The Differences Between Basics & Beyond and Level 1~ By Mia Cutler

You found Reach Yoga!  You walked through the front door and felt welcome and excited and now what? Where to begin? I remember when I first started practicing yoga I didn’t know where to start.  What class was the right class for me? It can be confusing as there are so many options ….Beginner Series, Basics and Beyond, Level 1 Vinyasa Flow, All level etc!

You’re probably wondering what do these class names even mean?  First, it depends on you. What are you looking for? Strength, balance, sweat, meditation, a slower practice, or a more vigorous practice? Are you injured? Are you fit? Are you comfortable in a larger group setting, or would you prefer a smaller class size, or even some private sessions (which can be very comforting to some). Have you ever even been on a yoga mat, or have you done some yoga here and there over the past ten years but it never really grabbed you??


Let me explain the differences between some of the classes offered at Reach Yoga Glencoe.  Reach offers all levels of  Vinyasa Flow classes, Hatha, Restorative, & Gentle offerings. The studio always recommends starting with a four week Beginner Yoga Series which are plentiful and taught on various different days and times throughout the year.  


What you will learn in the Beginner Series:

What is Yoga?

Basic standing poses.

Components of Sun Salutation A.

Basics of breathing.

The importance of balance.

Learning to become comfortable within your body.

How to transition into various shapes, how to step back and forward, how to get down to and up from the ground safely.


After completing this series, a great transition is to Basics and Beyond. Depending on your general fitness and adaptability to new body movements, this could also be a starting point. Basics and Beyond is just that Basics…and Beyond!! HA!  

What will you learn in  Basics and Beyond:

Revisit everything from the Beginner Series.

When you’re learning to practice yoga initially the concept is ‘bigger shapes’.  What does Warrior 2 look like, what does Low Lunge look like. The practice is largely visual.

You will learn where basic muscle groups are on your body, how to strengthen them and how they are used in specific poses.

Poses are held a bit longer with time to explore.

Basics of simple backbends.

Basics of seated forward folds.

Introduction of simple breathing techniques. 


Time will be spent thoroughly explaining shapes and strengthening the body, over time, to move into and out of these shapes with ease and without injury. Sun Salutation A and components of Sun Salutation B. The ‘beyond’ part is always added options.  If you feel comfortable and strong and steady in a pose, then options will be offered. Though, sometimes the more challenging option might just be to stay put and focus on the breath! An important component of this class is that it moves slowly with lots of time to find modifications that fit your body and in an environment where you can ask questions at any time. This class does not offer more challenging poses like Half Moon, Humble Warrior and no arm balances or even the thought of them!  Think of words like strength, stability, ease, basic, beginner, adaptable, approachable. This class is not ‘gentle’ or ‘restorative’….those are two completely different offerings. Sometimes if you’ve been practicing yoga for three, five or ten years it feels really really great to take a ‘Basics and Beyond’ class, because sometimes ‘less’ is so much more!


From Basics and Beyond we move into L1 (Level 1).  Level 1 is not a beginner class and it is not Basics and Beyond.  It builds upon general knowledge of the practice and adds on. Level 1 can be very challenging and you can stay in L1 classes your whole life and be completely sated.  

You will delve into deeper concepts of all the basic poses and add on.  

There will likely be Sun Salutation A  with variations and perhaps longer holds.  Cues will be more finite.

This is still a ‘big picture’ class. What does Warrior One ‘look like’, but it moves into, what does Warrior One ‘feel like’ in my body.  What happens when I press down on the outside of my back foot etc.. This all occurs in a comfortable environment where questions are welcomed and students may be asked to sit while the teacher demonstrates and breaks down specific poses, concepts and such. The addition of slightly more challenging poses may be offered, but remember that these are just offerings.  There is never any need to attempt more than what you’re comfortable with. At the same time, sometimes getting out of your comfort zone might be just what you need!! Only you know…


Whatever class you decide to begin your yoga journey, or delve more deeply into your current practice know that you are holding the reins and taking a big step forward to getting to know yourself better. And that’s awesome!  


We are so excited to have you join this community!  Please let us know how we can help you navigate our offerings…and WELCOME

Article written by Mia Cutler.

Mia teaches a new class Saturdays 11-12:00 Yoga, Movement & Play.

She also teaches Mondays 5:15-6:15 Level 1-2

Fridays 8:15-9:15 Level 1-2

Saturdays 9:30-10:45 Level 1-2



Thanks + Giving = Happiness?

Guest post by yoga instructor Linda O’Toole … thank you Linda!

