Meet Sweet Shawna Doran!

When I asked Shawna to be featured in our next blog post about our fabulous instructors, she was  understandably hesitant (not many people, I’m learning, like the spotlight). But I persisted because she is not only one of Reach Yoga’s teacher training graduates, but she’s someone that our yoga community should know about, she deserves to shine bright! As a data privacy attorney by day, yoga teacher and incredible wife & mom by night, Shawna makes everyone feel good by just warming us with her inner light…shine on Shawna, shine on!

Q. What’s your favorite pose?

Urdhva Dhanurasana (aka “Full Wheel”) – This pose is not a favorite because it is easy for me, but because it is now possible for me. Before I entered teacher training, I had a frozen shoulder for over a year. I also had limited mobility in my right wrist due to a prior injury. My shoulder couldn’t rotate sufficiently and my wrist lacked both the range of motion and strength to bring me into the pose. After years of practice,  I now have enough mobility to get into the pose without the need for additional props, which is fantastic because I find full wheel to be an amazing front-body opener that helps to counteract the posture of my day job (hunched over a computer).

Q. What are you reading?

Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker. Truth be told, I actually bought it first as an audio book and fell asleep while listening so I had to buy the actual book.  It’s a fascinating (and accessible) discussion of the importance of sleep and dreaming. I am currently on a mission to change the sleeping habits of my entire family of night owls (myself included).

Q. What are you eating/drinking?

Every fall, I begin drinking something called “fire water”. It’s a mixture of hot water, lemon juice (1/2 lemon squeezed), 1/4 teaspoon of ginger, turmeric and cinnamon, pinch of cayenne pepper, black pepper and Pink Himalayan salt and 1 tsp of coconut oil. I also like to add yogi berries and coconut flakes. It’s warming and nourishing.

Q. What are you watching?

I’m obsessed with HGTV and YouTube. Together, they have taught me how to skim coat plaster walls, install baseboards, and shoe molding–oh, and drywall- and how to paint like a pro. Who needs tape when you have a good brush and a steady hand for cutting in?

Q. Best advice ever given?

Teach what you know. I teach level 1 classes and have a passion for doing so because that’s where I started in my own practice and that’s where I return whenever things get too chaotic in mylife. I find comfort in the basics and I hope that my love for these postures is translated in my teaching.

Q. Best advice to give?

Stay on your own mat. This is so often easier said than done in life and in class. However, I have injured myself in class doing something that I knew was beyond my capability at that moment or have not backed off in basic postures when my body has given me fair warning. It takes self-discipline to be the person resting in child’s pose oblivious to the fact that the rest of the class is in a bound headstand or to actually move with your own breath (and at your own pace) rather than trying to meet the pace of the class, but I believe that more personal growth occurs in those moments of appropriate self-restraint than in moving through every posture in a class.

Second piece of advice recently given to my kid brother who asked if he should get a yoga block: get two yoga blocks.  You’ll be glad you did.

Q. How do you bring the practice of yoga into your everyday life?

I get anxious sitting at my desk, particularly when I am in the middle of drafting a legal document or preparing to negotiate a contract, and so I use breath work every single day to keep me calm.  It’s something that I’ve been able to share with my kids too which has been a joy because I feel like I’m giving them tools for their toolbox to help them deal with the increasingly complex challenges they face as they grow older.

Q. All-time favorite quote?

Excerpted from Boundin’ by Bud Luckey:  Now sometimes you’re up and sometimes you’re down,

When you find that you’re down, well just look around;

You still got a body, good legs and fine feet.

Get your head in the right place and hey, you’re complete!

Shawna Teaches Vinyasa Flow Level 1 Sundays 3-4pm


Meet the Mesmerizing Debbie Muraff!

Have you been in class at Reach and wondered who the woman, literally defying gravity while balancing on her hands was? That’s Debbie….If you haven’t met her yet, or been to her classes, you should! On and off her mat, she is well-paced, thoughtful and beautifully balanced (pun intended). Please read on for a fun look into her world outside the studio……

Q. What are you Practicing/Favorite pose?

I am trying to practice more ahimsa – not letting others take away my peace. My favorite pose is handstand, of course, and I love Warrior 1. 

Q. What are you reading?

I’m reading True Yoga: Practicing With the Yoga Sutras for Happiness & Spiritual Fulfillment by Jennie Lee.

