Monday, January 31, 2011

Military Man

Photo via the Dudes Doing Yoga Tumblr.

I couldn't help but think of my awesome older brother when I saw this on Yoga Dudes today. He used to be in Army R.O.T.C. and I could totally picture him smiling at this pic. Want me to help you do that pose, bro? :)


I imagine that yoga would be a wonderful way for military guys to relieve some of the stress and tension that comes along with their territory. A while back I found this NY Times piece on army recruiting programs that incorporate yoga into the fitness routines. It's reassuring that they can take some of their experiences to the mat, too. And build some great flexibility!


Anyway, I'm thinking of you, brother. Lots of love from (about to be snowpacalypse-d) Chicago! XO


PS Readers, do you know any military men who practice yoga? Get them to write in for the Real Men Do Yoga series!

Nap

Photo of an eggy breakfast, source unknown.

Today certainly has been a Monday! 

I am looking forward to an afternoon nap after work, another bite of the delicious quiche I made for dinner last night, a short massage to hopefully work out these crazy knots in my neck and shoulder, and getting my Bikram fix at the late class.

You?

PS If you have recommendations for getting rid of neck pain, I'm all ears. Tonight's regimen for healing will be: Tiger's Balm, meditation before I nap (to stay relaxed and away from any tense dreams), massage, Bikram, and maybe a bath. Other thoughts?

Bandha Bandha!

Illustration from Bandha Yoga. Click the image to learn more about these awesome books!

If you're following the blog, you've seen my latest posts about these awesome Bandha Yoga books. Check out this awesome illustration indicating the way yoga helps you find great alignment and balanced energy in your chakras. Pretty beautiful, huh?

If you click on the image above or the ones below, you can learn more about the books and even place an order for one of your own.


I spent a couple hours browsing through pages and reading about how my muscles work together during different postures. I was amazed at how much there is to learn beyond the experience of the yoga! Even after we've felt our bodies in the postures, or heard from instructors about the best and safest way to do Triangle or Eagle, we still have lots we can learn from these books. Check 'em out!


PS I'll be bringing my copy over to Bikram Yoga Evanston soon, so if you're local, keep your eyes peeled for a copy sitting with all of Stu's other yoga books in the lobby. Enjoy!


Simplify

Photo via Lululemon. This is one of their talented ambassadors, Meghan.

Hey yogis! How was your weekend? I hope you are back at work feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. I am!


I had a lovely weekend with a nice mix of productivity and relaxation. I've got some other creative projects in the works besides the blog, so I decided to a take a couple days off to put some energy toward those. Plus there is nothing like a Sunday at home doing some cooking for the week and having a little candlelit dinner with friends. (I made quiche! Mmmm.) 

Anyway, I hope you had fun and maybe took a little time for yourself this weekend, too. It can be so worth it to have a break -- whether it's from work, or just your computer screen at home. Sometimes a few days off from the Hot Room can do wonders for your practice, too.


Sometime's it's just better to simplify. Do a little less. You may find yourself appreciating that task you chose to take out of your busy schedule, even yoga.


I know I am excited to get back to my mat tonight!


I'm also stoked to spend this week immersed in all of the Yogi Sponsorship 2011 applications. Thanks to all of you who have sent in your apps. We have some very strong candidates!


To those of you who have the app but haven't returned it yet, please do so soon. The deadline is coming up. I'm happy to give you a bit of extra time if you need it, but be sure to communicate before the deadline rather than later.


The choice will be tough. I can't wait to post the news! Stay tuned.


Photo via Lululemon. This is one of their talented ambassadors, Meghan.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Focus Forward Friday: Get Sponsored to Do Yoga

Photo via Coffee and Yoga.

Focus Forward Friday: 
A weekly ritual for deepening your practice.

Today's focus: the blog sponsorship. Did you read my recent post on how you can get free classes, sweet yoga wear, green products, and a whole bunch of awesome custom yoga advice and motivation from yours truly?

If you missed out, here are the details again.

Who: any yogi, male or female, any age, any location, who practices any style of yoga (not just Bikram!).

When: apps due by the end of January (I can extend the deadline by a few days if you need a bit of extra time). Winners will be announced in early February.


Sponsorship may also induce happiness, relaxation and mind-body connection. 

Photos via Coffee and Yoga.

What: if you are chosen, you'll get a bunch of sweet perks. Free yoga classes (details to be determined). Lots of loot (yoga wear, cool products, treats from me and other blog partners). Excellent advice from an advanced Bikram student who's practiced a variety of styles and who's passionate about sharing yoga with others (and teaching one day!). Ongoing communication. The chance to write for the blog, promote it to your yoga community, and watch it grow. And much, much more

How: email me at aliveinthefire at gmail dot com for an application. Then I'll send you the form to fill out with more info on your background, your yoga practice, and what you plan to bring to the blog space and community if you are chosen. Note: you'll want to be sure to read the fine print and sign digitally before you send back. Photos welcome, too! I like being able to put names to faces, and if you've got a shot of yourself doing your favorite posture, that's perfect.


