Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Yoga Collective (and a Giveaway for Online Yoga Videos)

Photos courtesy of Elizabeth and The Yoga Collective.

Do you practice yoga at home?

Developing a personal practice is a wonderful way to deepen your experience of yoga. And, since most of us have busy schedules that don't always allow for classes at the studio, practicing at home is a great way to get more consistent on your mat.

Note: see below for a chance to win access to an amazing library of yoga videos online at The Yoga Collective!


One great resource for yoga classes at home is The Yoga Collective. Their video library features a variety of yoga styles, levels of experience, and lengths of time. What I love is that you can search the website based on what you're looking for... so if you want a gentle yin practice that's only 30 minutes long and is great for beginners, it's easy to find that video.

I shared access to The Yoga Collective's online yoga classes with Elizabeth from the Sponsored Yogis team. Here were her reflections on using the site.


Being a stay at home mom with 2 children, active within my community, sports, husband, family, and garden I don't always get the opportunity to get to a yoga studio and find my balance. Most days I'm lucky if I brushed my teeth! 

I LOVE that I can go to yogacollective.com while my baby girl sleeps or in between school/dinner/baseball and sneak in 30 minutes here or there. Sometimes it's less than 10 minutes, and I am so grateful for those few minutes regardless of how long my practice is.

The website is so convenient and the classes are great! So many varieties and the instructors are great. I can just hit play and close my eyes and envision I am in the studio.

One suggestion I'd like to make is I'd like to see longer morning classes and I'd really like to see a before bedtime class.

I am soo grateful for this website and I highly recommend it to all my friends. Thank you so much for taking the time to film the videos and share the love!


Online Yoga Videos GIVEAWAY!

The Yoga Collective is offering one lucky reader from Alive in the Fire access to their yoga videos online for a free year-long membership! That's a lot of yoga, my friends! :)

To win, please visit The Yoga Collective and leave a comment below with details about a class you'd like to try. You can also share a story about why you love practicing yoga at home, or what you'd hope to gain by having a membership to the site.

For additional entries in the giveaway, follow The Yoga Collective on Instagram and Twitter, and be sure to mention that you've added them when you post your comment below.



Good luck! A winner will be chosen before June 1. 

A big thanks to Elizabeth for sharing her post, and to the team at Yoga Collective for their generous giveaway. Namaste.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Tools for Yoga Teachers When Sequencing a Vinyasa Flow


There's a lot that goes into a yoga class. The postures... the music... theming... it all makes a difference in how the yogis in the room experience the practice.

Careful, intelligent sequencing is important in order for a class to feel effortless and nourishing to the body.

As a yoga teacher, it can be challenging to come up with a variety of vinyasa sequences. What can you do to get inspired?


One tool I love using when I'm creating a vinyasa yoga flow is the Yoga Sequencing Deck by Jillian Bobowicz. The deck features 100 double-sided cards showing yoga poses and transitions based on Vinyasa and Ashtanga yoga poses.

It's great for any level class, and especially useful if you're a visual learner. Plus, it's fun! :) I was recently joking with my friend and fellow teacher that we should play a game with our yoga friends where you have to draw a card and do the pose :)


This tool would be great for yogis who are in teacher training, too. You can consider the pace of a class and the anatomy of your students as they move from pose to pose.

Are you memorizing a sequence like the Baptiste Flow? Try something like this to mix it up, and/or quiz yourself on how you'd cue students into the pose.


My other advice for yoga teachers who are looking to mix up their flow is to always practice what you want to teach, to see how it feels in your body.

Yogis are all different shapes and sizes, and at different times our bodies crave different movements. Some days we want to move fast, and other days, slow. Some days we want more challenge and other days we want to rest more or linger whenever a pose feels good.

I don't always practice what I'm going to teach the day of my class, but I try my best to do the flow in the week or so prior to teaching it. Sometimes doing this will reveal a change that's needed; swapping the order of a few poses, leaving something out of the flow, or starting over and doing something totally different.


I also recommend trying new yoga classes with teachers you've never taken before. This isn't really so you can copy exact sequencing or re-invent what you do... in fact, I encourage you to resist the temptation to compare yourself or judge another's teacher's class as 'better' or 'worse' than yours. We all teach a little bit differently, and that allows yoga to be accessible to more yogis!

Just notice the way a class is structured. Notice if there is a 'peak' pose in the practice, or a particular transition that feels really sweet in the body.

Notice the moments when you are challenged, or the moments when you fall so fully into present awareness that you stop caring what's on your to-do list or what emails you have to reply to or what you're going to fix for dinner.

How did the teacher bring you to that place? How were the yoga postures arranged so that the sequencing felt effortless?


