Monday, August 29, 2011

Crystal Healing - Flourite

For those of us who enjoy Crystals, you may want to explore Flourite. Flourite is a stone that is very protective. It is effective to protect against electromagnetic stress. It absorbs a lot of stress and is meant to purify the body. It promotes intuition and when placed on the 3rd eye Chakra has been known to create a feeling of openness and clearing. Stones are a wonderful tool when working with your chakras. They can be used to provide positive energy to your home and even be worn as jewelry.

Pictured: Flourite Heart (Thanks Jess!)

Yoga Quote of the Day!

"If you can Dream it, you can do it" ~ Walt Disney

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Ashtanga Yoga Workshop with David Swenson

This weekend there was an amazing Yoga Workshop with world famous Ashtanga Yogi, David Swenson. Three days at the convention center in Hamilton, Ontario that exposed many people to the world of Ashtanga. For me, Ashtanga was the original style I wanted to learn with the late Sri Pattabhi Jois in Mysore, India but due to family obligations on my many trips to India, it never happened yet. At first I entered into the convention center and saw the sea of Yoga Mats laid out, so Katie from De La Soul Yoga (organizer of the event) invited me to lay out my mat close to the front. People came from all over to attend David's weekend workshop. The front was actually the middle, as David positioned himself in the center of the large banquet room. While he was giving a series of workshops for three days, today was Handstanding, Floating and flight. Like many people I have had injuries that have left some residual fears but with practice those fears have been put on the side to usher in the Joy of Flying. David began with answering questions from the group. He shared his take on certification as it is a beautiful thing and now a standard, but the certificate does not make an excellent teacher, he himself never had a certificate, nor did Sri Pattabhi Jois, nor did B.K. S. Iyengar or Krishnamacharya. Certification is a beautiful way to help regulate for studios, but experience, compassion and the ability to deepen a yoga practice is a safe way is ultimately what will make you a good teacher. While I myself taught long before I got a certificate, I am grateful for my training experience and look forward to more trainings. As Ashtanga is known for jump backs and jump throughs we began with that style of flight. With the help of partners we assisted each other to truly get the effect of the physics of the jump. While some may think it is about the height or the speed, it is actually supposed to be effortless with light feet and weight in the hands. From there we explored Handstanding, at first with partners to spot and then free style. It was AMAZING!!! No use of the wall whatsoever, and the beauty of this is it forces you to be aware of the body mechanics, while ensuring safety for your joints. From there we took flight with crow and side crow, kundinyasana, and more jumping through. We concluded the evening with a Pranyama and Bandha worksop that slowly turned into a Pranayama Circle. David began with the quote "Life is initiated on an in breath and terminated on an out breath". David has a brilliant way of teaching with remarkable demonstrations, beautiful stories of Sri Pattabhi Jois & his time in Mysore with Guruji, a ton of comedic comments, and encouraging variations to make sure everyone feels amazing! His occasional imitation of Guruji in an Indian Accent was fun to listen to also. The concept that if we are able to control our breath we can control our mind was something he highlighted, mentioning that this movement is meditation and connection to breath. This was important when we had us all explore Maha Bandha with the engaging of all three bandhas and truly experiencing the 6 directions of breath movement, rather then the sucking in of the abdomen that many people sadly think is Uddiyana Bandha. The Abdominal lock is much more than this, in fact Bandhas is the internal lifting and resisting which is what controls the outside core, therefore it is not a contraction, it is a lift.

It was such an awesome experience to learn with an incredible teacher like David. After the workshop he posed for a picture and we chatted up Mysore and Yoga. Thank you David for an awesome experience, I hope to learn more from you in the future. Thank you De La Soul Yoga for organizing this wonderful event.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Yogi Organic Gardening

