Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Quote of the Day - Mother Teresa

It is not the magnitude of our actions but the amount of love that is put into them that matters. ~ Mother Teresa

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sri Dharma Mittra

Sri Dharma Mittra is well known as a teachers teacher. He is heralded in NYC and around the world as a Yoga Guru. If you have seen the famous picture with 908 yoga poses, you might already know that the "model" or yogi in the pictures is the wonderful, Dharma Mittra. Before I decided I wanted to get certified to teach yoga, I thought I wanted to do my training with Dharma Mittra. After extensive research, I appreciated his authentic approach to the spiritual path and self realization that Yoga really offers. Unfortunately, due to a few physical injuries my asana practice suffered and I was highly intimidated to do my teacher training with Sri Dharma Mittra. For over a year, I have written in my journal a list of things to do, and attending a Dharma Mittra class was one of them. Somehow, a music gig, a yoga session, studio session etc became reason or excuse for me putting it off. I also knew that my asana practice has yet to embrace a strong headstand practice.

Recently, Andrew, the founder of Bamboomoves and devoted student of Sri Dharma Mittra encouraged me to go. He told me that the vibration of the studio was enough to help me get past my own yoga asana needs. I listened and went to the studio as a student (Thank you Andrew). From my first step into the studio, I was transported to the peaceful energy that I have felt every time I stepped off the plane when going to India. If you have been to India, you know what I speak of. A serene, spiritual energy, joy, vibration that is out of this world. Somehow, Dharma Mittra has captured the essence of India in his NYC studio. The simple studio, with Indian Music playing softly, fragrant incense burning, lovely garland adorned photos of yoga gurus, and the "vibration" that Andrew mentioned. I took a Beginner class with a wonderful instructor, Amitai. My yoga mat faced a picture of Paramahnsa Yogananda who is one of my favorite authors (Autobiography of a Yogi, Laws of Success, The Yoga of Jesus, Metaphysical Meditations, and many more) I knew as I looked to Paramahnsa's photo during my warrior poses, that I was meant to be there. I hope to go back to the lovely Dharma Mittra studio, and take more classes. It is important for Yoga Instructors to take classes, and be a student as well, thank you Amitai for providing a lovely experience. Hopefully, I will get the chance to take a class with Dharma Mittra one day. If you have a chance to take a yoga class at the Dharma Mittra studio, it will be an experience you will embrace forever.
Picture: Sri Dharma Mittra

Sade at Bamboomoves

Every week the people of Bamboomoves line up there yoga mats and are ready for class. The devoted regular people usually have their favorite spot, and are prepared to sweat and deepen their practice. Since I am a musician first, I believe in the importance of music. From a yogic perspective we are all made of vibration, our chakras are all awakened with certain tones and this is another reason why music has such healing abilities. This is a Science that today in the West is regarded as "new" alternative treatment called "music therapy" while in the East, for centuries, the Yogis understood how music has the power to heal, hence, the reason for our Om and various other chants done on specific notes. Normally I provide a play list of songs that flow through some Indian Classical music, chants, and a variety of soft rock/pop songs by popular musicians that I enjoy like Norah Jones, Sting, Anoushka Shankar, John Legend, Alicia Keys, Dixie Chicks, Coldplay, Bob Marley, Lenny Kravitze, Sade, and Ambria (myself of course.....I figure I have a captive audience so I include some of my original music on the play list) and many more artists. Well, this Saturday, one of my devoted adult yoga students, Martha, mentioned how she has the new Sade album, (me too, I am a HUGE Sade fan, LOVE the new album) and said she would let me borrow it to use in our class play list. She gave me a brilliant idea, and I just played my "Sade" play list on my Ipod. In the past I veered away from doing this, because I feared I would forget that I am the teacher, and just start singing along, but class was awesome, and I saved my singing along till when we were all on the floor doing supine stretches. When the song "King of Sorrow" came on, ironically we were in an intense pose, so I made sure to point out the irony of this, which brought a nice chuckle to the group. Sade is number one after years of what many fans looked at as retirement, only to return with an awesome new album at NUMBER #1 on the charts, as a HUGE fan, I am not surprised. From a Yogic perspective, her music touches upon all aspects of love which opens the heart chakra, and tonally, in my opinion the vocal and instrumental frequencies resonate at a chakra level.

