Sunday, September 26, 2010

Yoga With Elmo!

Years back when I worked at Def Jam, I used to have to walk somewhere through Times Square area. It is actually beautiful to witness the lavishly lit buildings, the billboards, and the energy of Times Square. While it was once part of my daily commute, I am happy to say I have enjoyed the detoxification from the experience. Since I prefer walking through streets without dodging other pedestrians, I tend to avoid that area of Manhattan. Until recently. In efforts to maintain my status of Worlds Coolest Aunty, I decided to meet Elmo and maybe do some Yoga. While on my commute from one Yoga Session to the next, I ventured through Times Square, and there he was, ELMO. He gave me a Big Hug, so big that I was almost lost in a sea of red fur, which is when I decided maybe now we should do some Yoga! I attempted to teach him Tree Pose, but he decided to just have his hands in Anjali Mudra (saying Namaste)....and wouldn't you know, there was Cookie Monster, peaking behind us, putting his hands in Namaste too! Like for most folks, yoga is something everyone loves! Even Elmo and Cookie Monster!! Namaste Sesame Street!

Third Eye Chakra Workshop

Saturday we had our monthly chakra workshop at Bamboomoves in Pellham Bay. BX. Shakti was in full effect! We explored the Third Eye Chakra (Ajna) at Bamboomoves. While this chakra is meant to enlighten, deepen meditation, increase intuition, increase psychic abilities, we spent most of the workshop exploring various meditation techniques. Since I recently injured my right Achilles tendon, I was happy to conduct a primarily meditative workshop. With the brilliant Sitar playing of Giann, we sat in our circle and began to do a journey through all the chakras. Students eventually focused on the third eye. We progressed into tratak (also known as candle gazing), and a beautiful candle lit savasana. Like with every workshop, it was very powerful. Many students shared their experiences. Some felt warmth on the third eye, vibration on the forehead, saw vibration in their candles that corresponded with the Live Sitar music (love it!), felt vibration in the body, saw visions, saw various chakra colors which related to personal situations, felt the presence of love, and much more!!! One student even began to feel the kundalini rising. I had experienced that after doing the 1000 bows with the Yoga Teacher Trainees and it was amazing, so I thought it was so profound, that one participant experienced that in this 90min workshop!!! WOW!!! Once you are open to your third eye, it is important to be wise with our use of this gift. We all have this ability, this connection, but only some can tap into it. Another thing to be mindful of, people who do not have a yoga/meditation practice, and very minimal intuition can try to create doubt in your experience, just ignore, and detach from the negativity by wishing them well in your heart, and continuing your own meditation practice. We meditate to become one with God, and when we are, there is no need for the ego to get in the way, meaning, there is no need to feel compelled to defend our experience, we must just be our experience. Thank you all for participating and making this event so amazing! Like with every workshop, we concluded with delicious Vegan Blueberry Cheesecake! Special Thanks to Giann for wonderful Sitar playing (His CD is available at Bamboomoves for purchase!) and special thanks to our very own, Jody Concepcion for taking such amazing photographs! See you all at the next workshop!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Quote of the Day - Yoga Sutras

By cultivating attitudes of friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous and disregard toward the wicked, the mind-stuff retains its undisturbed calmness - Yoga Sutras 1:33

Picture: Ambria in Tree Pose on to of Mt Cardigan with Michael and Denise standing by

