YOGABETSY TESTIMONIALS
See what area folks are taking the time to say about their experiences with Yogabetsy Yoga classes!   The original notes, letters, and emails are available at the center; many thanks to all who took the time to put down their experiences and reactions on paper for others to hear about and possibly even learn from! 
 Just a short note to say thank you for your participation in the Bradford YWCA’s Spring Enrichment 2001 series of classes.  As you know, Yoga is one of our most popular and successful classes.  Your classes are well-received and I hear wonderful comments.  We certainly appreciate your enthusiasm and willingness to participate….     Bradford YWCA
Thank you, Betsy and Shannon, for all your continued help and constant encouragement.  It’s made all the difference in my mind and body.  You two are truly the best there is!!
LM,  Bolivar
I turned to yoga not because of debilitating pain but for peace and centeredness, which I have found.  What I know is that I always feel better when I come to class.    TR, Olean
A simple thing such as yoga breathing has changed  me since I started doing yoga.  I use deep breathing to relax before going to bed.  I’ve realized that breathing deeply and correctly can be beneficial in a person’s life.  When others around me become upset, I find myself telling them to “take a few deep breaths.”  As crazy as that sounds, it helps.  I’ve done it myself when I’ve become angry with someone or something!      MK, Olean
I feel that yoga has helped me in many ways in the last few months.  Doing it twice a week has helped me develop better sleeping habits and a better understanding of my body.  After doing yoga, I feel more energized and ready to start the day.  Yoga has made me feel better about myself and has let me use muscles that I never knew I had. 
ST,  Olean
I really enjoy yoga class, though some days it is hard for me to get to class because of my job and my schedule, but the days I did make it were worth it.  I like the meditation part best. It really relaxes you and I always feel real good throughout the day.  Just lying on the floor, relaxing to the music feels so good afterwards.  It feels like a good night’s sleep packed into fifteen minutes.  The first yoga class I was a little nervous.  I had never done it but had always heard good stuff about it.  I had a lot of energy all day long…  I enjoy exercising but I hate to feel sore the next day, and yoga doesn’t do that to you. 
AL,  Olean
Yoga has been very beneficial to me in several ways.  On thing I’ve really noticed about myself is that my flexibility has really increased.  Before I started yoga, I couldn’t touch my toes without bending at the knees, but now I can do that with little effort.  I’ve also gained more endurance.  Another very beneficial bonus that I picked up from class was the ability to sleep better.  I remembered Betsy telling us that what we are thinking about the last half hour or so before we go to bed will affect the way we sleep.  I’ve used this to my advantage.   I truly believe that yoga has helped (and will help) me achieve things that I didn’t even think were possible for me.   MJ,  Olean
Throughout the last few months in yoga, I have achieved more goals than I ever thought possible.  I lost weight, got in shape, did awesome at school and calmed down a lot at home and in my relationship.  I have decreased my occurrences with cold sores, colds, headaches, and many other health problems.  These are lessons that will not be forgotten!
AV,  Olean
In the first few classes, I didn’t find yoga to be as relaxing as I had hoped.  Soon, however, I was more relaxed with each class I attended!  I found myself wanting to attend yoga, after a stressful day, so I could put my relaxing techniques to work.  I found that, with practice, each position was easier to perform.  I soon found my body to be more flexible with each movement.  I enjoy yoga very much, and I hope to continue to use yoga in my everyday lifestyle, whether it is stretching, using breathing techniques, or attending yoga classes a few times a week.  This has helped me learn to relax from a stressful day or even stressful situations.  DV,  Olean
The reason I started yoga is that I felt I needed some physical activity in my life.  At first, I didn’t think that yoga could teach me too much. I figured the only thing I’d really get out of it was how to stretch the right way.  After five months of yoga, I have truly benefited from it.  Since I was a small child, I have had asthma and many problems controlling my breathing during attacks.  I can remember carrying my inhaler everywhere with me.  Yoga has taught me how to relax and breathe properly, and I haven’t used my inhaler once since I started!   If people were to ask me if yoga was a cult or religion, I’d just laugh.  Yogabetsy has taught me that everyone has the right to believe in anything they choose to, as long as it does no harm.  Never once has she forced any type of belief on anyone in the class.  She lets us as students make our own choices.  So in order to get anything out of yoga, you don’t have to believe in “weird” stuff!  As for the stretches, or poses, they aren’t as hard as they look.  Don’t get me wrong, some are challenging, but so are a lot of other things in the world today.  You don’t have to be young, athletic, or a gymnastic pro in order to take yoga.  You do as much of a stretch as you can.  You will be surprised at what you can really do.   KDA,  Olean
