Winter Rejuvenation (Yogi Surprise December)

The holidays are here!

Anyone else feeling a little spread thin?

This is a great time of year to prioritize self-care. Even if it’s just a 30 minute walk in the sunshine, a long soak in a hot bath, or a few minutes of yoga before bedtime, allow yourself some time to rest and rejuvenate. Another great practice you can incorporate into your day is a simple 5-minute self-massage in the morning, or in the evening. Remind yourself of how precious and wonderful your body is!

Here are five simple ways to incorporate rest, rejuvenation and peacefulness into your day:

  • In the morning after your shower, do a five-minute self-massage using coconut oil or sesame oil.
  • Take a 30 minute walk in the sunshine.
  • Roll out your mat and practice yoga for 15 minutes. Do three rounds of sun salutations, a few hip openers, and legs up the wall pose.
  • Take a long soak in a hot bath. (See below for the best mineral salt blend to use, too!)
  • Write for ten minutes in your journal. Reflect on the best part of your day, and the most challenging part. Is there anything you can intentionally release and let go of?

This month’s 

Yogi Surprise

 box contained some lovely products for taking time to be at peace. My three favorites:

Frisky Fish Winter Solstice Kit

This little kit is incredible! It comes with a rough cut citrine crystal, a palo santo stick, and an essential oil roller blend with lemon and lavender. Hands down my favorite item in the box. I can't wait to wear my crystal as an anklet starting when I'm in Hawaii on vacation in January, and to continue burning the palo santo to clear stagnant energy and make space for new growth in 2017! I even saved the box and plan to use it as a spot to store intentions I’ve written down.

Good Medicine Lab: I’m Peaceful Antidote for Anxiety

This jar of bath salts is so fun – it actually turns the water purple when you use it ;) I loved the blend of soothing mineral salts and I was pleasantly surprised that I liked the scent of the frankincense, amber and myrrh. If you want a luxurious, relaxing bath, go for this awesome product.

Seeds of Intention Cards

Love this deck. I’ve been drawing a card each morning and using it to frame my day. I was also able recently to put up some wall décor to display a few of my crystals, so I’ll set the intention card there, too. Awesome!

What practices are helping you stay grounded and peaceful this holiday season?

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
...

Awaken


Do you ever feel like you're moving through life like a zombie?

Time passes, but it feels like things are out of your control. You watch the days fly by without a sense of knowing what you want, or what you can do to feel happier, healthier and more present.

If you've ever wanted to feel more AWAKE and ALIVE, I invite you to attend my upcoming workshop (details below). Or, if you're not local to Sacramento, stay tuned for some free downloadable content on this same topic.

I want to help you wake up -- to see yourself as you truly are, to awaken your highest potential, and to move forward!

Can't attend the workshop, but you read Alive in the Fire regularly and want to learn more about how to AWAKEN through yoga, Reiki and journaling? Send me an email at aliveinthefire at gmail dot com. First three readers to contact me will receive a free prize. Please use the subject line "AWAKEN" :)

Awaken: A Yoga, Reiki and Journaling Workshop with Rachel Koontz
Saturday, Dec 12th
5931 Stanley Avenue Ste 7, Carmichael Ca, 95608
$30
Bring your journal (or purchase one for $15)

Happy, healthy beings of light... that's what we are. We all deserve love, goodness, happiness, and abundance. But we don't always feel that way. We get stuck, we have fears, we have setbacks, and we get discouraged. My goal is to help reawaken your zest for life and give you some simple tools for staying attentive and peaceful.

PS, in case you missed it earlier in the post: Can't attend the workshop, but you read Alive in the Fire regularly and want to learn more about how to AWAKEN through yoga, Reiki and journaling? Send me an email at aliveinthefire at gmail dot com. First three readers to contact me will receive a free prize. Please use the subject line "AWAKEN" :)

Namaste.

Creating an Inspiring Workspace

Photo via UncommonGoods.

Since I quit the 9-to-5 grind earlier this year, I've been working from home a lot. One of my favorite parts about the change is that I get to design my own work space and create somewhere beautiful, inspiring, and peaceful.

Bit by bit, I'm making the room where I have my desk more comfortable and organized.


My two newest additions, which I'm a little obsessed with, are a gorgeous moon clock and 'you are beautiful' wood cut out from Uncommon Goods.

The clock reminds me to stay grounded and connected with the present moment, and in tune with the natural elements and cycles that surrounds me. And it even glows in the dark! So rad :)

Photos via UncommonGoods.
The wood carving is a lovely reminder to be kind to myself-- to practice the yogic principle of ahimsa, non-harming.

I'm grateful to have both of these lovely items in my home office, and excited to keep decorating and adding things that inspire me. I also love that I have my crystals, a Himalayan salt lamp, and lovely framed photos and artwork on the walls.