Monday, September 20, 2010

Yoga-Laties at The Bamboomoves Retreat

The Bamboomoves Labour Day Retreat had made adjustments to the schedule to put my ever popular Yoga-laties class on the schedule. This class is my personal creation. It is an hour of fast paced Yoga, with some pilates, Indian Wrestler exercises, and various other yummy routines designed to strengthen the whole body with emphasis on core and glutes. This class is unlike any other yoga-laties class, and the suggestions of the students have enlightened me to change the name to "Zoga-laties" TM, since no sub teacher has instructed the class the same (Thanks guys). It really is an amazing experience. Thank you to all the brave folks who pack the Bamboomoves studio each Wednesday 6:45pm and Saturday 4pm, only to have me conduct the "torture" class as they call it, which they keep coming back for. More than anything, you all make that class the amazing experience that it is! When we were at the retreat, EVERY Bronx member took the class, and special thanks to the people from the other studios who could have went on the nature walk, or attending the Chi Gong, and instead opted for the "torture" class!!! So glad you all had fun! See you tonight! Wednesday at 6:45 for Yoga-laties at the Bamboomoves BX location. Also, Denise is giving a lovely Gentle Yoga class @ 5:30 if you want to stretch out a bit before class!
Picture: The Yoga-laties class at the Bamboomoves retreat taken by the amazing Jody Concepcion (Jody with a y)

More Awesomeness from Bamboomoves Teacher Training

The Bamboomoves Warrior Teacher Training experience is weeks past, but the energy remains. The new teachers are busy adjusting in classes, teaching new level 1 and gentle yoga classes at Bamboomoves and elsewhere. Just wanted to share some more pictures from our experience. Thanks Erika for emailing me these great pics! Pictures include:
  • Andrew & myself: yoga teachers being goofy flexing and stretching on top of Mt Cardigan.
  • New Yogi Sarah assisting me as I drop back into wheel pose on top of Mt Cardigan.
  • Amazing Group Shot on top of Mt Cardigan.
  • New Yogi Ricky and myself Jamming while on a break on the porch of the gorgeous Lake House at Lake Sunipee

Friday, September 17, 2010


In the past I have mentioned that Yoga is an 8 Limb Practice.

  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
In the West many have adapted this attitude that Yoga is just the Workout, the act of stretching. This is an ancient Science that has deeper meaning than most people are able to grasp. The first Limb, also known has Yamas, has 5 Yamas in total, and the first of the Yamas is Ahimsa. Ahimsa also known as non harming/non violence is the reason behind the Yogic diet being Vegetarian. A Vegetarian Diet, is rich in Prana (life force), nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and fibre and all without killing a living being. While there are many famous Western Yogis who proudly eat their burgers before their asana practice, knowing the issue of factory farming in North America, it is hard to believe that chakras can become balanced, shakti can spark, or kundalini can rise, no matter how fierce your Scorpion Pose may be. Should we have this Ceaser like mentality of washing our hands? Especially when the "meat" in question has more chemical preservatives than food content? These chemicals are toxic to the body, and made up of components that bring on various illnesses and disease. When the actual purpose behind the asana practice is to be able to sit in meditation (samadhi) for long periods of time, thus deepening our spiritual side, shouldn't we consider foods with less chemicals? Many people have the perspective, we all will die someday, why not enjoy our food, meaning various meat products? Ultimately, it is an individual choice, and ideally, if we made all our dietary choices based on nutritional content, the marketing gimmicks of our chemically laced fast food chains will serve no purpose. While it is an individual choice, a devotee to Yoga, who is eager to grow the spiritual side of the practice, and adapt the Limbs of Yoga deeper into daily habits usually eats a vegetarian diet to abide by the principal of Ahimsa (non harming to all living things). This Limb of Yoga helps us to see from a Universal perspective rather than an ego or self perspective. Only when you are ready to take that next step will you truly experience the Science behind this Ancient practice we call Yoga....till then, Happy Stretching.

