Tag Archives: yoga

A Professor in Motion Stays in Motion

April 27, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The sun barely penetrated the narrows of the canyon. Kris Berg, Ph.D., scrambled over dusty red rock, carefully avoiding the steep cliffs that plunged down 50 yards on either side of him. History and geology combined with each footprint he left behind.

While most come to Las Vegas to roll the dice, Berg would rather hike with his wife in the outdoors, taking in the natural beauties of the world (which he accomplished during a recent winter trip).

Berg is a self-described exercise nut. The physical fitness bug struck him at a young age. When Berg was just 12 years old, he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Rather than a healthy boy, people saw him as fragile and sick. In high school, Berg’s coach even kicked him off the football team.

“I’ll show you. I’ll be so healthy that no one would do that again,” Berg thought.

After his family moved, a new doctor told Berg to experiment. So Berg lived his life, not letting diabetes limit his physical abilities.

“Exercise is such a powerful thing,” he says. “People are always looking for a magic pill. It’s right in front of us.”

He played multiple sports in high school and college. The science behind it all stimulated and fascinated him. With a doctorate in exercise physiology from the University of Missouri in hand, Berg began teaching at the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

“Top to bottom, front to back, he is enthusiastic,” former student Robert Buresh says.

Kris Berg, Ph.D.

UNO had no laboratory at the time so Berg developed one with the backing of the dean. Berg, a prolific researcher, made ties with the University of Nebraska Medical Center. He developed an exercise physiology lab geared toward an investigative-driven program which would look at the human body from a scientific angle.

He soon started a special exercise program for Type 1 and 2 diabetes. His own brother had passed away from the disease at 32. Berg spent years of his career dedicated to informing the public on the positives of exercise to help regulate blood sugar.

Berg’s interest never wavered. He tackled osteoporosis next. The Strong Bones Program was born, helping the elderly build up confidence and mobility to avoid falls.

“We were very fortunate Berg initiated this program,” Berg’s former colleague Josie Metal-Corbin says. Although a dancer and yoga enthusiast, 65-year-old Metal-Corbin took the class for the added strength training and sense of community. The classes soon combined into the Adult Fitness Program.

After four books, more than 200 articles, and 45 years at UNO, Berg hung up his tennis shoes last May and retired. However, retirement didn’t stop him from doing what he loves.

Berg still finds time to visit with graduate students who need his help on papers, and he spends two hours or so a day researching.

“I wanted to go on being physically active regardless of age,” Berg explains.

Long and lean at the age of 73, Berg follows a diverse workout plan. He smacks the ball around on the tennis court four or five days a week. The physical and mental “chess match” keeps him sharp. He also still shovels snow, pulls weeds, and hikes.

“I have a tremendous enjoyment of exercise. I never get bored,” Berg says.

At the gym, Berg avoids the machines, preferring resistance training (similar to his classes). He stresses the importance of maintaining coordination and mobility. His goal—for himself and for others—is to prevent age from becoming an obstacle to living life. 

The Adult Fitness Program is open to members of the general public age 50 and older. The supervised fitness class takes place twice a week at UNO’s Health, Physical Education, and Recreation (HPER) Building. The program costs $36 for three months; parking costs $54 for three months. Contact the UNO Exercise Physiology Lab at 402-554-3221 or exphyslab@unomaha.edu to enroll.

Visit unomaha.edu for more information.

Let it Flow

January 3, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

“Omaha has amazing yoga leaders who’ve been here for decades, but I wanted to bring something a little more contemporary to the table, in line with what I’d practiced on the coasts. (Lotus) is really a big family and a women-run company; all the people on our leadership team and in administration are women.”

-Mary Clare Sweet

The writing is on the wall at Lotus House of Yoga.

Colorful chalk scribblings dance across interior walls at the new Aksarben location, transmitting empowering messages like “Trust your gut,” “The revolution starts with one hungry heart,” “What you can dream, you can achieve,” and “You are getting stronger right now.”