While most Yogis and Yoga enthusiasts practice vegetarian or vegan lifestyles, in efforts to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and respect the Yama of Ahimsa (non Harming to all living things), it is always amazing to have the veggies fresh from your own garden. Having your own garden helps you appreciate your food, share with neighbors, and have fresh non GMO foods literally in your own backyard. A diet rich in vegetables provides ample vitamins and minerals that help in cellular functions of the body. Veggies are generally rich in water and oxygen which are the primary necessities of our bodies organs and blood. In my case, growing up my parents always had the most amazing vegetable garden, so almost everything was organic on our table. Over the years my daddy has made adjustments to his garden, as the size has gotten smaller, but he never lost his green thumb. This year our plentiful harvest has been beautiful cherry tomatoes, delicious cucumbers, Bitter Melon (Pavikya), Tomatoes, Green Peppers, and Amaranthus (Cheera). Bitter Melon and Amaranthus are both common to Indian taste buds. Bitter Melon is exactly as it is called, BITTER, it looks almost like a dinosaur, and it is an excellent food to improve iron and also decrease insulin levels. Amaranthus is part of the spinach family, rich in vitamins and minerals and also an excellent source of iron. Cucumbers are a refreshing cool veggie that is a wonderful food for those in the Pitta Dosha Type. Cherry Tomatoes and Tomatoes are an excellent source of Lycopene, while Bell Peppers are a terrific source of Vitamin C. Depending on where you live you can have a beautiful garden for many months of the year. Nowadays people are building rooftop gardens, in door gardens or even just using a few pots for herbs and common veggie staples to the dinner table. If you haven't gotten your knees in the dirt yet, try it out. While my thumb is more turquoise than green like my daddy's, I still enjoy the watering, picking and eating of the it's teamwork. It is a wonderful way to connect with nature and you can eat some delicious food after all your efforts.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Rock Store in Toronto

Bienvenue au Canada. While I am enjoying lovely time with family, exploring Yoga up here (eh!), and teaching up here....I am also exploring the amazing world of Crystals at The Rock Store in Toronto. This store offers Reiki, Crystal Healing, and many other amazing things...and even YOGA!!! The ladies who work there are like amazing fairies, and the selection of stones is awesome! The place was brimming with stones that were buzzing from the incredible aroma of sage. I could not help but pick a few pieces that were calling me, and I hope to go back for some more! It was an amazing store. For those who want to venture to Toronto for some leisure time, you will be amazed with the lovely Vegan eateries, up & coming Yoga Studios, amazing Instructors and This Crystal Paradise called The Rock Store. Thank you Toronto for being so in tune with Holistic Health and Wellness. Missing all my lovely Yogis & Students in NYC & Thank you for your prayers & love. ~ Om Shanti Eh!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Yoga Pose: Anjaneyasana - Cresent Moon

Anjaneyasana is often found as you flow through Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation. You begin from a lunge placing with hands near the feet, on the mat, with your heart shining up to the heavens. Gently placing the back knee on the mat, softly float the arms up. While we want to invite the concept of sun-moon we inhale shine the heart further to the heavens, as we exhale sink your hips/thighs further to the earth. Let your breath get deeper as your body gets deeper into the pose. The balance comes from keeping your navel to the spine (Uddiyana Bandha). Tuck the the tail bone down and forward as sink deeper into the pose, you pull your lower ribs into your back, expand through the heart & ribs and keep the shoulders relaxed away from the ears as you lift the finger tips further to the sky. This pose is a beautiful offering in your practice as it opens the heart and awakens the tightness in the hips that affect our root chakra. Depending on your comfort you may want to have a blanket under your bent knee or roll up your mat. For those of you advanced in your practice....You may work on you pigeon variations, bringing your back foot up & inviting a beautiful stretch for the quadricep. You may even attempt this pose on the narrow ledge over looking the Atlantic Ocean like I did (wind blowing, a steep drop to jagged rocks and all...of course wearing a skirt....gotta be a lady)....again awareness of Bandhas is important for balance.

This pose is an excellent way to get into the psoas, the quads the gluteus. Hip Abductor Stablizers (glut medius, minims, magnus, longus) all become toned. Arms are worked and delts, triceps, biceps, traps, rhomboids and lats are all strengthened and toned. For people with tightness in the shoulders work on shining the heart up and keep your arms relaxed.

While this pose is amazing, and anatomically opens the body to prepare for deeper asana work, it is also a lovely pose to open the heart chakra. As you breathe in, breathe in love & compassion, as you breathe out...release any unforgiveness/baggage that burdens your heart, that occupies unnecessary space......So we not only get lighter physically with Yoga, we also get lighter emotionally, mentally while our Spirituality and connection to God gets even more AMAZING!!!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Kids Yoga - One of my greatest Joys

