Tips for Improving Your Posture


Hi, yogis! I hope your pre-Thanksgiving week is going well and that you're staying as stress-free as possible as the holiday season heats up. :)

So, I have a question for you...

I'm curious: how do you feel about your posture?

If you practice yoga regularly, chances are you're pretty aware of your spinal alignment and stance during standing poses, and things like whether you're lifting your chest, rounding your back, or lacking muscular engagement in a pose.

But how is your posture while you're off your yoga mat? Do you notice your posture when you're working, watching TV, driving in the car, or otherwise moving about your day? Do you spend a lot of time on your feet, or seated at a desk? 

And do you have friends, family, or colleagues who suffer from discomfort or pain which might be related to poor posture?

This post is for you! I believe this post is for every one, actually... we all have moments where we forget to notice our posture, and it can lead to feeling stiff or uncomfortable, straining our bodies unnecessarily, or aggravating old injuries. Here are some simple ways to improve your posture, starting today.



5 Simple Ways to Improve Your Posture

1. Notice your body. Check in with the following areas: your head, neck and shoulders; your arms and legs; your torso; your hips; your upper, middle and lower back; your feet. Where do you notice pain or discomfort? Where do you feel most stable, or unstable? Which areas feel tight or like they've been neglected? Start paying close attention to these areas, and noticing your body alignment.


2. Increase your daily movement routine. Posture is linked to your overall health, and so is the amount of movement you're getting each day. Aim for at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, whether it's walking, running, biking, yoga, swimming, or whatever other activities you enjoy.  By improving your mobility and flexibility, your body will become more comfortable in standing and sitting positions, and you'll have a stronger sense of body awareness.




3. Try LumoLift. I've been using this amazing posture coach tool and I love how effective and simple it is. I simply clip the little magnetic device to my shirt or collar and wear it around throughout my day; if I start to slouch for 15 seconds or longer, the LumoLift vibrates for a moment, reminding me to sit up straight. I find this is especially helpful during my workday, so I remember to have great posture while I'm in front of the computer. What's awesome is that I can also track my daily steps using the LumoLift app on my phone! I'll definitely be suggesting the LumoLift to my yoga students and highly recommend checking it out. It would make a wonderful stocking stuffer this year, too (and it comes in a ton of different colors)!


4. Talk to your yoga teacher, fitness coach, chiropractor, doctor, or other health professional about your posture. Ask for information and insight from those you trust.


5. Track your progress. Keep a checklist or small calendar with you, and mark down some notes each day about how your posture is improving. Set specific goals for yourself, and ask others to help you stay accountable. You could also consider having a friend take a daily or weekly photo of you, so you can see how your posture is looking.


Do you have any tips for improving your posture? I'd love to hear!

Photos by Ken Johnson of CKCImage.com (1, 5), Brynna Bryant of Respiro Photography (2, 3, 6), and Lucid Reflections (4).

5 Quick and Easy Breakfast Recipes for the Busy Yogi

Hi, yogis! Today I'm excited to share a guest post by Toni from Chosen Wellness on quick breakfast ideas that you can incorporate into your daily routine. Which of these would you like to try?

5 Quick and Easy Breakfast Recipes for the Busy Yogi

Ask just about any adult and they can rattle off a list of the stresses consuming their mind. I’m no exception. Between work, my kids, my husband, and running ChosenWellness in my “spare” time, the to-do list seems to be unending. One of the first things to go for many people is self-care, especially when it comes to health. It’s so easy to ditch healthy foods for their more convenient counterparts, something we all know all too well.

I know I’m guilty of falling prey to unhealthy foods because of their availability, so I looked into ways that I could fuel my body with the right foods without sacrificing convenience. It was comforting to hear from many others in the same situation, and I was excited to find solutions to this all-too-common problem. I have discovered some easy but healthy breakfast recipes that have revolutionized my mornings.

Overnight Fruit and Quinoa Protein Oats

Overnight oats have been a major craze lately, and now I understand why! This recipe is super simple, but it is a fantastic option for a quick but fulfilling breakfast.

This recipe includes quinoa, an amazing superfood. Not only does it contain a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, but it is a great source of protein and fiber. It’s also gluten-free, allowing those with a gluten intolerance to enjoy this nutrient-rich dish.

