Yoga at Kiwanis Park in Shaler won't stretch your budget

| Tuesday, July 2, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

As the sun begins to rise over the tree line and shine on Kiwanis Park, people are gathering on the basketball courts with mats.

Shaler Township is offering a new summer program, Yoga in the Park, at 8 a.m. on Saturdays led by certified yoga teacher Lizzzie Hanulak, of Etna.

Hanulak worked with the township to add the free program in an attempt to bring yoga to more people.

“My problem is I love to give things away, and I really want everyone to discover it,” Hanulak said of yoga. “People love free stuff, so why not stumble out of bed and see? It's really just (me) giving back to my community.”

Hanulak discovered yoga while looking for healing and an athletic outlet during a difficult divorce. She started taking classes and, in the process, met Jen Lee and Stacey Vespaziani, now teachers at South Hills Power Yoga. They mentored her while she became certified as a teacher.

“Now I want to give it to everybody,” Hanulak said. “Yoga really saved my life. I know the power of it personally.”

Hanulak tries to bring yoga to groups of people who otherwise may be hesitant to try it. She has offered programs at libraries and hosted classes at her studio, LizZzrrd Lounge Studios, in Hampton. She now is working to start programs at nursing homes and for new mothers, emergency personnel, veterans and people with fibromyalgia.

Hanulak hopes to dispel myths, such as the belief that yoga is only for people who are flexible, slender or athletic.

“When you're on your mat, you're in your own little world,” she said.

“I want to help people realize they can be their own tool and know how wonderful it is to breathe and move. The body you hate can be the body you love.”

Hanulak's soothing voice spoke just above the chirping birds one recent Saturday as she led about 15 people through yoga poses.

She encouraged participants to practice at levels comfortable for them, and showed variations of poses for different levels of mobility.

Shaler resident Amy Taylor was looking to get back into yoga, and attended one of Hanulak's sessions with her future daughter-in-law, Emilie Gravett, of the North Side.

“She was really good at explaining and going slowly,” Taylor said of Hanulak.

The free program also brought Christin Pintar, of Shaler, to the basketball courts.

“I never took yoga outside before,” Pintar said. “It almost seemed like that's where you're supposed to do yoga. … It was refreshing and really centering.”

Hanulak said she hopes the practices provide a needed service to the Shaler area.

“I hope that somehow it sparks healing in people, to discover another method for people to take care of themselves and that it grows a community,” Hanulak said.

Bethany Hofstetter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or

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