What Students Say About Laura Merlo

When we asked Laura Merlo’s students about her classes, the response was overwhelming! Read more below, and learn about Laura here.

“Laura’s classes are challenging! However, I don’t fear showing up at 6 am on Fridays and the main reason why is that I know I will be expertly guided every second of the hour by Laura’s verbal cues and hands-on corrections, if needed. I often leave the class feeling a combination of tranquility, exhaustion and pride. (Wow! She really kicked my butt but I love it!)”

“After a full week of yoga and workouts, I am still excited to be part of Laura’s Friday 6am class!! Her music and innovative rhythmic flow combinations are challenging yet fun!!! I don’t know how she does it, but her class ends in a blink of an eye. Laura is extremely gifted, compassionate, and inspiring!! She is the perfect balance of ‘yogi’ and focus/purpose to encourage growth in our individual practices. I’m grateful to have Laura’s Friday class to look forward to after a (sometimes) long week.”

“I love Laura’s class because it is always unique, incredibly creative, and just the right amount of challenging for me! She is an amazing yoga teacher!”

“I love how warm and welcoming Laura has been to me. I am new to yoga and Laura welcomed me with open arms and made sure I felt comfortable. Sure pushes the more advanced practitioners and makes newbies feel at ease! I really appreciate her and Reach Yoga.”

“She has a way of engaging her students and helping them ‘Reach’ the next level, whether it may be physically or mentally. Her positive energy is felt from the moment you open the door to class and continues throughout class and sticks with me throughout the week. Her class has helped me become a more patient and present mother and wife. … I feel lucky to be a student in her class.”

“Laura leads a creative flow that is soothing, calming and challenging at the same time. Her music is great, voice upbeat, and makes everyone feel comfortable exactly where they are at.”

“Laura is truly a gifted teacher. She spends the time to share unique sequencing and poses within her classes. She takes the time to get to know all of her students. She lives and loves the practice of yoga on and off the mat.”

“Laura ‘takes it off the mat’.”

“Laura’s classes are like a dance. They way you move feels seem less. She also loves her yoga. Truly a lovely spirit and honored to be her student.”

“I love that she teaches in costume every halloween. Its her playful side that she expresses in every one of her classes.”

“Laura is an inspiration in every sense. Life, Energy, Love and she will kick your ass to do the best you can do! All the best to Laura and Reach Yoga. Brava, Laura!”

“5:45 am on Fridays is typically a full class that speaks to Laura’s yoga magic.”

“Laura’s creativity, dedication to the practice and commitment to her students is apparent in each and every one of her classes! She offers incredible alignment cues and perfect adjustments as well. Upon walking into Laura’s class it is full with a vibrant, positive energy that makes the yoga practitioner ready for the beauty of yoga that is to follow. Laura’s classes are not to be missed!”

“Laura creates a sequence where you can totally get lost in your breath and movement. She really get us to disconnect to the outside and be present!”

“I enjoy everything about Laura. Her teaching is creative, energetic and fun flowing. Her aura is the same. She brings smiles and happiness to all who cross her path. Ona deeper level, i adore all that she embodies.”

“Laura is so creative with her teaching. Her combinations are fun and before you know it, class is over and you are sweating like crazy! She has a wonderful disposition that makes class so enjoyable!”

“I love Laura’s classes! I love the music, the sequences, her adjustments and her overall vibe. I wish I could take a class from her everyday …”

“LOVE Laura’s classes – they are always fresh, new, and challenging! Tuesday mornings are my favorite workout of the week!”

Laura Merlo

“Aside from Laura being a nice, kind and someone who extends her heart to you in conversations, her class on Tuesdays is as good as it gets. It flows perfectly, very challenging, changes weekly and always provides a room full of great feelings released from others.”

“I have practiced yoga with Laura consistently for the last three years and remain deeply indebted to her selfless teaching technique and ability to work with a variety of yoga students. While I prefer a more physically challenging vinyasa, Laura’s philosophy of instruction centers on setting personal goals and working hard to achieve them. Thus, by taking her classes regularly, she pays close attention to what her students are individually trying to achieve – and like a seasoned teacher – returns to those personal pursuits through long adjustments, individualized attention, and critique that allows each yogi to deepen their own practice.

“Laura’s large classes breed camaraderie and support; we are all accustomed to working mat-to-mat, while she effortlessly glides across the room, providing continuous physical and emotional support. I simply love and adore Laura for what she has brought to my life and my practice and feel so grateful she is one of my teachers.”

