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Wendy Humphreys said that she’s always done yoga, but the activity changed her life when she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.

Humphreys had to abandon more strenuous forms of exercise because if she pushed herself, she’d get sick.

But yoga made her feel like herself again, not like she was hobbled. “The more you move and get your body going, the better you feel,” she said.

Humphreys is trying to share her love of yoga and change others’ lives with her new studio, Pacific Yew Yoga, which opened in downtown Albany in October.

Pacific Yew Yoga offers a variety of styles, classes and teachers, and residents can get a pass to try any session for 15 days for $30. There is a women’s only class, yoga aimed at kids and seniors, candlelight yoga, yoga for expecting mothers, a hybrid class of yoga and pilates, hot yoga sessions and other options.

The tree itself, which is found on the Oregon Coast, was chosen for the name of the business because of its healing properties and spiritual connections, Humphreys said.

Though yoga has become far more mainstream in recent years, misperceptions persist.

“Most people think they have to be flexible. It’s more about being flexible with your mind. It’s for everybody,” Humphreys said.

Poses can be modified for those with bad knees or other physical limitations.

And unlike other activities, where an athlete hits a plateau with age or ability, yoga is more of a natural progression, where the participant is always moving forward.

“People are realizing it is something they can do for the rest of their lives and it supports other things,” Humphreys said. Runners and golfers like the extra flexibility yoga provides, and seniors can get stronger for everyday life.

People can always progress with the meditation aspect of yoga, as well, which is just as important to Humphreys as the poses.

As class members moved into poses on a recent weekday, spoke in a soothing voice. “Be open to those awakening moments in your life. Awakening provides growth,” she said.

Jasmine Womack, an executive assistant who lives in Corvallis, is a regular at Humphrey’s classes, and she said that she gets feelings of tranquility and gratitude from yoga, as well as a focus on what she needs.

“Yoga brings a peace to my life. I have a pretty stressful job most of the time,” Womack added.

Pacific Yew Yoga is at 121 Broadalbin St. SW. For more information, and for a full schedule of classes, go to www.pacificyewyoga.com.

Kyle Odegard can be reached at kyle.odegard@lee.net, 541-812-6077 or via Twitter @KyleOdegard.

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