Lotus offers yoga, barre, and cycling classes that will get your body in shape, but even more impressive are the positive effects on mind and spirit. This isn’t merely physical exercise, it’s an exercise in love, strength, and fulfillment. 

houseofyoga1“My ultimate goal is to share love through yoga,” says Lotus founder Mary Clare Sweet. “You leave feeling better because you’re developing an authentic relationship with yourself. When you’re connected to that authenticity—with nature and with your own true nature—you can go out into the world and make great changes.”

Her nickname is “M.C.”—short for Mary Clare and also quite fitting as she’s master of ceremonies for the alternately peaceful, playful party that is Lotus. With an extensive background in dance and a lifelong love of yoga handed down from her mother and business partner, Lotus CEO Anne Sweet, Lincoln native Mary Clare moved to Omaha via NYC to lay the foundation for her Midwestern yoga empire.

“Omaha has amazing yoga leaders who’ve been here for decades, but I wanted to bring something a little more contemporary to the table, in line with what I’d practiced on the coasts,” says Mary Clare.

In 2010, Mary Clare partnered with her uncle, Joseph Duryea, to launch Lotus at 144th Street and Eagle Run Drive—where she taught a demanding 19 classes per week, “just purely driven by my heart and the love,” she says. In 2012, she bought Duryea out and Anne came on as partner/CEO, bringing business experience that Mary Clare says helped take Lotus to the next level with solid strategy and brand communication. That winter, Lotus opened at One Pacific Place and Midtown Crossing. Two Lincoln locations followed in 2013 and 2014, with the downtown studio adding a neighboring Lotus-powered High Vibe Cafe, a fresh juice bar also selling healthy snacks and açai bowls, in 2015. 

houseofyoga2In 2016, Lotus closed its Midtown Crossing studio and opened in Aksarben. With vibrant natural light, a welcoming lobby where UNO students and others happily hang out, studios for barre, yoga, and cycling, and an in-house High Vibe Cafe, the latest location is a proud progression for the Lotus crew. 

“You can see the manifestation of our vision written on the walls here,” says Mary Clare. “It’s exactly how we want it, we wouldn’t change a thing. It’s absolutely filled with love, and we’re so happy to be here.”

While Lotus sees plenty of male clients and has some male teachers, it is largely a female-driven endeavor. 

“[Lotus] is really a big family and a women-run company; all the people on our leadership team and in administration are women,” she says.

In addition to the strong, lady-powered energy and community spirit forged by these humble warriors, clients can also depend on classes filled with sweet beats, rad refrains, and soothing sonic journeys, as carefully crafted playlists strategically correspond songs to chakras. From The Beatles to Beyoncé, tracks span genres including folk, pop, hip-hop, soul, and rock.    

“Music has always been the cornerstone of Lotus. Our mission is to raise the vibration, and music is vibration; so that’s a huge part of it,” says Mary Clare. “We aim to marry the ancient and modern together to create an experience that feels like home, that feels like love, that’s accessible and available to everyone, no matter who you are or where you come from.”

Visit lotushouseofyoga.com for more information.

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Half-Monkey Pose

August 26, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Half Monkey pose stretches and strengthens the hamstrings, hips, lower back, and calves. It also tones the leg muscles and increases blood circulation in the hamstrings and hips. FamilyGuide

  1. Begin in downward-facing dog (by making an upside-down “V” with your body, with arms and legs straight). Step your right foot forward, in between your hands, to come into a low lunge.
  2. Keep hands at either side of the foot, lower the left knee to the ground, and place the top of the left foot on the ground (you may keep your toes tucked to help stabilize you).
  3. Create space in the chest by pulling the shoulders back and down, away from the ears.
  4. Pull the belly in towards the spine to activate the core.
  5. Square the hips by shifting the left hip forward while pulling the right hip back.
  6. Shift the hips back, and begin to straighten the right leg until only the heel is pressing into the ground. Keep a micro bend in the knee to protect your kneecap. Flex the right toes.
  7. With a straight spine and open chest, begin to fold over the right leg until you feel a small stretch in your right hamstring.
  8. Pause and breathe deeply for 10 breaths.
  9. As you inhale, keep your hands on the ground, bend into your front leg, and step back to downward facing dog.
  10. Repeat opposite side.

Family Guide

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True Colors

August 19, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Chanell Jaramillo helps people discover their true colors—just as she once sought to divine her own.

