A Gratitude-Filled November

Photos by Brynna Bryant of Respiro Photography.

Yogis, can you believe it's November? :)

I'm so, so excited for this month! I'm making my focus all about gratitude and staying open to what's possible.

I'm manifesting some incredible yoga and Reiki workshops. I'm also starting to create custom journals for some of my friends, and finding that the act of writing and encouraging others to write is very powerful.

I've also been connecting with other healers in my area and around the country. It's so uplifting to spend time around people who are committed to their health and to living a life of love and happiness!

What are you grateful for in this moment?

PS If you're up for it, I encourage you to spend a few moments journaling today about what makes you happy and what fills your heart with gratitude. You so deserve to have what makes you joyful and lighthearted. Much love!

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

Full Moon In Taurus

Photos via Pinterest.
Tonight is a full moon in Taurus!

This super moon's energy reminds us to stay grounded in what we truly love. I invite you to spend some time tonight journaling about your passions, your goals, and your fears. See if there's anything you're holding onto that can be released :)

PS I love Shakti Sunfire's post about tonight's moon, too!

About Rachel

 Photo by Brynna Bryant of Respiro Photography.

I am a yogi, a student, a teacher. I write. I dance and hula hoop and bike and love to spend time with those I love. I do my best to surrender my attachments.

Photos by Justin Kral.

I believe in wellness, freedom, and laughter. I believe in the community of yoga, and in practicing nonviolence (ahimsa).

I love that yoga helps me move, release, create more freedom, and feel more comfortable in my body. I'm all about encouraging my students to embrace challenges, to find a balance of effort and ease in each pose, to be willing to try new things, and to laugh. 

I believe you are beautiful and strong, and I'm honored that you're here reading this. You are the reason I write, and it's my hope that Alive in the Fire brings you positive energy, joy and inspiration for your practice on and off the mat. 


You can always reach me with feedback or comments at aliveinthefire at gmail dot com. I'd love hearing from you!

Also check out:
my yoga teaching schedule - www.aliveinthefireyoga.com
my Reiki website - www.aliveinthefirereiki.com

 Photo by Brynna Bryant of Respiro Photography.

articles I've written:

Growing a Garden

Do you grow a garden?

Over the last few years, I've been so grateful for the chance to put roots down in California and grow a garden at home.

It's so rewarding to learn information about each plant, care for the plants and water them, see the progress as they flower and produce fruit, and pick delicious, fresh fruits and vegetables to eat seasonally.

Over the months, I've been photographing all the abundant garden harvests and I'm so happy to post them today... a photo journal of sorts :) Enjoy!

In our home garden, we've grown a lot! Many of the fruits and veggies are pictured above, plus here's the full list...
  • veggies: tomatoes, lettuce, kale, spinach, arugula, red leaf lettuce, corn, onions, green onions, broccolini, carrots, potatoes, jalapenos, bell peppers, cayenne peppers, tomatillos, artichoke, zucchini, yellow squash, and pumpkins {still waiting on ghost peppers}
  • fruits: grapes, strawberries, peaches, cantaloupe, watermelon {still waiting on plums, apples, apricots and avocados}
  • herbs: parsley, cilantro
  • from the neighbors, we also get to enjoy cherries, lemons, oranges and pears!
We also keep a compost and recommend checking out these two books if you have questions about gardening: Step by Step Organic Vegetable Gardening  by Shepherd Ogden and The Gardener's A-Z Guide to Growing Organic Food by Tanya L.K. Denckla.


My Favorite Yoga App

Have you guys tried the Cody app?

It's hands-down my favorite yoga and fitness app. They offer some incredible at-home workouts with fantastic yoga teachers.

My two favorite yoga routines:

  • Ultimate Yoga Shred with Sadie Nardini. This 14-day plan features HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) for optimal cardio, fat burning, and lean muscle building.

  • Bodystrong with Ashley Galvin. This 30-day set of videos is designed to tone and strengthen the whole body using challenging asana series, multiple reps, and workouts targeting major areas like the core, legs, arms, and booty.

I have a lot of gratitude for both Sadie and Ashley for sharing these kick-ass yoga classes, and a big thanks to the team at Cody for continually offering high-quality videos. Namaste.

Be On the Lookout for Miracles

In the last 24 hours, I've been reminded three times to be on the lookout for miracles.