A quick note: only dedicated yogis need apply. I plan to choose someone as my go-to person for discussing yoga-related topics and creative ideas for the blog. I expect to find someone who's creative, fun, laid-back, punctual, hardworking, and kind. I want someone with extreme enthusiasm for their yoga, for the blog, and for making positive changes in their life. If you're not ready to make the commitment, please don't ask for an application.


Along the same lines: please feel free to use your creativity here! You'll need to fill out the application, but if you are so inclined to add to it, share the blog with your friends, increase the followers and invite people to check out the Twitter, by all means -- go for it! Going above and beyond won't hurt your chances :)


Are you ready to take your yoga practice to the next level? 


Contact me today. (aliveinthefire at gmail dot com)

This is not the end; there is no end in yoga. Photo via Coffee and Yoga.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Afternoon Getaway

From recently discovered photography blog Vagabond Bond (via Sarah Rhoads).

Three spots I'd like to be right now. Anyone else needing an escape from all the snow?


Centering

Om illustration via Yoga is Life.

Anyone else out there have the tendency to get over-booked and busy? I'm finding that I have a subconscious push to take on more projects and tasks. Unless I am careful about limiting my time spent working, I end up with a little too much on my plate.

That's where the yoga comes in, and when I need it most. Meditation and relaxation, too. The practice of letting go and doing nothing.

One of the best ways to place clear boundaries around your time is to spend time thinking about how you want to use it. What really makes you happy? What is really important to you?

I've had these kind of questions running in the background of my mind lately, and sometimes it helps to mull them over in the shower or write about them in a notebook. Whatever method I use, it's most important that I slow down and pause, giving my thoughts completely over to the work of self-knowledge.

If we don't pause to center ourselves, we lose track.

Last night I was getting frustrated about letting my brain get too much like a hamster caught in a wheel, and then all of a sudden my yoga mind kicked in.

Choose not to suffer.

I actually smiled realizing that this calming mantra has sunk in enough to pop up not only during Bikram class, but also during stressful situations in "real" life. I fell asleep a little easier knowing I could choose not to suffer, choose to be strong, and choose to let God handle the rest.

Photo via  Leo Castillo on Flickr.

Yogis, what are your practices for managing your time and stress well? How do you balance during busy weeks? I know you take yoga class, but are there any other meditations or calming techniques you use?


Would love to hear from you. May you be well, and keep calm.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Bandha Books

My Bandha Yoga book came yesterday! I'm so excited to take a look and post a review on it soon. Stay tuned! And if you like... 
See a Sample Chapter here.

Soap Heaven

Photo via Lauren Ross Photography.
Photo via Glen Allsop Photography.

Sometimes we need a space for escaping. A spot to relax, unwind, create, imagine. A space simply to be.

You can create such a space in your home with the right mindset, a nice candle or two, and a lovely spa in your very own bathroom.

I highly suggest soaps and dead sea salts from Sharilynn Studios on Etsy to do the trick. Shari creates dreamy handmade products that are awesome for daily use as well as for special at-home spa days. 

I have been enjoying her well-crafted, gentle, and lovely-smelling soaps for a couple of weeks now and love them. I also love knowing that they're made from all-natural, healthy ingredients that are great for my skin. Plus, she's got a great variety of scents that aren't overly feminine or masculine, so they are great for anyone.

Our favorites so far are the eucalyptus spearmint zen and the coconut lime verbena flavors. Amazing!

A few of Shari's amazing soap and dead sea salt products I've been trying. Love them!

On days when I feel tired or a little stressed, a bath featuring her amazing sea salts helps immensely. I can finally warm up, let go, and enjoy a good steamy bath with no distractions, no conversations, and no negative thoughts in my mind.

Sharilynn Studios also has awesome back scrubbers and pumice stones for sale, so you can get that little extra "oomph" in your cleaning routine.

I also love that Shari's site features artwork and art supplies for sale. She is a talented artist with an inspired, insightful eye for beauty. Swing by her Etsy shop to find out more-- and tell her I sent you :)  You won't be disappointed!

And believe me, when that lovely box shows up on your doorstep with goodies inside (like it did for me), you'll be on your way to luxe and joyful goodness!

Photo via Sharilynn Studios on Etsy. Artwork for sale.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Yoga Tonight


Photo via Coffee and Yoga.

Sometimes I get what I like to call the 4 o'clock waver. I'm sitting at work, less than an hour left 'til I get to peace out. I'm planning to hit up the Hot Room for a sweaty Bikram yoga session, but then... I waver.

What about a lazy night at home?

What about baking cookies in my PJs?

