Considering Yoga Teacher Training at Reach?

Have you thought about taking a Yoga teacher training and poo-poo’d the idea because you figured you wouldn’t end up teaching anyway? Well, teacher training is meant for anyone who loves yoga,  anyone wants to enhance their practice, and anyone who desires to live a yogic lifestyle beyond their mat. Geena Zaslavsky, a dedicated Reach student and former student of our teacher training program tells you just why you should delve deeper.

Q.Why did you decide to take a 200-hour program in yoga? 

While practicing law for the past 25+ years, I always tried to maintain some sort of exercise regimen to stay in shape and manage stress. I love outdoor sports; biking, hiking, and was a triathlete before neck and knee surgeries sidelined that sport for me. I practiced yoga on and off for many years-tried various kinds and never really found a groove or a place that drew me in. Following my surgical rehab, I was anxious to resume my workouts, but concerned about re-injury, so took some semi-private yoga lessons with a friend, and the more I learned about the purpose of the yoga poses and how to do them correctly, the more I enjoyed it. Rather than something I just wanted to get done as part of my exercise routine, yoga became my favorite part of the day. It wasn’t a chore. . . it was something I looked forward to, and noticeably missed when I couldn’t fit it in my schedule. 

I started taking classes with Ramaa at Full-Bloomed Lotus in Wilmette, and noticed a seismic positive shift in my outlook, attitude and stress levels. I went on a weekend yoga retreat with my friend Deb Wineman (who teaches at Reach), and started to really appreciate the whole yoga culture as an open, accepting, supportive “no judgment” zone. That’s what really drew me in.

Q. What about the Reach Yoga program in particular was appealing? 

I love Deb Wineman (as a person and a yoga teacher), and she was in charge, so that made it an easy choice. I live in Glencoe, so Reach was a very convenient venue. I also thought it was a great schedule (Thursday nights and Sunday afternoons) and easy to make work. They were also very cool about helping you make up the work if you had to miss a class. I also really liked all the people in my class, so looked forward to seeing them twice a week as well as learning the material.

Q. What were a few key learnings you took away from the program? 

The class deepened and enhanced my yoga practice beyond anything I expected. I have a lawyer brain, so the spiritual aspect of yoga was always a little much for me. I never understood the whole chanting situation, and was pretty satisfied with a good hard Vinyasa flow class and nailing a crow pose. This class expanded my horizons so much, and really complimented my studies at Full-Bloomed Lotus. We learned about the interesting origins of the yoga asanas (poses) from Pam Gross, their purpose, and the correct way to do them. We studied anatomy with Jenny, who was amazing and really broke down the physicality of the poses, teaching us what they helped and when they were contraindicated. Paul taught us about energy, the Gunas and the more spiritual side of the practice, and Deb and Wendy taught us how to communicate our new knowledge in a way other people could understand.  My own practice did and continues to improve exponentially because of this training.

Q. What was your favorite aspect of the program? 

I loved learning so much about an area I knew almost nothing about when I started the class, and loved becoming part of an amazing community. Yoga people are just really cool. And kind. And interesting.

Q. Have you taught yoga? Did you expect to teach? Do you expect to teach in the future? 

I never went into this class expecting to teach. My established career choice (one I also love) and travel schedule would preclude a regular teaching commitment. That said, I did teach a few classes as part of the training program and shortly thereafter. I was anxious about my playlist and the likelihood of miscuing right and left, but overall channeled Deb and Wendy, who said not to think of it as “teaching,” but rather “sharing” your own practice, which was super helpful advice. My hope is that as my schedule lets up in the foreseeable future, I can integrate my yoga training into my life passions, and “share my practice” with people in underserved populations and communities.

Q. How has your yoga practice changed as a result of completing an immersive program? 

I am better at it, enjoy it more, understand it more, and am far better at integrating yoga principles into my life off the mat and outside the studio. I am also now able to practice yoga alone on the road when I travel, which I do often, so can consistently practice without the hassle of finding a yoga studio everywhere I go (though that can be fun too!) 

Q. What advice would you give to someone considering a program who isn’t sure they want to teach (or is sure they do not want to teach)? 

Do it!  You won’t regret it!

Some News (Change Is Good)

My dear Reach Yoga friends:

I am delighted to let you know that yoga teacher Laura Merlo and I have reached an agreement under which she will become the sole owner of Reach Yoga, effective December 18, 2018.

Leading Reach Yoga for the past 6+ years has been a pleasure and a privilege. I’ve learned so much and really become a different person, thanks to the opportunity to contribute to our yoga community. THANK YOU. At this point I am ready to move on to other pursuits, and the studio can benefit from some fresh energy and ideas.

