Our Team

Jim Cogan - The Yoga Shop ChicagoJim Cogan E-RYT/Owner:

I’m a Chicago native. In a prior life, I was a recording engineer and faculty member at Columbia College Chicago. After moving to Lake Geneva in the early 2000s, I got involved with Yoga; first casually, then decided to go for my 200 hour teaching certificate with Lori Gaspar at Prairie Yoga in Lisle, Illinois. This led to an apprenticeship with the iconic Gabriel Halpern at the Yoga Circle in Chicago. With serendipity playing a huge role, I find myself back in my former neighborhood, Old Irving Park.

Personally, I’m excited to build a business with a sense of “place”. A place where we can meet, restore and rejuvenate in a really cool space.

I’m also a sailor, gardener and author, with wildly varying degrees of skill.


Jen Riser Stevens, The Yoga ShopJen Stevens

Jen comes from an athletic background formerly being a collegiate gymnast and has always had some sort of passion for physical fitness. It wasn’t until the last several years that yoga has come into her life and she quickly fell in love with all aspects of yoga. The mind body connection, the physical aspect, the challenges and just how good yoga makes Jen feel is so much of what she loves about it and why she wants to share it with others. Jen is currently working towards her 200 hour training and has various certifications including personal training, YogaSculpt, cycling, Pilates, PiYo and others. Jen looks forward to sharing her yoga journey with others and can’t wait for her students to walk away from class feeling strong, energized and refreshed.


Rachel Meeuwse

Rachel’s experience with yogic philosophy and practice began 17 years ago in her hometown of Kalamazoo, Michigan. She moved to Chicago in 2008 and found many amazing teachers and yoga communities that developed her practice into a powerful force in her life, helping to maintain balance and health through the rigors of living and working in the second city. The sense of inspiration, freedom, and comfort in her own skin that she receives from her yoga practice has kept her coming back to the mat year after year.
Rachel’s classes emphasize mindful awareness, cultivated through alignment and the unification of breath and movement; and are designed to guide the student toward a direct experience of their own profound capacity for inner power and peace.


Gena Love

Gena’s passions for yoga is contagious. She has experience in several variations of yoga and fitness training.

Prior to yoga, Gena was involved in martial arts and weight lifting. One day she decided to take a yoga class and found it to be challenging and fun. At first, she was drawn to the physicality of yoga. However, due to some personal setbacks Gena began to fall in love with the spiritual essence that yoga provided her.

Gena is a mother of a darling nine year old. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, meditation and mentoring young girls in a program called “Girls on the run”. This program helps girls build self-esteem through mental exercises and improves fitness through physical activity.

Her students would say that Gena’s classes are challenging because they combine dance movements and power in an environment that is both free and multi functional.



Sarah Landicho, The Yoga ShopSarah Landicho

Sarah sought out yoga to literally bring balance to her life after several bouts with severe vertigo. Bikram and power yoga brought that equillibrium, as well as a calmness and centeredness to her family life. This energy breathed new life into her running. It all led Sarah down the path to learn more and become a teacher. She now guides her students through fun, energizing classes where they can be serious about their yoga, but they don’t have to take themselves too seriously. Sarah enjoys watching her students change and challenge themselves from class to class, whether beginning or practiced yogis. She’s inspired by the many ways yoga seeps into each person’s life– first through the postures, and then off the mat.



Silvita Diaz Brown, The Yoga Shop ChicagoSilvita Diaz Brown

Silvita Diaz Brown is a certified Yoga instructor, movement teacher, choreographer and dancer. She holds a BFA in Dance from UDLAP (Puebla Mexico) and a MFA in Theatre with a Movement Teaching Diploma from York University in Toronto.

Silvita obtained a 200 hour Yoga certification from Chicago Yoga Center in 2009.

For Silvita, “Yoga has been the blessing of my life!”


