Saturday, July 30, 2011

Yoga with Magi again!

For a whole week I was waiting to be in this amazing lady's yoga class again. Her name is Magi Pierce, and she is truly an incredible Yoga Instructor who will inspire many people. After teaching the Central Park Class, I headed over to Life In Motion on the Upper West Side to take Magi's class. Since I teach a lot on the Upper West Side, I know that summer time is usually not a busy time for Yoga, as many people head to the Hamptons and other vacation spots. Well as the attendance seems to be booming in Magi's class, it looks like people are taking their vacations with Magi, myself included. She led us through a wonderful class. I went into class feeling slightly under the weather, and hoping that a good sweat would cure me, I did get a good sweat and left feeling grateful that I attended. Magi has a very purposeful Yoga Asana Sequence that is carefully crafted with dynamic flows, holding of postures with pranic awareness, poetic conscious verbal cues, and the hands on adjustments that I could compare to a Renaissance Sculptor. She truly crafts the class from beginning to end. Thank you Magi for yet another amazing morning class! You are an inspiration to many people, including myself.

Maggie is giving an incredible Inversion Workshop this Saturday July 30th at Life in Motion, go and play with her, learn and fly with her, you will be glad you did!

Photo: The Magnificent Magi Pierce & Ambria @ Life in Motion

Friday, July 29, 2011

Yoga in Central Park - The beauty of Nature

Recently, I was asked to sub a lovely yoga class in Central Park for my friend/fellow Yogi Agustin. The group is normally around 7 people, a small intimate group that meets in Strawberry Fields. I woke up with a slight fever, and feeling under the weather, but I knew It was too late to call out of the class, so I headed down to the beautiful Central Park. I wish I had known about this spot beautiful before, because my other times teaching in the park were curbside with bikers, runners, dog walkers, gawkers, and once a dog that came right to my Yoga Mat as I was teaching trying to invite me to play, while those experiences were still amazing, this time it was serene. Four Ladies showed up, and we waited a while to see if anyone else would come, and slowly I was led to their "Spot". It was truly gorgeous! An amazing hideaway surrounded by beauty! Soft lush green dewy grass, brilliant trees around, the sounds of sweet birds, the sounds of silence, and subtle rays of sunlight that peaked through the trees. It was really a magnificent site. We laid out our mats and progressed into a semi Gentle Yoga Flow, embracing the concept of connection to the Universe, letting go, and embracing gratitude. My dear friend and soon to be Yoga Instructor, Joseph, came along to do adjustments. Like in any Yoga Class, we joyfully learned the most difficult part is awareness of your right from your left. We smiled and embraced our inner Goddess amidst the beauty of Mother Nature. We felt the connection to the earth in possibly the most incredible Tree Pose ever, and had a lovely time. The experience only further reminded me how I wish to teach Yoga outdoors more often. Thank you Agustin for inviting me to sub, Thank you lovely ladies for sharing your yoga practice with me, it was such a blessing to share that collective energy with you all, and thank you Joseph for your beautiful adjustments. That class made my fever lessen, and made me feel much better. It was the start of an amazing day!!! For those who have not experience Yoga with the Sun above and the earth below, go roll out your mat on a beach, at a park or in your back yard, after one sun salutation you will feel amazing!!! ~ Namaste

Yogini Kitchen - Mint Vegetable Pulao

One of my private students is actually a family affair, meaning I once taught their child and now the dad has been my long standing student as well. Because I am going to go away for some time, my student invited me to stay for dinner. They made an amazing feast of Indian Vegetarian Delights. Part of the Main Course was Mint Vegetable Pulao. Pulaou is a South Indian Rice dish, usually made with Basmati Rice and a variety of Veggies. It is very yummy and very nutritious.

2 cups Basmati Rice - Uncooked
1/4 cup Yogurt/soy yogurt
4 carrots diced/chopped
a bunch of pearl onions or 2 medium sized Onions diced
2 tablespoons of peas
2 tablespoons of beans
8-10 Mint leaves (crushed)
6 green chillies (optional)
3 small garlic cloves (crushed into paste)
1 Tablespoon diced ginger (crushed into paste)
6 cloves
8 cardamons
3-4 Black Pepper corns
Pinch of Turmeric
1 Tablespoon oil
Salt to taste
A Whole lot of LOVE

Cook Rice till almost done
Heat Oil in Pan
Add Turmeric and Onions when Oil is heated
Add Cloves, Cardomon, Pepper corns and stir for a minute
Add Ginger-Garlic Paste
Add Cut Veggies
Stir and Cover till veggies are 3/4 cooked
Keep occasional stirring to avoid burning the veggies
When Veggies are 3/4 cooked lower the heat add Yogurt and Veggies (high heat will curdle the yogurt)
Cook on Low heat till water is evaporated and Veggies are cooked and finally Add RICE. Stir on Low heat.

