Who’s On That Mat? Meet Meg Murphy

I feel so lucky to often see Meg Murphy at the studio. She has a sunny, positive aura that always makes me smile. And I love hearing about her work; she inspires me.

Read on to learn more about Meg.

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

This is a huge question!!! Do you have a couple of hours? Honestly, I practice yoga because it makes me feel strong, physically and emotionally. More often than not, I work things out on the mat; about ¾ of the way through the class, I gain clarity on all of the different thoughts circling through my mind.

I also love the lessons yoga teaches about how to live our lives off the mat: focus on the process, leave your ego at the door, be grateful, lead with your heart. All of these ideas are at play in my life and I appreciate yoga’s ability to remind me of them. Plus, it’s just really delightful to put your body into different shapes!

I must say that I really value my Reach Yoga community. I’ve formed so many new relationships with people I may have already known (but not well) or would have never met. I even reconnected with my freshman year floormate!  (We both transferred colleges after freshman year.) I am inspired by the teachers and staff, who are all true professionals and amazing human beings. Within the studio, I know I am valued and respected.

Q. How often do you typically practice yoga?

I practice yoga anywhere from 3-6 days a week. The membership benefits and the varied class schedule allow me to practice every day of the week; it’s just a matter of committing to getting there.

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

I have been married to Kevin for 23 years. He comes to the Studio when he’s not nursing a torn achilles or acl. We have three teenaged sons, who keep us both very busy.

Outside of my home life, I have taught humanities and writing at DeVry University for the past ten years. I absolutely love teaching at DeVry: most of my students are the first in their generation to go to college and they bring an honest and fresh perspective to the classroom and a willingness to learn. They happily share ideas and listen to one another, so it’s pretty awesome.

I also work with seniors in high school on their college application essays through my venture, Dream Roots College Essay Consulting. Yoga actually inspired this name! One day after Missy’s Friday 9:30 class, I kept thinking of her (and may other teachers’) expression, “root down to rise up,” and how a strong foundation is essential to getting into the pose. My business partner came up with the name. That’s our approach with working one-on-one with students: we encourage them to draw upon what they know and have experienced to achieve their dreams.

Q. What was your first job?

My first job requiring a work permit was scooping ice cream out of an RV that was parked in a lot in my hometown of Saginaw, Michigan. I made $2.10 an hour, but I got also got a free ice cream cone. My sister was my manager. Particularly witty patrons would ask, “do you guys take this camping on the off-season?,” which always cracked us up. I think it was called the Flav-R-Parlor.

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

Rome Italy for the artistic treasures you will find every time you walk into a church or turn a corner. The food isn’t bad either! I spent my sophomore year of college studying art history there. It will always be my favorite city.

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

Believe it or not, I love a salad made of the freshest veggies, homemade dressing, and a little grilled protein on top. I’m also a sucker for chocolate (and seem to find an excuse to eat it every day).

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

The last cultural event I attended was the musical Trevor at Writer’s Theatre! It should be required reading for all middle and high school students. A fabulous (and young!) cast, brilliant songs and choreography, and a very important message. See it!

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

I play competitive paddle tennis. It’s a double’s sport and I love the challenge of working with my partner to thwart our competition. I’m crazy at the net and actually take it pretty seriously. It’s pretty un-yogic, but it gets me outside in the winter months.

Q. Coffee or tea?

Coffee. Two cups a day!

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?


Who’s On That Mat? Meet Diane Greening

Diane is a yoga student, friend, and fellow music lover / maker. She plays the ukulele, sings, and even writes songs. When you next see her around the studio, ask about the song she wrote that was inspired by Reach. 🙂 And say hi to her husband Gary (pictured here with Diane), who often attends classes with her on weekends.

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

I started yoga to gain flexibility almost 10 years ago, but I’ve stayed for the strength and calm. I still consider myself a beginner and enjoy the Basics and Beyond classes best.

