Gentle guidance, encouragement and total acceptance


My motivation to start yoga at the Art of Balance studio was to improve my posture to allow me to go further with weight training. It was at the advice of my personal trainer who told me that it would be unsafe to increase my weights if my posture was not correct. She suggested I find an Iyengar trained yoga instructor on the Mornington Peninsula and recommended I try a class with Bettina.
Bettina and I communicated via email initially to discuss my reasons for getting started and she was immediately warm, welcoming, encouraging and gentle. Starting exercise classes can often be confronting as we expose our physical selves to unfamiliar people. The studio is a peaceful and calm sanctuary that made me feel relaxed and welcome. There was an energy that I had not experienced before. It was evident that the students were present in their own bodies and experiencing something very personal. I felt a warmth and acceptance that allowed me to focus on my intention for attending that first class. The format of the class made sense and I could see that this was a holistic approach. I was very excited about having discovered Bettina and could not wait to return.
There is a familiar format to Bettina’s classes that is comforting and allows me to settle in quickly to each session. To begin with, there is time to relax and let go, which sets me up to be present for each class. A sense of community is encouraged in a gentle way with our name share circle and a time to express what part of our bodies we might like to work on. I find Bettina’s way of designing each class around the needs of her students on the day just brilliant. The sequences that follow are then different in every class and provide a total body workout each time. In over six months, every class I have attended has been different and I am never bored. Each class provides me with a deep muscle, resistance, postural and cardiovascular workout. It also cultivates my well-being, flexibility and vitality.
As important as the physical benefits (probably even more important) is the deep relaxation and spiritual connection that Bettina’s classes have given me. This has been the unexpected and beautiful surprise of my yoga journey at The Art of Balance.
Meditation is something that I have practiced since my early 20’s as a way of helping with stress and anxiety. My mother practiced it when I was a young girl and it is familiar to me. Yoga is something I have practiced on and off since my late 20’s following a life-threatening illness. It was something I explored in recovery but didn’t continue with on a consistent basis. I started to incorporate it into my gym routine as a way of stretching and elongating the muscles. Although there was often some relaxation at the end of most yoga classes, the two were always separate for me.
Thanks to Bettina, I now understand that yoga and meditation are intrinsically related and that is what brings me to each class. My mantra is now “Through the senses, with the body, for the mind”. Each class is a balance of letting go of unwanted thoughts and feelings and physical restrictions and welcoming positivity, calmness and strength. Bettina reminds us of the balance between effort and ease. I now understand the importance of our breath and the connection it has for me physically and emotionally. Each in and out breath leads me through my asana practice and allows the flow of each posture. At the same time, as taught by Bettina, each in breath can be used to attract a quality we wish to embrace and each out breath can be used to let go of something we no longer require. This approach allows me to stay focussed and have both a physical and spiritual experience throughout my postures.
Ending each class with the opportunity to completely relax, let go and allow the body and mind to experience the vibrations of the practice is the icing on the cake!
As a result of my practice so far, I have experienced a positive shift in my emotional health, an ability to more readily let go of things that do not serve me, faith and trust in my ability to self-enquire, an improvement in physical strength, muscle increase and tone, calmness, positivity and so, so much more.
My yoga practice is something I crave and WANT to do. This is just the beginning of my journey and I am filled with such excitement to see where it takes me from here.
Thank you Bettina! Your beautiful studio and your ‘tribe’ provide a sanctuary where each soul is safe to explore their personal journey with your gentle guidance, encouragement and total acceptance. Namaste

Sandra West, Mt Eliza – November 2014