Veterans helping Veterans find solid ground and acceptance: Mindful Warrior Retreats recap

On Saturdays January 6th and 13th, Emanuel (“Manny”) Salazar and I led our second and third Mindful Warrior Retreats for over 25 Veterans. The experience was incredible; the open-mindedness, whole heartedness, and dedication of the Vets was astounding; and the ripple effects of this program? Unknown.

On both days, Veterans came in unsure of what they had gotten themselves into. We began with breakfast, conversation, and a whole lot of laughs. Turns out a lot of Veterans have quite the trucker mouth! I was smiling from ear to ear almost the entire time.

After breakfast, I led a Nutrition Lecture. In both cases, it was supposed to last an hour but stretch for nearly 2 1/2! There we so many good questions, SO much misinformation to clear up, and such a hunger (pun intended) for healthy change. Ama girl, if you’re reading this, you were such an inspiration to me with all of your vulnerability and readiness girl. I need you to know that!

Following the lecture and lunch, we got down to the real business. Informed by Suzanne Manafort’s empirically-proven Mindful Yoga Therapy Program, I led participants in a trauma-informed yoga class featuring meditation, pranayama, movement, and relaxation. As you can see, by the end these Vets were all in on the savasana!

Toward the end of the day, Manny led everyone in the most insanely calming Yoga Nidra I have ever taken. I was deep into my semi-conscious state, straight chilling, in 90 seconds flat. Many of our Vets were snoring – getting some much needed sleep given that insomnia is a very common side effect of PTSD.

After Nidra, it was time for our Peace Circle and ritual closing ceremony. The stories our Veterans shared, the wounds they offered up to be let go…well it broke your heart and made it soar all at the same time. Everyone seemed palpably lighter as they got up to go.

Every day more than 22 veterans take their own lives in large part because they are not receiving the support they need to heal the scars from their service to our country. Take that in for a moment. Twenty-two human beings – mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, grandparents, cousins, community leaders, and more. The Mindful Warrior Retreat Program was founded, by veterans for veterans, in order to fill this support void through trauma-informed retreats. Utilizing a variety of holistic wellness modalities, the MWR program aims to bring hope and health back to thousands of veterans, their caregivers, and Gold Star Families with regular retreats that address mind, body, and spirit. We’ve got a strong start. Now we just need to keep going.


To learn more about what you can do to participate and/or help please email me at

Be Still to Be Strong: Awakening the Body from Within

As I lay there on my back, sweat drying on the back of my neck, gently cradled by the give of my mat, five simple words washed over me, triggering a moment of ineffable release…

“Awaken yourself from within first.”

I’m no stranger to a few tears in savasana. Moving muscles, honing mental focus, and getting lost in the rise and fall of breath have an uncanny ability to remove blockages, both physical and emotional. From time to time this release opens the flood gates, others it simply lets drips seep out one by one. Today was more of the latter for me, but my goodness did it feel good to crack.

No one ever told me I had to be strong while healing from my accident, but I resolved to stay positive, look at the glass half full, and find the proverbial silver lining. I’m not saying it was wrong to push myself in this way, but it was at times exhausting. I knew at some visceral level that if I let myself crumble emotionally while my body was broken against its will, I might slip down a darker path than if I steeled myself in certain ways. Fear of falling kept me from facing the true trauma of my experience. Part of me knew I would have to face the more emotional impact of the accident once my body started to mend, but it still surprised me when it began to surface.

For the past few weeks I’ve been tiptoeing back into my yoga practice: I’ve used more props than ever before (see below); I’ve gotten creative with hand placement and foot positions to allow for better balance; I’ve come to child’s pose when others have come into handstand; and I’ve even worked up the courage to leave my splint at home despite the fear that others won’t know I’m still healing and think I’m just being lazy (hello, ego!).

Every week that goes by I am physically stronger, but at times more mentally and emotionally frustrated. An agitation shakes and stirs inside me fueled by impatience and expectation. Why am I not yet back to where I was before? When will this pose or that pose be within reach? Where did my stamina go? While all the answers to these questions are clear to my most rational self, in the moment these questions gnaw and nag at my inner fabric.

Here’s the thing—that inner struggle is the exact reason why I love yoga so much, so much that I became a teacher. Yoga illuminates the limits, boundaries, and blockages we all wrestle with. It sheds light on them and allows you the time and space to truly see, acknowledge, and slowly and steadily ease through them. It’s not an fast process, and you cannot rush it. The more you force yourself towards resolution or change, the harder it becomes to achieve.

When that single tear found its way through the crack in the walls I’d thrown up, rolled its way down into the well of my ear, and drew a smile across my face I knew my struggle with this trauma had begun in earnest. My gratitude for this beginning is unbounded. I know that as I start to reconnect with my inner self, awakening from within first, I will have the unique and rare opportunity to reignite my spark with yoga. I get to rediscover the magic of connecting breath to movement. I get to realize anew that stillness creates inner and outer strength. And I get to watch as my body invites me back in, little by little as it becomes ready.