All of a sudden my mind's bouncing around about how hard the Standing Balancing series is going to be, about how I'm under-hydrated or hungry. Surely there's something more relaxing I can do tonight than yoga

It's sad, really. Frustrating. These silly thoughts!

Yoga is my relaxation. Yoga is my meditation. Yoga kicks my ass so I can let go -- fully, finally. Especially on the days when I waver, yoga is what I really need.


And let's be honest: if you can, YOU MUST!

See you at the 5:30pm class, yogis :) Here's to kicking yourself in the bum so you can get your yoga in today.

Photo via A Yoga Journey

Quick Question

Original photo via Coffee and Yoga. Photo illustration by yours truly.

Readers, what do you love most about your yoga? Please comment below to inspire an upcoming post.

Swimspot: For Sexy Hot Yoga Wear

All photos via Swimspot.

Ready to spice up your Bikram wardrobe? Check out Next by Athena, a designer line of hot yoga wear brought to you by Swimspot. You can find tons of sexy outfits for yoga, plus awesome and flattering women's bathing suits on this site. I'm seriously hooked!

I'll be reviewing Swimspot soon, and posting a guest blog post to their blog space, The Spot. Stay tuned!

What are you guys wearing to the Hot Room lately?



Monday, January 24, 2011

Ballerinas

Photos via The Ballerina Project. More about them on Facebook, too.

A long time ago I posted about awesome urban ballerinas. Thought I'd share a few more of those inspiring and incredibly graceful images today.

Isn't it amazing how bendy and beautiful they are?


All the News That's Fit to Print

Photo via my new favorite blog find: Fashion Toast!

It is most definitely Monday. Buzzing around the office (on tea, not coffee!) catching up on weekends, the big game, and trying to sort through my Google Reader.

Lots of yoga news in the mix today! If you haven't already, check out the story on Tara Stiles via the New York Times. Interesting stuff. I'm curious to hear your thoughts.

I had to agree with YogaDork's review in saying that "It's yoga. Yoga is as yoga does." I'm all for creating community around yoga that's open, welcoming, and true to the heart (not the ego). Let's all avoid the snobbery and do our backbends, OK? :)


Photo via Google.

I'd also encourage you guys to check out OMB Yoga's open letter to a new Bikram student. There are some great reflections on why the teacher speaks loudly, why we require silence and stillness in between postures, and why wearing short shorts is the way to go (and here's a hint: none of it has to do with your ego!).


Photo of Coby Grant via PrAna's blog.

 PrAna also has some great posts on the upcoming Wanderlust trifecta as well as a lovely review from Coby Grant (a favorite up-and-coming artist of mine!) on the wonderful PrAna line of yoga gear.


Yoga blogger Julia Yee has some wonderful advice on sticking with your yoga routine. Don't miss this post!


Photo of Joslyn Chandler of Miss Fit Bliss by Mechelle Lavelle of Bryant/Lavelle Photography.

Finally, one of my favorite hot yoga bloggers, Joslyn over at Miss Fit Bliss, featured awesome advice on the top 14 things she's learned from Bikram (plus photos of her rockin' the yoga at an advanced class and in competition). Amazing stuff, Jos!


What are you guys up to this week? What are you reading?


I hope all is well and I'm wishing you the best.


Photo of Joslyn Chandler and yogi competitors by Mechelle Lavelle of Bryant/Lavelle Photography.

The Little Ones

Photo by Anna Rummey of Rummey Bears.
Photo by Tyler Branch.

Today's post is the latest in the Beyond Childhood series, which features conversation about living love, putting your family first, and how to enjoy relationships.


Photo (and all photos below) from the Little Sapling Toys shop.


Today I bring you Little Sapling Toys, a lovely Etsy site with all natural and safe infant and toddler toys. 


Shop owners Nick and Kimber would like to offer 10% off any order to all Alive in the Fire readers. Use the coupon code ALIVE10 when checking out (valid until February 14th).


More about the shop:
We all have a hand in design, production, business, or packaging in some way. During those necessary breaks we play hide and seek, eat, bike or jog. On Sundays we go to church, eat and play games together.

Toys: We brought life to the classic wooden teether by offering the widest selection of shapes available. We have designed and produced a solid selection of organic developmental toys and blocks. Our newest endeavor is the land of personalization with Blue, our laser engraver.

Our Philosophy: Here at LST, we are committed to quality toys and a healthy earth. We plant a tree for every toy sold, use FSC Certified hardwoods, recycled content packaging and participate in our local green power program.

Each toy is handmade in our workshop (which is in transition right now between Boise, Utah and Minnesota). We design our toys to help young children develop creativity, pattern recognition and fine motor skills. However, the most important toy any child can have is his or her caregiver. For this reason, our educational toys are most effective with interactive play.


