Sunday, November 29, 2009

Know Your Food - Food Inc.

If we have a brand new Mercedes Benz, we would be sure to put premium fuel in it, and the best oil because we know that diesel fuel would do damage to our lovely car. In the same manner we should know what the food is that we put into our bodies. For many people who practice yoga in the West we come across the debate to be Vegan, Vegetarian, Eat Meat, Eat Fish etc. In India many people practice a Vegetarian diet because Yoga originally was a Hindu practice, and in the Hindu faith they abstain from eating meat. Many yogis also avoid the consumption of meat for the principal of Ahimsa or non harming.

While most of my life I ate a primarily vegetarian diet, I have also eaten meat. Growing up, I was used to fresh, farm meat (we actually had our own chickens) at the dinner table. Along with that, on my many trips to India, all the meat served was fresh, never from a grocery store refrigerated package, rather from the backyard. The meat was small or I should say normal size, compared to the turkey size chickens that are filling the grocery store meat sections today. While the meat may have been healthier when from a non GMO farm, my love for animals was the reason why I gravitated to the vegetarian dishes.

Getting back to the topic of knowing your food...whether you eat meat, or not, it is important to know where your food comes from. Educate yourself on the reality of factory farming in the West. If it doesn't bother you that animals are manufactured in the way that they are, at least you can make an informed choice. You should know your food before you put it in your body. People may not want to admit publicly that there could be a link with our genetically modified meat products and the rapid rise in various diseases, because this is a billion dollar industry that has a lot of government support. However, it is every individuals right to investigate, educate and then come up with the best decision that meets their health goals. Here are some excellent resources that can better highlight the Western food industry:
  • Food Inc. (a brilliant documentary)
  • Eating Animals, By Jonathan Safran Foer (a novel style account of the food industry)
  • The Omnivores Dilema, By Michael Pollan
  • In Defense of Food, By Michael Pollan
When we do things with a purpose, our lives are better, and our world is better. In the same manner, when we eat with a purpose, our bodies are better and our world is better. Perhaps I could tell everyone to drop the fast food burgers, fried chicken, decrease salt and sugar intake, and replace it with fresh veggies, fruits, legumes, and advise people read the labels avoiding the excessive soy, soy lecithin, high fructose corn syrup products...but I think it is better for people to make the choice on their own, but it should be an educated choice. Treat your body, like you would your Benz, and use only the best! ~ Peace & hugs

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! Although giving thanks should be done everyday, in America we commemorate the day that the first Thanksgiving meal was shared today. We are very fortunate and have much to be thankful for. The aftermath of my recent cold has been my new sultry/congestion voice, and since that was all, I woke up and headed to The Missionaries of Charity in the Bronx. Every year, I like to help out at this wonderful soup kitchen in NYC, because since I was a little girl I have had a fondness to the actual Mission. The Missionaries of Charity was founded by Mother Teresa, and here in NYC they provide food, shelter and hospices to the needy people of the community. The Sisters that run the mission are familiar with me as a volunteer, and remembered that I was in the impromptu play last year, so this year again, I was quickly cast in the new play. Alongside the hidden talent of the people who come to the shelter, myself and two sisters from the Mission put on a new original Thanksgiving play, which echoed the biblical theme of "The Stone that the builders rejected, has become the corner stone". I was cast as a builder, and arranged the stones, which were actually the people who come to the shelter dressed in cardboard boxes. This year, I was amazed to see the new volunteers that came and shared there kindness of heart. The continued generosity of spirit of the Sisters and the Volunteers was enough to find a reasons to give thanks.

I have mentioned this volunteer opportunity to many people, and this year was the first year that another person came along. Special Thanks to Hank, who faithfully attends my 6:30 am yoga class at Bamboomoves! I had mentioned casually what my plans were for Thanksgiving after our Monday morning class, and told Hank to google the Missionaries of Charity, since I didn't have the address on me at the time. When I got off the train this morning, and walked in the direction of the Mission, there was Hank in his car honking and waving. Initially, I waved backed, thinking it was another random person in NYC that likes to honk and wave at female pedestrians, until he rolled down the window and called my name. I was so happy! Often times the men who volunteer wind up lifting the big cooking containers with food, and I was so impressed with how Hank immersed himself into the volunteer experience. While I had fun in the play and doing the clean up. It was so great to have another person I know come along to experience a different type of Thanksgiving! It is great to give thanks, and sometimes when we give, we find more reasons to give thanks! Thanks Hank for sharing your time with the needy people of NYC.