As I lay there on my back, in tranquility and stillness, only then could I notice that when you are still there are no boundaries and no limits to what is possible, only potential.

Recent Events: Fueling Amazing with Athleta and Nutrition for Athletes with Off Road Cycling

The first official weekend of summer was jam-packed with fun. Not only was I at the studio (Yoga Heights) more than usual with my business partner getting some well-deserved R&R, but I had one MOARfit event each day to make it extra special.

First up – Fueling Amazing with Athleta Georgetown:

I had such an awesome group of yogis Saturday, June 21 for the Athleta Summer Solstice celebration down on The Labyrinth at Georgetown Waterfront Park.

Amy Rizzotto MOARfit Athleta 2

More than 25 people braved the temperamental weather and didn’t let a few rain drops during our sun salutations dampen the fun. Amy Rizzotto MOARfit Athleta

A great big THANK YOU to everyone that came out for the event and to Athleta for including me as their teacher for this powerful group!
Amy Rizzotto MOARfit Athleta 3

Stay in the know on future FREE Athleta Georgetown events by following them on Twitter @Athleta_DC. And while you’re at it, follow me @MOARfit! #fuelingamazing

To cap off the weekend – Nutrition for Athletes at Off Road:

Nutrition for Athletes MOARfit Amy Rizzotto

A fit-fabulous group of 15 runners (and some cyclists) came out to Off Road Indoor Cycling Sunday, June 22 for my Nutrition for Athletes Workshop. We covered pre-, during and post-race nutrition, all the while sampling delicious granola from my girl Alicia at Greenheart Wellness and smoothies concocted by yours truly.

Greenheart Wellness

Keep checking the blog for a little fit-focused nutrition knowledge coming your way in July!

Announcement: I’m opening a yoga studio!

Yoga Heights_Jess and Amy

Yoga Heights–aka my amazing business partner and friend Jess Pierno’s and my baby–will be the District’s newest yoga studio and wellness center. Our goal is to offer balanced wellness for every body, at every level and every budget.

We open our doors in less than two months (March 22, 2014) at 3506 Georgia Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. YHDC (hastag that!) will offer a variety of different yoga classes–including power yoga, fusion yoga, prenatal yoga, and yin yoga–as well as yogalates, pilates, meditation, nutrition education and more. Jess and I are so excited to bring moar yoga to our new neighbors in the Columbia Heights, Petworth, Parkview and surrounding neighborhoods.

To ensure that wellness classes are affordable to everyone, YHDC will offer a unique “Karma Pass” that will subsidize the cost of classes for students who are unable to afford regularly priced offerings. Students may apply for the “Karma Pass Program” and receive up to three classes per week at a steeply discounted rate. Funds raised through a weekly donation class, as well as donations from other students who wish to support the Karma Pass Program will be matched by Yoga Heights to fund the program.

Stay in the know on opening events, pre-sales and special deals by visiting our new website–

Thanks for all the love and support!

Get the MOARfit for iPhone App

In just 3 easy steps, download MOARfit to your home screen for one-click access to my advice on optimal nutrition, yoga, functional fitness, and overall mind/body wellness. Grab your iPhone and follow along with the directions below.

STEP 1: Go to in your browser (typically Safari for iPhones) and click on the arrow icon at the bottom center of your screen.

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STEP 2: Click on the “Add to Home Screen” icon with my Roaring Down Dog Lion logo.


STEP 3: Voilà! You now have MOARfit on your home screen for easy, one-click access to moves + meals + motivation.

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As always, thanks for getting your moves + meals + motivation with MOARfit!

Welcome to MOARfit!

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Welcome to MOARfit!

Thank you so much to those of you who have followed along with me on MOARyoga over the last year. As with all things in life, the MOAR mission is dynamic and growing. What started as a blog dedicated to yoga and nutrition around this time last fall, has evolved and will continue to transform into more–well MOARfit to be exact.

This next phase is a reflection of my foray into a more inclusive definition of mind-body wellness. MOARfit came to me in late summer as I realized that I want to offer my students, clients, and readers advice and feasible steps to become functionally fit in their daily lives–both mentally and physically. For some people that might mean yoga three days a week and a vegan diet. For others, a fusion of HIIT (high-intensity interval training), outdoor activities like biking and running, and yoga combined with a flexitarian or compassionate carnivore diet might be the best path to the best you. Whatever course you choose to to follow, MOARfit will be a valuable resource for you along the way.

I have transferred all of my old content over from MOARyoga to this new platform–MOARfit–and hope you will join me in this new and exciting manifestation of my vision for helping people be the happiest, healthiest versions of themselves.

Sign up by clicking “Follow MOARfit” on the right sidebar and live life to the fullest by becoming functionally fit in both mind and body.

With gratitude and excitement for what’s to come!