Our Teachers

Yoga Among Friends is home to an amazing group of yoga professionals that have come together to offer the highest quality yoga in the Chicago suburbs.  Our teachers have created a warm and welcoming atmosphere in which they are committed and attentive to each of our student's needs.  As a student, you will enjoy a well-planned class, hands-on adjustments, and gentle encouragement in a safe, comfortable, and challenging environment.

Every YAF teacher has completed over 200 hours of training with recognized yoga masters and is dedicated to their own continuing education.  Our teachers strive to evolve and grow their own personal practice to bring new techniques and inspiration to their classes.

Laura Jane Mellencamp-Murphy, C-IYATE-RYT 500, MA, Certified Yoga Therapist

Laura Jane, founder and director of Yoga Among Friends, has been changing people’s lives for 3 decades. She has led classes, seminars, and workshops throughout the world for leading organizations and individuals. Laura is known for her depth of knowledge, practical wisdom, and unique ability to transmit yogic teachings and practices to students from all walks of life. She enjoys blending her clinical and counseling training in psychology with her yoga therapy certification to provide her clients with a holistic approach to psychological and emotional imbalances that affect the immune system.

Her background includes the following:

Laura Jane's Schedule

  • Mon 6–7:30p, Vinyasa Flow, L1-L2
  • Tue 9:30–11a, Vinyasa Flow, L1-L2
  • Wed 6:30-8p, YAF Book Club—
    Meets 3rd Wed of month
  • Wed* 6–7:30p, Vinyasa Flow, L1-L2
  • Fri 9:30–11a, Vinyasa Flow, L1-L2

*Laura Jane will be sharing the teaching of Wed classes with Pam

 

Julie Pate, RYT 500, Studio Manager

Julie is our studio manager. She first discovered yoga over 20 years ago while working as a personal trainer, Pilate’s teacher and running coach. Julie loved the way yoga balanced her workouts and left her feeling calm and peaceful. In 2012, she graduated from a 200 hour Hatha Yoga Teacher Training with Sara Starnes in the Anusara tradition and is currently enrolled in the Step2 500 hour Yoga Therapy program with Laura Jane Mellencamp Murphy. Julie believes that our bodies were meant to move, and she strives to give you the antidote to sitting and a sedentary lifestyle. She infuses a love of movement and a deep appreciate for life’s many gifts into her classes. When Julie teaches, hers is a heart-felt vinyasa flow style class that weaves a sense of gratitude into the practice leaving you feeling strong, peaceful, and focused.

 

Candy Stevens, E-RYT 200

Candy began practicing yoga consistently 12 years ago, and found new joy and open horizons in her life as a yoga instructor. As an E-RYT, Candy has taught well over 1,000 hours and is registered with Yoga Alliance. She continues to grow in her practice through ongoing classes with teachers such as Tias Little, Chase Bossart, Richard Rosen, and Elesa Commerse. Candy strives to make her classes stimulating yet accessible, nurturing an atmosphere free of competition and judgment. She provides numerous asana modifications for you because she says, "Not only does everybody have their own range of mobility and flexibility, but each day is different for every one of us, both in body and in mind. We must always honor these truths in our practice, and appreciate how unique we are." She adds, "It is a privilege to teach, and I am so gratified when I see a student blossoming in his/her practice, not just physically, but in confidence, joy and spirit."

Candy's Schedule

  • Mon 8:45–9:45a, Yoga for Total Health, L1-L2
  • Sun 10:30–11:45a, Vinyasa Flow, L1-L2
     

Donna Prenta, RYT 500, Reiki Master

Through the practice of Yoga profound healing occurs. A commitment to class offers you physical, emotional and intelligent health. Donna’s classes inspire connection & independence. This connection unfolds the ability to trust and believe in yourself. You will learn breath awareness and alignment, which strengthens the spine and soothes the nervous system. Donna began teaching classes in 2005 and blends the modalities of trainings.