Blessings are surrounding us all the time!

The question is, are we paying close enough attention to notice them and allow them in?

Yesterday I showed up at the yoga studio expecting to teach a class. Turns out, my friend and fellow teacher was there to teach, too. She mixed up the dates and was thinking that I needed a sub this week instead of next week. We laughed and both offered to let the other person teach the class.

"I actually really need to practice," I told her. "You teach." 

I felt relieved and grateful for the opportunity to fall into my practice and get a really sweaty class in. I was craving the opportunity to just breathe and move and be in my own practice. Plus, it was wonderful being alongside some of the students who I regularly teach, and instead experiencing the class with them. Yesterday's class was a surprise blessing just waiting for me... followed by another small miracle!

My friend applied to teach at a new studio in our area, and she gave me all the details on what's required to audition and invited me to do the same. I sent in my info last night, and I'm scheduled to do an audition there in a few weeks.

Out of the blue, I was blessed with an opportunity to grow my teaching experiences and try something new. Between the upcoming audition and a class I taught today at an Aikido dojo, I'm feeling really grateful for the chance to be a part of different yoga communities all around this area of northern California.

Then today, I went to Starbucks-- probably the last place I would expect to be reminded of miracles :)

I was waiting in line for a good 10 minutes while the lady in front of me proceeded to make a series of strange requests to the people working there... she wanted her beans ground to a specific setting on their machine but she couldn't remember what number it was called... then she wanted to buy their caramel syrup which was backstock and not for sale... and no joke, when the woman working there told her she couldn't get it, she said, 'But I have to have it! This stuff is like my blood!' ... She was pretty out there :)

Anyway, in the meantime, the other employee asked for my drink order, completed it, and brought it over to me, still waiting for the register to free up. He glanced over at me, nodded, and just motioned for me to leave. "Really?" I asked. "Are you sure?" He waved at me again, "Yes, don't worry about it," he said. And I left the store with a free coffee... 

Synchronicity... the right timing... reminders to be patient... you just never know what miracles the day will bring.

Sometimes all we have to do to receive blessings is show up

Be willing. Be present. Release expectations.

Thank you, Universe, for these reminders.

The Real Yoga

The great yogis have always caught our attention with these exquisite and difficult positions they put their bodies. These positions spark our curiosity, "Could I do that?" "That's so cool!" What is really amazing is what is going on that we cannot see. We usually don't realize the breath control, the mental fortitude, and the strength being exerted in flexible positions. But, if we think Yoga=Cool Poses or Yoga=Hot Body then we are completely missing the purpose of the practice. 😱 Yoga grabs your attention with the physical postures and through practice turns your heart to God. You realize that every single person, including yourself is a spark of the Divine. The real yoga is when you begin to treat every being as if they are Divine even in tough situations. You see everything with love. This is true yoga. 💖🙏🏼 #bereceptive
A photo posted by Alissa Kepas (@alissayoga) on

I just found this most amazing post on Instagram by Alissa Kepas (pictured above). I wanted to re-post it here because it is such a beautiful, heartfelt reminder of what yoga is truly about-- loving others, surrendering to the moment, and being receptive. Thank you, Alissa, for sharing this and for the reminder to re-think the definition of yoga as something more than just a physical practice.

The great yogis have always caught our attention with these exquisite and difficult positions they put their bodies in. These positions spark our curiosity, and we think, "Could I do that?" or "That's so cool!"

What is really amazing is what is going on that we cannot see.

We don't usually realize the breath control, the mental fortitude, and the strength being exerted in flexible positions.

But, if we think Yoga = Cool Poses or Yoga = Hot Body then we are completely missing the purpose of the practice.

Yoga grabs your attention with the physical postures and through practice turns your heart to God.

You realize that every single person, including yourself, is a spark of the Divine. The real yoga is when you begin to treat every being as if they are Divine even in tough situations. You see everything with love. This is true yoga.

Be receptive.

Photo via Instagram.
You can find Alissa on Instagram as @alissayoga.

Yoga Teacher Training

Teacher Training: Yoga and Reiki

From September 2013 to January 2014, I completed my 200-hour vinyasa training at Leap Yoga to become Yoga Alliance certified.