Both my 9:30 level 2 Yoga class and the 12 noon Yoga level 1 yoga class had a tougher class this week, as I took it up a notch, so I was very impressed with how many of the budding yogis returned for the 4pm Yoga-laties class, which was another sweaty challenge. As the title of the blog was "Sade at Bamboomoves", I could only dream that it would happen, instead her music just filled us with inspiration for our class. Sade if you ever read this blog, I LOVE YOU! Did I mention, I am a HUGE fan....If you want a Yoga session, I am your girl...better yet, I'm "By Your Side" as you sing in your song, and while you have the coolest band EVER, if you need a background singer or even a tambourine player....call me :) ~ Peace & Hugs, Ambria

My favorite Indian Restaurant, Spice Village

Growing up eating the yummiest of yummy Indian Food, from my mom's home cooking, to my relatives, and the best of Indian cuisine during my frequent trips to India, I consider myself to be a good resource of TASTE quality. Unfortunately, many people think that Indian food is just spices which translates into heat and indigestion. It is actually flavor heaven. Indian dishes use Spices that are meant to add flavor and enhance the health benefits of the food. We use turmeric which is a common spice in Ayurvedic medicines, we use cinnamon which helps regulate blood sugar, cumin & coriander which add flavor and help to strengthen the stomach lining, as well as promote a healthy colon. While I can go on and on listing the health benefits to various ingredients in Indian food, this post is about my favorite Indian Restaurant. Spice Village in Tuckahoe, NY (take the Metro North West to Tuckahoe and you will find it) is by far the most authentic Indian Restaurant I have been to. Most times when I go there, I speak with the friendly staff in Malayalam which is the Indian dialect that both they, and my parents speak, this adds to the homey atmosphere for me. But the taste of the food.....WOW!!! The chefs are from my parents hometown area (Kottayam, Kerala, India) and make everything taste delicious, and very much like home cooking. This is THE BEST INDIAN RESTAURANT to go to. They offer a wide variety on the buffet with both North and South Indian items. Both vegetarian and non vegetarian options. The food is healthy and tasty. I have been to many Indian restaurants and found that the food was too spicy, too salty, too creamy and I could taste if it was fresh or not. This restaurant is PERFECT! As I type this blog post, I am joyfully digesting another amazing lunch from Spice Village. While my stomach is adjusting to coming off my 30 day fast, I make the sacrifice and "take one for the team" as they say when it comes to this place. If you want to eat Indian food and love it, go to Spice Village. Everyone I have sent there so far, have gone back repeatedly, brought friends and been so grateful to have found this cuisine treasure. For Holidays they tend to offer more items on the buffet so here are some pics of my Valentines Day lunch. Some of my favorite items include cabbage thorin, masala dosha, vada & sambar, gulab jamun, dal, and the chilly cauliflower dish that is on my plate in the picture above ~ Peace & Hugs, Ambria

1) Ambria with a plate of masala dosha, mouth watering strawberries, chilly cauliflower, mushroom curry, okras and a giant smile of delight on my face.
2) the wide variety of delicious buffet items
3) the Valentines Holiday Indian Dessert table (THE BEST & FRESHEST sweets you will enjoy)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

LOVE at Bamboomoves

Recently the amazing kids yoga class at Bamboomoves has been working on Headstand (sirsasana), sometimes known as the King of all yoga poses, as well as Pigeon Pose (eka pada rajakapotasana). Both poses require focus. Last week our lovely veteran girls spelled out the word "love" using headstand variations and pigeon. Their eagerness to do new poses, and find joy in encouraging each other during yoga class impresses me every week.

Pictured: Milta, Jaylene, Imergen, Julissa

PreNatal Yoga At Bamboomoves

While our Yoga classes at Bamboo are growing in numbers with mats wall to wall, we are still growing the Pre Natal Yoga class. Often times it is only a few expectant moms who venture out to the studio and stretch their bodies, chant, learning calming breathing techniques and deepen the connection with the baby. Hopefully we will have some more young ladies that embrace Pre Natal Yoga to increase flexibility, strength, focus, strengthen the pelvic floor and most importantly support each other in the celebration of new life. For some time I have had the privilege to work with Julisa, a first time expectant mom. Her flexibility is amazing and she is grown in her yoga practice. Today, she brought her hubby (Rich) and they both told me that they are having a Girl!!!! Yea!!! It is so wonderful when Dad's-to-be participate, and assist moms in the healthy approach to pregnancy. We laughed, stretched, and chanted, which brought some more laughing out of all of us, and did some pranayama (breathing exercises). Rich had the chance to learn some prenatal Yoga partner poses/assists. Congratulations to the both of you! ~ Peace & Hugs, Ambria

