Goldfarb gets off her yoga mat after 30 years
Executive director continues as leader of Longboat Key Education Center but will no longer lead yoga classes
by: MOLLY SCHECHTER
Wednesday, April 5, 2017
Photo by Evelyn England
Susan Goldfarb and yoga students, circa 2012.
Susan Goldfarb got a part-time job in 1986 handling marketing and public relations for the then-brand new Education Center. One of the perks was that she could take classes for free, and she signed up for yoga with the late Ed Schetter. He became ill in 1987, asked her to take over and the rest, as they say, is history.
Goldfarb soon developed a following and grew the yoga schedule to five classes a week, all of them full. Recently, she has hired teachers and cut back to teaching two classes.
Now, she has decided that the term just ended was her last.
“So many of my students were moving off the Key or becoming unable to participate, and I take that as a signal from the universe that now is the time for me to stop teaching,” she said.
She is staying on as executive director and relishes the opportunity to spend more time expanding her “Like College Only Better” curriculum.
Goldfarb began her yoga journey in 1974. She and her late husband, Richard Goldfarb, went to a retreat at the renowned Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat in the Bahamas. She found the chanting, healthy eating and Hatha, which is the physical practice of yoga, appealing. A resident of Toronto, she earned her fitness certification there in 1982 and taught yoga from 1983-1985 before moving to Florida.
Teachers revere the sources of their own learning and in that role, Goldfarb credits Lilias Folan who “Made yoga accessible to people.” Another major influence was the equally famous Rodney Yee, “very gentle, with a nice manner.” But Goldfarb asserts (and I agree) that teachers learn the most from our students.
Her students have taught Goldfarb that, “Yoga is about self-acceptance, not self-improvement. It is about listening versus talking, accepting versus judging, practicing versus preaching. Preaching is hollow. I try not to preach but to practice. If I’m not being kind to myself, I can’t ask my students to be kind.” Because her teaching has been mostly with seniors and safety is a big concern, she has also learned to keep things simple.
Asked about her own practice, Goldfarb explains that given the demands of her job, her personal yoga time and her classroom time were one and the same. “The only time I had for yoga was summer or teaching. And one of the advantages of the class commitment was that it made sure that I did yoga. That time was my best, authentic self. Yoga keeps me feeling and looking good. I go in and out on weight and yoga keeps me in check. And if I don’t do it, my joints start to ache.”
While there will still be yoga classes at the Education Center three or more days weekly in season, it is clear Goldfarb will miss her students and her students will miss her. Also, that she will continue to plow time and energy into an array of educational offerings for which the center is known. Why, only the other day she was walking the grounds at Ca’ d’Zan when she struck up a conversation with a stranger who was speaking French. She turned out to be Evaleon Hill, a meditation instructor, retreat leader, lawyer and college teacher. The result is two new retreats on the 2017-2018 schedule. Goldfarb may be off the yoga mat, but she is clearly more than ever on the job.
The 2017-2018 class schedule will be available online in mid-September at lbkeducationcenter.org
Molly Schechter is an ACE-certified personal trainer with a specialty in older adult fitness plus YogaFit Instructor Training, SCF Yoga Fundamentals I and II, SCF “Active Aging,” and Power Pilates Mat Certifications. She teaches classes at the Bayfront Park Recreation Center. Email her at mschechter@YourObserver.com.