Happy 2011!

Onwards and upwards! Photo illustration by Christopher David Ryan.

Ready for a glamorous celebration to ring in the new year?

I hope you're wearing glittery things, eating tiny fancy hors d'oeuvres, and smooching your love as the ball drops.

I will be!
Crab bruschetta? Yes please! Photo via This is Glamorous.

Gold heels? Yes please! Photo via This is Glamorous.

As you consider the year ahead, you may be setting some goals for yourself. Need fun and creative ways to view them daily and remind yourself to stick with your resolutions?

Lovely lace? Yes please!  Photo via This is Glamorous.

Creative Goal Setting:
  • Chalkboard goals. Keep them visible and add to your home's decor by writing your dreams and ambitions largely.
  • Goals on Twitter, Facebook and the blog. Share your ideas with your followers, and ask that they help hold you accountable.
  • For the wild at heart: tattoo goals! Ever thought about getting inked in a way that's artful and reminiscent of your life goals? A friend of mine recently got a beautiful phoenix on her hip to symbolize rebirth and renewal. That's a pretty sweet way to remind yourself of your own beauty and power!
  • Framed goals on your desk at work. You spend as much time there as at home, so why not post some as conversation starters / reminders? Consider getting your friends and office pals to do the same, or put together a collective goal frame or area where people can share and encourage each other to stick with their plans for success.
  • Keep a notebook. Doodle your goals. Make thought bubbles and connect your ideas together. Add action steps. Be creative and have fun! Then post the pages to your fridge so you can see them regularly.
  • Use online tools to track your progress. Try FutureMe and email yourself in the future. This is probably the most fun and amusing way you can kick yourself in the bum to get going and get inspired to meet your goals! Also try Goaltender via Lululemon's site, or 43Things.
  • Goals as passwords. This one's pretty nerdy, but if you set your passwords for email, online banking, or other websites to reflect your goals, you'll be reminded of them on a consistent basis -- probably more often than any other way!
Bursts of gold? Yes please! Photo via This is Glamorous.

How do you set goals? What are your hopes and dreams for 2011?

Wish List

In 2011, I will practice my handstands and headstands.

What postures are you looking forward to rocking in 2011?

Number one on my list is the headstand, followed closely by Standing Head to Knee. I want to be able to hold the posture for a full 60 seconds.

I also wouldn't mind these lovely finds via the illustrious Coffee and Yoga.

Ready to take flight.
Best spinning dress ever.

This would look great as a poster on my wall.

These would also look great poster-sized at a yoga studio.

Isn't that the cutest coffee mug cozy?

Wrapping Up 2010

Balance and beauty in 2010: it's been a great year! Photo via F***YeahYoga.

Thank you, readers, for following Alive in the Fire's first year!

It's been wonderful sharing 2010 with you and I'm so proud of the steady growth that Alive in the Fire has seen over the past few months.

As we wrap up the year, I wanted to extend a huge thank you to all of my faithful readers and generous partners, as well as offer you all the chance to provide some feedback abut the blog.

I'd love to get your thoughts on what's been great and what could use improvement. 

What do you love about the blog? 
What would you like to see more of?

Please leave a comment below or send me an email, and encourage your fellow yogis to do the same.

Check out that increase in page views! I love it. Thanks for your loyal readership, yogis and friends.

Here are some of the highlights from 2010:
  • Hundreds of readers and followers from around the world, including yogis in the U.S., Canada, the Netherlands, the U.K., South Korea, Australia, Puerto Rico, New Zealand, India and Malaysia!
  • Over 200 posts written and published.
  • An ever-growing Twitter following and inclusion of the Twitter account (@aliveinthefire) on lists such as: yoga, Bikram yoga, Etsy Friends, Healthy Chicago, Evanston, and Fellow Yogis and Yoginis.
  • An incredible Winter Extravaganza featuring giveaways from over 30 generous Etsy sellers and a large variety of yoga studios and yoga wear companies. A big thanks goes to all partners for offering readers hundreds of dollars in yoga and gift merchandise throughout the holiday season. And don't forget: the winning isn't over yet!
Special thanks goes to:

105 Yoga in Oak Park
Grateful Yoga in Evanston

If you're interested in getting involved with the Winter Extravaganza, head over to our Partners page for more info.
Photo via Coffee and Yoga.

