Recently at Reach Yoga: Maybe, Someday

Recently, someone approached me with some interest in buying Reach Yoga.

Running Reach remains rewarding and fun. At the same time, after almost six years, it seems worthwhile to consider whether some new investment, along with fresh ideas and energy, might benefit our customers and community.

So … I plan to meet with the interested party. I promise to let you know if any change is coming. If you don’t hear anything, just assume all is staying the same.

And, if anyone reading this would like to explore the possibility of owning a thriving yoga studio, please let me know. If I am going to consider one proposal, it makes sense to surface and explore multiple options–to find the best overall path forward for our community. Let me know by June 10 if you’d like to learn more.

No interest in running a yoga studio? Just want to keep practicing? Then the main thing for you to know is that I am committed to keeping Reach Yoga open, whether led by me or (maybe, someday) someone else.

Because: The divine light in me loves the divine light in each and every one of you.


6 Benefits of Private Yoga Lessons

Group yoga classes have grown in popularity over the years, but some individuals may find that private lessons are more appealing. Unlike public classes, private lessons are a one-on-one experience with an instructor. Students can enjoy personalized sessions tailored to their physical level, current or past injuries, practice aspirations, or simply how they’re feeling that day. Countless benefits may result from the lessons beyond the basic improvements to mental and physical health.

Gaining Initial Experience

Beginners to yoga can sometimes feel overwhelmed in a class setting, particularly during the first few classes. It can seem difficult to keep up with the pace of the class, understand the language of yoga, or what you’re physically supposed to do with your body. If a group class sounds overwhelming to you, private lessons can be a nice way to ease into familiarity of yoga. Try out a few weeks with a personal instructor to show you poses and breath work one-on-one, build your confidence, and then soon you can enjoy the energy of a group class.

Focusing on Personal Goals

Another benefit of private yoga lessons is the ability to focus on your personal interests, concerns, or goals. Instead of following the instruction in a class that may not align with your goals for flexibility, strength or meditation, a private lesson allows you to customize your practice. Your instructor will take the time to meet and get to know you, and then create a personalized routine based on you and only you.

Creating a Personalized Schedule

Making time for lessons is a vital element of yoga. If it is not possible for you to get to a class, then private lessons can be a great option. Private lessons work around your schedule, and if you have the space, the teacher can even bring their talents to you at your home or office. Instead of trying to work a class into your hectic schedule, let the class come to you. That’s the thing about yoga: it can meet you wherever you are that day.

Overcoming Health Concerns

Injuries and health concerns can make a normal yoga class challenging. A yoga instructor with several students cannot constantly focus on one individual and ensure that the poses will not further injure or strain the person. Furthermore, health concerns such as diabetes or heart disease may require special alterations to the yoga practice. When health concerns are a potential issue, it is best to have a private yoga lesson to enhance your strengths and avoid further health complications.

Working on In-Depth Practice

Private lessons are also beneficial for advanced practitioners. Advanced classes in a group setting might not offer the level of challenge that is required for more seasoned practitioners. Experienced yogis can benefit from private instruction without the distractions of other students and work on refining the details of more complex postures and transitions.

Depending on your personal goals or preferences, private yoga lessons may be the right approach to getting started or taking your yoga practice to the next level.

If you are interested in learning more about private yoga through Reach, please let us know your interests.

About Yoga Classes at Additional Locations

Have questions about yoga classes at the Winnetka Community Center or the Glencoe Park District? Maybe this will help –

Q. Why are you running classes at additional locations?

Both Winnetka Community House and the Glencoe Park District were seeking assistance offering high quality yoga, and we are thrilled to be involved in bringing great yoga to their communities. It helps our students too. We have only one studio space at 688 Vernon. In order to offer more than one type of level of class at popular times, we need additional space. And, both Winnetka Community House and the Takiff Center offer childcare during certain hours, so that opens up yoga options to some parents with young children. Winnetka also has a locker room / showers / steam room.

