Alumni in Motion: Cilla Stoll, Class of 1982


Mia Johnson

This week’s Alumni in Motion column features Cilla Stoll from the class of 1982. People know her as the owner and a renowned teacher at the Forever Om yoga studio in uptown Lake Forest, but many people do not know that she went to LFHS herself. Cilla is a wife and mother of three. Two of her children, Kelsey (24) and Drew (22), graduated and went to the high school as well, and her daughter Maggie graduated from Lake Forest Academy. Stoll participated in a variety of activities at the high school. Women sports weren’t as big at the time, but Cilla made sure she was involved in Intramural sports. She did the Talent Show all four years of her high school career and her favorite class that she took was Law. She loved how the class was dynamic in arguments due to all the strong personalities that were in her class. Stoll’s favorite teacher that she had was Dr. Enright, as she loved his relatable stories and thought he was a well-rounded teacher.

After Stoll’s four years at the high school, she graduated in the summer of 1982 and then attended DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. Stoll majored in Communications and minored in Art. She was very interested in marketing and advertising. She was briefly involved in a sorority, but she spent most of her time in college in the art department. She then graduated college in 1986 and started her first job at Anheuser Busch. After that, Stoll then went in to a job in communications, although its math-based nature surprised her at first. She ended up as a sales analyst at Quaker Oats.

After working at Quaker, Stoll, a mom of three was busy, but was always interested in different projects. She became obsessed with yoga and decided to open FOY when she was practicing yoga herself. For her, yoga healed her many injuries as a runner, tennis player, and triathlete Yoga became her most prized possession. She realized it was a lifelong journey of learning about yoga.

It took her six months to complete a program to get certified as a yoga teacher. But, it wasn’t nearly enough to qualify her as a yoga teacher due to the fact that yoga teachers have to continuously be training and learning. She completed five separate 200-hour programs, a 500-hour advanced training program, numerous assisting programs, and most recently, a Chopra Meditation training (Deepak Chopra) on PSM-primordial sound meditation. So, at this point you could say that Cilla Stoll can do it all.

The Forest Scout got in touch with Cilla Stoll and had her answer a few questions about Forever Om yoga and give advice to any future yogis out there that want to get certified.

What and where was the place to go in and out of LFHS back in ’82?

Stoll: “In the high school we would sometimes hang out on the stairs! Not too glamorous, I know, but also the lunch room or the front lawn if the weather was nice. After school, a big hang out spot was the Burger King where Westwood Bistro is now. We would also walk around Lake Forest with friends.”

What is the biggest thing that has changed from the high school?

Stoll: “The high school is bigger now. The facilities are really nice. Girls’ sports are much bigger now which makes me very happy. There is a bigger emphasis on kids going into higher level classes.”

How would you classify your job today?

Stoll: “Entrepreneur (Yoga studio owner and yoga teacher)”

What is your favorite yoga pose you personally like or enjoy teaching?

Stoll: “My favorite pose is every pose, but the pose that feels best to me is ardha chandrasana (half moon pose) and every variation of that pose.”

What advice would you give to a high school student?

Stoll: “You are enough–already. You are perfect the way that you were born. You’ll learn more about yourself as life goes on, but remember you are perfect and don’t have to change in any way. Life is about revealing your beauty rather than working on yourself. Sometimes as young adults we don’t see that. It makes me happy when I see someone in high school who is chill with who they are. It’s extremely important to take time to be alone–no technology, ideally in nature, but truly alone, and you’ll see the beauty of what’s already there.”

What’s a fun fact about you?

Stoll: “I was extremely shy as a child and in order to teach, I had to get over it in a big way. I always thought that being shy and unable to talk in a public setting was who I was. Teaching yoga has taught me a lot about self-limitations and how they are not true.”

Any advice you would give to any future yogis out there that want to get certified?

Cilla: I would say be picky about which training you do. There are a lot of very very mediocre trainings out there. They all cover what’s necessary through Yoga Alliance, but do they cover what you need them to cover is the question at hand. Most do not teach you to be in a yoga room, to connect with students, and how to move energy using specific language. But if someone wants to learn about a specific style of yoga it wouldn’t be the one for you. Kundalini, Forest, or Ashtanga yoga practices would need a more specific training than ours. So know what you want and don’t sell yourself short. Most people say, “I never want to teach,” because they think it sounds too gutsy to say they want to teach. Most end up wanting to. Start reading right away. When you do sign up for a course, ask what books you can start reading and do it. You’ll feel so much more like you understand the training if you’ve already read the books once or twice (or even three times). Enjoy the process! It’s a blast going through training and will change your life profoundly.

Believe it or not, the sales analyst turned yoga teacher and the owner of Lake Forest’s marquee yoga studio, Forever Om, was once a LFHS student like all of us. Personally, I am happy to call Cilla Stoll my yoga teacher and a person that I look up to. I’m still astonished when she does the perfect inversion. Hopefully one day I can say that I can do a perfect headstand, but it’s certainly not easy. Stoll is someone who is a believer in self-worth and someone everyone admires. She is a great example of someone who expresses motivational strength through her soothing words of teaching. I hope everyone takes away her courageous advice on loving yourself, following and pursuing something you love, and staying true to yourself.