“Take up more space,” Intent Hot Yoga instructor Autumn Baughn tells her class. “Take up more space with your breath, deep into your belly. Take up more space with your body.” The students move through sun salutations, their faces glowing with infrared heat and a healthy dose of bliss. I feel the warmth of the practice flood my body, the heat allowing for increased flexibility and providing a respite from the rainy evening outside.  

Baughn’s words were directed at the yogis, but they could easily apply to the space that Intent Hot Yoga has created in Bellingham. In a town that already has quite a few yoga studios, Intent has found a home in the Fountain District, fusing hot yoga with philosophy to create an experience that is holistic, nourishing, and accessible. 

Founder and teacher Tawni Lester opened Intent Hot Yoga with exactly that in mind. “I wanted to create a space that is accessible to anyone,” she tells me. “Whether you’re a beginner or seasoned in your practice, you can come here and get something out of it. It’s not just a workout. I hope that if someone is brand-new to yoga philosophy, this is where they can at least get little bits and pieces of it: breathwork, mindfulness, and maybe further self-study with the yoga tradition.” 

Lester came to yoga after a stint in the Seattle corporate world. “One day I woke up and realized I wasn’t living on my path, I was living the way I thought I was supposed to,” she says. She and her husband Blake sold their possessions, bought a Volkswagen van, and hit the road with their dog Walter. Their path took them to Baja, Mexico, where Lester received her yoga certification and began to turn her intentions into reality.  

That reality took the shape of Intent Hot Yoga, where Lester, along with eight other teachers, offer an array of classes with something for everyone. Power Vinyasa is a dynamic and sweaty class driven by a killer soundtrack (Lester’s playlists are legendary around the studio, and for good reason!), while Intent Flow and Yin Yoga offer slower flows and deep holds.  

Lester’s intention is woven into every aspect of Intent, from the array of local products for sale to the inviting, modern lobby bedecked with plants and a neon sign reading Live with Intent. Lester’s greatest intention is that her space can be open and welcoming to all. “The accessibility part is really big. You don’t have to be a certain body type, a certain level of ‘yogi’ to be here. You can just step in and feel good and comfortable while still being challenged if you’ve been seasoned in the practice.” 

Intent Hot Yoga takes up a new, beautiful space in the Bellingham yoga community with truly something for everyone. 1415 Dupont St., Bellingham, intenthotyoga.com  

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"Take up more space. Take up more space with your breath, deep into your belly. Take up more space with your body."