I first became interested in yoga when I met Simon (Borg Olivier) in 1989. At that time, I didn’t know Simon did yoga, let alone what an important part of his life it was. When I first started going to class, I hated it – my body was stiff and weak, and I was used to participating in high-impact, competitive sports. During the first year we met however, Simon and I traveled to India and I experienced something really special – I have since been back a total of eight times to recapture that feeling of spirituality and connectedness. When I returned to Australia, I made daily yoga my mission. The time I spent practicing yoga was the only time I managed to feel totally at peace as I juggled completing a Bachelor of Science and working as a research assistant at the University of Sydney.
What I value most about yoga is how good it makes me feel, regardless of what else is going on in my life. It provides a space where I can re-establish a sense of balance. It’s a complete exercise program, and it gives me a self-massage that works on my muscles and internal organs. It’s great to know too that, if I feel tired, sore, stressed out or whatever, I know what postures and breathing exercises will help. In fact, my mind and body are now in better shape than they were twenty years ago!!
My approach to yoga is to enter each practice with an open mind. It’s about doing your own practice, in your own time, and trying to stay fully focused on what you are doing. I learned some great lessons early on in my experience of yoga – how not to react to the competitiveness of other students, to control my drive to ‘master’ a particular posture, etc. These lessons – becoming and remaining present, being aware rather than reactive, non-competitiveness – are all important principles of Hatha Yoga. We have incorporated them into the Yoga Synergy style so that our students can use their yoga practice to re-energise and to maintain their health and vitality.
I became a yoga teacher because someone asked me to do it!!! I would never have presumed to otherwise. Even after five years of intensive practice, I didn’t feel ready to teach but sometimes you’ve just got to take the leap. Besides, I really love sharing the gift I’ve been given through my practice. I feel very blessed to have been drawn into the presence of my two greatest teachers – Simon and Clive and to have been given the opportunity to become a yoga teacher.
Bianca Machliss BSc BAppSc (Physiotherapy) is a Co-Director of Yoga Synergy, one of Australia’s largest and oldest yoga schools. Bianca has been teaching since 1993. She is a registered physiotherapist, research scientist and graduate of the Australian Council for Health, Physical Education and Recreation.
Bianca started practicing yoga in 1989, assisting Simon in 1991 and teaching her own classes – after five years intensive practice – in 1993. She was initially instructed by Andrew Nethery and Simon Borg Olivier before undertaking intensive studies with Natanaga Zhander (Shandor Remete). Bianca has also been a student of such internationally revered teachers as Clive Sheridan, BKS Iyengar, and Sri K Pattabhi Jois. Over the last decade, Bianca and Simon have worked together to create the current signature Yoga Synergy sequences – Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Ether – all of which provide students with a thorough, balanced and holistic practice.
During the past 20 years, as well as running a successful yoga school, Bianca has completed a Bachelor of Science in Human Biology and a Bachelor of Applied Science in Physiotherapy. As well as teaching around 10 classes a week and participating in specialty workshops, Bianca is also responsible for managing Yoga Synergy’s back office and teacher training program. Her areas of specialty are treating musculoskeletal problems, providing exercise-based physiotherapy, and pregnancy yoga. She lives in Sydney with her partner Juliano and their child Lorenzo.
Teacher training and education
Through Yoga Synergy’s teacher training program, Bianca has personally trained more than 50 teachers – each through an intensive three-year apprenticeship. She is highly regarded for helping her trainees to develop the ability to provide clear, meaningful verbal instructions and refined physical adjustments. Many of the teachers Bianca has trained now teach at Yoga Synergy or run their own successful yoga schools – some of them overseas. In addition, Bianca has produced five educational DVDs in which she teaches the finer points of yoga and instructs students (from beginners to advanced) in the Yoga Synergy sequences.
Anatomy and physiotherapy
Early on, Simon and Bianca realized the importance of understanding the human body. Not only did they both return to university to become fully qualified physiotherapists, but together they developed Yoga Synergy’s Applied Anatomy & Physiology Course of Hatha Yoga – the only one of its kind – in conjunction with the unique Yoga Synergy style of yoga. This course is pivotal to the training of each Yoga Synergy teacher and is also attended by Yoga Synergy students, and yoga teachers and teachers-in-training from all styles of yoga.
In 2007, the couple was approached to turn this course into a tertiary course to be taught as part of the Integrative Applied Eastern Anatomy and Physiology taughtat Melbourne’s RMIT University. Bianca and Simon wrote the course and have both taught it to the university’s students. The course now forms part of a new internationally recognised degree, the Master of Wellness. The main textbook used is one that Bianca and Simon co-authored called Applied Anatomy and Physiology of Yoga.
As a yoga teacher and fully-qualified physiotherapist, Bianca has helped 1,000s of individuals to recover from musculoskeletal problems such as knee and shoulder dislocations, chronic lower back pain, sprained wrists and ankles, broken bones and neck injuries. She has also been able to provide tailored, exercise-based physiotherapy to people with medical conditions including everything from asthma to arthritis. In addition, Bianca has developed expertise in pre- and post-natal yoga and was featured – while pregnant with her son Lorenzo – in the popular Prenatal Yoga Synergy DVD.
- Bianca’s personal history and philosophy of yoga was featured in Yoga: The Essence of Life: Eight Yogis Share Their Journeys (2004) by author and journalist Alix Johnson.
- Bianca has contributed chapters on yoga to several technical books including An Introduction to Complementary Medicine (2005) edited by Terry Robson and Integrative Medicine Perspectives (2007) edited by Professor Marc Cohen.
- She also regularly contributes to magazines including Australian Yoga Life Magazine, Well Being Magazine, Australian Natural Health Magazine, Art of Healing Magazine and several Russian yoga journals.
- Photographs of Bianca’s postures have been featured in many yoga books, including Christina Brown’s bestselling book The Yoga Bible (2003), Jesse Chapman’s books Yoga Postures for Your Body, Mind and Soul (2000) and James Houston’s book One (2005).