Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Amazing Yoga and Wellness Books and DVDs

Hi, yogis!

All sorts of lovely books and yoga DVDs have been making their way to me lately and I'm excited to share them with you. If you need a recommendation for what to read or watch the next time you have a rainy, cold day, I got you :)

What I'm Reading

Before checking out this book, I felt intimidated by Chinese medicine and all its detailed information, regimens and routines. I love that the author offers an approachable guide; as she says, the book is an invitation to a shared healing journey. "If you have picked up this book," Cohen says, "you are searching for answers to the age-old questions: How do I live life fully, how can I heal myself of sickness, and who can guide me in this complex process?" 

If you're like me and dislike going to the doctor and want a more holistic approach to health, The New Chinese Medicine Handbook is a great resource. It gives you a sense of how to approach health with the mind, body, and spirit all integrated as a whole instead of offering quick-fix, Western-minded solutions. Chinese medicine offers a new way of thinking about how to take care of yourself, how to find balance, and how to treat both physical and emotional disharmony.

I can't tell you how many times I've heard from friends, family, and strangers, "I'm too stiff and out of shape to practice yoga!" This is the perfect book for answering that statement with a resounding, "Yoga is for everyone!" I'd recommend this book for anyone who is a beginner and wants to increase mobility. If you or someone you know is intimidated by yoga, try this book. Andrea offers simple routines that anyone can do, and she includes great photos, step-by-step instructions and daily practices to try. The sections include:
  • aligning bones and centering your breath
  • restoring upper body flexibility
  • restoring spinal flexibility
  • restoring hip flexibility - flexors, and rotators and adductors
  • restoring agility - the yoga sun salutation 
  • restoring lower body flexibility
  • reclining joint releases and muscle relaxation
Restoring Flexibility is comprehensive, detailed, and a really smart approach for beginners. Although the title hints at age, I think this book is applicable to yogis of any age, and it's a wonderful guide to starting where you are instead of taking a class that's too fast-paced or intimidating. Highly recommended.

I love this book! It's filled with helpful information about essential oils and recipes and methods for using them. Need to fight the flu? Need relief from allergies? Need to relieve stress or feel better after a bad day? This book has essential oil remedies to help.

Here are a few of my favorites:
Hangover Relief Protocol: Detoxifying Blend
1 TBsp sweet almond oil
2 drops lemon essential oil
2 drops thyme essential oil
2 drops cilantro essential oil
2 drops rosemary essential oil
In a 0.5 oz (15 mL) blue or amber glass bottle, mix 1 Tbsp almond oil with 2 drops each of lemon, thyme, rosemary and cilantro. Cap tightly and shake to mix. Use, or store for later in a cool, dry location.

Massage Blend
sweet almond oil
8 drops ylang ylang essential oil
4 drops clary sage essential oil
2 drops bergamot essential oil
2 drops sandalwood essential oil

What I'm Watching

"Will is that which changes thought into energy." - Yogananda
This is such an interesting film! A look at the reaction of the western world as a 'superstar guru' came to Los Angeles featuring commentary by Deepak Chopra, Russel Simmons, and even George Harrison! tIf you've read Autobiography of a Yogi, that's only the beginning to Yogananda's story :)

Wow! Parvati is such a gifted and mesmerizing teacher... one of my favorite aspects to her teachings is the way she draws in energetic movement and lines of energy. She'll help you become more aware of the subtle intricacies of the practice. Each routine is incredibly revitalizing and healing. Great DVD.

What are you guys reading and watching these days? I'd love to hear! XO

Awaken: A Workshop on Yoga, Reiki and Journaling

How well do you know yourself, really?

On December 12th I'm teaching a workshop to explore this question, and delve into the yogic principle of svadhyaya, or self-inquiry.

I'm so excited to share this unique experience of my favorite healing modalities. Yoga, writing and Reiki energy healing have helped me become a more calm, grounded person, and they are truly amazing tools to have in my day to day life.