Q. How often do you typically practice yoga?

I try to go to 3 classes a week, but my schedule doesn’t always allow that.

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

I often say I work full time, although I am not paid. In other words, I am a very active volunteer. I just finished running a large native plant sale for Citizens for Conservation in Barrington. I’m on the Board of the Friends of the Green Bay Trail here in Glencoe. I teach school field trip programs at the Chicago Botanic Garden and at Ryerson Woods. I’m an Illinois Master Naturalist. For fun, I sing and play the ukulele and write songs (and have given several concerts at Reach). I’m also a quilt maker.

Q. What was your first job?

Youth Conservation Corps: we planted trees and fixed trails in a state park in Delaware.

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

I just had a wonderful trip to New Orleans. I loved hearing music on every street corner; it was a joyful experience. London is incredibly rich: I’ve been there many times as my husband is English and we’re still finding new things to do there.

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

Objects in the Mirror at the Goodman. A thought-provoking play about an African refugee and what he experiences trying to escape danger and how he is received in his new country —Australia, in this case. Very timely and moving.

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

If it snows, I love to cross country ski in the Forest Preserves. I also enjoy kayaking the Skokie Lagoons in the summer.

Q. Coffee or tea?

Peet’s Coffee

Who’s On That Mat? Meet Jeannie Balsam

jeannie_balsam3I am happy to say that Jeannie Balsam is a friend (first and foremost), a yoga student at Reach, and is helping Bob and me furnish and decorate our home here in Glencoe! Did you know that her business Jeannie Balsam Interiors has won the Make It Better “Best of” award for three years in a row?

Reach Yoga is thrilled to introduce Jeannie to those of you in the yoga community who may not know her yet. Maybe she’ll inspire you to hit a 6am class, if you haven’t already.

namaste, dani

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

Yoga gives me peace of mind, flexibility, strength, confidence and love and support from the Reach Community.

jeannie_balsam4Q. How often do you typically practice yoga?

This is a longer explanation since I think it speaks to the amazing community at Reach Yoga.

Prior to August 2015, I would practice mostly on weekends, and it was more sporadic.  Then I tried a few 6am classes, and a fellow student suggested I try to practice on a more daily basis.  She was a kind, fun, and warm person and a career mom like myself, so I thought … “What the heck, I should try it.”  Truth be told, it was difficult to wake up at 5:30 am, but after a  couple of months, my brain made a total switch and when the alarm went off, I would visual the amazing feeling that was waiting for me at 7am after a morning of meditation, movement, love and support … and the warm comfort of my Starbucks Americano.  It grounds me for the day, before getting my girls to school and running my Interior Design Studio in Winnetka.

My plan is to practice on Tuesday and Thursday with Steph, sometimes Wednesday with Pam M. (if I don’t need the extra sleep), Friday with Laura, and Sunday at 9:30 with Pam Gross.  My Sunday practice has been consistent for a few years.  And I always mention, that I changed the time my family goes to church in order to practice with Pam and our Sunday Class Community.  The class moves me in a spiritual way that supports my faith. 

jeannie_balsam2Q. How do you occupy your time outside of Reach Yoga?

Primarily spending time with my foodie, music- and travel-loving husband Doug, raising my three daughters Mira (17), Petrea (14), and Alexa (12), loving my almost-6-year-old Cavachon Cisco, and sharing my passion for Interior Design with my design team and clients.  I was fortunate that 17 years ago,  I found a  “second calling” to share my true God-given gifts of design and connecting with others on a very authentic level.

Q. What was your first job?

Working at Lindemann’s Pharmacy in Deerfield.  You started out as the “soda jerk” at the fountain (yes, they served ice cream) and then worked your way up to cashier and then finally the Pharmacist’s assistant in your senior year of high school.  My oldest daughter just started at Graeter’s in Winnetka, so maybe it runs in the family.  Be sure to stop in and say hello.  It might embarrass her, but she knows how much I love my Yoga friends.

jeannie_balsam1Q. What city, anywhere in the world, would you recommend everyone visit?

