Moving to a New Home and Discovering New Yoga Spaces

Hi, yogis :) How are you? 

Recently I moved from the Sacramento area to Eureka, California. What a whirlwind month it's been!

I'm still getting settled and checking out yoga studios in the area and wanted to share a few reflections from the last few classes I've taken.

It's wild how much I've learned being in a new environment with teachers who come from different schools of yoga. In the last week I've experienced my first Forrest and Anusara practices and I've enjoyed picking up on small yet impactful differences in the language, cuing, and pacing of the classes.

Do you ever mix up your yoga routine? Or try classes at local studios when you travel? I highly recommend getting out of your comfort zone and taking a class where you aren't quite sure what to expect... open yourself to learning, and being a beginner again!

Tosha Yoga, Arcata, CA
This is a breathtaking space on the top floor of the building that I'll definitely return to. I love the natural light, the collection of lovely succulent plants around the room, and the calm, uplifting energy of the space. The Forrest yoga class I took here involved some awesome core work, grounding meditation, and new flows and movements that felt nourishing to the body (lots of Eagle arms, which I even felt the next day in my upper back!). 

The teacher Janine was very clear and precise in her teaching, and I appreciated the few hands-on adjustments she offered which helped me relax my neck and take tension out of my shoulders. At one point I could hear the sound of the rain on the rooftop. Very peaceful. I felt spaciousness, grounding, and openness. Even a little glimpse of blissful samadhi during Shavasana.

Om Shala Yoga, Arcata, CA
Om Shala offers a diverse range of yoga classes on their schedule. So far I've tried a basics Anusara class, a Hatha 'align and flow' class, and an all-levels Power Vinyasa class. The teachers here certainly have a wealth of knowledge about alignment and I've picked up some awesome tricks and tips about my practice. I love having reminders to pay closer attention to what my 'bad' habits are in class, or just to notice something new. This week I've been working on:
  • Knitting the low ribs in. Drawing energy into the center of the body really allows me to move from a place of more power! This helps in every pose - in foundational poses like Tadasana and Downdog, and especially in backbends and balancing postures.
  • Waking up the feet. Keeping the feet alive and the toes active brings more prana into the lower half of the body and the legs, giving more stability and grounding. Pada bandha, engaging the arches, is a subtle but very useful technique that makes a pose feel more balanced. I noticed this one in Half Moon. I also realized that metaphorically and energetically for me at this moment in my life it's very important to keep the feet awake so that I can feel more grounded in these new spaces I'm in!
  • Using props and the wall for support. I learned an awesome trick for using three blocks on the wall in Dolphin pose (beautiful, supported way to open the upper back and chest). I also worked on Ardha Chandrasana (Standing Half Moon pose) on the wall-- I was able to see how my hips needed to be more engaged in order to access more opening in the pose. Also started to work on wall walks in Wheel (!!!!) and practiced Forearm stand. So excited to incorporate these new 'tricks' into my home practice!
Sasha's power flow class at Om Shala was my favorite local yoga class so far since I moved. I loved her simple, direct cuing, her upbeat playlist, and the way she reminded us to send our breath into the area where our bodies most needed to heal. I definitely felt challenged and inspired, and was surprised by how many arm balances and sun salutations I was able to fit in!

Redwood Strength, Fortuna, CA
This class was an hour-long hot vinyasa practice in a new gym that's a mix of Crossfit-style workouts and hot yoga. I enjoyed the heat and thought of my friends and colleagues at CorePower Yoga and how I miss that beautiful room and its humidity ;) I enjoyed the teacher's enthusiasm and sense of humor and felt at home listening to the sound of Krishna Das' voice.

HealthSport, Eureka, CA
I took a Hatha class and was easily the youngest yogi in the room. One of my favorite moments was about 15 minutes into class, looking over at the gorgeous gray-haired yogini next to me take on full Hanumanasana with her arms overhead and a smile on her face :) The teacher Francis had a unique way of getting me to try more depth in the poses and I loved the mindful, intentional sequencing. At the end of class my body felt open and my mind clear.

Home practice
My home practice has been really key in the last few weeks, too. Rolling out a mat in the kitchen or in my backyard has given me space to be completely comfortable, to relax, to release stress, to breathe loudly and sigh heavily, and to cry a little. Moving is incredibly draining and exhausting work, and it hasn't been easy.

