Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Quotes of the Day

"All you need is Love" ~ John Lennon

"All we are saying, is give peace a chance" ~ John Lennon

"If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there'd be peace" ~ John Lennon

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Best Yoga Teacher Training Experience

Bamboomoves Warrior Teacher Training led by the amazing Andrew Tanner, has the most appropriate name. At first when asked to participate on the instructing team for these budding new yoga instructors, I was excited and grateful as many of them take my yoga classes. I was initially confused why we called it Warrior Teacher Training but thought maybe it was just a catchy name. I quickly learned it is MUCH MORE than just a NAME! If you come out of Bamboo Warrior Teacher Training, you are a warrior for love, peace and enlightenment in every way!

While I am familiar with and respect many teacher training experiences in both NYC and India, after participating in this two week intensive I must admit, Bamboomoves has the most spiritual enlightening Warrior Experience, unlike any other. This intensive training has students training from 7 to 5 sometimes 8pm. The students are immersed in Daily (Grueling) Asana Practice, Pranayama Practice, Study the Yoga Sutras, Bhagavad Gita, Yogic Diet, Chakras, Unique Healing Instruction and they begin every day with 103 Bows. They have special guest instructors. experience leaves their mind, body and spirit drenched to the last drop. Many of them towards the end looked like they went through battle with blissful expressions on their faces.

The highlight of the experience...the last three days trainees take a three day retreat to New Hampshire, where they are put through the fire, with mind, body, spirit challenges unlike anything I have ever experienced. Although we stayed at a gorgeous Lake Front Gigantic Home, had daily meals prepared by another Bamboo Warrior (Jeff), and took in Mother Nature at her finest, students had many challenges. In Total 11 people (4 instructors, 7 trainees, and two adorable dogs attended the retreat) Tears were shed, bruises were found, trust was formed, and through it all everyone was purified and made strong!

While I cannot reveal all the challenges, I can say we did morning meditation in neck high cold lake water, climbed a 3,500 foot mountain, and concluded with 1000 extremely challenging bows. Yes, I said 1000 bows, that was not a typo. I cannot be more grateful to have been on this journey with these lovely new yoga instructors! There strength and courage helped me through the last 400 bows in our 1000 bow stretch. Denise, Maritza, Sarah, Ricky, Ewin, Kaowri, Erika you are now Warriors for peace and love, may your strength and courage inspire many on their yoga journey. Thank you all for letting me share in the experience. Andrew, thank you a million times over for inspiring me, guiding me, inviting me to share in this awesome experience, and for the mala (that I will forever cherish) you awarded me as an honorary Bamboo Warrior! I appreciate you more than you know. Jeff, your butternut squash soup ROCKS!!! Thank you Jeff for letting us into your lovely home, cooking such wonderful food and bringing your amazing Dog Misty! Michael, thank you for inviting me to share in this experience, your last 50 bows you led energized me to my soul!

If you or someone you know is in search of a Yoga Teacher Training experience, choose the one that gives you all the basics that you can get everywhere, and the extras only found at Bamboomoves.

Picture: Yoga Teacher Trainees almost at the top of Mt Cardigan in New Hampshire, also Sakoora the lovely Yoga Dog who joined us!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Raw Meal - Living Healthy while on the Go!

Many of us have busy schedules, and face challenges with healthy eating. Typically Vegtarians and Vegans face difficulty making sure that they have proper nutrients throughout the day. For a Yoga Instructor who goes from class to class, living off of a few fruits and veggies may be habitual, healthy, and we get to a point where our body thrives off of "spirit". But is this enough? Are we getting enough nutrients? We can eat nutrient rich foods like Kale, Sprouts, and various other things, but we may end up carrying half of the farmers market with us throughout the day. For a long time I have been on a quest for a vegan friendly protein shake that provides nutrients without the typical chemicals & sugars found in most protein shakes. Hallelujah! I have found the answer. A company called Garden of Life, which makes the famous brand Vitamin Code has come up with a shake called RAW MEAL. This shake is primarily made of sprouts!!! No added sugars, chemicals, NO SOY (which I avoid since in North America it is Genetically Modified), no Whey, no High Fructose Corn Syrup Solids, no Soy Lecithin (Another GMO filler that can lead to various hormone related diseases). Now since it is made mostly of sprouts, it may have a taste that some won't enjoy, just add a banana, or whatever your favorite fruit is, and chug that bad boy down!!! Totally healthy, loaded with nutrients, loaded with vitamins and minerals, no chemicals, ALL NATURAL....and best of all NO SOY! I found this product at Vitamin Shop. Look for it and get your sprouts on!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Intro To Flight with Dice and Briohny