Read more on Little Sapling Toys and keep up with their sales and giveaways on their Facebook page or their main site.



Get shoppin' for your little ones!
Check out this adorable stacking toy. And what a cute picture!


Little Sapling Toys makes a ton of cute teethers, like this guitar.


Or an airplane, if your little guy loves things that go.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Seriously, About that Party

Photos via This is Glam and their offshoot fashion blog.

Hey readers, remember awhile ago when I mentioned I'd love to throw a big happy blog party when we hit 100 followers? Well, we're getting close :)

Here's a thought: what if all of you sent this link to a couple friends on Facebook today? And asked that each of them send the blog along to one or two people they thought might enjoy it, or who could use a little motivation for getting back to their mat?

Photo via FYeahYoga.

My invitation to you: invite your friends, build up the blog following to 100, and then let's part-ay! No, really. Seriously! 

We'll all dress up in glittery, sequin-y outfits after yoga class and go out on the town for fancy coffee drinks. Or do whatever else you want. :)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Gratitude

Photo via Kirsten's awesome yoga blog.

A while back (on Black Friday to be exact!), fellow Bikram yoga blogger Kirsten won this kick-ass sarcastic "some like it hot" towel from me (via Yoga with Style).

Look at this sweet graphic she made!

Such a lovely thank you "note."

I love when people show their gratitude in creative ways. Happy weekend everyone!

Focus Forward Friday: Do More Than Bikram

Photos via Google and the Breakti website. Go Anya!

Focus Forward Friday: 
A weekly ritual for deepening your practice.

Today's focus: trying new styles. Have you ever taken a hot Vinyasa flow class? Or tried Forrest yoga? What about Breakti? I bet you'd be up for a little breakdancing along with your yoga flow. I certainly would!

This month I've been adventuring around Chicago to new studios, and my body has been thanking me for trying new postures, meeting new teachers, and mixing it up on the mat.

I highly recommend you expand your Bikram practice with a few other classes each week. Often studios have intro specials or free community classes if your budget is an issue. You can always contact teachers and studio owners, too, and see if you can work something out.

If you've tried a new style you love, share a comment below! I'd love to hear how expanding your practice has helped your yoga, physically and mentally. I'd also love to hear if you have a favorite yoga book or DVD you're into lately.

I'll be sharing some stories very soon about practicing at a California Bikram studio, at TruHarmony Chicago (vinyasa), and at YogaNow Chicago (a Forrest class). Stay tuned!

Namaste and happy Friday, all. Enjoy your yoga!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

In the Beyond Childhood Series: Bellies!

Photo via Rummey Bears, one of my favorites. Mama Bear (Anna Rummey) is a wonderful mom. She posts about Baby Bear all the time and used to feature gorgeous belly shots like this one during her pregnancy. She absolutely glows, don't you think?!

I saw a pregnant lady practicing in the cool corner last night at yoga. There was this shuffle of mats at the beginning of class, so that she could be sure she was in the right spot in the room. (Our studio owner keeps one spot a bit colder so it's easier to manage when you've got a babe on the way.)


Meanwhile, over in the most hot and humid corner of the room, I was melting. Literally. Already a puddle on my mat. It was great.


After class, I noticed that the pregnant lady was hardly pregnant -- she wasn't showing yet at all, no belly there yet. She was glowing, though. Stuart, the studio owner, checked in with her to see how she was feeling. "Better?" he asked. She nodded with a big smile.

It made me wonder: what's it like to experience a Bikram class when you're pregnant? I wonder if the heat and humidity and intensity is almost too much. I imagine it can be a very helpful meditation, though.



I've also heard about moms who experience their baby kicking during the postures.


Now that's meditation, to feel that very flutter of life within you, and still stay in the pose!


Anyway, just wanted to send some love out to all the moms who choose to practice. I know some doctors are pretty wary of hot yoga -- especially during the first trimester -- and you do want to be really careful in class if you've got a little one on the way. As long as you've been practicing consistently for a while, though, you should be all set to continue with your yoga.


The entire Bikram series is slightly altered when you're expecting, too. You do the pregnancy class, not the regular series. (You can buy a DVD of Rajashree Choudhury doing the series if you like!)


If you're practicing at a studio, be sure to check in with your teacher before class just so they know to keep an eye on you. Then follow the pregnancy series guide (not the exact dialogue) and rock your yoga!


Moms who Bikram, you are awesome. I commend you for your hard work and hope to one day join the ranks of ladies who bring their bellies to class. I imagine too that with your meditation, patience and compassion, parenting will be a piece of cake! :)



Photo via Rummey Bears. Isn't Anna a gorgeous mom? She rocks the belly if you ask me.


Are you expecting? Practicing too? I'd love to hear from you about your experience! Leave a comment below or email aliveinthefire at gmail dot com. Namaste and congrats to you and your growing family!

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