Ambika Yoga

Sivananda yoga classes in Brussels


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To live and breathe yoga, visit one of the wonderful Sivananda Ashrams

Sivananda Paques

Lucky me when I discovered Sivananda by talking to a yoga teacher in San Francisco back in 2010. In Spring of 2011 I went for a yoga holiday to the  Ashram nearest to me, in Orléans, in France. It felt like paradise!

There are currently 9 Sivananda Ashrams around the world – in Canada, India, France, Austria, Bahamas, and the United States. Most offer the Yoga Vacation program all year round.

As a guest you participate in the morning & evening Satsang, there are 2 yoga classes per day & 2 delicious meals per day. Besides you will enjoy spiritual lectures, silent walks and occasionally religious ceremonies (Pujas) performed by Indian priests.

The French Ashram is a true oasis of peace, it’s located in a small village outside of Orléans and there is only nature around, so it’s very quiet. It’s an excellent place to get away from a hectic lifestyle to focus and concentrate on inner peace and restoring the balance between your body, mind & soul through yoga.

The daily schedule might not be your idea of a holiday, but it’s really easy once you get in the rhythm of the Ashram life. It’s sort of soothing to know there’s only the Ashram schedule that matters, no other distractions or responsibilities matter there. Hence, you can fully focus on your Sadhana (spiritual practice).

ASHRAM DAILY SCHEDULE
5:30 am – Wake-up bell
6:00 am – Satsang (silent meditation, Mantra Chanting and lecture/reading)
8:00 am – Asanas, Relaxation)
10:00 am – Brunch (wholesome delicious, vegetarian meal)
4:00 pm – Yoga class
6:00 pm – Dinner
8:00 pm – Satsang
10:00 pm – Lights out

Check out the nearest Ashram to where you are to enjoy the peace & yoga vibrations for a long weekend, week or longer. I’ve been to France & Canada and would love to visit all the Sivananda Ashrams & yoga centers all around the world.

You can go on a yoga holiday, follow a specific program or workshop, study to  become a yoga teacher (TTC) or become a Karma Yogi and life and work on the Ashram for a specific amount of time.

More info
Ashram France
Ashrams worldwide

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Participate in World Yoga Day 2013

WYD-logo+words_200x100(72dpi)Dear yogis, I’m very happy & excited to announce that the wonderful La Sagesse Intérieure studio is available & offers the studio rent free in order to participate in World Yoga Day 2013: 24 February from 11AM-1PM ! It’ll be a full hatha yoga class, with meditation & chanting.

The yoga class, which is on a donation basis. Give whatever you can spare, all proceeds go to the NGO FIAN International, the chosen charity for this event.

It would be wonderful if we could share a potluck lunch after the class, so feel free to bring a snack or dish of your choice, make it a yogi one so we stay in the spirit of yoga (vegetarian).

There’s space for 12 students in the class, maybe 14 if we squeeze our mats close together. So kindly register beforehand via e-mail and/ or Facebook. If you live in 1000 Brussels, you can also join the charity class in Sampoorna Yoga Studio.

Looking forward to welcoming you on Sunday 24 February, please be there at least 5 minutes before the start of the class.


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Yogi snack: NAKD raw bars

NakdbarsI discovered these Nākd bars some years ago in London. They are delicious and a very good snack for an after yoga practice craving 😉

They are 100% raw, vegan, sugar+wheat+GMO+soy FREE with no hidden extras. Unfortunately, currently they are not (yet) organic or Fairtrade. Personally, I find that snacks can be part of a healthy diet, as long as you don’t use them as your main meal and it remains an exception rather than the rule. Nākd bars are an easy way to eat nutritious, healthy food without compromising on taste.The bars are made from natural ingredients such as fruits and nuts which are squeezed together into a bar and are easy to bring where-ever you go.

Besides some retail outlets (that I yet have to discover) they are only available through web order in Belgium: 18 euros for 18 bars. 6,20 euro shipping, which is waived if you order 3 boxes or more. I’d say, order a bunch with some friends and enjoy the healthy snack every now & then!


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Vegan spicy winter soup

It’s still pumpkin season for a little longer & I absolutely love this soup which is very filling and spicy so just perfect to warm you up on a cold day as today. You can eat it with the noodles, with quinoa or even with some (home-made) corn or sourdough bread. This recipe serves 3 to 4 portions. 

Ingredients

  • 40 g ginger root
  • 1 chili pepper or hot pepper
  • 500 gr pumpkin
  • 1 leek
  • 2 carrots
  • 200 g white cabbage
  • 200 ml coconut milk
  • 800 ml filtered water
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 200 g chickpeas (precooked)
  • 50 g wok noodles
  • 2 tsp curry powder or garam masala
  • 1 bunch of fresh cilantro
  • Coconut oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • (1 onion)

 

Preparation

  • Peel the onion and the ginger.
  • Cut the pepper in half and remove the seeds.
  • Put the ingredients into a food processor; add 4 tbsp of olive oil and a little salt, mix until obtaining a creamy mixture.
  • Prepare the vegetables: peel the pumpkin and cut into pieces, cut the leek into rings and carrots into small pieces. Chop the cabbage & wash the vegetables.
  • Heat the coconut oil in a wok and add the garlic/ onion/ pepper mixture. Let it simmer for 2 minutes.
  • Add the pumpkin, carrots, cabbage and leek to the mixture.
  • Let it all simmer for a couple of minutes, then add the curry/ garam masala.
  • Pour the coconut milk, a little lemon juice and 800 ml water to the wok. Bring the soup to a boil.
  • Add the chickpeas, noodles and possibly a little bit more water. Cook the vegetables until well done.
  • Add seasoning to taste & add the cilantro just before serving.