Throughout the year, Alive in the Fire has featured some pretty awesome posts. Which was your favorite?
  • Bikram basics: a guide for beginners on how to prepare and make the most of your first session in the Torture Chamber. Plus some reasons your body will thank you for doing the yoga. 
  • The one, the only: Real Men Do Yoga series! An awesome compilation of stories from Bikram yogis around the world including John, Hans, and Joseph. This series will continue throughout 2011, and don't forget you can submit your story any time (and win a prize!).
Photo via Yoga Dudes
  • Living green and keeping clean with all-natural products: some reasons why you should eliminate harsh cleaners and unhealthy foods from your cupboards. Plus, where to shop in Evanston for local green goods.
Photo via PrAna.
Thanks for enjoying the ride with me. And please do leave your ideas below with ideas for the future of the blog. Namaste and happy 2011!

Hello, California


Yesterday and today I have been lucky enough to enjoy some California sunshine and visits with friends. I especially enjoyed the way the leggings I wore matched the blue sky.

We went on a little adventure to Anthropologie and I loved all their creative decorations. Too bad I couldn't afford any of the adorable dresses!

Reindeer antlers gone wild!

Pinecone mania.

Thread it.

Have you done any post-Christmas shopping? 

The World's Youngest Yoga Teacher

Photo via the Daily Mail article which I discovered via F***YeahYoga.

Can you imagine teaching yoga at age six?!

I just discovered this amazing article about Shruti, the world's youngest yoga teacher. She has been teaching adults at an ashram in northern India for the last two years. Incredible!

As the article reports, 'Her trainer, Hari Chetan, 67, set up the ashram 35 years ago and as soon as little Shruti became one of his students, as a tiny four-year old, he spotted her talents." 

Photo via the Daily Mail article which I discovered via F***YeahYoga.

Major props to both Shruti and Hari for the patience, courage and energy it must take for her to teach classes (starting at 5:30am) as well as perfect all the postures she practices. The little girl has a killer scorpion pose already!

Her teacher says she's a natural, a fast learner and a perfectionist, and her students say she is extremely patient and has even helped them calm their anger. I say: amazing!

Change Your Life

Photo by the one and only Cassi Saari.

Anyone know this famous Rilke poem? I was reading it over again today, trying to inspire up some poetry, and I fell in love with the last line all over again.

Plus, it's an all-around fantastic poem to be reading as the year draws to a close.
Archaic Torso of Apollo
by Ranier Maria Rilke
We cannot know his legendary head
with eyes like ripening fruit. And yet his torso
is still suffused with brilliance from inside
like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to low,

gleams in all its power. Otherwise
the curved breast could not dazzle you so, nor could
a smile run through the placid hips and thighs
to that dark center where procreation flared.

Otherwise this stone would seem defaced 
beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders
and would not glisten like a wild beast's fur:

would not, from all the borders of itself,
burst like a star: for here there is no place
that does not see you. You must change your life.

These beautiful words are based on an unfinished statue, and the way it took the breath away of a poet as he viewed another artist's work. Have you ever been blown away by art so fully that you feel you must change your life?

Now is the time of year that I think about the transformations we go through, the way our art changes, our circle of friends shifts, our time spent moves toward new activity. 

This is definitely the time of year when I look back, and there's a lot from 2010 to remember.

A year ago my sister had a newborn; now she smiles at a little boy and prays with him and teaches him how to speak.

A year ago today I was about to experience a panic attack, a tough bout of depression, and a long haul climbing back to my usual energetic, well-slept self. Today I feel amazing, so much more in tune with my personal needs and capabilities, and now I know that I have the power to avoid ever slipping into such a dark place again. I'm well-armed with family and friends that mean the world to me, with my yoga practice, and with a life spent doing the things I love. (And a blog where I can write about them and share them with you, dear readers!)

I couldn't be happier to be here, guys. Thanks for reading!

A year ago I didn't know the joys of Bikram or whether I'd have a steady job that I liked after graduating from Northwestern. Today I work full-time at a company I love, and I have plans to complete Yoga Teacher Training and fulfill my dreams of sharing this yoga with others.

A year ago none of us were who we are today.

It's been a crazy year, yogis! It's been an awesome one, too. Hope you are having fun taking a glance back at where you've been, and getting pumped for what's to come. Here's wishing you a wonderful close to 2010, and please share your stories past, present and future!

As for the Winter Extravaganza... a big congrats to Emily. You win the NYE giveaway! Please contact me with your mailing address so we can get those goodies shipped.

