Friday, June 26, 2009

We Love You Michael Jackson

Yesterday, Thursday June 25, 2009, the world lost a music legend.  Michael Jackson will forever be remembered as the King of Pop.  At the tender age of 50, Michael took his last breath.  Many will grieve his loss because of his true inspirational genius as an entertainer.  For every musician Michael has set a standard of excellence, paved the way with true innovation, and created heart felt music.  His virtuoso dancing talent is second to none.  While so many artists today attempt to mimic the "formula" of Michael, no one has yet to come close to his original extraordinary gift for performance.  

Being a musician myself, I have to admit that growing up, I had a white glove, I new every Michael Jackson song, and would moonwalk around my house every so often.  I even lip-synced "Billy Jean" in a contest while on vacation in Dominican Republic, complete with moonwalk, crotch grabbing, jumping off the stage extending one hand in the air to the side, and singing every word with total joy.  
His gift for music makes people feel good.  His gift for music touches every soul.  Michael's passion and rare talent will live on forever in his music.  While many fans around the world grieve the loss of Michael, my condolences go out to his family who lost a special loved.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Bikram Yoga @ The Solstice 2009

The longest day of sunshine, Sunday June 21st, 2009, only today the sun hid behind many clouds and rain poured off and on.  It was still the Solstice.  Not only is today Fathers' Day (Happy Fathers' Day Daddy), it is also that time when Yogis gather in Times Square to do YOGA.  After teaching some morning Yoga classes, I decided to check it out.  There was a brilliant Sitar player playing, a sea of people carrying Yoga mat Bags.  I decided to join.  The session I signed up for was the afternoon Bikram class.  In the past my experience with Bikram Yoga was not so pleasant, but being that this was outdoors and not a hot day, I was ready to try Bikram Yoga again.  Our instructor stood at the front with Tiger mini shorts on and guided us through the poses.  In Bikram every pose is done twice except for the seated twist.  We were all given great goody bags which included a T-shirt and Yoga Mat.  It was a wonderful experience to practice Yoga with a large group of people in the heart of Manhattan.  With onlookers watching and taking photos, cars zooming by, and even a wedding party that decided to take photos behind us, this was an amazing experience of focus and inner peace.  This free event attracts a wide variety of participants and even draws in people new to yoga.  The energy was great!  The sun peaked through the clouds a few times and luckily it did not rain till I went home.  I hope to continue participate in the Solstice and maybe next year teach one of the classes.

Indian Classical Concert @ Namaste Williamsburg

My wonderful Bansuri Flute teacher held an intimate concert at Namaste in Williamsburg Brooklyn.  The evening was ripe with the smooth rippling sounds of Indian Classical Music.  Eric Fraser played flute while Ehren Hanson played the Tabla.  They played Rag Yaman, then escalated the evening to more playful pieces.  Eric has a gift for playing the Bansuri and a fabulous knowledge of Raga.  While the weather in NYC was calling for a monumental rain storm, the evening remained dry and humid which attracted only the true fans of Raga and also fans of Eric & Ehren. The wonderful essence of Namaste provided the perfect back drop for this special event.  For more information about Eric visit:

Happy Fathers' Day!

To all the Fathers around the world...Happy Fathers Day.  Today we celebrate the strength, love, and hard work of our daddy's.  I would like to wish my daddy (the best daddy in the world) a HAPPY HAPPY DAY!  Thank you for being the best example of how an amazing daddy and an amazing husband should be.  You have set the bar high for any potential men who come into my life.   Your never ending love and support mean more than words can describe.  Thank you for teaching me to be disciplined, independant, and a good friend.  I love you Daddy.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Summer Solstice - Yoga in Times Square NYC

It is that time of year again when Yogis from all over New York gather to do Yoga, in Times Square.  The Summer Solstice, Sunday June 21st, will be a chance for people to enjoy the experience of Sun Salutations, and much more in the heart of this amazing city.  Finding focus and inner peace in the busiest part of Manhattan, making new friends, and sharing amazing energy with fellow yoga enthusiasts.  Last year was a blast!  Hopefully, the weather will be sunny and beautiful this year too!!!  For more information about this event visit

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Jivamukti Yoga with Alanna @ Pure Yoga

After a long time of practicing Yoga on my own, I revisited the classroom and took a Jivamukti Yoga class with Alanna @ Pure Yoga.  My body has been tight from my personal Yoga practice but my heart was aching for a group class.

