SEDRO-WOOLLEY — In a town known for its rough-and-tumble character, there’s a soft underbelly to the hardened exterior of Sedro-Woolley.

And for the past decade, Lynne McNett has been teaching “exactly what your body needs,” instructing her students in the finer aspects of Iyengar Yoga hoping to “revive your energy and make you feel good through strength building, stretching, and relaxing exercises.”

McNett has trained and taught the Iyengar-style of yoga for about 30 years, the last 10 at the United Fitness Center, a program of United General District 304.

“Many people think yoga is woo, woo,” McNett said. “When, really, it is simply about finding balance in your life ... I believe everybody can benefit from yoga.”

The 64-year-old McNett has spent her life involved with the movement arts, beginning with dance, first as a student then as an instructor.

“I taught creative dance for 23 years,” she said. “I only took a break to have children and what I discovered is I really missed it.

“I was really stressed so I decided to try yoga. That was 31 years ago and I’ve never stopped. It reduces stress. It’s exercise. It’s a tool for developing discipline of the mind.”

What captivated McNett was what she referred to as the “depth of practice” in regards to yoga.

“It amazed me,” she said. “I was immediately addicted. And the thing is — even as an instructor — you are constantly learning and achieving. I’ve been doing this for 31 years and I still don’t feel like an advanced yogi.

“All my training has been in the Iyengar Method. It’s a traditional yoga. It’s adaptive and safe and makes yoga really accessible to anybody regardless of age or ability.

“My goal is simple. I want people to leave feeling better than when they arrived; more balanced.”

The method incorporates props such as blankets, blocks and straps in order to make yoga more accessible. Those props are helpful in what McNett described as finding the proper alignment in the poses.

“This method is very safe, and emphasizes technique and alignment,” McNett said. “That is very important. I am more of a traditionalist when it comes to yoga. I don’t get caught up in what is hot right now.”

Anita Davis of Clear Lake has been student of McNett’s for years. The 78-year-old said yoga has really changed her life.

“I never realized how still you can become,” she said. “It has really helped me. Now that I am older, I like to walk a lot. I used to fall once in a while. Not any more. Once I started yoga, my balance improved.”

McNett began teaching yoga to kids in school as a way to stretch and relax. It wasn’t long before teachers began to show up and she was asked to offer a class after school at Allen Ellen Elementary.

“So twice a week for eight years, I taught that class,” she said.

Then McNett got the opportunity to teach at the Fitness Center. Following a survey of center members in regards to program expansion, yoga was the top choice.

“Lynne has been our yoga instructor for the entirety of this program,” said Mark Pearson, United Fitness and Wellness Center manager. “She has done and continues to do a great job helping people improve people’s health, flexibility, and overall well-being.

“Yoga has remained a top 10 fitness trend for the last 10 years, and has been proven to help a person improve their energy levels, enhancing their flexibility, build strength, and be a great form of exercise to relax the body and reduce stress.”

And there has been no waning in demand for her yoga instructions. McNett started with one class and now offers up to as many as six per week.

“With four different levels,” McNett explained. “I have beginners, not pure beginners per say, they have had some exposure to yoga, to people to who have been studying yoga for a long time. I like that mix.”

Her six 12-week sessions (two per week) are so popular, there is a waiting list to participate.

“I like sessions as opposed to classes because people tend to be able to commit to that length of time,” McNett explained.

“I start simple and gradually build into the different poses. It takes a year to get through the whole program. People are constantly changing. Their minds, their bodies. So with those changes, there is always something new and that’s exciting.”

Davis said McNett is extremely helpful. When she has difficulties with something, McNett finds a way to help.

“She’ll get you to do it,” Davis said. “She takes it slow. That allows you to improve at your own pace. There are some things that aren’t easy. But she will work with you. And she doesn’t compare you with anyone else. You never feel out of place.”

The classes are not affiliated with the hospital as a rehab program, and many students discovered the opportunity to take yoga while attending the Fitness Center.

“Mark and his staff have been so supportive,” McNett said. “It has been great. The classes are full to the brim.”

“Who would have thought these classes would have been so popular? I certainly didn’t think so 10 years ago, especially here in Sedro-Woolley.

“People that come through that door are not your typical yoga students. There have been times where they’ve shown up wearing Carhartts and that’s fine. It’s what makes this community — and this program — unique.”

— Reporter Vince Richardson: 360-416-2181, vrichardson@skagitpublishing.com, Twitter: @Sports_SVH, Facebook.com/vincereports.

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