Q. What are you eating/drinking?

My new favorite is the Cali’flour pizzas I order on line, they are tasty and I dress them up with fun toppings! I also love Skinny Joe coffee!

Q. What are you watching? 

As far as TV, I have three faves- game of thrones, shameless, and This is Us. 

Q. Where are you travelling?

I’m going to Arizona next!   Then going on a cruise through the Panama Canal, which I’m really  looking forward to!

Q. Best advice you’ve ever been given? 

You get in life what you have the courage to ask for.

Q. How do you bring the practice of yoga into your everyday life?

I practice my yoga  by being the best that I can be on and off my Mat!

Q. How do you like to spend time off the mat? 

I like to visit my daughter Bryn in Madison & spend time with my boyfriend & son. I also have a specialty cookie line called Sideways Cookie Brittle that I sell to local shops and for custom events.

Q. Favorite Mantra?

I’m thankful for my struggle, without it I would not have stumbled upon my strength! 

Check her out on Mondays 6-7am Vinyasa level 1-2 & Wednesdays 8:15-9:15am Vinyasa Level 2

Yoga Insights & Tips from Brooke Palmer

The lovely Brooke Palmer teaches Vinyasa Flow 1-2 on Tuesdays, 1:15-2:15pm. Haven’t tried practicing in the afternoon? You just might love it. Read on to see the kind of inspiration and learning you could gain from working with Brooke.

Q. What is a posture you wish teachers spent more time breaking down for their students?

Chaturanga. I think this pose is often rushed and not fine tuned. I see a lot of dumping in the low back and shoulders. It’s about finding the balance between the two and using the sternum to extend the body forward.

Q. What is a common ‘mistake’ you often observe in classes?

One of the most common mistakes I see in class is in Warrior 3, I see a lot of dumping into the hamstring as well as folding forward rather then finding the extension of the pose.

Q. What’s the best advice you’ve received regarding the practice of yoga?

The greatest advice I have been given in this practice is to listen to my body. I have battled a nagging injury for years in my wrist, It flares up every summer and I am forced to give up my practice while I heal. It’s humbling and infuriating at the same time, but it’s my chance sit in my body and notice where I need a little more love.

Q. What advice would you give to someone that feels ‘stuck’ in their practice?

My advice to them would be to begin with an intention. Each time I come to my mat, I come with a different intention. One day, take it slow, the next–focus on breath. Yoga is about finding space where you need it and then utilizing it, that doesn’t always mean in your body, sometimes we need that space more in our minds.

Q. What kind of yoga do you practice when you want to calm down or experience a peaceful mindset?

I love restorative yoga and what it does for both my body and my mind. Restorative is about sitting in a pose for a while and noticing what comes up and then letting that go, GREAT THERAPY! It also calms me into my deepest state. I think people are curious and cautious at the same time about restorative!

Q. How has yoga changed you? Over what period of time did that change occur?

In every which way this practice has changed me. Mentally, physically ,emotionally … I find peace and solitude on my mat. I find me on my mat, I find who I want to be on my mat. The yoga community is so unique because it brings together so many different people with different pasts and different journeys, yet all there for the same reason, to benefit from the practice of connecting. Connection is strong.

Q. How do you avoid injury when you practice yoga frequently?

I listen to my body. Each day is different. What I do today, I may not be able to do tomorrow, and I am ok with that.

Q. How do you bring the practice of yoga into your everyday life?

Ha, I TRY my hardest to breathe deep and to lead with an open mind and heart. I am an emotional person and I take things very personally. I am working on that.

Q. What is your favorite yoga quote?

My favorite quote was read by a teacher of mine years ago. It has stuck with me. “You can easily judge the character of a person by the way he treats those who can do nothing for him.” No judgment in yoga ever, but the roundabout meaning of this quote is to treat others the way you would like to be treated.

Q.What keeps you motivated to continue practicing yoga?

This community, for sure.

Hi There Inner Critic … Nice to Meet You!

This is a guest post by yoga teacher Sonya Taylor, RYT 500 in Advanced Yoga Psychology. Sonya teaches Vigorous Vinyasa on Mondays, 9:45-10:45am, at the Takiff Center. Beginning July 10, Sonya will teach Core Flow (All Levels) on Tuesday evenings, 6:30-7:30pm, and Vinyasa Flow 2 on Thursdays, 11:30am-12:30pm. 