As a Side you can add Cucumber Raita or Papadam

Serve in a dish, say Grace and ENJOY!

The beauty of South Indian Cooking is that it is rich in Flavor, Nutritious and Vegetarian. The use of Cloves, Cardomon and Turmeric are also medicinal for the Body. The combination of Legumes and Rice, improves the amino acid chain of the legumes to give optimal protein absorption.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Two AMAZING Days with Sri Dharma

Recently I participated in two days, back to back with Sri Dharma Mittra at the Dharma Yoga Center. Sri Dharma is a blessing to the city of New York, and especially to Yoga Instructors. As thursday is usually my day to go, my summer schedule has blessed me with a little more flexibility that allows me to take amazing classes! His class is remarkably challenging, inspirational and healing. While I have written many posts about Sri Dharma, it is because he is my favorite Instructor, and the favorite to many. From my Inversion Workshop on Sunday, to teaching 2 classes and taking 2 classes on Monday (one with Dharma), and then last night with Sri Dharma again, my body was a little sore.....but Dharma goes into the fullest expression of the pose with ease, grace, smiles and a sense of humour, as though his body has no tension at all. It is AMAZING!!! At the end of Monday nights class, my body was shaking with joy and we laid down in Savasana, Dharma said one person is laying the wrong way.....I looked up and noticed it was me, and Dharma had a sweet jovial smile on his face and hands on his hips....I quickly adjusted myself & smiled back at him. After class he gave a wonderful talk on the Bhagavad Gita and pranayama. The way he ties in the Spiritual aspect of the practice to daily life is so amazing, and he lives it too! It is always lovely to meet friends and fellow Yoga Instructors in class as well.

During Savasana last night, Dharma came around and shook my legs and arms, any tension was gone, and I felt like I could sleep for days. After last nights class, my friend and I were speaking about how wonderful class was, and I said to my friend that Dharma's picture is on my altar, right next to Jesus, we both giggled, but she knew that it was true (it really is). He really is an incredible Teacher!

If this is what 72 years young looks like, everyone should practice yoga. I love how Dharma emphasizes the importance and aspect of vegetarianism as it relates to the Yoga Practice. Many times you will hear him say "without Yamas & Niyamas there is no yoga". He embodies Yoga in every way, and regardless of your level of ability, you can benefit from hearing his wise words, participating in his guided meditations & pranayama, experiencing the brilliant energy of the class, and witnessing inspirational Yogis as they practice with respect and reverence for their Guru. When you don't try to do the asana, he will encourage you to try, and advise you to not act like an old person (so fun)! While he has earned the title of "The teachers teacher", it is advised that everyone take the advantage of taking a class with this amazing Teacher. Sadly, I may be leaving NYC for a short while, and I must admit, I will miss Sri Dharma's classes very much! Thank you Sri Dharma for inspiring me, deepening my practice, inspiring my students, and teaching many people the beauty of are a blessing to my life.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Yoga class at Equinox

Today after teaching two morning classes, I was invited to join a friend/student, Al at Equinox for a Yoga Class. Equinox is a popular gym that offers some group fitness classes too. I was told that this teacher gives a wonderful class, and that I should check it out. While many people think that the vibe in a mega chain gym cannot provide the Spirituality of a small Yoga Studio, I have to disagree. While it is true that often times we will find an Instructor that resonates with us, or a preferred studio, this all happens when we are receptive ourselves, as Sri Dharma says. The spirituality of the practice comes only when we are open to that aspect, also when the teacher provides guidance towards that, and ultimately, once we acknowledge God is everywhere, we see past all our preferences and focus on the practice. Along with that, many times the asana aspect of the practice takes preference for some, especially in a city like New York, where people want a lunch time break. The Yoga Asana is is a beautiful way to detoxify the body, increase strength, improve flexibility, oxygenate the blood, balance the subtle body, and recover from injuries.

