Sunday, March 18, 2012

Dharma Yoga East & Karma Yoga

“Reduce your wants and lead a happy and contented life. Never hurt the feelings of others and be kind to all. Think of God as soon as you get up and when you go to bed.” Sri Dharma Mittra

Last month I heard the sad news that Dharma East was closing. This news was very sad, as the studio was a magical place. A small studio where many Yogis (my colleges and friends) would gather in a packed Master classes, led by one of the only people in NYC worthy of the title Guru, Sri Dharma Mittra. His knowledge of yoga, and practice is inspirational beyond anything I have experienced in the Western World. As I have been in India since January teaching yoga, and also becoming a certified Ashtanga Yogi, I was unable to attend a final class at this amazing studio in NYC. Since I left NYC, I tell my students that it is not the building or the teacher that makes the experience of yoga, but rather the dedication to the practice by the student/yoga aspirant....I do make an exception for Sri Dharma, as he is nothing short of remarkable. A real gift to the NYC community of Yoga.

Last year, I took time from my super busy schedule of teaching Yoga Asana, and spent a few months doing daily Karma Yoga at Dharma West. Like many yogis who love the teaching of Sri Dharma, I spent a good amount of time there taking daily (life changing) classes, and offering my time & service as a Karma Yogi with tremendous gratitude for the classes I was blessed to take with Sri Dharma. Karma Yoga is a wonderful way to purify your Karma, to serve with gratitude to your guru or place of practice, and a chance to give back to the practice that allows you to receive & give to others. Karma Yoga is a path of Yoga, that as a Yogi we need to practice. While I was there doing errands, cleaning, attending the front desk, tending to the shop, preparing Teacher Training certificates and anything asked of day Sri Dharma's beautiful wife, asked me to model for the amazing line of Yoga Clothing. We modeled many of the wonderful hoodies, hats, and shirts....and some of the pictures made it to the online store. It was an honor to do anything that was required at the Dharma West Temple.

If you have not gone to practice at Dharma West, please do. Classes with Sri Dharma will inspire you more than you can imagine, the quality of class is amazing, the classes led by Dharma Yogis are remarkable...... The energy is unlike any other studio in NYC.....and the clothing is super cute. I look forward to practicing at the Dharma West Temple once again. Thank you Sri Dharma & the Dharma Yoga Asana Center family for including me in your family.....Om Prema

Pictures: Sri Dharma Mittra & Ambria in the No Yoga No Peace, Know Yoga Know Peace Hoodie.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Celebrating Curves with Yogarazzi in Goa

When I had arrived in Kerala, I was told that I looked malnourished by my family. Most people who know me, are aware that I love to eat, so nourishment is not ever an issue unless I am fasting. Now by American standards, and if you look back at my earlier photos in India, I looked normal.....but in South India, if your butt isn't inflated enough, you are considered malnourished. Despite my regular Ashtanga Yoga practice, my family worked very hard at fattening me up.....and they succeeded! Due to the fact that when I gain weight it has a tendency to go straight to my buttocks & thighs, when I left Kerala, I literally could not fit into my jeans. According to the family, I looked almost normal. According to my mirror I looked like I needed to get my A$$ back into shape.

The irony I found about this situation is in NYC the culture is to get into the best shape ever, minimal fat and toned and tight.....and in Kerala culturally they appreciate a woman with more meat on their bones. This reaction of an appreciation for a curvier woman is also found in other Spanish, African, West Indian and some European Cultures. When will we just embrace exactly what a woman is without any societal pressures, expectations or media influence? When will a woman be able to gain weight and celebrate every inch? When will health be the main reason we get into shape? Because I always tell my female students to embrace exactly where they are physically, celebrate their sexy curves and live each moment to the fullest, I still went to the beach each day in Goa, in a bikini (Thank you Maayan). I did yoga on the beach, only to have a swarm of men snap photos of me and my friend because apparently they thought I was a Bollywood Film Star and she an American star. So we got the Yoga-razzi!

I do look forward to getting back to a trimmer size.....for now I will enjoy my extra padding for my asana. ~ Namaste

Friday, March 2, 2012

Goa Bound - Beauty and the Beach

So my travels in India take me to Goa. This is my mini break from teaching and even practicing. My new friend & new Yogini Maayan decided to travel here to practice some more Ashtanga with Ralph and Marci, so I joined for the trip. The first night we sat and had dinner on the beautiful Anjuna Beach. Jupiter and Venus were aligned and we could see this spectacular sky display in full view. It was lovely. We have enjoyed the beach, the market, the friendly local people and relaxing. While there are many different Yoga, and Reiki classes available here in Goa.....there is something remarkable about meditating with the sound of the Ocean waves crashing on the shore. And the newest thing I got to do on the beach was getting my eyebrows threaded. Threading is the common way to keep brows in shape in India. Instead of using tweezers or wax, women use thread. Goa is beautiful!!! Few more days and I head north to teach, study and enjoy India. Namaste and thank you for sharing the journey.

Making Paratha in Kerala

So while the amazing Ashtanga Teacher Training is complete, and I along with a fabulous group of individuals are Ashtanga Yogis "Officially"....I must admit I miss the group. Truly grateful for the experience!!! I really enjoyed the experience of teaching & learning in Kerala. I especially enjoyed during the Ayurveda cooking class, being the demo model and learning to make Paratha. The chef was insistent I learn. The chef explained to me that it is like washing clothes. After hearing this, I quickly joked that I use a washing machine. In India, when hand washing we flip the clothes on a rock. So like that we are to flip the dough and slap it down to make soft fluffy paratha. It took a while to learn, with a lotta laughs and a tremendous amount of patients from the chef, I did it!!! I made 3 parathas!!!! Apparently, they were delicious. A Healthy addition to your meals. Thank you Soma Kerala Palace.

Typical Ingredients:

  • 2 cups wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tsp ghee
  • salt
Combine dry ingredients. Add water and Ghee. Set aside for a while. Keep applying Ghee and Rolling, slapping and flipping (like pizza dough). Fry on a griddle, serve with some type of curry, curd, pickle or side dish of choice and enjoy.