Pictured: Julisa is doing a Heart Opening Stretch that alleviates lower back pain which can be common during pregnancy. She leans back into my back and focuses on deep breathing.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Building a Carin with Yogi Beans

For weeks I have had the privilege to teach Kids Yoga with an amazing, high energy, brother duo at the Yogi Beans Studio . Like many boys, it is not always appealing to color mandalas, sing songs, and do yoga poses as it may not always captivate their attention as much as it would for young girls. Often times even the regular education system takes for granted that boys have more energy than girls, and often times think in a more mathematical way. These two boys have inspired me to find new ways to make meditation, yoga poses and breath work fun for them. I love to watch them progress and encourage each other every week. They truly bring joy to my every Sunday. While I want to do yoga exercises that are catered to their physical needs as well as emotional desires, I want them to embrace a sense of calm and mediation. This Sunday we had a meditation breakthrough!!!! I decided to pull out the Block Pile or Carin. A Carin is also known as a man made pile of blocks. These blocks are cut in various jagged ways, and kids are required to focus as they slowly create a pile with these oddly shaped blocks. This activity improves and spotlights a child's spatial reasoning. So far any kids I have worked with never get the pile higher than 3 or 4 blocks, and it usually wobbles the entire time. This Amazing Brother duo had me in total amazement as they piled up all the blocks with ease, humility and precision. They even described why they would position each block where it was. In all honesty, I don't know many adults who would be able to get the pile passed 3 blocks, let alone build the entire pile....And these boys did it repeatedly!!! WOW! While I know I am drawing many comparisons it is only to highlight how we are all unique and gifted in our own ways. While some of us have talents in arts, some may have talents in math or science etc. These two boys had joyful focus like nothing I have seen. Paul & William you are the engineers of the future. Thanks for making my Valentine's morning so thrilling!!!

Valentines Heart Chakra Workshop at Bamboomoves

Last night a gorgeous group of ladies signed up for a special Valentines Heart Chakra Workshop at Bamboomoves. The heart chakra is the energy point at our heart center that governs the energies of love and compassion. This chakra creates balance between all the chakras, and is a vital component in restoring the mind, body and spirit to harmony. From my studies of Ayurveda, Shiatsu and Yoga, I understand how the subtle body is key to both physical and emotional healing.

With our yoga mats arranged in a chakra (wheel formation), together we found love. We went through a night of heart opening pranayama (breath work), asana (poses) dhyana (meditation) chanting (bhakti/yoga of devotion). We dove deep into our hearts, and exposed ourselves to love that brought out emotions that some of us didn't know were there. We cried, laughed, chanted, and broke a sweat while we flowed through a heart opening vinyasa (yoga flow). One of the best ways to open/heal the heart chakra is through forgiveness which is not always easy to do. When I led the ladies in a Kundalini Heart Opening exercise which I like to call a "Yoga Hugs" where we did a breath inspired chest fly like movement with our arms outstretched, I was reminded of how when I was a little girl I did something similar with my mommy. My beloved mommy who passed away six years ago used to ask me "how much do you love me?" and I would respond "I love you this much" with my arms stretched out. So just like I used to do as a child, I had this amazing group of ladies do the same movement offering this "Yoga Hug" to someone they love, and then to someone that may have caused them grief. Some ladies admitted that offering that second round of "Yoga Hugs" to the person who caused them grief inspired some unexpected teeth gritting. When we offer love to someone who may have caused frustration in our lives we liberate ourselves from the negative strongholds and experience healing and connection with Divine. Forgiveness is Love. We progressed our wonderful evening into an emotional "Oneness Blessing" by the lovely Carissa. With open hearts and the energy of love in the air we feasted on the most yummy, delicious Vegan Chocolate Cake called "Death by Chocolate",and a variety of Organic Chocolate Candies with some Green Tea.

