“The Mother of Asanas”: Shoulder Stand

Learn why shoulder stand has been called “the mother of asanas,” and see how to benefit from this pose. Jeremy Caplan demonstrates. To learn more about Jeremy, read this interview or attend his class, Thursdays 4:00-5:00pm.

Shoulderstand with Jeremy Caplan from Reach Yoga on Vimeo.


Meet Jeremy Caplan

We are so happy to have Jeremy Caplan on our regular weekly schedule (Thursdays 4-5pm). Jeremy received his teacher training at Reach Yoga several years ago, and continues as a student of Paul Weitz. You’ll see the profound changes yoga has brought to his life in the interview below … and he wants to share what he has learned with you.

Read on, and also watch Jeremy teach shoulder stand in this video.

Q. Why do you practice yoga? Why do you teach yoga?

Yoga has been a part of my life now for almost 5 years. It’s been a major source of peace and stillness in my life and has given me many tools to deepen my understanding of the world and the people in it. Like many, I started because I was stiff, sore, and was recovering from a major injury to my lumbar spine. I am proof that you can improve quality of life by strengthening the body and mind through a consistent yoga practice.

I teach yoga because I like sharing my knowledge to others, it’s important to me to help others feel good about themselves so they can improve their quality of life. Teaching also grounds me in my practice, it forces me to remain consistent and practice daily so that I can be the best I can be while teaching others.

Q. How would you describe your teaching style? What can students expect when they come to your class?

I teach Sivananda yoga, a traditional Hatha style asana practice which is designed to create harmony in the body and mind. The practice is medium paced with lots of rest, allowing the practitioner to receive the full benefits of each pose. There are some challenging poses in the sequence but everything can be modified to accommodate any students needs regardless of age, weight, balance, strength, or flexibility.
The class is consistent and follows a sequence of poses which allows the practitioner to watch their development as time goes on. You can expect to leave class feeling calm, but energized and restored but not tired. A wonderful practice to begin your day, break up a chaotic day, or end the day feeling happy and alive. Although each class follows a sequence, each time you come to class you will continue to feel excited and enthusiastic about the practice as most teachers will swap poses in and out so the student can have a slightly different experience each time.

Q. What cues have seemed particularly helpful to your students recently?

While observing others in teaching and attending classes, I find that the pose most people do incorrectly is Trikonasana (Triangle Pose). People tend to allow their hips to collapse and their shoulders to turn as they forward fold over the extended leg. The pose is not about who can reach the floor easiest and is certainly not a forward fold. While coming into the pose, reach the back arm behind you as if you are reaching for something (like a chair), keep the top shoulder stacked on top of the bottom as you SIDE BEND over the extended leg. Do NOT allow your hips to rotate! When you have reached your capacity extend the top arm to the sky, reach the bottom arm to a block (or the floor) outside of the extended leg. If you can’t reach a block rest your hand on your thigh.


Q. What is your favorite yoga pose, and why?

I have two favorite poses… Sarvangasana (shoulderstand) and Paschimottonasana (two-legged seated forward fold). I like these poses because of their extraordinary beneficial properties. Shoulderstand is unmatchable in the benefits to the human body; it stimulates the thyroids, rejuvenates the spine, relieves stress and depression, improves digestion, opens the shoulders and neck, strengthens your legs, butt, arms, and abs, brings fresh blood flow the brain, and more.
Paschimottonasana also has a wide range of health benefits including; stress relief, removes anger, anxiety, and irritability, removes fatty deposits from the abdomen, creates flexibility in the spine, calms the mind, tones the abdominal pelvic organs, and regular practice cures impotency and enhances the sexual power. If you can only do two poses in a day… these would be the two not to leave out.

Q. Why do you think there is currently a surge of interest in yoga in North America?

Society has placed its highest value and virtue on wealth and status, power and fame. With this in mind too many overwork themselves to achieve goals that they think will bring them happiness in the long run. Whether they realize it or not, they are digging their own grave. A lot of people are beginning to see the true goal of humanity and what makes them truly happy. Yoga is more than just an Asana practice (practice of postures and stretching) it is a life style. Behind the postures are answers to all of the suffering you come across in a lifetime. When one person finds balance in their life that energy is shared and the love and power of yoga is spread throughout the world like a pulse or vibration. It’s trendy because many people are finding just a small amount of relief from their stressful lives, and those who commit to their practice and make yoga part of their daily life live in complete happiness without suffering.

