Jump for Joy

Photo by Shelby Tanner via The Cozyhunter.
I know, I know, lots of photos posted on the blog today. But look how lovely these are! I couldn't resist. (And PS, there will be new giveaway excitement soon!)

Photo of the beautiful Lucy by my dear friend Cassi.

Rawr! Photo by Cassi.

The greatest.  I really wonder what happened in the next second :) Photo by Cassi.

Super cozy. Photo via Andrew and Carissa.


Are you bundled? Jumping for joy? Enjoying your pup? 


Hope it's all of the above. (That'll be me in 24 hours!)

California Dreamin'

Photos via Sarah Rhoads.  


Hello, barefoot days in California. I'm ready for you! 


I also can't wait to... play with my Zekester, take walks to the park, drive around to see the Christmas lights, have yoga dates with Lo and a Bikram born-again reunion at BYGB, catch up with my girls, and cook in my mom's kitchen.


Sleeping in. Tahoe snow. New Year's Eve sailing in the San Francisco Bay.


It's party time! T-minus 24 hours til California.

Spread Some Cheer

Oh, to be home for the holidays. Photo via Andrew and Carissa.

Let's balance out that last post with some lovely images from around the Web that will get you smiling. Here's hoping your morning has been full of festivity, exquisite skies, and snowy adventures! 

A view of last night's eclipse. Photo via Pacing the Panic Room.

Winter wonderland! Photos via Krisatomic

Headspin, Tailspin, Plunge: A Holiday Check-In

You can only hide from your own yoga practice for so long. Photo via DearDear.

I have to say, it's been one heck of a holiday season so far! Busy busy busy bees. I buzz around from work to home, from the Midwest to the Caribbean, from wake to sleep.


All this travel, eating out, and getting caught with a yucky cough has affected my Bikram practice. Tonight I found myself in the Torture Chamber feeling a little chubbier and a lot tanner than usual, hoping that class would go smoother than Sunday's.


I lucked out: my body decided to work together with me, so instead of chasing my breath around the room I was able to connect with it, utilize my nostrils, and complete every posture.


A week away from Bikram and you might start to feel like this. Photo via Etsy's Tumblr.

I felt great, especially considering after the last two classes I seriously thought I'd go a month before completing every asana again. While I've felt incredible and super-energized after classes since I returned from Puerto Rico, I must admit that those 90-minute meditations have been hard


I often find myself out of breath, overwhelmed. I set up in the last row by the beginners, wondering where has my Bikram yoga gone?


I think the worst part about playing catch up is that I seem to have lost the Bengal Tiger strength and bulldog determination part of the yoga. I get frustrated by the little things, and quickly. I get distracted easily.


I find my eyes wandering around the room, comparing myself to other yogis. I tell myself I need to push harder, be better, be able to execute the postures like I did a month ago instead of listening to my body today.


I slip and slide, overindulge, feel discouraged.


At work, I let the little mistakes I make get to me, I let them be reasons to dislike my own Self. At home, I can feel distant when I don't communicate about my needs or exhausted when I over-work. Then when I take a day off, I feel guilty.


Welcome to the holidays, right?


Photos via A Desert Fete. 


Do you ever get the sense that this is a time of year where your expectations are highest and your ability to meet them is at an all-time low? I know I'm exaggerating here, but I just want to make the point that despite the eggnog lattes and silver bows, December can be a rough month -- emotionally, financially, physically. For singles and couples, individuals and families. 


We're all trying to do so much, and if we're not practicing our yoga, it's hard to do anything at all.


It's easy to over-eat, over-spend, and over-plan all the wintery celebrations and decorations.


Just think: all those holiday parties with their mini wieners and meatballs, their shrimp dip and crackers, their champagne punch! Speaking from experience here. And it was delicious, let me tell you! :)


Alright, so I do think that celebrating with special food and drink and super awesome company is a must of the holiday season. But if that celebrating really leaves you feeling empty or lonely or overweight, I highly recommend you try to make up for it in the Hot Room.


Eat, drink, be merry, and then do your yoga! Commit to the 90 minutes. Sit down when you need a break.


Find the community at your studio, too, and enjoy it. Meet people; chat in the locker rooms; get together (for healthy food and drink) after class! When you can truly connect to other dedicated Bikram yogis around you, the experience of the postures becomes different -- fuller, more meaningful, more well-rounded. You find yourself with someone to talk to about the ways the yoga applies to life outside the hot box, and sharing those reflections can change your life (and your practice).


Keep an eye on your yoga, or it might sneak away from you.

Don't get me wrong: I don't want this post to imply that I'm suffering this month, or even this holiday season. I'm simply attuned to those who are, and the moments which sometimes make December and January feel like a mudslide. 

I'm a very happy yogi right now. I've been so, so lucky and incredibly blessed with the stuff I have going on. I could not be more surrounded by loving people, either. 

Even in the Hot Room, a place that's felt distant lately, I have a lot to be grateful for. My Standing Bow has improved a ton, probably in part because I spent all my free moments in Puerto Rico taking photos of that posture on the beach. :) I'm also learning to enjoy the first set of postures, and really treat it like a warm-up instead of a race to the finish line. I'm learning what it means to slow down so that I can keep doing the yoga at a steady pace rather than needing a break and missing out on postures.