Donnas' experience includes private, semi-private & group classes:

  • 2002–Reiki Master
  • 2005–Certification in Intuition Dr. Christine Page
  • 2008–Registered Yoga Teacher 200
  • 2010–Registered Yoga Teacher 500
  • 2014–Yoga for the Special Child
  • 2016–Yoga for the Special Child Certificate of Completion

Donna's Schedule

  • By Appointment, Yoga for the Special Child
  • Change of Seasons Restorative Yoga Workshops

 

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J. Michael Taylor, CYT

Michael incurred Injuries in his mid-thirties which led him to yoga and with extreme luck, to Iyengar yoga.  He started practicing Iyengar yoga with Kathleen Wright in 1987 and began apprenticing and teaching with Gabriel Halpern ofthe Yoga Circle in 1989.  Under the graceful guidance of Lois Steinberg and Laurie Blakeney, he became a certified Iyengar instructor in 2008.  Michael continues to study and practice with Laurie and also with Bob Wittinghill and Todd Howell of the Yoga Circle.  His teaching places a strong emphasis on alignment and the use of props to facilitate learning. Michael’s great sense of humor keeps his students laughing. Yoga gives him the energy to teach photography at College of DuPage and play music, dance, and enjoy life to the fullest.

Michael's Schedule

  • Tue 7:30–8:45p, Iyengar, L1-L2
  • Wed 9:30–10:45a, Iyengar, L1-L2
  • Sat 11–12:15pm, Iyengar, L1-L2
 

Joyce Eickmeyer Owens, RYT

Joyce has many years of teaching experience and has taught at Yoga Among Friends since its inception in 1998. She received her teacher training from White Lotus Foundation. Joyce teaches her own "slow flow" style of yoga in a gentle yet powerful way. As an instructor and musician she brings a harmonious flow of body, mind and spirit to her classes. Joyce says, "When we value our bodies as rare musical instruments, we create our own music." 

Joyce's Schedule

  • Mon 10–11:15a, Vinyasa Flow, L1
  • Tue 6–7:15p, Vinyasa Flow, L1
  • Fri 11:30a–12:45p, Yoga for Healthy Aging (Starts Jan 5, 2018)

Julie Stewart

Julie's intention for her teaching is to present a well balanced practice that includes all aspects of the journey. To bring into her teaching her knowledge of ayurveda, pranayama, meditation and stillness to help us all live a balanced, grounded life. As we say in ayurveda, "living is costly, so use the tools that we have from the seasons, the asanas, meditations, proper intake of foods and lifestyle that will allow us to live in harmony with nature and our fellow beings."

Julie has been lucky enough to study and practice with some wonderful teachers: Erich Schiffman, Barbara Benagh, Laura Jane Murphy, Tias Little, Doug Keller, Todd Norian, Gabriel Halpern, and Tricia Fiske to just name a few. Her blend of style comes from all of these different teachers and outlooks. Her ayurveda training is from Pat Layton who is the director of Bhavana Institute in LaGrange, and she received her panchakarma training from Diva Ayurveda in Milwaukee.

Julie's Schedule

Thur 9:30–11a, Vinyasa Flow, L1-L2

Karen Weber-Manz, E-C-IAYT, RYT 500, LMT

Karen has been teaching yoga since 2002. She is a ParaYoga teacher that uses a vast array of Yogic tools for transformation including Kriya, Bandha, Meditation, Mudra & Mantra. Classes build awareness & cultivate a stable mind, make the unconscious conscious, teach the proper use of effort & surrender, and help you to create new lifestyle patterns so you can live your Dharma. She offers workshops & lectures on Yoga philosophy & practice, offers intensive yoga trainings for non-teachers, runs women circles, leads the Blue Lotus Kiran Band. Karen is also a Kriya Yoga initiate, a licensed Massage Therapist, Ayurvedic Bodyworker, 200 hr Ayurveda Certified educator, Thai Yoga Therapist, Reiki Master Teacher and a proud mother of three beautiful children. 

Karen's Schedule

Sat 9:15–10:45a, Vinyasa Flow, L1-L2

 
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Kay Talesnick Gilmore, RYT

Kay is so excited to be sharing her passion for yoga! She began practicing yoga on a regular basis in 2003, right after finishing her Pilates certification through Romana’s Pilates. The two forms of movement are very complimentary to each other, and Kay learned more about the body and breath through the practice of both disciplines. She has practiced the breathing and therapeutic techniques of Yoga Therapy with Laura Jane over the last 7 years, and  completed the Fox Valley Yoga Teacher Training program with Karen Weber Manz, with whom she has practiced Saturday morning yoga for over ten years. Kay feels fortunate to be able to share with students that which has been taught to her by wonderful loving teachers.

