Friday, April 22, 2011

Dharma Class with My Lovely Teacher Trainees

As I

mentioned before, with my free time on Thursday morning I like to venture to take Sri
Dharma Mittra's Master Class. Despite the fact that my arms were sore, my heart enjoys being in class with Dharma. This week my lovely Teacher Trainees went to take class as well. It is part of the requirements for them to graduate to take Master Class at Dharma's. While many may feel hesitant due to the challenging asana practice, it is so that they can learn from a master teacher, and experience the energy of the room. Many advanced students at Sri Dharma's can inspire people to deepen their practice. Sri Dharma himself is always full of inspiration, energy, wisdom, and a brilliant sense of humor. I had told the ladies that I always place my mat at the back of the room, and oddly enough, when I walked in they had lined their mats up on the exact place where I usually like to practice, Carolann was actually in my spot. My lovely friend Lauren was directly in front of my beautiful Teacher Trainees. It was so awesome to see that. I laid out my mat at the back of the room, like a little mouse, on the hardwood so not to disturb class. Master class on Thursdays always has Psychic Development, but this week, just before psychic development, Dharma encouraged students engage in some fun Acro Yoga or Partner Yoga. While class is always a challenge physically, it is also fun and spiritual at the same time.

The irony of today's Master Class is while I love Sri Dharma, his picture is on my altar, I joyfully wear the Mala given to me by his devotee (Andrew Tanner) that was on Sri Dharma's picture during the entire previous Teacher Training, I have only given humble smiles and whispery thank yous to Sri Dharma. I have never ever had a conversation with Dharma Mittra. Somehow, I manage to tap into the shy Indian girl (that is otherwise normally buried REALLY DEEP), and just give simple shy smiles of gratitude, reverence and awe to Sri Dharma. Normally just bowing my head with hands in Anjali Mudra. But here comes the irony, I was so pleased with these lovely Teacher Trainees for being "receptive" as Dharma says, for actually taking class, learning as he spent a good amount of time personally hands on adjusting them in the massive group of students, that I got my camera and rounded them up for a photo with Dharma. Initially I was about to take the photo (so shy I was not even thinking about being in the picture), but one of the lovely Dharma students saw me, and offered to snap the amazing pictures. Dharma not only posed in the middle of our group, he also decided to do two brilliant headstand variations in the middle (one on his finger tips and the other no hands). It was awesome! This Thursdays Master class was brilliant (as always), and I am so grateful to have shared the experience with these lovely ladies : Amber, Carolann, Latesha and Nicole. We were missing Armondo, Jessica, Margie and Steph, but maybe another time. I wished I could have stayed with the ladies and catch a bite to eat or juice, but I had to rush uptown to teach 4 classes of my own. Thank you Sri Dharma for blessing us with an amazing class, and for taking the time to stand on your head in our photos!!!
Photos: Amber, Latesha, Sri Dharma, Nicole, Carolaan, Ambria

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Aerial Yoga @ Om Factory

Last Sunday after teaching some classes, my lovely students at Bamboomoves Bronx, informed me I was joining them at Om Factory for Aerial Yoga. My students take my classes, and sign me up to take classes with them, how amazing! I was reluctant because my recently fractured toe was still sore, and I also had to teach my evening Yoga class, but I still ventured with them to fly. We walk into the Om Factory and see the room filled with lovely draping orange sheets that hang from the ceiling. Then we are greeted by a kind spirit at the front desk, sign up and ready ourselves for class. I have tried Aerial Yoga before in Brooklyn, but this was my first time with this particular teacher and studio. One of my lovely students, Latesha, loves it so much she wants to get certified in Aerial Yoga, and based on how awesome she was at Aerial Yoga, I am sure she will, and be wonderful at it! In walks our lovely teacher Ameilia. She introduces herself to us, and invites us to all enter the room and pick a Hammock. She gives the health concern questions, and instructs us where to place our hammock in relation to our body. Soon we sit in meditation in the hammock. I was taken back to my childhood days when most every child would hang in a hammock in India to fall asleep. It was very relaxing (both back then and on this day at Om). One at a time, Ameilia leads us in the Aerial Yoga flow she had designed with Handstands, Hasta Padangusthasana, lunges, downward dog and much more. It was a lot of fun. Unfortunately for me, I had accidentally hurt my toe placing it into the Hammock early in the class, so I was in my own world of "Oh Noooo Did I break my toe again?". I kept focusing on sending loving energy to my toe, rubbing it, and pretending not to be in pain, which all distracted me from listening to cues and even at times trying poses. When we straddle our legs out to the side, the length of my legs was enough to hit everyone around me, and my concern was my sore big toe. Ameilia was amazing at adjusting and assisting, I probably should have mentioned my toe to her, but I just kept going on my own. The class was a lot of fun! At one point in the end of class, I was upside down in downward dog, and I had to ask my amazing student Latesha what to do next, luckily she was able to cue me what to do next. Thanks Om Factory and Ameilia for giving a fun class!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I Meditate NY