So I arrive at the gym, sign in as a guest and head to the Yoga Studio. The room is dimly lit, with hard wood floors, mirrors on one side and windows on the other. I decide to sit myself down and read my nook while I wait for the room to clear. Apparently, I was a half hour early, so I got in some good reading. I lay my mat out, and ask another student if we are supposed to face the mirrors. She says yes, so I wait, and stretch. In walks my friend, and the teacher is setting up his Ipod. The Instructors name is Jeremy Jai Fahey. My arms were a little tender from the Inversion Workshop of the previous day, but I was happy to participate. Slowly the room began to fill, and I was told that it usually gets even more crowded. With light instrumental music and hardly a murmur of the gym sounds outside we began class. Jeremy led us through a lovely Level 2 Vinyasa Flow Class, with a lot of awareness to the energetic body. Somehow, I knew that he did some other form of body work by the way he would cue the asana. The flow was fluid and fun. Much of his flow was preparing our bodies for Crow Pose. I truly loved how Jeremy led us into Crow, with awareness of Bandhas, lifting of hips, and squeezing of arms with the knees. He actually had us work with the alignment and form of the pose in various ways, including on our backs, before he even got us into Crow. It was really wonderful to explore the pose like that. After class, I thanked Jeremy for his beautiful class, and asked him where he trained, and he explained how much of his training was in body work. It made so much sense. Thank you Jeremey for providing a lovely class, with energetic sequencing, and purpose driven asana.

Photo: Ambria & Jeremy Jai Fahey

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Yoga Inversion Workshop with Amitai

Today my student & Karate Sensei Joseph embarked on the "Inversion Workshop" requirement for his Teacher Training. For those who don't know, Joseph isKung Fu & Karate Black Belt, A Reiki Master, A Crystal Healer, an ordained Minister, and an amazing friend. While my friend and fellow Yoga Instructor Agustin was set to teach the class, he sent his friend Amitai instead. Both Amitai and Agustin are remarkable Dharma Yogi's. I have taken many classes with Amitai at Dharma East, and he truly has a remarkable gift for teaching, and a humble energy that one can only attain with sincere devotion to the practice of Yoga, and their Guru. The class was at the Reebok Sports Club in the Harmony by Karate Dojo. Amitai entered and introduced himself to Joseph. After a very challenging yet beautiful weekend, I was excited to deepen my asana practice too. Even though many people think my asana practice is strong, I personally think it could be stronger, and never hesitate to share that, and continue to take classes to learn and grow. After our Om, Amitai began with beautiful guided meditation/pranayama using the chakras & alternate nostril breathing which is a common exercise Sri Dharma does after Master Class. We progressed into Bandhas, Surya Namaskar and then straight into inversions. Amitai gives amazing verbal cues, and assists in ways that make you feel like you can do everything upside down. He lead us through many variations of forearm balance, hand standing, and scorpion with highlighting the importance of how the prana flows, the importance of bandhas, the proper alignment of our body, and it was super fun!!! It goes without saying that Amitai's demonstration of poses are inspirational, and more than once Joseph and I turned to each other with a full "OMG" expression on our face after Amitai would effortlessly demonstrate!!! Thank you Amitai for an incredible experience. Thank you Joseph, it was so amazing to alternate forearm standing variations with you.

