This is Yoga. Meet Jim Fisch.

This handsome man needs no introduction, but he does deserve a standing ovation. Practicing at Reach regularly for the past 4 years, this always “happy to be here”, 85 years young man really is something pretty spectacular. When he’s on the mat beside you, he reminds you why we are all there, and what yoga in this community is all about. Let me allow him to share for himself. 


When I walked into Healing Power Yoga in Highland Park accompanied by a former student I had supervised for the past year doing psychotherapy, she introduced me to Lourdes Paredes, a master teacher and prominent figure in yoga circles. Lourdes greeted me warmly and asked about my prior yoga experience. When I said this was my first practice ever, she gave me a strange look, which I soon came to understand. My student was an experienced yoga practitioner who came to our sessions straight from her yoga practice with Lourdes. She had often suggested I try yoga, which I politely declined…it was too slow, too spiritual, too weird. When our supervision ended she gave me a gift of a yoga mat, so how could I refuse? So, at age 71, I unrolled my mat and prepared to follow instructions. Turns out, this was a master class, and everyone there was a yoga instructor or in training to become one. My student had thought I might be bored by a beginner class, which is probably true, but had neglected to advise me regarding wardrobe and not eating before class, so I arrived in heavy sweats after a full breakfast. I watched, tried to imitate what others were doing, and after a few downward facing dogs I could feel my breakfast starting to return. With the heat building up and the nausea, I came close to throwing up and passing out. Somehow I survived, and when I returned the next week wearing proper yoga clothes and an empty stomach, I really enjoyed it. There was something both peaceful and challenging, the group connection was wonderful, and I’ve kept coming back twice weekly for 14 years.

Having discovered the joys and benefits of yoga it was natural to share it with my family. Now all five kids, their spouses and ten of the grandchildren are practicing yogis, with Noa, the oldest grandchild , now a certified instructor. One of life’s great joys is bringing kids and grandkids to Reach to share the practice with those terrific teachers, and there have been times when seven Fisches are on their mats side by side. I’m glad I took it up when I did, and now the strength, flexibility and balance yoga provides is therapeutic for this aging body.

Replacing the Reach Yoga App

Read this only if you use the Reach Yoga app, with an icon that looks like the one here:

After a few years of supporting the Reach Yoga app, we’ve concluded that the studio and our students will be better served without the app. Our technology provider raised the monthly cost by 700% (that is not a typo). And, you can get the same functionality, plus more, by using the MindBody app. 

So … the Reach Yoga app will disappear as of December 15, 2018.

If you haven’t already, please consider downloading the MindBody app. It looks like this.

From there, set Reach Yoga as a favorite studio.

You can use this app to reserve a spot in class, purchase classes, reserve events, etc. (just as you did in the Reach Yoga app). You can also access other wellness and fitness businesses.

Let us know how we can help!

The One, The Only, Bart Fox!

Have you seen that guy walking from Highland Park to Glencoe with a huge smile and a yoga mat strapped to his back? That’s Reach’s very own Bart Fox! There’s so much more than meets the eye with this guy….the best part?  His many nicknames & daily mantra. Read on for the goods!


1. Nickname/s?

I’ve had 3 nicknames over the years. In high school some called me “Scoop” because I wrote for the school newspaper. My college friends added a French accent on the end of my name and called me Barte (bartay). Now the guys I work with call me Foxy.

2. Favorite book?

My favorite book is Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead.  Some people raise an eyebrow when I mention that but I believe, while compromise is vital in many ways, the most pure vision comes from the individual.

3. Favorite Food?

I have too many favorite foods to list just one…  but if I have to list one I’d say sushi.  I think I could eat it every day.

4. Favorite place to visit?

My favorite place to visit is Wrigley Field… and Italy!

