NEW YEAR, NEW YOU Meditation- 1/2/12

I’ll be teaching a guided meditation to welcome the New Year on Monday, 1/2/12 -a very auspicious day!

Come clarify your goals, set an intention for 2012, and release any obstacles blocking you from your highest dreams…

There is no charge for this class. Donations are welcome, but not required. You can take the class in street clothes.

Details:

NEW YEAR, NEW YOU Meditation
Monday, January 2, 2012
Noon-12:30PM
The Yoga Collective NYC
135 West 29th Street
Suite #603
www.yogacollectivenyc.com

Bring your aspirations, and I’ll provide the inspiration….

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FREE Class Every Friday-NYC

Free class every Friday at Broadway Dance Center in New York City!

As a service to the community, I’m offering a guided meditation class every Friday at 1:15PM in Midtown Manhattan. It’s open to anyone who’d like to experience meditation.

What is meditation? Meditation encompasses everything from simple concentration exercises to a lifelong quest for enlightenment. The benefits of practicing meditation are boundless. According to Stephanie Woodard in Yoga Journal (August 2011):

“Studies have repeatedly shown that meditating regularly can keep your mind nimble and clear. People who practice meditation display increased activity in brain areas associated with attention and concentration. Their minds are more nimble, their abilities to focus and recall are stronger, and they have a greater sense of well-being than do people who don’t meditate.”

The free meditation class that I offer at BDC is designed for relaxation, stress relief, and to increase concentration. As a result of regular practice, many of my students are also experiencing a deeper spiritual connection and a more positive outlook. I offer a different nondenominational meditation practice each week. Beginners and students of all spiritual backgrounds are welcome. You don’t need any special equipment, and the class can be taken in street clothes.

Rod Stryker writes in his article, “Soul’s Desire” (Yoga Journal, September 2011): “It’s possible for anyone, in a single meditation session, to get a least a glimpse of stillness-and of a unique kind of contentment, the contentment that is your soul’s nature.”

Come and experiment for yourself…

For more information, CLICK HERE

Survival (Job) of The Fittest

What’s the hardest thing about being an up and coming performer in New York? Is it getting up at the crack of dawn to sign up for EPAs? Keeping the faith in an industry awash with talented hopefuls? Pounding through auditions to get that dream job?

In my experience, it’s finding the perfect survival job. Let’s face it, only 1% of us become successful enough to survive on acting income alone. So how to find that job that allows you to live in the most expensive city in the U.S., have enough flexibility to audition and perform, and create enough capital to fund your small business (acting)?

This has been my greatest challenge in my 10+ years living in NYC, and I’m happy to report that I’ve finally found the solution! Boy, do I wish someone had told me this when I arrived here the day after graduation…

Unless you’re fortunate enough to have family connections in the business or have another means of jumpstarting and bankrolling your career, most performers I know face this same question. Many of us solve it by working in the service industry-waiters, hosts, bartenders, etc. But the physical toll of the work on your body plus the late hours (2AM closing, anyone?) has derailed many a performer’s career.

Now imagine a survival job that’s extremely flexible, fun, and provides enough income to live and fund your acting career. It’s a portable skill with more than enough opportunities for everyone. You can work as much or as little as you like, and it’s easy to find competent coverage when you’re on set or in rehearsal.

Sound too good to be true?

It’s not. I am a certified yoga instructor, and my acting career is flourishing as a result! Teaching yoga keeps me in great shape, gives me a healthy place to be of service to others, provides an amazing, supportive community, and oh yeah-easily pays my living expenses while I audition and perform.

Crystal Williamson, an inspiring life coach and actress, interviewed me for her radio show on March 26th about the perfect marriage of yoga and acting. Crystal is the owner of Coaching with Crystal, and I was honored to be chosen as one of the female entrepreneurs she interviewed for Women’s History Month. If you’d like to hear more about how teaching changed my life, check out the interview here:

CLICK HERE

Now, what about you? You’ll need a 200 Hour Yoga Alliance certification in order to start your teaching career. I’d suggest doing some online research to find the yoga certification program in Manhattan that suits you best.

If you’d like a $500 scholarship for NYC Yoga Alliance certification, email me at amberpaulyoga@gmail.com and I’ll tell you how to apply. There are several scholarships available! You can also email me if you’d like my personal recommendations for solid, performer-friendly yoga certification programs. Good luck, and happy teaching!

The Times, They Are A-Changin’

My class times, that is….. With a nod to the genius of Bob Dylan, my yoga class schedule is undergoing a sea change at my beloved Broadway Dance Center in Midtown Manhattan. My new schedule begins today, January 17, 2011.

Check it out:

MONDAY through FRIDAY

Yes, every day!