Source: © Cookbook Donderdag Veggiedag by Miki Duerinck et Kristin Leybaert – 2012, page 106

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Om Trayambakam mantra

At the end of each Sivananda yoga class, we chant the mantra ‘Om Trayambakam‘, the Mahamrityunjaya Mantra (Sanskrit: महामृत्युंजय मंत्र ).

It’s a mantra for peace and life-giving. The mantra blesses the students and the teacher and protects them to return home safely as it wards off deaths and accidents. It’s a Siva mantra and should be repeated 3, 9, 27 or 108 times, especially on your birthday. This will bestow health, long life, liberation and prosperity on you.

Significance (source: Wikipedia)

Mahamrityunjaya Mantra is the great mantra for conquering death for it protects against all threats and at the time of death eases the process of release. It is one of the more potent of the ancient mantras, a call for enlightenment and a practice of purifying the karmas of the soul at a deep level. It is beneficial for mental, emotional and physical health. It is also a moksha mantra which bestows longevity and immortality.


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Yogi recipe: vegan yellow lentil & pumpkin soup with quinoa

This is an ideal meal when you are pressed for time and still want to eat a healthy and filling meal: right after your yoga practice or at lunch for example. The soup can be eaten as a full meal on its own or served with a cooked grain (quinoa, millet, …), potatoes from the oven, some bread or chapatis, … You can also choose to eat it with seasoned and stir fried or oven-baked tofu or tempeh. Use your imagination to adapt it to your favorite tastes with some chili, some other herbs or spices of your liking.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of chopped up pumpkin
  • 1 cup of yellow (brown, orange, …) lentils
  • 0.5 cup of other seasonal veggies
  • 3 cups of filtered water
  • 1 or 2 cm of ginger root
  • 1 tbsp of mustard seeds
  • 0.5 tbsp of coriander seeds
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp of turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp of garam masala (or curry) powder
  • Salt & pepper
  • (Coconut) oil
  • Fresh parsley

Preparation

  • Wash the vegetables & cut in ~2cm cubes.
  • Peel the ginger root & grate it or cut it in small bits.
  • Thoroughly rinse the lentils until the water runs clear.
  • Heat some (preferably coconut) oil in a frying pan (wok).
  • Add the mustard & coriander seeds; wait until they ‘pop’. 
  • Add the ginger root; stir for 2 minutes.
  • Add the garam masala & turmeric powder; stir for another minute. 
  • Add the pumpkin and other seasonal vegetables of your liking (I added some celeriac); stir fry for a couple of minutes. 
  • Add the lentils; stir fry for another 2 minutes.
  • Add the filtered water & the bay leaves; leave it to boil.
  • When it boils, lower the heat & let it simmer for approximately 25 minutes or until the vegetables and the lentils are tender. 
  • You may have to add some water depending whether you want a soup or more thick sauce type of dish. 
  • Add salt ONLY at the end (as it’ll prolong cooking time) & season with pepper. Take out the bay leaves before serving & serve with the fresh parsley on top.

Serving suggestion
Serve with quinoa, millet or some other whole grain you like.

pumpkin lentil soup


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Yogi recipe: vegetable spreads

This week, I’ve started an evening course (5 times, once every 3 weeks) on food sovereignty @ Rencontre des Continents in Brussels. We don’t really ask ourselves a lot of questions as to where our daily food comes from (from production, to transformation & distribution), but we should. The course will elaborate on the impacts of our everyday decisions as to what we put on our plate and how these have direct effects on the planet & people. The course strives to provide  us with knowledge & tools in order to make ethical and well-informed decisions every time we consume (literally) in order to have a much needed (collective) positive impact on the ecosystem of food.

All the students brought some food to share (potluck style) & luckily there was no meat or fish at all! Just some dairy which I could easily avoid as everyone was very informative about what they brought.

braun hand blenderAs a practical assignment we prepared different vegetable spreads. There were 4 groups of ingredients: legumes (pulses), vegetables (cooked beetroots, carrots, parsnip, leek), oils & nuts, spices, herbs & condiments (lemon, red pepper, ginger root, tamari, white sweet miso, fresh garlic & parsley), all organic! We had to prepare a vegetable spread with at least one ingredient out of all groups. It was a lot of fun, as we formed smaller groups and discussed which flavors would go well together, a lot of improvisation went on there! 1/3 of pulses & 2/3 of vegetables is recommended & the wet ingredients first to make it easier to blend (blades are at the bottom). You blend it all to a smooth texture in a simple hand blender, i.e. this one by Braun that I use.

Some combinations

  • chickpeas, beetroot, cumin powder, garlic, walnuts,  olive oil, lemon juice
  • brown lentils, ginger, cashew nuts, carrots & parsnip, tamari sauce, lemon juice
  • silken tofu, parsley, almond paste, ginger root, tamari sauce, leeks, lemon juice
  • brown lentils, silken tofu, sesame oil, cumin, ginger, garlic, carrots & parsnip, lemon juice
  • kidney beans, white miso, sunflower seeds, garlic, leeks, olive oil, turmeric powder, red pepper

PS: garlic is not considered sattvic food in yoga, so I prefer to stay abstain from it.

It’s a great exercise as you simply try to combine flavors & it basically always works! It’s delicious as a spread on bread or with a green salad & a full meal as you combine all the food groups to a perfectly balanced meal (carbohydrates, proteins, fats, minerals, vitamins).

Soon I’ll share more about the theory & the other recipes we’ll create. The next session is in 3 weeks.

rencontre des continents 5 Feb 2013

rencontre des continents 5 Feb 2013_2