Q. What is your advice to people who understand the health benefits of yoga, and would like to start a practice or practice more often, but have difficulty finding time?

Stop making excuses and own your life. Everyone has time, they just aren’t willing to make a commitment. It only takes 5 or 10 minutes, 1 or 2 exercises, to remove just a little bit of suffering. Go to bed earlier so you can wake up earlier, even if it’s just 10 minutes, and realize that there is more to life than work and entertainment. It’s about serving others and living in peace. Learn how to love others unconditionally, forgive those who wrong you, support those that need help, this will bring you true happiness. Life is more than just pleasure and pain, the two go hand in hand and you cannot have one without the other. Yoga starts with a thought, continues with a daily commitment to yourself, and the more consistent you become the more you will start to see your suffering go away.

Q. What are your hobbies or pursuits in addition to yoga?

My family is number 1, my life is dedicated to my pack (I have four huskies). My wife and I are working hard together to realize life’s purpose, we share the same goals and are motivated by the same power. We are committed to help each other relieve suffering from our lives and the lives of those around us. Outside of yoga the only time I feel truly free beyond time and space is on my snowboard, I could live out my days in the mountains and pray for fresh powder daily.

Q. What is your favorite yoga quote?

“The one I love who is capable of ill will, who is friendly and compassionate. Living beyond the reach of ‘I’ and ‘mine’ and of pleasure and pain, patient, contented, self-controlled, firm in faith, with all their heart and all their mind given to me – with such as these I am in love.” – Bhagavad Gita 12:13

Who’s On That Mat? Meet Bob Bernstein

Bob(by) Bernstein is one of these students that makes you smile every time you think of him … whether he’s posting a lighthearted joke on social media, offering a cheerful greeting on the way out of class, or (our favorite!) singing the praises of Reach Yoga wherever he goes. Thanks for bringing the fun to our community, Bob. Read more about Bob below (and be sure to get his latest music recommendations).

Q. Why do you practice yoga? How does it benefit you?

I found yoga prior to adopting my daughter from China.  I was looking for a way to connect to Eastern culture that had a history and something that was introspective. I fell in love almost instantly.  I thrive on the challenge of a new pose or sequence, and when I nailed my first crow, the addiction was very real. Ever since I’ve loved the idea of how it not just challenges my body, but equally if not more so challenges my mind.  It continually keeps my brain thinking both on and off the mat. The benefits are not just endless for me, but they are both new and different every day I practice.

Q. How often do you typically practice yoga?

I practice pretty much every day.  Since both my wife and I both work and we have small children, I have fallen into sunrise yoga.  The fact that Reach is able to give me a 6am practice with great teachers Monday through Friday allows me to not just work on things daily, but we have a nice core group of friends that are all up at daybreak.

Q. How do you occupy your time outside of Reach Yoga?

In November I will be celebrating my 15th anniversary with my wife, Marjorie, and we have two pre-teen children which take up plenty of my time and are constant source of inspiration as well as perspiration. By day, I’m an Independent Financial Advisor with a niche market for executives and individuals in transition. Not only do we do manage assets, but we have employment placement services to help people better their careers in hopes to make them more successful. I’m also an active volunteer in several community, school and civic organizations in Highland Park, the city in which I reside.

Q. What was your first job?

I worked at Stash’s Hot Dog Stand in Highland Park as a 13-year-old.  I cleaned up tables, filled ketchup bottles, and made French fries.

Q. What city, anywhere in the world, would you recommend everyone visit?

This is easy: The Big Easy!  I have been to New Orleans 20-plus times. For me it’s like heaven.  Its the only place left in this country that blends 100′ of years of culture, art, food, music and more, and it still feels like it’s cutting edge, yet it’s an old world atmosphere, it’s like Gumbo!  That and the people are total salt of the earth. One of my favorite studios I have ever been to is there, The Wild Lotus Yoga Studio.  The owner Sean Johnston and his Wild Lotus Band often do Kirtan both at the studio and in the city.