Later, I was able to feast on some yummy vegetarian Indian food with my friends here in NYC. Personally, I have so many things to be thankful, family, good friends, shelter, music, yoga, food, and as I am typing I realize I could probably go on for hours.....Giving Thanks is awesome! Happy Thanksgiving! ~ Peace & hugs, Ambria

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Finding Balance in Flight - Warrior 3 (Virabhadrasana III)

Like any yoga teacher, adjusting themes for classes, and introducing a yoga flow that establishes a reoccurring theme is a common goal. It keeps the classes new, fresh and fun. It also allows students to challenge there bodies in new ways.

Today in both my morning Yoga class at Bamboo and my private sessions, students worked on finding balance with Warrior Three. The entire flow was built around this pose to encourage students to focus, breathe, and find balance. In this pose, the core is engaged the toes are relaxed, and the gaze is fixed. Personally, I have noticed that all students find balance best when they have established a focus point (dristi) before actually lifting into the balance pose.

*dristi - something to stare/gaze/focus on

To do this pose:
  1. Begin in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) Inhale
  2. Exhale - step the left foot back into a high lunge, with the right knee bent around 90 degrees.
  3. Find a focus point (dristi) on the floor in front of you.
  4. Send the arms forward, parallel to the floor.
  5. Simultaneously press the heel of the right foot into the floor, as you energize and lift the left leg behind you.
  6. Keep hips parallel to the floor & breathe.
  7. Release into a forward fold and repeat on the other side.
For more advanced students the flow can be:
  1. Begin in Tadasana (Mountain Pose), Inhale and reach the arms up
  2. Find a dristi
  3. Press into the right foot, send the arms forward and left leg back
This pose can be incorporated with a Warrior Sequence. Warrior 3 increases stamina, and strengthens ankles. It also helps to find a sense of grounding and balance, especially for those in a chaotic daily schedule. Like any balance posture, it may be challenging for people with flat feet or weak arches, so focus on lifting the arch of the foot on the floor.
Enjoy your Yoga Practice!
~ Peace & Hugs, Ambria

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving @ Bamboomoves

Thanksgiving came early at Bamboomoves. This past Sunday, Bamboo had an amazing Thanksgiving party. The menu was pot luck Vegan Yumminess!!! There was so much food that we had left over. While I was suffering with the sniffles, I came for a short while to introduce my friend and talented Indian Flute (Bansuri) player, Eric Fraser. A few people noticed how I had been standing at a distance, and this was unusual, so I signaled to them and whispered with my new found sultry phlegm voice that I have a little cold. The evening began with a packed studio, and the certificates being awarded to the Brave new group of ladies that completed the 21 day health & wellness challenge. These ladies lost weight, look amazing and most importantly feel amazing! We progressed the night with a lovely meditation, and spontaneous sharing of thankfullness, followed by the yummy food, the brilliant bansuri sounds of Eric Fraser and finally a rockin Kirtan. Eric wound up joining the Kirtan to jam. It was a great night, and wonderful to see a family friendly vibe in a growing yoga community! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Pictured on Bottom (Eric Fraser )
Pictured on Top (Kirtan and Eric Fraser)

Yogi Beans New Tunes

Yogi Beans is another Kids Yoga experience that I am happy to be apart of. Kids get to stretch, learn yoga poses, work on breathing exercises, sing, do meditation, relax and most importantly HAVE FUN!!! I am so happy that Yogi Beans has got some New Tunes!!!! While I think music is so wonderful to add to a Yoga class for any age, I am so thrilled to be using the new Yogi Beans music. For a few weeks I had been using my own original Kids Yoga Music in YB classes which the kids loved, but now I am so happy to share the new Yogi Beans music in the classes too! So far all age groups have been digging the tunes. Hip Hip Horray for Yoga & Music!!! If you are interested in learning more about the Kids Yoga Experience with Yogi Beans visit