1:45 to 2:45PM  All levels vinyasa yoga

FRIDAYS

10:15 to11:15AM   All levels vinyasa yoga

1:15 to 1:45PM  **FREE** guided meditation class

Yes, it’s a FREE class. I offer a different non-denominational, guided meditation each week for those who want to increase their concentration and explore meditation in a supportive environment. Beginners and students of all spiritual and religious backgrounds are welcome!  

All classes will be held in the beautiful new studio my students have dubbed the “Yoga Penthouse.” It’s on the 8th Floor with 2 huge walls of windows, great views of the city, sprung floors, and new mats and blocks. It has a peaceful, groovy vibe and a lot of privacy for those who want to chill and concentrate during class.

For more info about Broadway Dance Center:

http://www.bwydance.com

See you in class!

My Summer of LOVE

Aha! Looking for some romantic gossip?  The Western, and particularly American, fascination with romantic love has always intrigued me. But more on LOVE later…

Many of you noticed my absence from these pages over the summer and wrote to ask if I was still alive…and teaching. The answer-YES! In fact, I taught 19 classes a week, 7 days a week, for 3 months this past summer. My students are probably wondering why and my fellow instructors are asking, HOW?

The answer to the first question is simple: Check out my earlier blog post: From Type A to Ahhhhhhh. Summer 2010 was an attempt to work my way out of debt, the result of a 2 week break in my health insurance coverage in 2005, during which time I had a car accident (of course). Thank you, karma! I had reached a point last summer where I could no longer cover both my debt payments and my pared down living expenses. The Universe responded to my prayers with a deluge of yoga classes.

As to HOW, the answer is simple: LOVE. Many instructors will insist that it’s impossible to teach that much and give consistently good classes. The work was coming my way, and I had the opportunity to teach since I wasn’t booked for any acting projects over the summer. So, how to teach 5 or 6 classes a day, with some days starting at 9:30AM and ending at 9:30PM?

I used everything YOGA has taught me thus far….and it worked! I started each day with my own meditation practice and the prayer to best serve my students. I considered each class as the only one I was teaching. At the start of each class, I looked at the group of people in front of me and asked how yoga could best serve them as a whole. Even if I was physically tired, the moment I saw all those smiling faces looking up from their mats-my fatigue lifted.

So what is LOVE (yoga don’t hurt me!) ?

We Westerners often think of love as the Hollywood version of romanticized connection- an intimate relationship between two adults. I discovered over the past year that it’s so much deeper than that. Love can be a beautiful connection between two humans-any two humans. It doesn’t have to involve romance and can be as simple as connecting with the light of the soul in another’s eyes.

Unbeknownst to me, my former student (and acting coach extraordinaire) Seth Michael May had nominated me as NYC’s Favorite Yoga Teacher for the 2010 Backstage NYC Readers Choice Awards.  I was humbled to be voted runner-up and the only individual teacher featured in the awards. As a result, my classes were crammed to overflowing-with students from all over the world.

I walked into each class to a babble of languages and a chorus of  “Can we do pigeon?,” “Play the Latin playlist!”, and “We want restorative!” Imagine being greeted so warmly every time you walk into work. I am blessed with amazing, creative, and enthusiastic students in ALL the environments where I teach- from the conference room of the high end fashion house to Broadway Dance Center to the NYC university where I teach yoga in the aptly named Combatants Room.

And my students taught me something about LOVE this summer. We all face deep heartbreak at some point in life, and I learned that LOVE doesn’t have to be confined to a single partner or relationship.

At Sonic Yoga, I learned from assisting Jen Whinnen to give a shoulder adjustment at the start of savasana. As I lean over my students, I learn a lot about them as individuals. I see the talismans they wear around their necks, their piercings and tattoos, and who’s survived a tracheotomy or open heart surgery. On some well-known faces, I see the refinements of the plastic surgeon’s scalpel. As their faces relax into savasana bliss and I press their shoulders to the mat, I think of LOVE passing through my hands. Not romantic love, but an acknowledgement of the humanity that we all share.

Even after my workaholic summer, I still face several years of debt payments. But my students gave me a gift far more valuable-the knowledge that LOVE can come in many forms. In fact, there are limitless forms of pure and peaceful connection.

As I raced up and down Ninth Avenue between classes, I noticed a lot of strangers smiling at me. Oh dear-was my hair standing on end from too many headstands? Had I put my yoga pants on backwards-again? I finally realized that I was radiating unconditional love, and strangers on the street were responding to my unconscious smile. In order to receive such LOVE, I had to be sending it out.

LOVE can be: a friend helping you up the stairs after ankle surgery, a warm smile between friends, the willingness to listen and hold someone’s hand when they’re troubled and struggling, taking a walk together under a deep blue sky. All the simple pleasures that we share as humans, when the connection is soul to soul, positive , and uplifting.

So the next time you see a friend-or stranger-give a little LOVE by smiling at another human being.