Have you met your Inner Critic?!

Many of us are so externally focused on what we need to do, if everyone is happy, everyone to school, work etc on time!… that we are unaware of the dialogue inside our head. The citta or mind chatter is the constant internal messaging that forms much of our experience of life, yet we rarely take time to stop and examine it! Do you know the repeated phrases inside your own head? Are they positive? Negative? Do they pressure you and judge you? Are they rooted in fear?

This past year I met my Inner Critic face-to-face and let me tell you… she is a nasty, slippery, conniving creature that is out to get me!

I took time to pause… truly look at and begin to recognize her voice and I developed a process to invalidate each and every thing she says! Don’t get me wrong, I still hear her! Sometimes often, sometimes few and far between. However, now I am adept at recognizing Her Voice is not My Voice!

Ready to dive in for battle?!…

Quieting Your Inner Critic!

As we are seeking to re-program the voice, hold compassion as these are usually deep seeded beliefs that we are challenging. Take pen to paper and write as you tune into…

-notice the voice of the inner critic

-write it down in the 2nd person “you…”

-who does the voice sound line?

-connect the inner voice to actions

-how does it influence your behavior

-events and situations that trigger these thoughts/voice of the inner critic

-self-limiting patterns

This process often takes time over several days or weeks to identify and clarify what the inner critic voice is saying and its resulting self-limiting patterns. Our tendency is to avoid really facing the voice and its root cause, leaving it lurking in the shadows. Recognizing and clearly identifying the dynamic of the inner critic is a vital first step.

Re-programming… Take pen to paper and re-write the voice.

What is the reality when you step out of the moment and really look at what the facts are? Write and affirmation, or positive statement in the present moment that re-writes the voice of the inner critic and completely in-validates what it says. Remember our inner dialogue and the thoughts or beliefs we allow to have the most ‘air time’ create and shape our experience. If we allow the inner critic to be the loudest voice… we will experience life in line with its negative, diminishing message.


Inner Critic – I am never going to make enough money, people don’t like me and my classes, I really messed that up, I don’t know what I’m talking about, no one is going to sign up for my workshop because they don’t like me and don’t want to hear about yoga psychology, no one gets me…. On and on and on…

Write it down- You are never going to make enough money. People don’t like you. You really messed up… etc

Re- Write – I am strong, successful and intelligent. The passion I have for yoga and its many healing processes guides me, sustains me, and draws many clients to my services. I am financially, emotionally and spiritually aligned.

Work toward awareness of the voice of the inner critic in daily life. Do you notice any patterns? Does the voice get louder or more frequent based on certain circumstances? I tend to hear the voice more when things are unsteady or changing. When I’m tired or have had a particularly challenging week. Noticing the pattern helps me be ready to fight back!

Repeat the positive ‘I’ message whenever you hear the voice of the inner critic. Take a few long, deep exhales. You might also try the practice of Viloma or a 3 part breath.

Viloma ~ Take a cleansing breath. Begin to inhale through the nose filling all the way up. Pause at the top of the inhale. Exhale through the nose in 3 parts deflating the chest, pause, the mid ribs, pause, the low belly, pause feeling totally empty… begin to inhale again and proceed through five or more rounds.

As you practice Viloma imagine the exhale carrying away the voice of the inner critic. Visualize it getting further and further away with each exhale so that you can barely hear it. Repeat the new thought pattern or affirmation five or more times (ideally looking in your own eyes reflected in the mirror).

Interested in working through my entire Inner Critic Process virtually or in person?!… Click here and let’s connect!

Sonya teaches Vigorous Vinyasa on Mondays, 9:45-10:45am, at the Takiff Center. To try Sonya’s class, you can use a Reach Yoga membership or classes on file, or pay the Park District at their front desk. View class schedule

What Students Say About Mia Cutler

Here’s what students had to say about Mia Cutler. Mia teaches at Reach Yoga in Glencoe on Mondays 5:15pm, Fridays 8:15am, and Saturdays 9:30am. Beginning May 1, Mia will also teach Vinyasa Flow 1-2 at the Winnetka Community House, room 212.

You can also read some advice from Mia (and more about her).