Hands down – Positano in the Amalfi Coast of Italy.  I first visited when completing my MBA in Rome.  Returned with my hubby for our honeymoon almost 20 years ago, and then we shared it with the girls in 2012.  They are dying to go back!

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

That’s a tough one since Doug is the talented one in the kitchen.  I pretty much like everything, especially when others cook it. Lately, I have been loving carpaccio and sashimi – cleaner and simpler.  However, the cheeseburger sliders at Little Ricky’s are my Achilles’ heel and main comfort food.

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

This month we saw Sting with his son Joe Sumner and the Last Bandoleros at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago.  It was so intimate. He drew the most amazing, loving fans and his interest and energy (at 65 years old) in sharing the stage with his son, his bassist’s son, and this young emerging band from San Antonio was enlightening.  He inspired me to dream of expanding new ways to continue my craft as I get older and my girls become adults.

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

I do a personal training session on Monday mornings at Redefined Fitness in Wilmette with my sister and her husband.  It starts your week with the equivalent of the ice bucket challenge each week, but I love the bonding time with my trainer Corey & family. They helped me lose all my baby weight 12 years ago, and now we concentrate on building muscle and flexibility to keep me injury free.  They are huge supporters of yoga!!

Q. Coffee or tea?  

Americano always! Iced in the summer and hot otherwise.

Meet Yoga Student Maggie Ross Abramson

maggie rossAs a yoga studio owner, I get to meet many community members. I feel so lucky to have met Maggie Ross Abramson, who is a ray of sunshine in our studio every week. Thanks Maggie, for all your kind words about our studio and community. (And I liked, but didn’t love, Hamilton also!!)


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

Yoga positively affects most all areas of my life. I gain physical flexibility, muscle strength, peace of mind, connection to intuition…. The list is just about endless. I prefer to practice in the morning, so it can set the tone for my day, but I come to class any time I can. The Reach studio, teachers and community are the ideal spot for my commitment to yoga–I find that when I travel or can’t make it to the studio, my yoga experience really suffers. I should work towards a home practice, but I really need you, fabulous Reach guides!

Q. How often do you typically practice yoga?

Before moving to Glencoe last summer I practiced a couple times a week, but after finding my “yoga home” at Reach, I now typically practice 4-5 times a week. I spent about 6 weeks in the hospital in spring 2015 during a difficult pregnancy with my girls and really felt the physical effects in the months afterwards. I’m so grateful for finding such devoted teachers, friendly clients and inspiring peers at Reach. I’ve slowly gained my strength back, and it’s truly due to the phenomenal community here. Dani’s warm welcome really made me feel at home the moment I walked in the door. And my first friend was thoughtful Colleen who recognized me while dropping my son off at South School. I’m so impressed by those killer handstands around me in class and hope to keep expanding my practice to attempt those someday soon.

maggie ross weddingQ. How do you occupy your time outside of Reach Yoga?

My 3 kids (Teddy, 5 years and Savannah & Natalie, 1.5 years) keep me running around, but I enjoy volunteering as well. I used to work for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and have remained committed as a volunteer, mentor and now serve on their Women’s Board.

Q. What was your first job?

Probably babysitting… I think I’ve babysat for around 60 families in my tenure… I’ve always loved kids and was pretty shy in high school, so a Saturday night babysitting gig earning money and watching my video-taped “Beverly Hills 90210” and “Melrose Place” was my jam!

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

We tend to go back to the same spots, so I really should be getting and not giving advice in this category. But, a favorite is Traverse City, Michigan (we go every summer for a family reunion) and New York City because it is ever-changing and has something for everyone.

maggie ross familyQ. What is your favorite food to cook or eat?