From Type A to Ahhhhhhh…

If you had told me 5 years ago that I’d be a yoga teacher, I would have laughed. HARD. Truth is, I’ve practiced meditation since childhood and had a steady yoga practice throughout my adult life.

However, I am also the ultimate Type A personality: driven, ambitious, persevering, outspoken, and direct. My biggest fans also call me rigid, ballsy, and intimidating. So, how to reconcile all this fire and drive with the image of a relaxed and trippy yoga instructor?

I now teach yoga full-time (in addition to my indie feature forays), and it is without question THE BEST DECISION I EVER MADE! So just how does the Ultimate Type A find herself in the warm, relaxing embrace of the yoga community? Read on….

This time 5 years ago, I was in a bad mood. A REALLY bad mood. My acting career in LA had just come to a screeching halt in a tangle of metal, glass, and the engine block of my car. Strangely enough, my airbag didn’t inflate.

I was back in New York, trying to get the left side of my body to coordinate with the right and embarking on a year and a half of physical therapy. Having overcome childhood trauma, I know how to recover from physical challenges. I felt grateful, but my Type A former bookkeeper’s mind was struggling with another challenge: MEDICAL BILLS.

Many performers cycle in and out of health insurance, and I had my car accident 2 weeks before my insurance started through a new job. I kept getting bills in the mail marked “Advanced Life Support, ” which helped me fully understand my body’s reaction to impact with an SUV.

So I did what any self-respecting New York actor would do: I got a job waiting tables. I called the LA hospital, set up a payment plan, and started the long crawl towards the abundance mindset I now currently OWN (thank you, Emiliya Z).

I landed at one of those iconic, fast-paced, high stress pre-theatre Upper West Side restaurants. I worked doubles, 18-day stretches, and closed many nights in order to recover my normally balanced budget. Three years from today, I will finally be free of the financial lessons learned via my accident. Whew.

I was stressed out, feisty, and likely to blow a fuse at the drop of a linen napkin. I was famous for telling grown men to stop complaining and eat their damn dinner. One night I tripped on some lasagna and fell down the stairs, buying myself 5 days on my back with a sprained ankle. As I lay there cursing my luck and wondering how I would make my payments, I remembered my retirement fantasy. I’ve always wanted to retire to an island and teach yoga. Well, I live on Manhattan island now and sure as hell was ready to retire from the restaurant business!

I made a beeline to Sonic Yoga, which at the time was owned by author and blogger extraordinaire Jonathan Fields. I peppered him with my questions, which he answered with the savvy of a former Type A. The warm welcome by office manager/ goddess and now close friend Shelley Adelle sealed the deal.

Now, thanks to yoga, I live a relaxed and miraculous life. When I walk in to teach, happy, glowing faces greet me at the door. People are grateful for what I have to offer instead of throwing brunch bread baskets at my head. I’m fortunate to teach in 5 Midtown locations and to work with private clients who open my heart, mind, and soul.

Casting directors and actors alike ask me what I’m on that allows me to be so blissed out during auditions. I always reply YOGA and now love the entire process of acting from the audition to the Q &A at the film festivals where most of my projects are screened.

I’m even grateful for the crash that led to the high stress job that pointed the way towards my beautiful new life of helping others and enjoying the community spirit of indie film sets.

Hello World!

WELCOME!!!

You were meant to find your way here.

Perhaps we’ve met in class, at an audition, or, if we’re really lucky-on set. Maybe you’re wondering about the spontaneous, wacky woman who ushered you headlong into the brand new world of yoga….

I started this adventure to explore the marriage of my two worlds-teaching yoga and acting. I also intended to document the wonderful, miraculous way yoga has turned my world upside down and inside out. I’m fortunate enough to have two jobs that never feel like work. I truly love teaching, and the whole process of acting from auditioning through to the film festival Q &A is pure bliss for me.

And then I realized that people ask me questions. All day long. Before and after class, on the subway, at auditions, on the street as I race up and down Ninth Avenue between classes:

“Can yoga REALLY change my life?” “Is there a pranayama that will reduce cellulite?” “How do I do a full wheel with my new breast implants?” “Why do I feel like crying in certain poses?” “How can you be so calm before an audition?” “Can you help me?”

And I’m always happy to answer, taking from my training, the transformations of my students, and my own life experience. If I don’t know the answer, then I will ask someone wiser, do some research, and come back with the wisdom you’re seeking.

Although I do get a lot of singular questions, I realize that a lot of people are wondering about the same issues. I’d love to answer your questions here so that I can reach more people at one time. Please write to me through the CONTACT ME button, and I’ll post the responses here. Of course, I’m happy to protect your identity-I will not list your name unless you request it.

I’m also delighted to engage in respectful dialogue in the “Comments” section anytime. Let’s hit the mat!