This week in Stillness…

Thanks + Giving = Happiness?

I typically don’t write about my family. This week I’m making an exception.

The other day my 13-year-old son was feeling dejected after he was not selected for his school’s basketball team. We talked about the disappointment and he said, “There are times when I just don’t feel happy.”

He explained that he’s not depressed (these days middle school kids learn a lot about about depression). He said he knows he’s lucky to live in a nice community and he’s an only child so he doesn’t have to compete for attention. Nevertheless, he admitted that sometimes he’s just not happy. I felt sad, but at the same time I was grateful that he recognized these feelings and was able to talk about them. It got me thinking about happiness and what contributes to a so-called “happy” life.

With Thanksgiving around the corner, I wondered if these two words could be the key — thanks + giving a.k.a. gratitude + generosity. Could this be the answer? I explained to my son that happiness doesn’t come from making a sports team or winning the lottery, it comes from being generous, from reaching out to someone in need, or from feeling empathy for the kid in the lunchroom who’s getting bullied. It’s a daunting lesson whether you’re a teenager or full-grown adult. Where do we find happiness? What is the definition of happiness?

Our yoga practice provides tools for happiness. We learn breathing techniques to stay present and in the moment. We try new and challenging poses (think prayer squat or crow) to help us grow. We take time to relax and find stillness in savasana. Yoga can stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system which promotes a calm and soothing state. Most importantly, yoga helps us to recognize that we are all inherently loving and kind, but sometimes we need to work at recognizing it. Could that be a key to happiness, too?

Upcoming at Reach Yoga…

  • Tuesday, November 13 Basics and Beyond 11:00 am – 12:15 pm
  • Thursday, November 15 Basics and Beyond 9:30 – 10:45 am

Looking ahead… Gratitude Yoga Thanksgiving morning (Nov. 22) 9:30 – 10:45 am

Linda O’Toole
Be Still Yoga

Earn Holiday Rewards 2018

screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-7-33-44-pmEarn rewards for practicing and sharing yoga at Reach, November 19-December 21, 2018. Because, BINGO.

Ask for your card in the studio, put your name on it, and put it in your yoga mat bag or purse (or post it on our wall). Then mark each challenge you complete (in such a way that you can still see what the challenge was–we have stickers at the desk you can use).

Please mark no more than one space per class. For example, if you take a Level 1 class at 9:30am, please mark either “Take Level 1 class” or “Take a 9:30 class,” but not both. Strategizing is encouraged.  


  • Single Bingo: Coupon for 40% off any single full-price boutique purchase
  • Double Bingo: The reward listed above, AND 2 free class cards for yourself, to give away as gifts, or to treat friends.
  • X: Both the rewards listed above, AND 30% off full-price items in the boutique during all of January 2019.
  • Triple Bingo: All the rewards listed above, AND 5 free class cards for yourself, to give away as gifts, or to treat friends. Or, if you are or become* a Reach Yoga member, 50% off your next monthly membership fee.
  • Blackout: All the rewards listed above, AND one month unlimited yoga. You choose the start date; free month must be completed no later than March 31, 2019.


deb snow backbendThe fine print:

  • You’ll use the honor system to mark your card, and we’ll verify that you completed the challenges when you claim your reward.
    • Please mark no more than one space per class–e.g., if you take a Level 1 class at 9:30am, please mark either “Take Level 1 class” or “Take a 9:30 class,” but not both. There is strategy involved here!
  • Free month of yoga is not transferrable to anyone other than the person who earned the points.
  • But, free class cards can be given to anyone who is willing to sign a waiver.
  • *If you would like to sign up for a Reach Yoga membership during the challenge, you may. The three-month minimum that has always been part of our membership deal does apply. See details here.
  • All yoga students must sign a waiver of liability. If student is younger than 18 years of age, a parent or guardian must sign the waiver.
  • This challenge is available to Reach Yoga instructors, staff, and students.
  • Rewards must be claimed no later than January 30, 2019.
  • Free class cards and retail coupons expire on March 31, 2019.
  • Free month of yoga must be completed no later than March 31, 2019.
  • Winners may be featured in email newsletter and/or social media, with their permission.

Yoga and Listening – Linda O’Toole

Guest post by yoga instructor Linda O’Toole. Linda teaches Basics & Beyond on Tuesdays at 11:00am and Thursdays at 9:30am. 

This week in Stillness…

“If you listen to your body when it whispers, you won’t have to hear it scream.”

