Kula Member Spotlight: Patty Dornacker

Hello! My name is Patty Dornacker and my husband, Doug, and I are natives of Omaha and currently live in West Des Moines. We have one son, Alex. He lives in Des Moines. Alex just graduated from Drake Law School.

I worked as a reading specialist in the local public schools for 30 years. When I left my teaching position, I was free to pursue my other passions including art. I have taken painting and drawing classes and volunteered as a docent at The Des Moines Art Center. If I have free time it is spent painting with watercolors in my home studio.

I discovered yoga in the late 90’s. At the time I considered yoga as a form of physical exercise. I grew stronger and more confident as I mastered the poses. Over time I began to see the benefits of mindfulness and meditation as well. The peaceful practice of reflection and breathing are most important to me now.

In 2019, I was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer. After a year of treatment and surgery, I was cancer-free but my body had become quite frail. I was grateful for Mary’s Zoom classes that began during the COVID quarantine. As I worked to restore strength to my body, I was able to practice gentle yoga in the privacy of my own bedroom. No one could see me fall over doing the poses that were easy not so long ago. Yoga helped me regain strength, balance, and confidence as I recovered from cancer. Just this September, I had the privilege of joining Dr. Demming and the Above and Beyond Cancer team on a hiking adventure in Utah.

I consider Mary to be both a good friend and one of the best local yoga teachers. I appreciate the variety of classes offered each week. I can choose to challenge myself in Monday night Hatha yoga or go easy in chair yoga held on Thursday afternoons. When I can’t attend a live-streamed class, I go to the on-demand video library and find just what I need.

Mary is different from other teachers in her thoughtful preparation and attention to detail. She is always exploring new ideas and presents her students with new challenges in each class. I appreciate how Mary weaves together seasonal themes with poses and meditation in our Yin Yoga and Restorative classes.

Mary’s loyal students and the community she has created are another important part of the experience. Even though we can’t be together in person, it is good to see familiar faces and chat a bit before each Zoom class begins.