Kids Yoga/Meditation @ Bamboomoves

At Bamboomoves our kids yoga class is quickly gaining popularity, which is the reason for the newly added monday night class. The kids at Bamboomoves inspire my yoga practice with their enthusiasm, kindness, and energy. Their positive reaction to the Yoga practice is so wonderful. With weeks spent doing yoga stretches, original songs, and yoga games we took a deeper dive into meditation. We raise our voices high beginning with an original Mandala song, then we slowly begin to do a seated meditation, and close with a mandala/yoga pose coloring page. Kids are asked to write what they love about yoga, what they are thankful for etc. It is a creative way for them to enter into a meditative experience. Being that this is Thanksgiving week, I am so thankful to be able to combine my love for yoga/music, with my love for working with kids, because kids really are amazing! If you or someone you know is interested in trying out a kids yoga class at Bamboomoves we offer them Saturdays 11:15am and Mondays 5:30pm. ~Peace & hugs.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Chakras - "How's Your Manipura?"

Often times during both private & group sessions, I introduce people to the Chakras. These subtle body connections help deepen the yoga practice. The Manipura Chakra (the city of jewels, 3rd chakra) also called the solar plexus is related to will power, sense of sensual self, and sense of intuition related to self. This chakra is located around the navel.

Early on with one of my private clients, I introduced the chakra system with specific attention on Manipura. After a break from chakra work, ironically, I suggested we work on the chakras again and said "How do you feel about your Manipura?". She somehow translated it into "How do you feel about your money or poorer?" and responded, "Oh I'm doing good thanks" for a minute we both had a puzzled expression, carefully figured out the miscommunication, laughed hysterically, and to this day whenever we work on the Chakras, our little joke about Manipura comes up.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Yogini Joke of the Day!

After Yoga class it is very common for students to ask questions to the instructor for better living, and holistic health. Today the question of vitamins was brought up...

Q: What is the best vitamins to take to be a happy person?
A: B1

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Dosha Workshop @ Bamboomoves

Tonight I had the pleasure of working with the new group of health enthusiasts, who are participating in the 21 Day Challenge at Bamboomoves, under the expert guidance of the lovely Carissa. I introduced the group to elements of Ayurveda, and guided them in discovering their Dosha (Ayuredic constitution). This new group of gorgeous gals have immersed themselves into a regular fitness routine, a clean vegan diet, and various workshops/information sessions that are part of the 21 Days to Health and Wellness Challenge, all while supporting and encouraging each other along the journey. Tonight they learned ways to eat for a well balanced Dosha, and ways to monitor their wellness with better understanding of their Dosha. Some of these ladies have attended my Yoga classes regularly, and have made an amazing commitment to the challenge. It is truly inspiring when you see people eager to improve their health, and be committed to making the necessary changes. Good job ladies! Thank you for letting me participate on your journey. Our session was only an hour, so we did not get to take a group picture, but most importantly, If you ever have any questions or concerns, please feel free to email me or talk to me after yoga classes. Wish you the best of Holistic Health and Wellness!!!!
~ Peace and hugs,

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Yogini Joke of the Day!

Q: Why did it take so long for the Buddhist Yogini to vacuum?
A: Because she didn't have any attachments!

Yoga for Smokers

It is my belief that yoga is beneficial to all people, regardless of age, gender, race etc. It is a mind, body, spirit connection. Often times this world offers many tempting things that create a disconnect within us, which may come in the form of toxic bad habits, toxic addictions, toxic relationships etc. Why yoga is beneficial for smokers is easy, it is because of the breath. The primary aspect of yoga is the breath/pranayama, and smokers get into the habit of inhaling long breaths, which calms their nervous system. Most smokers when they begin smoking it is because that deep breathing pattern relaxes them, it is not because the smell of a burning cigarette down the throat is relaxing. I have never been a smoker myself, but one of my clients is a testament to yoga being an amazing substitute to kick the habit of smoking. So if you want to encourage your friends to kick the toxic habit of smoking, introduce them to Yoga, but leave the cigarette pack outside of the classroom. It is a great way to replace a negative, toxic habit with a positive healthy habit. Deep breathing does a body good!
~ Peace & hugs,