Yoga can teach us how to develop a positive relationship with our bodies. Through our practice we learn to create “shapes” with our bodies that prior to yoga would have seemed impossible.

Think revolved triangle, child’s pose or wide-legged forward bend. Yoga also encourages us to listen to our inner voice when we practice — “bend your knees when you forward fold” or “inhale when you backbend.”

Perhaps most importantly, through yoga we learn to listen when our bodies tell us to schedule a day of rest. We all know the feeling we experience when we end a well-rounded yoga class. Our energy has shifted. We feel alert but calm at the same time.

Can we discover that same feeling on a day when our shoulders or hamstrings need a break? What do we do then? A few ideas…

  1. Sit quietly for ten minutes. Close your eyes and breathe.
  2. Visit your favorite neighbor or friend. Invite them to lunch. Better yet, make them lunch.
  3. Send a hand-written note or letter to someone who might need their day brightened — an elderly aunt, favorite cousin or nephew.
  4. Pay your bills (always gratifying, yet somewhat painful at the same time!)
  5. Go outside and repeat #1. Take a walk on a dirt path. Listen to the wind and the sounds of the leaves as they fall to the ground…

Yoga teaches us how to connect with ourselves and to pay attention. Taking a day off from practice can reveal how much we’ve learned on our mats.

This week at Reach:

  • Tuesday Basics and Beyond 11:00 am – 12:15 pm
  • Thursday Basics and Beyond 9:30 – 10:45 am

Looking ahead… Gratitude Yoga 9:30 – 10:45 am Thanksgiving day!

Yoga & Zen

Linda O’Toole wrote this blog post a week or so ago. Here was a student’s response: “Linda, your story is so true. I drive home after practice at half the speed I arrived, with the radio now turned off and my windows lower. I don’t care how long it takes me to get home. Yoga has provided me a way to calm myself and take in the moment quietly and in a newly relaxed frame of mind. Thanks so very, very much for your assistance, instruction and caring.”

In recognition of National Yoga Month (September) –

For many of us, yoga is a challenging physical practice that improves strength, posture and balance but even more importantly yoga introduces principles and observances that we take off the mat. Example: Years ago, each time I left my favorite yoga class and was driving home, someone would cut me off or honk their horn if I was going too slowly through a stop sign. My immediate reaction was to honk in return and say a few disparaging remarks under by breath. “How could that *@&%$* driver threaten my state of Zen and tranquility?”

Then one day I realized, the angry driver wasn’t doing that, I was.

I began to think that this situation was put in front of me for a reason. Could I practice Ahimsa (non-violence, compassion) or Pranayama (regulation of breath) and alter my reaction?

It wasn’t easy at first, but slowly I stopped sounding my horn and began slowing down if someone was trying to back out of a parking space, or I’d let the other driver make the turn before I did. And then what happened? Drivers began waving at me and smiling. It was a small gesture, but meaningful. Yoga teaches us that we can create our own peace and joy, on and off the mat.

In honor of National Yoga Month, next time you come to class in October, bring a friend and he or she will practice as my guest.

This week at Reach:
Tuesday 11:00 am – 12:15 pm Basics and Beyond
Thursday 9:30 – 10:45 am Hatha Blend Level 1

Note: Beth M. is now teaching Monday Basics and Beyond at 1:15 pm

Gal Walks Out of a Yoga Studio …

Hala, Cardio Flow HIIT Yoga instructor, goofing with another instructor.

… and into Unify Fitness, where I took a 6am “Cardio Flow HIIT Yoga” class on Monday morning, with Hala (new instructor to Reach Yoga).

Ok so this is soooo not my thing. First of all, I hate cardio. Of any kind. Particularly the “high intensity” kind.

And, 6am is not my time for yoga, or exercise of any variety. Generally I have my nose in my laptop at that hour.

But on Monday, I was there to make sure Hala’s first Reach Yoga class ran smoothly in the Unify Fitness studio. And my dear friend Kristin showed up for the class and asked me to join, and I couldn’t say no.

So … I did it. Or, at least, about 65% of of it. It was hard!! and I had to rest quite a few times. Or modify jumping jacks to alternate steps, etc.

My friend Kristin and me on Glencoe Beach.

But I did feel great afterward!

And interestingly, the next day, I took Laura M.’s level 2 vinyasa class … and my practice seemed stronger than it has been in recent weeks. Hmmmmm.

So it’s nice to mix things up occasionally, try something new.