I feel that yoga has been very beneficial to me.  I personally don’t feel I could have made it through these past few months without it.  After being involved in a near-fatal auto accident, I began to feel depressed and upset.  I found it hard to sleep at all or even focus on an easy everyday task such as doing the laundry.  I was constantly replaying the tragedy over and over.  I found that yoga was the perfect way to let go of your problems.  Once I entered the door to yoga class, I forgot about my problems.  I let go of all my worries for at least an hour or so twice a week.  Once I started to let go of them in yoga class,  it became easier to stay focused in my other classes as well.   Everything that was said in yoga class had an impact on me and is useful for the rest of my life.   My body has so much more energy from yoga.  I get up much earlier everyday now and accomplish so much more for the day.   I recommend everyone take yoga!    MK,   Olean
I feel that yoga is very worthwhile.  I believe that yoga builds self-esteem, people feel better about themselves after taking a yoga class.  Yoga is also great for the body, strengthening, toning and building muscles.  I am glad that I take yoga and feel that it could benefit others greatly if they would only try it.  Overall, yoga contributes a lot to your life.  Whether it be for the body or for the mind, you can always count on feeling better after the class is over.  Yoga has contributed so much to my life, easing my pain, lifting my spirits, and strengthening my body.   It may seem weird at first, but when you get right down to it, it’s fun!     MAG, Olean
I really feel that Yogabetsy yoga classes are worthwhile to me.  I really enjoy them and take a lot with me from them.  Before I started,  I and my girlfriend had recently broken up and I was under a lot of stress and was very depressed.  Yoga helped me deal with the stress and helped me get my mind off the things that were going on in my life.  If it were not for yoga, I don’t know where I would be, because not only did it help me deal with my problems, it taught me ways to deal with them outside of class.  When I was having those sleepless nights, I could always “ride the wave of my breath” and find my way back to sleep, no matter what was bugging me.  Also, before I started yoga, I was always having pain  in between my shoulders, but now that I have been doing yoga, it is basically gone.  I really enjoy yoga, and the benefits from it are spectacular!   I think what made the class as good as it is, is the knowledge of the teacher, Betsy Afton.  I don’t think yoga should be taught by just anyone, because there is more to yoga than just postures and exercises.  It takes someone who really knows what yoga is all about to teach it to other people.   I mean, anyone can teach poses and exercises, but not anyone can pass down a true understanding of yoga unless they have been properly trained, themselves.  And I feel that Betsy passes down a great understanding of yoga!    SM,    Olean
After I started yoga, one of the very first things I noticed was that it was becoming rare for me to get a headache.  I used to suffer from chronic headaches.  It was hard to remember getting through one day that I didn’t have a headache.  Sometimes I was taking three over-the-counter analgesics a day and they wouldn’t even touch my headache.  I wondered what was wrong with me.  After being in yoga a couple months, I realized my headaches must have been caused by the amount of stress I was putting on myself.  Yoga has also helped me sleep better and have more energy…I wake up in the morning and feel great.  I have more energy to get me through the day.  I definitely would recommend yoga to anyone; hopefully it will help others as much as it helped me.    SB,  Olean
Coming into yoga class, I did not know anything at all about yoga or its benefits.  I have to admit that I was doubtful that it would help me.  However, I quickly discovered the benefits of meditation and yoga stretches.  At first, I didn’t feel as though I belonged in a yoga class.  I didn’t feel stressed and I had a regular exercise routine.  Yet after just a few weeks of classes, I realized that it was very beneficial not only for my body but also for my mind.  The reason that I did not feel the stress on either mind or body was probably due to the fact that I was not looking within myself.  I never set aside time to concentrate on what my feelings really were and what my body was telling me.  The stretches, poses, breathing and meditation all combine to help me tune everything out and to concentrate on me.    SA,  Olean
Yoga class has helped me calm down, become less stressed, understand my body, and most of all to open my eyes to the importance of the mental/physical connections within the human body.  Before taking yoga, I was a typical American, thinking about cures, not prevention.  In our culture, cures for ailments have become a booming business, while we should be concentrating on preventing the ailments, since most are self-inflicted.  Stress plays a huge role in many of our busy lifestyles, and it only takes a few minutes to stop and breathe to calm the entire body, as we’re taught to do in yoga.  I have used the yoga breathing exercises the most to help calm myself down.  Before I began yoga, I can honestly say I don’t think I had every completely filled my lungs with air.  It feels great to relax and breathe the way our bodies were intended to breathe.  I practice my breathing nightly when I walk, and I’ve noticed how much easier it is to exercise while breathing correctly.  I am thankful to Betsy for explaining in class the reason for the yoga poses and how each one reacts with the body.  She always takes time to explain things in an interesting and useful way.  The mind/body connection is easy to ignore on a daily basis; it’s not until you stop and pay attention that ailments start relating to imbalances in your life.  The emphasis yoga gives on prevention rather than cure is so true for our society today, yet most of us ignore the simple yoga precautions that could make a world of difference.  For example, I’ve noticed that the yoga techniques of lowering my shoulders and doing full body sweep to relax tensed muscles make me feel more at ease and able to handle what life throws my way.   TH,   Olean