Q. When and where are the new classes?

Right now we are offering just a few classes on a pilot basis. Here are some highlights:

  • At the Winnetka Community House, Takiff Center, and Glencoe Beach, several “Introduction to Yoga” offerings for those new to yoga, the rest of the spring and throughout the summer–see details here
  • Drop-in class at the Winnetka Community House, Vinyasa 1-2 with Mia Cutler, Tuesdays 9:15-10:15am **available now**
  • Drop-in class at Glencoe Beach: Vigorous Vinyasa with Sonya Taylor, Mondays 9:45-10:45am **starts June 4**
  • Drop-in classes at Takiff Center:
    • Vinyasa Flow 1-2 with Megan Miller, Thursdays 9:45-10:45am **starts June 7**
    • Vinyasa Flow All Levels with Debbie Muraff, Saturdays 8:15-9:15am **starts June 9**

Q. Can I use my Reach Yoga membership, or classes on file, to attend classes at these locations?

Not at this time. This might change in the future (we hope so), but during the pilot period, you do need to purchase classes at Takiff or Winnetka Community House to attend in those locations. Think of it as an additional yoga option, like another studio. No need to use it if it does not fit your needs.

Q. Does Reach Yoga benefit financially from running these classes?

Well that remains to be seen! 🙂 We hope so. Our teachers receive the largest share of the revenue (as they should), and the location and Reach Yoga split the rest.

Q. How do I purchase classes at the Winnetka Community House?

For beginner series and kids’ yoga, you may purchase online. For our drop-in class, purchase at the Fitness Center desk (lower level)–or, if you plan to take other Group X fitness classes and want to buy 10, 20, or 30 classes at a time, buy online.

Q. Where should I park at the Winnetka Community House?

Most classes are in room 212, which is upstairs. Closest parking is the lot behind the community house; enter the lot from Pine Street (near Green Bay Road) or from Lincoln Avenue (just south of the Community House). If you need to stop by the Fitness Center desk to purchase a drop-in class, you may prefer to park in the lot on Pine Street (or on Pine Street itself). **If you have trouble finding parking,** please send me an email to let me know–and I will alert WCH.

Q. How do I purchase classes at Takiff or the beach?

If you would like to enroll in a beginner series, visit this page and search for program 117602, or keyword “yoga”. For ongoing weekly classes, you can buy a “punch card” here. You may also purchase a program or classes at the Takiff Center desk.

Shift Your Perspective: Practice Yoga Inversions

When life feels overwhelming, enjoy a literal change in perspective by turning your world upside down and practicing a yoga inversion.

What are Inversions?

Inversions are any pose in which the heart is higher than the head. In many cases, the feet will also be higher than the head. All inversions include a literal change in perspective, flipping the body upside down for important mental and physical health benefits. Inversions positions range from a restorative legs-up-the-wall pose to a more physically intense handstand.

For decades, yoga practitioners with a daily inversion practice have reported better sleep, improved focus and enhanced digestion. While scientific studies have yet to prove these benefits, research does show that an inversion practice can positively impact the mind and body.

Inversion Health Benefits

The “Upanishads,” one of the oldest yoga texts, states, “One, who practices headstand three hours daily, conquers time.” Ancient yogis believed that one who practices inversions daily could defy time and live forever. While inversions may not make you immortal, they do offer many important health benefits for the body.

Inversions influence four major systems in the body: the cardiovascular, the lymphatic, the nervous and the endocrine.

·    Cardiovascular: Turning the body upside down delivers fresh, oxygenated blood to the head, improving circulation. Standing upright for the majority of the day causes the lower lung tissues to become saturated with blood. Inverting helps ventilate the upper lungs, which improves oxygen-to-blood exchange and promotes healthier tissue. Being upside down also helps lower blood pressure and heart rate, thereby reducing stress.

·    Lymphatic: The lymphatic system is responsible for waste removal, fluid balance and immune system balance; it’s the “sewage system” for the body. Like the circulatory system, the lymphatic system benefits from muscular movement to stimulate flow. Turning the body upside down stimulates the entire lymphatic system. Even mild inversions such as a “feet up the wall” pose will stimulate the lymphatic system, which in turn strengthens the immune system and may decrease the incidence of minor and allergies.

