Getting limber in Lynnwood

LYNNWOOD — It was billed as the first major yoga conference to be held in Snohomish County.

From the public response, it won’t be the last.

More than 200 people turned out Saturday and Sunday for the Northwest Yoga Conference held at the Lynnwood Convention Center, drawing participants from Washington, Oregon, Idaho and British Columbia.

During the two-day event, 36 workshops were offered, providing a full range of experiences for yoga enthusiasts.

The classes included a free course with instructor Samantha Brown for those who wanted hone their skills or, like Makaela Jenson, 15, try yoga for the first time.

“I loved it,” said the Jackson High School freshman. “It was just a great experience. You feel so good afterwards.”

Jenson came to the class with her Jackson High School classmate Kiara Marth, 14, who has been taking yoga classes for a year.

Marth said she was having a hard time adjusting to a new school last year when her step-mom suggested trying yoga to help provide some stress relief.

There also were classes for people who might not think of themselves as the yoga type, said Melissa Phillips-Hagedorn, who organized the conference.

“I wanted to create a space that welcomes everybody to experience yoga,” she said.

So workshops included chair yoga for seniors, a prenatal yoga class, and Rubenesque yoga “for those who think I’m too big to do yoga,” she said.

There were more advanced workshops, including one that combined acrobatic lifts with yoga moves.

Sheila Straume, 43, of Mill Creek, said she came to the conference because of the “unique mixture of people, classes and workshops all in one spot.”

Phillips-Hagedorn, 29, who lives in Maltby, said she took pride in organizing a yoga event in the county she grew up in.

Holding it in Lynnwood meant that people could participate without having to drive to Seattle and hunt for parking, she said. “I wanted people to arrive stress-free and enjoy the day.”

It took nine months of planning, and help from 12 volunteers, to bring off the conference, she said.

But even as this year’s conference was still under way, one participant was asking Phillips-Hagedorn when the conference would be held next year.

Phillips-Hagedorn said she’s already been thinking about it, with plans for another conference about the same time of year, and held in Lynnwood.

“I know you may think that yoga isn’t for you, but come on and try it,” she said. “You may just be surprised.”

Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or salyer@heraldnet.com

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