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Yogi Gulia Huertas

Gulia Huertas

Gulia Huertas

Gulia Huertas is not your average “yogi.” In fact, the owner/operator of P.S. Yoga in Chicago’s Galewood neighborhood (psyogachicago.com) is the quintessential role model for aspiring yoga instructors and entrepreneurs. Huertas, who is petite but very strong both mentally and physically, started her yoga journey in high school as a result of an injury she suffered as a cheerleader. Ten concussions, three auto accidents, two cycling accidents and a handful of unfortunate events later, “The only thing that has made me heal and feel better was yoga,” she explains.

While taking yoga classes at a local gym, she worked part-time for a chiropractor, which fueled her interest in alternative medicine. She studied physics when she first went to DePaul, but switched to pre-med so she could pursue chiropractic as a profession.

As Huertas made her way through her challenging and difficult classes at DePaul, she decided to launch her own business, Perfect Science, to help practitioners of alternative medicine market their services. “Why work for one practitioner when I could work for many?” she asked herself.

She recognized the profession’s need for marketing, and especially liked the idea of spreading the word about wellness within the community. And so she marched down to city hall, incorporated her business, did a lot of research and was up and running in a little less than a year.

As a budding entrepreneur, Huertas learned early that juggling a home-based business had its ups and downs. One day, while walking around campus, she came across some monks promoting yoga to students. “They lured me in with free vegetarian food!” she recalls with a laugh.

Huertas took classes a few days a week with the monks to decompress from her busy schedule and learn the philosophy behind yoga. “I found that the only time I was happy was when I was on my mat,” she recalls. That’s when Huertas made the pivotal decision to leave school and dive head first into her chosen career.

She woke up one day, took the money she had saved for her next semester and leased a space that she dubbed her yoga sanctuary. “Six years later, it evolved into a beautiful business,” she says with obvious pride.

Her budding alternative medicine business, Perfect Science, had evolved into P.S. Yoga, and Huertas is a trained Ashtanga teacher under the instruction of Yoga Guru Manju Pattabhi Jois, who hails from India. She has worked with him for more than six years.

The yoga business is booming right now, and Huertas stands out among the competition. As you walk into P.S. Yoga on Grand and Harlem you feel instant bliss. Huertas promotes community and wants all her students to feel at home.

She hosts regular workshops, has a lounge dedicated to tea and relaxation, and her instructors specialize in different kinds of yoga. This allows students to get a feel for the many dimensions of the discipline. “We offer yoga for every stage of life!” Huertas enthuses.

In exchange for a free membership, more than a dozen women help Huertas run the studio on a work-study basis. Huertas downplays the commercialization of yoga embodied by the trendy “yoga pants,” preferring instead to emphasize the healthful aspects of the discipline. “Yoga is not a fashion show!” she insists. Her students love how unpretentious her studio is.

“I never pay myself to teach a class,” she passionately states. “I call it my ‘Darma Movement.'”

One experience really made her want to elevate her yoga mission in the community. She was mugged in the summer of 2013. “It really changed my perspective on things,” she notes.

One of her current goals is to go into low-income areas and help people learn out to teach yoga, “I want to create jobs in these areas,” she explains. She also enjoys introducing yoga to children. She recently visited Canty Elementary School, where she taught 65 students how to breathe and relax.

She also introduced yoga to residents of the Englewood area during an epilepsy conference in Chicago. “I led the meditation room and felt so powerful and inspired! I talked to people about yoga for hours,” she recalls.

“From when I was a little girl, I would say, ‘I am going to change the world’ and people would laugh at me!” Huertas recalls. She certainly has proven the naysayers wrong.

In March, P.S. Yoga hosted a workshop on Auricular Acupuncture, and at the end of May she will be hosting a Vedic Thai-Yoga Bodywork course. And Huertas is no stranger to her Italian-American roots. Her mother was born in Calabria and she hopes to one day lead a yoga retreat at a villa in Italy.

It may sound cliché to say that Huertas followed her passion for yoga and alternative medicine but her eagerness to help others and her business savvy go hand-in-hand.

She currently focuses most of her energy on the business end of P.S. Yoga while teaching a class at the studio. But she always has plans to take things to the next level. She wants educate people on the benefits of juicing fruits and vegetables and hopes to have more space for classes as her student population grows.

“My moral duty in this world is to keep that studio there,” she asserts. For now, she can rest assured in the knowledge that she is making a big difference in the lives of her students.

Each yogi brings an intention with them to their mat. “My intention every day is to live, love and serve,” Huertas passionately states. “I’m here on this earth to maybe make it a little happier place.”

P.S. Yoga is located is located at 7169 W. Grand Ave. in Chicago. For details, call 773-637-0560 or visit www.psyogachicago.com.

About Alanna Chiefari

Alanna Chiefari is a 2007 graduate of Saint Mary's college-Notre Dame. She has been writing for Fra Noi since the winter of 2011 and is absolutely thrilled to feature young Italian-American adults who are off to a great start. Alanna has been working as a client associate on a wealth management team for Merrill Lynch since May of 2007. In her spare time, she loves exploring Italian culture by reading books, trying new restaurants and meeting Italian Americans who are benefiting the community. Follow her on Twitter at @LannaDionne.