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Yoga classes offered all summer long at the Community House

By Staff | May 31, 2017

Susan Pataky had a full class last Tuesday. ASHLEY GOODMAN

Susan Pataky’s all level yoga class at the Community House is rooted in the ancient art and science of yoga. The class, which takes place Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 to 11 a.m., emphasizes posture, breathing techniques, mudra, meditation and guided relaxation techniques.

“The goal is self-realization,” Pataky said. “The journey is through the poses, the breath work, the practice.”

What sets Pataky’s classes apart is that she tailors it to each person’s specific needs and ailments. Every ache and pain is addressed.

“The physical anomalies present themselves. Then you go specific, and use yoga as physical therapy,” Pataky. “Yoga is therapy for your mind, for your head, your heart and your body. My interest in teaching yoga was to work right to that depth.”

Pataky grew up in Fairlfield County, Connecticut and began practicing yoga at age 15. From there, she furthered her studies and received a doctorate degree in naturopathic medicine at the University of Bridgeport. She eventually completed her thesis at Yale University.

Pataky, who is a certified yoga therapist, has been teaching yoga since the 1970s. In addition to yoga, she also has experience in meditation, reiki, Native American sojourns, massage therapy and traditional Chinese medicine.

Shortly after graduating, she took her knowledge of yoga to major corporations like Pepsi, Clairol, Walden Books, Bristol-Myers, General Electric and GTE.

“At my peak, I taught 27 classes a week,” Pataky said. “I would teach a morning class to a group – this was way before yoga studios. There were no yoga studios back then, then I would come home and teach nighttime classes.”

During her time teaching at those corporations, Pataky recalled that there was always a good mix who showed up – the janitors frequently took classes with the CEOs. She remembers one of the maintenance men writing her a note saying that through her class, she helped him lower his blood pressure significantly.

“He was so sweet. He wrote me a note saying that his doctor couldn’t believe it but his blood pressure had been changing during his visits. He was able to cut back on his medication. This was way before any of that (yoga) talk ever happened. The doctor asked him what he was doing he told him he was doing yoga. The doctor said ‘Well, I don’t really know what that is, but something is working for you, Keep doing it.’, Pataky said. “This guy came faithfully. Those were the kind of stories that went around the corporate environment and more people started coming.”

Eventually, Pataky left the Northeast and moved to Sanibel in 2001 and began teaching yoga at many organizations, resorts and city facilities. In time, she opened her own studio in the Palm Ridge Plaza on Periwinkle Way but had to close it a few years ago after her mother became ill. Now, she teaches solely at the Community House. She also gives private lessons.

In June, she plans on incorporating a two-hour fibromyalgia yoga class at the Community House that will address pain management.

“It will be part meditation, body awareness and gentle, slow movements. The class is super gentle and super supportive,” Pataky said.

The biggest thing she takes into consideration is honoring where someone is at with their poses. Pataky said she wants people to feel comfortable.

“There’s no forcing. (The class) will take a holistic approach,” she said. “The biggest thrill for me is that there are healthy solutions for pain.”

Pataky’s all level yoga class runs year round. The drop in rate is $20 per class, cash only. For Community House members, the cost is $18. For more information, go to sanibelcommunityhouse.net/calendar or call (239) 472-2155.