Our Teachers

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Lori Gaspar, BFA, MA, C-IAYT, E-RYT 500, MovNat® Level 1 Trainer, is the Director of Prairie Yoga. Known as a "teacher of teachers," she is a certified yoga therapist, served on Yoga Alliance’s Ethics and Standards Advisory committees and was named by Yoga Chicago as an outstanding woman leader in Chicago’s yoga community. She has been featured in Mantra Yoga+Health, Yoga Chicago, and Yoga Teacher Magazine. Lori’s dynamic teaching emphasizes alignment of the body, mind and spirit; mindfulness; and cultivating inner wisdom. Unfazed by the latest yoga craze, she guides students to look within to realize their dharma. Lori has a B.F.A., magna cum laude, in visual communications and a M.A. in design management. She is certified by the Morton Arboretum, Lisle, IL in Home Landscape Horticulture. She is very active in local issues and served for seven years as President, Board of Education, Community Consolidated School District 89. 
Tom Barry, 500 CYT, started a consistent yoga practice in 2007 after many years of practicing Tai Chi and meditation. He started teaching in 2011 after completing the 200 hour teacher training program at Prairie Yoga, and completed his 500 hour certification with Prairie in 2014. Tom continues his yoga study with master teachers that include Tias Little, Julie Gudmestad and Gabriel Halpern.

Tom teaches Hatha Yoga with a focus on alignment, breathwork and mindfulness. His classes are appropriate for all levels of students from beginners to seasoned practitioners. Tom uses props, correct alignment and modifications of poses to make the physical practice accessible and safely challenge students. Breathwork increases the energetic effects of the practice. Working mindfully with focus develops concentration and a sense of peace and well being.

Tom also teaches yoga for cancer survivors and caregivers for LivingWell Cancer Resource Center and specialized classes for beginners and classes for men.

Maria Luisa's teaching style draws both from the different yoga methodologies she has studied and also from her background as a modern dancer. After a severe injury, she decided to follow the path of yoga, which ultimately drew her to the Iyengar Yoga method. Her classes range from vigorous to restorative, and she enjoys working with all levels. Certified in the Iyengar yoga method in 2000, she has studied for more than a decade with senior Iyengar teachers such as: Marina Chaselon, Ramanand Patel, Lois Steinberg, Gabriel Halpern, John Schumacher, Patricia Walden, Manuso Manos, and the Iyengars themselves in Pune, India. She has also studied Ashtanga Yoga with Pattabhi Jois in Mysore, India, Indra Devi-style yoga in Buenos Aires and Jivamukti yoga in NYC.
BA, 500 RYT, has been practicing yoga since 2003, when she faced a life changing injury. She completed her thesis work on yoga for managing emotions for the 500 hour certificate through Prairie Yoga. She received her 200 hour certification from Moksha Yoga Center in 2007. Jennifer brings compassion, insight and joy to her classes which focus on alignment and therapeutic strengthening, breathwork and meditation. These are the tools she believes primarily responsible for her own physical, emotional and spiritual recovery. Additionally, she strives to adapt each practice to meet the students’ individual needs within these realms. Jennifer was a social worker in health care settings for almost 10 years, and also currently teaches yoga for cancer survivors. She is grateful to be part of the exceptional yoga community of Prairie Yoga.
Sharon Carter, Intermediate Junior 1 certified Iyengar teacher, began practicing yoga in 1997 to remedy chronic back and neck pain due to postural misalignment and sports related injuries. After considerable improvement, she realized that the key to health and well being lay in the regular practice of yoga. Since 1999, Sharon devoted countless hours studying with senior teachers to learn the methods of B.K.S. Iyengar and to share this knowledge with the yoga community. She is grateful to her main teachers Lois Steinberg and Chris Saudek as well as Patricia Walden, Manuso Manos, John Schumacher, Laurie Blakeney and Kathleen Wright. Sharon has an M.B.A. In Management, is married and a mom to 3 grown kids.
BA, 500 CYT, worked as a software engineer for nearly twenty years, and is now experiencing her second childhood following her passion– YOGA! She has practiced yoga since 1997 and has taught yoga since 2002. Lynda received both her 200-hour and her 500-hour advanced yoga certifications through Prairie Yoga. Her lighthearted teaching approach combines an alignment-based practice with a spice of vinyasa. Lynda also teaches senior fitness, has practiced Tai Chi since 1998, and holds a second degree black belt in Seisan Ryu Karate.
B.A., 500 E-RYT, has been a student of yoga since 1997 and a teacher since 1999. She is primary faculty for Prairie Yoga’s Teacher Training Programs. Tricia is a leader in the west suburban yoga community and has trained and influenced many teachers in the area. She finds joy in her students realizing their personal power and strength. Tricia follows the Six Gems of ParaYoga in practice and teaching: DHARMA: destiny and surrendering into that which you are born to be; TANTRA– self mastery over mind and prana; VIDYA– science and seated wisdom; AGNI– fire, becoming powerful to release those things that hold us back; PARAMPARA– honoring the Source, and NONDUALITY.
Read about Tricia in Yoga Chicago!
Rachel Lackowski, 200 CYT, has been practicing yoga for over nine years. She is a graduate of Prairie Yoga's 200 hour teacher training. She has also trained with a variety of teachers who have a wide range of yoga practices behind them, everything from Ashtanga to Tantra. This experience gives her teaching style a unique mixture to pull from, resulting in fun-filled classes that leave you feeling de-stressed, refreshed, and liberated! She is also a licensed traditional massage and Thai massage therapist, and she uses that knowledge of the body to guide her students safely into a deeper asana practice. Rachel continues to take workshops and classes to expand her knowledge so she can give her students the best class experience possible. She is planning on starting her 500 Hour Advanced Yoga Training journey at Prairie in the Fall.
500 CYT, is a certified yoga teacher, registered nurse and certified Ayurveda Practitioner. She was originally certified to teach yoga by Moksha Yoga Center and completed her 500 hour advanced yoga teaching certification with Prairie Yoga. Alison teaches Ayurveda in Prairie Yoga’s Teacher Training Programs. Alison’s classes combine her breadth of knowledge in the healing arts. She adapts the practice of yoga to your individual composition and current condition, bringing you into a state of balance.
500 RYT, has been a passionate practitioner of yoga for over 12 years. She is an assistant teacher trainer for Prairie Yoga’s yoga teacher training programs. Reeny received her 500 hour yoga teaching certificate from Prairie Yoga in 2008 and her 200 hour yoga teaching certificate from Moksha Yoga in 2001. She has studied extensively with Tias Little and Gabriel Halpern, with a special focus on therapeutics. Reeny was originally trained as a dancer. Her teaching style reflects her love of movement, imagery and language. Always a student, Reeny enjoys studying yoga with all the excellent local teachers in the western suburbs when she is not busy with her husband and three energetic teenagers.