“I adore Laura. She’s friendly, encouraging and so inspiring. Her class is challenging and pushes me to try new things without feeling left out if I can’t manage a certain pose. Additionally her music selection for class always motivates me to get moving. Laura is a treasure!”

“I have been taking yoga classes for many years and somehow just ‘discovered’ Laura. Her classes find that lovely mix where all students can find their own flow. her music is beautiful and I always feel amazing as I am walking out the door. Thank you Laura!”

“Laura creates unique vinyasa flows that keep me engaged and interested. Her attention to subtle transitions between poses makes it a lot of fun to participate in her classes. The vibes in her classes are truly ‘electric’!”

A Message for Reach Yoga Members

Dear Reach Yoga member,

Thank you for being a part of the yoga community at Reach. Your dedication and presence make our studio such a warm and wonderful place to be.

Way back in 2012 when the original studio became Reach Yoga, we reduced the price of an “unlimited yoga membership” from $169 to only $97/month—the best yoga value on the north shore, by far. This was always advertised as a “limited time” offer, but we kept it for five years.

Since then the value of a yoga membership at Reach has vastly increased—for example, our schedule now features over 40 classes each week (read more here). Going forward, in order to keep paying our rent, we need to ensure that membership revenue covers the cost of providing the yoga you love.

Change is happening in two phases:

  • Beginning this month, members will be charged our new rate of $117/month.
  • In 2018, we will introduce some different levels of membership, with new pricing and benefits.

Look for more information early in 2018. In the meantime, please continue to enjoy your unlimited yoga membership throughout the holiday season—class cancellations will be minimal. And be sure to use all the benefits of your current membership, summarized here.

If you find that membership no longer works for you, we understand. Here are some FAQs that might point you in the right direction.

Questions? I’m happy to answer them. Simply email dani@reachyogaglencoe.com and I’ll get back to you.


Dani Petrie
Student / Owner, Reach Yoga

About Laura Merlo

Laura Merlo’s yoga practice and perhaps her Instagram feed will inspire you to arrive on your mat, but you’ll keep coming to class for her kindness, empathetic instruction, and warm open heart.

Laura’s teaching style is constantly evolving and growing on a daily bases; her vinyasa flow classes include lots of movement, lots of breaths, and lots of postures.

Read about Laura below, and see what her students say about her here.

Most importantly, join Laura on Friday morning 6-7am, or Tuesdays 9:30-10:45am.

Q. How do you occupy your time outside of yoga?

I wear many hats. Mom. Wife. Daughter. Friend. Taxi Driver. Second Cut Clothing Designer. Food Preparer (note i didn’t say cook/chef). Lunch Box Filler. Cat Litter Cleaner. Hamster Cage Bedding Changer. Maid. Garbage Woman. Grocery Buyer. Present Wrapper. Hair Brusher. Bill Payer. But for myself mentally and physically I try to jog everyday before everyone wakes up (it’s equivalent to a cup of coffee to me). Or some days i get to run with a really good friend– “what’s said on our run stays on our run” is our mantra.

I also like to meet up with friends & other yoga teachers for tea or lunch or long walks. I’m not big on going out to dinner. I rarely leave the house past 5. My husband has been in the nightclub & restaurant biz for the 21 years we’ve been together, and since he works most nights I am happy to be home with the kidlings. I’m up with the birds and love to drink hot green tea all year round. We sometimes go for hikes in the forest preserve as a family on a Sunday. I watch a lot of TV, read, eat boatloads of ice cream and spend a ton of time in my bed doing all of the above. My happy place.

Q. Where did you grow up?

I grew up in a white house with a red door on Nassau Dr in Great Neck, New York. I had a beautiful upbringing, with spectacular parents I wouldn’t trade anything for. I was raised going to theater, concerts, museums and ate chinese food on Sunday & the Eves of Holidays. I did ok in school, played no sports, but excelled in being social and creative. I had parties for every occasion and had lots of friends. My mom used to say my friend roster looked like the United Colors Of Benetton. If you grew up in the 80’s you know what I mean. As soon as i graduated HS, I chose to go to the University of Illinois in Urbana/Champaign to study fine art. And here I am.

Q. What is your personal mantra?

I have a lot, but here are my faves! “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” “It’s called practice because we are never finished.” “ My religion is very simple, my religion is kindness.” ~ Dalai Lama

Q. When did you know you wanted to be a yoga teacher?

I’m a yoga teacher? When did that happen??? I still can’t believe I’m almost 44, married and have 2 children someone entrusted in my care! And now a yoga teacher? Who knew this would be my life!?

