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Meet Mary Lou Cerami of Chicago S.U.P Yoga in Uptown

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mary Lou Cerami.

Mary Lou, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I believe we all deserve the opportunity to make a living doing what we love. It’s not the easiest thing to create – but with hard work and sacrifice, this idea can be a reality. I’m living proof.

I started freelancing as a graphic designer after the dot-com bust – sadly laid off after years with an incredible startup which was bought out, and began that new day as unemployed. I took my title, and the skills I gained, and built a comfortable freelance company, of which I am presently the sole designer for a nice mix of clients.

I love my job, but sitting in front of the computer for endless hours is lonely – and I yearned for more. I also struggled with chronic back pain and searched for years for relief. Ultimately I discovered yoga, and became a registered yoga instructor. But the story doesn’t end there. Actually yoga was just the beginning.

Today I lead yoga workshops and events in all venues, from standup paddleboard yoga on Lake Michigan to studio classes and events utilizing my favorite training tool, the Indo Balance Board. I’ve recently begun speaking on paddle board safety and introducing a new class I teach; How to SUP with your pup.

I’ve turned my passion into something tangible – something that gives back to others. We are not all teachers, but we all have a passion. It’s possible to unravel the complex balance of life and work. Why just work and live for a happy retirement? Why not work and live for a happy life?

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Life is full of meandering paths. If our path was smooth and straight, we wouldn’t become the people we are. The bumps I encountered in the road are when I was forced to persevere. When I first learned to paddle board, I was terrified of falling off my board. I wouldn’t allow myself to relax, my muscles became so tense I wasn’t able to breath and notice my surroundings. When I learned to relax, to ground into my feet, to remain rooted and upright and strong – well, after that anything was possible, and still is. Paddle boarding is the ultimate parallel of life. We fear falling in every sense of the word, but it’s when we fall, and learn to fall with grace, that’s when we become who we are destined to be. This is why teaching paddle boarding with yoga is my truest life’s passion. It’s incredible when I see my students move thru the stages of fear and lack of confidence and in the end, emerge determined and strong – it’s beautiful.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Chicago S.U.P Yoga – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
I’m best known for Chicago S.U.P Yoga. My online presence is strong, and I built and maintain my own website. I began my web career hand-coding html back in the late 90s, and I still have a geeky joy of writing back-end code.

More importantly than the website, is the service I provide through it, that is what I’m most proud of – teaching SUP Yoga. Because to me, S.U.P Yoga is not just about performing tricky poses on a paddle board. To me, discovering the connection of paddle boarding itself – to yoga – is the goal. Because you will never achieve anything worthwhile if you just tie up and move thru the movements. Paddling the board through rolling waves, or standing still while a breeze caresses your face, or just remembering to breathe and look around at the world around you – that’s the real reward. And I don’t require any paddle boarding experience to attend my classes, catering to beginners opens this sport up to everyone, and I’m proud of that fact.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
When you work in a technical field, it’s important to keep your skills current. The design field is always changing, and I’m always striving to stay on top of latest trends in design. While most wouldn’t think of paddle boarding as technical – it’s rife with specialized techniques and maneuvers. Being part of the collaborative team with the ACA (American Canoe Association) providing SUP Yoga Instructor endorsements requires refining my skills to the highest level. Continuing to offer the ACA SUP Yoga Instructor courses in Chicago is one huge goal, as I believe wholeheartedly in the caliber of the ACA. The ACA offers the most safety conscience and thorough watersport certifications in the industry today, and only those who earn the distinction pass.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Mary Lou Cerami, Chicago S.U.P Yoga

Getting in touch: VoyageChicago is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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