Laura is the ideal person to take Reach Yoga to the next level of prosperity. In addition to her status as a truly beloved yoga teacher, Laura has experience as a business owner and designer. She has done great work on our yoga programming and merchandising. She is eager to take on the challenge of making Reach Yoga an ever-improving source of strength and serenity for our students, teachers, and staff.

What will change at Reach? I’ll let Laura speak to you directly about that, but I can tell you that Laura has enormous respect for Reach Yoga as it exists today. She will continue to value the students and teachers of Reach Yoga. Allison and Marika will continue to do the amazing work they do. The new ideas and strategies Laura offers will build on our strengths while improving and enhancing our community.

In the meantime, your membership is still valid; any classes you have paid for are still on file; teacher training will commence in January with Paul, Deb, and Sharyn leading the faculty; and the yoga class and event schedule remains as is for now (evolving each season as always).

Next steps? Laura and I have already begun to transition my responsibilities to her, and that work will continue over the next month or so. Beginning today, feel free to contact Laura for any questions or concerns that would normally come to me. (You are also welcome to reach out to me directly, of course!)

After December 18, don’t think you’re getting rid of me–Laura has graciously offered Bob and me ongoing yoga memberships at Reach, so you’ll see us in class. 🙂

Keep calm and yoga on! Namaste ~
xo, Dani

Meet Rachel Garber

Rachel Garber is such a regular fixture at Reach yoga, we’d be genuinely surprised if you haven’t met her yet. She comes to her mat to create calmness in her busy day-to-day schedule, satiates her need for a well-balanced yet physically challenging practice, and also adopts her teachers mantras to share with her loved ones at home.  Whether you know her or not, read on for an enlightening peek into Rachel’s world.

 Q. How long have you been practicing yoga and how did you get into it?

I started practicing yoga in 2005 at Equinox in the city.  I was really into cardio classes (I LOVE a good step aerobics class) but decided to try something new.   After one yoga class with Allison English I could not believe how sore my core was, and was surprised how challenging it was.  I was hooked! I took 4 – 5 yoga classes a week all with the same instructor for about 5 years until I moved to Highland Park and had my daughter.  Then despite my love of yoga I was not able to find the same type of class I was used to (you get really set in your ways with one instructor) and found that getting a babysitter for 3 hours to take one class didn’t feel right for me.  So I pretty much stopped for 4 years and I always missed it.  As soon as my second daughter started preschool I knew it was time to get back into it.  I went to Pam Gross’s class at Reach and I really liked the laid back vibe, proximity to my house, and that it was not hot.  I started coming regularly and sure enough as my first teacher always said “your body remembers”.

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

I practice yoga because it makes me feel strong, gives me energy all day, and most of all, it just feels really good! Other exercise classes often leave me hurting and with a headache.  I love that there are always new things to try, new goals to reach and how different each class is.  I also love the message of yoga – I do try to take my yoga off the mat into my daily life (it doesn’t always work…but I try).  With two energetic, spirited daughters at home we take lots of big yoga breaths in our house.  I love repeating some of the end of class yoga quotes that really resonate with me when I get home as well.   My kids and I love this one from Lauri’s class years ago “If you have to choose between being right or being kind, always choose to be kind because then you will always be right”.  

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

I am a busy stay at home mom with two kids in full day school this year for the first time – Yay!  Besides the daily trips to the grocery, Target, the laundry, and all that other fun stuff,  I am the PTO president of Ravinia School.  On weekends you’ll find us bike riding to the botanic gardens or the beach when the weather is nice – or hanging with our cousins and having family movie nights at home.  

Q. What was your first job?

Besides babysitting and camp counselor type jobs – my first real job was at Baby Guess in Northbrook Court.  It is now where Galt Toys is next to Sephora which used to be Guess. I worked there for 3 years and it was very fun – although we never had customers so not sure how it lasted that long!

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

I think my favorite thing to cook is anything my kids want to make with me – especially if it’s related to a holiday or something they love.  For Rosh Hashannah this year my 8 year old and I made a round apple challah.  That was ambitious and time consuming but beyond delicious.  She has already told me we are making it every year and that makes me happy.  As for my favorite thing to eat – unfortunately it’s dessert.  

 Q. What was the last live performance you attended? How was it?

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with the family – it was excellent.

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

I love walking with friends and biking in the summer.  I also go to Orange Theory 1 – 2 times a week which I pretty much dread but it’s a great workout and I am always happy when its over!

 Q. What are you currently reading/watching/doing ? 

 I just downloaded The Kitchen House to read during jury duty but I was released after two hours so didn’t have a chance to get very into it yet – I will pick it up again soon!  

