Photos by Todd Petrik. 
Do you wear glasses?

Finding awesome frames at reasonable prices can be hard. My absolute favorite place to shop online for glasses is Have you guys ever tried the site?

Glasses photos via Firmoo.

It's easy-to-use, very well organized, and offers a huge variety of eyeglasses and sunglasses. Working with their team has been a breeze-- their customer service is great and they're happy to answer any questions right away.

I also love that they have a little online tool where you can try on frames before you buy them to see how they'd look on your own face :) Really fun!

PS Check out these awesome sunglasses from Firmoo I tried over the summer, and another great pair of sunglasses from a few years ago. Thank you, Team Firmoo!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Photo by Brynna Bryant of Respiro Photography.

Happy Thanksgiving, yogis!
Cheers to you on this lovely day... may it be filled with hugs from your loved ones, delicious food, rest and relaxation, and maybe a little yoga :)

I love you guys and I'm so, so grateful for you. Thanks for making Alive in the Fire the beautiful yoga community that it is! Namaste.

Photo by @the_lost_coast.

Amazing Yoga and Wellness Books and DVDs

Hi, yogis!

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

What I'm Reading

The New Chinese Medicine Handbook by Misha Ruth Cohen

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

If you're like me and dislike going to the doctor and want a more holistic approach to health,

The New Chinese Medicine Handbook

 is a great resource. It gives you a sense of how to approach health with the mind, body, and spirit all integrated as a whole instead of offering quick-fix, Western-minded solutions. Chinese medicine offers a new way of thinking about how to take care of yourself, how to find balance, and how to treat both physical and emotional disharmony.

Restoring Flexibility: A Gentle Yoga-Based Practice to Increase Mobility at Any Age  by Andrea Gilats, PhD, RYT

I can't tell you how many times I've heard from friends, family, and strangers, "I'm too stiff and out of shape to practice yoga!" This is the perfect book for answering that statement with a resounding, "Yoga is for everyone!" I'd recommend this book for anyone who is a beginner and wants to increase mobility. If you or someone you know is intimidated by yoga, try this book. Andrea offers simple routines that anyone can do, and she includes great photos, step-by-step instructions and daily practices to try. The sections include:

  • aligning bones and centering your breath
  • restoring upper body flexibility
  • restoring spinal flexibility
  • restoring hip flexibility - flexors, and rotators and adductors
  • restoring agility - the yoga sun salutation 
  • restoring lower body flexibility
  • reclining joint releases and muscle relaxation

Restoring Flexibility  is comprehensive, detailed, and a really smart approach for beginners. Although the title hints at age, I think this book is applicable to yogis of any age, and it's a wonderful guide to starting where you are instead of taking a class that's too fast-paced or intimidating. Highly recommended.

Essential Oils for Beauty, Wellness, and the Home by Alicia Atkinson

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

Here are a few of my favorites:

Hangover Relief Protocol: Detoxifying Blend

1 TBsp sweet almond oil

2 drops lemon essential oil

2 drops thyme essential oil

2 drops cilantro essential oil

2 drops rosemary essential oil

In a 0.5 oz (15 mL) blue or amber glass bottle, mix 1 Tbsp almond oil with 2 drops each of lemon, thyme, rosemary and cilantro. Cap tightly and shake to mix. Use, or store for later in a cool, dry location.

Massage Blend

sweet almond oil

8 drops ylang ylang essential oil

4 drops clary sage essential oil

2 drops bergamot essential oil

2 drops sandalwood essential oil

What I'm Watching

Awake: The Life of Yogananda

"Will is that which changes thought into energy." - Yogananda

This is such an interesting film! A look at the reaction of the western world as a 'superstar guru' came to Los Angeles featuring commentary by Deepak Chopra, Russel Simmons, and even If you've read Autobiography of a Yogi, that's only the beginning to Yogananda's story :)

YEM: Yoga as Energy Medicine with Parvati

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

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

Awaken: A Workshop on Yoga, Reiki and Journaling

How well do you know yourself, really?

