By Jane Bartnett
As the light of day begins to fade, the sky over Siesta Beach takes on a soft, rosy glow. It’s that magic hour just before the sun sets. Quietly, a group gathered and placed yoga mats on the cool, white sand. Several feet behind the blue and green lifeguard stands near the main entrance to the public beach, a vertical flag waved in the soft breeze that simply read “Yoga.”
Lynn Hagen, a trained, certified and insured yoga instructor, greeted her students. Many join her on the beach every week for her gentle yoga classes. Soft spa-like music from Hagen’s iPhone began to fill the air as a young couple visiting Siesta Key from Toronto asked if they could join the class. She welcomed them and they placed their towels on the sand.
“This gentle yoga class is open to everyone,” she said to the group. “No reservations are required. The class is free, but tips are greatly appreciated.”
For the next hour, the class followed Hagen’s instructions. “Do what you can,” she said. “You may find that by the end of our hour together you will feel more relaxed, more limber and more at peace.”
As the class continued, the yoga moves became more intense. Although most of the class was able follow Hagen’s instruction and mirror her movements, others kept their own pace.
“Look over your shoulder and enjoy the beauty of the beach and the setting sun,” she told the class as the sky became awash in shades of red, pink and blue. The natural beauty of Siesta Beach, along with the soothing music and the cool feel of the sand, created a truly Zen-like atmosphere.
“This is a no-judgment time. This is your time and your space,” she said softly.
At the close of the hour-long session, as the pink sky began to fade, Hagen instructed her students as they lay on their mats facing the sky to “clear your mind and feel the air around you. Namaste.”
As the class dispersed, students thanked Hagen and asked about her morning classes. All agreed that they would return.
“My goal,” Hagen said later, “is to get my ‘yogis’ to live in the moment, practice their breath, and use proper alignment.”
A career educator from Delaware, Hagen relocated to Sarasota in May of 2020. In addition to spending 27 years as an elementary school teacher, she has also taught fitness classes at major sports facilities such as Esporta Fitness, Gold’s Gym and LA Fitness. After taking a year-long certification class she became a certified and insured yoga instructor.
“I’ve always been passionate about fitness, positive behaviors and attitudes,” she said. “I began teaching fitness classes in step and aerobics when I was 18. Yoga fills a need for our minds, bodies and soul. It’s important,” Hagen noted, “to find some time for yourself and to calm the mind. That’s the beauty of yoga.”
When she began her own yoga business in Sarasota that she calls Tranquility by the Sea, Hagen secured a permit from Sarasota County Parks & Recreation so that she could offer her yoga lessons on the beach. In June, Hagen began her classes. She has made the blue and green lifeguard stands a landmark for her sessions.
As the new year begins, on Tuesday, Jan. 4 she will begin offering an 8:30 a.m. beach yoga class that will be held every Tuesday and Thursday for the next six months. On Wednesday evenings, beginning at 5 p.m., yogis of all levels are invited to join her for her sunset beach yoga class.
“The start time of my sunset class shifts with the sunset,” Hagen said, noting that as the sun begins to set later in the day, the start time of her class will also begin at a later time. Although all of her morning and evening beach yoga classes are offered for free, Hagen gladly accepts donations before or after the class.
Hagen also offers private yoga sessions to small or large groups of people upon request, for a fee.
“Recently, Hagen reported, “I held a private yoga session for a bachelorette party on the beach and a yoga session for a brunch at a private house.”
Hagen’s Facebook page, Tranquility by the Sea, has updated information on her class times as well as her contact information.
“Yoga,” she said, “helps to strengthen the body. Especially these days, we all need to take a little time for ourselves to find some peace of mind. There’s truly nothing better than practicing yoga on the most beautiful beach around.”