If you're looking for ideas about how to decorate, I recommend checking out UncommonGoods. Their site has an incredible selection of home decor and art and I absolutely love that their mission statement is all about having a positive impact in the world. Not only are their products inspiring and uplifting, but they also use handmade, recycled and organic products.

Have you ever designed a work space? Do you work from home?


Photo via A Cup of Jo.

Here are some other gorgeous rooms styled by interior designer Emily Henderson, which I found on A Cup of Jo. Emily wrote the book Styled, which is an incredible resource on how to decorate.


 Photos via A Cup of Jo.

I also love this funny 'Killing It' print, found via Cup of Jo.

Photo via A Cup of Jo.

What inspiring things are in your office, or around your desk at work?

PS UncommonGoods features some awesome gift guides, if you need ideas for gifts for people under 20, gifts for the modern family, or gifts for dads

An Incredible Book About Meditation

Illustrations via Pinterest.
Do you meditate?

If you do, you need to read this book.

Photo via The Mind Illuminated website.
The Mind Illuminated: A Complete Meditation Guide Integrating Buddhist Wisdom and Brain Science by Culadasa (John Yates, Ph.D.)

If you don't meditate, you also need to read this book -- maybe even more so :)

In his book, Culadasa shows how powerful meditation can be. I love, too, that he approaches it not only as a science, but as an art. As he says:

"While this book is a kind of technical manual, it's also an artist's handbook. Meditation is the art of fully conscious living. What we make of our life-- the sum total of thoughts, emotions, words, and actions that fill the brief interval between birth and death-- is our one great creative masterpiece. 


The beauty and significance of a life well lived consists not in the works we leave behind, or in what history has to say about us. It comes from the quality of conscious experience that infuses our every waking moment, and from the impact we have on others."


On his website, Culadasa asks this provocative question: What if one thing you did each day could bring you to deep joy, peace, insight, and personal transformation?


And in the book, he goes about answering that question, and offering the reader a 10-step guide to meditation. It is a fascinating, dense, practical guide to taming the mind and reaching a deep sense of peace through frequent meditation practice.


So far, I've only read the beginning of the book: the introduction, the summary chapter that gives a basic idea of the 10 stages of meditative training, and then the chapter about stage 1 (establishing a practice).


In only 60 pages, I've already gained an immense amount of knowledge about meditation and how to build a successful meditation practice... I have yet to put this knowledge into practice in my daily life, but hey! At least I'm learning :)

To give you a brief breakdown of the chapters, here are the ten stages of meditation:
1. Establishing a practice
2. Interrupted attention and overcoming mind-wandering
3. Extended attention and overcoming forgetting
4. Continuous attention and overcoming gross distraction and strong dullness
5. Overcoming subtle dullness and increasing mindfulness
6. Subduing subtle distractions
7. Exclusive attention and unifying the mind
8. Mental pliancy and pacifying the senses
9. Mental and physical pliancy and calming the intensity of meditative joy
10. Tranquility and equanimity

Pretty intense, right?! :)


Highly highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in meditation. Whether you're new to the practice or have been meditating for years, this book offers a new way to think about it and creative, helpful ways to deepen your meditation experience. Find the book here.


A big thanks to the team behind this book for sharing a copy, and I hope to continue meditating and sharing this knowledge with others.


Namaste.

My New Favorite Yoga and Poetry Book



If you want money in more than anything,
you'll be bought and sold.
If you have a greed for food,
you'll be a loaf of bread. 
This is a subtle truth:
whatever you love, you are.
-Rumi

This poem is excerpted from my new favorite book, Mala from the Heart: 108 Sacred Poems. It is a beautiful collection of poems by great sages, saints and mystics. Most are less than a page in length, so you can easily drop in and experience the words and the peaceful space they create.

Much in the same way that a yoga practice works, the breaths in between are what leave you feeling renewed and at peace.



Highly recommend this book! Great for before or after a yoga practice, or in the evening with a glass of wine. Namaste.

PS You can purchase the book from New World Library Publishing...they have some other amazing yoga titles too! I also recommend Pick Your Practice by Meagan McCrary, especially for yoga beginners!

Compassion on the Yoga Mat


Today I did a very simple at-home yoga practice. Nothing fancy, only 15 minutes of my favorite poses.

  • Cat/cow
  • Sun salutations with low lunge
  • Down-dog reach throughs
  • A shoulder stretch
  • Reclined twists
  • Dharma Wheel rolls
  • Shavasana

Some days I need more rest and less intensity. Some days I want the quiet of home where I can wear whatever and play whatever music I like, and not be distracted or surrounded by a lot of other yogis.

Some days I just want my practice to feel good. I'm allowed to let the practice be sweet. To focus on ease. Sukha, the sweetness. Cherishing that. Lingering. Not forcing anything.