I'm realizing more and more that without the yoga, I can't quite handle it all. I'm learning what I need to do to make Bikram a priority, even when the holidays bring madness. And I'm hoping that you're doing the same. 

Here's to keeping Christmas week and New Year's stress-free, yoga-filled, and rich with love, light and happiness!

Find your bliss. And hold on to it with all you've got. 

Namaste,
Rachel

And once you've done your yoga, relax! That's what I plan to do soon as I'm home in CA.

Oak Park Chicago Yogis: Win Free Bikram!

Photo via Dudes Doing Yoga.

Yogis and yoginis of Chicago, I know you want free Bikram. 

I know you do. So leave a little comment in the box below and you could win!

I never heard from the lady who was picked for this giveaway, so I'm reopening it. 

Get a whole free week of Bikram at 105 Yoga in Oak Park by leaving a comment below with your favorite posture. Then dance and jump for joy like this, because you could win!

Photo via Hello Mr. Fox.
Almost forgot. We've got a winner for the lovely White Iguana leggings and fun Clive Does Yoga print. (Can you tell it's giveaway fever around here at Alive in the Fire?! I feel like my brains are on fire with giveaway excitement on a daily basis.) 

Anyway! Congrats to Pam. Please contact me with your email and I'll put you in touch with the sellers!

Real Men Do Yoga: Hans Park


Time for our next yogi in the Real Men Do Yoga Series!

I'd like to introduce you to Hans Park, who attends class at Bikram Yoga Metrotown in Vancouver, British Columbia. You can find him on Flickr and Twitter. This is his story.

Now that's some core strength. I can only imagine Hans' handstands!

I've been practicing Bikram yoga for about 25 hours (it makes me laugh to describe it way).  In all seriousness, though, I've been practicing for six weeks and have completed about 17 classes.  I had known about the yoga for quite some time but decided to take advantage of a sale at a Bikram studio close to where I live.  


$20 for 15 classes within 30 days? Too good of a deal to pass up.  


I figured there would be one of three outcomes: 1) I figure out I don't really like the yoga, 2) I really like it and want to continue, or 3) I fall over after attempting to maintain a posture and hilarity would ensue.  


I found the result was a combination of #2 and #3.  I really enjoy Bikram and I do fall over attempting to maintain some of the postures... but there is no hilarity, just a lot of concentration and sweating, of course.  I ended up using up all of the classes within the 30 day limit.  Before the end of my trial the studio had a one day sale so I took advantage of this and bought a 25 class package at 50% off the regular price everything kind of fell into place! 

The heat itself doesn't bother me as I've spent quite a bit of time working in hot countries in Asia and Africa.  At first I found it challenging to get through each class but now I’m finding the challenge is getting through each posture.  


That being said, I see improvements with each class.  I can't say I feel any less manly doing this and often get told by people that they are surprised to hear that I go to classes regularly.  


I noticed a marked improvement in certain exercises at the gym and I sleep better, and likely have found other benefits I haven’t noticed yet.  My mom also mentioned that my complexion was better too (Thanks Mom, haha!).  Last but not least, I enjoy hearing about the different experiences the other people in class have and also learning about the different backgrounds the teachers come from.

Hans


Sounds like Hans will be hitting the heat for a while! As a thank you for his submission, Alive in the Fire will be offering Hans the chance to choose a prize from several awesome Etsy sellers. If you submit, you can win a tasty treat, lovely soap, or other surprise too!


Want to read more about men who aren't afraid of the Torture Chamber? Check out Joe's story or how you can submit your own.


Photo via Dudes Doing Yoga.

How to Make a Happy Yogi: Christmas Gift Ideas for Your Awkward Friends & Downward Dogs

Time to glow. Photo via Scout and Catalogue.

 
All tangled? Simple gift ideas here. Photo via Wikstenmade.
Still shopping?

Here are some quick ideas for what to get your yogi friends, and your not-yet-yogi friends who need converting.


And a holiday reminder to all: it's about the love, not the cash you spend!
  • A Pranayama breathing app. Ever wished you could take a moment to breathe and not freak out? Well, here you are. Yoga breathing techniques on-the-go. Recently reviewed over at Daily Cup of Yoga.

  • Red Leaf bar soap for guys. This Etsy shop has the best masculine suds around. Packaging comes in holiday colors, too!
  • For those first-row kind of sexy Bikram girls you know: a ruffle bra from Need Supply Co! This looks super comfy, too.
Photo via Couture Boudoir.
  •  A sexy boudoir session from a local Chicago photographer like Couture BoudoirLaura Meyer or Kara Schultz. Give your man some sexy photos as a surprise!
  • Grey bootie shoes from Osborn that make a comfortable and cozy alternative to winter boots.
  • A beautiful Le Creuset french oven pan for the foodies you love (and love to invite over for potlucks!) via Cookware.
  • A yoga music CD.
  • A yoga shirt for your puppy, and a visit to this dog-friendly studio / cafe. I wasn't kidding about the gift ideas for your downward dogs thing! :)
  • A gift certificate to your favorite studio so you and your friends can yoga together.
  • Some VitaCoco, Ultima Replenisher and Kashi bars for a pre- or post-workout snack that replenishes and rehydrates.