Since starting yoga class, simple things like breathing have become a whole new thing for me.  I did not realize how beneficial this, in particular, would be for me.  I have terrible problems with my stomach, and many years ago I was diagnosed with an ulcer.  Many nights, I would lie in bed and not be able to sleep because of the uncomfortable feelings in my stomach which would ultimately lead to me tightening up my whole chest.  After I started yoga, and learned to “ride the wave of my breath,” I found that these pains became considerably less.  I have also learned how to recognize and release tension through practicing yoga.  One of the first things we learn in Yogabetsy classes it to release our shoulders.  I never realized how scrunched up around my neck my shoulders were.  I have been in many situations that I did not even think were stressful, and I realized how uptight I really was.  I would be sitting there in a particular place and realize that my shoulders were very uptight, and that I was feeling uptight and did not even realize it.  I was in a situation where I was having immense fun but yet I was uptight.  I did not know why I was so stressed, but I released my shoulders, started my breathing and realized that it was as simple as a certain person in my company was making me unconsciously uncomfortable.  But remembering my breathing helped me to relax and assess the situation.  I am very happy to have learned how to do this.    KB, Olean
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from my first yoga class.  Like many people, I envisioned yoga as a bunch of people sitting around saying “om.”  To my surprise, yoga turned out to be so much more than I had anticipated.  By learning how to focus inwardly, the hassles and problems that had been eating at me all day seem to melt away and don’t  seem worth getting upset over.  On many days,  I’d walk into class with my head down-heavy with stress, but by the time I walked out the door, my head was in the clouds!  Yoga provides me with an escape from the world,  but not like the escape that many people find through drugs or alcohol.  The kind of escape yoga provides is a natural high.  It doesn’t literally take your problems away;  instead, it teaches you how to put things into perspective, and then things don’t seem so bad after all.  I’ve found that when I do yoga before my normal day’s routine, I don’t seem to mind facing the day’s challenges at all afterwards.  Yoga has definitely affected my life in a positive way!
JW,  Olean
I’ve had wonderful experiences in my Yogabetsy classes so far.  I have learned more about my body, in connection with my mind, than I ever knew was possible.  I have had some very stressful problems these past few months.  I never would have been able to deal with them without yoga.  Practicing yoga helps clear my mind and relieve stress…I never  knew how powerful the postures and breathing and meditation were until I actually tried them and stuck with them.  It has been effective with problems with my family, personal relationships and with my own needs.  If I couldn’t “ride the wave of my breath” at night, I don’t think I would ever get calm enough to sleep.  I am also much more flexible and determined than before.  No matter how I am feeling, I like to have something to turn to that I know will always help, and yoga has provided this for me.
RP,   Olean
After a few weeks of doing yoga twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I noticed my muscles becoming more flexible and that I was sleeping a lot better, and I was enjoying yoga more and more.  I think that I realized just how much I liked it when I would have to go from Thursday to Tuesday with no yoga!  I can’t wait to get to class, and if I have to miss for some reason, I end up doing yoga at home.  I  especially do it longer when I am feeling stressed out or upset.  It always seems to take my mind off of things.  KL, Portville
I had been getting a number of messages that pierced my denial that I was not as young, strong, or flexible as I used to be.  Yoga seemed as if it would be good for me, so I decided to give it a try.  I found the first Yogabetsy class to be just the kind of mental relaxation I’d been craving, but the stretches, even the easy ones, were challenging!  As classes progress, I feel more of the letting go and its benefits;  my legs feel stronger and, yes, at least after class, I experience a sense of well being that I am trying to carry over into my work and home life.  Two of the greatest benefits of class so far are learning to breathe properly and opening my mind to yoga-related thinking and feeling.  Breathe and push your stomach out!  What a concept.  It is stress reducing, and I’ve shared the technique with fellow workers and family members.  One of the things I like most about the Yogabetsy instruction is Betsy’s voice.  I can now hear her saying, “Breathe.  Remember to breathe,” and “Let go, loosen your shoulders.  Don’t grit your teeth.”  I especially like the gentle, reassuring note Betsy strikes in the final relaxation pose.  I mean it when I say, “I want to die this way.”  I feel such a peaceful connection to eternity.  I know now that yoga isn’t just a class I take a few times a week.  It’s a more balanced and focused way of life that I need to integrate more into the one I currently lead.  But the rewards of yoga—living in health, and living in community—are irresistible.  I want to live differently, more harmoniously; yoga is one way to help me do so.  DS,  Olean
Since I was a teenager, I have had several back injuries that have limited my ability to sustain various exercise programs.  Over the years these have progressed to include degenerative disc disease which is chronically painful and progressive.  Physical therapy offered no help, and chiropractic produced little results.  I became very upset at the thought that this was all going to continue to get worse and the realization that my limitations were turning me into a very old lady long before my time!