Jennifer Diamond, The Yoga Shop ChicagoJennifer Diamond

A long time student of Eastern philosophy and religion, as well as psychology, Jennifer found yoga to be the missing piece tying together the physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual aspects of human experience that have always interested her. She says, “During 16 years of practice I have been fortunate to study with senior teachers trained in Ashtanga, Hatha, Vinyasa, and Anusara yoga.

I completed my 200 hour RYT teacher training with Global Yoga and Wellness Center, under the guidance of Rhonda Kantor, hatha and prenatal yoga instructor and Rita Knorr, certified anusara instructor. I have also completed the Street Yoga teacher training, focused on teaching yoga to underserved populations. When not teaching yoga I am likely taking a yoga class, playing with my dog, hanging out with my 3 children, singing loudly or cooking”.


Web CS-1Careid Surprenant

Careid Surprenant (500hr CYT) began attending yoga classes in 2010; although she found many of the poses challenging, the way she felt after class inspired her to continue her practice, and later become a teacher. Drawing on her background in the visual arts, she has found that in-depth knowledge of human anatomy and the mechanics of alignment are essential to create a productive and injury-free yoga experience. Locally, she has studied Ashtanga with Todd Boman, Tantric Yoga with Marcelyn Cole and Mia Park, Alignment based yoga with Rich Logan, Iyengar and Therapeutics with Gabriel Halpern. Careid incorporates pranayama & meditation, as well as Ashtanga, Tantric and Iyengar elements into each class. She believes that everything we need is already within us; it is through the practice of yoga that we discover who we are.


Paula BuiPaula Bui

Paula has been practicing and studying both yoga and AcroYoga since 2009. Combined, both practices continue to teach her about patience and how to be a better person.

She became a Certified Yoga and AcroYoga teacher in March and November of 2013, respectively.

You’ll find that through sharing her practice she cultivates a space to foster freedom, growth, and strength of the body and mind. Paula continues to study yoga, bodywork, and acrobatics as often as she can and is grateful for the teachers that have guided her in her path. Though she may be petite, she is probably one of the strongest vegan women you’ll ever meet.


IMG_5948Olinka Mytsiura

Olinka was born in Ukraine and moved to the US in 2009. Her yoga journey started a few months before she left her home country with an amazing teacher named Shalinder Negi, who studied at the Shivananda Ashram in Rishikesh. Since that time she knew she wanted to be a yoga teacher. Upon moving to the United States, Olinka maintained daily personal practice for three years until she found Alternative Health Group yoga studio.

Tim Suh and Rhiannon Kirby inspired her to take the yoga teacher training and focus on the Sivananda and Ashtanga (modified primary series) lineages. Later she did prenatal yoga training with Cassie Rodgers and apprenticed with Jenny Fishman. For some time Olinka was happily continuing her education through apprenticeship with an amazing teacher Gabriel Halpern until she was diagnosed with a brain tumor.
After successful surgery and rehab she started teaching yoga again, and now she is back to doing it full time. Olinka underwent radiation and chemo, but teaching yoga gave her strength and energy during her healing journey. Now she is done with all the treatment, which made her a cancer survivor. This life-changing event gave her a new perspective on different aspects of her life including yoga practice and teaching. Olinka believes that it will help her to become more compassionate and understanding, and a better yoga teacher.


_ND42765Ana Paliza-Brown

A native of the Dominican Republic, Ana started practicing yoga in hopes of relieving the physical and mental stress caused from years of working as a professional cook. After a leg injury, she found that her recovery was exponentially faster once she returned to the mat, which inspired her to become a yoga teacher. She received her 200RYT teacher training certification at It’s Yoga in San Francisco in 2008. She has been practicing daily ever since.

Her practice has completely changed her life, helping her find more balance, acceptance, and connection. This transformation has inspired and encouraged her to transition from her former stress filled work environment into a more wellness focused one, where she can share the love for the practice.

As a yoga teacher, she encourages her students to be compassionate and kind both on and off the mat. Her classes are a balanced mix of physical postures, breath work, meditation and relaxation and she strives to assist her students in bringing their yoga out of the classroom and into their lives.