“Mia is one of my favorite yoga teachers. Besides her kind and calming voice, every class is different. She makes an effort to get to know the people who are attending her class. She asks about their level of practice and if they have any injuries. She utilizes this information to create the ultimate yoga experience. Over time, she has become clear about the skill levels of her students which allows her to push them to the appropriate place. In addition to this, she customizes her music so that it is never the same and sometimes theme related which is fun. Nothing makes me happier than coming to Reach and having Mia welcome me at the door. At that moment, I know that I am about to share in another excellent yoga adventure.”

“Mia is a kind and gentle soul. Yoga with her is a great workout, but it’s not just exercise. She genuinely cares for her students and wants them to enjoy yoga as a mind, body and breath experience. She has moved up the challenge of the practice to keep pace with the progress that the regular core of students have made. I’ve been in her class for years.”

“Among the many excellent and devoted yoga teachers available in the North Shore, Mia stands out. She is exceptionally knowledgeable, creative and thoughtful in the design and presentation of her classes. Mia welcomes all levels to her classes, and teaches joyfully and gracefully. Her cues are precise, helpful and delivered with good cheer. The smiles on the faces of we students leaving the studio after one of Mia’s classes speak volumes for her substantial contributions to our practices.”

“Mia has such a peaceful presence. I enjoy her yoga classes and appreciate the sequences she cues, but perhaps most of all I benefit from the tranquil, supportive sound of her voice. She always has a genuine smile and honest dedication to her students. She is a gift!”

“I love Mia! She’s a kind, empathetic, knowledgeable yoga teacher who makes me feel like I’ve given my body & my mind an enormous gift. I always leave her classes feeling just a little bit better about myself. She’s actually my favorite teacher. Plus, she has killer playlists!”

“I love yoga with Mia on Friday mornings!”

“Mia Happy Yoga. Need i say more? Mia depicts the word happy. Her classes are always upbeat, with well-edited tunes, fun sequencing that opens up your entire soul and always many laughs. Her soothing voice reminds us to ‘try less hard’ and just be ok with where you are. She is so kind and caring and i feel lucky every time I’m in her presence. She and her teaching are both really special, i adore her.”

“I can describe Mia in one word … that word is ‘brilliant. Mia is the most phenomenal, caring, gifted and intuitive teacher and she brings her beautiful brilliant spirit to every class she teaches. I feel so grateful to have the good fortune to experience her light at Reach as often as I can.”

“Mia’s positive energy, happy smile, and come as you are attitude make her class a welcome retreat every time I have her as a teacher!”

“Mia Cutler is my favorite yoga practice teacher. Her warmth, cheerfulness, and serious focus without taking herself too seriously make her a joy to be with. Her classes have a wonderful free and friendly atmosphere which I attribute to Mia’s personality and her personal interest in every yogi in the room. Also, I find her sequences, which can be quite challenging, make sense and allow me to be totally immersed in the experience.”

“Mia has a contagious enthusiasm that she brings to each practice. She makes it a point to personalize her interaction with students, whether it’s a compliment regarding their practice or simply a small detail in their life, I always leave the studio with a kinder attitude to be begin my day.”

“I love practicing with Mia! Through her creative sequencing, thoughtful cuing and subtle humor, Mia creates a warm and nurturing environment. I always leave her class with a smile on my face and a feeling of balance in my body.”

“I’m hesitant to say too many nice things about her, because Mia Cutler is a yogi’s best kept secret and I’d like it to stay that way. She is about the most knowledgeable and prepared instructors you will ever meet. While she may not be the flashiest or the one with the cool Instagram account, she brings to the mat a wealth of experience that in many ways is beyond approach from most every other instructor I practice with. Moreover, she’s always looking to improve my practice as well as hers and together over the years we’ve both benefited from our mats being in the same room. Her sequencing challenges my brain twice as much as my body and often times, it not just leaves me invigorated when I roll up my mat but gives me purpose to take that practice out of the studio. On top of that, she’s about the happiest person I know, and that’s contagious!”

“Something I think that is very difficult that Mia does is to bring alignment cues into a challenging flow practice. Coming from the Iyengar tradition, I can appreciate these cues that teach us more about what we are doing. It’s obvious Mia continues to learn as she teaches, I know that isn’t easy either. Mia’s classes are challenging but she is always reminding us to accept what our limitations are on that day, and that those limitations can change and ease. She does this kindly. While initially she may appear kind of “loosey-goosey”, it’s quickly obvious under there is a steel will. Mixing & balancing out that drive and steel will with fun, humility & acceptance is a great gift to us as her students.”