What yogi gifts are on your wish list this year?
Snuggle up out there! Photo via Scout and Catalogue.

Saturday Giveaway: Sexy Yoga Wear & Sudsy Soap

 
High-performance, stylish yoga wear from Iluka Activewear. Win it!

It's the Saturday before Christmas. Crazy! That means: time to win more stuff for the Winter Extravaganza here on Alive in the Fire, of course!


Strapped for cash but don't want to ask for fancy yoga outfits (again) from your man? Craving  something stylish and practical in the Hot Room?


Hello, Iluka Activewear! Iluka was born out of the desire to create a line of products for yogis who want functional and flattering outfits while working out whether they are doing Bikram, spinning, running, or hitting up the gym.


For today's Winter Extravaganza giveaway, Alive in the Fire is offering a lucky reader the above Bellissima Tie Side Shorts (in Bettie Wild print) and the Phat Buddha Lace Back Bra in black (more than a $100 deal!). I know, I know: you're beaming. :)


Go ahead, check out what size you'd need here and leave a comment below! Be sure to check out PS Products from Etsy too.


Stylish soap to rinse off with after class! Mmm, and it's peppermint.

So of course after you've taken class in your stylish Iluka wear, you'll want to rinse off with something equally as awesome. Hello, PS Products soap! Parish Studio Products carries a bunch of delicious holiday flavors including this peppermint creme (with dish) which you can win.

Each soap is about 2.5 oz and they make great stocking stuffers, hostess gifts, and guest soaps. Plus, you can keep these lovely little ones dry by using one of these well draining soap dishes! Each soap dish is 3.5" x 4.5" and is made out of reclaimed cedar and finished with linseed oil and is cut to allow water to drain through the dish and away from your soap so it will last longer. 


More from Tara, the owner of PS Products, about her soaps: 
I started making soap about a year ago when my Mom told me she would like to start making them, but didn't have the time with all of her other crafty hobbies.  At the same time my husband and I had been using a very expensive soap that we both loved but could no longer afford and couldn't find a cheaper alternative that lived up to our standards.  So, that's when I decided that even if I started making soap and it wasn't a hit, I would be filling a need for me and my husband as well as some family members who thought homemade soap was a great idea! I made and sold soap for a while to family and friends and then put the project on the back burner to welcome our son Asher in May of this year.  

Now that I'm a stay-at-home mom I really saw the benefit to opening an Etsy shop to help supplement our income as well as having a creative outlet and fulfilling a need that everybody has! I love to create, and I hope to add some things to my Etsy shop in the near future that show some of my other creative outlets.  

To win the super sexy outfit and sudsy peppermint soap, please check out Iluka Activewear and PS Products on Etsy and leave a comment below about how you'd enjoy each.

Sexy yoga. Photos via Brandy Lyn Winfield who teaches at Bikram Yoga Summerlin.

Practice, Not Perfect Execution

Photos via Brandy Lyn Winfield, an incredible yogini who won the 2010 Bishnu Charan Ghosh Cup and who teaches at Bikram Yoga Summerlin in Las Vegas, NV.

How many times does a Yoga Asana Championship-winning yogi practice a posture before taking home that trophy?

You'll never know. They lost count.

Or better yet, they never counted to begin with. Because it wasn't about the number of times they got it right. It was about trying again. Doing the best they could. Letting go of the rest.

Taking flight.

I recently read a lovely blog post by Bikram yogi Hannah over at Hannah Just Breathe about how there is always something we can learn from our practice. Even if we mess up and eat right before class, sitting in savasana can teach us to prepare better next time. Even if we've been to Teacher Training and back, we have more to learn from our instructors and the yogis around us about how to focus, how to let go, how to have fun.

Whether it's our first class or our 100th in a challenge, we are practicing strength and getting better by letting go of expectations instead of demanding perfection of ourselves.

As Hannah's teacher said, "Each time you come, each time you practice, you learn something new, about your body or yourself or the yoga.  It is the practice that’s important, not the perfect execution.”

Next time you get overwhelmed by your own mistakes, or frustrated by your yoga performance, I challenge you to reconsider the way you define your practice. Are you at the studio to experience the yoga and to detox your body and mind, or to impress your fellow yogis by executing the posture perfectly?

Will you fix your hair and shorts and wipe sweat so you look OK, or let it go and get down to business?

Who are you making eye contact with in the mirror -- your neighbor or your own steady gaze?

Do you bring home pride, or humility after class?

I was so proud of Joanna over at Lock the Knee when I read her recent post about how well she took disappointment when competing in regional yoga championships did not go exactly as planned. Basically, she didn't hit her Standing Bow the way she had been hoping to, and practicing for, but that didn't mean she was about to give up. And in case you were wondering, she's got a killer Standing Bow:
A true Bikram yogi and teacher. I mean, this lady's got it goin' on.