Gifted with vision and intuition that transcended her childhood in a hardscrabble neighborhood of Yuma, Arizona, she later revived those abilities to make another great escape. She transformed herself from an ill, overworked executive to a healer, surrounding herself in the safe, centered haven of her ultimate truth.

“Life experiences are teachings,” says Jaramillo. “You can look at them as challenges and get stuck in your circumstance, or, you can see them as lessons and allow them to take you to a place of wisdom.”

Channell1Jaramillo is a solution-focused holistic health practitioner with a Ph.D. in transpersonal psychology, a school of psychology that integrates the spiritual and transcendent aspects of the human experience within the framework of modern psychology. She employs that philosophy in guiding her clients toward their own personal truth and optimum path. Working primarily as a transformational life coach from her Omaha Healing Arts Center office, Jaramillo skillfully walks the line between analysis and intuition, academic knowledge and life-learned wisdom, fact-based theory and gut-based truth.       

Jaramillo first adjudicates clients with her Biopulsar, a biomedical measuring device that’s one of just 300 in the U.S. It reads energy from the hand’s 49 reflex zones—each correlating to an organ or gland in the body—to produce a uniquely kaleidoscopic aura scan portrait, bursting with colors from the chakras, or spirit centers in the body. Jaramillo interprets these colors, from red for basic trust to violet for spirituality, to determine distressed bodily areas.

Someone needing more white in her life may need to unblock the heart center. A client needing more turquoise can use something as simple as a coffee cup to visually help open the lines of communication between the heart and the spoken word.

Jaramillo then provides clients a customized healing regimen, which can include lifestyle and diet changes, yoga, energy work, massage, and other forms of therapy.        

“In real time, [the Biopulsar] measures your consciousness—what you’re feeling and thinking,” says Jaramillo, adding that thoughts have relationships throughout the body that are able to create holding patterns and can cause physical problems. “It’s used medically for preventative health in Europe and Asia because it shows if a thought has manifested yet at a physical level or if it’s still within your auric field.”

Channell3Before Jaramillo could heal others, she had to find her own path to healing and happiness.   

Years ago, while navigating 70-hour workweeks as an executive for a large Southern California resort and winery, Jaramillo became extremely ill. A chorus of doctors chimed in with various theories, yet none could explain why she was sick.     

“I started balancing my work/life better and changed my entire outlook,” says Jaramillo, who, on the heels of a profound awakening, found herself intuitively guided toward lifestyle adjustments that ultimately healed her where prescription medicine had failed.

Striving to make sense of her experience led Jaramillo down a path resulting in a vocational calling to return to husband Chris Basilevac’s native Omaha and work as a holistic healer.     

“I kept having dreams guiding me back to Omaha to work in the spiritual field. At first I thought, ‘Uh, Universe, I think you have your coordinates wrong,’” says Jaramillo. But the call persisted, so she decided to “just trust and follow the breadcrumbs.”

The leap paid off, and Jaramillo now embodies the tradition of her great-grandmother, a curandera, which means “healer” in Spanish.

“I’ve always admired the idea of the crone, the wise old woman, which isn’t honored in our society today,” she says. “I want to be that wise old crone someday, who people can look to knowing that I speak from the experience of living life, learning from mistakes, and growing. Maybe that’s how I ended up doing this work, trying to return to a tradition our culture’s lost.” Encounter

Visit thlpros.com for more information.

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Dolphin Pose

August 3, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Dolphin pose strengthens the arms and shoulders, tones the abdomen, stretches the hamstrings, and reverses blood flow.

1. Begin on hands and knees. Place your knees directly below your hips, and your wrists directly under your shoulders.

2. Lower the forearms to the ground.

3. Press all four corners of your hands firmly into the ground, and move the shoulders out of the ears by pressing them down the back.

4. Pull the naval in towards the spine.

5. Curl your toes under and press up.

6. Press the floor away with your forearms, push the hips back, and straighten the legs while reaching the heels towards the ground (you may need to keep a micro bend in the knees if your hamstrings are tight).

7. Let your head hang freely and breathe deeply for 10 breaths.

8. Bring knees to the ground, let the big toes touch together, and press back into child’s pose, with the arms extended in front of the head, palms face down on the ground.

