I grew up in a religiously, culturally and gastronomically Jewish home in Willingboro, NJ which is a suburb of Philadelphia. Our family went to synagogue weekly, practiced holiday rituals, lit the candles on Friday night, but kept kosher only when my paternal grandmother lived with us. I attended Hebrew school until I was 16. […]
I have been a yoga student since 2004, enjoying my time both on and off the mat. I have referred to it as my magic carpet that takes me on all sorts of adventures. Here in Jamaica, I left my own purple mat at home and used one from the yoga room in the resort where was I am staying. I was gifted this trip by my friend Ambika Devi who is teaching yoga here. A longtime instructor and yogic scholar, she offers her own version of the ancient practice, meant to bring peace to body, mind and spirit.
I had made a special request to have her focus on hip opening asanas ( the postures and poses that most are familiar with when you say the word yoga) since mine were feeling like they would benefit from more than a few drops of the contents of the Tin Man’s oil can.
Ambika’s style was playful and lighthearted, not intense or regimented, and always with an eye t0ward comfort. She blended yoga and meditation theory into the class, as if she was mixing up a luscious velvety cake batter. At one point she asked us to tap on various parts of our bodies and smile as we did so. I felt like a human percussion instrument, rhythmically relating as she told us a story about a tantric priest named Krishna who taught at the Sivananda Ashram in the Bahamas. He had his students engage in that practice. When a too sophisticated for her stretchy pants student snidely asked why he was having them do that, his delightful response was “To make happy.” This said with an impish smile.
As Ambika said those words, my first thought was “Oh, happy tappy yoga.” My second thought was “Happy tapioca.” Sweet comfort food, deeply nourishing and soul satisfying. So it is for this blissful yogini.
Ambika closed the session with the sacred Hindu Chant Mahamrutyunjay Mantra
By the end of the class, both my hips and heart were wide open.