That’s a tough one… I love to cook and eat, especially when trying new restaurants. Tacos and anything chocolate are pretty popular at our house, and I’m still looking for a good sushi spot nearby—any suggestions? I’m a decent cook, but excellent at selecting restaurants. My current favorites are Found in Evanston, Oriole and Giant in Chicago.

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

I recently saw “Hamilton” with my husband, Danny. I liked it but didn’t love it (don’t hate me!). If you see me in the studio, ask me why and I’ll explain. I love to attend concerts and am looking forward to U2 and Coldplay both at Soldier Field this summer.

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

I’ve been doing pilates for about 10 years and love it to keep my core strong. I am not a runner–although I admire their determination! A few ladies in the community encouraged me to ice skate with my kindergartner during his gym class at South School this winter, but I don’t think I was moving fast enough to consider it exercise.

Q. Coffee or tea?

Black coffee for sure. But I’d never turn down a cup of tea, especially with good company!

Who’s That Next To My Mat? Meet Brian Silverstein

BrianSilverstein6Meet Brian Silverstein, a Reach Yoga member that you might see at a class any time of day! Ask him why he recommends the Maldives as a place to visit. 

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

I practice because I have decided that it makes me feel good. Fitness is important to me so that I have energy to engage with my family, friends, colleagues and clients. Yoga presents the opportunity for me to practice and improve my physical and mental fitness.

BrianSilverstein7Q. How often do you typically practice yoga? 

I practice 1 to 7 times a week as my schedule is highly variable. I have been fortunate to practice across the world which has created vivid memories and simultaneously increased my appreciation of Reach. For example, last summer I had an opportunity to go on a medical mission to Ethiopia and I will always remember doing yoga videos in the morning with my friend who organized the trip.

However, as much as I enjoy the experience of new studios across the country I find myself longing to come back to Reach. The teachers at Reach are amazing and I love that each of them is kind, an expert and also has a unique style and personality. Some of my personal favorites include: Allison, Colleen, Deb, Debbie, Erika, Heather, Laura, Lauri, Megan, Mia, Pam & Steph.

BrianSilverstein5Q. How do you occupy your time outside of Reach Yoga?

My top priority are my kids (Jessica, Sloane and Max) and my dog (Jake) as well as my family and friends. My professional work is at the intersection of medicine and business. I teach and consult on health care delivery strategy. After completing medical school and my internship I shifted my focus to the business elements of clinical care. Everyone can agree health care is broken and I enjoy working to make it better.

Q. What was your first job?

My first job was at Loves Yogurt (my family started the business). I also worked as a lifeguard, delivered pizza and had a wholesale ticket business.

BrianSilverstein1Q. What city, anywhere in the world, would you recommend everyone visit?

That is a challenging question because everyone is looking for something different and I am not sure there is one city that offers it all.

A couple of my favorites that I have been lucky enough to visit include:

  • Bali – One of the most peaceful places on Earth. You can feel the calm and kind nature that pervades the people.
  • Panama – The canal is a true engineering marvel.
  • Maldives – A land so remote that you really feel how small we are and how big world of a world we live in.
  • Paris – There is so much in Paris. Perhaps this is the one that can offer something for everyone?

BrianSilverstein3Q. What is your favorite food to cook or eat?

My favorite meal to cook and eat is oven roasted veggies (broccoli, cauliflower and brussel sprouts) with a protein from the grill (chicken or steak) with berries for dessert paired with a porter or stout beer.

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

I was fortunate to see Train and Andy Grammer with my oldest daughter at Ravinia. There is an energy to live music where you experience something that taps into a piece of the soul.

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

My other favorite activity is running, but I love doing just about any outdoor activity. I am a big fan of the water and water ski, swim and kayak. I have recently gotten into snow skiing and snow tubbing. My old standbys from my childhood are golf, tennis and biking.

Q. Coffee or tea?

Coffee! I tend to start the week with a cup a day and probably I am up to 3 or 4 by Friday.  I try to detox on the weekend to get the full benefit for the next week.

