Saturday, March 31, 2012

Hug Me Tight

Let's zip away somewhere quiet and hold hands. Then, when no one's looking, I'll steal a kiss and ask you to hug me, squeeze me, hold me tight. We may never go back.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Defying Gravity

This guy has some serious gravity-defying moves on his bike. I'm inspired by his fearlessness, body awareness, and what must be some really flexible joints :)

Thrill seekers, you should also check out this post on skylining (aka the closest humans can come to flying). Eeeek! 

Have an adventuresome weekend, all.

Returning to the Heat: My Recent Bikram Adventure

 Photos via Pinterest.

Last weekend I took a Bikram class, my first in quite a few months. I arrived a little later than I wanted to, and rushed in to find a spot.

Sweaty yogis lined the room, familiar faces I have missed. I set up on the hot side, feeling brave, wiggling into my hips a few times before class started.

The teacher pushed us hard. Pranayama lit me up inside; I could feel the glow of fresh oxygen in my lungs. I felt strong through Half Moon, Hands to Feet, Awkward and Eagle. I took my tiny sip of water during "Party Time" and smiled, thinking about all the systems in my body working together to create the sweaty magic that Bikram brings.

The balancing poses of the standing series kicked my butt. I hadn't done Balancing Stick in months! My knees wobbled, the arches of my feet felt weak and achy.

But I listened. I kept going. I let go instead of resisting.

I felt stronger in Triangle than I ever used to, even way back when I was at the Bikram studio up to 5 times a week. I realized it's because I've branched out -- because I've done Vinyasa and Hatha and yin classes -- that other parts of my body have grown stronger than they could only taking Bikram yoga.

I finished class smiling, dripping sweat, wanting more. I'll be back to the Torture Chamber soon :)

I believe in balance. I'm so glad yoga found me, and that I've been blessed to get involved with a number of local Evanston studios. I hope to continue switching up the style of yoga I practice, and I know I'll always come back to Bikram and the healing those 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises have to offer.

What kinds of classes have you been taking lately, yogis?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Quiet Heart, Mind, Soul

Photos by me.
Lately I have been thinking a lot about the power of prayer and yoga. 

When I put them together in my life, I am able to create profound quietness and peace. With a quiet mind and a humble heart, I am more open to spiritual growth.

A simple yoga practice -- even five to ten minutes on my mat -- can help prepare me for more meaningful prayer. Because my body has been rejuvenated by the postures, and my mind made quiet by the breath, I am more ready to spend time in peaceful meditation. 

I am so grateful that yoga helps bring me to a place of spiritual renewal. It is not only a physical practice. My yoga is something more -- a light, a wholeness, a purity that I need and crave. A practice that heals me, a space that allows me to connect with the universal Oneness.

My quiet, beautiful life. My yoga. Namaste.

A quiet mind is all you need. All else will happen rightly, once your mind is quiet. As the sun on rising makes the world active, so does self-awareness affect changes in the mind. In the light of calm and steady self-awareness inner energies wake up and work miracles without effort on your part.  

– Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Wholeness, A Cycle

Photos via my phone.

Returning, coming back. Recurrence. Happiness giving way to suffering.  The habits I repeat. The habits I create. The things I call home. Desire, loss, renewal.

My mind has been working over these things lately. I notice what stays the same, and what has changed as springtime emerges into full bloom. Winter is gone now. When did that happen? I find myself asking it again and again, noticing the colors, the pollen, the sunlight.

 Photos by me.

Today on my bike ride home, I brushed against a bush that has grown into the middle of the sidewalk. For months, the little branches have been bare and prickly and I have swerved to miss them. Now they are green with soft leaves. Evidence of change on the route I take every day.

A few weeks ago before I left town to visit my sister, I watched the sunset out the airport window, pacing the terminal as I waited for my plane. Again when I had returned, I looked out the little window in my seat to find the sun setting in the distance. I felt different, returning home after time away. But the place hadn't changed. The sunset had stayed the same.

So much goes into being whole. What do I need on this day, in this moment? How can I be happy with what I have?