Q. What is you favorite food to cook or eat?

Hard question because I love to both cook and eat but, last year for my birthday I got a Big Green Egg Smoker and I’ve smoked just about everything.  Biscuit, pork shoulder, prime rib, salmon, ribs, veggies … It’s a super fun toy that makes things delicious.

Q. What was the last live performance (concert, play, etc.) you attended? How was it?

If you know me, you know that I’m a music junkie and I’m always  at concerts, finding new music, talking about music and searching for a new sound. I grew up as a Deadhead and it’s only grown leaps and bounds from there to an uncontrollable passion. I saw this super goofy funk band called Vulfpeck at The Metro just last week who formed at the U of Michigan several years ago and they were such a hoot.  Think Frank Zappa meets Earth Wind & Fire. Although I was maybe the oldest guy there, I danced my butt off.

Q. Do you participate in any sports or fitness activities other than yoga?

I do a ton of yoga but I also play tennis.

Q. Coffee or tea?


Taking It To the Wall (with Shalaka T.)

Enjoy this video on using a wall as a prop.

To learn more about Shalaka T, read this interview.

Shalaka Tamhane Teacher feature from Reach Yoga on Vimeo.


Meet Yoga Teacher Shalaka Tamhane

Shalaka was first (and is still) a student at Reach Yoga, and has become a teacher. She is a wonderful addition to our weekly schedule! But don’t take my word for it — here’s what one of Shalaka’s students had to say: “Shalaka teaches something different in each class and explains poses and techniques very well, along with going at your own pace and capabilities, to push yourself but not too far.”

Another student writes, “Shalaka is wonderful teacher; knowledgeable, helpful and encouraging. Her voice and manner are excellent. I’ve enjoyed taking her classes and will continue on Wednesday evening.”

Shalaka teaches Yoga for Working Stiffs, Wednesday evenings 6:30-7:30pm, and will teach a Yoga Beginner Series this fall. To see her in action, watch this video … and read a bit more about her below.

Q. Why do you practice yoga? Why do you teach yoga?

I was never much of an athlete growing up. When I was approaching age 30, I started working out more. I also started practicing yoga because I thought yoga could help me heal and restore my body from other workouts like running. I was right, and soon I was looking forward to yoga class more than my other workouts. I realized that it was more than just a physical practice. Yoga became something that supported me through emotional ups and downs because it’s a practice that always meets you where you are in life, without judgment. I love the path of yoga, that if you follow it unwaveringly, it works to bring you peace and clarity in all parts of life.

I teach yoga because I want to share the joy I get from the practice and help others overcome their personal challenges – physical or otherwise. There is something here for everyone.

Q. How would you describe your teaching style? What can students expect when they come to your class?

I teach a well-rounded practice that works all types of poses and parts of the body, and I bring a lot of variety to my classes. I try to keep my language simple and clear. I focus on alignment because the right alignment keeps the body safe while unlocking access to deeper poses. I will always offer options and modifications in class because ultimately my goal is to empower my students to listen to their bodies.

Q. What is your favorite yoga pose, and why?

My favorite pose changes it seems every few years, but right now I’m loving Trikonasana (Triangle) pose. It allows me to feel expansive and open, and it’s a pose that has evolved with my practice so every time I do it I remember where I was in the pose a year or five years ago.

Q. What are your hobbies or pursuits in addition to yoga?

I actually have a full time day job as an analytics manager, which I also love! Most people comment on how different my two jobs are, but in both jobs I am teaching/coaching and paying attention to detail. Other than work, I love to cook and try new restaurants, and I read a lot.

Q. What is your favorite yoga quote?

“Yoga is a light, which once lit, will never dim. The better your practice, the brighter the flame.” — B.K.S. Iyengar

Q. What is a yoga myth that you can dispel?

“I’m not flexible enough to do yoga.” – Flexibility is as much a requirement to do yoga as having a high IQ is a requirement to go to school. It’s not a requirement at all! It’s not even a consideration. We send all our children to school to learn how to think; we should send all our bodies to yoga to learn how to move.

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