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

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

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

Photo by Brynna Bryant of Respiro Photography.

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

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

Photo by Brynna Bryant of Respiro Photography.

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

Much love to you guys, as always.

Slow Mornings

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

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

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

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

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

That freedom? It's priceless. :)

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


How do you measure abundance?

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

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

Photo by @the_lost_coast.

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

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

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

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

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

I am enough.

And I am rich with abundance.

What makes you feel wealthy? Namaste.


Photos by @the_lost_coast.

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

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

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

You will look for some core to sustain you. 

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

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

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

—Anna Quindlen

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

Hope you are having a lovely week, yogis!


Gratitude (Yogi Surprise November)

Photo by Tra Huynh of Two Twenty Photography.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Yoga for Kids

Photos courtesy of Elizabeth.

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

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

Yoga for Kids
by Elizabeth

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you, Elizabeth, for sharing this beautiful post!

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

Yoga Teaches You Patience, Among Other Things

Over time, yoga will begin to teach you things about yourself.

Things you weren't expecting... like that your poses don't have to be perfect.

And also, that in time, bad habits will lead to injury.

Yoga teaches you to stay true to who you are. Not to let others define success for you.

Yoga reminds you to breathe at the moments when life seems too intense to handle, and also at times when life feels boring, simple, and lovely. :)

One of the greatest lessons yoga has taught me is patience.

To be patient when things are changing. To be patient when something new feels impossible, strange, intimidating.

To be patient in knowing myself. Creating myself.

To be patient in loving myself.

What lessons has your yoga practice brought you?

The Best Vegan Snack Bars

Photo courtesy of Flyjoy.

As a yogi, it's important to fuel your body with healthy snacks before and after class. 

Especially if you're a teacher running around from class to class, it is helpful to plan ahead and bring along food that will sustain you and give you lasting energy throughout the day.

Recently I was lucky to discover Flyjoy vegan snack bars. These bars are packed with superfood nutrition from quinoa, chia seed, and flax seed and they come in some really tasty flavors... um, blueberry almond and cashew cookie dough, anyone?! :)

I'm grateful that writing this blog puts me in touch with some incredible companies, like Flyjoy. Their team has been a joy to work with (pun intended!) and I'm a big fan of the bars.

They even sent them in this cute canvas bag that I can re-use to pack snacks for my yoga-filled days. Thank you, team Flyjoy!
PS More pre- and post-workout snack ideas.

Yoga Basics


Photo by @the_lost_coast.

Last night I taught a 'basics' class at my yoga studio.

As I was driving home, I realized something about what I had said throughout the class. The two things I focused on... weren't physical postures.

What are the basics of yoga?

Ahimsa, non-harming. And breath.

Photo by Cait Loper.

I reminded the students over and over of these two important pillars of the yoga practice.

Compassion. Toward your self and others.

And pranayama. Letting the breath move freely in the body.

Photo by Lucid Reflections.

Of course, you can make all sorts of themes for basics classes that center around the physical poses, asana, and the postures themselves are a great focus for beginners. It's important to set habits of good alignment...

And yet, there's a deeper side to yoga that has less to do with the shape your body is in, and more so the way your heart and your mind are working.

How awesome that you can define your yoga practice in a way that isn't limited by what poses you can or can't do.

So, a friendly reminder -- to all you new yogis, and all you seasoned practitioners too-- yoga is about kindness. And remembering to breathe.


10 Awesome Gratitude-Themed Posts

Photos by @the_lost_coast.

Right now, there's something to be grateful for. Do you feel it? Can you tune in to your heart center and see what's there?

As part of this week's focus on gratitude, I wanted to share a list of 10 Alive in the Fire posts you may have missed:

What does gratitude do?

Even when you are in pain, there can be gratitude.

What are you grateful for today?

Three practices for cultivating gratitude.

Keeping a gratitude journal.

What are you grateful for in this moment?

Using your breath as a prayer of gratitude.

