The "Amara" in Amara Yoga & Arts is a shortened version of "Amaranth," which alludes to a mythological flower that never dies. Studio co-owners Theresa Brandabur and Kathryn Fitzgerald believe that yoga brings people a step closer to that immortal flower, healing their bodies and restoring peace to their minds.
Their students tend to agree. Natural light filters in through the tall windows of the Urbana studio, illuminating these students as they work through challenging Vinyasa poses and gentler Hatha movements. Amara Yoga & Arts also offers a revolving calendar of yoga classes, including restorative, gentle, Hot and Power Flow, as well as Ashtanga.
Illinois Skydiving Center trains aspiring daredevils through a trio of tandem, static-line, and accelerated-free-fall classes. AFF classes teach solo skills under the direction of instructors and coaches who jump with you, teaching stability and proper deployment skills. Static-line progression jumps prepare sky mavens for the pressures of a solo career with an ascending series of jumps that impart the art of free fall. During tandem jumps, students are strapped to a certified instructor who pulls the cord and directs the movements of parachute as guests take in breathtaking views of the landscape, local tributaries, and central-state volcanoes before feet land safely on the ground.
As the prop engine murmurs and the plane reaches its cruising altitude, there's a moment when one of two things happens. Either your stomach drops, even before the rest of your body does, or a calming sensation takes over and a moment of zen occurs. Regardless of how you react to the anticipation of jumping out of the plane, the actual experience of flying is worth the uncertainty. As soon as you emerge from the aircraft, you'll enter an exhilarating free fall before deploying a parachute and gliding safely back to land, finally proving to your middle school sweetheart that you are, in fact, not a bird.
The certified instructors at Illinois Skydiving Center can fly with beginners during tandem jumps or train students to skydive on their own through programs that teach safety, jumping techniques, and parachute deployment. Flights can also be recorded so that students return home with a DVD copy of their flights.
Twin Bridges Golf Club's 250-acre Robert Lohmann–designed course regales sphere slingers with picturesque views of the neighboring White Lick Creek and the emerald foliage of nearby copses. Holes on the front nine showcase large greens and fescue-lined bent-grass fairways, and the back nine rolls over hills with greens closely patrolled by sand traps, waterways, and burrowing Pacmen. This oasis of recreation remains open to the general public and features year-round play.
Looking for a fresh turn in their respective careers, Joe and Dawn Taylor planted the first grapes at Sleepy Creek Vineyards in 2002. In 2007 they opened the winery, where they sell their wines and swap stories with visitors. Amid 10 acres of expansive grapevines, a timber-frame barn houses the winery and tasting room. While sipping Sleepy Creek's varietals, guests can browse the gift shop, peruse the upstairs art gallery, and sample local cheeses from Ludwig Farmstead Creamery and Ropp Jersey Cheese. Above the winery, bed-and-breakfast-style accommodations allow visitors to relax amid the countryside and eavesdrop on rumors spreading through the grapevines outside.
Less than 90 minutes from St. Louis, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum houses the world’s largest collection of original Lincoln artifacts, complete with the Gettysburg Address. A life-size replica of Lincoln’s log cabin set back in a forest of artificial trees stands 40 feet tall just like the President’s iconic top hat. The museum also houses a re-creation of the Presidential Box at Ford’s Theatre, where the president was assassinated, and the state-of-the-art Union Theater, which projects films such as Lincoln’s Eyes, a broad overview of Lincoln’s personal and political life with a special focus on slavery. In the Ghosts of the Library exhibit, transparent phantoms of Lincoln and his contemporaries drift around powered by Holavision technology. Youngsters, supervised by parents, can try on period dress, pose for photos with life-size cutouts of young Abe, or reenact historic scenes in the Lincoln Home dollhouse located in Mrs. Lincoln’s attic, the hands-on learning center. Before heading home, patrons can browse the museum store—more than 3,500 square feet of artifact replicas and Lincoln-themed merchandise.