Feb 2010 | | Comments
Call me spiritually un-evolved, but when Karen Citow, owner of the new studio "Breathe … A Yoga Oasis" in Glencoe, tells me she's donating 100% of proceeds to charity, I can’t believe my ears.
“That’s right,” Citow says calmly. UNICEF will be the recipient of all profits for the first year. UNICEF is dedicated to making the world a better place for all children, and profits will be specifically earmarked for the children of Haiti.
This overwhelming display of generosity, sheepishly revealed toward the end of our interview, should not have stunned me into silence, as I had spent the last two hours getting to know this awesome woman.
Visibly uncomfortable with my admiration of her and her mission, Citow smiles and simply says, "It’s not about me."
Then she redirects the conversation, citing the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu: "A journey of a thousand miles starts with one step."
Clearly, Citow, a psychotherapist, has left her ego on the mat. Actually, she must have had an ego-otomy. And only a skilled surgeon could have left the rest of her so delightfully intact. She is bright, funny and self-effacing. Her enthusiasm for this new venture is palpable and contagious.
When asked about why she opened a yoga studio, Karen quotes another spiritual mentor, Mahatma Gandhi: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Gandhi’s mandate provided the impetus, while the key tenets of Zen philosophy—kindness and compassion—are the foundation on which the center was built. Karen believes that training our attention to these principles through yoga, meditation, breathing techniques, group discussions and visiting speakers, will:
The ultimate goal is for people to gather at Breathe, experience these three benefits of practice, take them out into the world, and share kindness and compassion with others.
The people who work at Breathe are committed to this philosophy, which drives all aspects of the business. Classes and programs are designed to reach across all phases of life: pre-natal, kids and teens, parent/child, couples, men only, seniors, and individuals with mental or physical health issues.
Every day, from 10:30 to 11 a.m., the studio is open to the public for daily meditation. The few products sold at Breathe come from vendors who share Citow’s commitment to charity and community service.
Spending time in the tranquility of this beautiful space and conversing with a kindred soul, I am reminded of the great philosopher Nora Ephron, who wrote, “I’ll have what she’s having.”
My hope is that you do the same.
Breathe … A Yoga Oasis
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Meditations from the Mat: Daily Reflections on the Path of Yoga
Rolf Gates and Katrina Kenison
Waking: A Memoir of Trauma and Transcendence
Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life
Thich Nhat Hanh
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