She has furthered her yoga education by completing trainings in Kid’s Yoga and Yoga to Transform Trauma, and is excited to be currently pursuing a Therapeutic Yoga Certification with Integrative Yoga Therapy. She hopes that these trainings will assist her in her desire to offer yoga to everyone, regardless of their physical, emotional, or mental limitations.

Ana is also very passionate about delicious and nutritious foods and the connection between nourishment, health and happiness. She is always looking for new ways to combine her love for yoga with her love for food.


KarenPlumleyKaren Plumley

Karen Plumley has been teaching Hatha yoga for 7 years and practicing for more than 10 years. Karen graduated from Global Yoga with a 200 hour certificate in 2008. She has since studied with and has been inspired by Judith Lasater, Tias Little, Rod Stryker and Gabriel Halpern. She recently completed a 150 hour certification in Yoga for Survivors, taught by Laura Kupperman, specializing in yoga for those with cancer or in any stage of recovery from cancer. Karen has also been working toward her 500 hour certification through Prairie Yoga in Lisle IL. She hopes to one day become a Yoga Therapist.

Karen’s classes tend to be more gentle, or moving at a slower pace than regular vinyasa classes. She likes to bring alignment cues into her classes, but also allows time for quiet introspection, to encourage tuning into the breath and body. She also adds in pranayama (breath work) and meditation on a regular basis. Karen works hard to provide a class with intelligent sequencing so that students are prepared for more challenging poses and can leave class feeling good!

Outside of class, Karen is a full time mom with two teenage boys who are very active in sports. Needless to say, Karen savors moments of peace and quiet anywhere in the trees and forests of the Midwest!


debby-friestysDebby Fries

Debby found her way to yoga to balance the stress of a high powered advertising career. Having practiced for 12 years she enrolled in teacher training and never looked back. Graduating in 2014 from Yogaview, she studied under Tom Quinn, Claire Mark, Quinn Kearney and Geri Beiber and has been teaching for 2 years. Her classes have a vigorous flow set to inspiring, non-traditional music stimulating the body and soul while enlightening students to the power of breath with their movement. She is rewarded daily by the positive changes yoga brings to both herself and her students.



Chelsea Brown

Chelsea Brown is a dedicated yogini who began her practice in 2007 at the age of 17.  In 2011 she completed a 200 hour teacher training at Prairie Yoga in Lisle, IL under the direction of her longtime mentor and friend, Tricia Fiske.  She has since dedicated thousands of hours to teaching students of all ages, abilities, and experience levels.  Her teachings call upon hundreds of hours of formal training in addition to a deep and continual relationship to self-practice rooted in tantra.  Her class offerings are meticulously planned and dedicated to presenting yoga as a meditative practice and healing art.  Chelsea uses her wealth of knowledge and experience to offer workshops for students to deepen their connections to yoga through yoga nidra, pranayama, meditation, and sound healing.  As a Yoga Alliance continuing education provider, she has created dynamic trainings for teachers including Props for All Levels of Asana and Vinyasa Krama: Energetic Sequencing. Chelsea completed her Registered Children’s Yoga Teacher requirements in 2017 through Global Family Yoga. As a registered children’s yoga teacher, She aspires to help shape today’s children into vibrant and connected adults who will use their gift of a lifelong yoga practice to create a more beautiful tomorrow.



Keith Glab

Keith began practicing yoga regularly in 2008, primarily interested in its physical benefits. Gradually, he began to delve more into the mental, energetic, and spiritual aspects of the practice. This study drew him to Rishikesh, India to learn from Himalayan Yoga Master Yogirishi Vishvketu first in 2015, then again in 2017 to complete a 200-hour teacher training and receive the spiritual name of Omkar Nath. The holistic style of yoga he learned there incorporates breath, mantra, meditation, and yogic philosophy along with the physical postures. He tries to relay these millennia-old teachings in a manner that is fun and accessible for the modern yogi who does not live in an ashram!
Off the mat, Keith/Omkar obsesses over all things baseball, even making a living working with statistics on the televised games.