In researching degenerative disc disease on the internet, I discovered that, in addition to injury, stresss also contributed to it.  I saw my doctor and asked if yoga might be helpful, and he gave me the OK to try it out.   Soon after the classe began, I realized that while the moves were often challenging or painful, that it was pain that was time limited and did NOT produce the hours of agony that I was used to enduring!  At the worst points, I was taking major doses of over-the-counter analgesics for inflammation and pain several times a day.   There had been times that I could not even open the door that leads to the floor where I have my office.  I am generally a very cheerful person, but three years of severe pain and limitations had taken quite a toll on my spirit.

As my yoga classes progressed, I was enormously grateful for the modification to the postures and Betsy’s constant assurances that even minor moves still produced benefits.  I never felt like I had to compare  myself to the others taking the class since I knew what I had been through over the years and was thrilled with every bend and move I was able to make!   When something hurt too much or I felt like I could not maintain my balance, I learned to be satisfied with a modified movement.  Over time, I would test my limits at home to see if I could push a little farther; I soon found that twice a week classes weren’t enough and I began to do yoga moves from class at home as well, every day.  The class routine, itself, is very reassuring and relaxing.  Soon I discovered I was making real progress with my flexibility, and several weeks later I noticed I was no longer taking any extra-strength analgesicsof one kind and had automatically cut the dose of another!  Recently, I have noticed I am sleeping much better.  I still have some trouble sitting, but now I can identify when I have tension in my back and use yoga to relieve it.  I can really see a change for the better and it gives me a real boost in my spirits to see that the limitations are decreasing rather than increasing.  I feel that I have more control over the way that stress affects me, since it is not likely that stressful events are going to go away in the near future.   Thank you, Betsy, for your kind encouragement and for taking the time to show me modifications that would allow me to make progress at my own pace.  It has been a wonderful experience!     LM,  Olean

I am writing this as a testimonial to both yoga and to Yogabetsy.  It’s funny how when you make a leap, the universe provides a net.  At the same time I was attending your classes (bless you once more!), I made the decision to move here to New Mexico, altitude 6200 feet above sea level.  At the time I entered your class, I was in rough shape.  I couldn’t walk a city block without getting winded and without experiencing a throbbing pain in my lower back.  After starting yoga, under your gentle tutelege, things began to change quickly.  I first noticed the back pain lessened and then disappeared altogether.  Secondly, I noticed that by doing the yoga breathing along with the stretching, my lung capacity and diaphragm strength increased and I noticed an exciting difference in my singing—a definite plus to my career!  The most amazing thing, however, happened last week.  After thirty years away from skiing, I had the opportunity to go to a major ski resort in Durango, Colorado.  I was a bit nervous about the condition of my bones and muscles and also of the altitude on the mountain, almost ll,000 feet above sea level.  My friend took me straight to the top and I began my way down…   To make a long story short, I went down that mountain seven times that day, not without falling and stretching my muscles to the limit.  I was exhausted at the end of the day and had expended all my energy.  My legs felt like spaghetti.  I said to myself, wait until morning, fully expecting to be tied in knots from muscle spasms.  I awoke the next day with barely an ache anywhere!  I was totally blown away!   I have been doing your Yogabetsy routine with a few new positions gleaned from the Yoga for Dummies book religiously since I started, every morning about 40 minutes.  I am gaining all sorts of indescribable spiritual insights as well, but perhaps the best things for me is that for once in my life, I am telling my body what to do rather than it telling ME to eat this, drink that, sit down, and all the rest of the impulses it used to contol.  I have stopped smoking and lost almost ten pounds, in addition!  It is very empowering…  Once again, thanks for this miracle.  Feel free to share this note with anyone who may be considering entering your classes.  Tell them for me that they will be making one of the BEST decisions of their life!     Thanks once more, namaste!     GK,   Albuquerque, NM (by way of Franklinville, NY)
