In 2002 Terry and Beth Kiely were beginning to ask themselves, “Is this all there is?” Both well-established in their careers, the husband and wife were, according to Terry, “interested in starting something new, something together and having experienced firsthand the profound power of yoga to transform our experience, we knew that yoga would be central to our path forward.” Both yoga practitioners for more than ten years, the duo chose to open Om on the Range yoga studio, and thank goodness they did. On a personal note, I found Om on the Range just after my father’s sudden death. I’m grateful to the studio for providing not only consistently challenging classes, but a safe place where I can grieve, move and grow. I spoke with Terry about Om’s unique atmosphere as well as the rising popularity of yoga in the US.
Our Town What style of yoga does Om offer?
Terry Kiely We offer a power vinyasa style of yoga that combines strong physicality, conscious breathing, and mindful alignment into a flowing series that’s really accessible for all levels of fitness and experience. We heat the room up to about 92F and turn up the humidity so that everyone gets a good, cleansing sweat going. All of our teachers want to make sure you feel like you’ve had a good physical challenge and that you’ve had plenty of space clear your mind and feed your soul.
OT What makes Om unique?
TK It all comes down to the people. Our studio reflects our own style…informal, practical, non-dogmatic, welcoming, fun, challenging, searching. It’s a real community…a club where everyone can be a member. We’ve created the kind of studio that we like to practice at.
OT How is hot yoga different than bikram?
TK Well, they’re both hot! Bikram yoga is done at a much higher temperature…typically more than 105F. Bikram yoga is also limited to a series of 26 postures and two breathing exercises. The whole class is scripted right down to the exact words that each teacher is required to use.
The power vinyasa classes that we teach follow a similar structure whether they are 60, 75, 90 minute classes. However, there is ample opportunity for our teachers to provide their insight into individual poses, to be creative in the sequence of poses, and to teach new things based on who is in the class. We found that this opportunity for freshness and creativity was really appealing to students and teachers alike. We actually started out exclusively teaching Bikram yoga in 2002, we started teaching just a few power vinyasa yoga classes in 2004, but they grew steadily. Eventually, most of our students gravitated toward power vinyasa yoga to the extent that we discontinued Bikram yoga completely in 2012.
OT What do you think about yoga’s growing popularity in the US? What are the pros and cons?
TK Well there’s no doubt that yoga is becoming extremely popular….especially here in Chicago. It’s a huge positive…what could be wrong with a growing population of people that is more aware, healthier, better able to deal with stress, better able to express their truest vision for themselves and the planet? One downside I’ve noticed is that there seems to be “overcapacity” of yoga in Chicago right now. We went through an exuberant build up in the number of classes being offered around town in all sorts of venues and recently I’ve noticed some pull back in that as we’ve witnessed a number of studio closings in the city. The other downside is that I think there’s a great deal of confusion for the public as teachers and studio owners try to define their niche in ever more creative ways (e.g., yoga, yoga with weights, acro yoga, yin yoga, power yoga, paddle board yoga, yoga with your dog, etc. )
OT What’s your own practice like?
TK We both practice about 5 or 6 times per week at our studio. Beth and I often schedule things so that I can take her class and she can take my class. Some days we’re interested in trying new things and having a very physical practice and other days we just need some space to calm down, relax, and move a little. We’re lucky that we practice so much that we don’t feel like there’s anything specific that has to be accomplished in any given session. We have the ability to just let each practice unfold. We try to teach in such a way that all of our students can experience and develop that ease of self.
OT What mistakes do you see students making?
TK I think the biggest “mistake” we see is students who want to get yoga “right.” As a people, we’re somewhat conditioned to look to outside sources for affirmation that what we’re doing is “right” or that give us “the answer.” Yoga is a process of revealing and trusting and cultivating your inner guidance. You really don’t need a lot of technique/skill/experience to do yoga. You simply need to be willing to see yourself clearly and work with your body in a way that reflects your current reality. If you’re breathing and you’re aware, there’s no way to get yoga wrong.
OT Is yoga a sufficient form of exercise?
TK I think every individual is going to have their own answer for this question. I will say that yoga has been sufficient exercise for me for the past 15 years or so. At my annual physical exams, my BMI, heart rate, cholesterol, and other numbers are all really good. I don’t have a lot of nagging injuries that limit my mobility. I feel like I handle stress pretty well. How much of that is good luck or good conditioning, I can’t say. I will say that we have a lot of people who come to class 5,6, or 7 times a week and they seem to be in really good shape. I think yoga is an even more important form of exercise as we get a little older (I’m 51) because it is low impact…but it can also be high intensity. It also helps you develop an awareness of your body that helps you adapt your practice to the ongoing changes our bodies undergo as time marches on. I think adaptability is a critical quality to cultivate as we move into our 50s and 60s….it probably wouldn’t hurt to start cultivating it earlier!
OT Who would you love to have in your class?
TK I’d love to have my mom who just turned 90 in class. She’s been doing yoga every week for the past few years…she’s not crazy about the heat though!
Visit Om on the Range's website to learn more.
A writer with an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sarah Terez Rosenblum freelances for sites like Pop Matters and
afterellen.com Her debut novel, “Herself When She’s Missing," was called “poetic and heartrending” by ALA Booklist. Sarah is also a figure model, Spinning instructor and teacher at Chicago’s StoryStudio. Inevitably one day she will find herself lecturing naked on a spinning bike. She's kind of looking forward to it actually.
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