Yoga Instruction

People often ask me, “What is yoga all about?”

To me, yoga is a great jumping-off point for getting to know what you need in order to feel physically and emotionally balanced. As an awareness practice that starts from within, yoga asks us to cultivate a relationship with each pose rather than strive to fulfill an expectation of what yoga “should” look like, feel like, or do for us.

Although most people understand yoga as a physical practice, it offers much more:

  • Physical: postures that challenge our balance, strength, endurance and control of our breath;

  • Psychological: release of stress that rests the mind and heightens awareness;

  • Cognitive: improved focus and concentration, and a feeling of being balanced and centered;

  • Spiritual: an opportunity for spiritual development and awareness, involving matters of the heart.

  • Social:  connecting with others decreases feelings of isolation

Certification and Experience

I have had an enjoyable 35 years in the field of personal training, group fitness training, injury rehabilitation, and clinical and sports nutrition.

In 2014, I was excited to complete a 200-hour yoga teacher training and in 2017, my 500-hour teacher training in India.  More recently, in 2020, I completed a 500-hour Yoga Therapy certification. It has all been a great complement to my background in injury rehabilitation and my understanding of alignment, muscular imbalances and mobility. This training has allowed me to slow down and look after myself in ways that are different from my usual strength training and cardiovascular regimes.

Since 2015, I have established myself as a Hatha yoga instructor, fusing the asana (poses and sequences) with pranayama (breath control). I teach Vinyasa Flow, Restorative and Yin classes at Fitness Northwest throughout the year and at my personally own studio, Small Stones Yoga Studio.

Class Structure

My Vinyasa Flow and Hatha yoga practices start with grounding and breath work to arrive at the practice moving to limbering hips and shoulders, elongating the spine and encouraging overall movement and fluidity of motion as the joints warm. A sequence of poses called Sun Salutations are used to connect movement with breath in preparation for longer held poses, either standing or on the floor. Special attention is given to building strong and stable foundations for each pose so that alignment is the key component where muscles hug bones, joints flow freely and a sense of ease evolves. Individuals are guided to find their own expression of each pose depending on the strengths and limitations they bring to the mat that day. People with all levels of experience are welcome in all of my yoga classes.

My Yin practices are designed to offer a deeper experience and understanding of the anatomy including working with nerves, lymph, connective tissue of the body and the lines of energy within the body that affect our overall well-being.  Yin practices are based on long-held poses to access less mobile connective tissue of the body to restore its hydration and function for the purposes of encouraging and restoring balance in the body.

Where to find my classes

I hold yoga classes at Fitness Northwest on Mondays and Wednesdays from 5:15pm to 6:30pm Drop-ins are welcome!  These classes have been postponed due to COVID.

I also hold classes on my private Labyrinth, an outdoor space (weather permitting), and at my own studio, Small Stones Yoga Studio on Tuesday and Thursdays at 7pm to 8:15pm, Fridays 10am to 11:15am  and Saturday from 1:00pm to 2:15pm from April through November. As space is limited, these classes are by reservation only (no drop-ins).  To book a spot in my classes at Small Stones Yoga Studio simply go up to Classes on my Home page and go through the registration process to book.


Carla leads a well thought-out, inclusive practice that will leave you feeling centered and joyful.  I've been practicing yoga for about 14 years under many instructors (I try to take classes everywhere I travel) and Carla is absolutely one of the most talented, knowledgeable, intuitive teachers I have had the pleasure of learning from.  She has an uncanny ability to build the series in her group classes so they feel personally designed for you and what your body needs in that moment.  I highly recommend joining her classes whatever your experience level - and if you have the opportunity, visit her beautiful woodland studio.          Laura Hamill