One of my biggest joys of my Yoga journey, is teaching to kids. For me yoga was first introduced to me by my mom, and while it was fun and silly time, I enjoyed it! Kids in so many ways have the yoga practice that should inspire all adults. They have no ego. It is about having fun, supporting each other, learning to breathe deep, singing and having FUN! When I was teaching grade 1 & 4 in the Public School system, I used Yoga to help calm down the energy, and also to have students aware of their body-mind connection. It was a great tool for fourth graders before State Testing time. Since then I have been blessed to go on to teach and share Kids Yoga with Little flower, Yogi Beans, Bamboomoves, Harmony By Karate, and soon Karma Kids. A huge passion of mine has been to bring Yoga to children with special needs. Working with kids on various areas of the Autistic Spectrum, with Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, ADHD, Sensory Integration and even Williams Syndrome....thank you Yogi Beans for giving me such cherished opportunities! Regardless of what level of learning a child is at, they all relate to yoga. They love to move their bodies, love to chant, love the breathing, and they love to show adults how to have fun with the practice. Falling out of Tree pose is so much more Joyful after years working with Kids Yoga. Whether it's working with Girl Scouts, at a Yoga Studio, at the Rebecca School or in an after school Program, Kids yoga is an AMAZING experience! A recent Yoga Journal Post was brought to my attention highlighting the top 5 reasons Yoga should be in schools:
  1. To manage Stress
  2. To beat obesity
  3. To maintain focus
  4. Resistance to bullying
  5. To improve behavior overall
While I am grateful for all the opportunities, I wanted to take a minute to highlight some of the companies that are really making the movement of Kids Yoga have an enormous and beautiful impact on the community (in no specific order):

  1. Yogi Beans - An Awesome Kids Yoga Experience. Lauren loves the kids! -AMAZING!
  2. Karma Kids - The first Yoga Studio for Kids in NYC- Shari loves the kids! - AMAZING!
  3. Little Flower - Jennifer gives AMAZING workshops and programs! AMAZING
  4. Radiant Child - Shakta's song Fly Like A Butterfly is AMAZING!
  5. Bent on Learning - Working with Inner City Schools - AMAZING!
  6. Sonia Sumar - She trains Teachers to work with Children with Special Needs AMAZING!
  7. Itsy Bitsy Yoga - the name says it all - AMAZING!
It is important for us to spread the awareness of this amazing practice, and share in the quest to bring Mind-Body-Peace to all. In my experience, teaching Kids Yoga has showed me who my greatest teachers are.....Kids! Thank you to all the kids who practice with me....Love you all!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Yoga Quote for the Day - Dalai Lama

Someone asked the Dalai Lama what surprises him most. This was his response:

"MAN, because he sacrifices his health, in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; The result being that he does not live in the present or the future; He lives as if he is never going to die, and then he dies having never really lived."

Yoga at Governor's Island

This weekend hoards of Yoga enthusiasts brought their yoga mats to the grassy area of Governor's Island. With an Ocean of Yogis taking a variety of FREE Yoga classes with Sri Dharma Mittra, Dana from Laughing Lotus, and ACRO Yoga with the incredible Matt was an amazing site to see. There were some Hari Krishna folks chanting and giving out yummy food, and onlookers who just went to meet other friendly faces. After taking class with Elena Brower, I headed over to the Island to participate in the lovely Yoga event. Initially I was sad because I thought I would miss next weeks Sri Dharma event, but my Dharma Yogi friends told me that there is yoga on that Island this Weekend too. I figured if anything I can be like a tourist and enjoy the Island. It is so beautiful to see how thousands of New Yorkers have embraced the Yoga Practice as part of their daily routine for health and wellness. Next weekend Saturday August 14th, Sri Dharma will be there again at Governor' Island for FREE Yoga from 10-4. Awesome events, Yoga with Heaven above and mother nature all around.....It can't get much better.

Photo: The Ocean of Yogis leaving after an amazing class with Sri Dharma on Governor's Island

Yoga with Sarah @ Infinite Yoga

After embracing the Yoga practice for quite some time, a lovely lady named Sarah embarked on Yoga Teacher Training last year. She did her training with Bamboomoves, and I was happy to be on board to help teach the amazing group of Yogis. She has been a dancer since the age of three, so to watch her flow through her asana practice with grace & fluidity is really breath taking. Her body is strong, her spirit is angelic, and she is a fellow Aquarian. I love this lady! During her training, she was reluctant to do "Hands on Adjustments", so at the end when they climbed a giant mountain, I flipped back into wheel and told her catch me/spot me to prevent my breaking my brains all over the mountain top....that was really how I explained it! It was really fun to challenge her, because I knew she could do it....and she did! Sarah has gone on to be an Incredible Yoga Instructor. This year when I broke my toe, I had the honor to take her class, and she was so attentive to every student with adjustments, kindness and a challenging flow that left our bodies feeling fantastic. Sarah's ability to demonstrate poses is awe inspiring as her dancers body is able to do pretty much everything! She is a huge heart! This year after taking an awesome class together at Life in Motion, we had a wonderful lunch at Zen Palette (a Yummy Veggie Restaurant).

