These are individuals aged 25 to 67 who faithfully join the sessions each week armed with the goal of attaining total well being through yoga.
Yoga— what it is
Yoga certified instructor Susan Baetge said that yoga is a personal journey that brings you into greater harmony with your body.
She said that yoga is not about competition or a marathon.
“It not successful to try to stretch farther than others in the class, or to try and keep up with those who have been doing yoga longer,” she said.
She said that in yoga, you are getting the benefits as long as you pay attention to your body and challenge it without injuring it, and keeping your breathing.
“I encourage my students to come out of a posture or ease up if they are feeling any discomfort or pain. It’s more important to honor your body, no matter the age, then to try to do a yoga posture perfectly,” Baetge stressed.
How is it done
Yoga combines the breath with movement to create a purification of the mind and the body.
Baetge said that postures are held while focusing on the breath allowing the muscles to lengthen, and the body to open up.
“We work on training the mind to let go of all the daily thoughts, and focus only on the breath during practice bringing about a sense of peace and well being as well as lowering stress,” Baetge said.
She said that individuals who join yoga must wear clothes that are close fitting and are easy to move in so that the instructor can see where the body needs to be adjusted.
The students also use a yoga mat and a towel, and sometimes, props like a strap or belt, a block, or pillow to aid their bodies as they learn to stretch and open up.
No age limits
Yoga is open for all age groups but at her classes at the Palms Resort, Baetge recommends no younger than 14 years old.
“The key to yoga is in listening to your body and only pushing as far as your body wants you to that day,” she said.
“I have students from 23 to 67 years of age in my classes at the Palms Resort,” she added.
Baetge’s main classes are comprised mostly of females 25 – 40 years old but her “gentle classes” usually get ages 30 - 67.
As a preschool –third grade teacher, Baetge also teaches yoga to her students. She hopes to have a “mommy and me” yoga class sometime.
Baetge was trained in the Ashtanga Method but teach to the level and specifications of those in her classes.
Benefits of yoga
Baetge said that yoga is the Sanskrit word for Union. It developed in India over 5,000 years ago.
“There are many forms of yoga but they all focus on breathing, postures, and quieting the mind,” she said.
Yoga, she added, is the union between the mind body and spirit.
She said that yoga increases one’s flexibility, strength, balance, and coordination, and reduces stress, counteracts and depression.
She said that Yogi’s say “there is no disease, mental or physical that yoga can not cure.” She added that yoga is one effective way to make one look younger as it reverses the aging process.
In addition, she stated that yoga is an amazing compliment to any athletic routine, especially running, weight lifting, and all sports as it lengthens the muscles, opens the body up so it can better resist injury in high impact sports, and heal quicker.
Yoga also brings balance needed in sports such as soccer, surfing, kiting, basketball, and other sports, and it is available for all sizes and shapes.
“It can be a wonderful weight loss tool,” she said.
Baetge said that one does not have to be flexible to start yoga.
“That is often an excuse I hear. Flexibility is a product of coming to a yoga class, a point of arrival,” she said. She added that she was not a big athlete before yoga.
“I was not a strong person, but yoga has changed my life my not only giving me balance of mind and body and spirit, but developing strength and confidence. I am amazed at how much my practice has changed from not being able to do a position to being able to do one at the next level,” Baetge said.
The key to yoga is to take it on a day by day, moment by moment basis.
“There are no comparisons in a yoga class because we are all made differently - our arms are different lengths, our torsos, our legs. There is no way that we will look exactly like our neighbor in a posture,” she said.
There is also no judgment in a yoga class.
“I am just the guide you are the one who knows how you are feeling physically and emotionally that day,” Baetge said.
She added that sometimes, just getting to the class and sitting on the mat is enough while on some days, you want to go all out and throw in extra postures.
“It is up to you as to what level you practice at. Yoga is a personal journey,” she added.
Baetge said she can accommodate up to 20 students in her Wednesday and Saturday morning and evening classes, but only up to 12 students during the lunch breaks.
Baetge said that more yoga enthusiasts come in on Wednesday afternoons, but the lunch break session is fast gaining popularity. Ideally, she said that it would be good to do yoga for three sessions a week.
What to bring?
Please bring with you a yoga mat, hand towel, a larger towel (to aid in adjustments) and a bottle of water. Try not to eat three hours before the class, or only have a light snack of fruit, or yogurt.
Gentle Yoga Lunch hour at the Palms Resort is on Tuesday and Thursday 12 noon. Wednesday evening classes are from 5:15pm - 6:30pm. Saturday schedule is from 9-10:30am. Classes are free for Palms members and $5 for non members.
Baetge also teaches yoga at Golds Gym in Garapan at 8:30 on Monday and Friday morning, and Monday evening at 6:15 pm.