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Tree Pose - Vrikshahsana

While in the gorgeous Philadelphia, I noticed the amazing trees in lush fall colors. I decided to be a "Tree on a Rock". With a sign "No Rock Climbing" very close by, my rebel yogini side came out, and I decided to find balance and execute tree pose, on a rock! With one gush of wind, it would have been an interesting drop, but I still maintained my desire to be a tree on a rock. While the challenge of the pose is finding balance, the rock beneath my feet added a deeper challenge. To do tree pose successfully:
  1. Begin in Tadasana/Mountain Pose, with feet together, firmly planted, and arms at your sides.
  2. Inhale, and bend the left knee, and bring the sole of the foot to the inner right thigh. Exhale.
  3. Inhale, bring the hands to the heart or over head and breathe.
  4. Maintain balance with right toes pointed forward, inner arch lifted, squared hips, and focus on a focal point/dristi.
  5. It also helps to imagine yourself as a strong tree with roots into the ground.

Tree pose helps to strengthen thighs, calves, back, and increases flexibility in groin and hips. This pose improves focus, balance and concentration. It also is helpful for people with flat feet.

My Brilliant Lena - Kids Yoga

Last Sunday was a tearful goodbye to my lovely Lena. Lena has been working on Yoga with me through Yogi Beans for quite a while now. Her warm spirit, enthusiasm, genuine kindness to fellow classmates and love for yoga has inspired my personal practice. From the time I met Lena, she has always had a way of saying the most profound wise statements. Even her observations of her surroundings have always been wise beyond her years. Every week, I watched as she would dive into yoga poses with ease and joy. While I have enjoyed working with this wonder kid, due to scheduling, she is now in another class. I know that she will be awe inspiring to her new group, and I can only hope that we will practice yoga together again in the future. It is amazing how we build bonds within a yoga class. At the end of class, Lena wiped away tears and said she wished she could stay in my class, I was moved deeply and wish the same, but understand that sometimes we have to make adjustments for scheduling purposes. In the words of Lena, "I will treasure my yoga classes with her forever". ~ Peace & hugs, Ambria

Tour of Philadelphia with Karma Road Director

When most of NYC was celebrating the World Series win for the Yankees, I was in Philadelphia meeting with the Director of Karma Road. Karma Road is a brilliant film by up & coming Director, Mihir Pathak. I have been given the honor to not only have a small role in the film but also to do the musical score. Unfortunately, when I arrived in Philadelphia, there was a minor set back, so instead I enjoyed a mini tour of the city. Since my days have been full with yoga sessions, shiatsu, music and commuting, I loved enjoyed having the day off. I saw the famous Philadelphia Museum where the film Rocky was shot, and I ran up the steps like the Universal Tourist that I am. It was lots of fun. Thanks Mihir for the tour of your lovely city!
(Pictured: myself & Mihir, The Rocky Run, The Rocky Win)

Prenatal Belly dance/Yoga Session

When working in my private sessions, clients always have the luxury of creating a session geared at their individual needs. Recently, I was doing a private prenatal yoga session, and the lovely lady requested that we do some belly dance too. So after beginning with some yogic breathing, stretching and vocal toning, we put on some belly dance music, coin hip scarves and shimmied the rest of the session. Many people are unaware the belly dance originally was a birthing dance. It allows women to loosen up the wrist joints, shoulders, back, strengthen the hips, legs, and most importantly have fun! Along with that, it is a great form of cardiovascular exercise, and allows a pregnant woman to feel sexy again, since the dance itself is very enticing and sensual. We wound up ending our session with some Reiki. Private sessions are always fun because it gives both the instructor and student the chance to dive deep into the practice. Thanks Carolina! ~ Peace & hugs, Ambria