After taking Yogabetsy yoga classes at the yoga center in Olean, I haven’t felt better in years!  The back pain I was suffering from for over two years (herniated disc) has completely vanished.  All the tips to the doctors, chiropractors, and physical therapists for       years weren’t able to do anything compared to what Betsy Afton and her yoga classes have done for me in such a short time.   Words cannot express how grateful I am and I cannot begin to tell you how glad I am to have my life back.  Scheduled surgery for my back was even completely cancelled after a last minute consultation with my surgeon on the way to surgery!  Yoga is worth every bit of the time and effort and money.  What a find it has been and will continue to be for me!  It’s sad to think how few people know about the benefits of yoga at the moment.  It could be so beneficial to so many.  Thank you again for helping me to become me again.     AS,  Allegany
When I first found out that a new yoga studio had opened up in Olean, I was so excited.  After my first class at the Yogabetsy yoga center, I was surprised at how much energy it gave me, and how much nicer it is to take yoga in a real yoga studio where it is quiet and welcoming.   Since then, yoga has taught me how to breathe correctly,  how to calm myself down and why, and also how to energize myself.  It has also greatly increased my flexibility.  I think my favorite part of the yoga class is the meditation; it really relaxes and restores you.  Whenever I can’t sleep at night, now, I use the yoga meditation technique I learned in yoga class to help me calm down and fall asleep quickly.  I’m really glad I started doing yoga at the Yogabetsy yoga center, and I hope to continue doing it from now on.   KK, Olean
I wanted to take a minute to thank you for the FANTASTIC yoga lesson last week at the yoga center.  I felt great after class!   Although I could feel it a bit around my hips the next day, I could tell that I had done some good things for myself.  Anyway,  thanks again for everything!   You’ve helped me make so many positive changes over the last few years…  And I know you’ve done the same for so many others!!!  Keep up the good work!!!     FM,  Portville
In April of l999, I decided to attend just one yoga class which happened to be offered at the Olean YMCA at the time.  I entered the room not having a clue of what to expect.  I was warmly greeted by the instructor, and introduced to the rest of the class, and within minutes my body was responding to and ENJOYING every cue to position this “stranger” was giving me!  It had been quite a while since anyone had encouraged me to “let go” or “breathe.”  By the time the hour was over and I was wished my first “namaste,” I felt better both physically and mentally than I had in years!   This “stranger,” AKA Betsy Afton, not only introduced yoga to me, she continues to conduct  very interesting and uplifting class yoga classes, now held in her very welcoming, cozy studio in Olean.  It has become a real source of fellowship and support, with an ongoing sharing of knowledge and ideas among a diverse and enthusiastic group of individuals with the common bond of Yogabetsy.  With sincere appreciation for this experience,  BL, Allegany
After major back surgery, I was feeble and only had limited mobility.  A brief period of physical therapy helped, but it was apparent that to really feel strong again, It would take time and work.  Starting in a gym helped to strengthen my muscles, but I was still stiff.  When backing out of a parking spot, I had difficulty looking around  to see if traffic was coming—my head just would not turn enough.  Bending over to pick something up from the floor was impossible.

Someone suggested that I speak with Betsy Afton about yoga.  Betsy assured me that yoga was a kind and gentle way to stretch and strengthen those muscles that needed help.  That was nine months or so ago, and I am amazed at the difference.  No long do I have a problem turning my head, and my legs and whole body are stronger.  Not only can I pick something up from the floor, but I can also bend over to touch the floor.  Amazing!  Yoga keeps those muscles stretched, resulting in less pain and a more functional body.

Yoga stresses deep correct breathing, which has also helped me.  Scoliosis compressed my lungs and heart.  It was difficult to breathe—just walking up one flight of stairs left me breathless.  Since the surgery, there is more room in my chest for my lungs, but it has taken them some time to adjust to the additional chest space.  The yoga breathing techniques taught by Betsy have helped my lungs to funtion much more efficiently.

There are still some things that I just will never be able to do after having twelve vertebrae fused.  Yogabetsy yoga classes in NO WAY require me to do every exercise.  I am delighted to say that I am able to do most of the yoga poses for every part of the body.  Even for arthritic joints, yoga is kind and can help a person stay active while lessening pain.  Yoga has been a great way to control pain.
I must also mention the social aspect of the Yogabetsy yoga classes.  It is so much fun to greet, chat, laugh and enjoy many new people that I have met through these classes!  Not only do you get relief from tight, aching muscles, but the relaxation and gentle humor of the other participants is also healing in so many ways.  Try yoga—you’ll love it!