5. What was your first job?

One of my first jobs was as a cable puller and runner on ESPN golf tournaments.  I was newly out of college with a degree in journalism and due to the recession I couldn’t get hired by any networks / tv stations / production companies.  The only thing I could get hooked up with was ESPN when they came to Indianapolis for a golf tournament.  I arrived at 8am on Tuesday morning and a technician put a 500-foot coil of thick cable on my shoulder and told me to walk up the fairway and let the cable out as I walked.  At the end of 500 feet there was a guy with another 500-foot coil.  He connected the 2nd to the 1st, put the 2nd on my shoulder, and told me to keep walking.  Several of us set up the whole course with camera and audio cables, and did other manual labor.  I had no idea what this would lead to but apparently I was pretty good at laying cables so I was invited to the tournament the next week in Moline, Illinois.  I wound up driving around the country with a few other guys from tournament to tournament.  It was total manual labor, a lot of fun and made great connections.  I learned the technical side of sports TV by doing this.  I gradually got many breaks along the way and over many years weaved my way into producing the live broadcast of sports events on TV for ESPN, the Big Ten Network and other networks.  I always look back on those days as a cable puller and runner as an invaluable introduction.  And almost 30 years later I still see some of the same guys around the country that I met at that first tournament.  Over the years I’ve been incredibly fortunate to work with some of the biggest announcers in sports television and hugely talented production folks.  A great ride…

A couple weeks ago a newspaper writer was embedded with our college football crew for a couple days as we prepared for the Michigan – Rutgers game.  If you’re interested here’s the link to his report.


6. Best advice ever given?

The best advice I was ever given was to just say thank you when given a compliment.  I tended to be self-deprecating and had a hard time taking a compliment.  A guy I worked for took me aside one day and said I’d be better served just saying thank you.  Great advice that I’ve tried to implement.

7. Best advice to give?

The best advice I give is to students that I speak with.  I tell them that it’s certainly ok to finish school without knowing how they’re going to conquer the world.  I find that kids are pressured to figure out their life’s journey by the end of college.  But the reality is that most people work in a field different from what they studied.  So why get narrowly focused and stressed out about it?

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

As a TV producer on live sports events (mainly college football and college basketball) it’s easy to see the benefits of yoga.  When we are live on the air the atmosphere floats from controlled mayhem to absolute mayhem.  I really love the highly intense environment and I’ve learned through yoga how to breathe through chaos. It provides a calming influence. Pam Gross uses an expression in her class that has helped put a name to a concept I’ve always used but never had a name for.  Pam says to “embrace the wobble – and make a pattern with it”.  The first time I heard her say that I instantly knew that’s what I do in my professional life.  The challenges of traveling the country to produce games on live TV are intense and “embracing the wobble” is essential.

One other way yoga helps…  many times when I fly home from a game I take the first flight of the day so I can get home in time for the 9:30am class at Reach.  When I have that really tired look it’s usually because I flew home in time to grab my mat and head to Reach.  Whereas the night before I was involved in a really intense work environment, when I get home and make it to Reach the calm is restored.  How’s that for the yin and yang?


9. Favorite Pose?

My favorite pose is triangle on my right side.  For some reason I feel like I’m able to rotate my right side through to the max without getting to the point where I’d fall.  Left side…  not so much…

10. Favorite mantra?

“Embrace the wobble” is my favorite mantra as I wrote above.  I use it in everything I do.

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

Six Ways to Save Money on Yoga

Everyone wants to maximize the value of their money. And paying for yoga is no exception.