Above all else, be gentle with yourself. Teaching yoga is a learning process. Every pose offers wisdom. Every class is an opportunity to share, to connect, and to generate peace.

Your class is wonderful and impactful whether you teach it effortlessly or you mix up your transitions or forget one side of a pose.

What matters, what your students feel, is when you show up fully and give what you can. When you breathe with them and support them in their growth and healing. And when you are willing to notice what sequencing worked, and what wasn't great -- and take that knowledge and apply it to your next class.

Continue practicing, feeling the flow move through your body, enjoying the poses.

Namaste.

Summer Salads

Photo courtesy of Elizabeth.

Happy Friday, yogis! I hope you're all enjoying a beautiful week. Do you have any fun yoga plans this weekend? :)

I wanted to share a little post from my lovely sponsored yoginis Elizabeth and Keyla. They've both been making new summer salad recipes featuring Litehouse dressings. If you're looking for quick meal ideas for this weekend, try these! 
Photo via Litehouse.
From Elizabeth:

Being quite picky with my salad dressings I have to say I am so in love with the Spinach Salad dressing. The texture of the dressing did take a little getting used to, however the flavor is so yummy! I really enjoyed the bits of bacon and the smoky flavor. 

My favorite salad mix so far with this is:
  • spinach
  • fresh strawberries from my garden
  • walnuts
  • hulled hemp seed
  • Litehouse Spinach Salad dressing
Mmmmm! It's my go to lunch these days. I was also quite impressed with how many varieties of dressings Litehouse offers.

Above photo courtesy of Keyla. Below photo via Litehouse.



From Keyla:

Here's a great summer salad featuring the Greek vinaigrette

Black Eyed Peas and Barley Salad

  • 1 cup of dried black eyed peas 
  • 1 cup of dried barley 
  • 1 cucumber 
  • 1 pack of grape tomatoes
  • Handful of cilantro
  • Handful of cheese (Feta)
  • Lite house Greek vinegarette 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 

Cook the peas and barley in separate pots and prep the veggies as they cook.

How to cook black-eyed peas: Soaking is not essential for black-eyed peas, but cooking time can be shortened if they get a quick soak in hot water, or soak overnight in cold water if cooking the next day. Place dried peas in a pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil for 2-3 minutes. Remove pot from heat and allow to stand for 60-90 minutes. Drain water and replace with fresh, cold water for cooking - or if you skipped the hot-soaking step, just rinse and add cold water. Place on stove and bring to a boil in a pot with a lid. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer, tilting the lid slightly to allow steam to escape, and leave to cook for up to an hour, or until tender

How to cook Barley
1 cup pearl or hulled barley
3 cups water or stock
Salt (optional)

Instructions
  • Combine the barley and water. Add salt if needed
  • Bring to a boil: Bring the water and barley to a boil over high heat. Keep an eye on the pot to prevent foam from overflowing.
  • Simmer the barley: When the barley has reached a boil, lower the heat to a low simmer, cover, and continue to cook until the barley is done. For pearl barley, start checking at 25 minutes. For hulled barley, start checking at 40 minutes. The barley is done when it has tripled in volume and is soft yet chewy. Add more water if the pan becomes dry before the barley has finished cooking; check every 5 minutes until desired chewiness is reached.
  • Drain the barley (if necessary): When the barley is done, it will have absorbed most of the water. If there is a little water still left in the pot, just leave the barley to sit for 10 minutes, covered, until it has all been absorbed. If there is a lot of water left, drain the barley in a strainer over the sink.
  • Fluff the barley: With a fork, fluff the barley to separate the grains and set aside.

Assemble the Salad:
1. In a big bowl, combine diced cucumber, grape tomato halves, cheese, barley and black eyed peas. Toss in Litehouse Greek Vinaigrette and add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with a handful of fresh cilantro or parsley. You can serve as a side or on top of fresh spring greens. Enjoy!

Have a lovely weekend, and big thanks to Elizabeth and Keyla for sharing these yummy salads! Namaste.

PS More summer salads.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Transformation


Transformation is a life-long process.

It requires times of pain as well as great joy. It is a balancing art.

One needs to know the good as well as the painful to find that perfect art of balance.

Wise words from my Reiki Sensei Master Teacher. Namaste.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Are You New to Yoga?

Photo by Brynna Bryant.

Are you a beginner?

I love connecting with new yogis. It's especially wonderful when I get the chance to teach yogis who are new to the practice.

Lately I've been reflecting on how powerful it is to stay humble. My goal as a yoga teacher and a yogi is to keep humility at the heart of my practice. The practice humbles us and reminds us that we are all equal. It doesn't really matter how many downdogs you've done; it matters that you are here, today, doing your practice!