Kay's Schedule

Wed 11a–12:15p, Vinyasa Flow All Levels

Krista Fox, CYKT

Krista was introduced to Hatha/Vinyasa yoga about 10 years ago and immediately took to the practice. She soon discovered a new strength and flexibility in her body, spirit and everyday living and decided to share that with others...specifically kids. She embarked on the journey to become a kids instructor and is now YogaKids® certified! Her background includes the following:

  • Certified YogaKids Teacher, The White Lotus Foundation, Santa Barbara, CA
  • Many years of Yoga Teaching Experience
  • 10 years of Yoga Practice

Krista's Schedule

  • Tue 3:45–4:45p, YogaKids® Ages 3-8
  • Tue4:45–5:45p, Yoga for Tweens Ages 9-12
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Lisa Sparagna, RYT 500, MFA

Lisa has been practicing meditation and yoga for over 15 years. Her daily meditation practice brings her more awareness, calm and clarity, and loves to share this with you. She uses meditation and mindfulness to lead you back to the quiet of your own inner wisdom.

Lisa received her 200-hour yoga training certificate from the White Lotus Foundation and her 500-hour advanced yoga training certificate from Prairie Yoga. She earned an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago as well as her certificate of completion as a women’s retreat facilitator from The Sedona Women’s Institute.

Lisa's Schedule

Tue 6:15–7:15p, Meditation for Adults and Teens

 
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Marina Lisjonok, E-RYT 500, MSW

Marina stepped on the yoga mat in 1994 as yoga appeared to be the sure way to physical, mental and spiritual healing and growth. Since then she studied and experienced various styles of yoga with master teachers and spiritual leaders in Latvia (her homeland), India, Nepal and US. Yoga became her life's journey and teaching yoga became her life's passion. She completed several yoga teacher trainings with Rolf Gates, Andrew Lappa, Natalia Dubinina, and Hersh Khetarpal.  

Her teaching blends dynamic breath-based movements with static holds of postures. Spiritual affirmations, mantra, meditations and themes are woven into each class to give you an experience of your own acceptance, strength, harmony and inner peace. Learn more about Marina at www.livinglightyoga.com. Her background includes the following:

  • Certified Yoga Teacher
  • MSW in Social Work
  • 22+ years of Yoga Teaching Experience
  • 12+ years of Yoga Practice

Marina's Schedule

Sun 9–10:15a, Hatha Vinyasa, L1-L2
(Returns Nov 26, 2017)

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Megan Greene Llambias

Yoga has been a part of Megan's life for the last 15 years. Her first teacher training was a 200 hr. program with Don & Amba Stapleton of Nosara Yoga Institute in 2004. Then She studied with Cheri Clampett, Therapeutic Yoga program in California. Her mentor is yoga therapist Laura Jane Murphy-Mellencamp, C-IAYT, who has guided her for the last 12 years.  Megan's career teaching began in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, then she taught in Buenos Aires Argentina, while completing a masters in Coaching. For the last 8 years, she has been raising a family  in Santa Barbara, California.  Megan is happy to be back in the Midwest where she was born and to be teaching again.

Megan's Schedule

Sun 9–10:15a, Hatha Vinyasa, L1-L2 (thru Nov 19)
Thu 6–7:15p, Vinyasa Flow 1-2 (Starts Dec 7)

 

Meredith Harbour, CYT  500

Meredith received her training with Krishnamacharya Healing Yoga Foundation, studying under master teachers Chase Bossart and Amy Wheeler. Meredith's breath based classes are designed to bring focus to the mind while creating strength & flexibility in the body and reducing stress.  Her practice is perfect for students looking to find balance in their lives.