During the workshop, we'll sit in meditation, identify which areas of the body and energy centers are blocked or imbalanced, and then go about working to release and reset. I'll incorporate mudras, which are like yoga poses for your hands, as well as sound vibration healing through chanting. I'll also give students time to write in their journals and reflect on what they are discovering.

Photo by Brynna Bryant of Respiro Photography.

Here are the details... hope to see you there!

Awaken: A Yoga, Reiki and Journaling Workshop with Rachel Koontz
Saturday, Dec 12th
12-2pm @ Saha Yoga and Wellness Center
5931 Stanley Avenue Ste 7, Carmichael Ca, 95608
Bring your journal (or purchase one for $15)

Photo by Brynna Bryant of Respiro Photography.

From the experience of this workshop, I'll also be developing some free downloadable materials for all you lovely blog readers :) Stay tuned!

Much love to you guys, as always.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Slow Mornings

One of my absolute favorite things about controlling my own schedule is having slow mornings.

My daily routine used to involve a very frazzled hour at the beginning of my day. I would set my alarm as late as possible, still wake up feeling exhausted, rush around making coffee and getting dressed, and then eat a quick breakfast in my car on the way to work, all the while feeling slightly overwhelmed and dreading the rest of the day.

Now, I wake up (occasionally without an alarm) and slowly get ready for my day. I'll often drink hot lemon water, fix some coffee, make breakfast, check email, and hang out with Jess in the kitchen :)

Some days I practice yoga at home, or take a class at the studio.

I often have the option of choosing whether I want to be in my PJs for a few hours, or if I want to get dressed and head out for the day.

That freedom? It's priceless. :)

What do your mornings look like, yogis? Cheers to keeping them simple and slow!


How do you measure abundance?

For so long, I went along with the belief that surrounds many of us: to be 'successful' and 'wealthy,' you need a lot of money in your bank account, you need to own nice things, you need to look a certain way, and you should adopt a constant desire for more.

More recently, I've been re-writing my definition of abundance.

Photo by @the_lost_coast.

I feel wealthy on days when I practice yoga and my body is flexible and strong.

In the moments when I'm able to stand in front of a room and teach from my heart, using my powerful voice, and when I hear from a student after class that they were able to heal something, release something, or learn something new from their practice.

I feel wealthy on days when I smile and laugh and also remember what it's like to be depressed, and know that I'm not in that place.

I feel most wealthy when I'm reminded of the love and support of my family and friends, when I get a big hug from someone I care about.

For me, abundance shows up in many forms. Lately I'm reminded that money isn't the only currency, and these unique forms of abundance make me smile even more than a deposit to my bank account:
  • Freedom to control my schedule, especially when I get to enjoy slow mornings, when I don't have to drive through rush hour traffic, and when I can plan my day without any rushing
  • Long hugs and hearing the words, "You're amazing," and "Have I told you lately how much I love you?" :)
  • Yoga books on my doorstep that have been sent by publishing houses who find my blog. Or my Yogi Surprise box :)
  • A bottle of wine that my sister brings over to share, and the chance to sit and talk with her about life and kids and relationships
  • High res photos in my inbox from talented photographers I'm collaborating with
  • Comments and emails from you guys... they literally make my day every time :)
  • Community yoga classes that give me the chance to meet new people and make new connections
  • An unexpected chunk of time on a day I thought would be busy, and instead I have the chance to take a nap, write in my journal, sit in the spa, or listen to music
I have everything I need. I have more than enough.

I am enough.

And I am rich with abundance.

What makes you feel wealthy? Namaste.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


Photos by @the_lost_coast.

“Someday, sometime, you will be sitting somewhere. A berm overlooking a pond in Vermont. The lip of the Grand Canyon at sunset. A seat on the subway. 

And something bad will have happened: You will have lost someone you loved, or failed at something at which you badly wanted to succeed. 

