The new Seattle Iyengar yoga studio celebrated its opening on Sunday, Oct. 19 at its location (5309 22nd Ave NW, Suite E) in Seattle. The space was filled with people from all parts of town who enjoyed a live music performance, appetizers from a local restaurant and raffle prizes.

Even though the celebration was on Sunday, the studio has been open for a week, offering free yoga classes to the public. The space is modern, with a traditional touch. The owner, Shaw-Jiun Wang, is a certified Iyengar yoga instructor, who is an Intermediate Junior II level. Wang studied with the Iyengars in Pune, India, and she also trained in Iyengar yoga therapeutics under the close guidance of Lois Steinberg. Since then, she has taught a variety of therapeutic classes worldwide. We asked Wang some questions about her journey and her new studio, and here is what she had to say:

Why did you decide to open this studio?

“First of all, I strongly feel that Seattle needs more Iyengar Yoga, for the population size and the collective awareness on healthy living in this city. Being the country’s second city with the number of yoga studios, Iyengar Yoga has not been able to take a deeper root in the city as a whole, partially because Iyengar Yoga is not a franchise. Most of Iyengar Yoga studios in the country are independently owned (like Seattle Iyengar Yoga Studio) and have had a challenging time [directly competing] with other yoga franchises. Having a second Iyengar Yoga studio in Seattle will certainly make us more visible. Secondly, yoga students in Seattle have been doing different styles of yoga and are well-informed. Having an Iyengar Yoga studio in the city [will] enrich the community at large. The community certainly is ready to see how practical Iyengar Yoga is for everyone, regardless of his or her yoga background. Finally, I would like to have a welcoming and educational space to spread the often unknown aspect of Iyengar Yoga therapeutics. Our studio space is fully equipped to do that.”

What is your vision for the Seattle Iyengar yoga studio in the years ahead?

“I would like to see our classes filled with students with diverse backgrounds, and that Seattle Iyengar Yoga Studio is the space to have quality yoga instruction and up-to-date information on yoga. I also envision the studio to be a space where we embrace a variety of self-care principles: yoga philosophy, yogic breathing and meditation. I want Seattle Iyengar Yoga Studio to be a community space that supports healthy living, balance, local businesses and like-minded teachers, students and friends.”

What makes your studio different from others in Ballard and Greater Seattle?

“Again, Seattle Iyengar Yoga Studio is not a franchise and the business model is quite different. This means that we do not have deep pockets like other yoga studios around us. Our branding is solely on the quality of our yoga instructions and teachers. Second of all, our studio is not intimidating: all are welcome, of any age and any physical limitation. Unlike many yoga studios in Ballard and in Seattle, our space does not run like a gym and we do not heat the room to a high temperature. People who feel that their individual needs are not met in other yoga studios will find that our studio is a lot more accommodating and a lot less intimating. Third, our scheduling model is based on the progression of students rather than buzz words. At Seattle Iyengar Yoga Studio, we strive for safe progression of how yoga instruction ought to be delivered. In other words, we care more about postural alignment and balance between strength and flexibility rather than giving a ‘workout.'”

What has been the biggest challenge so far leading up to the opening day?

“Getting the space ready has been the biggest challenge leading up to the opening day on Monday, Oct. 13. Because the studio space was constructed from scratch, there were a lot of construction-related deadlines.”

Anything else you would like to add?

“Seattle Iyengar Yoga Studio is humbled by the reception from our students and community so far. Running a yoga studio requires a clear ‘intention’. After all, yoga is more than a product or a commodity; it is a way of life and an attitude toward oneself. We look forward to serving Seattle for years to come!”

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