A Yoga Pose for the Holidays: Savasana

What is your favorite yoga pose these days?

With the busy holiday season here, it's so helpful to make time for yoga. Today on Alive in the Fire, sponsored yogini Yani shares about one of her favorite postures,

Savasana

(deep rest).

A favorite pose of mine is corpse pose, also known as Savasana. Not only is it a nice way to cool down from a flow, but it is a good way to ground yourself and let go. 

To get into Savasana, find a quiet and comfortable space, a place where you can go undisturbed for some time. Lie down on your back. 

Place your feet at hip-width apart, arms resting beside your body, palms facing up towards the skies. Feel your body on the mat, grounding yourself to the Earth below you, allowing your ankles to relax down toward the mat. 

Mentally scan the entirety of your body, from the tip of your toes to the top of your head. Bring awareness to the natural rhythm of your breath. Inhale, and exhale. With each exhale, allow a little more of your weight to fall onto the mat. Allow your jaw to relax. Give yourself permission to sink deeper into your mat, deeper into rest. 

If thoughts arise, allow them to float away—like a cloud passing through the sky—and draw your focus back into your breath. 

If your thoughts continue to run wild, focus on syncing a mantra with your breath. For example, use the mantra 

Sat Nam

, which means, 

the essence of me is truth; I am true.

 As you inhale, vibrate within, or think to yourself, 

Sat

. As you exhale, vibrate within, or think to yourself, 

Nam

.

You are safe to let go. 

Namaste.

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.

A Beautiful Yoga Book


Hi friends!

What yoga books are you reading lately?


Sponsored yogini Kels recently checked out Letters from the Yoga Masters, which features the collected letters of Dr. Hari Dickman to the hundreds of yogis he corresponded with—including Swami Sivananda, Ramana Maharshi, and Paramhansa Yogananda. 

Today on Alive in the Fire she shares her thoughts on the book...


This jewel of a book is a fitting tribute to a great soul, offered lovingly by his dedicated student. 

Its a book you don't want to lose. Its passion, its love, its life and most of its words are written by some of the greatest yoga masters of the past. 

Hari, Hari Rickman, (whom you'll later be introduced to, well, sooner than later actually) devoted his life to the study of yoga. He once said, "I'm obsessed with yoga and Ill never get enough." Even as Hari was living in a displaced persons camp during the Second World War, he was studying and practicing yoga. 

One of my favorite scripts is on page 129 where he describes when he learned about Yoni or Shanmukhi Mudra. I really needed a good insight on concentration. The hand written letters that are exampled are engrossing and very intriguing. You have to see them for yourself! 

How fortunate that the yogic knowledge Dr. Dickman gained from many revered teachers has been preserved so carefully and faithfully that it can enrich the lives of many spiritual seekers who otherwise would never have known of him. Right?! 

Last snippet; page. 87 discusses Sitali and Sitkari which I think its great to learn, especially during the warm season because it quickly cools down the body. The breathe is so amazing. Literally. 

Namaste. Kels.

Movement


Maybe you're tired, or feeling defeated, and you'd rather sit on the couch than roll out your yoga mat.

I encourage you to try a little movement, despite the discomfort.


Five minutes. Maybe ten. Set yourself a small enough goal that it's really hard to make an excuse not to move.

Take a walk around the block. Do ten pushups and ten situps in your living room. Three sun salutations.

Do only the yoga poses that feel good, the ones your body is calling out for, and for now, skip the rest. Release any feeling of guilt, any notion of, 'I could do better,' or, 'I'm not good enough.'


It may not feel fun to get started, but I'd guess that afterwards you feel grateful you made time for keeping your vital energy moving.

Find a little movement that works for you in your day. See how you feel.

Namaste.

Photos in this post by Ken Johnson of CKCImage.com (1), Brynna Bryant of Respiro Photography (2) and Justin Kral of Kral Studios (3).

