© Pam Walatka 1995, 2017. This imagemap was on the top page of our original site.
I launched wildhorses.com in 1995, named
after a small company I shared with Sidney Damon and Laney Stephens.
In 2003, Sandy Johan redesigned and reorganized the site.
We have followed her design in all our subsequent pages
In 2005 I split the site into several sites:
This site, pamsyogafitness.com
from the 1960s
Beach House Nicaragua
I hope you enjoy these pages. Hello out there!
--Pam Portugal Walatka
Here is a link to NASA’s page about the manual I wrote for FAST, the visualization app
that won NASA’s Software of the Year, 1995.
Like my Facebook page to get announcements:
my new writing
In case you are wondering if I am the Pam you know, here is
my bio in brief: Born in Santa Rosa, California in 1942, twin brother Peter and little sister Nancy. Santa Rosa High School class of 1960. U.C. Davis,
60-61. Graduated from U.C. Berkeley 1964. Peace Corps Nepal IV 64-65. Esalen Residential Program 1967-68.
Started teaching Esalen's first yoga class 1968. Helped start the organic garden and farm at Esalen, 1968. Member,
Esalen Flying Circus. Married Jerry Walatka 1982. Gave birth to Sarah, 1984, now Sarah Dorothy Minkow.
Technical writer-editor for NASA 1987-2003, and 2012-2013. Bullis-Purissima PTA Board 1989-1996. Freelance writer for
Los Altos Town Crier, 2005-2011. Columnist for
Los Altos Patch 2010-2011.
Yoga teacher at Los Altos Hills Rec. Dept. 2005-present.
Yoga teacher at Los Gatos Saratoga Recreation 2012-present.
Freelance editor, decades.
All well here, hope same there.
A story about my yoga history in the Los altos Town Crier
LAH YOGA PRACTICE GIVES ATHLETIC INTRO TO BREATH AND BODY
Published: 15 November 2017
Written by Eliza Ridgeway - Staff Writerfirstname.lastname@example.org
Pam Walatka, a longtime resident of Los Altos Hills before she moved
to the mountains above Los Gatos in 2011, has been leading "Pam’s Yoga
Fitness" at Los Altos Hills Town Hall weekly more or less without
pause for the past 12 years.
The class, which meets 10:15-11:30 a.m. Wednesdays, convenes in the airy,
light-filled council chambers, a perk Walatka credits with keeping her
students coming year after year. The town’s Parks and Recreation Department
recently added a new feature, the Flex Pass, which allows people to pay for
individual classes and drop in rather than committing to an eight-week session.
"Some of the original students are still attending, and most of the students
have been coming for five or more years," Walatka said.
The class attracts athletic "midlife" types, she said – fitness enthusiasts
looking for something to counterbalance tennis, cycling or running. A few of them
come with a nudge from a doctor.
The class, which emphasizes health and fitness, incorporates traditional yoga moves,
core-targeting Pilates and mindfulness meditation.
FROM MIND TO BODY
Meditation has come a long way since Walatka first encountered it as an
undergraduate at UC Berkeley in the 1960s. The United States has embraced
what was once considered a fringe, experimental practice to the point that
the medical establishment has studied and authenticated its apparent contribution
to good physical and mental health.
As a philosophy major at Berkeley, Walatka learned about yoga as a Hindu
way of thinking, not as an athletic practice. "My philosophy department
did not know what to do with me – it was a few years too soon," she said.
Walatka had been reading works by the American transcendentalists – Emerson,
Thoreau and Channing – since her father started letting her tag along to
Berkeley's library during her high school years. But after writing a
college paper comparing the Hindu concept of expanded consciousness with
American transcendentalism and contemporary LSD theories of cosmic consciousness,
she got a note from her professor whose gist was, "I don’t know what this is,
but I’m sure it’s not philosophy."
"At that point, I changed to the psych department, which also was not
interested in the psyche," she recalled ruefully.
Walatka graduated, moved to Nepal with the Peace Corps and for the first time
experienced philosophies beyond the pages of a book, living among Buddhists
and Hindus who introduced her to the real-life practice of meditation.
She returned to the U.S. and became a resident fellow at the Esalen Institute
in 1967. The other early participants at the Big Sur nonprofit, famous for its
role in the counterculture movement, shared her interest in exploration of
awareness, mind-body connection and "human potential."
At Esalen, a bio-energetic workshop encouraged participants to try a back-bending
cobra pose – and even though the institute was very body-oriented, Walatka said,
"it hadn’t occurred to people to do the poses."
Within a year of her arrival, she was tasked with becoming Esalen's first yoga
teacher, based strictly on innate flexibility, not experience. So she drove into
town, bought a book describing yoga moves and started teaching.
Fifty years later, Walatka teaches a class that looks similar to those early days.
She had continued to study and teach yoga, with breaks when life got in the way,
including a 16-year stint as a technical writer at NASA’s Ames Research Center
that was relatively light on yoga and counter-culture.
If you take a yoga class with Walatka, though, you might not guess at this vivid
and philosophical background. She teaches an athletic practice, one aimed at
moving the body and focusing the mind without hewing to any philosophy or faith.
Some yoga classes include meditative comments from the teacher, or Sanskrit
phrases for the moves – not this one. "Pam’s Yoga Fitness" does focus
on listening to one's own body as it creaks, stretches and bends, but
"I'm not trying to change their religion, and I haven't experienced
a lot of curiosity about that," she said bluntly. "I'm with the
Dalai Lama – whatever religion you have is the best religion for you."
Walatka said she thinks there's an alarming emphasis in yoga classes these days
on rigidity, and teachers have been taught that a pose is supposed to be done
a specific way – move your elbow from here to here, and you’re doing it right.
"It’s a little bit like posing mannequins," she added. "I want
people to learn to listen to the wisdom of their bodies, to learn the difference
between a deep stretch and an injurious stretch. Someone asked me the other day
how far are you supposed to bend in the triangle, and I said, 'Past comfortable
but before injury – learn from your own body telling you, not me telling you.'"
Walatka's mother, who lived to be 101, used to say that you can make your health
better by working on it.
"I think a lot of my students are there to work on their health," Walatka
said. "There are many things you need to do to work on your health, but yoga
is one of them."
For more information, visit pamsyogafitness.com.