Yogini of the Month:
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Rhonda Schlesinger is our Yogini of the month.

Rhonda is a veteran massage therapist of 20 years and the mother of 2. She is also a Yoga teacher and she has been teaching Yoga for 9 years.
Rhonda first tried yoga in 1981, but didn’t take it seriously. She was more interested in running marathons. She ran 7 in fact. “It is a very addictive sport and very encompassing. It can also lead to injuries. In fact I had several injuries that I don’t think I would have got through without Yoga.”
Years later she joined Highland Park Health Club. In her fitness assessment for the club she couldn’t even get close to touching her toes. Someone suggested she take a Yoga class. It took about three or four classes and then she experienced an unbelievable high during savasana. “I left the planet. Never in my life had I experienced that kind of high. It was that class that hooked me.” She said. Rhonda then started taking Yoga classes where she could find them. “I went to your studio, Sofuntodo (the forerunner of NSY) and Suddha Weixler’s Studio (Chicago Yoga Center). There weren’t a lot of Yoga Studios around back then. She said, “I wanted more than the health club scene.” She also started noticing the physical benefits. I saw that my wrist issues from massage started going away and soon I could see the progress in my flexibility.”
Rhonda applied the Yoga anatomy and alignment principles to her massage techniques and it really helped her improve her clients’ lives.
After practicing for a while she started teaching because she had a lot of Yoga teachers as massage clients. They complained of different injuries from their Asana practices. “I was very curious. I never intended to teach Yoga, I Just wanted to learn how it affected the body and to help my clients.” But then she started teaching seniors and she really enjoyed teaching after that. She teaches seniors from 72 to 93 year of age and believes that Yoga is ageless. She feels that anyone with almost any condition can practice Yoga. “I had double bunion surgery about 10 years ago and it didn’t stop me from doing Yin Yoga.” She often shares the NSY Theme of the month with her students. “The theme of the month is one of the greatest things. I take it and try to work it into my senior’s classes. That’s one of the things I like about NSY—It is real.”

When asked what she had learned from Yoga she said, “Accepting things as they are. I lost the whole perfectionist thing with the practice of Yoga. Poses didn’t have to be perfect and things in my life didn’t have to be perfect for me to be happy.” She also has grown an appreciation for mindfulness with her practice.
“We are so connected with our phones and our iPads . . . I think that takes us away from the moment. When you talk to someone they aren’t there. They are looking at their phone. Yoga has helped me to be in the moment and be more connected.” One example she gave was about a very busy period in her life. “Last year I was planning a wedding for my daughter and we were building a house in North Carolina. With Yoga I had my safe place to go. When issues came up with the planning of my daughter’s wedding, Instead of getting angry with her I was sympathetic. There were things that came up that I could just handle differently-more effectively.”
When asked if she had any advice for other practicing Yoga she said, “Start at the beginning and develop those basic Yoga tools. Cultivate a beginner’s mind.” Rhonda placed an emphasis on being authentic. About North Shore Yoga she said, “You and Sharyn are so authentic. Going from the spinning studio to Yoga and spinning then to Yoga while understanding that Yoga was where you wanted to go. You guys are not on this fast fad train with all the little gimmicks that go with yoga. It’s just Yoga. You are not so much how you can complicate a vinyasa. It’s just simple pure Yoga and you have never deviated from that.”
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