During the weeks leading up to moving, I felt overwhelmed by to-do lists and I benefited greatly from having a restorative yin practice. Since we arrived here on the coast, I've felt a little down and lonely on some days, so a more vigorous practice with inversions and backbends has helped me stay positive.

I can tell that in the weeks and months to come, as I take a little break from having classes to teach, my home practice will be a great way for me to stay creative, to keep up my self-confidence in my teaching, and to play with new flows and ideas for what I love to teach.

I'm still struggling a little bit to find where my new yoga 'home' is, and I'm certainly grieving the loss of having weekly classes to teach in beautiful communities, but I'm doing my best to keep a positive attitude and stay open to whatever opportunities come my way.

I'm thinking of offering a mom's yoga group or a beach yoga meetup... 

Ooh, and stay tuned for details on my upcoming Alive in the Fire yoga retreat that is now in the works! I'm planning a weekend getaway on the coast featuring yoga, chanting, meditation, journaling and hiking. It's going to be incredible! (And Yani and Kels from the sponsored yogis team will be attending -- wheeeee!)

Hope you are all having a beautiful week. Cheers to finding inspiring yoga classes and please know I'm sending you big hugs! Namaste.

Appreciating This Moment

Photo by T. Libertiny.

A long time ago, I visited Detroit and did a yoga shoot on the city streets. 

This weekend I found out from my friend that this mural in the picture above no longer exists-- it was painted over.

My friend walked to the location of the mural, expecting to come around the corner and see the stunning, colorful wall. But it was gone. The only evidence of it existed in our pictures (and it took some digging for me to find them!)

This experience was a reminder to me to be grateful for the present moment. Cliche as it sounds, it's all we have. All of this is so fleeting. Change is happening all around us, all the time. We resist it again and again, but it is the nature of life.

Sometimes I find myself asking, 'Why is this happening to me?'

In the moment, it can be hard to understand why chaotic change is necessary. When this photo was taken, I was living in the Midwest and my life was about to get turned upside down. During that time, if you had asked me to be grateful for all of the change, I would have struggled to do so. 

Yet now, looking back, I can see that those changes lined me up to be able to come home to California and create the life I have now.

Change is inevitable, and this is why we must cherish every moment. Notice the art around you. Take nothing for granted. Give thanks for the feeling of the cool breeze, the home you live in, the hug you're given. Say I love you. Say thank you.

Hold it all as sacred, because it is.

Writing Retreat

Photos via Pinterest. 

This weekend I’m going on a writing retreat in Park City, Utah. I’m so excited!

It will be wonderful to catch up with my co-author and dive into working on our second novel.

I’m also just looking forward to detaching from my phone, sitting by the fire, and enjoying good conversation. I may try to find a yoga class at a local studio, too :)

What are you up to this weekend?


Yoga Retreats and Summer Travel

Photos courtesy of Sam.

Are you guys traveling this summer?

I have some yoga friends who are on a retreat in Costa Rica right now, and I’ll find myself daydreaming about joining them on the beach! I would so love to take a vacation.

My lovely sponsored yogi Sam visited gorgeous Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic recently. So beautiful!

She also got the chance to try out an all-natural moisturizing oil product called KiwiGlow. Here are her thoughts about the product.

Kiwi Glow currently carries three oils: Earth, Verde and Amaya, all of which are for both him and her. I was excited to receive all three to try and Verde is definitely my favorite; I love the eucalyptus and citrus combination. My significant other has already claimed the bottle of Amaya Kiwi Glow :)

The oil: I’ve dealt with eczema on and off my entire life and have the most sensitive skin so I was a little skeptical about using Kiwi Glow, but it’s all natural cold-pressed sesame oil, so it’s both gentle and moisturizing. The essential oils truly sooth the skin and smell ah-mazing. 

Packaging: I absolutely love the frosted bottles! Kiwi Glow comes in a beautiful bottle and the pump minimizes mess. 

Price: Initially I thought the price of $35 for a 4 oz bottle of daily skin oil was a bit much, but for what you get, it’s definitely worth it. I’ve been using Verde every day for the past two weeks when I step out of the shower and it still looks like a brand new bottle. 

Verdict: Kiwi Glow is a great natural moisturizer. Treat your body to these uplifting, luxurious oils! 

Note: KiwiGlow is offering 20% off all orders for the month of June, and they always have free shipping!

Whether you’re home for the summer, or having adventures around the world, I hope you’re enjoying some sunshine and relaxation. Much love!

