Columbia College Chicago fitness studio, 731 S. Plymouth, 312-369-6920 (classes September-December and February-May); Core Power Yoga, 4428 N. Broadway, 773-271-9642, corepoweryoga.com
Last summer I thought sinking my toes into the soft sand during down dog as the wind off Lake Michigan played with my hair was equivalent to nirvana. But my worries never have been melted away as sublimely as they were by the voice of Dana Fares. Her instruction is silky, melodic, and delicately persuasive. Fares gently reminds us to make vinyasa flow a dance, to forgive failures, and to shine our hearts to the sky. And though she's an actress by trade, I never feel like her passion lacks sincerity, or that she's putting on a performance. After I regain consciousness from a deep shavasana, Fares simply giggles and thanks us for "playing yoga."