PS, as a side note, this post is as much for me as it is for you... so please remember, you're not alone on the days when you might struggle to make time for movement. And if you happen to be having a sh*tty day, this is another great post to check out.

Don't Be Stinky After Yoga Class


Do you sweat a lot in yoga? Do you practice in a heated studio?

Well, this post is for you :) 

(And by the way, I do both of those things, too!)

Here are some ideas about how to refresh before and after a sweaty practice.


Come to class having showered and brushed your teeth. You can also do oil pulling or use a tongue scraper. 

Please refrain from eating pungent foods right before class, smoking a cigarette on the way in, or wearing unwashed clothes from the previous day's practice.

Simple saucha practices go a long way!



Use a yoga mat spray like Mat Mist. This amazing, aromatherapeutic spray comes in scents such as Sandalwood lavender geranium, Thyme Douglas fir, Lemon myrtle peppermint vetiver and Colloidal silver water.

What's especially rad about Mat Mist is that all you have to do is spray down your mat after class, roll it up, and go. The essential oils will disinfect your mat without requiring you to wipe it down, plus, next time you practice, there's a little scent there to awaken your senses and encourage deep pranayama breathing.

Sponsored yogini Kelsie recently tried the product... she took it to class and not only did she love it, but she said all the yogis around her loved it and were asking where they could find some :) She also sprays it around her house because it's that good (!!) and she loves that it is all organic and natural.


Shower right after class, and do a pre-rinse of your yoga clothes, towel, and headband before washing them in the washing machine. You can wring them out by hand and also consider having a laundry detergent with baking soda.

Once every few weeks, let your mat air out. Some mats do well in the sunshine and others don't, so be sure to check whether your mat should be left in the sun (you can usually find this info on the manufacturer's website, and I know for sure that Jade yoga mats do not like sun!).



What other things do you do to stay fresh before and after a yoga class?

Photos in this post by Tom Huynh.

Bringing saucha, one of the niyamas, into your life.

“The body is your temple.  Keep it pure and clean for the soul to reside in.” – B.K.S. Iyengar

Energizing Snacks


What are the best foods for yogis to eat before and after class? 

This is a question I often return to, especially on days when I have intense, sweaty workouts and need to keep my energy levels up.

Recently lovely sponsored yogini Kels was given a chance to try some yummy GoMacro macrobars, and these may be our new favorite pre- and post-yoga snacks...


GoMacro loves flavor. Healthy, wholesome, flavor. They’re macrobiotic, meaning they’re made from wholesome ingredients. 

They are minimally processed and help you maintain health and balance in your life. 

Go Macro’s mantra is that if nature didn’t make it, they don’t use it in their bars. They’re delicious, nutritious and life-giving.






My favorites are the GoMaco Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip and the Apple Walnut. Trust me on this one.

What snacks do you like to eat before or after a workout?

I'd love to hear! 

A heartfelt Namaste to the team at GoMacro and to Kelsie for sharing her review :)
Photos in this post courtesty of Kelsie and from GoMacro.

You're Invited to Join the Alive in the Fire Email Newsletter



Happy Monday, yogis! Hope you had a beautiful weekend.

I wanted to take a moment to invite you to join my email newsletter! :) Exciting times... it only took me 5+ years to get my act together as a blogger and get an email list going. Ha!

In all honesty, I would love if you join the list... you guys are the reason I write and you make this community what it is. :) I'll be sharing updates with recent blog posts, ideas for kicking your yoga practice into gear, info about my upcoming coastal yoga retreat (!!!), and other fun updates. There's a signup form below, and a spot in the sidebar at the right where you can always sign up.





Alive in the Fire Newsletter

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Thanks, as always for being a part of Alive in the Fire! Namaste.

Photos in this post by Brynna Bryant and Tom Huynh.

A Book for Finding Peace and Letting Go of Disappointment


Do you find it challenging to manage your expectations? How do you react when things don't turn out the way you hoped they would?