And speaking of shipping, if there are any winners out there who are still waiting to receive loot (and who have been waiting a while), please contact me ASAP. I want to make sure you all get your gifts in a reasonable amount of time. 

A big thanks to all our wonderful Alive in the Fire partners, too. You guys are some of the most generous people I've ever encountered (honestly!) and I hope you've enjoyed the exposure to the lovely Bikram community here at the blog. 

Namaste to all, and happy impending 2011!

Photo by the tall and talented Cassi Saari.

A quick and final note on partners: I will be posting more in-depth in the next week on what it means to partner with Alive in the Fire, how you can get involved, and the benefits of getting exposure to this Bikram yoga and blogging community. If you've got a small business -- yoga related or not -- and want to promote your goods through a lively, green, and growing outlet, please contact me today @ aliveinthefire at gmail dot com. I am looking forward to collaborating with you!

Get to Yoga Giveaway

Mika Yoga Wear in action via the company's Facebook profile.

If you're like me, then practicing yoga is one of your biggest resolutions for 2011. In fact, the entry on your list probably reads: 

More yoga, more yoga, more yoga!

Are you ready to hit the Hot Room for some Bikram sessions? 

Signed up for some Hatha, Yin, Ashtanga and Kripalu classes to balance out your fire?

Maybe you need a little push toward your mat. Perhaps a hot top from Mika Yoga Wear would help? This line is inspired by dance wear and is made to hold up especially well in the heat.

Who wouldn't want to wear outfits that allow you to do this?! Mika Yoga Wear in action via the company's Facebook profile. 

Evanston yogis, maybe you could use a free week of classes, and a little break on your bank account? I've got you covered. Nick and Lela Beem, the generous owners at Grateful Yoga in Evanston, are donating a free week pass to today's giveaway.

Lela and Nick Beem of Grateful Yoga in Evanston are incredible teachers and some of the best studio owners I know.

Today's giveaway features one item from Mika, plus a free week of classes at Grateful Yoga in Evanston, IL! (Open to Chicagoland residents only, please.) 

To enter, please check out each site and enter a comment below about why you're excited to get back to your mat & which Mika piece you'd love to have.

Double your chances of winning by doing any of the following. Be sure to note this in your comment below, so I enter your name twice!

  • Check out Mika's social media sites and leave feedback on their Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube site. While you're at it, read owner Laura's stellar LinkedIn profile and connect with her there.
  • Read Nick Beem's blog about all things yoga and the way he balances being a teacher, business owner, and loving husband.
  • Connect with Grateful Yoga on Facebook.
More about Mika Yoga Wear, the supportive, sexy line you've got to try:
Developed by a Hot Yoga yogini, each piece in the line was made with the right understanding and care. We make flattering hot yoga clothes that move with your body & hold shape during perspiration. Bonus? Most pieces in the collection can be worn numerous ways, allowing you to get creative with your yoga wear. The Mika line offers women comfortable, durable & flattering yoga wear looks at affordable prices.
Get to know Lela and Nick Beem at Grateful on Davis Street! You can tell from their teaching style and their interaction with each other that their relationship is like their yoga: all about love, love, love.
More about Grateful Yoga, one of the best Evanston studios:
We've been in business for five years, supported by students who value a mindful practice that's a balance of effort and ease in a peaceful, non-competitive environment.  Our teaching is informed by the full breadth of the yoga tradition, as well as the modern insights of growth psychology, kinesiology and neuroscience.  Come try one of our 13 weekly classes, which range in level from Basics to Intermediate. We also offer private instruction, yoga therapy, prenatal yoga, and 8-week stress relief groups.

Grateful Yoga is located at 1108 Davis Street in Evanston. Email info@gratefulyoga.com for more info about their class offerings.

Last Look at Christmas

Merry Christmas! A little look at our 2010 celebration.

I figure I better post these before it's New Year's, right?

Merry Christmas! It was a lovely day filled with family, food, laughs, and relaxation.

Grandma and Z playin' with some toys.

Mom and Dad are napping on the couch, which means prime time for playing with Auntie!

Candles and a fire in the fireplace. Mmmm.

Sis and Brother-in-Law toast!

Mom, you made amazing turkey!

Love you, twin sis! 

Quality Lincoln Log time in after dinner.

Zeke the puppy! One of his favorite games to play :)

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!  

Love you, family. Thanks for such a wonderful Christmas.

New Photography Finds

Wedding photos via Paper + Lace.

