The best kept secret along the Washington Coast

Story by Richelle Barger | Photos by Aaron Lavinsky | Published: May 5, 2015

The Washington coast has myriad locations that invite serenity, calmness and deep breathing — perfect places for yogis.

“Yoga has become popular because in this chaotic and sometimes negative world, people are searching for peace, harmony and inner beauty,” explains Dawn Hanson, who opened Sitka Yoga in Hoquiam earlier this year. “Yoga can help people reawaken to the power and grace that exists within each of our hearts. It can help us shed negativity and old, unserving habits and change the mind and body in very positive ways.”

Yet, even though yoga has gone mainstream across the United States — Chicago’s Midway airport recently added a yoga room this year — it is still one of the best kept secrets along the 157 miles of Washington coastline. Only ten locations were found from Forks to Long Beach.

Kimberly Guarisco who has owned Fig Leaf studio in Aberdeen for the past nine and a half years, keeps hoping that yoga will take hold along the coast. She says that “yoga is beneficial for all stages and ages of a person’s life. It can be useful for all types of physical and mental well­being … relaxing, building core strength and overall physical strength. It also helps with balance in both the physical and mental aspects.”

Yoga teacher Veronica Atkinson at Grays Harbor YMCA in Hoquiam agrees. “The many benefits include reducing stress, limbering the body, improving strength and flexibility of the spine, better physical coordination and improving focus through balance and breathing. Best of all, it can be done by anyone, regardless of age or physical ability. It is meditation in motion.” It is the art of breathing and moving, a quieting of the mind via exercise.

“The most important thing to remember when doing yoga,” says Atkinson, “is paying attention to the breath, which brings awareness to the body, therefore re­establishing the mind­body connection, which is the heart of all yoga.”

Tara Jaffe, who has taught yoga for the past two years in South Bend, and currently teaches a class at the local hospital as well, has much enthusiasm for her students.

She paints a picture of her class in their 60s, 70s and 80s, one with a walker in tree pose. “He is standing on one foot with his walker in front of him. I’m so happy for them. They are jumping and hopping and doing all the things they never thought they’d do again.”

Yoga is defined in its roots as a union. It balances ease with effort, or as Jaffe puts it, easefulness with peacefulness. It not only brings together movement and breath, it also creates community.

“It’s a warm community of people who come together to invest in themselves” says instructor Sheri Sinclair of Montesano. “It will bring a smile to your face! I believe that if everyone practiced yoga, the world would be a little better in the way of being more peaceful, relaxed and content. The energy in a room of students practicing yoga is both vibrant and happy.”

Coastal Yoga Opportunities


Forks Fitness


Sitka Yoga

Grays Harbor YMCA


Whiteside Continuing Education

Fig Leaf Studio


Montesano Fitness Center

Yoga for Everybody


Elma’s Get Fit Club

Elma Anytime Fitness


Integral Hatha Yoga