This recipe is also very flexible. It was written including raspberries, blueberries, peaches, and cinnamon (some great superfoods in there!), but you can change it to suit your mood.

I love this recipe because I can make it at night and literally forget about it until morning. It’s also incredibly versatile, allowing me to change up the fruits and eat it either hot or cold. I can pack it with superfoods and know that I’m eating a wholesome breakfast that is still quick and easy.

Protein Blueberry Muffins

Blueberry muffins are a classic, but the original variety leaves you with few health benefits for all of the carbs and calories. This version is high-protein and more nutritious than normal muffins.

This recipe uses Stevia and sugar-free applesauce to sweeten the muffins, saving you from all of that sugar and the crash that comes soon after. It also uses protein powder and walnuts to add protein, so your blood sugar will remain steady for even longer. These muffins are packed with superfoods, like blueberries and cinnamon, which will provide a good amount of daily nutrients.

The convenience of this recipe has changed my mornings. I can throw these together the night before, and the kids and I can enjoy them together in the morning. It’s also a plus not having to give up delicious blueberry muffins just to stay healthy.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter BananaBreakfast Cookies

You might be thinking, “Cookies aren’t a breakfast food!” Well, think again; they definitely are, and they aren’t hard to make.

These cookies don’t use any flour, and the only refined white sugar in it comes from the semisweet chocolate chips. It’s a wonderful mix of banana, rolled oats, peanut butter, semisweet chocolate, honey, and cinnamon - nothing strange hiding in that ingredient list.

The oats will keep you full without overeating, and the peanut butter gives the recipe some protein. This combo will keep you satisfied until lunch. It also is slightly sweet with the chocolate and banana, satisfying any morning sweet-tooth cravings without packing in tons of sugar and empty calories.

I love the combo of flavors in this cookie, and it does a great job of holding me over until lunch. Plus, the kids were thrilled to hear that we were eating cookies for breakfast, so everyone wins.

Homemade Instant Oatmeal

One of my personal favorite breakfasts in the past was a good bowl of oatmeal, complete with brown sugar and cinnamon (and maybe even a little chocolate). It was quick and easy, but the calories added up quickly and I didn’t know what extra ingredients were lurking in those little brown packets. This recipe lets me enjoy oatmeal without those problems.

This recipe calls for chia seeds, which are a great addition to oatmeal. They are very low-calorie but still pack a punch of nutrients. They’re a good source of fiber and actually add some protein to your meal, as well.

You also have a lot of freedom with this recipe. First of all, you can choose how you sweeten it and how much you sweeten it. Secondly, you can make different combinations of add-ins, so there’s no fear of getting stuck in an oatmeal rut. Apple cinnamon and blueberry banana are a couple of my favorite combos so far.

I love how easy this recipe is while still offering variety. The kids love being able to choose what to put in their oatmeal, and I love that I can juggle them and breakfast without too much stress.

Fruit and Coconut Milk Smoothie

Smoothies are great for mornings when you’re running out the door and just don’t have time to sit down for breakfast. You can drink them in the car on the way to the office or the gym, and they can still provide a good meal without too much hassle.

To make this option even easier, I pre-cut the bananas and throw them in baggies with the berries or other fruit I want. When I want one, all I have to do is grab a baggie from the freezer, throw it in the blender with some yogurt and coconut milk, and I’m ready to go.

This smoothie uses unsweetened coconut milk and honey, sweetening naturally and skipping the sugar. It also allows me to enjoy different fruits all the time, and I don’t have to worry about them going bad on the counter since they’re frozen.

The kids are also into this breakfast, especially when I use strawberries and blueberries. It’s a quick option that works well for all of us on even the busiest of days.

These five recipes alone have completely changed the way my mornings go. Instead of pouring a bowl of sugary cereal or grabbing a high-fat breakfast sandwich from a fast food restaurant, I can take care of my body and feed it the foods that fuel it best. And when I take care of it, it takes care of me. I’m able to be the wife, mother, and employee that I want to be because I have the energy to do so.

Convenient food doesn’t have to be unhealthy; there’s an abundance of options for a quick but healthy breakfast, even just in the five recipes listed here. These things have helped me and my family to live out our goals, and I challenge you to do the same. Will you change your own life and take the healthy breakfast challenge with me?

