I recently had the opportunity to participate in one of Amanda Rose Walsh’s yoga classes at NY Loves Yoga on the upper west side of Manhattan.
Amanda’s classes are physical, alignment based, and include a wide variety of poses with a unique sequencing and format. Time flew by as I found myself deeply focused on properly holding specific poses with correct posture and alignment. Amanda knows exactly how and when to assist, offering micro adjustments that help you feel the correct alignment and sense exactly how the pose should be expressed within your body. At the end of the hour in one of Amanda’s classes you may be surprised by the intensity of the workout and the ease by which you slipped into the variety of poses. You’ll leave the class feeling refreshed and with a deeper awareness of your body, along with an increased knowledge of the asanas that Amanda guided you through.
Afterwards, I caught up with this fabulous instructor, creative entrepreneur, and intrepid explorer over lunch to hear a little more about her story, business, and future plans.
AM: When did you start practicing yoga? Why did you decide to try it out?
ARW: I started practicing yoga in 2008 right before competing in the Golden Gloves. I was sensing that I was getting ready to retire but knew I needed to find another form of movement discipline before hanging up my gloves. I dabbled here and there but it wasn’t until a few months after winning the boxing competition that I jumped full force into yoga. I started with Ashtanga yoga until I found my teacher and mentor two years later.
AM: Yes, I noticed from your profile that you are a former Golden Gloves boxer. I have to ask you to tell me a little bit more about that part of your story…
ARW: I was a competitive boxer for a number of years and retired in 2008 once I found yoga. Probably the wildest chapter of this whole experience was when I won the Golden Glove competition in Madison Square Garden. It was so much fun, but also very hard…very, very, hard. Hard on the body and extremely one dimensional. I was not able to do anything else at that point in my life. I was just training and dieting and training and dieting.
It was a great experience, but I also wanted to live and I wanted to travel. But I still teach and a lot of my clients love to box. I use focus mitts so my clients can punch—I wear them on my hands so my clients can practice their focus, movement, balance, and punches.
AM: Seems like a great total body workout, right?
ARW: Absolutely—and it is also a great outlet, especially for women. Punching things can be very empowering! In my field, every day is different, which is a lot of fun.
AM: Tell me about your business (Amanda Rose Wellness) and how you help your clients?
ARW: Amanda Rose Wellness is a client based business on the Upper West Side of NYC. Started in 2009, I had the goal to work privately with clients ranging in age, ability and intention. Every client is different and therefore, every session is unique. I incorporate my extensive background, education and experience and merge the disciplines of yoga, boxing, strength training, functional movement and cardio conditioning into every session. Aside from meeting weekly for one-on-one sessions, I guide clients with nutrition, diet, healthy habits and behavior changes.
I am also certified in pre/post natal yoga and fitness as well as being a doula so I often work with women throughout their pregnancies, during childbirth and after when they are ready to return to exercise. Amanda Rose Wellness also involves my backyard yoga classes, events, workshops and one day retreats.
AM: What motivated you to take the plunge and begin your own venture?
ARW: I became a personal trainer when I was 18 and after working for over a decade in two corporate gyms, I developed enough courage and confidence to take the leap. I individually spoke to every one of my clients and they all agreed to take the plunge with me so when I left the gym, I left with 100% of my clientele. Right before this leap, I also won several boxing tournaments and graduated with a Masters Degree from Columbia, further increasing my level of trust and confidence in myself. Furthermore, both of my parents were self-employed entrepreneurs so I feel that it runs in my blood to be my own boss!
AM: You’ve hosted a number of international retreats, and are headed to northern Nicaragua with a group next month. Can you tell me about your retreat business, including where you have led retreats in the past?
ARW: We aim to start and end each season with a retreat. I’ve let past retreats in Costa Rica (at Iguana Lodge on the Osa Penninsula) and in Mexico (at Prana del Mar on the southern tip of the Baja Penninsula). My next retreat will be hosted by Coco Loco resort in the Leon area of northern Nicaragua…
Something we would like to do in the future is host family retreats where the participants bring their kids.
AM: That sounds like a great plan! How did that idea come about?
ARW: Many of our friends and family have kids and the likelihood that they can leave their child/children for a week to go on a yoga retreat is very slim. Many parents are committed to yoga, and rather than taking their children to, say, Disney World, they could bring everyone on a family friendly yoga retreat. Not many people are doing family retreats right now and I think it would be a fantastic opportunity for busy families to get away—and a way for parents to expose their kids to meaningful cultural experiences.
My husband also works a lot with kids—he has a children’s art and yoga business, so this seems like a very natural fit for us. As part of these retreats, we would want to include built in child care, morning practice for adults only, a family yoga and art sessions and plenty of time for families to hang out and spend time with each other or other retreat participants. We also plan to have optional activities and excursions that our guests can participate in if they want to get out and explore the area.
AM: You also have a backyard garden yoga studio behind your apartment, which I thought was an interesting concept. Would you mind talking to me a little bit about that unique project?
ARW: Sure! We moved into the apartment in 2012. Prior to moving into this space, my husband and I were living in a tiny studio apartment. We both knew we wanted the next space to be special so I went on a hunt, like I do tenaciously with all things, and I looked and looked and looked—just like I do when I am on the search for a retreat center.