MD, Portville

Yoga is all and more than I could have anticipated.  The postures give me wonderful stretching.  But just as important, mentally, yoga gives me internal peace and harmony.  As I practice and implement yoga, I feel the tension leaving my body.  I also feel a consciousness-raising like I haven’t felt for anything in some time.  I  noticed an increasing flexibility and agility in specific areas of my body, especially in the hamstrings, neck and shoulders.  Each class is a new opportunity to study and work with the body’s movements and personal capabilities.  Another impressive and helpful part of yoga is its philosophy.  Successful yoga is built on a foundation of thought, word, and action.  Yoga is certainly a worthwhile goal, a way of life, a positive influence internally and externally in our lives and those lives we touch.  Finally, the meditation and relaxation exercises after the postures are so calming, so peaceful and healing.  They energize both the mind and the body and help to maintain calm, peaceful feelings throughout the rest of the day.  Thank you, Betsy!  You are a wonderful yoga teacher!
KH,  Olean
April 4, 2000—that day is important to me—I found yoga (and yoga instructor Betsy Afton) on that day!  Today, over a year later, I continue to enjoy the many benefits I receive from my yoga classes at the Yogabetsy yoga center.  Never in my wildest dreams did I realize what would happen to me.  Yoga has changed my health, my physical fitness levels greatly…  And—most important—it has changed my life.  I am able to perform physical activities that were impossible for me previously.   It has changed my abilities altogether, from the way I deal with life situations to the way I feel about myself.  I try to take yoga classes at the yoga center three-four times a week, along with what I do at home.  However, there is nothing like the guided relaxation and meditation that Betsy provides at the end of each class at the center.  After my yoga class, I feel fit, renewed, refreshed and able to cope with each new day.  Yoga can change your life—it did mine.
SM, Allegany
“Yoga makes me feel good, and not just physically, but also good about myself and my daily life.”  This is what I tell people who ask me why I am taking yoga.  However, the conversation almost never ends there.  I continue by emphasizing that I receive a satisfying workout from a yoga session without the high impact on my joints and muscles that conventional exercise requires.  The yoga breathing, stretching and holding poses adequately enhance my circulation.   I have noticed a substantial increase in my flexibility, which was minimal when I began Yogabetsy classes, and I have also continued to lose weight.  I especially enjoy the Five Tibetan Rites, which I now use each morning upon rising.   I believe I will use and benefit from my Yogabetsy instruction for the rest of my life.  THANK YOU, BETSY!  GF, Cattaraugus
When I first started taking yoga, I thought, “OK, this is great and all, if you are older and like slow moving stretches.”  I thought for sure all the stretches were leading up to some intense challenge, that it wasn’t possible to get a workout doing this slower stuff.  Well, I was proven wrong!  Not only was my body firming up, I didn’t get muscle aches, shin splints, etc.  I found myself in better moods and I was sleeping so much better.  I would fall into a deep sleep minutes after I hit the pillow.  When I  woke up, I couldn’t believe it because it seemed like I’d just gone to bed.  As soon as I did get up, I found that I was more awake and energetic throughout the day.  Although all this was happening, it is inevitable to have a bad day once in a while.  This is when I truly began to appreciate meditating as we’re taught in yoga classes.  It feels amazing.  I tend to be stressed out easily, so this is the most beneficial aspect of yoga for me—yoga has truly made a difference in my life.  CB,  Olean
Yoga is a good source of exercise for both the mind and the body.  I like that idea that anyone can do yoga, no matter what your sex, weight, or age.  At first, I thought you had to be able to sit in full lotus position to begin yoga.  How wrong I was!  I have learned from Betsy that this is a common misconception about yoga that many people have due to lack of information, and now I’m glad I’ve learned differently—knowledge is power!   After a while of yoga stretching, I learned to enjoy it because I like the feeling of release I get, helping me to let go of tension, frustration and stress.  I am now more determined and focused to get my work done.  I believe yoga helps me lower my stress levels by helping me release negative energies.  I also always wanted to learn how to meditate.  Many of my friends meditate and they have tried to explain to me how to do it, but it all read like stereo instructions!  Yoga has taught me that meditation is not hard, it just takes practice to feel comfortable about letting go.  Yoga has been helpful, and I will continue to meditate and stretch as I have learned how to in my Yogabetsy classes.  KB, Olean
Everything was overwhelming me at once.  Stress—what an all-encompassing name for my one true personality flaw.  Everything I read about this dreaded form of anxiety was the epitome of my life force.  In essence, I was the “poster child” for stress!   Yogabetsy classes, along with instructor Betsy Afton, have changed my life.  Footprints have been left in my heart, for I have learned through yoga to control my emotions and take charge of life’s outcomes so much more effectively.  My most treasured portion of yoga is that of the yoga breathing  and meditation techniques.  At a moment’s notice I am now able to…I would like to say detach myself from my body, yet what I feel upon meditating is a drawing in sensation.  I am able to focus and dig deep down into my mind and concentrate on my true powerful inner self to come to total relaxation.  Gone are the days of panic and worry.  I am proud to report that my cholesterol is down significantly, my ability to control my reaction to anxiety has greatly increased, my clenching is now not a problem.  The key to life, that will always remain in my inner self, is Betsy’s soothing voice chiming “breathe, relax…” as my inner voice now echoes…you CAN do it!