All in all the Valentine's Heart Chakra Workshop was a tremendous success and we are hoping to have a Chakra Workshop each month due to the demand. Thanks ladies for making the night an amazing experience of LOVE. ~ Peace & Hugs, Ambria

Saturdays at Bamboomoves

As the clock strikes 12 noon, the lovely people of Bamboomoves begin to line up their yoga mats. My body is warm from teaching the 9:30 Level 2 class and the Kids 11:00 class. Every week we have new faces that pour into the studio, and the regulars keep returning with joyful dedication to their health & wellness. As we sweat, twist, and strengthen our bodies, students are invited to detox their mind & spirit as well. While in the west, yoga is primarily focused on asana (posture) or the fitness aspect of the practice, asana is truly only one of the parts (limbs/paths) of yoga. Most classes at Bamboomoves introduce students to the various limbs of yoga beyond the asana practice. We usually incorporate Pranayama (Breath work), Dhyana (Meditation) and some verbal introduction to the Yamas and Niyamas. I can see why people get hooked on their Yoga practice, as finding enlightenment is the ultimate for everyone of us. This Saturday we had the most special treat of a "Oneness" blessing before we went into our Savasana, by our very own amazing Yoga Instructor/Manager at Bamboomoves, Carissa. Thank you Carissa for sharing such an amazing experience with the class. A brief list of the 8 Limbs of Yoga is:
  1. Yama : Universal morality
  2. Niyama : Personal observances
  3. Asanas : Body postures
  4. Pranayama : Breathing exercises, and control of prana
  5. Pratyahara : Control of the senses
  6. Dharana : Concentration and cultivating inner perceptual awareness
  7. Dhyana : Devotion, Meditation on the Divine
  8. Samadhi : Union with the Divine

Heart Shape Mandals for Valentine's Day

Mandalas allow kids to meditate, focus, quiet the kind and create!
Here are the lovely group of young ladies at Bamboomoves working on their Heart Mandalas for Valentine's Day.
Picture: Jaleen (Ladybug), Milta & Mia

Kids Valentine's Yoga @ Bamboomoves

Usually we have a wall to wall Kids Yoga class at Bamboomoves, BX. Somehow this year for Valentine's Day/Presidents Day weekend we had a small class with my veterans. We did Valentine's Mandalas, my "Yoga Tree" song with a Linden Tree as our pose (a Linden tree has heart shaped leaves), and we worked on headstand. These ladies were so excited to show me their newly developed headstand practice as taught to them by the brilliant Yoga Instructor Monica. One of the little girls brought treats for everyone and a cuddly little teddy bear for me. The kids at Bamboomoves are growing in their Yoga practice and encourage each other. The growing community at Bamboomoves is wonderful to be apart of, and the generosity of spirit in the kids yoga class is a direct reflection on some amazing parents. Happy Valentine's Day!
Picture: Mia, Milta, Ambria, Jaleen (Ladybug)

Happy Valentines Day!

Happy Valentines Day! May you give and receive avalanches of Love in your life! This Valentine's Day I will be teaching some yoga sessions, and hopefully enjoying some delicious Indian Food with my beloved friends from my favorite South Indian Restaurant in Tuckahoe, NY, Spice Village. In celebration of Valentine's Day, I posted a new Valentine's video. Often times when you are working so many sessions, you wind up dating your Yoga mat which has been the case for me. Thankfully I love my Yoga practice, so I love that my Valentine's Date (this year) is my yoga mat and it has inspired the opportunity to poke fun at myself in a new video. Hope you enjoy your valentine's day and embrace Love. Give someone a Hug and most importantly give yourself a hug! Enjoy the video! ~ My Love to you

Blizzard Yoga

With my new You Tube channel I have created "Yogalosophy" I have another opportunity to be creative and fun. This channel is a fun way for me to bring a light hearted perspective to a practice that ultimately is aimed at finding enlightenment/joy. Last week NYC was hit with a huge snow storm, which forced me to cancel all my yoga sessions. On a snow day there are many things we can do from making a snowman, to staying in cozy in doors, but we all have to eventually get out the shovel and clear the snow. Did the snow stop me from doing Yoga myself? Well you have to watch the video to find out. Blizzard Yoga....Remember to Smile at life and it will smile back :) Subscribe to the Youtube channel and be ready for more updates. Be sure to share the smiles with your friends, and leave comments. ~ Peace & hugs

