Yoga isn’t just about stretching and staying fit, said Hoquiam yoga instructor Dawn Hanson. It’s about tranquility, inner peace and bringing together the mind, body and breath.
She’s been practicing yoga for about 18 years, and now she’s teaching Harborites in her new studio, Sitka Yoga, located in downtown Hoquiam. Hanson opened her business Jan. 25, and has already generated a loyal following.
“I have anywhere between five and 20 people in a class, depending on a day or time,” Hanson said. “So things are going pretty well.”
The Wisconsin-native started practicing yoga in Portland as a college student and single mother. She started taking yoga classes as a stress reliever and continued practicing when she noticed she was growing stronger both mentally and physically.
“With yoga, you’ll notice that your running improves, your biking improves,” Hanson said. “You just benefit so much as an athlete.”
She eventually received training to become a certified yoga instructor through the Yoga Alliance.
Hanson said she tries to offer classes for every age — students’ ages range from 13 to 80 — and body type. Some of her classes are even suitable for pregnant women. Hanson hopes to expand her business so that it covers even more demographics.
“I think that people have the misconception that yoga is for women,” Hanson said. “And that’s not true. There are a handful of men who come, and we’re slowly getting more and more.”
The “gentle vinyassa flow” class is perhaps the easiest, Hanson said. It’s designed for people who are new to yoga, have injuries or just want to take it easy. The “beginner yoga” class is more difficult, but still great for people who are new to practicing yoga. In this class, Hanson teaches students new postures and how to align their bodies correctly. The studio is heated to 80 degrees for both classes.
The “vinyassa flow” class moves at a faster pace, Hanson said. Students focus on linking their breath to their movements, and the studio is heated to between 90 and 95 degrees.
On Monday evenings, guest teachers teach a community yoga class. Instead of paying the full price, students can pay for the class with a $4 donation.
“This makes yoga more widely available to people,” Hanson said. “It gets rid of the financial barrier.”
Sitka Yoga also offers the more relaxing “moonlight yoga,” early-morning “sunrise power yoga” and “yin yoga,” which emphasizes stretching and flexibility.
After class, many students take advantage of the juice and smoothie bar located in the lobby of the studio. She offers non-dairy and gluten-free options. The beverages are especially popular after heated yoga classes, Hanson said.
Those interested in taking classes don’t need to own all of the paraphernalia. Hanson has loner mats, blocks, bolsters, blankets and straps available for class use. She also sells eco-friendly Jade Yoga mats and Onzie clothing.
Classes cost $11 each, but new students can purchase four classes for $20. Returning students can also purchase multiple classes for a discount. For more information, visit www.sitkayoga.com.