Later Sunday evening I was invited to the 2 hour Intro to Flight Workshop held at Bamboomoves Englewood with Michael's (Co Owner of Bamboomoves Bx) Yoga Instructors who are based out in LA. Dice and Briohny flew in from LA, to conduct Yoga Flight Workshops, teach classes, and experience the NY yoga scene for the week! While I have had a history of hang ups when it comes to Inversions, due to past injuries (Car accident, wrist injury, etc), which had translated into fear of having a reoccurring injury, I have spent much of the summer at Sankalpah with Issac who kind of nurtures you into Inversions, class with Andrew at Bamboomoves who has the "just go up" method down packed, and classes at Dharma where you are surrounded by such amazing energy, you never look back, thus I was semi prepared. Dice and Briohny are an amazing couple who took us through almost every arm balance and inversion you could think of. It was phenomenal! The 2 hour workshop goes by very fast with so much information, and flight to experience. To have these two teachers lead us into Flight, with a warm up flow, demonstrations, and each pose ushering in a new one, was so wonderful! The grace and ease they display of floating up into handstand and various other arm balances, is very inspiring. The best part is, they have brilliant allignment cues. If you are afraid to go upside down, stand on your hands or just afraid in general, this is the yoga class you want to take, they are fantastic! If you are wanting to experience these fabulous instructors come tonight Monday August 23rd to Bamboomoves, BX where they will be teaching the 7:45pm class, or on Thursday August 26 at Bamboomoves BX where they will do another Intro to Flight Workshop that evening.

Picture 1: (l-r) Charles (Bamboomoves Forrest Hills Instructor), Briohny and Dice, Ambria, and Michael (CoOwner of Bamboomoves BX)

Picture 2: The Englewood NJ Bamboomoves family with Charles, Briohny and Dice and Ambria.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Onam Sadya at Spice Village

Onam is the biggest South Indian festival commemorating Harvest (late August to early September), and the legendary return of King Mahabali. It is usually celebrated with fantastic vegetarian banquet (Sadya), gorgeous vibrant flower arrangements (called pookkalam) in various mandala like shapes, snake boat races, music, elephant parades, dance and more. This Hindu festival that revisits the legend of King Mahabali receiving Lord Vishnu's blessings is celebrated by almost every Keralite regardless of religion. Growing up, in North America I was fortunate to belong to a local Indian community that is now known as HMS, where we would celebrate Onam every year. Every family would bring vegetarian food, the elder men would do a reenactment of the boat race with an energizing song, the ladies would do a few typical dances, and the kids would also do some typical dances. The food is always a highlight for me, because the all vegetarian spread was delicious. Here in NYC, I have celebrated Onam Sadya at Spice Village in Tuckahoe. Don't let the name fool you, it is not overly spicy, it is full of flavor and freshness! Every person I have suggested this place to has gone back for more. Today, in honor of Onam, they had a lovely spread of typical South Indian Vegetarian items, Papadum (like an Indian chip), and the Lamp in the front of the restaurant was lit. If you are interested in delicious, flavorful Indian food, visit Spice Village in Tuckahoe, super Yummy! ~ Namaste and Happy Onam!

Healing in Teacher Training

While the teacher trainees are immersed in all things yoga, they also learn special things unique to the Bamboomoves Teacher Training program. They begin their days with 103 bows, which my screaming thighs had the privilege to experience for 3 days. They also learn wonderful healthy eating, and healing. While Yoga Sutras, Asana, Adjusting, Bhagavad Gita, Chakras, Meditation, Pranayama, and Yogic Diet are common in most schools, the healing is very unique to Bamboomoves. I have enjoyed being part of the journey with these wonderful teachers in training. Since I do a lot of energetic healing and body work (reiki, ayurvedic massage, chakra balancing, and shiatsu), I was very curious to participate in the Bamboomoves healing workshop. Luckily, Andrew was kind enough to use me as a model to demonstrate to the students (so thankful for that). The points he focused on were similar to those found in Hara Diagnosis/Bo & Yu Points for Zen Shiatsu, so for me it was a great review for my Shiatsu training. While my Hara is pretty healthy, he didn't find any warning points, but it sure felt wonderful and relaxing! Healing techniques are a wonderful addition to a Yoga Instructors knowledge and training. Thank you Andrew for using me as a model. While it was a long day for me, it helped energize me for a nearly 20 person Yoga-laties class that same night (along with the two bananas from Michael)!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