First photo by Ken Johnson of CKCImage.com, all post photos and content courtesy of Toni Placides of Chosen Wellness.

5 Ways to Get Grounded for the Fall Season

Hi loves! How is autumn going so far for you?

If you're looking for some simple ways to get grounded for this new season, here are a few ideas. Cheers to cozy sweaters, warm foods, and relaxing routines to help you feel rejuvenated!

5 Ways to Get Grounded for the Fall Season

1. Walk in nature. Notice the colors, smells, and sights around you.

2. Massage your feet with warming essential oils, or use a diffuser in your home. Here’s a great post from Hello Glow with ideas about essential oil blends for fall. Some oils to try:

  • Cinnamon
  • Clove
  • Patchouli
  • Rosemary

3. Eat seasonally. Make a dish with pumpkin, apple, or squash. Create a hearty, delicious soup. Energize your food with positivity and love as you sit down to eat.

I highly recommend this Ayurvedic cookbook for ideas on how to eat seasonally: The Everyday Ayurveda Cookbook: A Seasonal Guide to Eating and Living Well. This weekend I made the pumpkin dal recipe and it is delicious! ;)

4. Try a sauna or spa.

5. Meditate and write in your journal. Create space to process the transition to this new season, and allow yourself to express your inner thoughts and feelings. Fall is a great time of year to slow down, reflect, and incorporate more rest into your daily routine.

Much love!

Namaste.

Photos of me by Brynna Bryant of Respiro Photography.

Awaken: An E-Book from Alive in the Fire

  
Hi, friends! Some exciting news today on Alive in the Fire...

I'm now offering an e-book!

Are you feeling a little lost? Lacking direction or motivation? Or maybe you could just use a few moments of deep rest, of looking inward?

This one's for you!


Inherent to the practice of yoga is the element of Svadhyaya, or self-inquiry. We explore layers of awareness through physical sensation, breath, emotion, and thought. 

In this 20-page workbook, I will lead you through a unique experience of yoga that includes asana (poses), meditation, chanting/sound vibration, and creative writing. 

You’ll explore questions such as, what am I here for? What’s holding me back? Do I trust my inner wisdom? How can I release fear?


Asking these questions isn't easy work to do. We can start by creating a quiet space, breathing, and connecting with the physical body.

What we find can be beautiful and enlightening... it may also be painful or make us feel vulnerable, raw, or overwhelmed. It becomes our task, then, to trust the outcome and trust our inner wisdom. Sometimes we must walk through the fire in order to gain clarity. 

My goal in offering this e-book is to extend a little piece of my yoga teaching into this community I've created here at Alive in the Fire, and help however many yogis I can experience a little more peace in their day-to-day lives. 

It's $3 to purchase the e-book, and my hope is that it is a practical, useful tool that can enhance your yoga practice and help you discover something new about yourself along the way.

As always, I'm open to your feedback and would love to hear from you if you try out the e-book and want to share your experience (my email is aliveinthefire at gmail dot com).

Please check out the link below to support the project.

Sending each of you a heartfelt Namaste.

Buy Now
...

Calling All Yogi Cyclists


Hi yogis! I hope your week is off to an awesome start.

So, I'm curious: do you ever bike to yoga class? Do you like to take cycling adventures on the weekend, so you can practice yoga in the park or take your mat with you on a hike?

Practicing outdoors is an amazing way to change up your practice, and connect inward without any distractions.


When Sponsored Yogini Kels and I heard about the new incredible invention called MyMogi, I was stoked. 'How has someone not created this yet?!' I thought, reflecting back on my days living in Chicago when I biked everywhere.

A perfect yoga mat carrying bag that connects effortlessly to your bike rack?!

YES. Yes. (Duh!)

I was excited for Kelsie to have the chance to try out the Mogi bag, and she absolutely loves it.


If you're a cyclist who loves yoga, or a yogi who wants to get more into cycling, this Mogi bag is definitely for you. I can think of several friends and fellow teachers who would adore this bag as much as any other yoga prop, so I'm setting my intention to share as many of these as I can!

Mogi is currently on Kickstarter and I encourage you to check out the brand and support a fellow entrepreneur who is out changing the world for the better.