And sitting there, you will fall into the center of yourself. 

You will look for some core to sustain you. 

And if you have been perfect all your life and have managed to meet all the expectations of your family, your friends, your community, your society, chances are excellent that there will be a black hole where that core ought to be. 

I don’t want anyone I know to take that terrible chance. And the only way to avoid it is to listen to that small voice inside you that tells you to make mischief, to have fun, to be contrarian, to go another way. 

George Eliot wrote, ‘It is never too late to be what you might have been.’ It is never too early, either.”

—Anna Quindlen

Quote found via A Cup of Jo. So beautiful, right? :) This quote made me think of samadhi and I felt immediately inspired to share it.

Hope you are having a lovely week, yogis!


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Gratitude (Yogi Surprise November)

Photo by Tra Huynh of Two Twenty Photography.

My lovely yogis, how's November going for you? Are you staying grounded in gratitude?

I've been keeping the gratitude theme going around here at Alive in the Fire, and was excited to see that the team over at Yogi Surprise is doing the same :)

My box arrived this week and I did a little happy dance when I opened it up to find such amazing goodies. This box is my favorite box yet -- I loved absolutely every item in there. :) Thank you, Yogi Surprise team!

  • Yogi Surprise yoga sequence series card. Loved the poses focused on self-acceptance, generosity, and serenity.
  • Sibu Beauty sea buckthorn age defying eye cream. This stuff works great and helps make me feel pretty. Jess says, you're already pretty! haha ;)

Photo via Yuni.
  • Yuni Beauty instant shower sheets. These things are genius...they're not standard size wipes - they're big! So it's actually like having a little mini shower. Highly recommend for any other yoga teachers who sweat a lot and need to run from class to class. Also, they're very reasonably priced if you need to buy more after the Yogi Surprise ones run out :)

Feeling very grateful for the Yogi Surprise team for continually finding the best brands the health and wellness community has to offer!

If you haven't signed up yet, go get yourself set up for a mini vacation once a month. And if you need a gift idea for friends or family (or your favorite yoga teacher), this is the way to go!


Yoga for Kids

Photos courtesy of Elizabeth.

Have you ever practiced yoga with your kids? Have you ever considered teaching yoga to kids?

Today I'm honored to share sponsored yogini Elizabeth's reflections on teaching and practicing yoga with children. She is certified through Kidding Around Yoga and is offering a training in Nevada City, CA in early December for teachers who want to learn more about teaching engaging yoga classes to children. Check out the Facebook event page or www.kiddingaroundyoga.com for more info :)

Yoga for Kids
by Elizabeth

Changing the world one peaceful child at a time... I am a teacher and trainer of Kidding Around Yoga, and truthfully the best part of my job is leaving the kids getting lots of hugs, being called the Yoga Lady, and being told how much they love me.

Kids love Yoga! Every class is different with its own set of challenges and breakthroughs. Sometimes it seems like every child in the room just ate a pound of sugar and the energy is wild, and sometimes there are children who don't want to participate, but by the end of class, out of the corner of my eye, I catch them doing a pose.

Children have so much stress and pressure from the world; iPads, sports, school assignments, peers, friends, parents. We move children from one thing to the next without giving them the time they need to observe, process, and express what they feel. Kidding Around Yoga provides children a moment in their busy lives to be calm, present, mindful and be given tools for stress management all while hopping, skipping, jumping, dancing, singing, and OMing.

When we really pay attention, it's stunning how many of us as adults tend to breathe shallowly, or struggle to cope with stress, or feel depressed.

What if we taught our future generation how to be kind, mindful, how to breathe, and deal with stress? I bet our world would be much more peaceful.

Thank you, Elizabeth, for sharing this beautiful post!

Yogis, please feel free to reach out to me if you're interested in an upcoming Kidding Around Yoga teacher training or have questions to pass along to Elizabeth.


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