“I love Mia’s Saturday morning class! Her combinations are complex, her cues are perfectly given and I enjoy her choice of music. The class is challenging and fun, and I always leave class feeling awesome!!”



Try Less, Pay Attention More – guest post by Mia Cutler

This is a guest post by yoga teacher Mia Cutler. Mia teaches Mondays at 5:15pm; Fridays 8:15am; and Saturdays 9:30am. You can also read what Mia’s students say about her teaching. 

My motivation to practice is continually supported by the students I teach each and every day.  I am moved daily by what I see in studios across the north shore!

Practicing yoga is a gift I give to myself. Yoga has and continues to shape my life.  

Initially, I found the practice made me feel better physically … I gained strength and flexibility.  When I look back over the years, the benefits are so much more OFF the mat than ON the mat.  ON the mat is where I practice who I want to be OFF the mat.  It is that special place that is mine, and only mine, to practice being present, letting go, finding acceptance, being curious and open to feelings that arise, and aware of my thoughts and patterns.

I practice kindness and empathy towards myself, so that I can bring that into my daily life towards others. I also practice forgiveness towards myself for areas of my life that I feel I need to work on to be a better and kinder individual.  And, that it is a ‘practice’ is so complete.  There is no ending to the practice, no personal record, no pushing harder, getting faster.  It is what it is … today.  And tomorrow is another time to practice.   The ‘asanas’ are still important but the life scope of the practice is so much wider.  

These are some of the photos in a series I created called ‘The Tadasana Series’. I wanted to show that all yoga poses have value and that the practice of yoga is accessible to all. No need to think you must learn how to do a handstand or headstand. Standing rooted in Tadasana (mountain pose) leaves one feeling balanced, centered and strong.

As a teacher, I see so many students trying too hard to ‘get somewhere’.  There is nowhere to go.  The poses will come. What you are looking for will arrive someday, probably with less effort on what you are seeking and more effort in just being.  

That’s my whole gig: Try less … pay attention more.  Slow down enough to notice and be patient and your practice will ‘advance’.  It is healthy to have a goal … but that goal is not the end game.  It’s the journey to get you there…that’s the practice.  

Don’t get me wrong!  WANTING to do a handstand is an awesome thing, but a handstand is a yoga pose … it’s not yoga. The quiet, stillness, strength, patience and space that are created on your mat through regular practice … that’s advanced yoga.  

An advanced asana does not translate to an advanced yoga practice.

My favorite yoga quote is from the  Yoga Sutras of Patanjali 1.2: yogah citta vrtti nirodhah. A translation is, “Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind.”

The practice of yoga quiets the mind so it can rest in a state of stillness and tranquility, to experience life as it is, reality.

Some Q&A With Mia

Q. Where did you grow up?

I was born in Montreal, Canada and spent my formative years on a horse farm outside of Toronto.  My memories of life on the farm are filled with years of riding, hard work (feeding and mucking the stalls of 23 horses before school each day) and a feeling of outside spaciousness…open fields, solitude and quiet. It was truly a gift from my parents when we moved there only because my older sister wanted a pony :))  

Q. What was your first job?

I was 14 and built mink cages, in a farm field, during the summer.  It was hot and I wore thick gloves while cutting heavy wires to piece together these  cages on a mink farm.  They had 11,000 mink.  I got lots of scrapes up and down my arms and had an excellent farmer tan!

Q. How do you occupy yourself outside yoga?

Such a good question!!  One of my two children went off to college this year and I am savoring the next two years with my daughter before she flies out of the nest too!  I enjoy gardening and spent 7 years attending the School at the Chicago Botanic Garden to receive a Garden Design Certificate.  I design and install a couple of gardens every year for clients.  It’s not my main gig, but I love it!!  

I spend a good portion of my time cooking!  I love trying new recipes and adore all of my cookbooks.  I usually have a glass of red wine in hand, while I’m cooking. I LOVE red wine.  Big, bold and round …

I recently adopted an 8wk old puppy, Greta, from PAWS and quite frankly, I’m exhausted.  I knew what I was getting into though, and am happy to have another soul in this house besides our two cats. They all bring us so much love.