If you're new to yoga, I'd love to encourage you to check out my Beginners page here on Alive in the Fire. It's got a lot of good tips and tricks, and links to posts I've written about:
  • poses to help with pain
  • simple meditation practices
  • advice for surviving a hot and sweaty class
  • my favorite yoga DVDs for an at home practice
  • much more :)
Head on over to check it out, and if you're so inclined, maybe even share the link with another friend who is new to yoga! As always, you can reach me at aliveinthefire at gmail dot com if you run into any questions. Namaste.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Growth

Photo by Cara Brostrom, taken in 2012.
 
Photo by Justin Kral, taken in 2014.

One of my favorite parts about blogging is that I can look back at my posts and remember how I was feeling when I wrote them.

Today I glanced back at this post, What Yoga Has Taught Me. I realized how important my yoga practice has been for many years of my life, throughout the ups and downs. I wrote that post almost exactly two years ago, when I was just starting to come out of a challenging period. I was just getting my feet back under me after going through a divorce, moving across the country, and re-establishing my identity and my place in a yoga community.

Photo by Jobi Otso, taken in late 2014.

And yet, despite all of that turmoil and heartache, my words in that blog post sound so calm. So reassuring and hopeful.

Alive in the Fire has seen me through some drastic changes, and has been such a powerful outlet for allowing me to share my story and voice who I am and how I've grown.

To share my story of being a yogi.

Yoga has helped me learn to accept myself the way I am. To embrace that I'm not perfect, I never was, and I don't have to convince myself that I should be.

Yoga has shown me the beauty of living fully present instead of obsessing over the past or the future. 

Photo by Brynna Bryant, taken in 2015.

Yoga has taught me strength, patience, endurance, courage. The practice has taught me to live without attachment to outcome. To give more openly, to write more freely, to love more fully.

Yoga humbles me before great teachers and mentors. Yoga reminds me that health is wealth. That the goodness and light in me also shines in those around me.


Today I'm grateful to continue on this path, being blessed by the practice of yoga, humbled by it. Sending love and light to all you beautiful yogis reading this post, and may we continue to support each other in the journey :)

Saturday, May 16, 2015

If You're Depressed

Photos in this post by Brynna Bryant.

We all go through periods of depression.

It is through these lows that we are able to experience deep personal growth, and an understanding of what it means to be happy, healthy and at peace with life.


If you're experiencing a low right now -- whether it's a bad day, a lengthy depressed mood, or an extended period of time that you've been depressed-- please know that you're not alone.

I encourage you to reach out for as much support as you can. Talk to your friends. Don't carry the weight alone. The more you talk to people about depression, the more you tend to find that it is a common part of the human experience.


I want you to know something else, too. It may not feel like it right now, but you are loved. You are enough. You're going to be OK.

These things might feel like the farthest thing from the truth, but you know what? Now is a good time to doubt these untrue things your mind is telling you. Maybe even take a few moments to write down the negative thoughts that are coming up for you, and take a moment to see how ridiculous they may be.

I know during my experiences of the lowest lows, I tell myself some pretty hurtful things that aren't true.


Another thing I highly encourage you to do is to figure out what makes you feel better, and don't procrastinate doing whatever that is. 

If going for a walk with your dog tends to help you release stress, go do that. If a funny TV show helps you smile for 30 minutes, watch one. Roll out your yoga mat and do five minutes of asana at the end of your long day -- or even during your lunch break! 

If you feel stuck, do something proactive to help get un-stuck

You know yourself best. You know what little things make you feel better. Quit putting them off and go do at least one of those things, and just see how you feel.

I know from experience that it's easy to play the victim and keep suffering, even when I am aware of what steps will help me feel better. 

Just today, for example, I was feeling emotional and was stuck in a cycle of self-pitying and resenting others around me who were having fun. Finally, after hours of putting myself through this suffering, I got off the couch and rolled out my yoga mat and did a couple sun salutations. I let my breath be therapeutic; deep inhales and heavy exhales. At the end of just five minutes on my mat, I felt a little bit better.

I wasn't in a fantastic mood afterward, but I felt a noticeable difference from before I had practiced yoga.

This was because I took initiative -- I asked myself, what would make me feel better right now? I knew that yoga was the answer, and I didn't procrastinate any more. I got up and did a little bit of yoga, and it worked.

I know you have something in your life too that's a fail-safe, sure-fire, simple way to feel better. It doesn't have to be yoga. It might be going for a drive and cranking the radio and singing. It might be eating a healthy meal and treating yourself to a glass of wine and a piece of chocolate afterward (all things in moderation, rigtht?!). It might be asking your friend or neighbor or kid for a hug, and really letting yourself be hugged.

Whatever it is, go do it.


Namaste, dear ones.

PS As always, I'm just one email away if you want to reach me (aliveinthefire at gmail dot com). :)

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