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Pineapple Yoga Studio, the newest addition to Burns Court, has only been open a short time, but it's already been well-received by both the yoga/wellness and shopping/retail communities. Owner Claudia Baeza and her husband/business partner, Robert Corace, moved to Sarasota from Massachusetts in April, and Baeza, who possesses a passion for yoga and healing, opened Pineapple Yoga Studio two months ago. 

We caught up with Baeza and asked her about her yoga background, why she decided to open a studio in Sarasota and her goals for Pineapple Yoga Studio.

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Claudia Baeza.

How were you introduced to yoga and how did you develop such a deep connection with it?

I was introduced to yoga back in 2003 when I was living in Massachusetts. I attended Boston College and actually went to law school, but I experienced a period of weight gain and depression.  I happened into a yoga class with Baron Baptiste, a well-known figure in the yoga community. The class allowed me to feel deep emotions, and the experience helped me identify ways to access theses emotions through yoga, cope with my pain and heal. 

What inspired you to open your own yoga studio and why did you choose Sarasota, specifically this location on Pineapple Avenue, to start your business?

I met Robert in Massachusetts back in 2012, through yoga, and we fell in love. When I was getting certified [to teach yoga], we happened to come down to Naples for training. We both fell in love with the west coast of Florida, but I felt like there was a magnet pulling me to Sarasota, and I followed it. One day we were driving down Pineapple Avenue and saw the space for rent. We thought, “Wouldn’t it be nice to have our own studio?”

Upon inquiring about it, we learned that seven other tenants had been rejected, and my husband told me not to get my hopes up. So I made a dream board because the owner, Ellen Hanson, is an interior designer, and I thought that if I presented it in her language, with imagery, it could work. She loved it.

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What are some of the programs or associations you collaborate with or reach out to?

I originally started teaching yoga at various gyms around the city, but it didn’t meet my desire to connect with the community, so I reached out to city officials to see if I could start teaching free yoga in the park. I felt like I needed to express my gratitude towards the community. I started Saturday morning yoga at bayfront, which happens monthly and is supported by the city. We have also reached out to a veterans community in Sarasota to help those dealing with abuse or addiction or alcohol. We want to help them by approaching wellness and healing through yoga.     

There’s also Community Yoga, which is completely donation-based and aimed at everyone, especially at-risk communities. I don’t want the price to hinder people from coming. We offer different classes like power yoga, gentle yoga, restorative yoga and nia.

Club 517 is a partnership with Michael’s On East, So Staged and Victoria Blooms, who are the premiere partners, in which we rent our space out for each month for events and fundraisers. We are planning on working with the American Cancer Society, Southeastern Guide Dogs, and a veteran’s home. The Robert L. Taylor Community Complex is an institution we work with for community service and discussions; we're currently working on an athletic program to emphasize the benefits of yoga for athletes.

We also hold events and workshops on Saturdays from 2-5 p.m., where there will be professionals or yoga teachers educating the public about numerous multidisciplinary subjects from essential oils to cooking—anything having to do with wellness and yoga.

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You have a significant part of your space dedicated to products. What are some of the products and brands that you carry?

At Pineapple Yoga Boutique, I operate under an 80/20 system. Eighty percent of the products are from local Florida businesses because I want to acknowledge and support them. The other 20 percent is from companies that make sustainable goods or promote an overall good message. I like to call it being hyperlocal, or "Sarasota Strong," which I got from Boston Strong since that's where I’m from.

One brand is Teeki, which is based out of California and makes clothes from recycled bottles; all their products are made in the United States. Hip Buddha is another brand out of Naples; it is a women-run business that hand-strings mala beads. Lisa L. Frechette is an artist who takes photos of her paintings to create metal and fabric prints. And some food products are Matcha +, 221 BC, and Fermentilicious--all handmade food.

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What is your goal for Pineapple Yoga Studio?

I want to create a homey, nurturing, loving environment where people can heal in a nonjudgmental space, in a place full of compassion that—while focusing on the physical aspects—encourages an internal cultivation of self.

Pineapple Yoga Studio and Boutique is located at 517 S. Pineapple Ave., Sarasota. 

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