Dragana Pavic-Zappia projects love in motion

By Lanier Laney

The first time I saw Dragana Pavic-Zappia, I was standing behind her and her daughter in the check-out line at Publix on Lady’s Island. Her daughter was worried because she still hadn’t gotten her mom a Mother’s Day present. Dragana said to her “I don’t need a present sweetheart, you are my gift.” And then she hugged her.

Dragana Pavic-Zappia holds her daughter Luciana.
Dragana Pavic-Zappia holds her daughter Luciana.

After that, whenever I would see her — at City Java or elsewhere — she would always give me a big joyous smile, even though she didn’t know me. There was always a feeling of peace around her. Later on, I found out she was a yoga teacher who had taken over Kim Chech’s studio in the Lady’s Island Marina and that she had an unusual name and was from Eastern Europe. I wondered how she ended up here in Beaufort.

Here is my interview with her:

What is your name and title?

“Dragana Pavic-Zappia, body and energy worker, yoga teacher and owner at ONE Yoga Sanctuary.”

Where were you born and raised?

“Vrbas, Yugoslavia. I was born in the country once called Yugoslavia; in my heart it still is the Union and Brotherhood of Serbs, Croats and Slovenians. Today, my country is called Serbia.”

What led to your current occupation?

“At the age of 21 I moved to Greece to find ME. I met my new family which introduced me to teachings of Osho and I joined Osho Kirtan and meditation Centre in Athens. I enrolled in Athens University of Economics and Businesses simply to be able to stay and live in Greece on a student visa. I graduated in 2001 with a Bachelors degree in Marketing and Public relations.

What guided me to yoga was I discovered in a magazine an article with the title “How to stay young forever.” One page described what is called “Sun Salutations” and  yoga poses to stay young forever. I decided from there on, until I died I would do one backbend a day. This led to a devoted practice of backbends every night before bed.”

What led to your interest in your area of work?

“I met my mother-in-law, friend and artist Olga Stamatiou in Greece in 1999; she is a tremendous inspiration. She introduced me to committed practice of yogic arts. Seeing her and the way she practiced yoga opened my eyes and mind to what our bodies are capable of, at any given time, and what dedicated practice can do for our body and mind. Olga introduced me to Kim Cech, the founder of Yoga Chandra Center for the Healing Arts, whom I connected with instantly. Kim was my mentor, teacher and friend for 10 years. Kim’s teachings of yoga as art, and her trust, kindness and belief in me as a young teacher has given me the freedom to express and teach from my heart, and share the teachings of my body’s experience.

I am fascinated with our bodies as microcosmos. I am fascinated with the way simple, small changes of habits in our bodies can lead to changes in our mind’s habits — and vise versa. Knowing that conscious, committed spiritual practice is a simple and effective way to change our life!”

How did you meet your husband?

“I met my beloved husband Matt in Athens, Greece, New Years Eve 1999. We celebrated the entry to 21st Century, we kissed at midnight. We kissed after midnight as well, and loved each other ever since.”

What is your husband’s occupation?

“Matthew was an art and sculpture major at Maine College of Art. He has worked at the Beaufort Alarm and Sounds systems for the last eight years. He is also a graphic designer, he designed the logo for One Yoga Sanctuary, amongst many other marvelous creations.”

Do you have any children?

“In 2008, Matt and I were blessed with our daughter, Luciana Luna Pavic Zappia. She currently attends Bridges Preparatory School.”

Do you have any special schooling or training?

“My first energy work training took place in Athens, Greece, with Deva Svarno as a Reiki Practitioner in 1996. I apprenticed and studied yoga and healing arts with Kim Cech in Beaufort since 2004.

I learned the Feng Shui Flying Star Method and Form School Method Consultant Training from 2002 to 2005 with Feng Shui Master Jill Hale and many others. I earned Nia Teacher Training in 2009, Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training in 2010, and have hundreds of hours of training and hands-on practice in Thai Yoga Bodywork.”

How did you find out about Beaufort?

“My husband’s parents — Rocco Zappia and Olga Stamatiou — lived in Beaufort, and Matthew and I visited them a couple of times in 2003. At the time, Matthew was a vice president of Seewall Child LLC, founded by Olga. We moved to Beaufort in 2004 from Portland, Maine.”

What do you like most about Beaufort and Beaufortonians?

“It’s a relatively slow way of living; it reminds me a bit of my life in Greece. I  love the climate, the charm and hospitality of this small town. I have always been fortunate to meet and live with the kindest, remarkable people wherever I moved. Beaufort is home now, people here make it so. I love being “stuck” on the bridge! I love Hunting Island Beach. I love water! I love live oak trees and Spanish moss. Nature is so intense here.”

Where else have you worked in Beaufort?

“I worked for Island Residential Construction as an architectural designer from 2005 until last year when I decided that I wanted to become a full time yoga teacher and body worker. In 2004, I worked for then-New Point Corner Store as a store manager, and before that I worked briefly for a store called Nest.”

What is the philosophy behind your work?

“Elevate one and all. Every action needs to feel effortless, natural and joyful. If there is no joy, something needs to be changed. Joy, when found, needs to be sustained. Work is my sacred livelihood. I want my mind to be blown away: yoga does that!”

How would you describe your business?

“One Yoga Sanctuary is one sacred, conscious, healing arts community. It does not feel like a business; it feels like coming home. I am blessed and grateful  to be part of one family and especially to be in the company of kind, loving, tremendously experienced, talented and creative teachers. Our mantra is ‘Recognize the Other Person is You.’

Our students seek inner peace, joy, release, exercise, relaxation, increased flexibility, healing and a supportive community. There is something for every body.

I think of the business as a family with high consciousness and deep respect for each other and those we work with and serve. Our students have chosen us for a reason. We inspire, teach and elevate each other and see each other perfect just the way we are. Every relationship I establish is like the philosophy behind my work — it ought to be effortless and joy filled.”

Is there anything surprising about the work you do? Something you weren’t expecting?

“Part of my practice is to have no expectations! I constantly get reminded — whether it is my loving family, my friends, colleagues, yoga class or Thai Yoga Body work — that with a very small amount of effort, big results are possible. Our bodies and our minds have tremendous power to self heal. With a very small amount of effort, we can feel better, elevated and positively influence people and world we live in, with commitment and  simple acts of kindness and service. The practice and teaching of yoga is easy in the studio environment; the true Yoga is living the life as practice, as meditation, as conscious expression every step.”

What are your plans for the future?

“Change on the horizon is the one and only inevitable constant. I prepare for change by practicing the Art of Doing Nothing, which in essence is the Art of Being Present. I make minimal plans, I live in the unfolding of now. It is all planned for us, and in divine order!”



One Yoga Sanctuary offers yoga classes, as well as conscious movement and Thai Yoga Bodywork practices for man, woman and children of all ages and physical abilities. It on the second floor of the Lady’s Island Marina behind Dockside Restaurant, 73 Sea Island Parkway, on Lady’s Island. Call 843-476-1388 or visit www.oneyogasanctuary.com or email oneyogasanctuary@gmail.com.

Classes available:

Men’s Yoga Club with Kevin Lewis starts this month. Children’s Yoga classes also started this month and will continue to offer yoga for the little ones. They specialize in yoga as therapy in Gentle Therapeutic classes, as well as all levels asana and flow yoga classes for those looking for more vigorous and athletic practice. They are soon to offer Nia Playshops.

World Oceans Day

In honor of World Oceans Day, One Yoga Sanctuary will offer its third annual event “Ocean Motion.” This one day family event will include yoga, arts, education, paddleboarding and more. 

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