For this post, McNasty comes into play because recently a few people have been keeping their McDonalds Happy Meals, and Hamburgers on the shelf. Literally, on the shelf, and observing that it doesn't decompose. The fries, the bread, the meat, everything just gets hard, no bugs want to nibble on it, and no mold forms. Karen Hanrahan (wellness educator) kept her McDonalds burger for 12 years and it didn't decompose. Nonna Joann purchased a Happy Meal and a year later it did not decompose. Food is supposed to decompose, normally flies would deposit larvae on old moldy meat and eventually that hatches into maggots. If flies ignore your food, if it does not decompose, then how could our bodies metabolize these types of meals? If you still want to claim you have a Yoga practice and eat your McDonalds, knowing that supporting a corporation like this is part of the factory farming issue, or if you believe that you didn't harm the animals yourself, just make a mental note, that you are willfully harming YOURSELF. The human body was designed to have food that acts as fuel and medicine. When you deliberately eat food that is considered "junk food" that contain chemical compounds that could easily embalm us from the inside....for reasons like:
  • the fat, citric acid and sodium content are unreasonably high in McDonalds fries for preservative purposes, and reason for their never spoiling life span.
  • the calcium/sodium proportionate found in the buns is also unreasonably high and reason for their never spoiling.
  • The beef has a higher fat content which is up to 54% of its caloric content which adds to the lack of moisture.
  • The factory farmed meat has stress hormones/adrenaline due to stressful situations killing and horrible growth hormone diets, these can affect our body.
Those of you who want to maintain your "stretching" practice with the Hip name "yoga", hey in North America, anything goes. Those of you who want to deepen your practice and embrace Ahimsa, by non violence/harming to yourself and your family, stop going to McDonalds. Stop eating foods that are more of a Lab experiment and replace those fast food choices with real nutrient rich foods that your body can metabolize. For anyone who represents McDonalds and thinks my opinion warrants a legal battle, take it up with Patanjali who wrote the Yoga Sutras because I am just a Yogini who wants to deepen my yoga practice and the yoga practice of others. ~Om Shanti
Picture: Photo by Karen Hanrahan "12 year old burger from McDonalds that did not decompose"

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Belly Dance with Kristi at Bamboomoves

Bamboomoves BX location has been really fortunate to have some amazing Belly Dance instructors. We had Yael, Kristin, and now Kristi! Kristi came to know that I had done belly dance before, and one Saturday after teaching my usual 3 morning yoga classes, she pulled me in to the lobby to do a Belly Dance solo. The students applauded and I felt a bit embarassed while the lovely Front Desk Ladies (Jody and Joy) laughed on the sidelines because they avoided the opportunity by directing Kristi's attention to me. Being a performer, I did my shimmy, traded shimmy's with Kristi (as Jazz musicians trade fours), and made my shimmy exit. So glad I was able to add to the roaring enthusiasm of the students at Bamboomoves, really anything to help. Kristi gives a high energy Belly Dance class. She is a brilliant performer who performs regularly in the city, and then teaches folks how to get their Shimmy on.

Last Monday night I decided to join Kristi's class, only if she doesn't make a spectacle of me. In true Kristi fashion, she basically pointed me out, jokingly announcing that she will not be making a spectacle of me, but my moves are groovin. We all laughed hysterically. She is so funny, so talented, and a great instructor. She plays wonderful music, and gets everyone into it, while our abs are screamin, our hips are shimmying, and our faces are smiling! After class we took some fun pictures. One picture did not make the blog because it wound up looking somewhat hillariously inappropriate, Kristi's version of Downward Dog tells me she may need to take a Yoga class. Kristi had asked me why I don't teach the Belly Dance class, and I had to tell her, well because I am not you! While I have had my share of doing belly dance performances back in the day, for a semi intoxicated crowds in various clubs in NYC, the art of Instructing Belly Dance is a whole different ball game. Kind of like patting your head and rubbing your tummy at the same time....that takes a pro. Kristi is this Pro! Thanks Kristi for being such a wonderful Belly Dance instructor! I will stick to Yoga, and hope that one day you take my class after Belly dance. Kristi teaches Saturdays at 1:30 and Monday night at 6:30 at Bamboomoves.

Photos: Kristi and Ambria (pictures taken by Jody Concepcion)