It is important for Yoga Instructors to support & encourage each other, to listen and grow together, as we are all on the same mission of helping transform peoples lives. Having the humility to be a student & having the awareness that every experience is a valuable learning experience, is what makes a great teacher. While I have been blessed to have the Yoga Practice with me for years as part of my culture, I still take classes with newly certified teachers, with gentle Yoga Instructors and Master Teachers, looking past their experience, and seeing them as a facilitator of an experience whereby I can surrender to something Divine. All teachers may make mistakes, butcher the sanskrit, play music too loud, they may even have tremendous arrogance with primary focus only on how remarkable their ASANA practice is, but to be able to see past that & look towards the actual practice, is how we learn to be humble and yogic. The minute your ego tells you that your practice has exceeded one of your teachers, instead of having gratitude and appreciation, you should perhaps go back to the start of your Yoga Sutras and reevaluate your Ahamkaram (ego).

Thank you Sarah for being an incredible friend and fellow Yogini. While you were my student, you have also been my teacher, and I am grateful for this. Sarah teaches at a beautiful studio in Larchmont, New York called "Infinite Yoga Center", for those of you in the area, she is the lady you want to learn from.

Photo: 1) Ambria & Sarah @ Zen Palatte
2) Sarah Spotting me as I drop back to Wheel on the top of a giant Montain.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

An AMAZING Anusara class with Elena Brower

Today my Yoga Sista, Carissa, and I ventured off to Vira Yoga to take Anusara Yoga with the amazing Elena Brower. Elena is an incredible teacher, who is extremely famous. She has been on numerous covers of Yoga Journal, she was the teacher at the Rained out Central Park Yoga last year where I was honored to be an assistant, and most importantly she is also the proud Mamma of the incredible Jonah. I know Elena as a lovely lady, an amazing Mamma, a fellow Karate student, and a remarkable Yoga Instructor. Her adorable Son takes class with me alongside some incredible Teachers at Harmony By Karate each week. For weeks I have been invited to take class with Elena @ Vira Yoga by the whole family, as they all practice with me at Reebok & know I am a Yoga Teacher too. It was a Harmony Family Reunion. Normally, I am teaching at the same time as Elena, so I was never able to take her class, until today....YEAAAA!!!

I walked in and saw my lovely friend Carissa waiting at the entrance for me. She laid out two mats for us side by side in a packed Yoga Class. The Studio is Vira Yoga in Soho, and there had to have been over 60 people in attendance, and these seem to be regular students. Our mats were towards the back of the filled room. Elena began by announcing how she has been recently studying with the Incredible Rodney Yee. She announced how class would be slightly different as she has been inspired by her recent experience with Mr. Yee. She shared how Rodney had noticed how most playgrounds have gotten rid of the "See Saw". This observation was related to the awareness of the fulcrum action in a pose, the subtle tilt of the pubic bone and tail bone that initiates the safety in a back bend, softens the sides of the feet, articulates the spiral movements of the thighs, and also ensures longevity for the Psoas by making sure that we softly ease into the pose with proper alignment. She led us through a lovely class that kept returning to this theme of the tilt in the pubic bone and sits bones in order to get the safest alignment in our back bends. This is true Iyengar style Alignment, and it was so lovely to experience. Class was truly remarkable. At one point in the middle of her Instructing, Elena recognized me through the sea of Yogis, came towards me, smiled and welcomed both me and my lovely friend with whisper & smile, I couldn't help but thank her. I had already been in a state of gratitude for being in her awesome class. For an instructor to be so connected to each individual in the room is really magnificent, and Elena is that magnificent of an Instructor. Her eloquent way of speaking through the poses, with purposeful guidance, and encouragement is something everyone should experience. I am so grateful to have finally had this amazing experience with the Incredible Elena Brower, and hope to have many more. I was hoping to see the amazing Garth Stevenson. Garth is featured in this months Yoga Journal, he is a talented Bass Player, who normally plays live for Elena's class. Garth and I graduated Berklee College of Music together, so I was hoping to have had him play for the Yoga Class too, but he was out, perhaps another time.

