offers us is greater skill in moving towards stillness. Like a tumultuous body of water, swirling with sand and sediment, the mind has the inclination to become clouded by thoughts. Many of us are rarely fully present in our lives: the body is in one place, while the mind is someplace else entirely. According to the yogis, this creates suffering.

While yoga is constantly evolving, some things never change. For thousands of years, yogis have been exploring practical and effective ways to still the mind, allowing us to become full participants in all of the beauty life has to offer. 

There are many tools in yoga's toolbox that can take us to this place. You'll see the breadth of those in our offerings here on our schedule at Evolution Yoga. Our wish is that, through the practices of movement, breath, and meditation, you'll regularly touch this place of stillness and clarity and watch as it disperses throughout your life off the mat.

In addition to our weekly classes, we have some wonderful offerings coming up, including:  Yoga Nidra Systematic Relaxation , beginning this Thursday 2/7, Family Yoga this Saturday 2/9, Restorative Yoga  this Sunday 2/10,  and the  Moving into Stillness Workshop later this month on 2/24. And remember that we offer Yin Yoga twice a week at Evolution. This is a practice that you can enjoy on an ongoing basis that promotes self-realization, relaxation, and a chance to experience meditation while practicing asana.

Intentions for the New Year

by Erin Ipjian


Happy New Year, yogis! It’s that time of year when so many of us set out to approach our lives anew and set the elusive new year’s resolution.

This year, how about approaching 2019 with yoga’s version of the new year’s resolution - an Intention.

Resolutions involve control, sheer will-power, and often fail. Just as force does not work well in asana practice, this rigidity in the mind often fails to deliver effective change in our lives.

Yoga practice, on the other hand, invites us to get quiet and listen deeply on the mat, on the meditation cushion, and throughout our lives so that we can begin to notice the impact of our habits and align with those daily practices that serve us and those around us best. Setting your intention for the year ahead (or for a shorter period of time) from this place of awareness is an effective tool from our yoga practice to guide us along the course of life.

This weekend, we invite you to join us for Debbie W’s New Year Restorative Yoga, in which you will enjoy an extended restorative practice, intention setting for the new year, and optional reiki.

Between weekly classes and upcoming special events, we have lots of opportunities to stay connected to your intention in 2019. Check out for our full schedule. Looking forward to practicing with you in 2019, Evolution yogis!

Yoga for Connection

by Erin Ipjian


We are entering the holiday season, a time of celebrating and connecting with those around us. Although yoga may, at first glance, appear to be a way of escaping the stressors of our lives (and there are more of those this time of year!), it is truly a practice of connection, both within ourselves and, much like the intention of the holidays, with each other.

At its most fundamental level, yoga guides us to identify less with what separates us and see more clearly what connects us. We express that sentiment at the end of class with a “namaste,” and we strive to carry it with us, seeing and appreciating the world and people around us throughout the holiday season and beyond.

In addition to our weekly yoga class schedule, we have loads of special events and workshops, suitable for all levels of practitioners and yoga teachers coming up this winter. Check it out at Thanks for connecting with us on your mat this holiday season!

Yoga & the Holidays

by Erin Ipjian


The holidays are drawing near, and I’m going out on a limb here guessing that I’m not the only one experiencing a palpable increase in the chatter of the mind. Longer to-do lists, hopes of fulfilling expectations around the holidays, and the complications of family relationships are just the kind of fuel the monkey mind loves.

Thankfully, we have yoga. As the outside world becomes more frenetic, we find our time on the mat to be even more precious. With patience and curiosity, we mine the body and mind, shining a light on the habits, thoughts, and patterns that unconsciously shape the way we move, think, speak, and act in the world. And we empower ourselves with a greater awareness that allows us to do better. With this clarity, yoga begins to expand beyond the four corners of our mat, to the holiday dinner table, and into the rest of our lives.

So, here’s to a holiday season grounded in greater awareness, understanding, and compassion. If you’d like to practice with me, you can find me at my weekly yoga offerings all at my studio @evolutionyogaglenview 

Tuesday’s 9:30-10:45am all levels
Thursday’s 9:30-10:45am all levels
Sunday’s 12:00-1:00pm intro to yoga/gentle

Thanksgiving morning, my Thursday 9:30am class will be a donation class benefiting the Greater Chicago Food Depository. Sign up online or join us in the studio. Use your class package, membership, or drop in and we’ll donate the proceeds.

Yoga for Life

by Erin Ipjian

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We often think of yoga as being poses on the mat, but the best part of the practice truly happens outside of the studio.
I took this photo when my then 4 year old daughter and I were returning from half day preschool. While I wanted to rush her inside the house to get on with my to do list, she wanted to play a game of jumping over the sidewalk cracks with me. My immediate reaction was, “no, we don’t have time.” But, here’s where the yoga training comes in...
Yoga and meditation hone our ability to pause, hold our thoughts and emotions up to the light of discernment, and meet each moment with greater awareness.
While I have missed the mark in many moments in my life, in this particular one, I was able to catch myself. I could clearly see my impulse to get inside the house for what it was. The truth was I did have time. My work was under control. And while there are always more items I can check off my to do list, if I fail to see the moments in which I can connect with people around me, especially those I love, I am truly missing out on life.
I don’t practice yoga to attain enlightenment and float off into the ether. I practice yoga to become more fully grounded and present in my life. In this particular moment, my yoga practice allowed me to see past the busyness of my mind and connect with my daughter. That’s something worth practicing for.

Yoga: Self-Care Practice or Something More?

by Erin Ipjian


Yoga is often presented as a self-care practice. We are told that if we practice yoga, we will feel better, get stronger, reduce stress, etc. And while those things are true, to me, this view of yoga is incomplete.

While our initial experiences of yoga may be centered on the impact it has on ourselves as practitioners, with time we begin to see that its potential reach runs much deeper.

Through yoga, we become more attentive to the breath, the sensations in the body, and the inner workings of the mind. Our practice develops into a moving meditation in which we are gently guided towards identifying less with the persona we present to the world. We become more fully connected with what remains - what yogis call the Authentic Self.

When we practice with dedication and an open heart, we experience a sense of union within and without. And at the end of a practice, when it’s time to step back out into the world, we never forget the truth that we see while on our mat — that we are whole, that this world is beautiful, and that we are connected to everyone and everything around us.