Last Sunday, I decided to participate in "I Meditate NY". Years ago, when I was teaching, I came across a person (Sanjay) who had such a lovely glow on his face. Since I knew Sanjay's job required him to travel back and forth from NYC to Mumbai India, I knew he obviously had a stressful job. Since he knew I was a yoga instructor he told me that I should take the course that he took, called, The Art of Living with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. I quickly investigated and found that Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is world famous and teaches meditation, Yoga Kriyas specifically Pranayama, and this practice changes peoples lives. Sanjay told me how the course changed his life and he no longer feels stressed. I knew I wanted that glow. This year, I had the chance to participate in the "I MEDITATE NY" course led by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar at the Lincoln Centre. Close to 3,000 people participated in the event. With beautiful Kirtan, and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar leading in simple pranayama and meditation, the event was so brilliant. I was so thankful I could get someone to cover my evening yoga class, so that I could attend this event. Although I was really tired from a packed week of teaching yoga classes, lack of sleep due to two nights of an allergic reaction from a bug bite scare from a building that I taught in (thank God I did not bring those gross bugs home with me), I knew I wanted and needed to go to the event. During the event, I was tremendously uncomfortable because my tummy hurt, so I was bloated, and I felt like my jeans were cutting the circulation, I guess that is what it feels like when you go from wearing yoga pants all the time, to wearing jeans. Along with that, my vibrating phone distracted me to notice that the teacher who was subbing my evening yoga class could not find the studio. I quickly unbuttoned my jeans, turned off my phone after texting my friend where the exact location was, and let go of all distractions. I really felt a little better during the event. After attending this event, I decided I want to take the actual Art of Living sometime this year I am taking the course, and I am going to have a glow that only pranayama can bring. Many people think meditation is sitting in lotus pose, or deep concentration, when actually it is the opposite. Meditation is empty thoughts, nothingness, complete surrender, doing nothing, being nothing and wanting nothing while being at peace with that. Pranayama is a practice that all people should embrace as it heals the mind, body and spirit. Breath brings oxygen to the blood, and therefore oxygenates the body. In the Western world, when people are stressed they shallow breathe, hence, the importance of deep breathing.
Pictured: Ambria Sitting in Lotus outside Lincoln Center and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Yoga at Pure with Marco Rojas

My amazing yoga student Al invited me to join in three days of fun yoga at Pure. While we loved class with Matt, we heard that we should take class with Marco Rojas. Marco teaches Vinyasa 2, and apparently the class is usually packed and extremely popular. I had heard about this particular instructor before and was eager to take the class. While I was considering taking a class before the Vinyasa class, I enjoyed my sleep and showed up in time for Marco's class. I situated myself at the back of the class again, and stretched out in silence. In walks another student who asked me if I had ever taken Marco's class before, and I said no. Slowly the other students begin to trickle in, and in walks Al. I knew that I would have to modify a lot, since my toe may not be able to transition through a level 2 Vinyasa class, but I was excited and grateful to take class nonetheless. In walks Marco, he is a tall lean yogi, salt and pepper hair, beautifully tatooed arms, commanding strength, with a kind spirit that echos in his Latin eyes and a charming smile. I jump up to greet him and explain that I am recovering from a broken toe. I asked him if it was alright that I modify, and he was so happy to hear that I wanted to modify rather than sit and watch. The class size was not as big as I had anticipated, and also Marco noticed that, so he asked the students to slide the mats to the walls. He introduced his lovely assistant Veronica and began the class. He taught the most amazing yoga class, keeping us in poses for a very long time, emphasizing the importance of awareness of dual forces in the body/spirit, and having us in multiple inversions. I am so grateful to have taken this class, as Marco made a point to adjust me in almost every Handstand variation he taught. I felt very blessed! One time when I was upside down in handstand, he was assisting me and had his hands on my hip bones, it was so ticklish, I had to come down and get the giggles out. I told him how I had broken my toe by landing wrong in a series of handstands, but it did not stop me from enjoying every handstand in his class. When I say every, I think he had us in at least 10 handstands by the end of the class. It was absolutely awesome! He is extremely dynamic when he speaks, which I loved! His assisting and demonstration of poses was spectacular! He is clear with his cues, charming, and at times funny. Many of the students would laugh off the sweat when he would remind us that we would be holding the pose for 4 more breaths. He also had a familiar way of expressing his views on energy, and after class when I thanked him for class he told me he has studied with Alan Finger. Aha!! That is the familiar essence I was picking up. Alan Finger is an amazing renowned Yogi (founder of Ishta) and original founder of Yoga Works who combines energetic awareness, Ayurveda and yoga in his classes. Marco is a remarkable teacher who I would love to take regular classes with, he is truly wonderful. Thank you Marco for an awesome class!
Pictured: Ambria and Marco