Today, I let my practice be all about compassion toward myself. Ahimsa, doing no harm.

I gave love to all the places in my body that needed love. I took rest without any sense of shame, dissatisfaction or guilt.


Each day in this practice is different. Honor where you are right now. Let go.

Badass Women: Rose D.


Today, in the Badass Women series...my dear friend Rose, an incredible massage therapist and entrepreneur who is one of the most soulful, open-hearted people I know. I admire Rose for her courage, her independence, her work ethic, and her positive outlook. 

Rose shines brightly anywhere she goes, and when you're around her, you begin to notice how present she is. Her mind isn't wandering elsewhere-- she's here, right now, with you. I'm so grateful for Rose and excited to see where her dreams lead her.



What makes you a badass?
I define a badass as someone that does not let fear hold them back from achieving their dreams and living up to their potential (I am a work in progress;-). We all have incredible talents and capabilities yet most people aren't taught how to harness them and believe that we can actually pursue them and make a living at the same time. A badass knows that anything with a pure motive to help others will be fully guided and supported by a higher power. This takes an immense amount of faith and is an art of maintaining a positive attitude as challenges arise. 

How did you get where you are today?
My journey can be defined as spiritual one that came about through in-depth soul searching. From an early age I found it extremely easy and enjoyable to tune into someone's body because of a genuine concern and desire to improve their physical, mental and emotional state. As an added bonus, I felt therapeutic benefits from giving treatments as well.  

I realized that my gift for stress relief, relaxation and pain relief was rare and much needed in a high-stress society. I realized that I had to take the leap of pursuing my passion in a professional realm.  I also realized that you have to believe that what you have to offer is so helpful that you are doing the world a dis-service by living anyone else's dream but your own. This mental shift has allowed me to discover other talents I have, as well as meet some incredible people that have similar visions of helping others live healthy and happy lives. 

My clients also inspire me by trusting in the power of all natural modalities and by doing what it takes to live in a Centered state where you can hear the messages all around you telling you to live up to your greatest potential. If I can be a part of that in any way, I am complete. 

What do you do for yourself to rejuvenate?
Gratitude is key. Every morning I think of what a blessing it is to be given a brand-new baby day with immense potential. Prayer and Meditation are the two most powerful tools for staying grounded and rejuvenated. Counting my blessings on an everyday basis keeps my focus on the bright side. I also remember to keep a light-hearted attitude and not take myself too seriously. Spending time with children and animals always help me remember this. Breathing exercises, alone time, journaling, spiritual conversations, reading the bible and being one with nature always seems to pull me out of trivial matters and gain a strengthened perspective.


What advice do you have for others who are looking to find happiness and become fully empowered? 
Remember that no matter who you are or what has happened in the past or is happening, there is ALWAYS something to be thankful for. Life itself, food to eat, air to breathe, freedom of choice, the trees, a breeze...open your eyes to these things and the blessings will flood into your mind. Feeling happy with yourself and where you are right now will allow you to be in a state of mind to dream bigger as you realize your potential as a result.  Know what you want. Set goals and stay away from self-doubt. Balance humility and confidence with grace. Know that no one has it all figured out completely.

Empowerment comes from accepting the things that you can't change and making the most of the things you can. Also, never depend on anyone to tell you, you can do it; you have to believe in yourself and the unlimited power that surrounds us.


How do you plan to continue your baddass-ery? ;)
Never quit! I will never stop growing, and being open and available for opportunities to help in any ways I can. 

As I gain more awareness, I plan on expanding in all directions, and also am focusing on a global effort by networking with other like minded individuals and utilizing my advertising skills to spread messages about healthy living and protecting mother nature's resources. Somehow, it all fits together; healthy people, healthy planet...and the sky has no limits!



Thank you so much, Rose, for being a part of the Badass Women series here on Alive in the Fire. For more posts in the series, check out (other) Rose, Sam, and Summer.

Contentment

Photo by Brynna Bryant of Respiro Photography.

Consider for a moment that everything is already perfect the way it is.

All the resistance you have toward your own life... let that fall away, even if only for a second.

Everything you need, it's right here.


You can worry later about what's for dinner, or what frustrating comment your partner said earlier today, or whether your jeans fit the way you want them to.

For now, notice what have you have. What you're grateful for. What effortless, beautiful, lovely place you're in.

This life.

Santosha is contentment with what is. This is not an easy thing to practice. This contentment is at the core of yoga.

Open-Hearted (Yogi Surprise June Review)


Happy middle of June, yogis!

This month I've been reflecting on approaching life with an open heart. What can we do to encourage vulnerability, compassion, and love?

On the physical level, yoga postures help us to increase flexibility of the spine, relax the shoulders and open the chest so that we are not holding a 'closed-off' posture. I'm thankful that yoga helps me open up and relieve any pain or tightness in my upper back. That's always a good start!