When I walked into this particular apartment for the first time, I had that feeling of “this is it”… and that was before the realtor showed me to the back door. I walked into the back yard, which was essentially like a blank canvas. This particular place had both a beautiful back yard and a very nice indoor space, which wasn’t the case with many of the other places we had been looking at. My husband and I immediately fell in love with it.
Once the next spring came, I decided to do something I called backyard yoga and invited my community, friends, and family to participate in two to three classes per week—and it was a huge hit! People loved the classes and the outdoor setting. I typically have class on Tuesday nights and Friday nights and I’ve also experimented with morning, afternoon and weekend classes. So far, it seems that once a weeknight along with a Friday slow flow class is the sweet spot.
I also use the space for private yoga sessions and personal training and my husband and I run an event called Artist’s Hour on Thursday nights. We pair wine/drinks with an art project— so, for example, one evening we did Monet (a French artist) with French wine. Another evening we held a Picasso and Sangria workshop. It’s so much fun.
AM: I understand you are also very interested in nutrition, cooking, and healthy foods. Any projects you are currently working on in that space?
ARW: Yes, healthy food and proper nutrition is an important focus for me. My husband and I actually just started an organic vegan chocolate company.
AM: Fantastic! What is the name of the company?
ARW: It’s called SuperFood Fudge. After a retreat in Costa Rica, I came home with bags of cacao and through some experimenting made a really delicious and nutritious treat which I affectionately named Super Food Fudge. Our fudge is made with top quality ingredients like goji berries and cacao powder and is totally raw, vegan and organic. The best part is that not only is it delicious, it’s good for you too!
AM: It seems that you are running full steam ahead with your businesses these days. Are you connected with any gyms or studios in the NYC area?
ARW: Most of my focus is on my businesses and personal brand and I am not really connected with any corporate business or gym/studio. I did 10 years in two corporate gyms and that was plenty for me. In 2009 I left that environment and have been on my own ever since. Personal training and yoga teaching is my primary focus now, often in private settings.
I teach a weekly class at NY Loves Yoga, backyard yoga, and, of course, mange our retreats. I am also a doula (support for women in labor) and work with a lot of pre-natal/post-natal women. I support them through the pregnancy and birth and then train with the mothers to help them get back in shape afterwards.
AM: Do you have a book or books that have been inspirational in helping get where you are today? Why did you choose that/those resource(s)?
ARW: I am an avid reader and have so many books that have played a role in my life’s work. Some of my favorites are “Ask + It is Given” by Abraham Hicks, “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz, “The Joy of Living Dangerously by Osho”, “The Yoga Sutras” of Patanjali, “Yoga Mind, Body, Spirit” by Donna Farhi, and “The Desire Map” by Danielle LaPorte.
AM: Tell me a little bit about a teacher or mentor who has been influential in your life and business?
ARW: My teacher is Marco Rojas and I met him in 2010. His style, approach and truth telling deeply resonated with me and I soon gave up my Ashtanga practice in place of studying and practicing with him. I would go to his class six or seven times per week and was intrigued by his merging of Ashtanga, Iyengar + Vinyasa, his attention to detail and sophistication of sequencing. Noticing my dedication, enthusiasm and desire to grow, he suggested I become his assistant and help in all his classes. I immediately agreed and wound up not only assisting his classes but also five of his retreats.
Through our time together, we formed a deep, intimate and lasting relationship through which he supported and guided me on my best and worst days – from when my father passed away to the day I got married. In addition, my husband and Marco have bonded and formed an incredible friendship and I became very close friends with Marco’s wife. We have also spent a lot of time with Marco’s son, whom both Sebastian (my husband) and I consider our godson.
It has been invaluable to have a teacher to guide, support and assist me on this journey and I am so deeply grateful to have him as my mentor and friend.
AM: My final question for you before we wrap up is what advice would you give to someone looking to expand their practice?
ARW: I’m a big believer in trying diﬀerent styles and diﬀerent teachers. I know for me it was a matter of finding the right style that could help me get to the next level. It was important for me to cultivate a relationship with a teacher who knew me and my body, understood my intentions, and was able to guide me properly.
There are just so many types and styles of yoga out there, so you really need to find what resonates. Find a teacher that is willing to walk the journey with you and guide you. That is a really solid way that I experience expanding my practice and now, because of that, I am leading retreats.
One of the things I love about yoga is that it teaches you to be present and to check in with yourself, to make sure you are not just going on automatic pilot and not paying attention.
Cultivating a practice of paying attention is so important…that is why I enjoy giving minor adjustments for my students as we go through class, so they don’t just practice unconsciously.
Even if you’ve done something a hundred times, you bring something new to your mat each time.
AM: Thanks again, Amanda, for taking the time to share some of your story and insights with me. I look forward to connecting with you again the next time I am in the area.
ARW: My pleasure and thanks for joining us in class today!
Amanda completed her yoga teacher training in 2010 and has since been teaching students a fundamental and alignment-based approach to the mind-body-breath connection. When not teaching and being of service to others, you can find her in fierce Warrior 2 pose, riding her bike through the streets of New York City, running laps around Central Park, or diving into the local farmers markets in search for the healthiest (and tastiest) veggies. She is also an avid traveler, Lululemon ambassador, doula, wife of an incredible artist and overall lover of life.
Amanda is a catalyst of change with a passionate purpose to raise consciousness, spread the goodness and inspire everyone to look, feel and live their best. Connect with her at http://www.amandarosewellness.com/