If you have not opened your heart to the heart opening experience of an Anusara Yoga Class, you need to. Elena is one of the founders of Vira Yoga, an incredible famous Yogini, and an awesome woman to learn Yoga from. The Savasana was one of the most heart healing experiences I have had in a long time. After class Carissa and I were filled with so much gratitude for the experience. It was exactly what our Mind-Body & Spirit needed. Thank you Elena for an amazing Class!

Photo: Ambria, Elena & Carissa

The Zoga Yoga Graduation - with the Amazing Joseph

While the teacher trainees in the Bronx celebrated at the beautiful Bhavani Mandir, Sensei Joseph had his graduation ceremony earlier in the week @ The Harmony By Karate Dojo where much of his training took place. Sensei Joseph is an amazing person & beloved friend. He is a Kung Fu and Karate Black Belt/Instructor, a Reiki Master, a Crystal Healer, A Talented Dancer, an Ordained Minister, an AMAZING Friend and now a 200 Hr Yoga Alliance Recognized Yoga Instructor, through ZOGA YOGA. While the list of achievements is probably longer, Joseph is possibly one of the most humble people I know. Just before his Teacher Training journey, together He & I did Reiki Master Training & Master Crystal Healing Training together, with the amazing Mary of Mukti Healing. When training began, Joseph spent weeks in intense training, learning Yoga Asana, Pranayama, The Koshas, The Sutras, The Bhagavad Gita, Ayurveda & Doshas types, Meditation, Asana Adjustments, Sequencing, Oneness Blessing, Mantras, Traditional Surya Namaskar and various other deep spiritual aspects of the Eight Limbed practice we call Yoga. He also had the privilage to learn Inversions with a wonderful Dharma Yogi/friend Amitai & ACRO Yoga on his last day, with a lovely Dharma Yogi/Friend, Agustin. As part of his program he will take Master Class with Sri Dharma. Ironically, Joseph, Sensei Joseph has been one of my Karate Instructors, and as a Sensei has literally flipped me over his head in class (at the speed of light), and challenged me in ways that have saved my life.....So I made sure to give him a dose of the ASANA Challenge at times. We had such fun exploring poses, advanced Sequencing, Gentle Sequencing and more ADVANCED Sequencing....It was fun!!! The look on Joseph's face when I would guide him through some sequences and demonstrate to encourage him to play was priceless. Soon he was very eager to play and explore the Yoga Asana with Advanced Variations, Adjustments, Mantras, and special Pranayama. Joseph has taught me so much and I am so honored to have been part of his Yoga Journey. I know he will go on to transform lives and bring people closer to God, as he himself is truly receptive to that portion of God in his heart. As most people know, I am blessed to teach Yoga full time, every day, nearly all day....and in my temporary absence from NYC, I am happy to leave some of my private students under the Instruction & care of Joseph, because he is AMAZING!

The teacher training experience is a remarkable chance for self discovery and deepening of the Yoga Practice. It is a chance to heal, grow, learn and find God. Whatever your religious belief....Yoga makes a Christian a better Christian, A Hindu a Better Hindu, a Muslim a better Muslim, a Jew a Better Jew.....and I know this because I have students of every faith, and that has been their experience that they share with me. While the fitness benefits of Yoga are inevitable, the Spiritual and Mental benefits are enormous.

I am grateful to have been on this journey with Joseph, and I know he will inspire many people worldwide. As Zoga Yoga is on its way to be a Global Experience that helps people, and inspires people to help others, I am fully confident and grateful to have Joseph and all the other Newly Certified Teachers in this Army of Love. Thank you Joseph for being so AMAZING!

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Zoga Yoga Teacher Training Graduation