Instead of slinking off-stage, Juliana took her time completing the rest of the postures she had been practicing (as she says, "because at this point I didn't really care about the clock and I was still on stage in front of a whole ton of people.  I might as well do something nice before hanging up my leotard until next year!").

Sarcasm aside, instead of freaking out or getting upset, J was able to laugh off what didn't go as well as she hoped it would -- and she even posted about it on her blog in one of the most hilarious throwbacks to the awesome web comic Hyperbole and a Half I've ever read. She had fun, she did some great yoga, and she took home no regrets -- she practiced being calm and carrying on! -- and for that, The Dancing J should be super proud.

As should Hannah, her wise instructor, and the novice yogi who he counseled about coming to class on and empty stomach.

With these inspiring Bikram yogis in mind, I challenge you to reconsider your habits at the studio, and your true motives for engaging in this practice called yoga.

Next time you find yourself whining at yourself in the mirror about how you didn't achieve that last inch of depth in Half Moon, or how you didn't get your chin to shoulder in Standing Bow before falling out, shut your brain up.

Relax.

Bikram yoga is about practice, not perfect execution.

I love how delicate her toes are in this picture. So beautiful! You can believe it took some practice to get to this perfect execution.

Focus Forward Friday: Share Your Story

Photo by farm1.static on Flickr Photo via Dudes Doing Yoga.

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

Today's focus: the Real Men Do Yoga series! I couldn't be more excited about launching this new feature on Alive in the Fire and I highly encourage you to write in and participate. Comment on the stories. Think about how gender affects our yoga, how we can change stereotypes, how we can make yoga an inviting and non-judgmental practice.

Then share your thoughts!

Have you considered your yoga story and what makes your practice unique? How has yoga transformed you?

Photo via Dudes Doing Yoga. Seriously, if you can do this, you need to write in!

I'm especially looking for guys who yoga to tell their story about life on the mat and what it's like being in the minority (or not) in class. I'd also love to hear from women who have compelling opinions about gender and yoga, who have guy friends and family who practice, or who have respect for their fellow male instructors and yogis.

I want the Real Men Do Yoga series to be electric and dynamic. I want it to get people talking, whether they practice or not (and maybe it'll bring someone to the mat who otherwise never would have planned to try yoga). I want it to be an ongoing conversation between yogis in a respectful, open and creative environment.

Most of all, I want to hear from you! Get talkin'.

Photo via Dudes Doing Yoga.

Love in the Everyday

Photo via Paolo Zerbini.
A reader recently posted about how she enjoys the fact that my blog embraces the everyday. She said she can appreciate it even though she's not a yogi because I post about simple, real things in my life.


I was super honored, excited and inspired by that idea.


Sometimes I am in awe of the little wonderful moments we encounter on days that might outwardly seem dull.


We catch the light in the kitchen illuminating the steam from beneath a pot on the stove.


Photo via Age Old Tree.

We do our yoga again, and are transformed by it. Again.

Photo via Jose Villa.

We share a kiss.

Photo via OnceWed.

We discover a puppy in a tuxedo.

The unusual within the everyday makes me smile. You?

Thursday Giveaway: Yoga Leggings & A Zany Print


These Steven Brahms prints in his "Evasion" series are crazy awesome and quite manly.

To continue our week of all things masculine, for today's giveaway Alive in the Fire brings you some awesome White Iguana sport leggings and a clever "Clive Does Yoga" photo print from BAClori on Etsy. 

These White Iguana Apparel leggings are great for yoga, running, biking and more.
To win both, see below for more info! Both guys and girls are encouraged to enter (ladies, these would be a wonderful holiday gift for your man!).

Three "Clive Does Yoga" 5x7 prints from BAClori on Etsy.

Allie Yoko, the owner of White Iguana Apparel, started the sport clothing line based on her passion for living an eco-friendly lifestyle. As said in one of the company's press releases, "What started out as a class project turned into a real-life career calling for graphic design student-turned athletic apparel entrepreneur, Allie Yoko. The 24-year old Chicago resident has taken her eye for design and her passion for an eco-friendly lifestyle and turned it into one of the country’s first bamboo-made line of athletic clothing.


'I loved the idea of bamboo clothing,' says Allie, 'but hated the thought of having it manufactured overseas, so I was determined to find domestic manufacturer.'

Mission accomplished, White Iguana Apparel is not only eco-friendly but it is 100% made in the U.S.A.

Armed with a passion for fashion and a desire to help others find easy ways to make their lives more eco-friendly, Allie was determined to make her dream a reality."

In the company's stylish logo, you can see Allie's creative eye for design.

More from Allie on her products:

Our leggings are designed to keep you comfortable while living your life. They are lightweight and will keep you warm while resisting odor and wicking away moisture. The leggings are full-length and fit closely to your body to keep you feeling warm and dry without itching or chafing. You hardly notice that you have them on but will feel incredibly fresh all day and night since our organic microfiber bamboo leggings are also naturally antimicrobial. They provide excellent breathability and you wont get an ugly red rash that inexpensive competitors' leggings give you. They are the perfect base layer for biking, hiking, snow sports, running, dancing, working out, yoga and wearing under a dress for a night on the town. Our leggings are made from 94% viscose from organic bamboo and 6% spandex, which makes them amazingly soft. This moisture management fabric keeps you dry and comfortable.


