Some folks slow down when they retire. Others pursue a passion, like Susan Black did, a former Gannon University vice-president who retired in 2009. Instead of putting her feet up, Susan went back to school, yoga school that is.
Susan had been practicing yoga since 1970, when her mother started exploring the discipline. A college cheerleader at the time, Susan liked the flexibility and strength it gave her, but she was also drawn to the spiritual and historical side of yoga.
Yoga became a stress antidote throughout Susan’s life, and she found that the practice eased her through the grief of a loved one’s passing. “When my world collapsed, I found a safe place on my yoga mat. Moving my body in the poses and allowing myself to breathe deeply opened what was physically constricted. I could release my pain and sadness—yoga was my lifeline,” she says.
Having a clear vision of life after retirement, Susan wanted to share with others the many benefits of yoga, so she became a certified instructor and also completed a therapeutic yoga-training program. She earned Yin Yoga certification in Boston, in addition to studying with A.G. Mohan, who had been a student of Krishnamacharya, the founder of modern yoga. A teacher by education, Susan says becoming a certified instructor seemed a natural step into the next phase of her life.
In 2010, Susan opened her own yoga studio at the Erie Art Museum, where she had taken classes for years. She aptly named it, Art of Yoga, and she now contracts with six teachers, who offer a variety of class styles. She says the community of teachers that has evolved has been an unexpected joy for her.
“I found that creating and maintaining this place of peace was very meaningful to me,” says Susan of her studio. And regarding her own practice, she says, “Yoga is really my health insurance. Through my practice, I maintain my strength, balance, flexibility, and positive attitude.”
In addition to yoga, Susan values her time with family and pursues her interest in fiber art, creating art quilts and art dolls. She also spends several months of the year in Key West—where she teaches yoga on the beach.