Photo: 1) Joseph working into Scorpion 2) Ambria, Amitai & Joseph

Yoga with Magi

One of my amazing Yoga students Joseph, has been telling me to take a class with a brilliant Yoga Instructor, Magi. Magi, a native Bostonian, teaches at Life in Motion Yoga studio, and she gives a remarkable class. Life in Motion offers Yoga, Spin Class and a lot more! Since I teach a lot on the Upper West Side, I am familiar with the studio, but never had a chance to take a class. Last week, a friend/yoga instructor Sarah joined me for an amazing class. I enter into the street side door, and climb the stairs. Soon enough a lovely young lady enters and sits on the steps with me, and I asked her about the class, ironically she said that she is the Instructor. We spoke briefly and I told her that Joseph told me about her class. She was so kind and sweet. Soon Sarah walked, we hugged and situated our mats towards the back of class. Magi brought our bodies through such a beautiful anatomically cued vinyasa flow. With a lot of emphasis on alignment, and incredibly challenging yet poetic sequencing that leaves the body feeling amazing! The reason I say that Magi has a poetic sequence, is because the rhythm of the class is something indescribable as she manages to balance the body, challenge the body, take you on a journey, throw in unique tweaks to poses that appear like poetic metaphors, and leave you in a sweaty state of bliss with an occasional joke. She studied with the ever famous, Anna Forrest and another teacher in Boston who she credits as her alignment/anatomy inspiration. Magi does not really teach with esoteric and spiritual aspects of the practice, but more of a concrete anatomical depiction of the asana, and I really loved it! While both Sarah and I were so tempted (and I mean really tempted) to sign up for the discounted membership, my journey is taking me to new horizons these days, so I decided I would pay as I go, should I have the time for an incredible class with this teacher extraordinaire. I have to say that when two Yoga Teachers leave a studio anxious to come back for the teachers class, and tempted to sign up, based off of one experience, that Instructor is truly remarkable! Thank you Magi for being a true inspiration, you are a blessing to the Yoga community in New York City.
To find more info on Magi:

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Learning to be in a State of Yoga.

"Yogastha kuru karmani sangan tyaktva Dhananjaya Sidhyasidhyo samo bhutva samatvang yoga uchyate" Bhagavad Gita 2:48

Yogastha - Steadfast in Yoga
kuru - perform
karmani - duties or actions

Translation: Be steady in yoga, Arjun, do whatever you must do; give up attachment, be indifferent to failure and success.

In life we have to accept our path, accept our Dharma (our purpose) without being attached to the fruits of our actions, the same goes for the yoga journey. Concentration on action means concentration on the present or living in the present. While concentrating on the present that is the only way one can make conscious based choices and decisions. Once we concentrate on the present, we are no longer caught up in the past or the future, thus, past anxieties and future worries no longer can make us suffer.

In this epic Hindu Verse, Krishna explains to Arjun "do your best and leave the rest", meaning give 100% and be attached to your actions but be detached to the results. This is also an act of surrender to God, to Divine intervention, and an example of faith. Always living in the present moment with awareness, and practicing the beauty of allowing. The primary gist of the Gita is that at all times, your mind should be in a "state of yoga", having consciousness in our actions, acknowledging that at every moment our mind is working through our actions, united. This unity is where we derive the word Yoga, translated in Sanskrit as to yolk/join/unify which is the union of the mind, body and spirit.

This "state of yoga" translates onto our asana practice....when beginning a class never be attached to the studio, the location of our mat, to the instructor, to the asana we plan to do in our class, to the asana that other people may do in class, but rather surrender to our breath, and just allow the practice to be an extension of that surrender. This approach to practice without ego and with total receptivity is when miracles happen.

This "state of yoga" translates into our dietary habits. We are always in a rush to eat, on the go lifestyle forces us to adapt to quick meals, fast food or skipping meals. Do we enjoy the sight of our meal, the smell, the touch, the taste, or even take time to notice how much we must chew? People who eat with awareness, connection of mind to body, generally never over eat.

Regardless of what religious faith you abide by.... a good lesson from the Gita, a parable from the Bible, a verse from the Kabbalah are all means for us to learn, grow and better be aware, to allow, to be present & receptive, and invite a "state of yoga"

Monday, July 18, 2011

Yoga Jewelry for your FEET

My last post on Yoga Jewelry highlighted the incredible talents of up & coming Jewelry designer Milta. This post highlights the incredible talents of her aunt, Isabel. Beauty and Talents run deep in this family. Isabel is a lovely, amazing fellow aquarian lady, with a beautiful heart, and a lot of creativity. She played a major part in helping the healing process of my broken toe this year, and gratitude is constantly flowing in my heart for her. She recently made me beautiful, delicate crochet "shoeless sandals", that have Tigers Eye on them too!.....ok so let's all say WOW!!! When I saw them, it was amazingly thoughtful, super creative, and really beautiful!!! I had been meaning to wear them for a long time, and this Saturday I rocked the lovely shoeless sandals! Everyone enjoyed the Yoga Studio Debut of the Shoeless Sandals.