On the company's environmentally-friendly approach and holiday plans:
Basically, we are a company that cares about the environment, about being healthy and being active and we wanted to create a product that would help others in doing the same!

For the holidays, we just want our product to be shared with as many people as possible. We have great products and we want everyone to get to experience them. We plan on having sales (going on right now) to make things even more affordable for people holiday shopping!

In the coming year, we hope to get our products in more stores and out to as many customers as possible. We are looking forward to continue growing our brand and sharing it with the world.

Enjoy connecting with Allie and the White Iguana brand by visiting their store for some shopping, connecting on Facebook or Twitter, or reading their stellar blog.

Also, be sure to check out the store's great sale items!


Next in the giveaway is a group of photographs by artsy Etsy seller BAClori featuring Clive the yoga model in a set of three 5x7 photos.

Her description of the fun and wacky pictures:
"Clive Does Yoga" is a group of photographs using a relatively posable art model doll that I have dubbed "Clive" as he works his way through a series of basic yoga poses.  I find the series to be quite calming and soothing, mostly because when you look at Clive, you don't assign an instant judgement to a figure who has no expression making it easier to enjoy the poses (even if they are a bit rigid!).  

Lori's description of the shop:
Basement Art Creations is original photography by Lori O'Connor shaped by imagination, inspiration, exhilaration, procrastination, distraction and a pretty good sized slice of insomnia!

A few other prints from the shop.
Lori on what inspires her photography:
I enjoy having to scoot right up to an object and take a closer look.  I admire detail.  I like finding something brilliant from the simple and uncluttered.  I feel I have found my niche taking photos of things that you might not normally look at twice, but when photographed, you may want them hanging on your wall just so you can smile at them!  

On her yoga practice:
Like Clive, I am also quite stiff at times as I stretch to learn new poses... but I enjoy the calm and meditative state you can find when you quiet your mind and body!

I love Lori's unique and witty style and her willingness to turn the mundane into something playful. Pair these photos up with the pair of athletic leggings and you'll be super inspired to practice yoga through the new year!

To enter the giveaway contest, please:
Also, please tell your guy friends to enter and be sure to check out our Real Men Do Yoga series and consider submitting your story. Many thanks to Whit Conway, my desk neighbor at work, for putting me in touch with Allie. Namaste!

Congrats to Catherine for winning the lovely duende74 party top and the Lindsay Satchell scorpion print. Will be emailing you shortly to put you in touch with the vendors!

Beards, Adventures and Chocolate


Just found this video via Honest Fare, one of my favorite food bloggers, and had to share. These guys could totally pass for pirates as well as chocolate makers! Plus, the Mast Brothers have a masculine strength and fascinating intellect that fits perfectly with the new Real Men Do Yoga series, I say.

Their story is beautiful, their beards impressive, and their philosophy spot-on. As one brother says, "Everything roots back to our love affair with the spirit of craft." From their chocolates to the papers that wrap them, to their restored printing press and the sailboats that carry their cocoa beans, the brothers are inspired by the handcrafted items that surround them.

Super cool chocolate makers. Photo from The Mast Brothers Facebook page.

Even more awesome: they aren't looking to produce anything en mass. It's all intricate, detailed, original. As they say, "We're looking for an inconsistent product so your taste buds are not only enjoying the sensuality of (the chocolate), but they're also learning." Every bar is its own little joy!

Chocolate with the adventurousness of a Mark Twain story. Chocolate made with adventure, curiosity, and spirit. I love it! 

Check out their Brooklyn chocolate shop, their Facebook, and their sweet blog. Hope you get a bar in your stocking!

Real Men Do Yoga: Joseph Barilla

Photo by my talented friend Emily.

Remember a long, long time ago when I mentioned an upcoming series about guys who rock their yoga practice? The time has come for our first post! I'm excited to introduce our first yogi in the Real Men Do Yoga series: Joseph Barilla.

Joe is a Bikram yogi who started his practice at the studio in Carle Place, NY and who now attends classes at Rockville Centre, NY. You can find him on Facebook here. This is his story.

Quite a tall Triangle Pose!

I have been practicing Bikram yoga on and off for four years. It is the first yoga I tried and I was immediately hooked on the heat, the challenge, and the unique perspective on life that the yoga provides. My favorite postures are Standing Bow Pose and Camel Pose.

I never felt it was an issue to do yoga as a man. I just did it. Liked it. Did it more. Hated it for making me feel stupid or terrible sometimes. Did it more. Liked it more for making me feel terrible, realizing I had stuff to clean up inside my body and in my life as well. 

I don't feel any more or less manly practicing yoga. To all the guys who mock the yoga dudes, I say, "I will out-dance and out-live you!"

