alum-brianne-spansHealing Through Yoga

Brianne Spans, '07, talks about why yoga has the potential to transform lives.

With all the stress in life, one way to manage it is through yoga. At Gawea Yoga, a registered yoga school in Lockport, Illinois, Brianne Spans, ’07, shows her students how to strengthen their bodies while finding inner peace.

Spans, who graduated with a kinesiology degree and has been teaching for 16 years, has turned her passion for yoga into a business to help her clients improve their quality of life.

“Yoga is a reflection of your life and your life is a reflection of your yoga,” says Spans, who is in her fourth year as a business owner. “How you practice yoga can really show a true reflection on where you are emotionally in life.”

At the same time, yoga is an outlet for self-discovery.

“I find that yoga benefits both the teacher and students,” she says. “It provides a platform for learning and discovering life. It provides a sacred space for everyone to connect and explore.”

Her classes range from beginners yoga to restorative yoga, where long holds of therapeutic poses are practiced.

“There is a lot of healing I have personally experienced in restorative yoga,” the Orland Park resident says.

Her recent success stories include working one-on-one with disabled veterans to improve their quality of life. She believes in supporting veterans and their families and has done fundraising for America's Gold Star Families, which supports family members who have lost a loved one in military service. 

Besides offering yoga to the public, she specializes in training instructors and has written a book for the training. Spans emphasizes to her students that authenticity is what clients are looking for when they come to class.

Quoting author and scholar Joseph Campbell, Spans says, “The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.”

Her graduates have gone on to work for her or other studios, while others have opened their own studios.

Although Spans loves what she does, she advises anyone interested in opening their own business that a strong passion and a willingness to work nonstop are just part of the requirements to run a business.

“Know that this will interfere with relationships and will leave you very exhausted. Come up with a solid game plan and solid schedule. Have someone to help you out, perhaps an assistant,” she says. “This will be so crucial to work all areas that are necessary for your business.”

Spans is thankful that Northern Illinois University provided her with the opportunity to establish friendships and recalls having friends over at her apartment in downtown DeKalb and hanging out at Starbusters.

“It was really important for me to have that support,” she says.