How to Meditate During Your Daily Commute (Conquer Road Rage with Yoga!)

T-shirt by MustBKarma.

On some days, morning traffic gets me down. I can get impatient, grumpy and irritated sitting in my car, or pissed off when other drivers are slow or incompetent.

Instead of getting swept up in my reactions lately, I've been trying instead to cultivate loving kindness during my commute time. Often I speak this mantra aloud and envision love and compassion reaching the people around me.

May you be well; may you be happy. May all beings be well; may all beings be happy.

Every now and then a driver in the car next to me will catch my eye and we exchange a smile. Silently, I wish them a heart-centered Namaste.

Stranger, fellow driver, fellow yogi: I acknowledge you. I honor and respect you. May you be well and happy.

It’s amazing how much a simple practice such as this can transform a very ordinary experience into something meaningful. The same happens when we give our practice on the mat away. We detach from the outcome and the yoga becomes a gift for the benefit of others.

More and more, I realize: everything in life is yoga. I carry my practice with me wherever I go.

Photo via Pinterest.

My invitation to you as you transition out of the Thanksgiving holiday and back into your work week is to practice loving kindness to everyone around you. Let your heart be full of love.

PS Here's another relaxing workday meditation.

PPS Another fun way I spend the commute is reciting the yoga flow I'm about to teach. Or just singing mantra.

OmStays: HomeStays for the Yoga Journey

Photo via OmStays.

Are you a traveling yogi?

I just discovered a website/ community that will rock your world! OmStays is a reciprocal guest/host program that connects yoga travelers.

Photo via Pinterest.

Picture this: you're planning to hit up a big yoga or music festival, or go on vacation in a spot where you know there are a bunch of awesome studios you want to try. But you'd rather not spend a fortune on a hotel room... and you'd really like to plug in to the local yoga scene and meet some fellow yogis and teachers...

Photo via OmStays.

With OmStays, you can stay the night with an awesome host. You'll spend only $15 as a thank-you gratuity. You also have the opportunity to act as a host for other traveling yogis, a great way to meet new people and support fellow yogis in their adventures.

Here's how it works:
  • You join as a member for $35/year, set up your profile, and you can get started searching for other hosts.
  • You can use reviews on the website's directory to see what other members thought about their hosts and their OmStay experience.
  • Contact a host directly to inquire about availability and work out the details of your stay.
  • After your visit, share your experience as the guest or host on the OmStays website.
Photo via Pinterest.

The website also features ride shares, pet sitting, nonprofit opportunities, and an event board where yoga studios and teachers can post info about their classes. SO RAD!

OmStays is on Facebook, too!

I can't wait to try out OmStays. Stay tuned for more info soon...  I met recently with Kathie, the site's founder, and could not be more excited about helping her grow this community. I hope you guys will all check out the site!

Blog of the Week at Yoga Travel Tree

Photo via Pinterest

This week the blog was featured over at Yoga Travel Tree, an awesome site for yogis who love to travel and try new studios and workshops around the world. I feel honored that Alive in the Fire was chosen as the Weekly “Blog to Buzz About” and I’m even more excited to put together a post for Yoga Travel Tree soon!

Screenshot via Yoga Travel Tree

I’ll be writing about yoga tips for travelers – like which poses to do if you’re tired from sitting in the car all day, suggestions for mats to travel with, and thoughts on what to look for when trying new studios.

Are you a traveling yogi? What’s your advice for taking your yoga on the road?

I’d love to hear!

Yoga at Lake Tahoe (And Falling More in Love with My Life)

I am a big fan of taking my practice out of the studio. Often being in a new location can bring new perspective. When I am in nature, I feel more grounded, more connected to the heart of my practice.

I see my yoga with clear vision.

I am not caught up in the little habits that come with a familiar class.

I allow myself to move freely through the postures, listening for what my body needs.

Yesterday I hiked down a little path not far from Hidden Beach at Lake Tahoe and rolled out my mat on the pine needles. I had an amazing view of the water.

I sat on a flat rock, breathing, letting my mind settle.

I meditated on the power and beauty of the physical world. I let my heart fill with gratitude for the chance to be present in such a gorgeous place. I did not hurry to move from stillness into the postures.

I slowed down my flow between postures, pausing to notice alignment. I let each breath be full and deep, feeling the difference from the elevation and the subtle smell of pine and water.