KM,  Olean
I have had many positive results from taking Yogabetsy yoga classes.  I decided to take yoga because I have a bad back, I’d heard a lot of things about it in the news, plus I had a friend who had previously taken it and loved it.  I will never forget my first yoga class.  I had pulled my back out again and had just gone to observe.  I thought I would never be able to do any of those postures.  I was very wrong.  I have been plagued with back troubles for almost seven years; I was uncomfortable every single day, and it was very upsetting to me.  At my very next class,  Betsy had me do only certain postures and helped me so that I was not doing anything harmful to myself.  She also suggested stretches that I could do at home.  After doing yoga for about a week, I noticed a great difference with my back.  It was healing much faster than previous times I had pulled it out!  After a while, the yoga postures I used to dread because I could not do them I started to love because I could now do them after all.  Yoga has also helped me with my mind and body connection.  Along with the back pain, I used to get migraine headaches from stress.  Once I started doing my yoga along with meditation, they went away.  I used to get so stressed out about things and I would keep it all inside.  My body did not know what to do, so it came out in the form of migraines.  Yoga helped me realize that my body also needs attention, that every emotional action results in a reaction in my body.  I have definitely grown since I have started my Yogabetsy classes.  It is just amazing how one yoga class can do so much for one person!   I will stick with this the rest of my life.  When the rest of my world is not clear and my life seems like it is just one problem after another, I know that there is always one thing I can turn to, and that is my yoga practice.
EH,  Olean
I decided to try yoga because I was tired of being in pain.  I wanted something that would make me feel better and also keep me in shape.  I tried water aerobics but I just didn’t like flopping around in a pool in my bathing suit.  I enjoy yoga because I can cover up but still not have to wear a snowsuit to get a good workout.  Yoga is definitely worth it!  Once you feel the difference from pain and suffering to feeling great, really energized, then that is the payback.  I never realized how flexible I could be.  I had been very depressed thinking I would never be able to do anything again without hurting, but now I have been inspired to take up ballet.  Yoga is the best thing for anyone of any age!
SW,  Olean
Since starting yoga classes a few months ago, I have noticed dramatic changes in my sense of well being and my body.  I have also started doing yoga at home.  My favorite time is meditation, when I can let my mind rest.  That has always been the hardest thing for me to do.  I have been an insomniac for a long time, but after learning how to calm my mind down in yoga, it’s been much easier on my brain to sleep…It’s nice to know that I am actually doing something for my body that’s good!  MH,  Olean
I really enjoy Yogabetsy yoga classes because they help me relax and become much more flexible.  I believe I have an overall feeling of well being and am now more at peace with my body than I was before, and I also believe yoga has improved my concentration.   In my Yogabetsy classes, I have discovered that there is so much to learn about yoga that if you keep looking into it, you will never get bored!   There are many misconceptions about yoga—I was happy to learn that you can do yoga and still maintain a separate religion.  If you do yoga, it doesn’t mean you are an evil person, just a smart one!  I definitely feel that yoga is worth the time and effort it takes to complete a workout, and I have really enjoyed my Yogabetsy classes.  BS,  Olean
I went in to yoga class a little hesitant.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, and I am sure other people do the same.  I like the fact that I learned how to meditate and I think that I will use that more than anything else.  I feel that yoga is worth my while.  I get a lot of information I didn’t realize was so important to my life.  I learned that I need to relax more and take my time on certain things.  I like the yoga postures very much, and I especially like doing the yoga foot massage; I don’t think I realized what my feet go through every day!  Yoga has already influenced me a lot on a daily basis.  It helps me grow to become the person that I want to be.  It doesn’t take a lot of your time, either.  I feel it is worth taking the time, because the outcomes are unbelievable.  AB,  Olean
Suppose that a good friend of yours or close family member is interested in yoga and they come to you and say:  “I know yoga is really hot right now.  I read about it everywhere and see stuff about it on TV, too, but they don’t give me too much helpful information.  Is yoga  a religion?  It is a cult?  Don’t you have to be a gymnast, practically, to do any of it?  Don’t you have to start believing in weird stuff to get anything out of it?  How come YOU decided to start taking yoga classes?”  Well, my mom and sister-in-law have actually asked me all of these questions, and this is what I told them after taking Yogabetsy yoga classes with Betsy Afton.  No, yoga is not a religion or a cult.  Although I did at one time believe that it was a cult, myself, after taking Betsy’s classes, I now know that it is not.  No, you do not have to be a gymnast to do yoga.  I’m not a gymnast, and I do it!  Anybody can do yoga, it just all depends on how flexible you are on how far you can go with some of the postures.  If you stick with it then you will be able to get further and further.  I feel personally that yoga was very worthwhile to me.  I learned many new things about yoga, and I also learned a lot about myself.  I am so glad I decided to take yoga.  I have found a great interest in it.  I can truthfully say that yoga has changed my life in a positive way.   SA,  Olean