I enter in the classroom, the mats are spread out, with fresh towels and blocks.  Alanna enters in with her guitar and has an assistant Danna to help students get into the pose.  We begin class chanting "Om Nama Shivaya", and slowly Alanna starts to play her guitar.  Her voice cascades over all of us like a trickling water fall.  As with all Jivamukti classes, each month there is a set theme that all teachers use.  The theme for this month is addiction.  She guides us into Child's Pose and every student has the aromatic Jivamukti China Gel rubbed into the sacral area.

The class is an amazing Vinyasa class.  We go through a fantastic flow with Sun Salutations, twists, trees, and more.  We are taught to jump through to sit, prepare for headstand, breath in pigeon pose, and enjoy the workout that Yoga provides.  The assists that Alanna and Danna provide are brilliant.  We sweat, we smile, we stretch, and we slowly compile into Savasana.  

The part I loved about this class so much was the Savasana.  The lights are off, our bodies melt into the mat and Alanna revisits her guitar.  She sings a gorgeous song that carries us into this relaxation pose.  While Jivamukti is known for its approach to chanting, Alanna brought such a warmth to her chants and assists.  I recommend a Jivamukti class with Alanna anytime.  For more information about Jivamukti style Yoga classes visit:

Yogi Beans At Pure Yoga

New York city was faced with a monsoon rain, and today I was faced with the challenge of commuting all over the city.  With 2 Yoga classes, a Private Body Work session, and finally a Yogi Beans class at Pure Yoga.

So as my fabulous day trickles down,  I arrive at Pure Yoga on the East Side of Manhattan completely wet from the rain.  The entrance alone invites you into another world of tranquility.  It is the Mega Dream Yoga studio of NYC.  I am guided downstairs and meet my students.  We begin our class.  We Om, we breathe, we salute the sun, we stretch, we go on a Yoga Adventure, I read a Yoga Story, We sing, and finally we do Mandalas.  Mandalas are beautiful geometric diagrams that kids can color and are very meditative.

My amazing student Chester colored his Mandala and presented it to me with "For Ambria, Love Chester" written on top.  He told me he wants me to keep it so I remember him forever and ever.  AND I WILL!!! How sweet!!!  He also told me that there is an Island in the Caribbean called "Ambrialand" and that I am the President.  Loving that idea!!! Wow, teaching Kids Yoga definitely makes commuting in the rain worth every drop.  

Naked Yoga - The Reprise

So, the first time I was exposed (figuratively and literally) to Naked Yoga, I was a participant in the class.  It was an eye opening experience.  I was amazed by the overwhelming sense of humility and vulnerability, which was all ushered in with the guidance of the brilliant Isis, of the Phoenix Temple here in NYC.  Being a Yoga Instructor and a musician, I naturally engaged in conversations with both Isis and the lovely Bass player.  As soon as Isis found out that I am also a musician, she graciously invited me back to participate as a musician.  While I was reluctant, I agreed.

As I pledged to immerse myself in all avenues of music and Yoga, I decided to face this new challenge.  So, fast forward to Memorial Day, 2009.  I am having a fun afternoon with a friend, and reluctant to play for the class.  Once again, the natural intimidation of nudity for this tenderly prudish girl arises.  However, I venture on the train dressed in a beautiful white dress, with my guitar and Bansuri (Indian Flute).  I had not practiced or prepared anything to play for the yoga class.

I enter in and meet with Isis.  Once again, her energy and bubbly personality put me at ease.  The class is an intimate group of four students.  I am situated at the front of the room on a large cushion, beside Isis who is seated on her yoga mat.  We are guided through our opening meditation and in the customary manner we remove our clothes.  I begin to play the flute, Raga Yaman, as best as I can with some colorful improvisation and long haunting notes while the class starts the initial warm up.  Slowly I progress to my guitar, singing and playing some renditions of my own material, a collection of my love songs.  