Holding space for gratitude.

Three amazing women I'm most grateful for, the sponsored yogis.

How an attitude of gratitude shifts everything.

Here are a few of my other favorite blog posts on gratitude from around the web:
The Most Important Moment, by Leo Babauta.
Reflections on happiness via A Cup of Jo.
The coolest thing about gratitude via Elephant Journal.
The power of gratitude via Elephant Journal.

Namaste, lovely yogis!

Badass Women: Sara of Copper Drift Jewelry

Photos courtesy of Sara.

Hi loves! Today I'm happy to share a new story in the Badass Women series, featuring Sara of Copper Drift Jewelry

I connected with Sara on Instagram, where she sells beautiful and unique electroformed jewelry and healing crystals. I was struck by her honesty and her love for crafting beautiful art. There were a few challenging moments recently when Sara was faced with the decision of whether or not to keep her shop open, and she also had to deal with a copyright issue where a follower of her was posting her photographs without crediting them. 

Along with her other 13,000 followers, I watched Sara handle these situations with grace and determination -- and we all cheered when we saw that she was going to be keeping the shop open, and that the photo issue was resolved.

Sara is a lovely and inspiring example of what it means to be badass -- to pursue your dreams fearlessly, to stick up for yourself, and to share your truth. I'm grateful for her and for what she's doing!


What makes you a badass? When do you feel most confident?
Being able to make something from something else gives me a feeling of being a "baddass" There are a few things in life that can make you feel confident and I believe creating something with your own two hands (and maybe a rectifier) is one of those things. I love being able to share what I created with my followers on Instagram (@CopperDrift) and seeing them leave me comments about what they think. How satisfying is that!?
How did you get where you are today? Who knows, hard work? Persistence? Not giving up? I've been creating as Copper Drift for almost a year - December will mark my one year anniversary. I have a long way to go in my eyes, I'll never stop moving forward and there is no end goal in sight. Only way I got here was to keep moving forward.

What do you do for yourself to rejuvenate?

I go for long drives, it helps me clear my head a bit. I turn on some music and just drive through the back roads and enjoy the scenery. Sometimes if the weather is nice I'll go to a lake near by and sit by the water.

Who has inspired you or encouraged you lately?
Everyone inspires me. There is always something inspiring you can take from someone else, or things for that matter. I think we are all interconnected, we all share experiences, moments, places, ideas, thoughts, dreams.....and that creates inspiration if you are in tune to look for it.

What advice would you give to someone who's having a crappy day or needs to feel badass in this moment?
Whatever they are doing, they need to immediately stop and do something different. Nothing helps change a crappy day better than changing what you're doing. If you see a problem, remove the problem. If I'm working on the computer, and things aren't going my way, I work on something else. If being home is making me feel lousy, I leave and go for a drive. Change your situation and you'll change how you feel.

How do you plan to continue your baddass-ery? ;)

Wake up - Be a Badass - Rinse - Repeat

Sara, thank you so much for sharing your post in this series! You're awesome and I can't wait to continue watching your business grow and see what incredible things lay ahead for you :)

For more badass women, meet another Sarah, Kim, and Justine.

Focusing on Gratitude

This week, I've been focusing on gratitude. I've also been creating some gratitude journals for friends, and wanted to share some of the prompts I've been writing for them.

These are great questions to consider during meditation, to talk about with friends, and to write about in your journal (especially at Thanksgiving time, but really anytime is great for gratitude!). 

Gratitude Journal Questions:

What about your home are you grateful for? What spaces do you feel most comfortable in?

What makes you grateful for your community? Who supports you? How do they help you feel supported? How do you contribute to this community?

What aspects of your Self are you grateful for? Are there ways you can thank yourself more often for all you do, instead of judging when your actions aren't "enough?"

What times in your life have you felt most grateful? Why is this?

What activities do you do to cultivate gratitude? Can you think of three ways to incorporate these into your routine this week?


Photo by The Lost Coast.

What fills your heart with gratitude?