Anyway. If you’re in a great yoga groove, by all means, keep it up. If you’re feeling like you could use a kick in the pants, maybe you’d like to let Hala or Mark (our BodySculpt Yoga instructor) oblige you. We have three weekly classes meeting in the beautiful studio space at Unify Fitness, 664 Vernon (one block south of Reach Yoga, where Books on Vernon used to be).

Here are the classes to consider:

  • Cardio Flow HIIT Yoga: Mondays 6-7am *and* 9:30-10:30am, with Hala
  • BodySculpt Yoga: Wednesdays 9am, with Mark – I took Mark’s class at Corepower, it’s also excellent (and challenging)

Mark N. taking his yoga to the mountains

View schedule or sign up

Here’s a little Q&A:

Q. What should I expect from a class?

There will some yoga to warm up and cool down. In between, the format will include upper body, lower body, and core exercises, as well as some high-intensity cardio intervals (e.g., “jumping rope” with no rope, jumping jacks or modified version, etc.).  The class will vary week to week

Q. Do I need a mat?

You can bring your own mat if you wish, and there are plenty of mats to borrow.

Q. Do I wear shoes during class?

No, you can take them off outside the studio area.

Q. Do I have to use dumbbells?

No, you do not have to use them. If you choose to use them for the parts of the class where that is offered, there are a variety of sizes from 2 to 10 lbs.

Q. Do I need to pay Unify Fitness?

No, you can use your Reach Yoga membership or classes on file for this class. If you’d like to pay for a single class, you can give cash to the instructor. Or, buy online. Or, pay in person at Reach Yoga (9am-5pm). So many options!!

Q. Do I need to sign up in advance?

Just like at Reach Yoga, you can sign up in advance, but you don’t have to.

Q. I’d like to try the 6am class, but I’d need to go right to work afterward??

Unify Fitness has a locker room and shower for your use.

xo, Dani

View schedule and/or sign up for class

Comparison Is the Thief of Joy

Guest post by yoga instructor Linda O’Toole. 

This week in stillness…

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”~Theodore Roosevelt

We live in a society built on competition — who is the fastest, smartest, and most beautiful. Who is the best chef, dancer, or reality TV star? Who can eat the most hot dogs?

And therein lies the beauty of yoga. There is no blue ribbon awarded for the most precise Warrior II pose, no gold statue presented if you can stand on your hands, or wrap your feet around your head.

We practice on our mats, in our own “sacred” space. Yes, the mat is there for safety so we don’t slip, but it also marks a place on which we arrive. When you approach your mat, you visit a place that is completely your own. On our mats, we aim to calm the chatter in our minds and turn our focus inward. Silencing iPads, iPhones, Twitter and Instagram. What a gift!

When you arrive on your yoga mat, you cannot hide. Whatever truth reveals itself is right in front of you. At the end of our practice, when we roll up our mats and walk out of the studio, the hope remains that the truth will stay with us, guide us and take us back to our mats again and again.

This week at Reach Yoga:

  • Monday Basics and Beyond 1:15-2:15 pm
  • Tuesday Basics and Beyond 11:00 am-12:15 pm
  • Thursday Hatha Blend Level 1 9:30-10:45am ***I’m teaching a new class! Perfect for the Basics and Beyond student. Be my guest… just send me an email:)

Hope to see you on the mat soon!

Schedule of Everything

Stressed? 5 Ways to Let Go

The transition from summer to fall can produce stress, anxiety, or even sadness.

Maybe you are a parent, and you worry about how well your kids will fare in their new routines as they head back to school.

Maybe your summer didn’t include all the relaxation you were seeking. And now you’re facing a mountain of to-do items.

Clinical studies have shown that yoga effectively reduces your heart rate, calms breathing and allows you to relax and let stressful experiences go. (1) 

Professionals at the Mayo Clinic (2) suggest incorporating a small yoga break into your busy day enables letting go of stress and a chance to gather your thoughts.

Use yoga at home or work (not just at the studio) for immediate relief. Find a quiet area where you will not be disturbed for a few minutes. Put down a mat or towel. Set your mobile device to produce some soothing music or nature sounds. Then, try one or more of these poses (which you’ve probably practiced many times in class): 

Child Pose/Balasana

Begin by sitting on your knees with your calves and feet together. While remaining in a seated position, slowly lean forward extending your arms in front of you. Continue to reach and move yourself forward until your chest is touching the ground. Slowly inhale and exhale at least 12 times with each breath being deep and long.