Yoga Maya

Every once in a while I like to venture to a new studio. NYC is full of so many yoga studios. As I am working on improving arm balances with push ups, the recent choice to take Karate classes, and taking Dharma's Master class & class with Isaac at Sankalpah...I had heard about an instructor named Raghunath from Dice and Bri after they did our inversion/arm balance workshop at Bamboomoves. To be honest, I sometimes opt out of the arm balances, due to fear which is foolish, but being in classes where you know handstanding is the norm, can be inspirational. The energy at least inspires a hop. I heard Raghunath is a handstander. I also heard that Yoga Maya is a lovely new studio. I went to Yoga Maya, walked in to see gorgeous intricately cut, typical Indian wood wall dividers decorating various parts of the studios and acting as doors. Lovely colored walls and friendly faces. I sign up for class, and place my mat behind a nice guy (obvious hand-stander) and start to stretch out. The studio is colored with lovely light blue paint, their is nice light from an overhead skylight like window, and the dark wood dividers cover some of the other windows. In walks a vibrant, Curly haired yogini fairy with a British Accent, who calls our attention to her stalk of green veggies she bought at the Union Square Farmers Market. Yummy! She announces that she will be subbing the Open Level Class. She begins with a reading from a book, the Om as she plays along on the Harmonium, and then class. We flow through a somewhat super easy vinyasa class (which I didn't expect since it was an open level class) but I enjoyed. My intuition on the guy in front of me proved right, he was a hand- stander and took any and every opportunity to pop up. The instructor, Deborah gave a really lovely class. Her accent made it seem as though it was yoga with Mary Poppins which was extra fun! After class I found out the the guy in front (Marco) did his teacher training with Raghunath, and that is how he learned his handstand. Hopefully, I will get to come back to Yoga Maya. It really is a gorgeous studio. Thanks Deborah for a wonderful class. It was lovely to meet you!
Pictured: Deborah & Ambria at the Yoga Maya Studio

Namaste Andrew

This past Monday was Andrew's last class at Bamboomoves Bronx. The folks in the bronx and myself love Andrew. He gives a wonderful class. While Andrew is very busy with work for his Guru (Sri Dharma Mittra) and various other projects, he isn't able to get to the Bronx for his Monday night class. I will be teaching his Monday night time slot for now. Andrew will be back for workshops and other special events. Hopefully, Andrew will be giving a special workshop for people who sign up for the 21 days to wellness challenge!!! Thank you Andrew for planting a beautiful seed in the hearts of many people at Bamboomoves, Namaste.

Picture: Andrew in Headstand on top of Mt Cardigan at the Teacher Training Retreat

Maha Sadhana at Bamboomoves Retreat

Maha Sadhana (the Great Practice) A tradition that started with Sri Dharma Mittra was carried on at our Bamboomoves Labor Day Retreat. In celebration mode we circled out mats after Andrews healing workshop, laid out three yoga mats in the centre and people would enter to offer yoga poses. It was amazing to watch. I myself, prefer not to "show off my asana", and wanted to sit and do "watch-asana" until Andrew asked me to enter the circle. I did a quick Hanumanasana "splits", an Eka Pada Rajakapotasana "Pigeon pose" and got back out of the circle. Ironically the side I chose to do the splits on is my usual tight side, and I went down to the floor with ease, so there is something to be said when we offer our yoga poses in an effort of praise and thanksgiving to God. After a while we started to chant Shiva Shambo while Yoshio played the drums, people clapped and we all had a ton of fun!

Pictures: Stefanie (englewood Bamboo Instructor) Forearm Scorpion, Doris in crescent Lunge, Milta and Scott Headstand, Ambria in splits, Andrew Kapotasana, Yoshio Upward Dog, Steven Tanner in headstand.
photos by: Jody Concepcion

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

More Pictures from Lama Farm!

Pictures: Andrew with the Lama, Doris feeding the Camel, Milta Petting the Donkey

Bamboomoves Labour Day Retreat at the Lama Farm

All four locations of Bamboomoves yoga studios joined for our annual Labour Day Retreat, hosted at Earth Dance in MA. Some of us who attended ventured to a Lama Farm. Here is a picture of the group!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Touch of Peace for FREE