This morning I stumbled upon some stunning wedding photos at Paper + Lace Photography that I couldn't resist sharing. I love the sense of candidness in the work.

Love that pooch!

Beachy kiss.

I also fell in love with the site An Afternoon With... In this innovative project, photographer Michael Mundy spends an afternoon with people in their spaces (generally gorgeous loft apartments or rooftops of urban buildings). The results are magical! Read more about the site here.

Photo by Michael Mundy.

Photo by Michael Mundy.

Photo by Michael Mundy.


Just discovered this beautiful collage of resolutions via Lox Papers.

What are your big goals for 2011?

Have you set your New Year's resolutions yet? I'm still working on my list (and doing my best to make it reasonable yet determined), but I do have a few items I'm sure I need to work on.

#1: Less coffee and less sugar to reach a healthier weight. 
#2: No swearing. 
#3: Bikram at least three times a week, plus a 60-day challenge at some point in the year!

Would love to hear about your plans for the new year. More to come on this topic soon! Oh, and be sure to enter Alive in the Fire's giveaway for a sexy yet laid-back party this weekend.

Real Men Do Yoga: John Low

Bikram men, are you practicing through the holidays? Here's another entry in the Real Men Do Yoga series to inspire you to hit the hot room this week.

And here's some inspiration to submit your story to the series. If you do, you win a prize! Simply email a few paragraphs about your practice and a photo or two to aliveinthefire at gmail dot com and you will get a tasty treat.

Now is the time to let yourself indulge -- just a little! -- especially after you've earned dessert by practicing for 90 minutes. And if you prefer something a little less sweet, just let me know. We've got a variety of prizes available.

You can choose from incredible Etsy bakers who make tasty and tiny cupcakes, divinity fudge, and gourmet cookies. Or you might want to spice it up with a jar of hot mustard. Homemade salsa and handmade soaps to come!

Win any of these tasty snacks simply by submitting your story! Note: not exact pictures.

Today's featured Etsy donations are from Cupcake Tin 2010, a bakery shop where you can buy adorable single cupcakes in a tin and send them to your friends and family as unique gifts. The shop's most popular flavors are chocolate, red velvet with cream cheese frosting, and funfetti (white cake with sprinkles baked in).

Photos via The Cupcake Tin's Facebook page.

Check out Cupcake Tin 2010 on Twitter and Facebook.

As a new customer, you will automatically save 1o to 15% on your order. Check out the awesome selection today and place an order with Nicole for a delicious holiday treat.

Now, introducing John Low, a regular Bikram yogi at Bikram Original Hot Yoga in Malasia. This is his story.
John Low works hard to balance his Bikram practice with home life and time with family.

Years ago, I damaged my left knee after doing squatting exercises at the gym. More recently I curled my leg to pull myself closer to the office desk on my wheeled-chair, and my knee popped.

Now, it hurts like hell now at the point of the common angle of climbing up stairs. This also means I can't play tennis. 

A mutual friend on Twitter read my whining about the pain. She happens to be a qualified trainer, and was just returning from Texas then. "Why not come give Bikram yoga a try?" she asked. Little did I know, the simple question would lead to personal transformation.

My mum used to teach yoga to her friends at home. She had started practicing at home when my older brother bought her a book titled Yoga for Health. Since I was the youngest and had already started high school, my mom had more time and thought to teach it. I think she was proud of how many people had complimented her on how young she looked for her age; she's always attributed it to yoga. Whenever she was teaching upstairs, I'd be downstairs watching either The A-Team, Airwolf or MacGyver, to give you an idea when this was.

Sometimes Mom was practicing, I'd join her. Not for all the poses, only what I thought was challenging for someone my age then. The Bat was one posture I would always try, where one sits on the floor with legs straight and wide open, and chin to the floor, finger grabbing the toes. If I recall, the advanced version would involve proceeding to a complete side-split, with the stomach on the floor and rolling forward and end-up on the stomach with legs behind and flat on the floor.

Years after that while I was growing up, I'd still do that for fun, on the floor while watching TV, or reading the newspapers. I always felt better after a stretch. It also helped balance out the karate and kung-fu classes I used to take. Boarding school bullies who try to challenge me would think twice when I "show off" warming up for the "duel".  To be honest, telling a story about how I had given the karate instructor a bloody nose during sparring also helped.

Since those years, I took up the usual sports like tennis and gym, never at all giving "real" complete yoga classes any thought. I was in all ways, a typical bloke.