I spend a lot of energy just learning how to let go. Sometimes I stop for a moment to look at the changes I've made, to hold my own self under the light. Growth is not easy, but the sacrifices add up to something that is so worth it I can hardly give them a name.

And so it goes -- in yoga, in my life -- learning over and over how to be OK again.

This post was inspired in part by the emotions I've felt while traveling recently. I often find wholeness in being alone in a quiet space.

I wanted to share this with you since the feelings have been very authentic, and authenticity is something I strive for here on the blog, even if that means writing about being anxious or exhausted.

I hope they inspire you to consider the deeper questions. What makes me whole? How has that changed over time? Where am I today?

Be well.

PS, a poem that's worth a few more minutes of reading, too:

The Albatross

When I know you are coming home
I put on this necklace:
glass beads on a silken thread,
a blue that used to match my eyes.
I like to think I am remembering you.
I like to think you don’t forget.

The necklace lies heavy on my skin,
it clatters when I reach down
to lift my screaming child.
I swing her, roll her in my arms until she forgets.
The beads glitter in the flicker of a TV set
as I sit her on my lap
and wish away the afternoon.

I wait until I hear a gate latch lift
the turn of key in lock.
I sit amongst toys and unwashed clothes,
I sit and she fingers the beads until you speak
in a voice that no longer seems familiar, only strange.
I turn as our child tugs at the string.
I hear a snap and a sound like falling rain.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Climbing Trees

My Own Hands from Land and Sky Media on Vimeo.

With spring all around us, it's time to celebrate the natural beauty of the world. If you climbed trees as a kid, you've got to check out this video. Doesn't it inspire you to get outside and walk barefoot in the grass, or even dare to try climbing again? :)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Ahnu Karmas: My Favorite New Shoes for Springtime Adventures

Spring has sprung! It has been beautiful here lately. So beautiful, in fact, that I have no need for heavy boots or thick winter socks any more. I've broken out my spring wardrobe... and perfectly in time to wear skirts and lightweight leggings with my new Ahnu Karma shoes! 

All photos by me.

I fell in love with the Ahnu brand right away. I love their "walk new ground" philosophy, and that they sell shoes that inspire adventure whether it's on a hiking trail or on the way to yoga class.

As soon I received the box with my yoga-chic Karma shoes, I slipped them on and was happy to realize that not only are they stylish, but they are also the one of the most comfortable pairs of shoes I've ever worn. 

The leather and suede they're made out of is flexible, soft and supple -- and the experience of wearing them on Day 1 was like putting on a pair of my favorite shoes I've owned for years! :)

The Karma style is great to wear with a skirt or pants, whether I'm biking to work, walking to yoga class, or exploring Evanston to take pictures of what's in bloom at the park and along the lakefront.


A peaceful walk in the springtime air. Soft light, soft steps, and a light heart. Thanks, Ahnu, for inspiring the bright, clean energy of spring in me! Namaste.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Living out of Love

There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. 

We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.
- John Lennon, found on Julia Lee Yoga

This quote really resonates with me. Sometimes I struggle with fear, loneliness and sadness... but when I take a step back and live my life with gratitude, the beauty comes through. All the things I absolutely adore about my life, big and small, become impossible to ignore.

What are you grateful for this week? 

Have you experienced the difference between living life out of fear and living it out of love? May this little post be a reminder of the love I have for all of you, readers :)


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Happy Spring!

Welcome, springtime! It's so good to have you here (officially). I feel the warm air is charged with new energy, and I am more at peace when the sun shines all day and I can keep the windows open at night. Plus, I'm a big fan of iced coffee, green leaves, blossoming flowers, and the sense of renewal and hope that spring offers. :)

The world feels alive with possibility at this time of year, and for that I am grateful.

I'll be posting more soon about my lovely weekend away and how I've returned refreshed and ready for some springtime cleaning and detoxing in my yoga practice. How is your first week of spring going, readers?

All photos via Pinterest.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Blogging Break

Photo by my dad. 

Friends, I'm headed out to North Carolina for the weekend to visit my twin sis, and I'm going to take a little blogging break while I'm out of town.