I do some of the poses at home, but its not the same thing. Besides, I get a kick out of watching people that are about to pass out.  I will admit, though, I usually have that look on my face. Working on it. Have been for four years. I feel as if I just started yesterday.

I will attend the training soon. It's been on my mind for a couple of years now. I'm not sure how I feel about Bikram's rule about not wearing green at the training because it's his least favorite color. (It happens to be my favorite color.) But...I can deal, I suppose. Nine weeks of doing Bikram yoga twice a day will most likely make me focus on other things, like trying to stay alive. ;)

I'm at a transition phase of my life. I wish, I pray, I yell, I dream about attending the training in California. I'm not really sure of anything right now and it's a little scary not knowing what my future will look like. But the training is something I would like to attend within the next year. 

Namaste,
Joseph

Be a man. Do yoga. And then submit to Alive in the Fire about it. Photo by Steven Brahms.

Guys, submit your yoga story to be part of the series! Whether you do Bikram or any other style, I'd love to hear from you. Email aliveinthefire @ gmail [dot] com today!

Exciting note: I'm not positive yet, but I'm hoping to do special giveaways for the guys who submit, so get yours in early. :)

Middle of the Week Laughter

My December in a nutshell, pretty much! Comic fromIndexed.

Ever heard of Indexed? It's a wonderfully silly blog with the best Venn diagrams around. This one was perfect for this December.


Thanks, Puerto Rico, for your biobays. And thanks, Evanston, for all your twinkly lights!


Oh, I love the holidays!


Here are a few other recent faves from the comic. They are really quite clever, and some super poignant, too!


Isn't this amazingly true? Comic from Indexed.

This is why I enjoy those photos that show the everyday. Comic from Indexed.
True in the Hot Room, true in life. Comic from Indexed.

Do you read any funnies? (I'm also a huge fan of XKCD and Texts from Last Night. If you need a laugh, stop over at either!)


 Comics from Texts from Last Night.


Oh, and just because I hope it will make you smile... a cupcake from last night. :) Thanks Linds, for our awesome gluten-free bakery date at Rose's! Yum. Happy Wednesday, all!


Minneapolis Giveaway: Soulful Soap


 
More intriguing photos by Minneapolis photographer Alec Soth.
Our other Minneapolis giveaway features Sacred Suds soaps. You can find them on Etsy as well as their main website products page.

The shop owner Andrea is offering one reader an Om orange, mandarin and cedar soap.


Tune in. Transcend worldly worries and attune with universal bliss with this soap inspired by Om (or Aum), sacred Hindu syllable representing the Absolute. When intoned, Om connects our deepest self to the All, the world-soul. This soap is crafted using the hot process method of soap making, and as with all of our yoga soaps, the glycerin and skin-conditioning oils contained in the Om bar create a luxurious lather that will leave your skin soft, supple, and deliciously moisturized. This soap is a favorite for meditation and yoga practice, and is a suitable unisex soap for both men and women.

Andrea's description of the shop:
Sacred Suds is inspired by my belief that by giving something our attention, either through prayer, meditation, or the simple ritual of mindful bathing, we give it power to grow and manifest in our lives. My mission with Sacred Suds is to provide soulful soaps that help channel positive energies into our customers' lives. I craft the soaps with intention using cues, like scent and colored labels, to help tune in to certain feelings, like joy, passion, and confidence. In harmony with the sacred intent of the soaps, I am committed to non-violence in the crafting of our products. Sacred Suds soaps are earth-friendly, cruelty-free, detergent-free, and dye-free, and I am proud that our soaps now contain organic, orangutan-safe palm oil.


More on yoga and what inspires Andrea to create:
When I lived in Florida, I had an incredible yoga instructor, and her class was the highlight of my week.  She taught a Power Yoga class that pulled from Ashtanga, and I am now hooked on the powerful progression of that Vinyasa style.  During Savasana, she would rub her hands with peppermint oil and come around to each of us to smooth our brows and give a quick temple massage.  That peppermint oil compelled me to breathe deeply, and it inspired the Prana soap.  More soaps soon followed, including Om, Ganesha, Laughing Buddha, and Kuan Yin.  I have created all of these soaps with the hope that they will help you carry the benefits of Yoga from your mat into your life. 

I have not yet found another instructor now that I've moved to the Twin Cities, so if anyone has any ideas, I'm open to them!  I currently practice at home using some of my favorite DVD's (Yoga Shakti with Shiva Rea, Total Yoga with Ganga White and Tracey Rich, and Power Yoga with Beryl Bender Birch), but I hope to find another class.  Being in class with an instructor and other students is so much more exciting and energizing than doing the same DVDs over and over again.  