After my first teacher training at Yogaview Chicago in 2012 (at the time, only to enhance my love for the practice), I began teaching a weekly class, but with trepidation. I felt if i was really going to give this instructor thing a try, I needed more guidance. I went back for an advanced level training again wth Yogaview in Wilmette. It was just what I needed. That, and going through both trainings with a new friend I had met, Mia Cutler. We have walked this journey together and have been one another’s inspiration and therapist ever since.

Q. Shark diving, bungee jumping, or skydiving?

You’ve got to be kidding me. No, No, NO!

Q. Sweet or salty?

Sweet for sure, hands down. no question.

Q. What yoga pose do you dislike and find yourself avoiding?

Mandukasana/Frog Pose. Does this really need an explanation?

Q. What was the first concert you went to?

Madonna. Radio City Music Hall, NY 1987. Beastie Boys opened. My older sister chaperoned and it was beyond incredible. So many concerts since, but with my inability to sleep solid nights and rising early to run or teach I no longer enjoy late nights out unless its for a major band that my husband begs me to go to (U2 was the last show i went to with him and it was worth it- incredible).

Q. What motivates you?

I think life is pretty challenging. There’s no guide book. no map. I could easily stay in bed watching tv all day, but I choose to get up, be happy and not sweat the small stuff. Life could change or end tomorrow and I don’t want to regret one thing. I try not to dwell on the past, I live in the moment, I don’t have “guilty” pleasures, just pleasures. I am me 100% of the time. I have a very small circle of friends, and if you don’t appreciate me for me, you’re not in it. I have under 10 people in my “favorites” on my iPhone. Knowing I only get one chance to do this thing called life is what motivates me. There really aren’t any do-overs. My kids Dylan (9) and Jack (almost 8) motivate me to be the best version of myself, for them.

Q. What brought you to the practice of yoga?

I don’t have a great answer for what brought me to the practice, but I’m sure as heck grateful that I found it. Namaste. Xxxx

Meet Dana Weiss

Walking into your yoga studio can feel like coming home … especially if you know and enjoy seeing fellow yogis. Our 6am classes have become a special supportive community, thanks to yogis like Dana Weiss.

If you aren’t yet an early morning yogi and want to give it a try, look for Dana and say hello. Ask Dana how long she’s been a Reach Yoga member, or where her travels will next take her.

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

A friend advised me to try yoga during a stressful period in my life. In retrospect, the first class I attended was too advanced for a novice. I didn’t know what I was doing; but, I knew within 5 minutes that whatever I was doing, I loved! It simply felt amazing to stretch my limbs and be told that to breathe was enough. It was a revelatory experience right from the start.

As all yogis know, the benefits of a regular practice are numerous – physical, emotional, functional, etc. I’ll just say this – I’ve never left a class not feeling better in some way(s) than before the class. Most days, a feeling of joy envelops me at some point during the class like an embrace. The first time it happened, it reminded me of the feeling I had as a child in summer camp among my friends – carefree, active – with the sun shining down on me. Pretty great, right?

Q. How often do you typically practice yoga?

I practice 5-6 days a week, most often at 6am. Like many, I started practicing so early due to lack of time the rest of the day. Since then, I’ve found that the before-sunrise hours have a mystical quality unlike any other time of day, and am so grateful for this habit and for the uniquely inspirational, gentle, and kind guidance of each teacher at Reach. It takes special dedication to teach at 6am! I’m also grateful for our small community of 6am risers who add so much pleasure to my daily routine.

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

I’m fortunate to have a great husband, Steven, who loves to plan sports, concert, restaurant and travel fun. I get to ride his coattails to all sorts of amazing activities! Professionally, I work in the medical translation field for a large international company. Collaborating with translators and clinicians worldwide affords me the daily opportunity to connect with people across the globe. I am a perennial language learner and am constantly striving to improve my skills. My dream is to live in Italy (and other countries potentially) for 6 months to study the language enough to be proficient.

Q. What was your first job?

I was a cashier at Rexall Pharmacy in Skokie when I was 16.

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

I seem to be happiest in whichever city I find myself as each locale offers a unique culture, language, cuisine, and people to meet. There are always new things to discover everywhere! I recently found the energy and gentle civility of the denizens of Copenhagen to be extraordinary and would highly recommend a visit there.

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

I never tire of the freshest fish/seafood available, simply prepared with olive oil, salt and lemon juice, and preferably grilled and prepared by someone else! I also enjoy cooking all the “Old World” Jewish dishes of my mother and grandmother for my 4 sweet children. Old family recipes are never really old or outdated.