Some yoga poses to help with opening the chest include anahatasana (heart melting or puppy pose), sphinx, cat, and fish pose.


What else? We can also connect in with the heart chakra, anahata, located at the center of the chest at the level of the heart. Its primary color is green, and it is considered the wellspring of warmth, love, joy and compassion in life.

When the heart chakra is balanced, love flows freely in and out, and we are able to love ourselves and others fully.

The heart chakra is area of the body that connects the upper and lower half, so it helps us draw up the energy from our root (our foundation and sense of security), and apply it outward. In the opposite direction, divine energy and connection to a higher power or to our spirit self (our Higher Self) descends down from the crown toward the heart. You can picture energy flowing up from your feet, into the heart, and moving outward. Also picture energy flowing down through the crown into the heart, and outward.

On a physical level, the heart chakra energy is connected to some of our most powerful and vital organs, the heart and lungs. It's also connected to the arms, hands, and circulatory systems-- essential parts of us that allow us to connect with others!

I've been wearing the bracelet pictured above, which came in my lovely Yogi Surprise June box, as a reminder to stay open-hearted. The stone used for the beads is Jade, great for helping balance the heart chakra.


I think another important part of staying open-hearted is to connect with the throat chakra, vishuddha, the voice. It acts almost like a pressure valve for the rest of the chakras below it, enabling their energy to be expressed.

When the throat chakra is open and in balance, we can speak with clarity and intention, communicating our thoughts and emotions.

I love this spray from Yoga Gangsters that came in the Yogi Surprise box, shown above. It's called Truthful Mist and the scents encourage attuning the senses for creativity and self-expression (a blend of Roman Chamomile, Cypress, Eucalyptus, Lemon, Palmarosa, and Grapefruit). Great product!


Finally, a little note about 'taking out the trash,' and how this helps us stay open-hearted. I'm not talking about the physical garbage here (although spring cleaning is super helpful for clearing your mind!); I'm referring to 'emotional baggage' and releasing the past.

When we let go of past hurts and the stories we've attached to them, this helps us love ourselves and others from a pure, truthful place. Instead of letting our love be clouded by negative emotion, worry, or chatter from the ego, we can just be love.

We're human, and imperfect, and that's OK. We don't have to hold on to all the shitty stuff that's happened to us, or tell ourselves over and over again that we're broken. We can move on, and love more.

The lovely Mind over Lather yoga mat spray that came in my Yogi Surprise box has a lavender and mint scent, very calming and cleansing. When I use it on my yoga mat after practice, I'm reminded that each practice is like a 'spring cleaning' -- not only of the physical body, but also of the mind and the emotional body. Leave what you no longer need, is what one of my favorite yoga teachers always says.

Meaning, come to your mat and let something go. Don't carry it with you out the door again. Empty out your cup. Make space for something new, better, positive, and happy so you can go out into your life and fill back up with good things.

Let your heart be open.

Photos by Brynna Bryant of Respiro Photography.


PS Here's a simple flow from Sadie Nardini for opening the heart, too.

Yoga and Reiki


Have you ever tried Reiki? It is a powerful healing practice that cleanses the body, purifies the mind, nourishes the spirit, and allows us to tune in to our higher self.

I could not be more excited and grateful to offer a combination of Reiki and yoga when I teach.


I've been giving treatments and I'm stunned by how powerful the work can be -- it has such a big impact! Whether you're new to energy work or familiar with it, whether you're generally happy and healthy or you're suffering from a physical ailment or an emotional struggle, Reiki is amazing!

It always lifts my spirits and helps me get through rough times. Even lately, with the little ups and downs of shifting to a new schedule and the feelings of doubt and fear that sometimes show up, Reiki makes a huge difference in helping me get through long days.


I've also been sending Reiki to all of my yoga students at the end of class. Generally I'll sit at the front of the room during Shavasana, just meditating. Sometimes I will direct the flow of Reiki to a student if he or she seems sad or down or depleted, and I'll notice relaxation come over their body.

I also meditate on Reiki being present in my hands before class, so that any hands-on adjustments I do will be even more helpful to the yogis in the room.


Sending distance Reiki is so powerful, too! I have a lot of friends around the country, and I'll often send energy healing to them throughout my day-- if I'm waiting in line somewhere, or shooting a text message to them, or even waiting at a red light in my car.

Reiki has unlimited potential to help others heal! I love it so much. :)


If you're looking for more information about what Reiki is and what it does, please check out my new website, www.aliveinthefirereiki.com. I'm offering treatments locally in Sacramento and Roseville, and I'm so happy to share it with others. You can always email me at aliveinthefire at gmail dot com for more details, too.

Namaste, loves!