Initially, I began to take yoga classes with Betsy Afton for two reasons.  First, I have always been a firm believer in the mind/body connection and I knew yoga emphasized this belief.  I wanted to find a way to take this idea and incorporate it into my everyday activities instead of it remaining simply a belief.  Also, I knew I needed to find a better way to relax.  Since a tragic personal loss a little over a year ago, I have found it difficult to unwind and focus on myself.  I hope yoga would have a positive impact on this for me.  Fortunately, Yogabetsy yoga classes have fulfilled my expectations.  Overall, what I find most beneficial is the yoga breathing technique.  This is something easily employed throughout everyday happenings, and I have found it helps me relax when I feel overwhelmed.  However, I enjoy all the yoga positions and look forward to my twice weekly yoga classes.  I always feel my best on those days!  Another nice thing about yoga is that it is very individualized.  You are able to tailor it to your own needs with the help of an experienced teacher such as Betsy.  I also found the meditation sessions beneficial.  I repeat these Yogabetsy yoga classes met and exceeded my expectations, and I intend to continue to be a strong advocate for yoga.  AA,  Olean
My Yogabetsy yoga classes are very worthwhile.  When I first started, I was skeptical about what it was all about, but I have since found it to be relaxing and enjoyable.  I did not have to worship an unknown god, but instead learned to relax through various stretches and meditation.  The yoga postures I learned were far from putting me in pretzel positions, and I found that the more I would relax, the easier it was to achieve the posture I was trying for.  I didn’t have to sit in a circle and hum the entire class but learned instead how to focus my thoughts in a more productive manner.  I definitely enjoy yoga and advise others to take it as well.  Namaste!   CB,  Olean
When I first told one of my friends that I was taking yoga classes, he laughed at me.  But I felt I should give it a try.  In my first class, I didn’t know what to expect, but I was up for anything.  Then I found myself struggling with some of the poses and I felt embarrassed because it was really hard.  But as I looked around, I saw that other people in the class were having the same problem!    The thing I noticed right away was that I felt results immediately that day.  I could tell my body was being revved up—I felt weak in the knees and my body was warm.  And the next day, all my muscles were so sore I couldn’t believe it!  I didn’t think I had done that much of a workout!  But as the weeks went by, I started becoming more comfortable with the postures and I was able to do them with ease; I have become more flexible and I feel better.  All the philosophies that go along with yoga make sense and are practical.  This is the first time in a long time that I have really enjoyed something so much that I want to share it with others.  For example, on a recent trip, I bought a prayer bracelet so that I could try saying a mantra I learned in yoga class.  Everyone that was with me asked why I’d bought it and I told them all about how a mantra works and what it meant and how the improvised mala worked.  They were actually fascinated by what I had to say!  I was so happy I could share something that I enjoy so much with others.  Yoga, along with  the meditation, has helped me get through some stressful times, and I am determined to stick with it because I have seen such improvement in myself because of it.  AW,  Olean
My Yogabetsy yoga classes have provided me with practical coping strategies that have assisted me in centering myself, balancing emotions, and adapting to the environment around me.  As a teenager, yoga has assisted me in my personal and spiritual transformation.  I realize I am a work in progress, and I hope that yoga will continue to be my choice as I continue in my search for physical, psychological and spiritual integration.   Throughout this class, I had an excellent opportunity to experience yoga firsthand and to see what it could offer me personally.  Yoga brings me wholeness and unity, allowing me to connect my mind and body and yet free myself from identifying with my life’s ups and downs.  Once I practiced poses, relaxation and yoga breathing, I understood what everyone who has experienced yoga, was trying to share with me.  Until then, all the books, lectures, and opinions were not enough to convince me of the power yoga holds.  I never thought a guy like me could benefit from a yoga class.  I was wrong!  Yoga has increased my relaxation, flexibility and physical awareness.  It has decreased my stress level, appetite and explosiveness.  I found, through yoga, that my thoughts have  the ability to affect my overall contentment and health.  If my thoughts are experienced just as thoughts and not as reality, then I can really begin to enjoy the freedom which yoga promises everyone.  I hope my yoga lessons are becoming a part of me; an unconscious positive reaction to whatever life has in store for me.  Thank you for sharing your knowledge of yoga with me and allowing me the opportunity to experience the power of yoga for myself.  AW,  Olean
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