Alla Smith | Owner & Yoga Instructor
Alla founded Prairie Sunshine Yoga Studio & Wellness in 2007. She has been practicing yoga for nearly 20 years and teaching for 13. Shortly after moving to the United States in 1997, Alla was introduced to yoga by her husband Tony. He was interested in Buddhist philosophy and thought the blend of physical movement and meditation would benefit her as she was adapting to her new home, while also struggling with postpartum depression after her second pregnancy.
In the decade before becoming a teacher, Alla discovered the transformational power of creating a mind-body connection. Yoga instills in us an unwavering feeling of calm. Even in the most difficult situations, it teaches us to slow down and tune-in to our inner self. It teaches us how to let go of judgement towards ourselves, others, and our surroundings. Her third pregnancy was a completely different experience. Practicing yoga almost up until her due date and then shortly after, helped tremendously improve her physical and mental state. From this, she became passionate about teaching prenatal yoga (it’s why we offer prenatal classes weekly) and creating a supportive and loving community for moms to be.
Alla began her journey as a yoga teacher with Joni Wahrer, completing her 200 RYT. Since then, she has apprenticed for Gabriel Halpern, a lifelong student of BKS Iyengar, and studied under Lori Gaspar, a certified yoga therapist from the International Association of Yoga Therapy. Alla also studied Relax and Renew® restorative yoga, founded by Judith Hanson Lasater. She is currently deepening her knowledge of yoga sequencing with Jason Crandell’s Art of Yoga Sequencing®.
Alla’s classes incorporate a dynamic flow that is alignment and breath focused. She is heavily influenced by Iyengar and Vinyasa styles, creating an intentional and approachable sequence for not just each class, but each individual. Alla’s motto is “yoga is for everybody and every body.”
Yoga introduced Alla to the full potential of life. She surrounds herself with a loving family, wonderful friends, and animals (a LOT of animals). In addition to her two adult daughters and her teenage son, Alla is a mom to three dogs, a grandma to one dog, a mom to three cats, a grandma to one cat, and a mom to a lizard. Are you following all of this? Above everything, yoga has taught her how to let go of a “perfect life” and enjoy the beautiful chaos of a world filled with love.
Michele McCormick | Yoga Instructor
Michele began regularly practicing yoga while living in Hawaii in 1999 and later was able to deepen her practice in Guam for 2 years, where practicing on the beaches and among Spanish ruins is the norm. She was interested in learning more about the philosophy behind yoga and so completed her 200-RYT teacher training in 2007. She has continued her education in the many different styles of yoga by attending workshops with diverse teachers such as renowned Astanga practitioner Beryl Bender Birch and Yogic Arts founder Duncan Wong. Michele loves introducing yoga to students new to the discipline, and also loves guiding the practice of more advanced students. She appreciates how yoga brings increased strength, flexibility, presence of mind, and balance to life on and off the mat. Her favorite classes have a bit of challenge and fun because many students can best remain in the present moment when working their physical body in a new way. She looks forward to seeing you on the mat!
Tori Clausen | Yoga Instructor
“Yoga has been a voice for my mind, my body, and my soul.” Tori is passionate about yoga and can see it within all of life itself. Yoga has helped give Tori the tools to better understand herself and has brought happiness into her own life. She finished her 200YTT at the College of Lake County. Her training was focused on Hatha Yoga, described by her as learning how to find balance in life not just on the mat. Her goal is to bring joy into the classroom and into the world. Let us be fearless and play.
Isabel Raci | Yoga Therapist
Isabel is an IAYT certified yoga therapist (certified by The International Association of Yoga Therapists), an E-RYT 500 yoga teacher (Yoga Alliance), certified meditation teacher, relaxation guide and laughter yoga leader with additional specialty training in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), yoga for cancer, pain management, and trauma through the Veterans Yoga Project and Trauma Informed Yoga Therapy, “I bring my passion for the practice of yoga and meditation as self-care to hospitals, wellness centers, studios, corporate and private settings and community centers in the region with a happy, educational, nurturing and lighthearted approach. My goal is to provide a safe, healing and peaceful environment.”
Isabel is available for yoga therapy by appointment. To learn more about yoga therapy and to book an appointment, please contact her at: https://www.unplug-reset.com/ or firstname.lastname@example.org
Melissa DeNapoli | Yoga Instructor
I found yoga after a doctor had recommended I try it during a difficult time in my life. After my very first class, I was hooked. I fell in love with the practice and how it made me feel physically, mentally and spiritually. It provided me with an opportunity to connect with my breath (something I hadn’t given much thought to before) and allowed a way to release the stress that I had been holding onto. The more classes I took, the more I wanted to learn. I decided to enroll in teacher training and completed my 200 hour certification through Emerald Heart school of Yoga with Mara Campbell in May of 2014. Yoga gave me the gift of learning to slow down and observe my breath and body, and I hope to share that with others on the mat. I have a passion in teaching Restorative, Gentle, Yin and Children’s yoga classes.
Bridget Vaughn | Yoga Instructor
I started practicing yoga over a decade ago. I was into the hippie subculture; spirituality, metaphysics and eastern philosophy fascinated me. I’d also struggled with anxiety and depression, so I invested interest in the mind-body connection. I learned various meditation techniques. I was always interested in learning about other cultures. So, yoga really found its way to me quite naturally. I was positively blown away by how I amazing I felt after each practice.
What happens when you begin to breathe and move with intention and awareness? When the mental chatter becomes quiet? When the body lets go of tension and energy flows freely? Yoga answers these questions. Yoga is the answer. Life doesn’t always go the way we planned. We get caught up, held up, stressed out, tight, tense, stagnant, or excessive and jittery and otherwise. What if we could peel back all these layers? Calm the mind, soothe the nervous system, stretch and strengthen the body while optimizing function of the organs, increase circulation, release stagnant energy…and create a space for healing of a Higher order to flow through. To me, this is the magic of yoga. It is energetic nourishment.
We become more open. We cultivate more peace and stability, on and off the mat. We learn to balance effort and surrender. We ebb and flow with comfort and challenges, knowing all is temporary and ever changing. We learn to be present, to stop abandoning ourselves, to take care of ourselves. By showing up for ourselves and filling our own cup, we can show up for others with a full cup. It creates a ripple effect outward. When we show up for yoga class, we are saying “yes” to ourselves in the best way. Yoga has a profound positive effect on the individual, as well as the collective.
I teach yoga because I believe in its benefits. I want to see goodness in the world. I want people to feel happy, free and peaceful. Because underneath all the tension, patterns, habits, and stories- you are happy, free and peaceful. Yoga polishes us up, in a sense. And the more you keep polishing; the more light is revealed. Namaste.