In her book Expectation Hangover, author and life coach Christine Hassler explores these questions and other ideas related to accepting disappointment, going through life transitions, and finding emotional healing. The book is filled with useful exercises, guided meditations and personal stories.

Today on the blog sponsored yogi Yani shares her review of the book :) Enjoy!


A Review of Expectation Hangover by Yani

I'm a person that fills her time with the many things she obsesses about and is passionate about. I'm also a person that is really bad at slowing down to read, drink warm lemon water, and kind of just slowing the fuck down (though sometimes I do love to relax, be a homebody, and kick it). Another note about me, I have a hard time finishing an entire book through- unless I have absolutely nothing to do, and can get lost in a new world. I read it part by part, slowly. I tend to read when it's calling me; I don't like to force a good read. 


Expectation Hangover: Free Yourself from Your Past, Change your Present & Get What You Really Want had been sitting on my glass table, along with a few other books, waiting to find their way in my to mind. I picked it up one day and carried it around with me so that when the moment called, I would be ready. I drove up to the DMV, without an appointment, grabbed the book in my AmeriCorps bag, and got lost in a new world while I waited in line and sat awaiting my number. 

As always, I read what was destined to find its way in to my mind. I felt moments of epiphanies; I felt my worlds coming full circle. One of the greatest lessons I took away from my short escape was: holding onto expectations is setting the heart and mind up for failure. Goals and ambitions are in place to guide you, but to expect is to put all your eggs in one basket. Create, have faith, and see what finds its way to you as a reality in your world. We have full control of ourselves, but limited control of life.  

In my reading I found a humbling mindset, a mindful way of being. It allowed me to make peace, let go, and ground myself. 


I love that this is an interactive reading, encouraging you to journal and reflect. I look forward to moving onward with this journey, and what this book shall reveal to me. 

One of my favorite quotes from the book:

"We all love control because the unknown is downright scary. In fact, I think control has become the master addiction. But the truth is we really don't have complete control over our lives, and nothing illuminates that truth more brightly than an Expectation Hangover."


Thanks, Yani, for your awesome review and a big thanks to the team at New World Library for offering the opportunity to check out this book. Namaste.

PS Learn more about the author Christine Hassler and check out her interview with Huffington Post about how to overcome falling short of your expectations. Or take her quiz to find out if you have an expectation hangover.

A Yoga Book About Love


Today I'm honored to share sponsored yogini Kelsie's review of the book Mala of Love: 108 Luminous Poems. This collection features two of my favorite things in the world: yoga and poetry. Enjoy...

Un-­put­-down-­able. Adjective informal

1. (of a book) so engrossing that one cannot stop reading it.

This book channels the inner nature of the self, and is a stunning body of work. Many of the poems are excerpts from the work of practitioners all over the world and their words embody my inner most emotions, most strongly, love. Its much easier to express my profound love to others with the help of Mala Of Love.

So true, so inspiring, so deep.



Here are a few excerpts from the book, to give you a sense of how it reads.

An excerpt from page 42:


The minute I heard my first love story

I stared looking for you, not knowing

How blind that was.

Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere.

They’re in each other all along.

- RUMI

Translated by Coleman Barks

An excerpt from the book's introduction:

The diverse voices form a mala, or a garland of 108 prayer beads. Although identified with Eastern traditions, the mala has been increasingly accepted as a sacred tool in other parts of the world. All the beads of a mala are equal, complete in themselves, and yet related to one another. Each turning of the beads steadies and deepens a connection to the Supreme. On a practical level, this collection — like the mala — is an interactive tool allowing the reader to commune with love. We can read the poems aloud in the same way we might recite a mantra or a prayer with a mala. Consistent use helps foster a shift in our neural pathways, so that eventually we become that which we meditate on. We become love.



Thanks, Kels, for sharing your thoughts on this beautiful book!

PS Another awesome book of yoga and poetry.

