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Namaste on 9th Street

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Ask Traci Naubert when's a good time for an interview, and the veteran yoga instructor responds: "I'm flexible."

It's an old (but still funny) yoga joke from the director of a new yoga studio that's — and this is no laughing matter — transforming the physical and mental health of scores of valley residents, from kids to seniors in their 80s.

Naubert, 41, heads up 9th Street Yoga at Gold's Gym in East Wenatchee, where seven instructors lead a full slate of daily classes — very gentle to vigorous — in a spacious, serene studio.

"Yoga is an all-encompassing activity," she said last week. "It welcomes everyone, no matter what kind of shape they're in. Everyone can benefit, and those benefits help clear the mind, help maintain flexibility, help people live calmly but active in a busy world."

Naubert began stretching and flexing 13 years ago in Puyallup and soon fell in love with the results. "I was stronger, moved better and was definitely more focused," she said. "Over the next year or so, yoga became my passion. I soon decided that I needed to share these benefits with other people and became an instructor."

She worked for years in a variety of yoga venues in the Puyallup area — the YMCA, commercial gyms, even the McChord Air Force base — before moving four years ago to the Wenatchee Valley with her husband and three kids.

Naubert taught yoga at several places in the Wenatchee Valley until she had a conversation with Blair McHaney, owner of the local Gold's gyms. The two decided that a studio setting — separate from the high-energy gym environment — would give proper emphasis to yoga's focus on inner work and calming poses.

In January, Naubert and McHaney opened 9th Street Yoga. Since then, class offerings have grown to include hot yoga (105-degree studio temperature), hatha yoga (traditional), vinyasa (flowing moves), Hour of Power (for building strength), gentle yoga and kids yoga. A new offering is "pranassage," a session of one-on-one instruction combined with massage.

"The wonderful thing about all these classes is that participants are taught a practice they can use for life," said Naubert. "Instructors lead, but students keep their own pace and follow their own instincts about what's right and good for their bodies."

She mused for a moment. "They also become part of a larger community devoted to health and better living," Naubert said. "That's a healthy thing in itself."

Details: 9th Street Yoga, 290 9th St. NE, East Wenatchee (in the Gold's Gym building). Phone: 884-4965. Web: Students do not need to be members of Gold Gym to join yoga classes. Depending on the day, some classes start at 5:30 a.m. and begin as late as 7 p.m.