I've also spent some time training with Karen Miscall-Bannon at Main Street Yoga in Placerville. Karen teaches a unique style known as Embodyoga® which focuses on “embodied-inquiry”, asana, pranayama, meditation and philosophical study. 

Since spring 2014, I have been studying traditional Japanese Usui reiki with Judy Rury, who is a Karuna Holy Fire Reiki Master. I use reiki to bring healing to others as a complement to my yoga background.

Why did you become a yoga teacher?
I want to heal in order to teach, and teach in order to heal.

I want to help spread peace in the world and to help others learn and seek their dharma, their true purpose in life. I want to share what I've learned from yoga; namely, that consistent practice:
  • leads to better physical and mental health
  • transforms your heart and fills it with gratitude
  • builds self-confidence and allows you to live a calm, happy life
  • changes the way you react to experiences and interact with others
  • helps heal pain, anxiety and depression

How has yoga transformed your and your relationship to the world around you?
Through yoga, I can connect more fully, calmly, and lovingly with others. Yoga has helped me find peace and calm in the midst of chaos, and I am passionately compelled to share that with others. Yoga has helped me heal both emotionally and physically. When I practice, my body is healthy. When I’m healthy, I’m happier. I’m able to give more freely and share my enthusiasm for life more fully.

PS Curious to learn more about me and my passions? Read more of my story here.

Photo by Lucid Reflections.

Badass Women: Brittny

Photos courtesy of Brittny.

Today, I'm excited to share a new post in the Badass Women series.

Meet Brittny, an entrepreneur, artist, and yoga teacher. Brittny and I connected through her yoga apparel business, Twin Flame. Immediately I felt drawn to her positivity, her genuine smile, and her inspiring passion for life...plus, how awesome is it that we both love yoga and have a project with a name centered around 'fire?' :) It's an honor to share your story here on Alive in the Fire, Brittny!

What makes you a badass? 
I am not afraid to take risks. Not that long ago I quit my job and became my own boss. I had already started my own yoga apparel line, Twin Flame, and was surviving on income as a waitress. In March of this year I completed a crowd-funding campaign using Kickstarter and Twin Flame was funded just over $18,000. 

But I didn't stop there. The apparel business isn't easy and I needed a way to create a stable income while promoting Twin Flame. I created Bloom Branding which is an organic marketing, graphic design, retail merchandising and social media service for small businesses. Why not do for others what I have done for myself? I am also a yoga and fitness trainer working one on one with several clients every week. I am the CEO of my own life. 

How did you get where you are today? 
Manifestation and guidance from within! I knew the first time I opened my eyes from Savasana that I was going to take control of my life. 

Yoga has given me confidence, will power, freedom and pure love. 

Yoga guided me to my truest friend, myself. It wasn't until I fell in love with myself that I found my Twin Flame, the love of my life, Adam. 

Life isn't about money or success. Life is about love. I created business endeavors because the world we live in unfortunately runs on money. But it was my passion and devotion to live a meaningful life that brought me to where I am now. My intentions as an entrepreneur are to help others to do the same.

What do you do for yourself to rejuvenate? 
I practice yoga, of course, but I have a serious case of wanderlust! I absolutely crave new places and the unknown. There is nothing more refreshing than an adventure. At home I rejuvenate by spending time outdoors and surrounding myself with crystals and natural scents. I often seek divine guidance by pulling oracle cards and tapping into my spirituality.

What advice do you have for others who are looking to find happiness and become fully empowered? 
Stop looking for happiness. Happiness is already within you. Start following your heart, take risks and start living for YOU! 

How do you plan to continue your baddass-ery? ;) 
Currently I am working on an ambassador program for Twin Flame that will not only help the business grow but bring like-minds together for a beautiful cause. I have encountered some obstacles launching our non-profit program for youth yoga. But I will continue to press forward with an open mind and heart. Right now it is hard to see the future but I like surprises! ;P

Many thanks to Brittny for sharing her inspiring post! For more badass women, meet Sam, Sarah, and Justine.

My Favorite Fall Books

Photo via Pinterest. Book photos via Amazon and author websites.

As the weather cools down, fall is a great time for curling up with a good book.