Instant Gratitude (And Yoga Books)

Photos courtesy of Yani.

One of my favorite parts about Alive in the Fire is that this blog has inspired me to read so many incredible yoga books! (And books about meditation, spirituality, relationships, cooking, and more.)

I'm grateful when I receive emails about new books that are coming out, or I have the chance to read them or share them with the Sponsored Yogis team.

We'll be sharing some book reviews soon, but first I just wanted to share this sweet quote from Yani. I emailed her to let her know to expect books in the mail, and this was her response...


My initial response, knowing that these books are on their way... instant gratitude. 

I love personal growth books. I geek out. I often feel that they arrive in my life at the right time, and I will be reading them at the right moment. 

I cannot wait to dig deep and allow this new information into my mind. 


What a beautiful thought, right? Instant gratitude. And, an openness to receiving new information at the exact right time.

Just had to share that with you guys :) 

3 Ways to Reduce Soreness After Yoga or a Workout

Photo by Tom Huynh.

Are you sore from yoga class, or maybe you took a bootcamp class or went for a run? ;)

I find my muscles are sore often, from teaching and practicing yoga.

Here are my top 3 remedies for relieving soreness after a big workout.


Photo by Tom Huynh.

3 Ways to Reduce Soreness After Yoga or Working Out


1. Take an epsom salt bath. Epsom Salt is a pure mineral compound (magnesium sulfate) in crystal form. Soaking in an Epsom Salt bath is one of the most effective means of making the magnesium your body needs readily available. Not only does epsom salt soothe muscle pain, but it also cleanses your pores and detoxifies your skin. Amazing! My hands-down favorite brand to use is SF Salt Co, specifically their muscle soak with eucalyptus and peppermint and their sleep formula with lavender. 

I shared this salt with a friend recently who was so sore she could hardly walk (her quads were burning!) and afterward she felt much better. I've also relied heavily on epsom salt baths to get through a yoga teacher training-- it adds up quick when you're practicing 2 or 3 times a day! Even just after one yoga class, you could draw your bath, add a glass of wine and a candle and it's such a lovely way to wind down after a long day.



2. Hydrate. Drink more water before and after your workout. Especially if you are doing heated yoga or it's spring or summer with warmer temperatures, adding more water to your daily habit will help from getting sore. Carry your water bottle with you everywhere you go as a reminder to drink water throughout your day.

Photo by Tom Huynh.

3. Take rest, stretch, and use a foam roller or wheel. One of the best ways to reduce soreness is to get another yoga class in :) You could also do a relaxing, restorative yin sequence or 3 simple sun salutations at home. Deepen your breath to allow more access to deeper tissue in the body. Here's a good list of poses to try, or these restorative poses. Another good thing to remember is to give yourself rest days where you aren't doing a big workout, so your muscles can recover. Last and certainly not least, consider investing in a dense foam roller! I use mine almost daily, under my back, and to release tightness in my legs (quads and shins). Another effective option is the Dharma Yoga Wheel, which helps open the back, chest, shoulders, and hamstrings.

Cheers to feeling energized and releasing any soreness you've got going on!

Namaste, friends.

PS Do you teach yoga? Here are tips for taking care of yourself as a yoga teacher.

Gratitude from My Yoga Mat


What are you grateful for in your yoga practice these days, friends? And how do you feel when you step onto your mat? How does your yoga practice support you?

I recently posed these questions to Yani and Kelsie of the Sponsored Yogis team, after sending along some awesome Manduka yoga mats for them to try.

I'm hoping their answers will make you smile, like they did for me :)

From Yani:

I am in love with my eKo Manduka mats! For so many reasons. First, I received them from my angel Rachel with Alive in the Fire. I was heading out from lunch when a lovely delivery met me. It was sheer joy. I hugged them. My mats along with a few other magical goodies were the first thing I had received with my sponsorship with Alive in the Fire as a 2016 Sponsored Yogi. I was elated. So blessed.

