When Christine Bandettini moved from San Rafael to Petaluma in 2003, she began looking for the right space for her holistic wellness practice called The Light Foundation.
She found it in a restored 1892 Heritage Home on B Street, where the architecture and colors were in perfect alignment and the rooms were full of light, a setting Bandettini describes as “ayurvedic.”
Bandettini, who is 70 and a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, uses a transpersonal approach with groups and individuals that “encompasses body, mind and spirit.” It includes Ayurvedic cooking for people with chronic illnesses, an interfaith prayer group and weekly workshops in yoga and mindfulness meditation, some of which are on a sliding scale or by donation.
She says she was “a bundle of nerves” upon entering graduate school at age 42 to pursue a degree in counseling phychology. It was only after she started doing yoga that she learned to relieve that anxiety. Her experience inspired her to become a certified, registered yoga teacher.
Working at the West Coast Children’s Clinic in Oakland, which supports children in foster care, Bandettini currently trains youth advocates in yoga and meditation. She even self-published a book, A to Z of Stretching and More, which was implemented in teacher trainings at local elementary schools through the Petaluma Physical Education Project Promoting Active Lifestyles in Students.
Geared toward preschool through primary grades, the yoga poses are based on letters in animal names. The step-by-step approach matches young children’s progressive motor development, the exercises building lung capacity and hand-eye coordination for reading, according to Bandettini.
Trained as a somatic therapist, she says that when people bring in their physical complaints it means their bodies are talking to them.
“What is your body saying?” she asks. “What emotions have not been released?”
Bandettini commonly works with people recovering from alcoholism, addiction and codependency, requiring that clients be clean and sober for several years before they are ready to work on underlying issues like childhood trauma. Each person is searching for something and most likely it’s a spiritual connection, Bandettini says.
“They may not realize it, but they drown their sorrow in spirits," she says.
Even when Bandettini doesn’t directly incorporate yogic techniques into her private psychotherapy practice, the philosophy informs the work she does. She teaches techniques in stress reduction such as diaphragmatic breathing, which she says alters a person’s outlook.
“Changing our thoughts changes the body-mind,” she says. “It contributes to a positive, proactive lifestyle, which is healing.”
Upcoming classes at the Light Foundation:
Light of Consciousness Monthly Meditation Classes
Second Wednesday of the month, starting April 11, 6:45-8 PM
Yoga & Mindfulness Classes
Tuesday 7-8 PM and Wed. 4:30-5:45 PM
$15 per session
Weekly Interfaith Prayer Group
For information & to register, call (707) 765-3995