The sound of the lake lapping at the shoreline.

The sunlight falling through the trees.

I am grateful for days like these, when the yoga feels natural, grounded, true. 

I am grateful to wake up sore the next day, my muscles reminding me of the efforts I made, reminding me that I am strong.

Over and over, I am falling in love with this experience we call yoga. Yoga simply teaches me to hold a perspective that is peaceful, loving, aware, grateful.

At the end of a practice like yesterday's, my heart full and my head clear, I realize: the asana is simply a way for me to fall even deeper in love with my life.

Dreaming on the Path to Dharma

Do you dream? 

Do you envision your life playing out in such a way that you can embody your dharma, your highest calling?

Are you able to set intentions and make plans without rigidly attaching to the outcomes?

I believe happiness comes from living with purpose, with conscious intention, while at the same time being open to what the universe has to offer.  

Lately I have been meditating on a life lived in my greatest joy. I see myself sharing and teaching yoga, writing and blogging in a way that sustains me, spending time surrounded by happy and loving friends and family, and taking the time to unplug.

I see myself finishing the vinyasa 200 hour teacher training I'm about to do in Folsom (!!!!). I feel my heart aching to be opened, my spirit to be nourished, my body to be challenged as I grow in my practice. I see myself teaching free yoga classes to strangers on the beach or at the park. 

I picture myself watching a student experience a revelation in class, working through a pose. I wonder about the ways teaching will truly make me a student all over again. I imagine how excited I'll feel speaking that final namaste at the end of class. 

Photo by Cara Brostrom.

I smile thinking about my blogging and the way it brings inspiration to other yogis around the world. I dream of growing Alive in the Fire's readership, of creating exciting and compelling posts to share, of connecting with other bloggers and partners. I hope to bring back the sponsored yogi program and to continue the karma yoga series and the Real Men Do Yoga series.

I set the intention to use this space for good, for bringing about positive energy, light, and love in the world.

My challenge to you today is this: don't let the sun set on another day where you aren't pursuing your dream life. You deserve happiness, satisfaction and abundance.

You can live in a way where your heart is set on fire, where your time is balanced, where you speak your truth and feel gratitude for the blessings you have. Things won't ever be perfect, but there is beauty in that, in the challenges you are capable of overcoming and the ways they make you stronger.

Take a few moments to consider what you are truly seeking from this world, this life. Turn yourself in that direction. Accept that things may not change overnight, and perhaps you will find yourself walking an unexpected path where you may encounter some suffering. Plan to carry on, to know you are capable of perseverance.

Run wildly and passionately toward your dharma.

And, above all, take the time to consciously be grateful for the moments of pure bliss that you're already surrounded by.

The Good Life (Hello from Tahoe)

Happy Labor Day weekend, yogis!

I am enjoying great vibes in Tahoe...having an amazing time listening to live music on the beach, hanging out with friends, going for walks at King's Beach, playing a little guitar, and definitely checking out a new studio tomorrow.

Thankfully the air has cleared a little today. A couple days ago it was pretty smoky around here!

I hope you're having a peaceful, energizing time wherever you are. Wishing you much love and happiness!

Yogi on the Move

Hey lovelies! Hope you've been having a beautiful weekend. 

I just returned to California after an amazing road trip to Chicago. It was quite an adventure driving all the way across the country (solo on the way out, and with my sister on the way back)! I woke up this morning feeling so grateful to be back and to have had the chance to do some summer traveling.

4,000 miles of driving definitely did a number on my body though...let's just say my sad, sore upper back and shoulders and my tight hips were very excited for a hot vinyasa class today!

Stay tuned for a post on yoga for long road trips. I'll give you some advice for postures that will help keep you limber and give you great energy for those long days of sitting.

This week I plan to share a mix of exciting posts... highlights from the road trip, updates on my new job and upcoming yoga teacher training (!!!), and some reflections on recent insights from teachers during class.

Thanks for your patience and see you around the blog again soon!


Heading to Chicago

Hey beautiful yogis! Hope you're having a lovely end-of-summer week.

I wanted to send you a little heads up that I will be in Chicago soon. I'm taking an epic road trip from California through Boulder, CO to see a friend (and do some yoga and hiking) before I arrive in Chi-town for a few days.

And I could not be more stoked to practice at Dharma Yoga Evanston once I get to town!

If you're around and want to say hi, let me know... :) And keep an eye out for photos from my adventure soon!