In India it is not uncommon to see women wearing Jewelry on their feet, silver or Gold anklets (sometimes with tiny bells), toe rings, amd various other Jewerly specifically used for Indian Classical Dance. For the fashionable Yogini, the Shoeless sandal looks like it will be the way to go!!! Thank you Gonzales Ladies for keeping me looking stylish!!! Love you lovely ladies!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Saucha - Purity

The Niyamas are about self regulation, and us creating the most productive environment in which to grow closer to God. When we practice the five Yamas - non violence, truthfulness, non stealing, control of the sensual drive and non-greed, we achieve Saucha. Saucha is cleanliness, purity of our body, heart, mind and surroundings. Do we keep our energy clear, our surroundings clutter free, do we keep our body clean, and most important do we keep out thoughts clean? Sometimes we get caught up in doing the Yoga Asana, and forget about the other Limbs of the 8 Limbed Practice. We forget the purpose behind the practice is to get closer to God, to achieve Samadhi. I realized this the other day, when something stained my clothes, and I quickly changed clothes, because my daddy used to always say to wear clean clothes, not fancy but clean, and this is a way of practicing Saucha. More than practicing Saucha externally with clean clothes etc, lets focus on the inside, keeping our hearts pure. A clutter free heart, free of hatred, jealousy, greed, envy, grudge is a productive, compassionate, loving and Yogic heart. Sometimes situations in life, challenge our ability to love, challenge the balance in our heart chakra, it is up to us to heal that.

For me, I choose to pray, and ask God to heal the situation, and the person who wronged me, not just so they can be blessed, but more so my heart can find freedom. It is not necessary to carry too much baggage on our journey, it's best to travel light. Also, apologizing or accepting an apology is always a nice thing too. Use discernment always, meaning, if someone apologizes and repeatedly does the same thing, the apology has very little sincerity, and you have the right to disasociate yourself with the individual or situation, as long as you do this without grudge. No one said Saucha was easy, that is why life is full of lessons.

You may have heard the saying "Love your Enemies and pray for those who persecute you" Jesus or...
"Hate the sin, not the sinner" ~ Gandhi.

A sages prayer from one of the sacred Verses of the Upanishad:

Oh Lord,
May my body become pure.
May I be free from umpurity.
May I know myself as Divine Light.

Oh Lord,
May my mind become pure.
May my self become pure.
May I know myself as Divine Light.

Oh Lord,
May I realize You with my purified understanding.
May I realize the highest bliss with my purified understanding.
May I realize You who are the highest bliss with my purified understanding

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Teaching Yoga & The Importance Boundaries

While I believe in being a life long learner, it should come as no surprise that I am constantly reading. This year a lovely student brought a wonderful book to me called "Teaching Yoga, Exploring the Teacher Student Relationship", by Donna Farhi. This book is a must read for every Yoga Instructor, and Teacher Trainee, and Yoga School. Without any reservations Donna breaks down the importance of respecting Boundaries, maintaining professional conduct, awareness & abiding by the Principals of Yogic Philosophy, all with a great deal of emphasis on Teacher-Student Relations. The timing of this book could not have come at a better time, as this year has provided amazing learning opportunities for me. Sadly, negative situations can be the catalyst for learning opportunities.