Shruti - The Worlds Youngest Yoga Teacher at 6yrs old

In Uttra Pradesh, India, 6 yr old Shruti teaches yoga at the Ashram there. She is the worlds youngest yoga teacher. She amazed her instructors after 6 months of training, as she was able to do some of the most challenging asanas with ease and perfection. She teaches daily at 5:30 am, at the Swami Bramachand Saraswati Kaivalya Dham Ashram in Allahabad, Uttra Pradesh, India. Her yoga classes are packed with up to 30 adults. Her students range from businessmen, teachers, housewives, elderly and many others. She is an inspiration to all her students, and yoga teachers/enthusiasts worldwide. Her love and dedication to the practice at the tender age of 6 is absolutely amazing!

Yoga @ Pure Yoga with Matt Giordano

Last week, one of my amazing yoga students (Al) invited to me to take classes at Pure Yoga with him. The space at Pure yoga is huge and lovely. They have many studios and exceptional instructors. We decided to take Slow Flow Meditation with Matt Giordano. Eventhough, I had taken Master Class with Sri Dharma, I was not sure if I wanted to jump into a fast paced vinyasa class. I entered into the studio and situated myself at the back of the class, as I like to do, and in walks Al. Al was surprised I was not right up front, and I explained to him I prefer to be at the very back of the room when I practice. In walks our instructor Matt, and begins to lead us in a lovely class. Matt takes time to explain the structural anatomy of the poses, using blocks, and wonderful verbal cues. While the name of the class is "Slow Flow Meditation", everyone was damp with sweat. Towards the end of the class, Matt lead us in a lovely meditation and sang us through Savasana while playing guitar. He then had the entire class singing the chant when we woke from our Savasana. It really was magical and lovely! Thanks Al for inviting me to take classes at Pure! Thank you Matt for an amazing experience!
Pictured : Ambria, Matt and Al

Yoga with Dharma @ Dharma East

Five weeks of healing a broken toe made me avoid taking yoga asana classes, but just a few weeks ago, I went back into my love of being a student. Initially I eased myself back into classes, with some amazing classes of former students who now teach at Bamboomoves (Denise & Sara), and also with Yoshio, but I had kept my boot on and my foot was still wrapped. Finally, kicked off the boot, only wrapped the toe and took class at the gorgeous Dharma East Temple. The Temple space is magnificent! The energy is healing, and as always Sri Dharma is the Guru you wish you could learn from all day long. I placed my mat at the back of the crowded room, and felt blessed the entire class. Since my big toe doesn't really bend properly, I had to modify, and that is fine, since Yoga is a practice, not a perfect. Sri Dharma led us in Shiva Namaskar and a brilliant class that left me feeling detoxified and amazing! I did not know that Psychic Development is included in the 2 hour Master Class, so when I left and bumped into a friend, both of us went back into the Psychic Development slightly late. Nonetheless, I felt blessed and so grateful to be in the class. The room was full with many other Dharma lovers, students, and teachers who I know. My favorite place to practice is at Dharma's, you learn so much as he is a wealth of knowledge, you laugh so much because he is so witty, and you experience healing because the energy is unlike any other yoga class you could take. The brilliant yogis who practice there are such an inspiration as well. Ironically, when I was growing up a family friend from NYC, knew of this amazing Yoga Teacher who taught at what was called the Yoga Asana Centre (I think), it was Sri Dharma. Although, this centre long before I was born, I kept it in the back of my mind, and knew I wanted to learn from him, financial reasons and injuries got in the way, but, one day when it is right I will do another Teacher Training with this brilliant Guru, but for now, I will continue to enjoy Master Class, and recommend the class to everyone I can. The Zoga Yoga teacher trainees are required to take Master Class with Sri Dharma to graduate, and thankfully some of them already have ventured to the temple and have had amazing experiences!!! Thank you once again to Sri Dharma for an amazing Yoga class!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Yoga Quote for the Day

‎"Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; for it becomes your destiny." ~ Upanishads