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

I had the privilege of attending a concert/lecture given by Peter Yarrow recently in which he spoke about his experiences during the Civil Rights Movement and the Peace Movement in the ‘60s, and related that to our struggles today. He also invited my daughter and me to join him onstage to sing “Puff the Magic Dragon,” which was a wondrous experience!

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

Unfortunately, the only other activity I do regularly is about 45 minutes of aerobic activity every morning (before yoga 😉) at the Winnetka Community House. I wish I could fit in other sports. I used to adore playing baseball!

Q. Coffee or tea?

I drink both every morning. I have a doppio macchiato before yoga and green tea with lemon when I get home. Coffee would be my preference if I could only choose one.

Why I Took A Break From Yoga … by Dani P.

So … maybe you didn’t see me around the studio much over the spring and early summer.

(If that is so true that you don’t know who I am, then “Hi”—I’m Dani, a student at Reach Yoga, and also the owner of the studio.)

My absence from Reach wasn’t typical. From 2011-2016, I took 3-6 yoga classes per week (except for periods out of town, when more often than not I sought out a local studio). My yoga practice included many different classes, at different times of day, and I learned from every teacher on our schedule.

Typically, each week included several physically challenging, faster-moving level 2 or level 1-2 classes every week. Most weeks I also added a relaxing Hatha or evening stretch class, and/or worked on my alignment in back-to-the-basics classes.

Yoga did so much for my health and fitness. As you know, over the medium- to long-term, with regular practice, yoga develops strength, flexibility, and balance. I got stronger in my arms, legs, chest, and core. My lower back pain disappeared. The faster moving classes got me breathing hard, which stoked my energy.

Moreover, yoga was enjoyable. I’ve never been someone who loved exercise for its own sake, but a yoga class was so much more than exercise. A yoga class left me calm rather than agitated, more patient, more able to tune into and appreciate the present moment. Those immediate benefits kept me motivated to show up day after day, and week after week.

After decades of regular strength training and dutiful rides on a stationary bicycle, I stopped lifting weights, and rarely stepped on a treadmill or bike. Yoga was doing it all for me.

But then … something happened. At some point last year, without even realizing it, I started gravitating to mostly the slower moving classes (basics and level 1). Frankly, I got lazy, and avoided the classes that challenged my personal physical fitness level. I continued to treasure the classes I did attend … and I didn’t get much cardiovascular exercise. Nor was I maintaining my strength.

And did I add back in any strength training or cardio to compensate? Nope. As a result, my energy declined and I experienced some—ahem—weight gain. The mental and spiritual benefits of yoga were still all there, but I realized I’d let myself get out of shape.

So, I tried to add back in a few level 2 classes—and found them really challenging.

Wow. Humbling.

Here’s how I dealt with my injured pride. I returned to the weight room 4-6 times per week. And mostly dropped my yoga practice for several months.

I did gain some strength. Here are some other things I gained: Stress. Irritability. Fatigue. Insomnia.

Clearly that wasn’t what I was seeking. So, this fall, I returned to yoga several times each week, while keeping up 3-4 shorter strength training sessions.

And ahhh … balance. It feels so good to get back to yoga. And I am working my way back toward a practice that nourishes spirit, mind, and body. The high is even higher, and the bliss is even blissy-er when I work just a little harder.

If I had it to do over again, I probably would put my pride aside and stick with my practice, and be patient with building up my strength at a reasonable pace.

But I am where I am. Level 1-2 classes still feel more challenging than they did a year ago … and that’s okay. My experience has reminded me why we need a variety of classes on our schedule—to meet not only the needs of different people, but also the varying needs of students who have been with us for years, and experience different phases of their own yoga journeys.

Yoga can meet you where you are. Our schedule is meeting me where I am right now.

As I approach my 50th birthday, my goal is to get back to a place where yoga takes care of most of my fitness/wellness needs. That means taking classes that challenge my muscles and cardiovascular system, along with the gentler classes I love so much. More specifically, my goal is to take at least two level 2 classes per week, and at least 2 basics/level 1 classes per week. I also plan to hone my practice by taking some workshops with visiting teachers, and continue a little outside strength training and cardio. Just to mix it up a bit … and let me miss my favorite yoga classes when I’m doing something different.

As a student as well as the owner of Reach Yoga, I am grateful that our classes and teachers can satisfy and challenge students at all levels of experience and physical fitness.

Where are you in your yoga and wellness? What’s your yoga goal for the remainder of 2017 and beyond?

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