My favorite is my 5 mm practice mat! I am in love. So in love. 

I'm not sure if it's a universal energy, this time in space, or my mat, but I have been so connected to my mat. It frees me. Welcomes and supports me. 

I welcomed in the Lunar New Year with a divine flow. The year of the monkey is fitting; as I surrendered to the moment I let myself grow curious and be playful with my level of intelligence and possibility.

My Manduka Eko SuperLite travel mat is much smaller and thinner than the travel mat I recently used in my travels within China and the Philippines. The first time I used this mat I folded it and placed it in my backpack. I went on a walk through my neighborhood and led myself to a session at a nearby park. While I was once concerned with how thin it was, it is the last thing on your mind. Again I may just be riding on some wonderful wavelengths in existence, but I found magic in my practice.

From Kelsie:

In asanas that tend to be slightly harder on the knees, like Ustrasana (camel pose) and Anjaneyasana (low lunge), this mat provides just the right amount of support and cushion to feel ease and comfort throughout the pose, even when held for long periods of time. The mat also provides stabilization and joint protection during asanas that require more stability, balance, and impact. At the same time, it won’t compromise the ability to feel stable and connected to the ground. Don’t just take my word for it, though.

I have recently furthered my meditation by practicing with my Manduka

There, on my mat, is where I let go of my ego, my worries, and my fears. And it’s on my mat where I relish and experience the greatness of being “here and now."
A big thanks to the team at Manduka for their generosity, and to Kelsie and Yani for sharing about their yoga practice. Namaste.

Inspired Intentions


Hi, yogis!

Today I'm excited to bring you a new Sponsored Yogis series all about inspired intentions
Inspired Intentions

Do you have a habit of setting intentions? Or cultivating a certain quality during your morning meditation?

We've found it can be quite powerful to bring in an intention or mantra early in the day, either during meditation or even just driving in the car.

Here are some lovely inspired intentions from our Sponsored Yogi team:

Yani

Trust the moment. Be patient with the moment. Everything shall unfold. I'm learning to take things easy and be patient, even while I have a full and busy schedule.

Kels

My intention is to stay positive: today I'm feeling a little in the dark and blue. I'm looking for inspiration and trusting that I'll find it.

Rachel

My intention is to rest. To be gentle on myself. If there are moments where I find myself having unreasonable expectations or hearing the thought creep in that says, 'I'm not good enough,' I will shift my perspective and let that BS go! (PS My favorite-ever response when I told Yani and Kels about this intention was Yani's reply: "Sometimes warriors need to become little angels and slow down for a bit." So true!!)

What are your inspired intentions this week, yogis?

Namaste.

Announcing the 2016 Alive in the Fire Sponsored Yogis Team

Hello, beautiful yogis!

I am over-the-moon excited to introduce you to this year's incredible Sponsored Yogis! 

You may be asking, what is Sponsored Yogis? :) Sponsored Yogis is a seva project I do through Alive in the Fire where I choose several extraordinary souls to support for a year. My goal is to help them grow in their yoga practice, both on and off the mat. 

I keep in touch, sending emails and having Skype conversations, so that I can offer support from the perspective of a yoga teacher and also as a friend who is walking the 8-limbed path of yoga. I also offer them goodies like yoga mats, yoga clothing, studio classes, massages, photo shoot experiences, books, DVDs, and wellness products, so that they have the tools they need to grow in their practice. My goal is to help the Sponsored Yogi team feel loved, cared for, and inspired.

Photo by Brynna Bryant of Respiro Photography.

The Sponsored Yogi team helps write heartfelt blog posts, share Alive in the Fire stories on social media, and grow our community so that we share more yoga with the world. This year we're also going to be featuring an Instagram challenge, and start fundraising for a teacher training scholarship. Sponsored Yogis is an incredible journey, one that always opens my eyes to new ways that Yoga impacts those around us. The more love we share, the more love spreads! The program is an amazing, life-changing experience that has brought me some of the most meaningful friendships I've ever had, and I have no doubt that 2016 will be the best year yet.

