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Yoga heats up in Oak Harbor

Yoga instructor Ally Jyothi Behne warms up before class in tree pose at UnSizeMe Yoga Studio in Oak Harbor. - Janis Reid/Whidbey News-Times
Yoga instructor Ally Jyothi Behne warms up before class in tree pose at UnSizeMe Yoga Studio in Oak Harbor.
— image credit: Janis Reid/Whidbey News-Times

When Carol Sele moved her hot yoga studio from Coupeville to Oak Harbor, she admits it was “kind of a gamble.”

“I didn’t know how Oak Harbor would respond to it,” she said.

But since it opened last April, UnSizeMe Yoga Studio has seen a steady flow of yoga mats and parked cars.

Nicole Rumbaugh, a new employee of UnSizeMe who was active duty in the Navy for 5 years, said the response from students has been positive.

“A lot of our regulars say they  love that Carol brought this here,” Rumbaugh said.

“I’ve heard a couple of people call it ‘the gem of Oak Harbor.’ They really want it to stay here.”

Originally a fitness director for the Navy at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, Sele left six and a half years ago to focus on her busy yoga studio in Coupeville which opened in April 2008.

While Sele still owns the original studio in Coupeville, the small space, which could only fit eight yoga students, now houses only massage services.

The far larger studio in Oak Harbor can house up to roughly 25 students at a time and has seen 650 new faces over the past three and a half months since they opened their doors on Pioneer Way, Sele said.

“Originally UnSizeMe was about embracing your body type,” Sele said, who’s business card also contains the text “Unlabelme, Uncageme, Uncompareme, Unageme.”

When it comes to fitness, Sele said, it’s important “not to compare yourself with other people.”

Many of these students are regulars, coming one-to-three times per week, while others come daily.

Class sizes range from five to 20 people depending on the class time.

“The first time I did a hot yoga class, I felt the pliability instantly,” said Sele, who has been a certified yoga teacher for 10 years. “And I love the whole cleansed feeling it provided. Once I started, I didn’t look back.”

UnSizeMe offers a variety of difficulty levels: hot yin, which is mainly stretching; hot hatha, which is more traditional yoga; and hot vinyassa, which comprises challenging poses and sequences for the more advanced student. The room is heated and darkened, candles are lit and practitioners are encouraged to use the breath to relax.

Warm hatha is also available to those who may find the hot courses too intense, and massage is offered on site as well.

Zumba and Razzl dance classes are offered for those seeking something faster-paced.

“Tradional trainers have a formula where they beat the crap out of their clients, put them on a strict diet,” Sele said. “But the weight always comes back.”

Sele’s gentler approach, at 100 degrees, allows people to genuinely decompress and connect their mind, body and spirit in a way that supports long-term weight loss, she said.

“It’s definitely not just about the physical,” Sele said.

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