After months of hard work, sweat, tears, laughter, assignments, Tests, intense asana classes and more sweat....these amazing Yoga Teacher Trainers had their graduation. A journey that began at a studio in the Bronx called Bamboomoves, which soon turned into Excel Yoga, which became the location for the the launch first ever ZOGA YOGA 200Hr Teacher Training Experience. This is the first ever Graduating Class for this program, and I am grateful to have been part of this journey with these amazing people! They learned from amazing Instructors like my friend/Yogini Tao Porchon-Lynch, The incredible Yoshio Hama, The L.A. dynamic duo Dice and Bry, Excel Co. Owner Michael Baez, and myself (broken toe and all). They had to take Master Class with Sri Dharma Mittra & various other respected Teachers that I felt they could learn from. With in depth instruction on the Yoga Sutras, Bhagavad Gita, Yoga Anatomy, Yoga Asana Sequencing, Asana Adjusting, Yogic Diet, The Gunas, The Koshas, Pranayama, Meditation, The Doshas, Oneness Blessing Training and much more, these trainees were saturated with all things YOGA. Their graduation took place at the beautiful Bhavani Mandir right after the intimate 7pm class that I taught. The Bhavani Mandir is a gorgeous Temple in the Bronx, where the Friday night 7pm Yoga class will soon be taken over by some of these amazing Yogini's in my absence. The 5 new Yoga Instructors, Margie, Nicole, Jessica, Latesha and Stephanie (minus their three amazing fellow Yogis who were unable to attend) sat on the stage and we began with our chant "Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya", and then they sat on their chairs. While graduation was set for 7:30 pm, we started 45 minutes late, so luckily when Michael, the studio owner of where the training was hosted walked in 45 minutes late, he was able to share in the experience. Michael was a pivotal part of their journey. The Bronx studio was once my "home studio" where I am am grateful to say that I was lead instructor for two years & grateful for many learning experiences. I introduced him and invited him to join me & the New Yoga Instructors on stage. Together we distributed certificates, highlighted the unique qualities of each individual, and gave them each Mala Beads and Meditation shawls that I arranged for, specially sent from India for them. There were tears and laughter, it was beautiful. At the end, there was one shawl I had laid out as extra, my intuition told me Michael would possibly show up to come to support these amazing individuals, and so I presented it to Michael with gratitude for my two years at the studio, and the opportunity to launch the ZOGA YOGA Teacher Training program there...we hugged which was followed by a beautiful group hug, and tremendous applause. We said thank you to Bhavani Mandir & Pandit Rohit for providing the amazing space for the graduation. Thank you to the friends and family members who came to support these amazing individuals on the start of a new beautiful chapter in their Yoga journey. Slowly we feasted on Andrew's Pasta Primavera which was delicious (Nicole's hubby), Thank you Andrew. We took pictures, and celebrated the achievements of these remarkable new Yoga Instructors. Each one of them having a special unique gift that they bring to the world of Yoga. I am grateful to have been on this journey with all of them, as they have taught me so much. I accept & I am honored to have been given the nick name "the Pusher", thank you Nicole....and love you all so dearly. It was a pleasure and honor to push you all to your highest potential. Thank you all, and may you continue to be receptive to the Grace of God (as Sri Dharma says), and act as humble vessels that facilitate an amazing experience for others. Maintain respect for your teachers, everyone of them.....every instructor, every child, mother nature, and every student is your teacher.....Please always maintain humility no matter how amazing you think your Asana Practice gets, how famous you get as a Yoga Teacher, without God there is no Yoga, as Samadhi is the ultimate goal of the practice. ~

In the Words of Sri Swami Satchidananda "When you are not aware of the Lord inside, you won't find him outside either. He must be seen inside first. Then you will see Him everywhere!" Om Shanti

Thank you Milta for the lovely pics!!!

Sri Dharma Mittra

The most amazing Yoga Instructor, Sri Dharma Mittra has inspired my life and the lives of many other Yoga enthusiasts in NYC and all over the world. Yesterday at Master Class, my body was tired and he gave the most challenging class I ever encountered.....IT WAS AMAZING!! At one point he came to adjust me in the fourth round of Vasisthasana (Side Plank)....and my arm was ready to collapse from fatigue. While the asana sequence can be challenging....the part I love about Master Class is that it is truly a Divine experience. Some of my friends say it is like visiting God, because Dharma encourages us to surrender & be receptive to the Grace of God throughout the class. You can go to the class and whatever you are going through, he will speak of in his words, teach through the asana, challenge you, inspire you and bring you to a healing experience. He is 72 years young, and an inspiration to everyone to take up the Yoga Practice. I have been soaking up as many Yoga Classes this week with Sri Dharma as I could because he is really that amazing! Myself and many of my fellow Yoga Instructors take his class as often as possible....because he is the best! After class we had our psychic development with pranayama exercises that awaken the energy in our nadi channels, purify and stimulate the pituitary gland, and leave you feeling like you can soar in the sky. I thanked Sri Dharma for being such a huge impact on my Yoga journey & was grateful to have a picture with this Amazing teacher.