9. Breathe deeply for 10 breaths.

10. Repeat two to three times.

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One-Legged Pigeon Pose

December 21, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Editor’s note:  Rachel is on maternity leave, spending time with young Nova Joy.  While she is gone, we are happy to bring you this yoga pose by Lindsay Lee.

I always joke with my students that Pigeon Pose is one of the ultimate signs that you know you’ve made it to the cool-down portion of a yoga class. This deep pose helps to open the hip flexor muscles, relieve sciatic nerve tension and low back pain, and, by practicing regularly, it allows you to connect to the center of your creativity.

  • Begin in a tabletop position with the hips aligned with the knees and the shoulders stacked on top of the palms.
  • From tabletop, inhale deeply and slide the right knee forward so that it comes behind the right wrist. The shin should come no further than a 45-degree angle.
  • Exhale and gently slide the left leg behind you, flexing the right toes to engage the right leg, which helps to support the knee.
  • Keep the palms, or fingertips, pressing into the ground as you keep the chest open, the crown of the head lifted, and the hips square.
  • Maintain steady breathing. Make a pillow using your forearms and rest the torso and forehead on the arms.
  • Breathe deeply in the pose for at least five reps.
  • If resting the torso, slowly place palms on the ground and lift the chest and head. To come out of the pose, inhale and bring the left knee forward, then exhale to bring the right knee back into tabletop position.  Repeat on the opposite side.

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Making the Old New Again

November 5, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Sherri and John Obermiller decided their new downtown condo reminded them too much of the suburbs.

They should know. The couple moved in 2011 from their five-bedroom, five-bathroom home in the white-picket-fence-lined neighborhoods off 180th St. and West Center Road to the eclectic, artsy downtown for a reason, and it wasn’t perfection and modernity.

Obermiller2“It was time to downsize and just get rid of stuff,” Sherri says. “Plus, this gave me an excuse not to do yard work anymore.”

The pair looked at five or six buildings before deciding the 902 Dodge Street condos were a natural fit for them. The building is located close enough to walk to yoga classes or sushi restaurants, but far enough from the bustle of the Old Market. “We don’t always like to be in the crowd, but we like to be near it,” Sherri says. “We enjoy being anonymous in a sea of people.”

An available condo on the fifth floor was too small and in need of a facelift, but the Obermillers saw its potential. Their first act as new owners? Asking their neighbor what amount of money it would take for him to move. Their new home instantly doubled in size.

To further construct their vision for the space, they enlisted the help of Stephanie Basham, principal designer and owner of Group One Interiors, and Don Stormberg, owner of Stormberg Construction. The couple rented and lived in a unit on the second floor of the building as Basham and Stormberg’s teams worked to renovate the condo to the Obermillers’ standards.

Obermiller3“It’s always challenging to work in a space that people are inhabiting during construction,” Basham says. “The Obermillers have a finely tuned sense of contemporary style and an appreciation for urban modernism. And to top that, John and Sherri value attention to detail, which is a dream for a designer.”

From using lime green as an accent color to matching the gray of the exposed concrete ceiling to the condo’s columns, the detailed design was inspired from the Obermillers’ travels to metropolises like New York City.

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To make the home feel larger, Basham took advantage of the high ceilings and crafted a floating translucent cloud above the kitchen island. The focal point of the home, the cloud creates a sense of separation between the kitchen and adjacent rooms without impeding the view. Local fabricators and installers used frosted acrylic to have the effect of tinted glass without the weight. This fixture is a personal favorite of the Obermillers.

“The cloud above and countertop below have the same steel lines, so they mirror one another,” Sherri says. “We strived for symmetry throughout our home.”

Following nearly a year of renovations, only the cherrywood cabinets in the kitchen remain in the now-2,400-square-foot condo.  An entire patio was removed; new floors and appliances were installed; iron-welded, artisan-crafted barn doors were mounted; and rooms were ornamented in furniture from as far away as Sweden. The result is a simple, contemporary design that’s entirely unique to the Obermillers.