Being that my nature is very friendly and compassionate, being that I am blessed to have many students who are dedicated to the practice of Yoga, and caring towards me, sometimes there is are "bad apples" in the bunch. What I have learned from both the book and life experience goes as follows:
  • Yoga Studio Owners - Managers should never take it upon themselves to play "match-maker". The Yoga Instructor may have a personal life that you are unaware of, and this is just "unprofessional behavior" that could lead to negative repercussions for both the Instructor and members of your establishment.
  • Yoga Instructors need to assert themselves in their work. When I first started teaching I came across many situations where I was asked to work for free...and I did, while Karma Yoga is a beautiful thing, and I look at every experience as a chance to grow/learn, be aware when it is "exploiting your knowledge/experience" for their financial gain. Many times "Yogis" are not paid for their time, and their kindness is manipulated. This is wrong, as Yoga Instructors provide a valuable service, providing their time, to both establishments and students. In the Western world it may be necessary to have the means of payment in written contract form. One of my dearly respected "Yogis" once told me after discovering what he perceived as my incredibly low Private Sessions Fees...."This is NYC, and Yogis gotta eat too".
  • Yoga Instructors should be aware that kindness from students of the opposite sex & even of same sex, could wind up being more of an infatuation or obsession that could be potentially dangerous. One hour of Yoga Bliss cannot undo someone with years of "severe mental illness", therefore be cautious as you never know who may be a future stalker. Even though we can inspire people in the time frame of class, we are under no obligation to maintain social contact beyond the Yoga Class, and we should use our intuition because in many cases we should avoid this.
  • Healthy Boundaries goes on to call Yoga Instructors to respect the principal of "Dehabhimane galite vijnate paramatman Yatra Yatra mano yati tatra tatra sadhyayah" -"With the disappearance of the attachment of the body and with the realization of the Supreme Self, to whatever object the mind is directed, one experiences Samdahi". - This means after we teach, understand that when we pay more attention to one student/group of students others may feel dejected, also, we may be feeding into the infatuation of a student. As Yoga Instructors our goal is to facilitate an amazing experience for students, and respect the practice, so it's best to stick to that plan.
  • Studio Owners and Instructors, be mindful of your words/conduct. We are blessed to provide an experience that has ancient energy & Philosophy attached to it. Much like when you take a Karate Class you respect the Sensei, the same goes for a Yoga Instructor. Even if you are around the corner or on the street, you need to maintain the energy of a "Yogi", as it is not just about owning an establishment with your photo everywhere, saying Namaste, or wearing Mala Beads, the Yoga Practice is a way of life, and should be respected as such. If we want to instill peace, we must be peace. Students watch our behavior, and hypocrisy leaves a sour taste in the mouths of many.
  • Abiding by ASTEYA (the principal of non-stealing). We must be aware that when we create Manuals, Use Music or Meditation CDs are part of curriculum these are artistic materials that are subject to copyright laws. When I was asked to use another Teacher Training Manual for the launch of my YOGA ALLIANCE REGISTER AND RECOGNIZED ZOGA YOGA Teacher Training program, I was quick to refuse and say that I have put time and effort into "the itinerary of the program", taken over a year to create my own original TT manual, and refuse to be associated with NON-YOGIC behavior. Being that I am a musician, and have a few Original CD's under my belt, I have a tremendous respect for artistic copyright. We obviously cannot copyright Downward Dog, and in many respects the Yogis in India could hold the entire movement of Yoga in the West under Copyright infringement lawsuits, as everyone wants to brand this ancient practice as their own. Nonetheless, we should be more Yogic in our conduct, ask for permission, give credit to the source, and be aware that Karma is a cycle that needs to be respected. No one likes a COPY CAT and I have seen many organizations fall due to lawsuits which resulted in negative reputations. Be Yogic and don't use someone's artistic work without permission and contracts.
Given my recent "learning experiences" this year, I have decided to refrain from naming the location of places where I practice and teach, for my own safety. While often I use this blog to highlight AMAZING Instructors, ONLY and always after having their permission first, I will continue to do so, to inspire more people to embrace this incredible practice of Yoga, but without giving details of my schedule. ~ Namaste

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Ashtanga Yoga at Reebok

Ashtanga Yoga which means 8 Limbed in Sanskrit is a style of Yoga popularized by the late Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. The practice is taught in Mysore, India now by Sri Pattabhi Jois's son, and is an amazing practice. Originally it was my dream to be an "Ashtangi", the intensity of the practice and power always peaked my interest. However, it never happened, and I just would be wide eyed with admiration for the Ashtanga Yogis that I came across on my journey.

Last night, my amazing friend/yoga student/Karate Sensei, Joseph, invited me to take an Ashtanga class at Reebok Sports Club. Joseph is currently doing the ZOGA YOGA 200 HR Teacher Training, and as part of his training he is taking regular classes. His receptivity to instruction is amazing, and his desire to learn is inspirational.

Reebok houses a lovely "Mind-Body Studio" and amazing Instructors. I used to take classes there regularly when I worked there, but never an Ashtanga class. I asked Joseph is there a lot of "jump backs?" (jumping back to Chutturunga), as I knew this was the flow of Ashtanga, and he said "no" the teacher holds the poses a lot. I said "are you sure?", as I was totally confused, and decided perhaps this is the "watered-down-American version" of Ashtanga, as this was not the description of Ashtanga I ever knew. Since I broke my toe earlier this year, I am laying low on the "jump backs", so I was excited to participate in class.