The energy transfer between myself, Isis, and the class was something out of this world.  I can only say that every note I sang and played was guided by a force beyond the room.  This was an experience similar to a Jazz ensemble that plays a standard for the first time together, improvises and takes the listener to a spiritual dimension that has not been visited.  I only wish that I had set up some sort of audio recording device, to have captured the beauty of the evening.  It left me with a brand new experience, and also a soft, sensual new acoustic version of my songs.  This was the most unique gig I have ever played so far.  For more information or if you are brave and would like to participate in Naked Yoga visit:

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Great Summer Read - The Snow Leopard, By Peter Matthiessen

 Riding on the subway between Yoga sessions, allows for great time to read.  Recently, a good friend lent me an amazing book called "The Snow Leopard".  The vivid account of adventurer Peter Matthiessen and his zoologist friend George Schaller on their search to find the rare Snow Leopard in the crystal region of the Himalayan mountains is an amazing account.  The journey takes the reader into the beautiful scenery of the high desert regions of Nepal and deep into the heart and soul of the characters.  With a Zen backdrop, the story leads the reader into a sense of self discovery, especially with the importance of living in the moment.  

A profound use of imagery draws the reader deep into the journey.  The expedition in this book paints a lyrical and poetic narrative which leaves you eager to turn the page and catch a glimpse of this rare Snow Leopard.  The author takes you into the trials and pleasures of his travels.  You feel as though you are trekking beside him, feeling the snow crunching under foot, withstanding the challenges of blistering sun, witnessing the beauty of the surrounding exotic animals and meeting with the local people in this lonely mystical region of Nepal.  This book is a breathtaking account of an adventure that is both spiritual and physical.  I enjoyed this book so much, and would recommend it to everyone.  This is a classic book that you will love to read again and again.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Super Soccer Star & Yogi Beans Boat Cruise 2009

An enchanting evening with my lovely girl friends from Yogi Beans, courtesy of the amazing crew at Super Soccer Stars.  We are on board a cruise ship sailing around the magical island of Manhattan.  The air is crisp, the view is breathtaking, and the atmosphere is lots of fun.  This was my first time on a cruise, so the initial rocking of the docked boat was something to get used to. Soon the boat began to move, and we took in the wonder of this brilliant city of New York.  The illuminated skyline, the decorated bridges, and even a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty from a distance.  We stayed around the upper part of the boat, outside, enjoying the breeze, and slowly  migrated down to the main floor.  Anxiously awaiting dinner we were entertained by a fantastic tap dancing duo (twin brothers) and a fabulous accordion player.  They were high energy and lots of fun to watch.  Finally dinner, the Yogi Bean ladies made a B line to the Buffet.  After the yummy food, we danced, laughed, shared some drinks, and danced, and danced, and danced some more.  It was a fun night with good times.  The Super Soccer Stars crew know how to party!  Thank you Gustavo & Sara of Super Soccer Stars and Lauren (Founder of Yogi Beans) for inviting us.  This was my first cruise and it was lots of fun.  The picture from left to right is Rachel, Sara, Debbie, Ambria and Lauren, we missed two of our other Yogi Bean instructors Meghan and Lindsay.  

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Pigeon Crescent Pose

A lovely variation on Pigeon Pose is Pigeon Crescent.  This pose majestically opens up the hips and facilitates concentrated breath work.  This pose is one of my favorites to end a Hip Opening Class with.  Pigeon Pose and it's variations are especially beneficial for ladies, as many women tend to be tight in this region.  How to safely come into this pose is as follows:
  • Begin in Downward Dog, inhale and extend right leg to the sky in one legged dog, bend the right knee and sweep it through to rest beside your right hand. Left leg is extended flat while hips are squared.  Exhale.
  • Inhale, Bend your left knee, reach for your left foot with your right hand and place it in the crook of your left elbow.
  • Keeping the left foot in the crook of the elbow, raise your right arm overhead and reach to touch your fingers/clasp hands with your left & right hand. Exhale.
  • Arch slightly into the pose, open the chest and maintain the weight of the torso over your hips.
  • Hold the pose for 3 - 5 breaths and feel the bliss resonating in your body!
  • Release hands, exhale and extend left foot back, prostrate forward and slowly step your right foot back into Downward facing Dog.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