I'm sitting on the couch curled up under a blanket listening to the rain outside. I have a mug of hot chai tea and a happy dog nearby. I live in a beautiful home and I'm surrounded by loving family and friends. I got to practice yoga this morning and my body is healthy and strong. Later tonight, I get to teach at the studio :)

In this moment, my heart is filled with gratitude.

Now that the holiday season has arrived and Thanksgiving is just around the corner, it's a wonderful time to focus our attention on the blessings that surround us.

What are you grateful for? What practices do you incorporate into your daily life and weekly routines to stay grounded and appreciative?

These are my top three favorite things to do to cultivate a sense of gratitude:

1. Write in my gratitude journal. Some days I'll jot down a quick list of things off the top of my head-- just anything I can think of, no filtering. Other days I'll write a longer entry about why I'm grateful for the amazing things happening in my life.

2. Practice yoga, meditate, and chant mantras. These practices help me find a state of peaceful quiet and draw my awareness inside. The yoga poses help my physical body stay healthy, the meditation helps clear my mind, and the singing allows me to remember the power of my own voice. 

3. Talk to friends and family to let them know I care. Love is truly the biggest blessing we can ever receive, and I am surrounded by it daily! I love being able to thank my friends, family, students and teachers, and to show them I care. Sometimes the simple act of writing a love note or preparing a small surprise for someone helps me to feel happier and more compassionate toward myself, too.

Other Gratitude Practices:

This month, here are a few other ways I'll be cultivating gratitude.
  • hosting a free kirtan workshop
  • supporting a friend and fellow yoga teacher with her kids wellness program at a local elementary school
  • cooking new recipes and trying more vegan and vegetarian meal options
  • watching Awake, a documentary about Paramahansa Yogananda, and participating in the holiday season gratitude challenge (details below)

In the spirit of cultivating gratitude, the filmmakers of the award-winning documentary AWAKE: The Life of Yogananda, have teamed up with Self-Realization Fellowship and to create the AWAKE 21-day Gratitude Challenge. The goal of the challenge is to inspire not only a sense of gratitude, but to creatively give back to friends, family and communities in the hopes that they in turn will give back to others.

The challenge is simple: once a participant signs up, she or he receives one email a day with a suggestion for what they can do to cultivate gratitude, whether it’s taking a moment to recognize something normally taken for granted, or acknowledging someone in their life who has inspired them in some way. You can sign up on the Kindspring website here:

How will you celebrate the holiday season with gratitude?

Yoga is a Daring Act of Courage

Photos by The Lost Coast.

Are you willing to get your feet dirty? 

Are you willing to risk falling?  

What parts of your ego are you willing to surrender? 

This practice of Yoga is not always pretty; in my experience, it is messy, embarrassing, risky, and humbling. 

Yoga is not simply being able to say, 'I can hold the pose effortlessly'... it is also being able to say, 'This pose took years, but I kept trying,' or, 'I'm terrified, but I'm doing this anyway.' Or even, 'This pose may never happen in my body, but I'm not letting myself be defined by that.'

Yoga is a daring act of staring fear down and not letting it win. 

Yoga is the willingness to love yourself even when you fail miserably.

Yoga happens when you are facing a situation that feels impossible, something you can't imagine surviving -- like the loss of a loved one, a divorce, an injury that changes your life, an unplanned pregnancy, a fire that consumes your house.

Even though everything is messed up and you're making mistakes and crying alone in the bathroom at night, you're willing to feel everything that is happening. You're willing to stay present, and you even manage to love yourself in the small moments when you feel more alive than you have in years.

It is in these moments -- when your feet are covered in dirt and the ground is slipping out beneath you-- that you're truly in your practice. Not the easy, comfortable, flat wooden floors at the yoga studio. The part when you're barefoot in the cold. The part where you step on a piece of glass and have to call out because it hurts so much. 

The part when you fall, and somehow, you get back up.

All this... all your willingness to keep going, to try again, to stay true to who you are... this is Yoga.