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The Obermillers saw not only the potential of their condo but the value of the downtown area as well. While the CenturyLink Center was the major draw north of Dodge Street when the Obermillers first moved downtown, the area will soon be home to HDR’s high-rise headquarters and a collection of newly developed apartments, offices, and entertainment space.

“We are incredibly excited about this development and what’s next,” John says.

Obermiller6Embracing an urban lifestyle is a hot trend, yet the Obermillers aren’t concerned with following or setting trends. Instead, their new home serves as a space for them to reinvigorate their story together.

“We can walk to the trails by the pedestrian bridge or quickly go to the restaurants in the Old Market. It’s fun and incredible,” Sherri says. “It feels like we live in a much bigger city than what Omaha really is.”

When the Obermillers aren’t watching Nebraska sunsets melt behind the Woodman and First National from their building’s rooftop terrace, they enjoy a different view from their living room window. They look down onto the interstates weaving under and over themselves, roads looping and stretching in different directions. An image the Obermillers agree is beautiful. Just below the roads and between the urban sprawl of Omaha and Council Bluffs lies the river.

“We always thought at this point in our life we’d have a condo overlooking Lake Michigan,” John says. “Living happily next to the Missouri River in downtown Omaha? Well, that’s just the next
best thing.”

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Wide Angle Seated Forward Bend

November 3, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The Wide Angle Seated Forward Bend stretches the hamstrings and inner thighs, tones and strengthens the spine, opens the hips, and stimulates the abdominal muscles, all while relaxing the mind.

  1. Sit upright and separate the legs, creating a “v” shape.
  2. Rotate the legs back so that the knees face towards the sky, and flex your toes to protect the knee caps.
  3. Ground the sit bones to the earth, and lengthen the spine by reaching the crown of the head towards the sky.
  4. Roll the shoulders down the back, and away from the ears. Open through the chest to unround the spine.
  5. Actively press the thigh bones into the ground.
  6. Inhale deeply, and as you exhale, bend forward at the hip joints.
  7. Place hands on the ground in front of you, and reach forward (for a more advanced pose, grab each of the big toes with the peace sign fingers and thumb).
  8. Breathe deeply for 10-20 breaths.
  9. Inhale to come up, and repeat.

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Triangle Pose

October 5, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The Triangle pose stretches and strengthens the thighs and ankles, stretches the hamstrings, hips, spine, and chest, relieves backache (especially during pregnancy—I’m photographed here as I entered my third trimester), and helps to keep stress at bay.

  1. Position legs 4 ft. apart. Raise arms parallel to the ground and actively reach hands out, palms face down.
  2. Turn right foot out 45 degrees and align heels together (or heel to arch to help with balance). Firm the thighs and keep right kneecap in line with the center of the right ankle.
  3. Inhale deeply, and as you slowly exhale, extend the torso directly over the right thigh, bending at the hip joint.
  4. Firmly press the outer left heel into the ground and pull the left shoulder back to open through the chest.
  5. Lengthen the tailbone towards the back heel and place your right hand on a block, your ankle, or on the ground outside of the right foot (advanced). Lift left hand up toward the sky and gaze toward fingertips.
  6. Breathe deeply for 5-10 breaths.
  7. Inhale to come up, and repeat opposite side.

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Half Camel

September 4, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

This article appears in the Sept. 2015 issue of Her Family.

The Half Camel stretches the front of the body, strengthens the back, stimulates abdomen and neck organs, and fights fatigue, anxiety, and backaches.

  1. Kneel with toes tucked.
  2. Gently pull belly towards spine, and lengthen tailbone towards the ground.
  3. Lengthen the spine by reaching the crown of the head towards the sky.
  4. Engage the thigh muscles by hugging ankles towards one another.
  5. Let the shoulder blades roll down the back and open through the chest and collarbones to allow your arms to hang outside of the thighs.
  6. Inhale deeply, and as you exhale, begin bending the upper back and gently reach the right hand towards the right heel.
  7. Raise your left hand towards the sky and actively reach with the fingertips.
  8. Let the crown of the head gently fall back towards the ground without straining your neck.
  9. Breathe deeply and repeat five times.
  10. Keeping everything engaged, inhale and gently roll up to a neutral position, head comes up last.
  11. Repeat opposite side.

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