It will be wonderful to have some much needed R&R as we celebrate our birthday together, play with my nephew, get pedicures, and just enjoy the weekend. I can't wait to listen to calm music on the plane ride there, stay up late talking, and have a nap in the sunshine the next day. Hope you have a beautiful weekend, and I'll see you next week! XO

Photos via Pinterest and Andrew and Carissa 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Sweaty Betty Sale

Photo illustration by me; product images from Sweaty Betty.

Hey friends! Hope you're enjoying a beautiful spring week. I can't believe how warm it is here in Chicagoland... last night as I rode home from yoga, it was 80 degrees outside!

Speaking of warm temperatures... I wanted to remind you that Sweaty Betty is having a lovely weekend sale starting today and running through Monday, March 19th. You can save up to half off of some awesome yoga wear, running clothes, and more.

Hope you'll check it out, my fashionable yoginis! XO
PS Here's my review of Sweaty Betty if you haven't read it yet.

Learning How To Be Alone

Photo via Pinterest.

Being alone is one of those things that sometimes comes naturally to me, but not always. I enjoy a little time to myself then and again: I feel pretty good taking solitary walks, or sitting in a coffee shop, or being home alone and writing or doing yoga.

As a yogi, I am grateful that the practice of asana and of meditation have taught me how to feel comfortable in my own body. Yoga has helped me learn to accept myself for who I am.

Photo via Andrew and Carissa.

But occasionally I feel it's easy to get lonely. Even though I'm an introvert, I don't want to be the only one in the room.

I want the comfort of a close friend, or a hug. I want a shoulder to cry on, or maybe someone silly to laugh with. I just don't want to feel alone.

Photo via Pinterest.

Do you get lonely sometimes? What helps you through?

PS Wouldn't it be daring to take a vacation by yourself? I loved this Cup of Jo post about taking a trip solo. I think I would enjoy it (at least, if there were beaches!). Here's another awesome video about how to enjoy solitude. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Standing on My Own Two Feet

 Photos by Tyler Branch.

I am continuously inspired by what's real, and by what on the surface seems ordinary.

A daydream, a glimmer of hope. Light through a window. A few minutes on my yoga mat. The heart opening forward as the spine arches backward. Balance, synchronicity.

Coming to terms with my own needs, my strange desires and dreams. Letting others in, little by little. Learning to let go.

Photo via Pinterest.

Finding the way forward: half the time by suprise, the other half by accident.

Sometimes I am amazed by how easily I can stand on my own two feet.

Photo by me.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Sweaty Betty Yoga Wear

Photos by me.

Sweaty Betty is a women's fitness clothing company based in the UK. They make beautiful women's athletic wear, including clothing for yoga, running, gym workouts, swimming, tennis and even skiing. I recently had the pleasure of testing out their lovely ballerina cami and kriya tights.

Both the tank and the leggings fit like a dream. Sweaty Betty's fabrics are high-quality, stretchy, and super soft, which left me feeling cozy and comfortable throughout my workout.  

And get this: the cami has a built-in bra and is made with natural, anti-bacterial bamboo which actually helps prevent odor. Not to mention the back has a criss-cross design with interlaced straps that totally show off my tattoo. It's basically my new favorite yoga top :)


Not only did I not have to worry about wearing a sports bra while doing yoga at home, but I also discovered that the ballerina cami doubles as an awesome undershirt for everyday styles, like at the office! 

I am totally wearing this shirt while out and about again soon, and may just have to keep it as my #1 pick for days when I'm going straight to yoga after work.

Overall I am very pleased with both the ballerina cami top and the kriya tights. Wearing them makes me feel energized, empowered, and stylish. I'll admit: now, before I even start my yoga routine, I dance around my living room a bit when I've got them on, reliving my days of doing leaps and turns on my high school dance team :)

I encourage all you beautiful yoginis to check out Sweaty Betty's latest offerings. As you may know, I'm an affiliate with them and hope you'll place orders through Alive in the Fire as a way of supporting the blog. Simply click any of the links in this post, or use the right-side Sweaty Betty banner on the homepage to get to their site. As always, feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Namaste!