Have you considered all your options to practice yoga economically? Here are six ideas: 

  • Home practice is the least expensive way to go. Invest up front in a mat and a few props, and use a yoga app or even free videos on YouTube to guide you.
  • At Reach and other studios, watch for free community classes, or classes for charity that may ask for a donation of $10 or less per class. You will find these occasionally on our website under Events.
  • Most studios (including ours) feature a special for new students. Some offer a first class free, or a week or more of unlimited yoga for a vastly discounted price. At Reach, we offer two weeks of yoga for only $29 (that’s less than $4/day). (Hint: If you haven’t practiced at a studio for twelve or more months, ask if you can take advantage of the new student special again to sample newer classes on the schedule. You might get a positive response.)
  • Be sure to ask for a senior or student discount if you qualify. At Reach, seniors are 65 or older. Students are 23 or under (whether or not you are enrolled in a school).
  • If you plan to practice up to once each week, at least every month or so, consider buying classes in groups of 20. At Reach, you can save up to 20%, or the equivalent of 4 free classes. And the classes are good for a year. Can you share a group of 20 classes with a family member? Sure you can. Just ask at the desk.
  • If you expect to practice 2 or more times per week, or at least 7 times per month on average, consider our monthly membership for $117/month. That’s less than $4/day. Members also save on yoga gear and gifts from the boutique, and can bring first-time guests for free. Learn more here

If you have feedback or need information or advice, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly. We sometimes can arrange special discounts if you can contribute to our community. You can email me at, and I promise I’ll get back to you quickly.

In the meantime, here’s a summary of our payment options. I hope it’s useful.

Dani, Student / Owner, Reach Yoga

Teacher Feature: Colleen Y.

This month’s featured teacher is Colleen Y. Colleen teaches Basics & Beyond on Sundays at 8am, and will be adding a Basics & Beyond class on Thursdays at 11:00am this summer, beginning June 19. Colleen also teaches several yoga classes for children, including a new kids’ summer series on Mondays beginning June 16. 

Q. Why do you practice yoga?

I believe that yoga is a lifestyle, the physical practice or asana being only a piece. I practice yoga to keep a healthy body and a still (or more still) mind. I have found yoga to be an essential life tool and cannot imagine my life without it.

Q. Why do you teach yoga?

I teach yoga because I believe in yoga. I believe in its benefits. I believe that yoga is a tool for healing, personal growth, physical strength and mental clarity. I want everyone to experience these benefits.

Q. How would you describe your teaching style?

Thorough. I like to explain poses and why we do them. I hope to encourage mindfulness of breath throughout the practice and turning inward to listen to the teacher within all of us.

Q. What is your favorite yoga pose, and why?

Triangle pose because so many groups of different muscles are working throughout the body to maintain the shape, there is always room for growth.

Q. What is your advice to people who understand the health benefits of yoga, and would like to start a practice or practice more often, but have difficulty finding time?

Yoga is not just an investment in your physical health, which will definitely improve, but an investment in your emotional and mental health. Yoga benefits the entire person and for this reason, I make mat time a priority. I find that after yoga, many of the things that seemed so important fall away from the main focus. Yoga has a way of putting things into perspective and hence adds hours to the day!

Q. What are your hobbies or pursuits in addition to yoga?

In addition to yoga, my main pursuit is to focus on the awesome blessing that is my family.

Q. What is your favorite yoga quote?

“Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and to endure what cannot be cured.” BKS Iyengar

The Value & Ease of "Pressing Pause"

Feeling stressed out? Press pause.

What does it really mean to practice mindfulness, be present, focus on the here and now, observe your breath, notice your thoughts, take a pause from doing, and be self aware enough so you can choose how to act under stress, instead of react in ways you regret?  Sometimes these concepts seem like just another thing to do in an already compressed and busy day.

As a psychotherapist, yoga teacher, and mindfulness meditator/practitioner, I still experience a sense of being overwhelmed by family challenges, demands from work, regrets, and the stress from feeling “should upon.”  I don’t have all the answers, but here is what I know for sure. I know that I am not perfect. I know that I am not immune from suffering, life’s stressors, and unanticipated challenges. I know that I cannot change someone else, as much as I may try!  I know that life is impermanent and has its own forward momentum; sometimes I am responsible for its direction and sometimes I am not.

I also know that if I periodically pause, throughout the day, take a deep breath or two, and notice where I am in that moment, I feel better and live with greater self control, even in times of stress.