Meredith's Schedule

  • Mon 7:30–8:45p, Fundamentals of Yoga, L1
  • Thu 7:30–8:45p, Fundamentals of Yoga, L1
  • Sat 8–9:15a, Fundamentals of Yoga, L1
  • Thu 7:30–8:45p, Yoga for Anxiety (Starts Jan 4, 2018)
 
 
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Nancy 'Desert Lizard (DL)' Heraty, CYT

DL teaches classic Hatha Yoga with emphasis on alignment and specializes in Yoga Therapeutics for those with specific issues and ailments, particularly those with Scoliosis and spine issues.  She trained with Iyengar teacher, Elise Miller, to become a Yoga for Scoliosis trainer and continues her studies with Gabriel Halpern at Yoga Circle in Chicago. DL is an artist and potter, and her creativity shines through in her teaching. Learn more about DL on her website: www.yogajourneystotheheart.com. Her background includes the following:

  • Certified Yoga Teacher
  • Certified Yoga for Scoliosis Teacher
  • 14+ years of Yoga Teaching Experience
  • 20+ years of Yoga Practice

DL's Schedule

  • Wed 7:30–9p, Yoga for Scoliosis

Pam Keilor, CYT 500

Pam began practicing yoga in 1978 and knew from the very first class that this was something she would always enjoy.  Throughout the years, Pam has studied with many different teachers and in many different styles of yoga.  In 2007, she received her 500 hour teaching certification.

Pam believes that yoga does it all.  Yoga soothes us when we need calming; it stimulates us when we need energizing; it restores us when we need healing; and it challenges us when we need to develop courage. With dedicated practice you develop strength, flexibility, and endurance as well as peace, clarity, and joy. Her background includes the following:

  • Certified Yoga Teacher
  • 9+ years of Yoga Teaching Experience
  • 35+ years of Yoga Practice

Pam's Schedule

  • Wed* 6–7:30p, Vinyasa Flow, L1-L2
  • Fri 6–7:30p, Vigorous Vinyasa Flow, L2

*Pam will be sharing the teaching of Wed classes with Laura Jane

 

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Patti Bilbro, RYT 500

In 2007, Patti earned her 200-RYT and her Meditation Teacher training from the Temple of Kriya Yoga and continued studying at the Temple as an apprentice teacher. She completedher 500-RYT at The Bhavana Institute of Yoga and Ayurveda.

In her teaching, Patti's emphasizes finding the practice that is right for you both physically and mentally. She believes that through a consistent yogapractice, you will find greater peace, harmony, and joy.

Patti is currently bringing the teachings of yoga to both inpatient and outpatient settings at Good Samaritan Hospital's department of Behavioral Health. She thanks her teachers Joyce Owens, Kathleen Wright, and Laura Jane Mellencamp Murphy for guidance and opportunity.

Patti's Schedule

Thu 4:30–5:45p, Basic Beginning Yoga, L1

 

Shaun Emerson, E-RYT 200

Shaun was encouraged by his wife, Lisa, to start his yoga journey five years ago in the heat of a Bikram studio. What started as a torrid eight-month love affair with Bikram turned into a four month long breakup. Again, encouraged by Lisa, Shaun became a devotee of yoga with weights often attending classes with his wife and two daughters. After about a year, prompted by his daughters and curious to delve deeper into his yoga practice, Shaun entered and completed Yoga By Degrees 200 hour Teacher Training program. During his training, Shaun shifted from sculpt to vinyasa and found, not only his breath, but a love for vinyasa’s quiet, yet vigorous, elegance.

For the last year and half, Shaun has continued his yoga exploration and education with Laura Jane’s guidance deepening his understanding and commitment to his practice.

Shaun's Schedule

Wed 6:30-8p, YAF Book Club—
Meets 2nd Wed of month

 

Therese Carlson, RN, CYT 500

Therese is a registered nurse and yoga teacher. Therese has taught hatha, a mindful Vinyasa, and gentle yoga but found a love for Prenatal yoga. She uses her 33 years of nursing experience and her love of yoga to nurture, strengthen and guide moms-to-be through this exciting journey. The teachers that have strong influence on her life and yoga are her mom and dad, Tricia Fiske, Lori Gaspar, Julie Gudmestad and Tias Little. She also works as a nurse in the community and is the mother of 3 young adults. Her background includes the following:

  • Certified Yoga Teacher, 500hr, Prairie Yoga, Lisle, IL
  • Certified Prenatal Yoga teacher, Global Yoga Center, Chicago, IL
  • 8 years of yoga teaching experience
  • 20 years of yoga practice
  • 33 years of nursing

Therese's Schedule

Thu 6–7:15p, Prenatal Yoga (thru Nov 30)
Tue 6–7:15p, Prenatal Yoga (starts Dec 5)