·    Endocrine: Many inversions stimulate the pituitary gland, the body’s master control gland, and also promote the release of endorphins for an enhanced state of wellbeing.

·    Nervous: Inversions stimulate the cerebrospinal fluid (also known as CSF), the “juice” of the central nervous system. Headstand position, for example, promotes elasticity in the cranial bones.

Inversions may also help relieve pain the in back. Years of sitting hunched over a desk or standing with poor posture lead to chronic back pain. Practicing inversions, especially with the use of an inversion table, may help improve alignment of the musculoskeletal system. This includes strengthening the ligaments and soft tissues, relieving muscle spasms and improving spinal disc health.

Incorporating inversions into your daily yoga practice

Inversions such as handstand, headstand and forearm balance are some of the most advanced yoga poses. An inversion like sirisana (headstand) is said to revitalize the entire body and stimulate the mind. Inversions reverse the pull of gravity on the organs, including the stomach, intestines and reproductive system. When properly executed, headstand is said to help cleanse the intestines and overcome liver and stomach problems. Headstand supports proper spinal alignment, gently massages the internal organs and may help reduce anxiety.

Some health conditions, however, make it unsafe to practice more advanced inversions like headstand. You may ned to avoid these poses if you have high blood pressure, glaucoma, a detached retina, cardiovascular disease, slipped discs or cervical spondylitis.

If you are new to inversions, kicking up into headstand in the middle of the room may seem overwhelming in a studio environment. Here’s how to incorporate inversions into your yoga practice.

1.     Strengthen your core and arms by practicing dolphin pose. Dolphin pose helps relieve fatigue and headaches. First, position yourself in downward facing dog. Next, shift your arms into plank pose while keeping your rear body elevated in the downward facing dog. Walk you feet in towards your hands. Keep your chest broad and shoulders positioned over your elbows. Practice dolphin for 10 to 20 breaths, then take a break in child pose to recover.

2.     Practice headstand next to a wall. Place the yoga mat against the wall. Kneel with your hands intertwined in front of you. Place the top of your head in front of your hands and then lift your knees. You’ll be in a modified version of downward facing dog with your hands intertwined and elbows on the floor. Just like with dolphin, walk your feet in towards your body. For a support headstand, kick one leg up towards the wall and bring the other one up behind you. Rest your legs against the wall and point the top of your feet towards the ceiling.

3.     Build your strength. To build your strength in headstand, practice kicking up in a controlled manner. If possible, move on foot several feet away from the wall, followed by the other. This will strengthen your core. With practice, you’ll be strong enough to kick up into headstand from your yoga mat in the middle of the room!

Intrigued? Two opportunities coming up to explore inversions can be found among our special events

Who’s On That Mat? Meet Eric Hochberg

We love Eric Hochberg! He’s a frequent and enthusiastic yoga student. Next time you see him, say hello … and maybe plan to hear his trio play.

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

I came to yoga twelve years ago to reverse my early 50’s middle-age slump. I found that not only did it increase my overall strength, balance and flexibility, it also improved my general well being and state of mind. And, I found all of these benefits to be of great value in my professional life as a musician.

Q. How often do you typically practice yoga?

I shoot for three to four sessions a week, depending on my schedule. I generally prefer a day of rest between sessions.

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

I am a professional jazz double bassist, and music is pretty much my life outside of family and yoga practice. These days I perform nightly with my trio at Catch 35 Chicago and do some teaching on the weekends. I’m also about to become a first-time grandpa, so I think a little more travel will be in my future!

Q. What was your first job?

Playing around the North Shore in one of my high school rock bands.

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

I’ve been fortunate to have visited many great cities in my musical travels, so that’s a tough question. Paris for food and culture, London for the National Gallery, and Rio de Janeiro for amazing music. NYC, of course, for great jazz!

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

I’ve always enjoyed cooking, and these days I like making pasta and various bean dishes, which, believe it or not, have become my breakfast staple.

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

The most notable recent performance I attended was Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s six-hour, three-play mashup with a live rock band (featuring one of my students). It was an incredible all day experience!

Q. Coffee or Tea?

Coffee in the morning, tea at night.

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