Photo: Sri Dharma Mittra & Ambria

My Yoga Sista - Carissa

I have posted about this lovely lady before.....She is my Yoga Sista. When I began my journey at an amazing Yoga Studio in the Bronx, formerly called Bamboomoves and now Excel Yoga.....I met this lovely fairy like princess. With wild curly hair, a spunky personality, and energy that matched mine and sometimes trumped it.....I knew she was my Yoga Sister. I felt like I knew her before. We spent almost two years as Lead Teachers at this beautiful location. We laughed, taught classes, took each others classes, laughed and laughed some more! On my last day in the Bronx, she came for class and it was beautiful to have her there. This girl gives an amazing Yoga class, Zumba Class, Rebounding Class, and she is a remarkable dancer & actress. On many levels we felt a strong connection towards each other. Her yoga classes bring spirituality, peace, sweat and incredible anatomical discoveries for every participant. Her heart is pure and loving. She is the real deal. As an actress any time I watch her perform, I and everyone watching are truly moved. Recently, I watched her in a play that was all in Spanish.....I understood nothing......but I understood everything.....because the acting was just sooo superb. Since most people are used to seeing us in Yoga Clothes, with sweaty wild hair, and big smiles....On our recent outing to support a beautiful student on her opening night in her play....we snapped a picture in dresses.....a rare occasion that should be shared. I had been telling her of one of my little Yoga hideaways for over a year....I place I wanted to practice with her.....with another of my favorite teachers, Isaac.....and ironically we discovered that she found her way to that studio too. I am not surprised that both of us had the same experience towards this teacher and studio.....and both agree that we would be honored to just sweep the floor there. If you get a chance to take a class with this amazing lady Carissa....DO will be elated! If you get a chance to watch her perform on stage or film....DO will be watching a soon to be famous actress!

Picture: Ambria & Carissa

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Another Amazing Dharma Class

While I am slowly preparing to say a temporary Au Revoir to NYC for a while to spread the awareness of Yoga in Canada & visit family, I am also soaking up as many amazing Yoga classes as I can. Therefore, it is only expected that I would be immersing myself in as many Dharma classes as possible! Last night I went to Dharma (again) and was met with two soon to be certified Yoga Instructors, Stephanie & Jessica. Both women spent months with me and a variety of other amazing Instructors in the Zoga Yoga Teacher Training experience, hosted at Excel Yoga Studio. We sat and waited in the lobby and I introduced the ladies to my friend & founder of Yogi Beans, Lauren. We chatted and waited for class. We walked into the Temple and laid our mats in the back, I mentioned how my body was slightly sore from a kick butt Karate Class with Sensei Joseph @ Harmony By Karate, and both the ladies told me they were a bit tired too. This class was Jessica's first experience, but Stephanie had been to Dharma before. Dharma led the class in an amazing Yoga Asana experience, with his wise words weaving through the sequence, and occasional jovial quips. Sri Dharma made fun of the entire class at one point when all of us mixed our right from our left. The energy at the Dharma Yoga Center is incredible, like nothing else. Not only do you learn from an incredible master, you are also encouraged to copy and learn from some incredible Yogis who practice regularly with Dharma too. One thing I noticed is that some poses that you normally do not do in your regular asana practice can be done at Dharma's and I have to say it must be because of the amazing energy in that beautiful Temple. At the end of class Dharma speaks for sometime and reminds us about the depth of the practice beyond the asana, with advice on diet, meditation, the importance of being receptive to the Grace of God and much more.

He is a blessing to NYC. As always I recommend every person who practices Yoga to take a class at Dharma, and it is actually part of the requirements of the Zoga Yoga Teacher Training that students must attend one Dharma Master Class. We could not stay afterwards to request a picture with Sri Dharma because he was teaching his Stress & Anxiety Talk, so we left, bought some shirts (btw Thank you Stephanie for the lovely gift) and took a picture by an amazing photo of Sri Dharma doing his famous Headstand on the streets of NYC. Thank you ladies for sharing this amazing experience, and thank you Sri Dharma for another incredible class!!!
Photo: Stephanie, Ambria & Jess in front of Dharma's famous picture @ Dharma West

Monday, August 1, 2011

Everything is Perfect - Sri Dharma Mittra

In the evening Meditation class with Sri Dharma Mittra he read from the Self Realization book. He went on to discuss the Kosha's, the importance of understanding Karma, Non- Attachement, and much more. One key phrase he said stood out to me...."Everything is Perfect".....meaning every situation is a result of Karmic patterns or obligations, and therefore it is perfect. This concept inspires us to accept situations in our lives and surrender to the Portion of God within our heart. If we all embraced the concept "everything is perfect" we would be so calm is something he pointed out. Happiness, Gratitude, Acceptance, Love, Compassion & forgiveness all stem from the ability to accept the fact that everything is perfect.

