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Yoga instructor breathes new life into Bremerton

Luara Kipiani works wth her advanced yoga class in her home studio in Bremerton. - Photo by James Mange
Luara Kipiani works wth her advanced yoga class in her home studio in Bremerton.
— image credit: Photo by James Mange

While the centuries old practice of yoga focuses on flexibility, balance, strength, awareness, inner peace and energy, Luara Kipiani’s goal is also simply to help her students breathe more easily. Kipiani started her own yoga experience as a way of dealing with her asthma, and now she’s devoted to sharing her success.

“This class is medicine,” Kipiani said. “I want to teach, because I know I can help people. It’s an excellent investment in your health.”

Kipiani tried many methods of dealing with her debilitating condition before discovering yoga, but it was the ancient discipline that made the difference. After improving her own health, the native of the former Soviet republic of Georgia studied to become an instructor.

Kipiani has been teaching yoga in this country for several years, but just started a beginners class on Monday nights at the Charleston Ballroom and Recital Hall. The class is open to new students, and Kipiani will likely offer classes on other evenings as demand grows. Based on the comments of some of her long time students, demand will grow swiftly as word gets out.

“I haven’t found anybody else I’d go to,” said Cindy Towner, who travels to Bremerton from Port Ludlow for her sessions. Towner has been practicing yoga under Kipiani’s tutelage for over six years. “When you start class, you might be thinking about all the things you have left to do. She brings us to a state where you’re so relaxed, you don’t want to leave. You’re in a state of utter peace.”

“I want to teach my students to be slow,” Kipiani said. “You have to learn who you are. You have to learn to respect yourself and respect your body.”

Kipiani’s teaching has also made a difference for Jay Griffin of Belfair, who deals with arthritis “Because of Luara, I’ve stayed ahead of the game,” Griffin said. “She’s dedicated. She really understands yoga. That has instilled in me a dedication that makes a difference.”

“She’s taught us to move with our minds as well as our bodies,” said Debbie Conrad of Port Orchard. “I’m healthier because of her class.”

Kipiani and her husband, Jubo came to America eight years ago to be close to their children, but having taught literature and language in Georgia, Kipiani also had to stay in touch with her roots. “I love teaching,” she said. “Teaching yoga has helped me find lots of friends.”

Since arriving here, Kipiani has taken classes at Olympic College to improve her English, and she has taught a yoga session at Peninsula High School.

“That was the happiest day of my life,” Kipiani said, “to meet again my job, working with students.”

Teaching yoga isn’t just a business for Kipiani, it’s a mission. “To me, America is the greatest country on earth. You have to appreciate what you have in America. No place is perfect, but I think you appreciate America more if you have lived somewhere else. When you have something good, you can’t just take. You’ve got to put back too.”

Kipiani puts her heart and soul into her teaching.

“She takes a personal interest in each of us,” said Jane Lewis of Allyn. “If we miss a class, she calls us. And she stays with us, even if I’m not doing yoga with her, I can hear her voice in my head correcting me.”

Kipiani’s students take her teaching with them in many ways, changing the way they think about life and movement. For example, what was once a frustrating delay at a traffic light is now an opportunity to perform a breathing exercise.

“Once you taste yoga, you can’t quit,” Kipiani said.

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