Seated Forward Bend (4)

While sitting on the floor with your back straight, stretch your legs out in front of you. With your feet touching, slowly flex your feet and pull your toes back toward your body. Slowly inhale as you bring your heels off of the floor. Raise your arms over your head and slowly exhale. Stretch forward, extending your arms and reaching out to where you can comfortably grasp your thighs, ankles, or knees. Rest your head quietly and hold for approximately 12 breaths. Breathe deeply and release stress and anxiety as you exhale with each breath.

Bridge Pose

Lay flat on your back and slowly bring your feet up towards your buttocks. With your heels still on the floor, reach down and grasp them. Slowly lift your bottom off of the floor. Keep your thighs, hips and back elevated and in a straight line. Take approximately 12 deep breaths while in this position, releasing tension and anxiety each time as you exhale.

Viparita Karani

The viparita karani or “legs up the wall” pose helps re-establish circulation and elicit a feeling of groundedness. Sit next to a wall and slowly lay flat on your back, extending your legs up and resting them on the wall. Make sure your bottom is firmly pressed against both the wall and the floor. Lay quietly with your hands at your side and your back straight, and touching the floor. Breathe deeply 10 to 12 times, inhaling and exhaling slowly. As you breathe, the impact of your legs being elevated will cause your circulatory system to begin to work harder. Focus on how your body begins to feel as you continue to breathe, allowing your anxiety to slowly be released each time you exhale.

Corpse Pose

The corpse pose is one of the simplest in all forms of yoga and requires a high level of mental participation. As you lie flat on your back with your arms at your sides, slowly inhale and exhale regularly. Starting with your feet, breathe in and allow any stress you feel in the area to dissipate. Exhale and begin to move up to your ankles. Again, breathe in, concentrating on the area allowing any stress or negativity to dissipate. Continue to move up your body focusing on each area, calves, knees, thighs, hips, stomach, etc., until you reach the top of your head. Once you reach the top of your head, breathe deeply allowing yourself to completely relax. Clear your mind and enjoy the silence.

Whether used alone or in conjunction with one another, they can be performed at various times to prevent anxiety caused from dealing with your day to day obligations.






200-Hour Teacher Training Announced

Reach Yoga will host a 200-hour yoga teacher training, beginning in January.

I am excited about our faculty this year, which is led by Paul Weitz, Deb Wineman, and (new) Sharyn Galindo of North Shore Yoga.

The combined experience of this faculty is impressive indeed. Using a well-honed and tested curriculum, these inspirational teachers can empower any serious student of yoga to deepen their practice, live in accordance with yogic wisdom, and effectively share yoga with others.

The schedule for this 200 hours of training is accessible to almost anyone. January 26 – December 15 2019, Thursday evenings 6:30-8:30pm, plus ten weekends (Saturday and Sunday) from 11am-4pm. There will be no formal class meetings in July or August. 

No schedule works for everyone, and if you are seeking a weekday-only option, I encourage you to investigate Sharyn’s other training at North Shore Yoga.

If you’d like to learn more about the Reach Yoga teacher training, read here and/or request more information.

If you are ready to sign up, we are so happy — apply here.

Fall Schedule Adds: Becky, Zoe, Linda, Judy, Mark, Hala, Beth

Here are changes to our weekly schedule for this fall. We are so sorry to say good-bye to Colleen Y., who moved to Michigan … but happy that we have wonderful teachers stepping into her classes, as well as a few other interesting changes:

  • Thursdays 9:30am: Hatha Blend I now taught by Linda O’Toole
  • Sundays 8:00am: Basics & Beyond to be taught by Zoe Nitsun, beginning 9/16
  • Mondays 1:15pm: Basics & Beyond to be taught by highly recommended, new-to-Reach instructor Beth Mulhern, beginning 9/24

Additions to our schedule coming soon – please note locations!!! Some of these meet at locations other than the Reach Yoga studio. Can you use your Reach Yoga membership or package for these classes? YES

  • Starting 9/13: Thursdays 5:15-6:15pm, Vinyasa Flow 1-2 with Becky C. (Reach Yoga studio)
  • Starting 9/17: Mondays & Thursdays, 11:00am-12:15pm, Gentle Flow with Judy R. (Takiff Center)
  • Starting 9/24: Mondays, 6:00-7:00am AND 9:30-10:30am, Cardio Flow HIIT Yoga with Hala S. (Unify Fitness)
  • Starting 10/3: Wednesdays, 9:00-10:00am, BodySculpt Yoga with Mark N. (Unify Fitness)

If any of these looks intriguing, please mark your calendar now to try out a new class (maybe with a friend?).

Here is the latest schedule – and you can sign up for class in advance.

Namaste, xo


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