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Practice Makes Practice

Eagle Yoga House Founder, Susan Dusho on Life, Yoga and Finding Balance

by Liza Long, photos by Jim Peterson

For Susan Dusho, yoga practice is not about perfection—it’s about balance. In June 2012, with her husband Dennis’s help, Dusho realized a dream of sharing yoga’s benefits with her community when she opened Eagle Yoga House. Four years later, the studio has expanded its offerings to engage everyone from athletes to octogenarians.

“Physical practice is just a small part of yoga,” Dusho told me as she prepared to teach her favorite class, a yoga workshop targeted at anyone who wants to try yoga or work on poses in a safe, nonjudgmental environment. “Everyone comes in because they want to feel better, and that’s a good reason to walk in the door. But we really come to our mats to turn off and unplug all this stuff that’s going on—everything we are juggling–in our lives.”

A lifelong athlete, Dusho found blissful stillness and serenity in yoga. Shortly after taking her first hot yoga class, she signed up for teacher training in 2011. Now, Eagle Yoga House offers about 30 classes per week, from 5:45 a.m. through 7:15 p.m. The classes range from upbeat, music-driven hot Power Hour flows to more restorative, relaxing evening classes for people who need to calm down and unwind. Susan’s workshops, designed both for people who have never practiced and for practitioners who want to improve technique with a more interactive experience, are offered several times each week during the day and evening.

“I know some people can feel intimidated when they try a hot yoga class for the first time,” Susan explained. “People were telling me, ‘I’m not flexible enough.’ That’s not what yoga is about. It’s more about creating openness and flexibility in your life and in your mind.”

Susan always loved sports. Born in Delaware and raised in Washington by “two amazing parents,” Susan was involved in cheerleading and played varsity tennis. In college, Susan embraced an athletic lifestyle, studying exercise science. She taught aerobic dance at Washington State University in the 1980s.

In college, she also discovered body building.

Susan competed professionally for years, but she discovered a dark side to the sport. Like many athletes in sports where body image is highly prized, Susan developed an eating disorder. She has been living in recovery from bulimia for more than 25 years and shares her story to help others overcome the stigma. “Having an eating disorder doesn’t mean you are less as a person; it stems from depression, and it’s treatable,” she told me.

After the birth of her third child, Susan discovered yet another sport: running. With the demands of child-rearing, running fit her busy life. She could put her baby in a jogger and hit the pavement. Running also provided stress relief from an increasingly difficult first marriage, which ended after 18 years. Now, Susan uses yoga to manage her stress. “Any woman going through a divorce or dealing with anything hard in her life can really benefit from yoga practice,” she said.

With two other yoga teachers, Theresa Price and Rebecca Holland, Susan now volunteers twice a month at Eagle Middle School, where she works with special needs children to teach them yoga. “It’s that after lunch time of day when you are really tired and want a cup of coffee,” she laughed. “But every time, I feel so good! The students are so appreciative!”

For Susan, yoga has infused life with meaning and purpose; she still has plenty of goals to accomplish before she attains “that great savasana in the sky.”

“Flexibility and openness of your body is just a perk, the icing on the cake,” she said. “Learning how to calm down and be in the moment is what matters. Yoga teaches you to accept your circumstances and to embrace your possibilities.”