| 01/09/2023 | Updated | Spa, Health & Fitness, Unwind |   

Zen in Bellingham: Yoga Studios and Meditation Centers in Whatcom County

The benefits of yoga for both body and mind are vast. Yoga can help with flexibility, strength, and balance, as well as reducing tension and pain in your neck, back, shoulder and wrist. It's the perfect antidote to working too much or long days spent at a desk. The breath-work involved in yoga can also improve your mood, circulation, and stress. In general, yoga and meditation can increase energy, support a healthy metabolism, strengthen the heart and circulatory system, and protect against injury. Many also notice weight loss and improved athleticism.

Another thing to love about yoga and meditation is that almost anyone can do it. You don't have to already be fit to start, and afterward, you'll feel revitalized and alert. For some, yoga and meditation are for fitness, while others approach it as a deep spiritual practice. Regardless of your own personal reasons, you'll find the right fit among Bellingham and Whatcom County's many yoga and meditation options. Here are a few favorites.

Every yoga studio is different, with differing philosophies and approaches. Some are more fitness-focused while others are based on traditional practices, following a particular yogi. Before looking for a class or studio, think about what you are hoping to gain from the experience. That will guide you as you do a little research on each studio to find the one that could be the best fit. All of the studios here seem to welcome students of any age, size, fitness level and flexibility. But read class descriptions carefully before committing to make sure you will find one that best fits where you are right now.

If you’re new to yoga, you might not know what an om is. It is a a mystic syllable that is chanted. It is considered the most sacred mantra in Hinduism and Tibetan Buddhism. Om is the sound that is traditionally chanted at the beginning and end of a yoga session. Anyone can do it. As a mantra it is said to have spiritual and creative power. It is a vibration that we send through our body from the pit of our stomach and into the chest.

3 OMS uses the practice of yoga for physical well-being, mindfulness, and connection. Located at 1319 Cornwall Ave. in downtown Bellingham, they offer a variety of classes including gentle, prenatal, and yin, along with yoga workshops.

This popular yoga studio in Ferndale offers so much more than just yoga. It's also a day spa with unique features like a Himalayan salt cave, amethyst crystal cave, infrared sauna, zero-gravity massage lounge, and more. 

Their yoga classes take place in their beautiful, plant-filled yoga space. Heated classes are held in an infrared yoga room to gently warm your body and help you stretch deeper in each pose. Their hot classes range from hot yin to hot hatha to warm vinyin. Those who love winter coziness can try their Warm Hygge Yoga class. For those looking to try something new and fun, they also offer aerial yoga in a new aerial yoga room built in 2021. 

Flow motion's yoga classes are available to those at all skill levels, and are typically offered every day of the week. Can't make it to class? Members gain access to a large virtual library of yoga classes.

Located at 1602 Carolina Street, suite D12, this beautiful 900 square foot studio is home to five instructors with varying specialties. The Metta Center is Whatcom County’s first Yoga and Healing Arts Center dedicated to Yoga Therapy and Gentle Yoga. You can catch at least one class per day on weekdays. The rest of the time, the instructors offer therapy by appointment including Thai Bodywork, Structural Integration, Bowenwork, Scar Tissue Treatment, Massage Therapy and QiGong.

Ashtanga Yoga Bellingham 

The Ashtanga style is based on the lineage and teachings of T. Krishnamacharya, Sri K Pattabhi Jois and David Garrigues. Ashtanga Yoga is a non-theistic method of yoga and includes an eight-limbed (ashtau=eight, anga=limbs) process of lifestyle choices (yamas, niyamas), physical posture (asana), breathing practices (pranayama), sense withdrawal (pratyahara) and evolved states of consciousness (dharana, dhyana, samadhi) that unite a practitioners physical existence as a human with the self (atman). Thus, the method was designed to free human beings from the inherent suffering caused by ignorance (avidya) of the true nature of reality. Read more about the Ashtanga philosophy and how it came to Washington State. In honor of this deep tradition, all postures are given in Sanskrit. Postures are practiced by students according to their ability level, often independently in a “Mysore” class. Their approach relies heavily upon daily practice with one teacher (parampara), and a flowing system of dynamic asana postures done in a systematic process that connects breath with movement (vinyasa).

Elements Hot Yoga

Located at 1308 Meador Ave #C3 in Haskell Business Center, Elements Hot Yoga offers both heated and non-heated classes. Hot yoga isn't for everyone, but those who love it enjoy that the heat makes their body limber and allows them to stretch more deeply. They also feel like they get more of a workout, especially in the faster-paced classes like Power and Hatha. 

Flux Power Yoga

Located inside the South Bay Suites building across from the Village Green in Fairhaven, Flux Power Yoga offers a variety of hot yoga classes in a heated studio (90-95°) with incredible views of the water. The studio's approach is based on the powerful Baptiste Yoga Methodology, designed to empower focus, training and insight to achieve consistent results. Class offerings include Power, Yin, Slow Flow, Gentle, and Steel Mace Flow. New in 2023, the studio offers Cosmic Flow classes where the lights are turned low, colorful lights are projected on the walls, and upbeat music helps you feel the interstellar flow. Another creative yoga offering is SUP yoga, offered in the summer, where yogis meet on Lake Padden to practice on stand up paddle boards. 