We enter the lovely space with natural light from wall to wall windows and lay out our mats. Joseph and I are joined by our friend Sensei Oscar. This was the first time I took class with all three of them. The teacher, Evan Perry walks into class. I turn to Joseph and say that I recognize him, and he explains how Evan is the father of a child that used to come to the PreK where we both taught. WOW, small world. Evan begins with a lovely chant, and into Surya Namaskar.....with "Jump Backs". I smile to myself, as I realize this is a serious Ashtanga class I am now in. With the traditional Ashtanga Cues, Evan leads us into a brilliant class. His adjustments were fantastic. He supported me in my forward fold as he noticed I had trouble with one side to balance, and also contorted me deeply into poses & binds that I don't usually do. Joseph calls it the "pretzel class" is. Evan concluded class with a wonderful chant, and before we got up from Savasana he was out the door with his back pack on.

The power of ancient techniques & tradition resonate in the Ashtanga practice. I love the emphasis on the breath as connection to the movements and the use of Bandhas, as those are keys to the practice. Thank you Evan for providing an amazing class, thank you Sensei Joseph and Sensei Oscar for sharing in the awesome vibration. All three of us left the class floating!

Picture: Me (Ambria), Sensei Joseph, and Sensei Oscar

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Crystals & Stick Stone & Bone

For years I have been fascinated by crystals, loving the beauty, the energy, the relation to chakras and the wonder in Gods gems. Like many people I have ventured to various places to view and purchase crystals like Rockstar, Namaste, Angel in Union Square & of course Stick Stone and Bone. Stick Stone and Bones is by far my favorite place to go, and to purchase pieces. They have incredibly unique pieces, staff that is well versed in Geology and Gems, and the vibration in that store is absolutely incredible. If you are looking for the perfect gift for someone who is interested in Holistic Wellness, Stick Stone & Bone is the place to go.

Since doing my Reiki Master Training and Crystal Healing Training, I have experienced a deeper sense of Clairaudience. For me in teaching Yoga, doing Reiki & Shiatsu, Clairaudience has come in handy, as it is an amazing tool that provides extra sensory-perception and helps you follow the natural flow of vibration. Being around Crystals in Stick Stone & Bone is now an even more awesome experience. Whether it's crystals, Jewelry, Incense, Candles, Sage, Books, Gifts for you or a loved on, or just a nice trip to an amazing store, you want to venture to Stick Stone and Bone. You will experience a lovely energy, and you will learn a lot if you ask questions to the amazing Staff!

Photo: Me (Ambria) at Stick Stone and Bone holding a Celestite Cluster.

  • A beautiful light Blue toned Crystal
  • activating upper chakras and the angel realm.
  • Generally used in Reiki Attunements,
  • balances Male & Female energies.
  • Activates intuition
  • Promotes positive communication
  • As an elixir it can help the digestive system

Friday, July 8, 2011

Yoga Enthusiast Organic Grocery List

Organically grown foods are grown without the help of pesticides and artificial fertilizers. With people growing in awareness of their health, it is important to know what to do when buying your food. The reality is your expenses may increase when purchases are "organic" but think of the long term benefit, and alleviated cost of medical expense when you invest in the health of your body. Organic foods are especially beneficial for a developing child and a pregnant woman.

Conventional Foods: use chemical fertilizers to promote plant growth, spray insecticides to reduce disease, give animals growth hormones & medication to prevent disease and increase growth, and use herbicides to prevent weeds.

Organic Foods: Use natural fertilizers like manure/compost, use insects and birds to reduce disease & trap pests, give animals organic feed & access to the outdoors while providing a clean area to live & graze that prevents disease, and mulch, till and rotate crops to prevent weeds.

For the Vegans or Vegetarians, the notion of organically fed meat is not a factor. In my opinion Organically grown produce tastes better and usually supports your local farmer.

According to the "Environmental Working Group" EWG, there is an annual dirty dozen list that they release, highlighting which foods we are better off purchasing organically grown, since these 12 seem to have the most pesticide residue.

The dirty dozen include : apples, celery, strawberries, peaches, spinach, nectarines, grapes, sweet bell peppers, potatoes, blueberries, lettuce, kale/collard greens.

The 15 foods with the lowest pesticide residue included: onion, sweet corn, pineapples, avacado, asparagus, sweet peas, mangoes, eggplant, cataloupe, kiwi, cabbage, watermelon, sweet potatoes, grapefruit, and mushrooms.