A big heartfelt thanks from Alive in the Fire and the Sponsored Yogis team for sharing Mogi with the world, and cheers to all you cycling yogis out there who are going to love using Mogi!

Namaste.

PS Learn more about Mogi on their website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.

Cleaning House (With Yogi Surprise September)


How recently have you 'cleaned house' on the different areas of your life?

In the last few weeks, I've been savoring moments when I can release what is old and needs to be surrendered.

I've been organizing paperwork, tidying rooms, and making space for my yoga mat.

I've been talking to friends about the past, and seeing what ways I need to (and am ready to) let go of it.

I've been writing down my thoughts.

Taking time to sit. To notice. To breathe.

To imagine my whole body, mind, and spirit free from clutter.



What do you need to release in order to be more present? What practices help you do this?

If you're feeling a little lost on where to start, or overwhelmed by the thought of surrendering something, it can be helpful to simply do one thing.

Clean your yoga mat. 

Take a long, hot bath.

Take a walk somewhere barefoot and picture every bit of negative energy, every old, stale, untrue thought, every doubt-- picture them leaving you, exiting your body through your feet, being left to dust.

This month's Yogi Surprise box helped me clean house. My two favorite products: the Pura Botanica Bath Infusion Rose' Retreat (it has mineral sea salts, essential oils and curative herbs and flowers...um, amazing!), and the Happy Spritz Namaste Ninja Handcrafted Aromatherapy (an energizing blend that has anti-microbial properties and will keep your mat feeling, and smelling, super fresh.)


Wishing you clarity, peace, and patience as you clean house. Namaste.

Finding Balance (Yogi Surprise August Review)


Balance is an ongoing challenge for me.

Finding the right mix of doing and non-doing, of excitement and relaxation, of seriousness and levity, of saying 'yes' and saying 'no'...

I believe this will be a continual process, and I'm grateful for the moments when I feel in balance.

I'm also grateful that yoga helps me find balance.


In this month's Yogi Surprise box, I discovered a wonderful mix of items designed to restore and re-harmonize my body's natural energies. I love the sense of calm that I found when using any of these products, and I'm glad that the monthly arrival of the little purple Yogi Suprise box on my doorstep is a reminder to find time to slow down and rejuvenate.

Here are my favorites from the Yogi Surprise August box:

I've been craving a body scrub for months and was so pleasantly surprised to find this one in the box! The smell reminds me a lot of a lotion we used to have at one of my favorite yoga studios, and that extremely relaxing feeling of being in Shavasana when the teacher comes around at the end of class and gives you a shoulder press (amazing!). This scrub is my absolute favorite item from the box. Its invigorating aroma with the lemon really perks me up, and I love the feeling of soft skin after the sugar scrub. I'll definitely be heading to the Root + Willow site to buy some more when I run out. :)

These are genius! I've loved Tiger Balm ever since I started yoga and I used to use it quite a bit during my Bikram days. Usually I'd end up making a mess whenever I'd apply it, and then would have to be careful to wash my hands afterward and not to rub it off on my clothing or yoga mat. These patches are a clever way to keep your hands free of the pain-relieving ointment, and they stay sticky for hours! I highly recommend these for after a strenuous workout or yoga class, or if you're like me and you get home from work at the office and your neck is sore. Highly recommend them for all yoga teacher trainees, too!

This bar was delicious. A perfect afternoon snack or pick-me-up before yoga class. And it's certified organic, plant-based and made with superfood ingredients. Yum!


I haven't taken this supplement for long enough to know that it's making a big difference for me in terms of energy and immunity support, but so far I like the results! You can tell that the brand takes great care in making a high-quality supplement, and I absolutely love the little glass container that the capsules are in (I'll be reusing it for sure). Thanks, Stamba, for being a part of this month's box!


What practices help you stay in balance? Do you have any go-to products you use to help bring things back into balance?

Sending big hugs to the team at Yogi Suprise, and as always, to you, dear readers. Much love and cheers to finding balance throughout this month!

All photos of me in this post by Ken Johnson of CKCImage.com. CKC Image is a Humboldt County photography business; check out their Facebook page for more awesome photos. Other photos via Root + Willow (3), Tiger Balm (4), Navitas Naturals (5) and Stamba (6). Leggings by Ginger Orange Activewear.