Lately I've been lucky enough to try out some new books about healthy living and yoga. These are my top 4 favorites right now:

I love Jennifer's down-to-earth voice. Every recipe and story she shares is grounded in a genuine love for food and for eating and an extensive background in plant-based cooking. The hummus recipe and coconut bliss ball recipe are incredible! 

by Amber Rose, Sadie Frost and Holly Davidson

This book is gorgeous! The amount of wisdom shared by Amber, Sadie, and Holly seems like it would be overwhelming, but the way they have organized this book makes it very accessible and appealing. I especially love the workout ideas and week-long plan for wellbeing. This book truly captures mind, body and spirit in one extensive guidebook written by real women.

by Yogrishi Vishvketu 

Wow! That's what I can't stop thinking whenever I pick up this text and look through it. The book is filled with hundreds of photographs of different yoga poses, sequencing for beginner, intermediate and advanced students, as well as chakra-based practices that you can do. In this book we see Vishvketu's legacy, his devotion, and his truly incredible contribution to the yoga community. Highly recommend checking it out, and purchasing a copy for your local studio.

by Sean Vigue

With the colder temperatures settling in, now is a great time to turn up the heat in your practice and invite fiery tapas energy to burn off anything that is old or stagnant. I love that this book offers a practical, easy-to-read guide to doing that. Athletes of any sport can gain a lot of flexibility, body awareness and breath stamina by practicing yoga, and I'm grateful that books like this one encourage that! This book would make a great gift for someone who is new to yoga, but it's also great for seasoned practitioners. This book covers a lot of ground: whether you're looking to improve balance, focus, control, breathing, posture, or flexibility; strengthen your back, joints, or core; or reduce or heal from injury. A great read.

Photo via Pinterest.

What books are you reading these days, yogis? XO

Celebrating Life: Yogi Surprise October

Do you ever take time to celebrate simply being alive?

Sometimes when I slow down, I start to see all the miracles around me. :)

I'm so glad that the theme for Yogi Surprise this month is celebrating life. It matches perfectly with what I've been trying to do lately-- slow down and take time to appreciate all the blessings in my life.

When I clear my schedule and move mindfully through the day (doing my best not to rush), it has an incredible impact on my state of mind. Doing one thing at a time builds a certain rhythm that allows me to feel more gratitude. 

Even the 'in-between' moments like waiting in traffic or showing up early somewhere become a welcome opportunity to meditate or send distance Reiki to someone I love. 

When I stay present to the moment, I have endless opportunities to celebrate my life...and endless reasons to!

My three favorite products from the October Yogi Surprise box all helped me feel grounded in the present moment, and grateful for small miracles.

  • Meraki Botanicals healing lavender geranium body balm. I've been rubbing this on my feet at night before bed and it is soo luxurious! Very calming and relaxing.
  • Urban Oreganics matcha anti-aging mask. This mask really helped perk up my skin after some long travel days! The ingredients in it include kaolin clay, bentonite clay, french green clay, organic kelp powder and organic matcha green tea! Amazing.
  • Paleo Simplified pecan pie superfood energy bar. I packed this as a snack on my long road trip and was so grateful for something healthy, delicious and full of lasting energy. Yum.

Alive in the Fire

What does it mean to be 'alive in the fire?'

I titled this blog in reference to the way that I would feel during a sweaty, intense yoga practice -- completely energized, awake, and aware. Fully alive.

I keep coming back to this phrase and sharing it because it represents what I teach: a willingness to try your best, to give what you can, and to surrender to the moment.

When I think 'Alive in the Fire,' I think of being resilient and resolute. Staying true to yourself despite the challenges that arise. Carrying on even when things are tough.

Being 'Alive in the Fire' means being fully present to what's real in this moment, no matter how intense, and being willing to soften. To be receptive.

'Alive in the Fire' also refers to the yogic principle of discipline. You may have heard the word tapas, and in the context of yoga that is the fiery determination that burns off of what is no longer needed, the purification that comes from the breath.

Alive in the Fire means being awake to your true purpose, and pursuing it wholeheartedly. 

What makes you feel fully present? When are you 'alive in the fire?'

When You Notice Resistance

Photo by Respiro Photography.

When you meet resistance, you have a choice: gripping, or surrendering.

Can you soften? Allow? Intuit?

Rather than force anything, you can notice the resistance and move toward it.

This happens on the mat (in any yoga pose), and in our lives (in any given situation).

Simply by noticing, breathing more, and surrendering to the moment, you start to dissolve the resistance.

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.