After Yoga Tea Time @ Namaste

After a lovely Yoga class at Namaste it is common to find some members of the class stay for a cup of tea. The tea is a signature Namaste blend of Lavender, Sage, Rose and other lovely herbs. After my last Open Level class that I taught, myself and a few students gathered for some tea and discussion. I was amazed to hear one of my students share a story where she incorporated Ujjayi breathing while under a stressful situation at work. She works at a high end Wine Bar in NYC, as a cook and admitted that the Ujjayi Breathing (pranayama) technique helped her to find a calm sense of peace.

Ujjayi Breathing is the act of expanding the diaphragm, allowing the breath to travel up the chakras, inhaling and exhaling through the nose, and making an audible ocean like sound on the exhale which is done by tightening the glottis. The breath is calming and brings balance to the body while also heating the body. This technique is common in Power Yoga or Ashtanga classes, and especially in transitions between intense poses in a regular Vinyasa Flow class. I was amazed to hear that this student incorporated this popular Pranayama (breathing) technique in her work atmosphere. Once again an example of Yoga at Work.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Toga with Yogi Beans

I love love love to Teach with Yogi Beans.  Yogi Beans offers amazing Yoga classes for kids.  The classes offer structure, pranayama (breathing exercises), Asana (postures), and most importantly FUN!!! Along with the physical strength and flexibility gained, Kids concentration, balance, and focus improve much like an adult experience with a Yoga class.  One of the favorite games that the kids enjoy is TOGA.  Toga involves kids balancing on one foot, as they grab a pom pom with their toe and put it into a bucket.  This games improves concentration, balance, and team work skills.  Kids Love Toga and I love to share it with them!  For more information about Yogi Beans classes for kids and mommy & me please visit:

Ambria Live @ Peoples Lounge

Recently, I was invited to open the show for a lovely artist Shelita Vaughn & her band @ The Peoples Lounge in the Lower East Side of Manhattan.  The charming venue was packed with a friendly group of people enjoying the signature Hurricanes, and the after work ambiance.  This was the first time I met Shelita in person.  After we met, she introduced me to the band and the MC.  I began to do a sound check and jam a little with the bassist and drummer which was too fun!  As the evening progresses, more delightful people trickle in and I decide that I am going to seduce the crowd with a set of my romantic love songs.  Fred, the MC, introduces me to the crowd highlighting that beyond Music I also teach Yoga and belly dance which seems to draw applause and excitement from the crowd.  The lights are dim, the mood is still, and I begin to play the keys and sing my first song.  The exuberant crowd inspired me to share a new song I had just written an hour before the gig called "Love & Laughter".  It was only after the performance that I mentioned the song was written an hour prior, and they showered me with even more applause, which made me feel that the song is a keeper.  After my set, Shelita and her band took the stage.  Her music has a Southern Jazzy Pop feel, complete with keys, guitar, bass, drums, horns and background vocalists.  Shelita looked stunning and has a buttery voice.  The crowd is so great and I look forward to playing this venue again on the last Wednesday of the month.  For more music visit: or

PreNatal Shoulder Stand @ Namaste

Teaching PreNatal yoga is always a wonderful experience.  The radiant energy that women have while pregnant, the humorous attitude, and the natural bonding that takes place in a prenatal yoga class is always beautiful.  Recently, after teaching class at Namaste Williamsburg, my student requested to stay after to do a shoulder stand.  There are many reasons and contraindications why I usually avoid inversions in Prenatal, however my student insisted that she is comfortable with the practice.  She began with legs up the wall, and gracefully lifted off into shoulder stand.  She was amazing!  While it is true that shoulder stand and inversions make women feel good because of the reverse pressure of gravity on their body, it is still something to do for a limited time, with permission of your physician and under supervision.