We are all Vibration

Being a musician, I embrace the yogic concept that we are all vibration. The sound of OM, the seed sounds for each chakra is an ancient science that further allows us to experience this vibration. Along with seed sounds, each chakra is associated with specific notes, and musicial instruments. Some people practice Bhakti yoga (yoga of devotion) or nada yoga (yoga of sound). The joy from Kirtans, singing mantras is part of this ancient science the yogis discovered, which we call Yoga. I LOVE THIS! For the past year, I have greatly missed music, performing, and finding that connection with music and other people. This year's teacher training group has two musicians, and one brought a guitar for me to play. It was a lovely treat to have a mini jam session on one of the breaks for these teachers in training. Keep spreading good vibration with music, chanting and yoga.

Bamboo Warrior Teacher Training Week 1, Day 3

This is week 1, Day 3 of the Bamboomoves Warrior Yoga Teacher Training. These wonderful budding Yoga Teachers are immersed in all things yoga. Each day they begin with 103 bows, which is unique to Bamboomoves. Everyone came in slightly tired from the intense training they are doing. Emotions are surafacing and bliss is unfolding. They are deepening their awareness and knowledge with sessions of asana, Yoga Sutras, Bhagavad Gita, Pranayama, and Healing. Today, I was happy to instruct them in the Bamboomoves Warm Up, Sun Salutation and Adjustments. Every student had the chance to teach eachother, displayed compassion, humility and grace. Thank you all for allowing me to share in your journey.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Law of Attraction Part II

Often times with my yoga students, I invite them to create an intention/dedication for their yoga practice, to make the practice a Mind-Body-Spirit experience, but to take it a step further and not only offer the practice, but feel the emotions, joy and liberation that the manifestation of this intent would bring. The law of attraction is found in many sacred scripts, like the Bible when Jesus says "Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours" (Mark 11:24), The Hindu tradition of "Mantra" (translating into Man=Mind, Tra = free, therefore becoming an instrument of thought, reciting a mantra while focusing on the 3rd eye chakra, deepens our connection to the divine source of love, The Kabbalist belief "Kavanah" which means putting it out there and following through with actions, A Muslim belief of the prophet Mohamed saying "Actions are judged by intentions, so each man will have what he intended", and the famous Hebrew saying "Don't tell God how big your problems are, tell your problems how big your God is".
Many times I have encouraged students to journal, or write down what they want out of their lives. Words are powerful, and our words evoke thoughts, and our thoughts evoke actions. Many blessings in my life are attributed to prayer, meditation (with unwavering faith) and writing down my desires. Months ago, I wrote down and meditated daily on a list of things I wanted in my life including more opportunities to perform music, while my love for my yoga and shiatsu schedule did not accommodate this desire, God (the Universe, source energy whatever you like to call it) instantly granted my desire by providing me with a gig overseas to perform music. Being that I wanted to stay in NYC, the performance schedule was a bit intense, I turned the gig down.

Other things on my list have since come true, and I am completely grateful. Another thing I had written was to have some more V.I.P clients, like celebrity clients and high profile people. Not for the fame, because after losing my mother years ago, there is really nothing material in this world that impresses me. However, I think people who work so hard, and acquire fame could benefit from the yoga practice. It could provide them peace in an industry that may not, it could help them to find grounding, help facilitate a healthy lifestyle, and help them find the God within. Being that I am a musician, and worked in a famous NYC record label, I am familiar with the life of a celebrity, and respect that they are people too. In my heart and mind, everyone of my current clients are a celebrity.

Just like everything on my list, the Universe granted my desire. I was offered a job to be the personal yoga instructor for a high profile Princess in Morocco, (to respect her privacy I will not be printing her name in this post). The job would pay for travel, accommodations, salary, and more. I would travel with her all over the world, and help deepen her yoga practice. While I am grateful for this opportunity to bring yoga to a member of the Royal Family, experience a new culture, and I am honored that I was even asked, I had to turn it down. The commitment to relocating to a new country (even though it would be palace living) was much to ask, and would also prevent me from working with kids with special needs, which is a joy for me. In my heart, I know there is something more I am meant to do. My work with kids with Special needs is very important to me, as is the variety of people I get to work with in NYC both in private settings and group yoga classes. Also, my personal projects with music is something I am very excited about.