Perhaps give it a try, right now. Just pause.  On the count of one, take a big inhale through the nose, feeling your chest expand; on the count of two, exhale slowly through the mouth, feeling a sense of letting go. Inhale on the count of three; slowly exhale on the count of four. Do this until you count to ten. Repeat this practice as many times as you like, and when you are done, step back, and notice how you feel.

Yoga, conscious breathing, and meditation practices offer a structure for developing body awareness, a necessary skill for regulating your emotional state and mindfully managing your stress.

If you haven’t already signed up for the Mindful Stress Management workshop at REACH Yoga, please do. I will be facilitating this on Saturday, April 19, from 1-3pm, to help you find freedom in stress. Hope to see you there.

With kind regards,

Becky Strauss, MSW, LSW, RYT

The Benefits of Yoga for Men

When people walk by a yoga studio, they often see that it’s filled with pastel mats and glittery toenails. The idea of being in a class full of women inhaling, exhaling, and contorting the body into pretzel-like positions doesn’t sit well with a lot of men. In fact, most men wouldn’t be caught dead doing a downward dog in a pair of painted-on yoga pants.

Yoga is best known for its ability to improve flexibility and connect the mind with the body. Because of this, some men don’t see yoga as “real” exercise. They view it as something “women-folk” do to get their mind off of demanding bosses and cranky children. When guys hit the gym, they want to pump iron, grunt, and sweat. If they’re not doing any of these things, they don’t feel they are truly working out. There is no way all the bending, stretching, breathing, and breaking wind is beneficial. Right? Wrong indeed.

Yoga holds a lot of benefits for men. It can boost energy levels and speed up the healing process in the body. Yoga practice consists of a series of controlled movements. When you do the movements, you twist the body in a way that allows you to massage the adrenal glands, pancreas, and thyroid glands. This can ultimately help improve organ functioning and blood flow. Yoga can ease tension deep in the connective tissues and help realign your body. In addition, a PubMed study showed that the regular practice of yoga can improve reproductive health in men.

The benefits of yoga for men are endless. Yoga not only improves flexibility, but also energizes the body and boosts overall health. Beginners should go at their own pace. If you cannot hold the stretches for the recommend amounts of time, it’s no big deal. Hold them for as long as it’s comfortable, and build from there.


About Ashtanga Yoga

Ashtanga Yoga was developed by K. Pattabhi Jois in Mysore, India. The style of yoga is a flowing Vinyasa style and is based on the hatha yoga style developed by Varnana Rishi. Ashtanga is Sanskrit for “eight limbs,” which is in reference to the eight yoga limbs, found in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.

Pattabhi Jois published a treatise on ashtanga yoga in 1958 and students in the West began arriving in Mysore in the early 1970s in order to learn first-hand how to benefit from the style of yoga that he had previously written about. Even after Pattabhi Jois died in 2009, his grandson Sharath taught Ashtanga to study with the master and deepen their understanding of the methods.

One of the primary focuses of ashtanga yoga is vinyasa flow, which includes mula bandha, uddiyana bandha, drishti and ujjayi breathing. All of these are a form of breathing techniques designed to control the flow of energy throughout the body. These include taking significant exhales of air and transferring the air into different parts of the body, including the abdomen and pelvic floor. There are three locks to control energy flow as well as the deep spiritual breathing.

This is a form of relaxation yoga that can provide a significant amount of inner peace as well as many other benefits.

If you decide to practice ashtanga, you will go through six different series, which you will progress through at your own pace. The first series is the most popular and is called Yoga Chikitsa. This is yoga therapy and will not only realign the spine but detoxify the body and build strength and stamina. There are 75 poses to go through and will take between an hour and a half and two hours to complete.

Poses and sequences include the sun salutation, standing and seated poses, backbends, and inversions. There will also be moments of relaxation to ensure the breathing is maintained throughout the asanas.