I'm very excited to announce that I've chosen 2 beautiful yoginis to be a part of this year's Sponsored Yogi team! Please meet Yani and Kelsie, and stay tuned to hear more from them in the weeks and months to come. 

Yani Valdes

Yani is a yogini and Americorps volunteer from Bakersfield, CA. 
She is creative, empowered, grateful and compassionate.

A few facts about Yani:
  • She loves practicing Vinyasa and restorative yoga, especially outdoors in nature, as well as PiYo, to build strength and flexibility.
  • She is currently in her second year of service with BHC AmeriCorps and often practices meditation and yoga with her mentees.
  • Yani recently traveled to the Philippines and one of her goals is to complete a yoga teacher training in Thailand.
  • She isn't afraid to be real and raw, and she believes that being vulnerable will help set us free. 

How has yoga changed your life?
Yoga has become a way of being. Time after time, life reveals to me beauty in this world. I recall times in my life when I come across new ways of being, thinking, existing. Each day I wake, I strive to be my most ideal self. Some days I fly, and others I feel like I'm crumbling to pieces. But I live. And the next day, I'm given another chance. Yoga reminds me to accept and love myself, to stay present in the moment, to breathe deeply, and to surrender.


Why are you excited to be a Sponsored Yogi?
This is my divine purpose. On my recent birthday I put my love and trust in the Universe. I gave thanks for this life, and put trust in the notion of divine purpose. A series of events revealed as I learned to surrender to what can be. 

Shortly after graduating with my B.A in Liberal Studies from CSU Bakersfield, I went in to service with BHC AmeriCorps. Through college, service to humanity and exploring I've learned so much. I reflect on my life and am so thankful for every experience that has made me, me. I've given so much of myself, and am ready to trust and love myself, my dreams, God, Source Energy, the Universe- whatever we want to call that greater power. I look forward to another year of life on planet Earth, where each day we are gifted with life. I'm excited to aid in creating life and existing in a positive culture. I am grateful for the opportunity to follow my heart and to grow.


Thank you, Yani, and welcome to Sponsored Yogis!

Kelsie Eggers

Kelsie is a dedicated student and teacher of yoga from Clarkston, WA. She is thoughtful, encouraging, knowledgeable and devoted.

A few facts about Kels:
  • She practices Vinyasa, Hatha and Iyengar yoga in the Pacific Northwest.
  • Her mission is to share knowledge, skills and tools to help others find their inward journey through yoga.
  • Her yoga goals are to stay sharp and strong, to find clear focus, discipline and unwavering concentration.
  • She's currently reading Light on Life by Iyengar :)

How has yoga changed your life?
Aside from a diet revise, friends, friends, friends and confidence, I'm optimistic now. In the past, I walked on the dark side...always assuming or expecting the worse. Yoga taught me the opposite, which is to trust. Visions of success and happiness are much more likely to manifest when we focus on positive possibilities instead of worse case scenarios. 
  


Why are you excited to be a Sponsored Yogi?
I'm honestly really excited to be an author of this blog! And, I love people! I love building communities of like minded people and I am humbled to meet new yogis from all over the country. I am a teacher and student, thus giving and receiving knowledge is a long term gift I am looking forward to sharing.


Thank you, Kels, and welcome to Sponsored Yogis!

I could not be more proud of both of these lovely yoginis for their courage, confidence and the joyfulness they bring to the Alive in the Fire community. Already Yani and Kelsie have shown their dedication and enthusiasm, and we can't wait for all the awesome content that will be coming your way soon as part of the Sponsored Yogis program. 

Namaste, friends!

PS Please follow Yani (@yanivaldes_) and Kelsie (@yoga_by_kels) on their Instagram pages as well, and stay tuned for our upcoming Instagram challenge!