Brooke Robertson

The parking lot was dark and the sun had met its horizon early before the 6:30 p.m. class started at A Natural Balance. Neighboring businesses in the Arroyo Grande one-story complex were dark and abandoned for the evening.

Light glowing from A Natural Balance the night of Nov. 6 merely captivated the sense of sight. The class began wordlessly upon entering the establishment, engaging the sense of smell.

A Natural Balance, founded in 2001, is described as an “integrative wellness center.” Upon first glimpse around the business, one may think that the retail room lined with shelves of vitamins, herbs, natural oils and countless variously shaped bottles is the extent of the operation.

However, the U-shaped halls leading from the front extend to rooms offering services such as acupuncture, massage, day spa treatments, skin care treatments, hypnotherapy, intravenous vitamin therapy, chiropractic treatments, nutritional analysis and counseling and laser therapy.

Gary E. Foresman and spa manager Lynda Foresman hosted the free health class, “Nature’s elixir: The art and science of aromatherapy.”

The class encompassed the history and science of essential oils: why essential oils work, the “essential five” oils to own (lavender, lemon, tea tree, peppermint and eucalyptus) and how to use them.

“I really rely on these oils to help me. There are many natural ways of dealing with common ailments, and they should be given a try,” Lynda said.

“I heard about this from the newspaper,” said Lee Ann Simmons, 71. “It’s my first time in the store but I have friends that come here often. I dealt with a holistic doctor in the Bay Area and it worked; I believe in it.”

The 16 seats available were taken. Attendees followed along with the provided handout, “Aromatherapy and the essential five,” turning pages simultaneously. Pens occasionally made short sentences on notepads. The audience was free to ask questions and offer feedback, but most remained quiet and listened intently to its hosts.

“Medicine is supposed to be fun and these (essential oils) are fun to use. I can give you a lot of boring information on why essential oils work but I encourage you to go out and use them,” Gary said.

“You can be your own expert by being experimental. You should really have these (essential five oils) in your home. There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of years of people from multiple cultures using all these.”

A Natural Balance hosts free health classes on the third Tuesday of each month. Their “Healing at the speed of light” class will be offered 7 p.m. Thursday as an introduction to the healing capacities of laser technology. A schedule of their classes can be found on their Web site,, or by calling (805) 481-3442.

Those interested in attending a class are encouraged to call ahead as space is limited.

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