 Q. Coffee or tea? 

 Neither! I enjoy a vanilla latte a couple times a year however if I drink one (even in the morning) I’m up until 2 AM.  Plus it makes my arms and legs feel numb so I’m laughing thinking about what I’d be like if I ever drank coffee before yoga…it would not end well!

Thanks + Giving = Happiness?

Guest post by yoga instructor Linda O’Toole … thank you Linda!

This week in Stillness…

Thanks + Giving = Happiness?

I typically don’t write about my family. This week I’m making an exception.

The other day my 13-year-old son was feeling dejected after he was not selected for his school’s basketball team. We talked about the disappointment and he said, “There are times when I just don’t feel happy.”

He explained that he’s not depressed (these days middle school kids learn a lot about about depression). He said he knows he’s lucky to live in a nice community and he’s an only child so he doesn’t have to compete for attention. Nevertheless, he admitted that sometimes he’s just not happy. I felt sad, but at the same time I was grateful that he recognized these feelings and was able to talk about them. It got me thinking about happiness and what contributes to a so-called “happy” life.

With Thanksgiving around the corner, I wondered if these two words could be the key — thanks + giving a.k.a. gratitude + generosity. Could this be the answer? I explained to my son that happiness doesn’t come from making a sports team or winning the lottery, it comes from being generous, from reaching out to someone in need, or from feeling empathy for the kid in the lunchroom who’s getting bullied. It’s a daunting lesson whether you’re a teenager or full-grown adult. Where do we find happiness? What is the definition of happiness?

Our yoga practice provides tools for happiness. We learn breathing techniques to stay present and in the moment. We try new and challenging poses (think prayer squat or crow) to help us grow. We take time to relax and find stillness in savasana. Yoga can stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system which promotes a calm and soothing state. Most importantly, yoga helps us to recognize that we are all inherently loving and kind, but sometimes we need to work at recognizing it. Could that be a key to happiness, too?

Upcoming at Reach Yoga…

  • Tuesday, November 13 Basics and Beyond 11:00 am – 12:15 pm
  • Thursday, November 15 Basics and Beyond 9:30 – 10:45 am

Looking ahead… Gratitude Yoga Thanksgiving morning (Nov. 22) 9:30 – 10:45 am

Linda O’Toole
Be Still Yoga

Earn Holiday Rewards 2018

screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-7-33-44-pmEarn rewards for practicing and sharing yoga at Reach, November 19-December 21, 2018. Because, BINGO.

Ask for your card in the studio, put your name on it, and put it in your yoga mat bag or purse (or post it on our wall). Then mark each challenge you complete (in such a way that you can still see what the challenge was–we have stickers at the desk you can use).

Please mark no more than one space per class. For example, if you take a Level 1 class at 9:30am, please mark either “Take Level 1 class” or “Take a 9:30 class,” but not both. Strategizing is encouraged.  


  • Single Bingo: Coupon for 40% off any single full-price boutique purchase
  • Double Bingo: The reward listed above, AND 2 free class cards for yourself, to give away as gifts, or to treat friends.
  • X: Both the rewards listed above, AND 30% off full-price items in the boutique during all of January 2019.
  • Triple Bingo: All the rewards listed above, AND 5 free class cards for yourself, to give away as gifts, or to treat friends. Or, if you are or become* a Reach Yoga member, 50% off your next monthly membership fee.
  • Blackout: All the rewards listed above, AND one month unlimited yoga. You choose the start date; free month must be completed no later than March 31, 2019.


deb snow backbendThe fine print:

  • You’ll use the honor system to mark your card, and we’ll verify that you completed the challenges when you claim your reward.
    • Please mark no more than one space per class–e.g., if you take a Level 1 class at 9:30am, please mark either “Take Level 1 class” or “Take a 9:30 class,” but not both. There is strategy involved here!
  • Free month of yoga is not transferrable to anyone other than the person who earned the points.
  • But, free class cards can be given to anyone who is willing to sign a waiver.
  • *If you would like to sign up for a Reach Yoga membership during the challenge, you may. The three-month minimum that has always been part of our membership deal does apply. See details here.
  • All yoga students must sign a waiver of liability. If student is younger than 18 years of age, a parent or guardian must sign the waiver.
  • This challenge is available to Reach Yoga instructors, staff, and students.
  • Rewards must be claimed no later than January 30, 2019.
  • Free class cards and retail coupons expire on March 31, 2019.
  • Free month of yoga must be completed no later than March 31, 2019.
  • Winners may be featured in email newsletter and/or social media, with their permission.
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