So I write this post to encourage everyone to write down their desires, meditate daily on them, believe that they will acquire them, and be ready to get them. Most importantly, be specific with what you want, I just wrote V.I.P clients, instead of listing the types of people who I would be grateful to work with. People like Madonna (a musician, a mother, a girl who lost her mother, a devotee to yoga, and a humanitarian, someone who I have loved for years), Russell Simmons (a devotee to yoga, a vegan, a humanitarian, a music mogul, someone who inspired me to work at Def Jam after graduating Berklee College of Music, and later I had a job offer at Phat Farm where I walked by his office to be greeted with a friendly hello, before I left the music industry to pursue yoga & education but he probably would never remember), Holly Robinson Pete (a lady who is devoted to helping bring awareness to autism, a mother, a talented actress), and many other people who I also feel a connection with on a spiritual level.

Please get out your books, write what you want, meditate daily, offer your yoga practice to something beyond the physical, and know that we have a loving God (regardless of what your name is for God), there is a source of Love that wants the best for us. Do all things with love and be receptive to the love the Universe brings to you. ~Peace & hugs, Ambria

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Partner Yoga

I am so thankful for the many opportunities I have had with couples, to enhance their yoga practice. When I get to work with couples, it is amazing to see how the bond grows between the two partners, and the compassion for each other. Often times, individuals have different abilities, limitations, and thought processes when approaching their yoga practice and when working with their partner it brings the bond deeper. Even if it is just a matter of a hint of comedy between the two, it is such a wonderful way to improve intimacy and respect for each other. Sharing in meditation can deepen the love between people as the subtle body energy is increased. The couples I have worked with have displayed eagerness to commit to their practice, much like a gym buddy for people who like to go to the gym.

Recently, during the 12 noon level 1 yoga class at Bamboomoves, we had a class full of various levels including one prenatal person. The entire class was improvised joy, and towards the end I guided the students to rearrange the configuration of yoga mats to face each other, and we engaged in partner yoga poses, including some prenatal yoga stretches. It is so funny how we get trapped inside ourselves in a yoga class, confined to our yoga mat, and detached from the rest of the community around us except to share breathing space and energy. Just like when I work with couples, partner poses in a group class can build bonds, respect, and a hint of comedy.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Throat Chakra Workshop

The Throat Chakra is for purification, communication and self expression. At Bamboomoves, as we do every last Saturday, we explore a chakra, and this past month we explored the throat chakra. Everyone had a handout that provided condensed information about the chakra (as per usual). Being that it is the throat, we explored the Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) with the mantras that correlate to each posture. We did asanas (yoga poses) to open the throat, and we did meditation, chanting, pranayama, and yoga to balance, and purify the throat chakra. We had an array of vegan yummy cakes to eat afterward, including Death By Chocolate, Carrot Cake, German Chocolate, and Peanut Butter Bomb (all VEGAN). Our lovely Jody, took some amazing photos. Throughout the evening the brilliant sounds of my amazing Sitar playing friend Giann, echoed in the studio. Many participants like with all workshops experienced something unique like vibration throughout the body, warmth in the throat, tears, flood of emotions, vision, light around the body, light around the throat, and everyone had an open throat chakra after, because a whole lot of good talking happened! It was really wonderful to have everyone learn and repeat the tradition Surya Namaskar with the mantras. Thank you all for participating, and Jody for your amazing photography!!! She literally dived on her tummy to catch the shot of Giann through my Downward Dog!!!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Yogini Kitchen- Dinning Out

While cooking and creating yummy, healthy food is fun and economical, sometimes it is fun to eat out. Many people realize that eating out can mean bigger portions with unhealthy options. While that is true SOMETIMES, there are also regular healthy portions with healthy menu options eateries out there in NYC. Here are a few vegetarian/vegan option restaurants that I went to recently that get A's for options, taste, friendly staff and price. These all vary, some are more of a fancy sit down, take a date/group of pals kinda place, and others are a little cafe like (depending on where you like to go on a date, either would work). I venture solo to a few of these places too, since the food is soooo good! If you are thinking of eating healthier, and want taste too, venture to one of these places!
  • Bonobos (near Madison Sq Park) Yummy Vegan Options, great Salads, Cafe Style
  • Atlas Cafe (East Village) Yummy options, cool desserts, cafe style
  • Liftyme (Grocery, take out style) Yummy Yummy Yummy desserts, great food options
  • Caravan of Dreams (East Village) charming restaurant, great for date/group, everything is yummy and they serve Vegan Spelt Pancakes till 5!!!!
  • Blossom (Upper West Side, Chelsea) lovely restaurant (date/group), great vegan menu!!!
  • Terri (Downtown on 23rd) Cafe style, yummy vegan options and juices
  • Gobo (Upper East Side, West Village) Charming restaurant, wide yummy vegetarian variety, fancier menu/prices