Toga Friday

One of my greatest joys is to do Yoga with Kids. I work with kids of various ages and abilities/disabilities. It goes without question that Yoga calms the mind, and heals the body, so to introduce kids to yoga is an amazing opportunity. In turn, kids have an amazing ability to remind you of the joys of life, and the hidden joys of a yoga practice. Kids have a brilliant way of approaching asana (yoga poses). When teaching adults Yoga asana (poses) is focused on alignment, while with kids, they find joy in wobbling in and out of alignment. This joy is just the enlightenment, and liberation from our own tendencies to judge ourselves, and our world around us, that many of us need in our lives.

The hands down game of choice for kids is "Toga". On Fridays I have the wonderful chance to work with a group of kids with Down Syndrome. Being apart of their yoga experience is life changing for me. These kids improve their speech with my songs, gain confidence with the poses and learn to calm their minds with meditation. Along with the benefits of yoga they continue to amaze me every week. One week, I introduced Toga to them, which is Yoga with your toes. This involves picking up pom poms using only your toes. Kids Love Toga! It improves flexibility in the arch and ankle, improves concentration and like I said before it is FUN! The part that amazed me, was when one of the kids picked up four pom poms with one foot! After refereeing dozens of Toga games, it was amazing to see this brilliant little girl pick up FOUR pom poms with her tiny toes. She is the record holding champ of Toga thus far.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Superbowl Yoga!

Namaste! It's game day....Superbowl XLIV, the Saints vs. the Colts! While taking a break between classes at Bamboomoves, I set up my camera on top of some yoga blocks, busted out my football and did some Superbowl Yoga. Although it is not so visible, I was wearing a blue top (Colts) and black pants (Saints). Both football players and fans can benefit from the many benefits of a yoga practice. My right knee bears the scar of a surgery from many years ago which was a result of a football injury, and my yoga practice has strengthened that knee tremendously....I won't get into the details, except to highlight my beloved battle scar. Check out the video at my YouTube Channel "Yogalosophy". Ironically, some of the students at Bamboo heard the loud music that was in the studio while I was filming, and were surprised to know it was from me, as most of my classes tend to be more on the peace, love and happiness musical styles. But this Rockstar Yogini, (that would be me) has love for all styles of "good music". Along with that it is my belief that all people can benefit from a Yoga practice. So the purpose of my newest Youtube channel is to inspire a light hearted approach to Yoga and a zest for life. Enjoy life and your yoga practice! keep watching the channel for more fun videos. I now know that I may need to invest in a new camera. ~ Namaste

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Thank You Yogis!

Today after teaching my regular full day of classes at Bamboomoves, my lovely ladies (Margie & Maritza) of Bamboo brought me delicious Vegan Red Velvet Cake from H.I.M in the BX. This was an amazing Yummy treat especially after my 30 day fast. I took two bites and tasted heaven. After my 30 day fast, 2 bites was enough to remind me of the joy of tasty sweetness. Afterwards, Margie & Maritza made my mouth water for the Vegan Chocolate cake, so I made plans to venture to the H.I.M bakery in BX. We progressed into our Yogalaties class and sweat our core away. The Yogalaties class was full, wall to wall, and a recent petition for an additional weekly class tells me that the ladies love the class, despite the occasional groans and moans during the class. After Yogalaties class another two lovely yogis of Bamboomoves, (mother and daughter, Doris & Milta) brought me a gorgeous bouquet of yellow roses. So beautiful and sweet - a lovely belated birthday gift. Bamboomoves is truly an amazing Yoga Studio that is full of loving people who create the essence of community. Finally after class Michelle (my devoted 6:30am yoga student) & Sandy decided to head to the H.I.M bakery to explore all the other healthy items the store offers. After a day of Yoga, vegan chocolate cake is the only way too go! Thanks to Michelle, all three of us left with a Vegan Chocolate cake to enjoy, the name of the cake "death by chocolate" and they are not kidding! It was delicious!!!! So delicious, I placed an order to have a cake made for our "Heart Chakra/Valentines Yoga Workshop" which is next Saturday February 13th. Thank you again ladies (Margie, Maritza, Doris, Milta, Michelle, and Sandy) for bringing such joy, love and yumminess to my day. ~ Peace & hugs, Ambria