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Meet Helen Lee of Momentum Sensorium in North

Today we’d like to introduce you to Helen Lee.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Helen. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
After graduating from high school, I was flipping thru a magazine that highlighted the Hawaiian Hula. I was intrigued and inquired about classes and began a 3 year journey performing and taking class with 2 Polynesian dance companies in the Chicagoland area.

This experience inspired me to apply to the University of Hawaii at Manoa to study dance. Never having been to Hawaii and not knowing a single person living there, I showed up a few days before school started. I am so grateful for my experience and time in Hawaii. I learned a lot about myself and was able to find acceptance in who I am and where my family came from. Growing up in Chicago with South Korean immigrant parents made for an interesting and sometimes challenging childhood.

While at UHM, I attended the dance department’s Modern Dance performance and was captivated. I felt I had found my calling. I threw myself into acting and dance (modern, ballet and Butoh) classes. It was rigorous and rewarding.

After 5 years at UHM, I returned home to Chicago and had no idea what I would do with a Dance and Theatre degree. I was introduced to yoga components while in school but never attended a full class. I noticed a calm after each class and felt more confident in my dance classes and rehearsals. Shortly after, I began my 200 hr. Yoga Teacher Training with Suddha Weixler at Chicago Yoga Center. This changed my life.

During this same time, I began Momentum Sensorium, a dance performance company mostly as site specific location with a few dancers.

Has it been a smooth road?
Rarely is anything smooth the entire journey. The process to get anywhere always has ebbs and flows. I believe every situation, positive or negative is an opportunity for growth.

After, teaching yoga for about 6 years and leaving a 5 year unhealthy relationship, I decided I wanted to begin my 500 hr. Yoga Teacher Training in India. It was an intense 6 week program. 2 years later, I returned to India to study silent meditation (vipassana), yoga and myself (svadhyaya). It was a turbulent and insightful 9 weeks traveling from South to North India.

In the past 4 years, I have had opportunities to teach in India, China, Mexico, Belize and Italy. And most recently, lead my 1st Mindful Yoga Retreat nearby in Michigan.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Momentum Sensorium story. Tell us more about the business.
Momentum Sensorium began in 2007 as a site specific dance performance company utilizing the enhancement and/or absence of the senses. They have been seen squishing fruit, releasing ladybugs into the sky, asking audience members to run with their eyes closed in open fields, inside gardens, at the lakefront and at lighthouses. It has since evolved into many other layers.

Momentum Sensorium hosts Yoga on the Beach at North Shore in Rogers Park every summer Sundays at 9am. Most, if not all of the money made is donated. For a long time we donated to Ten Thousand Ripples who is partnered with Changing Worlds to promote peace and nonviolence. Indira Johnson is the artist responsible for the white Buddha heads emerging from the earth all over Chicago. Currently, we are raising money to donate to the Obama Foundation.

We also offer private yoga, corporate yoga and yoga retreats.

Where do you see your industry going over the next 5-10 years? Any big shifts, changes, trends, etc?
Yoga has evolved, shifted and grown immensely in the US since it’s birth in India.  There are a variety of yoga styles, systems, studios and schools.  I believe they all serve to be valuable in some way.  What I have noticed is as our digital world evolves around us, the desire for faster, shorter, harder yoga classes is more in demand.  This growing demand, in turn, oddly attracts some of us to slow down, be still or silent, to return to ourselves, our original nature, our original home.

Here in the West, most of us consider yoga to be only physical, to get a great “workout”.  Yoga is beyond only the physical.  Yoga can be a beautiful gateway to arrive into your physical body.  I started yoga as a way to compliment my dance studies only to find myself in more yoga classes than dance classes. Yoga, meditation and mindfulness is a powerful, healing practice that can bring the balance of strength and grace into anyone’s life. Mindfulness is a practice that I have been trying to cultivate and evolve in my teaching and students.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Kristie Kahns
Matthew Gregory Hollis
Joshua Thorne
Carl Wiedemann

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