View Reach Schedule


Guest Blog Post: Practice, Patience, Time

This is a guest post by yoga teacher / communications lead Mallory McMunigal. 

Have you ever left class thinking … wow, that was challenging. The teacher called out cues you wanted to follow, but your body and brain couldn’t seem to get on the same page to accomplish the task at hand. You watched the teacher demonstrate flawlessly and then you peeked up at the student two mats in front of you, and they appear to be effortlessly defying gravity, and you think ‘Well huh … If they can do it, why can’t I?’

Well the truth is, you can. And even though it may sound cliche, the student you’re admiring was in your very shoes not too long ago. The only difference – they took the time to learn.

The practice of yoga is about surrendering our ego, and tuning in to the sensations within us. And the beauty and struggle of this is … it’s different every day. You might roll out your mat one day, nail every arm balance thrown at you, feel strong and powerful through the standing sequence, and take every vinyasa. You leave feeling accomplished, full, and ready for another challenging class. And then the following week you’re fumbling your way through a similar class, barely deciphering right from left, taking child’s pose at any possible moment.

It’s all about practice, patience, and more than anything it’s about time.


Think about the things you’re really good at. Did you have the same level of competency the first time, or first 10 times, as you do now? My guess is probably not. Practice. I challenge you to show up in your practice and do just that, practice. Really show up, be present just as much mentally as you are physically. Let the teacher be your true guide for the time you’re together.


Things don’t always go the way you planned. Sometimes things get forgotten, sometimes things get rushed, and sometimes things don’t happen at all. I challenge you to accept this. Time spent on the mat is an incredible way to learn and refine patience. Allow what you learn to blend into your day to day life. Step back and observe.


I’m busy, you’re busy, everybody’s busy … How on earth am I supposed to perfect my yoga practice? You’re not. Yoga isn’t going anywhere. No matter your level, there’s always something new to work on or fine-tune, something to re-learn or take a look at from a fresh perspective. Some days, weeks, or even months it might feel like two steps forward, one step back and that’s OK. I challenge you to let go of what you think your practice should look like, or where your practice should be and let time do its job. You show up, put in the work, and over time you’ll see and feel the benefits of your practice.

Mallory McMunigal teaches Tuesdays, 1:15-2:15pm, Vinyasa Level 1-2 … beginning this Tuesday 2/13/18.

The 80/20 Rule For Your Yoga Practice

This is a guest post by yoga teacher Shalaka Tamhane. Shalaka teaches “Yoga for Working Stiffs” on Wednesday evenings, 6:30-7:30pm. Sign Up For Class

We all tend to spend more time on things we are good at and therefore we get better at those things. But you’ve heard every teacher say it – the pose you hate the most is the one you need the most. When I first started practicing, I disliked certain poses. Sometimes I found the pose boring and sometimes I found it hard. Now I know that if a pose is boring I’m probably missing something about it. I used to find parsvottanasana (pyramid pose) to be boring, but then realized I was folding more to the inside of the front leg and not squaring my hips to fold over that leg. Once I made that slight adjustment, it fired up the stretch in the IT band and added more sensation to the pose. If you hate squats as I did because my inner thighs and ankles were tight and knees were sore, maybe doing them more often or using a prop to support the pose will begin to open up those tight areas.

It is often the case with our weaknesses that more practice or exposure can help us improve. But we also don’t need to spend all our time on things we hate or find challenging because then we are making life more of a struggle than it needs to be. You don’t want a job that depends on being good at your weaknesses. You don’t take a job in sales if you are quiet and introverted, no matter how much it might push you out of your shell, because you will be miserable and may not succeed. So we have to find a balance in our yoga practice between practicing those poses that we naturally gravitate towards and give us greater joy, and still improving our weaknesses so our bodies are more balanced.

I had a mentor who suggested the 80/20 rule for balancing out strengths and weaknesses. Spend 80% of your time doing things you’re good at in your job, and 20% of your time working on areas of opportunity. I thought that was a great perspective. If we spend too much time on things we’re good at, we are limited. If we spend too much time trying to do things we’re not good at, it can be slow and discouraging and not at all motivating. Soit goes in your yoga practice. Spend time strengthening those weak areas and stretching those tight muscles. Then take a class that makes you feel great about yourself. Seeking that balance keeps us coming back to the mat to work on our weaknesses while still finding joy in the practice.