Andrea's tips for keeping clean and smelling great after a sweaty yoga class:  
  • I like to use a wonderful deodorant that my husband makes at home by mixing 1 part baking soda with 6 parts cornstarch.  I apply it using a cosmetic brush, but you could also use a cotton ball or other applicator.  You only need a light dusting, it goes on invisible, it is all natural, and it doesn't stain clothing.  
  • For both your mat and your body, you can make a super easy spray by filling a spray bottle with water and adding 10 to 15 drops of your favorite essential oil.  Lavender, peppermint, pine, and orange essential oils are all very pleasant, cleansing, and energizing.  You can spritz your body if you can't get into the shower right away, and you can also use the spray to spritz your mat and wipe it down after practice.
  • Yoga practice is very purifying to me, and after sweating out all of those impurities, I think it's important to rinse them away in order to retain the cleansing aspect of yoga.  To me, the synthetic detergents and fragrances found in most commercial soaps feel and smell unnatural, and they feel like contaminants.  To maintain the pure feeling that yoga imparts, I recommend using natural handmade soaps, which retain the glycerin of the soap-making process, and that are scented primarily with natural essential oils.  Because essential oils carry aroma therapeutic properties, using soaps scented with essential oils can reinforce the lessons from yoga practice and help smooth the transition from yoga to life.  

To win the Om soap, please:
  • Leave a comment below listing your favorite soap from Sacred Suds.
  • Add Andrea on Twitter and send her a little message.
  • Add Sacred Suds on Facebook.
  • Leave a comment on Andrea's lovely blog.
  • If you go above and beyond by offering Andrea a suggestion for where to practice yoga in Minneapolis, you'll triple your chance to win!
Domestic shipping only. Good luck!

Minneapolis Giveaway: iPhone / iPod Touch Case

 Top photos by Alec Soth.

His "From Here to There" show is being featured at the Minneapolis Walker Art Center 'til January. If you go, write me a guest post!

Happy December, Minneapolis! I'm sad to hear about the Metrodome cave-in, but here's a little something to cheer you up. As a tribute to the Twin Cities, my wonderful cousins and our lovely Thanksgiving trip to MN, I'm featuring TWO giveaways from the land of 10,000 lakes.


What do you love about Minneapolis? 


Our first MN giveaway comes from the hip Etsy seller LandmarksAndLions. Canyon Crosby of Landmarks and Lions is giving away this iPhone/ iPod Touch case of of a wonderfully soft wool blend felt. See below for contest details!




More about the iPhone / iPod Touch case from Canyon:
The idea for this case was to create something that was not simply functional, but vibrant and fun as well. Not only does the iPhone and iPod Touch fit perfectly snug in the case, but there is another space designed for business cards, credit cards, or whatever else can be slipped in. The wool felt makes it comfortable and easy to handle, while also providing protection against the environment. 


About Canyon:

Landmarks and Lions came to life as a result of lots of planning for my upcoming wedding next year. We are having a destination wedding in Italy and so the original thought was to design a few things that my fiancée and I could use during our travels. I started out with totes, which led me to iPhone cases, and so on. Then at some point my fiancée suggested I design collections of these items, create an Etsy account, and see what happens. Well, here we are and I am having a great time. 

My sole inspiration is the Mediterranean and the dreams we have had when planning for this experience, and so I like to use a more lively color theme in the design process because I feel it suits the place and lifestyle perfectly. Each accessory is handmade from our home / studio here in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where I design, cut, sew, and photograph everything you see.


On her goals for next year:

My primary focus is on the wedding. We have been looking forward to this for a long time now, and it is going to be one of those amazing experiences that we will be able to share with our family and friends. I am also really looking forward to creating more collections for Landmarks and Lions and seeing it grow into something that I could transition into full-time. I would be thrilled to see it become successful and to have the opportunity to work for myself.




To enter the contest, please:
  • Follow Alive in the Fire.
  • Leave a comment below describing your favorite item from LandmarksAndLions on Etsy. 
  • Check out Landmarks and Lions' main site. 
Shipping for the contest is international, so anyone can apply!


If you choose to do any of these, your chances double... you can contact Canyon here. See more shopping options. Add Landmarks and Lions on Facebook. Be sure to let me know to enter your name twice in the drawing. 



Finally, we have a winner for the 105 Yoga giveaway! Congrats to Dre. Please contact me with your email address so I can put you in touch with Nancy. Thanks!

Bikram Yoga Minneapolis on Black Friday

It was snowy out on Black Friday, so the heat felt great!
I'm way overdue to post about my adventure to Bikram Yoga Minneapolis during Thanksgiving weekend, but I'm excited to share about my visit to the studio. Also keep an eye out for several Minneapolis-themed giveaways today.

Instead of getting caught up in the hustle and bustle of Black Friday shopping, my cousin, a friend, and I toughed it out in the Torture Chamber. We were workin' off all that food from our family feast.


Last Friday I brought my cousin Joelle and her friend Matt to Bikram Yoga Minneapolis for an intense first class. Even I was surprised by how humid it was in there!
Joelle and Matt are Bikram badasses.
Minneapolis' studio is a beautiful space with artsy details, cool lounge chairs, and colorful decor. The hot room was a little cozy but we fit quite a few yogis among the two rows. 

Here's the studio space.
My only wish was for a new carpet. That Minnesota humidity can make things a little stinky! But that breeze at the end of class? Heavenly.