Inside Out Studio

This is not your typical yoga class. The exercise system at Inside Out incorporates yoga, ballet and tai chi. Specifically, the Gyrotonic system was first developed in New York dance community and since expanded across the country. Gyro means circular and tonic means strength. The system incorporates three dimensional circular movements with focused breathing, teaching the body to move with fluidity and power. It is supposed to be excellent for strengthening your full range of motion in each joint while building strength, flexibility and coordination. Instructor Adrienne Wrightson was classically trained in ballet so if you have any history with dance (or want to head that direction), this may be a good fit for you. You’ll receive one-on-one instruction during your private lesson. Inside Out Studio is located at 103 East Holly St., #405 in downtown Bellingham.

Intent Hot Yoga 

This yoga studio, located between Bellingham's Columbia and Lettered Streets neighborhoods, offers "creative, mindful, and heart-felt yoga in various styles ranging from Power Vinyasa to Restorative." The focus of Intent is to create a welcoming community where students of all skill levels and backgrounds can increase their flexibility, circulation, and find relief from pain. In addition to numerous daily classes, the studio also hosts events, including teacher trainings. 

Yoga Northwest

Located at 1440 10th Street in Fairhaven Village, Yoga Northwest offers Iyengar Yoga class types seven days a week for different experience levels. The Iyengar style “focuses on balance, strength, stamina, flexibility and relaxation, with an emphasis on alignment, breath and awareness for health, vitality and inner peace." They also offer workshops and yoga vacations. The instructors are kind and the studio is clean and accommodating.

While many yoga studios also offer meditation classes, here are a few places in Bellingham and Whatcom County that focus on or specialize in meditation. 

Ayurvedic Health Center & Wellness Shop

Though not a yoga studio or a meditation center, the Ayurvedic Health Center in downtown Bellingham incorporates both in its holistic wellness treatments. Their focus is to help show clients the way to make lasting changes in their life that will optimize their health and wellness.

Ayurveda literally means the knowledge and wisdom of life. It is the traditional holistic healing system of India. Often called the mother of all healing, it originated over 5,000 years ago in the Indian sub-continent and is the longest continually-practiced form of medicine on the planet. The goal is to balance body, mind and spirit so that you can live in harmony with nature.

Generally they start with assessment to determine what a person most needs. That includes possible assessments of your Ayurvedic Health, Constitutional Assessment, energetic psychology, medical astrology, hypnotherapy, and space clearing (Vastu Shastra). In addition to a number of massage techniques and therapies, they offer Mantra or Chant sessions as well as Breath Practices (Pranayama).


Be Free Center

The Be Free Center does not fit easily into any one category of meditation or yoga, although both are offered along with several other wellness modalities. The Center is a place that encourages patrons to move inward and find their own truth, which will eventually lead to the happiness and freedom we all want.

Located at off Chuckanut Drive south of Bellingham, Be Free Center offers individual sessions in Transformational Breath, massage, and healing. Or you can take group classes in Kundalini Yoga and Transformational Breath. Perhaps you’ll want to try their weekend retreats with wonderful organic food, incorporating several of their healing technologies: Transformational Breath, Yoga, meditation, and playful art. Run by Kristine and Blake Allen, their motto is "embrace the present moment, expand into peace and joy and evolve from surviving to thriving."


Bellingham Insight Meditation Society (BIMS) at Red Cedar Dharma Hall

BIMS supports meditation and practice in the Buddhist Theravada tradition. They do not have a single guiding teacher. Rather, they are a sangha-led community. They bring in regional and national teachers, including monastics, for residential and non-residential retreats. Their weekly programs are facilitated by senior members in coordination with their Board and Program Committee.

“Insight meditation is a simple and direct practice, the moment-to-moment investigation of the mind/body process through calm and focused awareness. Learning to observe experience from a place of stillness enables one to relate to life with less fear and clinging. Seeing life as a constantly changing process, one begins to accept pleasure, pain, fear, joy and all aspects of life with increasing equanimity and balance. As insight deepens, wisdom and compassion arise. This practice is sometimes called 'vipassana,' which is a Pali word for insight.”

They offer a different session every morning of the week, as well as orientation classes, retreats and evening, teen and recovery groups and programs. Red Cedar Dharma Hall is located at 1021 Forest Street in Downtown Bellingham.


Bellingham Shambhala Center

Located at 2825 Meridian Street, the Bellingham Shambala Meditation Center is a part of Shambhala International, a worldwide community of urban and rural meditation practice and retreat centers founded by the Tibetan buddhist meditation master, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and now led by his son, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. Shambhala is a global social movement whose aim is to bring compassion, insight and sacredness to society. It draws primarily from the Nyingma and Kagyu schools of Tibetan Buddhism.

Bellingham Shambhala Center offers public meditation hours as well as classes and community events.

        We acknowledge that Whatcom County is located on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples. They cared for the lands that included what we’d call the Puget Sound region, Vancouver Island and British Columbia since time immemorial. This gives us the great obligation and opportunity to learn how to care for our surrounding areas and all the natural and human resources we require to live. We express our deepest respect and gratitude for our indigenous neighbors, the Lummi Nation and Nooksack Tribe, for their enduring care and protection of our shared lands and waterways.
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