Who’s On That Mat? Meet Delphina W.

One of our “favourite” students is Delphina Worsley … who retains her delightful English accent. When you see her next, ask her about when she met Elton John in London!

delphina-laptopQ. Why do you practice yoga? How does it benefit you?

I first started yoga in college as a form of stress management. It was something I did on occasion. Since moving to Glencoe in 2004 I went to Iyengar yoga classes at the Park District. Then my teacher started to teach at Reach and I signed up for the 2 week unlimited trial. Since then, apart from when I’ve been traveling, I don’t think a week has gone by that I haven’t attended. I was totally hooked from day one. Even though I found every class to be hugely challenging and at times thought I should give up, I wanted to get better. The benefits for both my mind and my body have been remarkable. Now if I don’t get to my mat for a day, I feel as if something isn’t quite right, and I seek out a yoga studio whenever I’m traveling. I had intended to move back to the city as soon as my children were out of High School, but I feel so lucky to have this incredible studio right on my doorstep with easy parking–I’m not going anywhere!

Q. How often do you typically practice yoga?
I usually come at least 3 times a week, sometimes 4 or 5 depending on my schedule.

delphina-theaterQ. How do you occupy your time outside of Reach Yoga?
I am always busy. Although I am now an empty nester (my son Henry is 22 and a Senior at UIC and my daughter Madeleine a Sophomore at George Washington University in DC), there never seem to be enough hours in the day. I also take strength (weights) and dance classes. I have many treasured friends both here and in the city and cherish every moment we can spend together. I travel as much as I can, generally preferring cities to the wilderness. I love movies, particularly foreign / independent ones. I have been attending the Chicago International Film Festival for over 20 years, breaking my own record this October by managing to squeeze in 23 movies in 11 days (and I still managed to get in my yoga) . I also subscribe to several theaters including Writers Theater here in Glencoe.

Q. What was your first job?
My first job in high school was at a farm sorting freshly laid eggs by size … I absolutely hated it ! (freezing cold, dirty and I was always breaking my nails). My first real job was a Solicitor (lawyer) in Manchester UK. There is a different training system there than the US. Once you are finished with law school, it is totally in at the deep end. I was only 22 and suddenly had to represent a man in a civil case whose daughter (who was the same age as me) had been killed by a drunk driver, and women who were victims of the most brutal spousal abuse. After a few years, I decided that this was not the career for me.

Before moving to the US (due to my then-husband’s career), I lived in Brussels, Paris, Dusseldorf and Milan. As a “trailing spouse” I had to improvise on my career: working in the legal department at the JP Morgan Securities Clearing Center, an English teacher, a translator (I speak fluent French), a speech writer to the Royal Anesthesiologist in Belgium, and (my favorite job of all time) working at a boutique in Windsor (near London) where I organized fashion shows and helped many celebrities including Elton John and his (at that time) about-to-be wife Renate, assemble her wedding trousseau. This job wasn’t a good source of income for me though, as most months I ended up actually owing the store because I had purchased so many clothes and accessories for myself (but I got a great discount heehee).

delphina-people-moverQ. What city, anywhere in the world, would you recommend everyone visit?
London! I LOVE this city and go as often as I can. I think it has everything: culture, arts, theater, design, open spaces, shopping, and most of all the food! The UK used to have such a bad reputation (well-deserved) but has become an absolute mecca for foodies. The breadth of choice and the quality is astounding.

Art-wise I would highly recommend the Victoria and Albert museum (V & A) which is supposedly the leading art and design museum in the world, and the The Royal Academy which both have excellent dining (try the scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam). There are the obvious and not to be missed attractions such as Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, The Tower of London, St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, and Kensington Palace.