Loved the decor.
Our teacher Lori led with energy and spirit as she delivered a crystal-clear dialogue. My favorite was the way she pronounced "squeeeeeze" during Eagle as though she was wringing out a towel with her words. It definitely motivated me to wrap my legs tighter and sit deeper into second set!

I was super proud of Joelle and Matt for getting through class and performing some impressive postures. They are natural Bikram yogis, that's for sure! Both said they felt a little lightheaded at times and thought they might pass out, but they made it :) Whew!


No guns allowed... except those sexy biceps you bring to class!
After our showers and a refreshing Zico Lima Citron, we chatted it up with locals at the studio, Lori, and the studio owner, Martha. I realized that these ladies run a tight ship at Bikram Yoga Minneapolis and truly have a deep passion for the yoga, for teaching it the right way, and for sharing it with others.

When I handed her one of my business cards, Lori immediately mentioned her love for the phrase "at home in the hot room" on the card. 
The cards that help me yogavangelize!
"That's one of the best parts about this yoga," she said. "Anywhere you practice Bikram, you bring a little bit of your home with you."

I couldn't agree more, and I felt right at home at the Minneapolis studio. Hope to be back soon to take class again and teach one day! Namaste, Minnesota yogis.
Our lovely teacher, Lori. 
Here are a few words from Joelle's reflections on her first Bikram class. Great job, cuz!
As I stand, the sweat is everywhere: pouring off my arms, running down my legs, dripping down my face and nose, and turning my stomach into a shinny, glossy pool. The towel underneath my feet is soaked. 

I’m almost out of water. My head starts to slightly spin as I go into the next pose and hold it for what seems like five minutes. Pretty sure if was only about 30 seconds, though. 

A gush of cold hair whooshes down from the ceiling and hits my face. I breathe it in, close my eyes and exhale a very long, happy exhale. Time for a shower. It’s not until after my shower that I realize how incredibly loose, free-minded, and amazing I feel.

After class, a clear mind hit, a sensation of refreshing wonderfulness, no back pain, muscles all stretched out. It felt amazing. Bikram yoga. Mmmm!


Some of the awesome details in the studio: a note about how to lock the knee, and a stunning print of a pregnant yogi.
Thanks again, Martha and Lori and the Bikram Yoga Minneapolis team, and to Joelle and Matt for rockin' their first class. 

Check out the upcoming posts from some Minneapolis Etsy sellers to win local goods!

Party Like It's 2011: New Giveaways!

                    Win both of these by entering in the contest below!

Who's ready for New Year's? Today's giveaway features a sexy black halter top worthy of wearing while the ball drops, plus a beautiful yoga painting you can hang as a reminder to practice throughout 2011.


These two beauties come from the lovely Etsy sellers duende74 and Lindsay Satchell.




The shirt is made of silver cotton fabric. The back is almost entirely open, and has a beautiful crochet detail on the nape.


More about Adva, duende74's shop owner:
I am a textile designer from Tel Aviv with a  great passion for colors, textures and traditional crafts. During my travels, I  found myself in a small Guatemalan village surrounded by beautiful Mayan women who taught me the secrets of their traditional weaving. That was the beginning of my romance with textile. During my studios at Shenkar College of Engineering and Design, I mastered in knitting and gained experience in printing, felting, and weaving and dying fabrics. For the last six years, I have been designing under by brand, Duende.


My main inspiration comes from traveling and meeting interesting people as well as small miracles that wait along the way every day, just beneath my eyes.


More about her yoga:
It all started with a quiet yoga lesson up on a Rishikesh guesthouse rooftop in 2004.
During the savasana in the end of the practice, I felt a strong connection with Mother Nature. It was raining heavily (an Indian monsoon!), but I was peacefully still and felt one with the universe.


Duende74 is offering a 10% off everything deal until Christmas (20% for returning customers) so be sure to swing by her shop!



Next up, Lindsay Satchell's beautiful Scorpion pose print!



It's a reproduction of an original watercolor and ink painting. Blue/green brush strokes with graceful black ink line work. Hang this print to promote a sense of strength and power! Printed on Hahnemuhle fine art paper, professional archival grade, 210 gsm. 8.5"x11" and ready to matte and frame. 

More about Lindsay, the shop owner:
I started as kid and never stopped being an artist.  I have a bachelor's and master's degree in fine art, with a specialization in sculpture. It's a gift, really, to be able to create something you feel inside, and have it inspire another person. That's why painted my first yoga image. I was totally in love with my practice and my teacher and wanted to express that joy. 

You can also find her on Facebook.

More about her yoga:
My first class was in 1998, when I was in college. It was a packed class, very intense and I loved it immediately. I've practiced a lot of places and tried a lot of styles, and it all comes back to "How am I breathing? Where is my mind?" Over the past 12 years I've had a lot of physical changes and challenges, and my yoga practice meets me right where I am.  


To win both of these beautiful items, please:
  • Follow the blog.
  • Leave a comment below with your New Year's plans.
  • Check out duende74 and LindsaySatchell on etsy.
  • Leave a second comment noting your favorite items from their shops and you triple your chances of winning!


And finally, a winner for the coin purse! Congrats to Mei (@MeiNg) and thanks for posting.