Close your eyes. Hold in your mind's eye a vision of the most picturesque yoga studio you can imagine. Can you see the sunlight streaming in? The sheer billowy curtains? Do you hear the birds gently singing as you inhale the refreshing scents of essential oils? See the yoga mat and props that have already been laid out for you before you have even arrived? You have been expected; you have been prepared for; you are welcome here. Here you find yourself at peace. 
This vision isn't just a grand ideal reserved for perfectly crafted Instagram snapshots. This idyllic spot exists fully in Small Stones Yoga studio! From start to finish, the Small Stones Yoga Studio experience is everything you imagined and more. From gorgeous, lush nature trails leading you down to the studio, to the fresh, fruit infused water prepared for you and served at the end of the practice, every detail is created for your comfort and experience! 
   Using a lifetime of experience in personal training and injury rehabilitation, Carla Atherton's expert instruction finds the perfect blend of anatomical instruction and meditative moments accessible to students of all levels.
In a day in age of assembly line yoga done in dank multipurpose rooms, the Small Stones yoga experience is a literal breathe of fresh air and encapsulates all the very best of what yoga has to offer!         Shaina Wexler

I have been attending Carla's yoga classes for 2 years.  She is not my first yoga teacher, but she is certainly my best.  From delicious restorative practices to strenuous vinyasa flow classes, she inspires me to immerse myself in the moment, and to honour my strengths and limitations.  Many times in savasana, I have felt overcome with gratitude for my gracious  teacher, and also for what I was able to accomplish during the practice.  I highly recommend both beginner and experienced yogis to join her classes at her home on either their lovely labyrinth or in the new studio, or at Fitness Northwest.  Be prepared for joy!          Mary-Lou

Carla has an intuitive way of guiding us in her yoga practice.  She seems to sense the need of the group or individual and integrates a message or image to guide us along our journey on the mat.  Carla's yoga class gives me the opportunity to open myself up to my strengths and weaknesses while honouring where I am at this moment in time.  The class is well thought out and her confident voice and manner reassures fellow yogis we are all on the right path.           Monica

I've been an active person throughout my life, but due to a health setback, have been relatively inactive for the last decade or so.  Eager to get my body moving again but anxious over the challenge, I recently joined Carla's yoga class.  I found Carla warm and welcoming.  In the beginning I felt weak and fragile but my strength and flexibility improved quickly and so did my confidence in myself and my body.  Every week I feel able to take on more activity and being active again has been wonderful.  Carla's classes are fun, varied, informative and deeply satisfying.  I look forward to them always.  The music is great too!        Rachelle

I have attended and enjoyed Carla's classes for over 15 years.  She is extremely knowledgeable with respect to body mechanics, and her extensive training has enabled her to convey that information clearly.  Carla talks her way through every movement, encouraging and explaining each position and exercise, always adding inspiring comments to lighten the sometimes difficult move.  I leave every class feeling stronger and energized.  Thanks Carla!        Sue

Whether the focus is on strength, flexibility or restorative practice, Carla's yoga provides an immersive and balanced learning experience.  Her thoughtful, planned and well paced sessions go far beyond instruction alone to feature expert coaching of an integrated mind and body that encourages personal growth and development.       James

For me, Carla's yoga classes have helped me focus on finding a calm place to reflect on the positives in my life.  Carla's instruction and guidance has allowed for me to feel safe in every position and movement I feel comfortable in.  My mental and emotional health has benefited greatly.  I am so thankful for Carla and her unending support.         Karen

I have had the pleasure of practicing yoga with Carla since the spring of 2016.  I was very new to yoga when I started.  I had tried a few different studios before hearing rave reviews about Carla's practice.  I fell in love with her teaching style and ability to read her students in the class.  My body has changed for the better with this practice.  In the beginning I was not comfortable in savasana.  My shoulders were very tight and it hurt to lay in the corpse pose, I also was uncomfortable in a room of strangers laying on the floor.  Carla creates a safe, comfortable environment.  I particularly love Vinyasa Flow classes but have learned Restorative and Yin are also an important part of a good practice.  I now do yoga whenever I travel and have been able to find a studio in most of my holiday locations.  Also since starting my yoga practice my sleep has improved greatly.  I am grateful to have found Carla, she has enhanced my life with her yoga and wonderful spirit.  I look forward to continuing my practice of yoga for many years with Carla and highly recommend her as an instructor.               Patti