This Tuesday September 7th there will be a FREE workshop at the Ohashiatu Institute from 6-8pm, taught by Ohashi himself. The Ohashiatsu Institute has taught me so much about the various energetic points on the body, the techniques for healing (sedating & tonifying imbalances), and making people feel good with a "touch of peace". As a yoga instructor it is wonderful, since many times students will want more than yoga, and both yoga and Shiatsu compliment each other very nicely. If you are a yoga instructor, yoga student, fitness trainer, massage therapist, reiki practitioner, person who loves getting a massage, curious about the holistic arts and body work, then you should come and experience a touch of peace. While I mentioned people in the holistic arts, it is not uncommon for people in the medical field, arts and business to take classes and become Ohashiatsu practitioners as well, as it is a wonderful way to supplement income, help people (including friends & loved ones), and spread healing love with a gentle touch. This healing arts modality of Ohashiatsu is Shiatsu at its finest. You will be introduced to the art of having healing hands, with someone who has years of experience teaching some top level body workers in the world, and someone who has a host of high profile clientele. This is an event you do not want to miss! Wear comfortable clothes, sign up, and enjoy! Those who participate will receive a $100 off coupon for future classes.

Tai Chi with Sherry Rocks!

Every Saturday at 9:30am there is a Tai Chi class with our beautiful Sherry. I have always wanted to take Tai Chi, but since I am teaching the 9:30 yoga class at the studio, I have never gotten to take the class. I usually just get to smile and say hello to Sherry as we both go to teach our respective classes. Until this weekend!!! The Bamboomoves Labour Day Retreat gave me a chance to take Tai Chi! First off Sherry is an awesome teacher, she goes through the poses/sequencing while providing background information, accupressure/shiatsu related information, and much more. We had the beautiful windows in front of us displaying the wonder of mother nature as we gathered our chi, and balanced the yang energy, opened our heart and lung meridians, and had fun. Tai Chi is very relaxing, peaceful and therapeutic. Sherry also teaches a Tai Chi class with swords which she offers at Forrest Hills, and hopefully one day at the Bronx location. Thank you Sherry for a lovely class!

Bamboomoves Labour Day Retreat

This weekend was the Bamboomoves Labour Day Retreat. All the locations of the Bamboomoves schools joined together. We were staying at Earthdance, surrounded by gorgeous trees, supposedly bears (never saw even one), and each others love. We ate vegan/vegetarian meals. We laughed a lot. We did Pranayama, Meditation, Yoga, Tai Chi, Belly Dance, Healing Workshops, Kirtan, Nature Walks, and somehow Yoga-laties even got onto the schedule. We went to a Lama Farm where we saw Lamas, Sheep, Camels, Pigs, Donkeys, and a Water Buffalo. Since I was with the group from the Bronx, I was happy we had a chance to laugh a whole lot and bond. The menu was an adjustment for some people, the accommodations as well, but sometimes experiences like that help us to experience gratitude and appreciation. One Day, we left for a food run to get something else to munch on, and we saw the most magnificent rainbow!!! For yoga instructors it is often easy to live without a lot, eat simple vegan meals, do yoga all day, and be one with God, so it is important for us to be compassionate and understanding that for some people in can be a challenge not being in your own bed, eating new foods that may lack the tastes/flavors that they are used to, and be away from family. I give big appreciation to Milta (10 yr old yogi of the month) who pretty much fasted most of the weekend (since she doesn't eat that kind of food), she maintained a smile, participated in activities, and found gratitude for her bed and pizza. Sometimes, challenges are important because that brings us closer to God which is what yoga is ultimately about. All in all, I had a lovely time. The night sky was so spectacular because you could see every star! Yoshio and his wife led a wonderful Kirtan, Andrew did his brilliant healing workshop, I got to take Tai Chi for the first time with Sherry and she ROCKS, and the surroundings were beautiful! Thanks Bamboomoves for putting together this lovely retreat, and Thank you my peeps from the Bronx for roughing it out, taking classes, and LAUGHING A WHOLE lot! The entire weekend we had framed photos of the beloved Sri Dharma Mittra watching over our classes with a pleasant smile. Santosha is one of our Niyamas in Patanjalis Sutras, the essence of contentment with what we have, without desiring more. In Malayalam (South Indian Language) Santosha is translated into happiness, so both the Sanksrit and Malayalam meanings were brought to life this brilliant weekend! Special thanks to Katie, and everyone else who helped to create this experience, I am sure it took a lot of hard work and you did a wonderful job.