I have been very lucky with the weather on recent trips (can’t promise though) so have been able to enjoy the numerous beautiful parks including Hyde Park, Green Park, Regents Park, and Kensington Gardens. I recently re-visited Kew Gardens which was spectacular and makes our Botanic Gardens seem like a back yard. It has the largest conservatories in the world (and wonderful dining options). I love the diversity of the people and the neighborhoods: the opulent wealth and glamour in Mayfair, Kensington, and Chelsea, and the more hipster areas such as Camden, Hoxton, Brick Lane, and Spitalfields (where there is an incredible covered market featuring new designers and surrounded by many more yummy dining choices). Then of course there is the theater in the West End. No trip to London would be complete without a visit to a show or play or two or three or four.

Q. What is you favorite food to cook or eat?
I can’t pick only one favorite food. It’s a dead heat between dark chocolate, avocado burrata and spinach.

bryanferryQ. What was the last live performance (concert, play, etc.) you attended? How was it?
This past summer, I saw my childhood (and still enduring) crush Bryan Ferry (formerly of Roxy Music) at Ravinia, and an Adele concert at the United Center for which my daughter surprised me with tickets and Kleenex (they were needed). Both were absolutely phenomenal.

The last play I saw a couple of weeks ago was equally fabulous, King Charles III at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater; brilliant writing and excellent casting and sets. So topical in these days of anti-“establishment,” it imagines what happens when the current Queen of England passes away and her son Charles who has waited SOOO long finally becomes King. I wondered if it was because I am English that I enjoyed it so much, but I don’t think that was the case … anyone who is interested in the future of society would find it fascinating.

Q. Coffee or tea?

Both! I can’t start the day without a cup of Fortnum and Mason (The Queen’s Grocer) Countess Grey (a delicious but milder form of Earl Grey). And then for “elevenses” (British for coffee time) at least 2 macchiatos accompanied by at least 2 (very dark) Belgian chocolates (a habit I acquired whilst living in Brussels for 8 years). Then there’s Afternoon Tea of course. My family members tease me that I have become American, but I cannot take milk in my tea any more. So this will usually be a herbal tisane. At the moment it’s a Betty’s of Harrogate (British tea Lovers institution) Winter Blend, a warming soothing mix of hibiscus, cinnamon, orange peel, apple, clove, ginger root, elderberry, cardamom, marigold and star anise. Perfect!

Who’s On the Mat Next to Me? Meet Lisa Silverman

lisa-silvermanDo you enjoy getting to know your fellow yogis? Here are some fun facts about Lisa Silverman, a Reach member and frequent student. When you next see Lisa, ask her about the jewelry she makes and sells (I am the proud owner of a beautiful necklace).

xo, Dani

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

I practice for the benefit of my mental and physical strength.

Q. How did you get started practicing yoga? Who has influenced you? 

I started on a whim with a friend.  We both went to a class, I walked in and she turned around and left.

Q. How often do you typically practice yoga? 

I practice 4-6 times a week

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

Outside of reach my life is filled with my 2 teenage daughters, husband, tennis, JUF and my jewelry company.

Q. What was your first job?

My life before my kids, I was a CPA

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

As far as a city, each has its own lure.  NY for the museums, theatre & shopping.  Florence for its architecture, museums, shopping and food.  Jerusalem for its history and culture.

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

Cooking, all types of cuisine.  Eating-Indian

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

Last concert was American Authors and The Fray.  Fun night

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

Beside yoga I bike, run, play tennis.

Q. Coffee or tea?


Who’s On the Mat Next to Me? Meet Mike Illian

mike-illian-stonehenge<——If you’ve seen this guy, it’s no surprise, because he practices quite often at Reach Yoga. Here’s an interview with one of your yoga neighbors, Mike Illian. The next time you see him, say hello and ask about his hobbies or travels. xo, Dani

“Hello, my name is Mike Illian. I started learning and practicing yoga right after I turned sixty-five years old and retired from actively working in my faux finishing painting business. That was seven years ago. I actually started my yoga journey right in this studio when it was called ‘Breathe,’ and credit Rachel Coppola for my initial learning experience which I continue to use today. The main reason I chose yoga was because of several health conditions that prevented me from doing more strenuous exercise. I can honestly say that practicing yoga has provided me with enormous physical benefits and vastly improved my overall health and outlook toward life.