Chris Lund 200 RYT started practicing yoga twenty years ago. In 2012, after retiring from the field of art education, she was led to Prairie Yoga for 200 hour yoga teacher training certification. Chris is one of the assistant teachers for Prairie Yoga’s 200 hour yoga teacher training programs working under the direction of primary faculty, Tricia Fiske. She thoroughly enjoys this position as she finds great joy in mentoring and encouraging new yoga teachers along their journey towards certification.

Ellen McKenzie, 500 E-RYT, graduated from the first Prairie Yoga training offered at Cascade Yoga Studio in 2009, and has lived a life dedicated to teaching and study ever since. Ellen has been a Prairie Yoga student, mentor, assistant teacher, and is honored to now step into the roll of lead teacher with Viki Distin for the 2015 training in Grand Rapids, MI. Ellen studies intensively with Tias Little.
Jeannine Majka has been practicing Yoga, Ayurveda and meditation for over 30 years, using the physical and mental health benefits to balance out her athletic lifestyle. Taking up multiple sports at a very young age and throughout her adulthood, her yoga practice has transformed her strength, endurance, focus, awareness and relationships. After leaving corporate finance, her 22 years of experience as a personal trainer, fitness instructor and yogi have provided her with the opportunity to work with children, pre/post natal mothers, disabled adults, seniors to competitive athletes. She is currently teaching yoga at yoga studios, health clubs and several DuPage County Villages to police officers and employees. She wants to cultivate nurturing, alignment based and balanced classes, where challenges will be expected and obstacles overcome.
Amy Merritt, B.S., 500 RYT, has been practicing yoga for 10 years. While living in Pittsburgh, PA, she completed her 200 hour teacher training with Lesli Kotloski at Health Through Yoga, and moved to the Chicago area in 2008. After getting settled, she began taking yoga classes with Lori Gaspar and decided to further her study of yoga by taking Prairie’s 500 hour advanced yoga teaching training. Since finishing the Advanced Training, she has mentored both 200 hour and 500 hour trainings, and has traveled with Prairie to Santa Fe to study with Tias Little. Amy is a certified Relax and Renew teacher through Judith Hanson Lassiter, and teaches cancer survivors through Living Well. She continues to be inspired by seeing her students transform through the power of yoga.
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