Feeling Well

This guest blog post is by yoga teacher Pam Gross. Pam teaches Warm Vinyasa Flow level 2 on Sundays, 9:30-10:45am. 

What does healthy mean to you?

It’s a question I pose to all my health-coaching clients, and then I wait as I watch their eyes spin through images in their mind like a high-speed wellness rolodex. When they stop at the realization that the healthy they are seeking now is more than skin deep, I can see it in their gaze.

“I’ll know I’m healthy when I feel balanced.”

“For me, health is about peace. I just want peace.”

“I want to feel like wonder woman – joyful, fit and serene.”

They never answer me in numbers… 120 lbs, size 4 jeans, 1200 calories, less than 100 grams of carbs. It’s further proof to me that “healthy” comes from a deep feeling within and is more about gaining new connections to self than losing weight.

Getting healthy is about getting well. It’s healing from the inside out. It’s why the calories in and calories out method doesn’t work for long. Food and exercise are only part of the process. You need to change your relationship to self to change the way you feel.

For the New Year, I ask my clients to focus on their intention, not resolutions. Goal and outcome oriented, resolutions tend to create more stress and disappointment when we fall short. An intention, though, is about a feeling and the journey we take with that feeling as our guide. I begin every yoga class I teach asking my students to find their intention… Why did you show up? What do you want to feel? When they find it, we practice using our intention is the beacon that we shoot for as we move.

Truly, though, it’s a practice for life off the mat. Can you stay connected to how you want to feel as you move through your day? Whether it’s something you eat or a business decision to make, can you put your thoughts aside and move down to your heart for guidance?

As you settle into the New Year with a clean-slate start, take a moment to ask yourself why you showed up. What do you want to feel? As you practice honoring your intention, “your healthy” will come into focus and you’ll begin see the way to simply feel well is to simply just feel.

Discover new soulful ways to self-care in Pam’s upcoming wellness program, The 30 Journey™, starting January 22. Private meetings are scheduled for the week of 1/15. Visit for more information or email with questions.

Newest Updates on Life of Bailey Shea

Bailey Shea has done everything for Reach Yoga over the years. She’s been a front desk team member, and then a manager. She’s designed communications and flyers. She rocked our merchandise buying for a while. She was the technology queen! And, of course, she’s a fabulous yoga teacher.

If you haven’t tried Bailey’s class yet, you’ll find her class to be a soulful, smoothly paced, balanced flow–and she is always so sunny and positive that taking her class sets a terrific mood for your weekend. Find out for yourself, Saturdays, 12:30-1:30pm. And read on to learn more about Bailey.

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

I have 3 kids and the oldest one is 2.5. I am a busy, busy mom these days. It’s super fun but very challenging at times. Yoga keeps me sane. I try to do a little bit everyday, even if it’s just child’s pose with a child climbing on my back!

Q. Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Winnetka. After college I lived on the east coast for a while but moved back to the north shore about 5 years ago. I love being able to raise my kids in the same place that I grew up.

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

After graduating from college I really committed to my yoga practice. I was taking about 5 classes per week and it felt AMAZING. I wanted to share that feeling with others and decided to take my first teacher training.

Q. What makes you nostalgic?

The movie Home Alone.  It was on TV last week and it was one of my favorites as a child (If you haven’t seen it, the movie was filmed on the north shore). My mom took me and my brother to see part of it being filmed in Hubbard Woods park. Every time the movie comes on it brings back childhood memories of the holiday season.

Q. What was your first job?

When I was 16, Missy Hebson hired me to work at her clothing store in Winnetka. Years later, when I walked into Reach I saw her and we reconnected. It’s funny to now be working together again in a totally different capacity.

Q. Does your spouse practice yoga?

Before he was my spouse he did! When Mark and I were dating he would always come to yoga with me.  The day we got engaged he stopped coming to class … he’s missing out.

Q. What’s your favorite season? Why?

Summer! I love warm weather and sunshine. I don’t like being cooped up inside when it’s cold.

Q. What TV show are you guilty of binge-watching? Or what show are you currently enjoying?

The last show that I binged watched was Ozark. It’s a Netflix show and I couldn’t stop watching it!


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