As a yoga educator, Thai Bodyworker and director of OM on the River Yoga Center, Tammy Mitchell guides experiences intended to raise awareness, nurture self-care, empower growth and facilitate compassion. Located at 619 SW Water Street Suite 3B in downtown Peoria, OM is the primary space for her group and individual classes, in addition to hosting local and traveling teachers, monthly workshops and other offerings.
A 1993 graduate of Illini Bluffs High School, Tammy holds an associate’s degree from Illinois Central College and a bachelor’s degree in physical education from Western Illinois University. She began teaching yoga and Thai Bodywork in 2005 and has attained numerous certifications with over 1,300 hours of training in yoga, Thai Bodywork, functional anatomy and movement, meditation and Reiki.
She cofounded Heading OM Yoga in 2008, laying a foundation for specialized yoga teachers to offer classes, workshops and trainings in West Peoria. With plans to move out of state, she closed the studio in 2016, but fate kept her in central Illinois—and Heading OM evolved into OM on the River. Tammy is married to Peter Adriel Kennell, a musician and artist who works in solar design and technology. They live in Bartonville with their pup, Lou Dog, and cat, Turtle Whitepaw.
- Favorite artist: Peter Adriel. I love my husband’s life work: music, painting, landscape design and prairie restoration.
- Favorite vacation spot: Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, Maine: ocean, granite mountains, lakes and hiking trails. Peter attended College of the Atlantic in 2016-2018, so I was able to visit several times.
- Favorite aspect of central Illinois: The beauty of the Illinois River Valley and a supportive community that cares about the future of people, plants, animals and land.
- Favorite childhood memory: My parents worked in public education, so we had extended stays at our family’s primitive cabin in Wisconsin during the summer. I learned how important family is, and how hard my mom and dad worked for us to have this time together. We fished, swam, played card games, and listened to my extended family tell stories about life. I learned to have deep respect for our land—and courage when walking into darkness alone.
- Favorite smell: Sweetgrass and palo santo.
- Favorite meal: Pizza and anything home-cooked. We make an effort to source local and organic for meats/veggies. I am grateful for the growing community of local organic farmers, and being able to source those goods at farmer’s markets and Sous Chef in downtown Peoria.
- Favorite album: Abbey Road – The Beatles.
- Favorite leisure activity: Hiking with my pup Lou Dog!
- Secret ambition: To take a full year off from all things computer- and screen-related.
- My last big purchase: A down payment for a sacred journey in India in 2020 with my primary yoga teacher, Theresa Murphy.
- What trait do you most deplore in yourself? In the face of difficulty, I can be abrasive, stubborn and closed-off. In turn, my practice is to be aware, have grace and choose kind.
- What trait do you most deplore in others? Ignorance without willingness to cultivate understanding and change.
- Greatest extravagance: For the past several years, I’ve been purchasing clothing that is a combination of sustainable, organic and fair trade. In turn, I purchase less, have built great relations with local shop owners, and feel good about my threads.
- What is your motto? ”Be well, know happiness and embody peace.” I use this statement at the end of most classes I teach. It’s inspired from Buddhist meditation teachers.
- What would you do with a million dollars? I would take a year sabbatical to travel, study and experience healers from many traditions and cultures. Upon returning to Peoria, I’d share what I learned.
- Which of the five senses do you treasure most? Sight and touch, which have empowered me to do the work I do in this life.
- What social issue fires you up? Social and educational inequality. I believe we should invest in education and experiences for youth and adults that ensure understanding, respect, sustainability, and care for Mother Earth and the community.
- What song always makes you happy when you hear it? I can only narrow it to four! “Astral Plane” by Valerie June, “Into the Mystic” by Van Morrison, “Soulshine” by Gov’t Mule and “River” by Leon Bridges.
- What inspires you? The courage to ask the question, “How can I help?”, and then take action.
- How do you unwind after a long day? My work hours are from 1pm on, so when I get home in the late evening, I love a good Bearded Owl brew, late dinner and a show. My go-to’s are gangster movies and period films/series.
- Proudest achievement: The longevity of OM on the River Yoga Center: 10+ years strong!
- What’s next? In 2019 I started making yoga videos to encourage students to cultivate a home practice in self-care. I hope to expand our library on the studio’s website in efforts to make yoga more accessible in our community.
- Words to live by: Choose kind. PM