Obviously the more foods you have on your grocery list that are natural like fruits, vegetables and whole grains, the more benefits you will see for your body, and inevitably your yoga practice. Fruits and Vegetables are rich in vitamins, water & oxygen which are crucial for cellular development and prevention of disease.

The reality is that many diseases today can be linked to our dietary habits. Sadly, my personal observation has been that the foods that are being heavily promoted, usually cause the most harm to our body (due to high chemical contamination)...foods like Milk, Potato Chips, Burgers, Soft Drinks, etc.

With films like Food Inc., books like Eating Animals, and Yoga and Vegetarianism...Many believe our food industry has a heavy hand in the pharmaceutical business, and thus, work together to create profits, at the expense of the common individual.

Choose health and wellness, educate yourself, and support your local grocery store and farmers. Always remember for those with a sweet tooth, there are Vegan/Vegetarian, Organically grown snacks, cakes, cookies that are available and very tasty. Also, invest in a juicer and sip your way to wellness. ~ Namaste

Photo: This photo was secretly taken of me waiting at the Lifethyme Organic Market for a yummy cookie

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Amma NYC - "Laughter is the Music of the World"

After a beautiful weekend with my family, I decided to go see Amma (the hugging Saint). Amma is the malayalam name for "Mother", almost everyone in Kerala has a few older ladies they call Amma, as it is a name of respect and love. I have heard about Amma for a long time, her humanitarian work, her hugs, and her popularity in the Yoga community here in the USA. Amma has a powerful message of peace, spirituality and love. When I entered into the massive Manhattan Centre, my friend and I wound up on the top balcony as the venue was packed. Amma began to speak, in Malayalam (the language my parents speak). She is from the province of Kerala, from an area not to far from my Mothers home in India. There was such a profound peace in her gentle voice. I understood her every beautiful word, and since this was my first experience at an Amma event, I was translating for my friend beside me, until we realized their is a translator who explains her powerful message right after (LOL). Initially, I was confused by the sea of people who most likely did not understand Malayalam, but her energy & tone of voice speak volumes.

She said "laughter is the music of the world", this to me is such a powerful statement as we spend so much time with frowns on our faces, disappointments guiding our mental state, anticipation of negativity in our bones, why not laugh a little more? Amma is so right! She also explained how we use our brain to stop movement in our legs, in our arms, when we want to....why not use our brain to stop and still the mind? WOW, what a beautiful sentiment. Our thoughts, our ego, often times dictate much of our mental state, why not sit in stillness, sit with God? Amma spoke about the cycle of Karma, how our actions will always come back to us. Therefore, when we do good, good will return to us, and when we do bad, it will return to us as well, at some point, our Karmic Cycle will always make sure we learn and experience life fully. Amma's work is pure Karma Yoga (selfless service), the event was run by a lot of volunteers (many friendly faces I knew from Dharma's and other Yoga friends volunteered their time), and all proceeds of Amma's gift shop goes to her charities. While she provides amazing food at this free event, words of wisdom, Holy Water, and Puja, she also provides Dharshan at the end giving Hugs to all. I am grateful to have participated in this lovely event, to have her her words, and experienced her love. After a lovely weekend with family, it was beautiful to hear her message in Malayalam as well. Thank you Amma for being an example of love and peace.

Reiki Master and Crystal Healing Certified

After an intense training with the amazing Mary Henry, my dear friend Joseph and I are Reiki Masters and Crystal Healing Certified. For some time when I would do Chakra Workhops or Reiki Sessions, I would use Crystals, as I knew how certain stones resonated with chakras or areas of the body. Like many people, I also had certain crystals that I would gravitate to. My new found knowledge of the amazing energy found in crystals for healing, transformation and balancing, and Reiki Attunements, has opened the door to a deeper understanding of God's beautiful earth. These crystals carry vibrational energy, and the yogis used them for many purposes for centuries.

As a matter of fact, the intricate details of the Taj Mahal were filled with beautiful Ruby, Saphire and Emerald cut stones. When the sun would shine into the Taj Mahal the beautiful, rainbow reflection was said to be the most magnificent sight to see, and a masterpiece of sacred geometry. The last time I went to the Taj Mahal I was amazed to see the beautiful details in the designs on all the walls, and each were filled with colorful stones. Crystals have amazing beauty and energy, Thank you Mary once again for being an incredible teacher!