by Betty Lewis
Yoga With Betty and Friends (YWBF) is a small home-based studio that occupies the entire first level of my private residence in Randallstown, Maryland. YWBF is a one-woman operation and an intimate studio. The space accommodates 10-11 students at one time. It is a yoga sanctuary for both my students and me. It is my favorite place to be and the place where I am most at peace. All of the students that study at YWBF have come to study here from one of my off-site classes on a recommendation of another yoga teacher. Most have been long-time students of mine. All are like family to me and to each other. Don’t let the family description fool you. Classes are designed to appropriately challenge each student and offer them Iyengar Yoga as I understand it. Each student is taught in a way that would allow him/her to take classes with any other Iyengar Yoga teacher; as if my own teacher were standing in my classroom and looking over my shoulder. Ahimsa is the guiding principle of the teachings at YWBF. Skillfully working through asanas within an individual’s ability is encouraged. Understanding that no two bodies are the same is recognized. YWBF’s small size promotes an intimate learning environment that students reassure. They write:
“...I am very grateful for your allowing me to join your wonderful studio and enjoy and benefit from your thoughtful, generous, precise, and rigorous teaching and the community you’ve created in your home studio. It was probably my only regular outside-of-medicine community and activity, and it was an integral part of making Baltimore home for the time I was there. Thank you for that!”
“...I am truly grateful to you for introducing me to the Iyengar tradition of Yoga. You are a wonderful teacher I will miss
having the opportunity to discover more about yoga from you. Although I’ll no longer be in Baltimore, I’m confident
that your influence will last throughout my lifetime.”
“...The Tao is pointing me back to your classes.”
I teach a variety of students with no yoga experience to classes appropriate for all levels. One of my favorite classes is a class for Seniors. It is possible to breath better, be more flexible and more at ease in their bodies than they may believe possible. It is difficult for me to put into words how grateful I am for Iyengar yoga. I believe it saved my life and my sanity. I began my study of Iyengar Yoga in December of 1997 after the death of my husband of thirty-five years. I was not only bereaved but also fat, fifty plus, and seriously asthmatic. I wandered around with no clear picture of what to do or where to go. I was also emotionally drained. In the beginning, I took a lot of workshops from a lot of different teachers because it was physically challenging. It felt good in my body and allowed me to relax. It took me a few years to realize that I needed to find a teacher that I trusted and to allow myself to stand still long enough for yoga to open me up to my fears and vulnerabilities. I am healthier (mentally and physically) because of yoga. I strive to live my life using the eight limbs of yoga as a guide. Pranayama is now the most powerful aspect of my practice. Thanks to it and the skills of my primary teacher, John Schumacher, I no longer take any asthma medication.
When students come to my studio to study, I know that they are attracted to the teachings of my teachers that shine through me. I give thanks to my longtime teacher and to the other teachers for their kindness, patience, encouragement, and skills.