The second series, when you advance, is the Nadi Shodana. This is a purification of the nervous system. It will cleanse and strengthen the nervous system and channel energy through the body. This series can only be introduced when you are strong in the first series. It follows along the same progression as the primary series but will introduce new poses as well as variations of poses you are already familiar with.

There are also four advanced series, which is Sthira Bhaga, Sanskrit for divine stability. Pattabhi Jois had originally created two advanced series but later went back and divided them again into four series to ensure they were more readily available to a larger number of people. The poses found in these series include a number of difficult arm balances and should only be attempted by those who are advanced.

With many benefits of ashtanga yoga, you will be able to see an improvement in your health and well-being. This style of yoga requires a significant amount of breath synchronization as well as a progressive series of postures. These postures will produce intense heat throughout the body as well as a purifying sweat that is known to detoxify organs and muscles. The primary benefits are improved circulation as well as a calm mind and strong body.

Ashtanga yoga can be practiced by anyone of any level of fitness, though everyone is to start in the first series and go at a pace that is comfortable for them. This will allow you to take advantage of all of the benefits that comes with this form of yoga without advancing too quickly into poses that you are incapable of striking and holding.

What Is Iyengar Yoga?

In fall 2013, Reach will offer two workshops with Gabriel Halpern, a national workshop leader and master of Iyengar Yoga. If you aren’t sure what Iyengar is, read on! 

B.K.S. Iyengar is the yoga master behind the practice that bears his name. He was born in 1918 and began to teach yoga in 1935. His health problems prompted him to develop Iyengar yoga in an attempt to counteract the affects of tuberculosis on his body. Over the years, his style of yoga has become increasingly popular and is still taught today in many areas of the world.

Most forms of yoga strive to accomplish a certain purpose through a series of asanas or poses. In Iyengar yoga, the purpose is to realign the body and bring it back into a state of physical balance. The gentle shift from one pose to another allows the body to naturally regain its balance and realign the physical aspects of the body. As the student advances, breathing techniques are incorporated to enhance the experience and bring balance to a much deeper and spiritual level.

Various asanas are performed from standing, seated, supine, and bending positions. The tadasana poses are performed while the individual is standing. After stretching the arms upward, they are crossed in front of or in back of the body or allowed to remain at their sides. The dandasana, virasana and upavista kondasana are performed from a seating position with legs stretched out to the front, bent at the knees or spread outward to the sides, respectively. Each post provides strategic movements that help to realign the spine and musculoskeletal structures within the body.

The main objective of Iyengar yoga is to bring the body back into physical alighnment. As the body is realigned, it is believed the emotional and spiritual bodies will also begin to realign themselves. By using specific poses in conjunction with breathing techniques, the body begins to eliminate obstructions and imbalances and allows the body to gravitate back to a more natural position. As the student becomes more adept at the physical poses, they will begin to incorporate breathing techniques or Pranayama. Pranayama is the act of breathing that allows the body to utilize every motion to its fullest. The body will begin to adjust to the asanas faster and more completely when the breathing techniques are introduced.

Yoga has become synonymous with relaxation and meditation. Few people realize, however, the vast number of benefits yoga can provide. Its ability to realign and balance the body can create a solid foundation for health that prevents several different types of chronic illness. It strengths the heart and cardiovascular system by improving circulation and increasing the amount of oxygen in the blood stream. It also can dramatically increase the physical strength of an individual due to the resistance placed on the muscles and tissues.

Iyengar yoga fosters balance and helps the body regain natural vitality. The breathing techniques and muscle control used within the practice of yoga also benefits the mind. It allows for clearer thinking and better memory recall. Relaxation allows the mind to slow down and process information much more completely and efficiently.

Yoga is not only for the body. It can be a truly uplifting and spiritual experience, improving the mind and boosting the emotions. Its ability to help the body regain balance applies not only to the physical level, but every level of the human organism.


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