It’s getting hot in here
Text and photos by Paige Benedetto[dropcap size=dropcap]A[/dropcap]s I approached Yoga Ginger on 7th and Asbury, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was heading in to take a class called “Hot Vinyasa Flow.” I entered the studio I was immediately struck by the room’s high temperature. My eyes darted around the bright space as I observed the honey-colored wooden floors, people sitting on their mats stretching, and the chalkboard walls brightly covered in motivational quotes. The smiling, piercing blue-eyed owner and teacher of the studio Suzanne Chew greeted me as if she had known me for a long time. I was instructed to take off my shoes, put my belongings in the back room, and grab a yoga mat. I had my water bottle, towel. I was ready to go with the flow.
But I was instantly halted when Suzanne flipped the music on. Instead of the traditional gentle instrumental music, the speakers blared familiar upbeat pop-songs. This was… different and awesome. Suzanne is passionate about the music she picks, and each playlist is designed for a particular class.
“I love motivational songs; I love songs that truly hit my heart and my soul. I love to feel the music when I practice yoga. To me I can feel it more,” said Suzanne. “My philosophy here, when I teach, is to have all that come out on my student’s mats. I don’t want them to be stiff or straightforward, so I pick my music according to my class. This is a motivational class which is designed to push you a little bit further.”
Suzanne put her long blonde hair in a ponytail and the class began. Her voice is quick, strong, and peaceful all at the same time, as we moved from one pose to the other. She explained exactly what foot to move and where… every step in quick precise detail, so it was easy for me to keep up as long as I was listening. As I began to move my body into the yoga poses, the title of the class clicked in my brain. My body flowed from position to position with ease; there were no abrupt changes. The strength in the room grew as the class, a mix of men and women of all ages, progressed. Chew pushed the class further into more challenging poses; I was moving my body and stretching my limbs in ways I had never exercised them before. Seriously.
The room heated up as the class kept moving forward. Suzanne keeps the heat in the room set to 90 degrees, but it typically reaches 100 degrees by the end of class.
“I always tell people to honor their bodies, it is not about who can hold a pose the longest or who can withstand the heat, it is about honoring your body.”
As the class started to wind down, the heat was everywhere, even in my lungs. We laid on our backs and focused on taking deep breaths.
As we laid, Suzanne walked around the studio with orange essential oil having each student breathe in the fragrance of sweet citrus to clear our lungs as we took a few deep breaths.
One of the students in my class that day was Eileen Moran. Eileen has been practicing yoga for four years, and is a devoted student at Yoga Ginger.
“I love yoga, and the group, and Suzanne. She really teaches you. My retirement goal is to become a Suzanne groupie,” said Eileen.
The name for her studio is personal for Suzanne; it’s named after her grandmother Ginger.
“(My grandmother) always had this great light about her and everyone loved her,” said Suzanne.
Suzanne’s yoga philosophy of her students honoring their bodies is the core of her practice and her passion for the ancient art of exercise and meditation.
“If people want to hold a pose a little bit longer, or move a little faster, then do it. I don’t want to tell people what their practice should or shouldn’t be; it’s their time to move,” she said.
That philosophy shined through in Suzanne’s class. Students have the peace to do what they want with each pose without feeling pressure to move or keep up with someone else.
Leaving the studio I felt energized and fresh, but also completely relaxed from the workout. Suzanne encouraged and facilitated the session with strength yet she was gentle too. My body was pushed to my own stretching limits – and it made me in tune with myself, honoring it as I posed.