“I usually practice at least three times per week, sometimes four. I enjoy all levels of classes and greatly appreciate the yoga faculty here at Reach. My hardest decisions are about which classes to take, because there really are no bad classes. I prefer the morning classes, so I might not be familiar to you if you practice in the evening. I really appreciate and value the many friends I have met here at Reach, as well as Dani Petrie for her continuous devotion to improving Reach.

mike-illian-water“I am happily married to my wife of 44 years, Louise, and we have two grown daughters. My daughters both live nearby so we get to see them regularly. Another member of my family is my dog Charlie, a black standard poodle who does ‘down dog’ regularly.

“Hobbies that I enjoy outside of yoga include computer flight simulation, building model ships, movies, reading, and Chicago sports teams. I would not say I am an adventurous eater, but I like good bar-b-que, Italian cuisine, sushi, and coffee. Some of you might know that I usually like a cup of coffee after yoga class.

The last movie I saw and liked was ‘Sully’ with Tom Hanks, and the last live performance was Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar’ at the Writers Theater. Places I would like to revisit are Paris, Quebec City, London, and the Alhambra in Granada, Spain. I still want to visit Portugal, Iceland, and the south of France, where I hope to find a yoga studio as I do on all my travels.”

Who’s On the Mat Next to Me? Meet Nicole Moriarty

Nicole with her husband Jamie

Yoga student Nicole with her husband Jamie

You may recognize Nicole Moriarty, because she practices at Reach Yoga frequently, at different times of day. We thought you might enjoy learning a bit about one of your “yoga neighbors.” Here is some Q&A with Nicole.

Q. Why do you practice yoga? 

Let me tell you, if I didn’t practice, you wouldn’t want to know me! It’s my saving grace. It’s my self care. It’s my serenity, my calm, my peace, my passion. It brings me clarity, understanding, emotional release. It takes me to being the best version of myself. It is the other love of my life (the only one that is an inanimate object!) although come to think of it, and I never thought of it this way until just answering this question, yoga is very much “alive”, isn’t it? Interesting…

Q. How often do you typically practice yoga?

It’s a daily practice for me. I would say I am fortunate enough to get to a studio on average five times a week, but if I can’t, I practice at home. As you read above, if I didn’t, you wouldn’t want to know me!

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

I have an almost 1.5-year-old little girl, so she occupies a LOT of my time! Primarily all of my time! (you parents out there understand that one, right?) In addition to raising Royce, I am a travel consultant, so I am working on client trips daily. With the few remaining hours of each day, they are spent with my incredible husband, my adorable nephew, and my wonderful parents (my mom is my first love of my life) all of whom live in Glencoe–we’re fortunate to be so physically close to each other. I’m very much a homebody really (that was the case even pre-mommadom).

Q. What was your first job?

I think my first job was busing tables at O’Neils Restaurant in Hubbard Woods… Now THAT’S taking me back!

Q. What city would you recommend everyone visit?

Hong Kong. Hands down.

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

I have yet to dive into cooking (super late to the party!) so the extent of mine is popping my favorite food in the microwave (I’m easy… And I can’t screw this one up!) sweet potatoes! Of any variety… But Okinawan Purple Sweets are some of my faves… They taste like donuts to me!

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

John Mayer at Ravinia last September (it’s been too long, glory, life as a “newish” mom!) and as always, it was incredible. He can do no wrong.

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

I walk with the LittleBabe–like … A LOT! That chickadee puts some major mileage on these gams.

Q. Coffee or tea?

Tea would be the choice–I used to be really into it. Now that autumn’s around the bend, this question has reminded me to fall in love with it again!

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