Ambika: dancer, yogi, traveller

I am really pleased to introduce you to yoga instructor, dancer and traveller, Ambika. She has been a full-time yoga instructor at Breathe Wellbeing in Lt. Collins Street, Melbourne.

I first went to one of Ambika’s vinyasa flow classes a few months ago and struggled to find space on the floor! She draws a dedicated and admiring group of yogis to every class, and understandably!

What I love is that she changes the poses (asanas) from class to class. There is no strict regimen so each class has a different character and focus. Ambika chalks this up to her background as a dancer: “I love the creativity to be able to create a flow of asanas that depend on the day, the time, how I feel,” she says.

Originally born in England, she studied dance in Adelaide and it was during her studies at Centre for the Performing Arts, that she discovered her love of yoga (funnily enough, it was a compulsive subject!)

Yoga asanas
“In 1995 I made my first trip to India. Then again in 2000 to visit various ashrams and learn more about Yoga,” she tells me.

For years after she studied in Adelaide, she travelled the world as a dancer.

“Theme parks in Tokyo, Croatia, Greece, London...” she recalls. All types of dancing, including cabaret and burlesque. The natural love of rhythm, music and sound is evident in her classes, as we move from pose to pose with ease and you can see in peoples’ faces the tension of the working week just unknotting and releasing.

“I studied in Dorset, England initially, with the SivanandaYoga Vedanta organisation. It was at a very classical school of yoga, so there was no vinyasa! They have ashrams all over the world. I did my advanced teacher training later, in New York.”

After returning to Adelaide (where her parents and sister live), Ambika discovered The Centre Om – a yoga centre, run by Wendy Samek, that combined studios with a cafe and retail space. Fabulous! I have dreamt of opening a holistic studio that incorporates a juice bar and communal space with practitioners dedicated to nourishing the body and spirit – whether massage, ayurveda, naturopathy or beauty.

Ambika moved from Adelaide to Melbourne four years’ ago and began working at Breathe almost immediately.

“i started working at Breathe 4 years ago and it's my dream job. I love to teach Yoga, and now I get to coordinate the Yoga too. I get to develop lots of workshops, retreats events etc... so much fun!”

Ambika  plans to open her own studio in inner Melbourne. “I want the people who come to the studio to appreciate that yoga is much more than the asanas. I'm a little bit worried about Yoga on the mat these days as it has become quite a competition to many Yoga students to see who can take the asanas to where they believe is a deeper level.  I want to educate people that it’s about your mind space in an asana, not how flexible you are! To master the forward bend isn't to touch your head to your knee, it's to still the mind ... whilst practicing the physical pose. That is Yoga.”

I hinted, not so subtly, that I would love her to consider combining forces on the studio/wellbeing centre idea and I hope that in the future (either near or a few years away) we’ll be able to work together.  During the course of our interview, Ambika mentioned that go-go dancing is the latest rage in Melbourne. I’m always up for something new – stay tuned on that front!