Sometimes in our lives everything is not perfect, at least that is how we perceive it. We may have been abused, disrespected, suffered grief, bullied, falsely accused, or even just suffering from our own sadness or illness.....Can we come to acceptance that everything is perfect? Can we be non-attached to the outcome? Can we be non attached to the situation? This deep concept is yet another reason why Yoga is a may take time to have that self-realization. As we develop our Body with the ability to let go & surrender into challenging asana, without the ego as judge over the result, perhaps we can do the same with our Mind that is constantly running over scenarios, pointing fingers, leaning towards apathy and instead accept that "everything is perfect". When we accept that "everything is perfect" we do not look for fame, we do not lean to blame, we look and lean to God. When we embrace the concept "everything is perfect", we are calm, content, and more than likely practicing the Yamas & Niyamas. With dedicated practice and being receptive, anything is possible. Thank you again Sri Dharma for an amazing class!!! You have been a perfect part of my Yoga Journey while here in NYC.

Acro Yoga with Agustin

On Joseph's teacher training experience ended with exposure to the amazing world of Acro Yoga with an amazing Dharma Yogi and Acro Expert, Agustin. Agustin is beautiful both inside and out, and this year took over some Yoga Classes that I was unable to teach due to scheduling conflicts, so all around he has been a real blessing to me. He led us in the most amazing afternoon I have had in weeks. Every time I have seen Acro Yoga, I have been intimidated, wondering if my height, weight, or at sometimes day dreaming or controling mind would pose as a problem. The mind is really the biggest thing in Acro Yoga, because as Agustin said "the rest is just Physics". Agustin was quick to notice how I like to be in control, because when I was flying it was hard for me to trust and surrender, this is a perfect way to practice non-attachment. If you think left, right, up and down cues are hard, try it upside down while you are balanced on someone's feet. We went through so many vinyasas, flipping, turning, laughing, heads in crotches, wardrobe malfunctions, the discovery that Indian girls have booty, and a lot of mental discoveries. In more ways than one I felt exposed LOL. When I shared the account of my experience with a friend afterwards, she jokingly told me "somebody owes somebody a dinner". Acro Yoga is more of a mental workout than anything else. You have to trust your partner, and surrender. While it was easy to surrender to both Joseph & Agustin, the listening while flying and transitioning was a challenge at times (for me). It was hard for me to believe that I could hold Joseph up when it was my turn to be the base, and I learned that it is more physics than strength. Joseph of course did amazing both as a base and flyer. Agustin is truly a blessing to the Yoga community and the world of Acro Yoga. His knowledge, skill, and approach to teaching make it easy to trust. I hope to have more opportunities to do Acro Yoga now, as I understand for a Yoga Instructor it is important for us to maintain that practice of non-attachment & surrender. We concluded with some lovely Tai Yoga Massage, which was so wonderful!!! After our amazing session the three of us had a brilliant discussion that Joseph later told me helped him a lot as a new Yoga Teacher, and ironically it opened my eyes to a lot too. The little things that teachers say, tend to stick with a student, and for me, many things Agustin said to us were exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you Agustin for sharing your wonderful energy & expertise with us, it was such an incredible experience, I hope I have more chances to learn with Acro Yoga and you in the future. Thank you Joseph for being so receptive as Sri Dharma says. At the end of our amazing afternoon of Acro fun, Joseph was awarded his certificate of Zoga Yoga 200Hrs Certificate. I know he will go on to transform lives and inspire Balance, Peace, Strength and Beauty in people's lives.

Crystal Healing

Many ladies from a wonderful studio in the BX, Excel Yoga, opened their hearts to the world of Crystal Healing. The workshop series was taught by the amazing Mary Henry, who also taught myself and my friend Joseph. We learned about the energy of the crystals, how they work with chakras, with healing, with grids and much more. Mary is an incredible wealth of knowledge and an overall amazing woman. Recently I had the chance to meet with one of Mary's teachers, "The Rock Whisperer", Krista Mitchell. Krista was part of a number of panelists at a Healing Arts Expo held in Brooklyn this weekend. It was amazing to meet her and hear her talk. Her passion for Stones, Crystals and connection to Universe is really beautiful. As she says herself, being a Leo, she loves the sound of her own voice, but everyone else did as well, since she really knows what she is talking about. Krista brought a variety of stones to display and sell. She also teaches Reiki & Crystal Healing. Thank you Krista for an amazing event! You ROCK (no pun intended)!