So I accepted the invitation to give Bikram class a try this past April. I was not happy with my weight and, truthfully, my image, my puffy face. I could only wear my two largest-sized pants in my wardrobe. I had also just done a medical exam and my cholesterol levels were frightening. 

At the first class, I could do most of the stretch-related poses, but no way till today could I keep my endurance up for all the pose-holding. 

In May, I took a three-week-long work-related trip away from home. Since this was my first time to the United States, I tried a lot of new foods including American-portion-sized fast food. When I returned, I felt even more motivated to practice the yoga.  

I have been trying to go three times a week since then. Most weeks when I couldn't keep this routine, it was due to my daughter's whining. Since I have a full-time job, I could only go to yoga after work, which meant no time for her and family, or our trips to the playground, dinners together, or simply just hanging out. During periods of lull in the office, I have gone for the early morning classes to improvise. I have been lucky with this arrangement this year.

Around July or August during a family dinner, my older sister, whom I don't see regularly, commented that I have lost weight "and look better this way." Her teenage daughters and other nieces, being something of activity-junkies themselves, were asking which studio I attend. I had even brought one of them along once for her to try. And as expected, it is too slow for her. Though she enjoyed it, she is back to her usual bouldering and cheer-leading activities, "for now," she says.

So, I'm still attending Bikram as regularly as I can. I do feel more energetic, and am more noticeably able to keep up with the kids. I am getting back some definition, an image which I wasn't so conscious about at our recent family trip to a water park. I am sure the wife has also had some secret thoughts though she hasn't shared much (!), and I do know she is happy for me too.

These days I can chomp down the nieces-made cheesecakes and rebut the wife when she says I would put on weight. "Don't worry, I now know the formula!" I tell her.

Thanks to Bikram instructor Mei Ng, for encouraging me in the Hot Room and inviting me to submit to Alive in the Fire :)

John spends his early mornings and late nights in Bikram's Torture Chamber, getting energized for time with family.

John first posted this story about his Bikram practice here. His blog, Daddee Yah!, is named after his daughter's first words. Contact him on Twitter here

Thanks, John, for submitting your story! If you want to submit yours, yogis, you know who to email. A few paragraphs and a few pictures to aliveinthefire at gmail dot com, and you'll win a prize!

New Year's Eve Party Giveaway

Next up in the Winter Extravaganza: win a meditation wrap and baby red sea glass earrings

Today's items come from Etsy sellers consciousclothing and OceanGirlCollective. Pair these together for a down-to-earth New Year's Eve party.


To enter, please leave a comment below and be sure to check out each shop's lovely collection of handmade clothing and jewelry. Great spots to spend your Christmas cash!


Alive in the Fire's Advice for Bikram Beginners

With the new year approaching, I imagine a lot of people will be putting their yoga practice at the top of their list of resolutions. Are you a yogi looking to try Bikram for the first time?

Or maybe you've never practiced yoga at all and you're terrified of the heat?

Hey, if a GQ guy can handle yoga, so can you! Photo by GQ via

Entitled Youth

This advice is for you. Read on to learn why you shouldn't fear the Hot Room and how instead, you should look forward to your daily dose of Bikram. Though it sounds overwhelming to kill yourself for 90 minutes, this type of meditation and workout allows you to live your life to the fullest outside of the studio!

Please feel free to share this guide with any friends, family or colleagues you feel might benefit from a nudge in the right (mat-centered, mirrored-room) direction. 

Here's to a yoga-filled 2011!

Your mat awaits you.

Alive in the Fire's Guide for Bikram Beginners

First things first

: thank yourself for taking good care of your body. Yoga is an ancient practice for good reason: it works! As long as you approach your mat with an open heart and mind, you will be fine. In fact, you'll do great!

The first step to becoming a yogi: where the mind and heart and eyes go, the body follows. Photo via

Bikram Yoga NYC

Try having no expectations

As in most things in life, this is extremely hard to do. But if you can do your best to come to class with no thoughts on how deeply you'll enter the postures, how great you'll feel, or how hard things will be, you'll do better. As my mentor and studio owner Stuart likes to say, "Expectations only serve to become your limitations." It's true, and especially in the heat!

Know basic yoga room and studio etiquette.

Please don't talk in the room out of respect for fellow yogis who are preparing for class or relaxing afterward -- this can be quite distracting! Only bring water into the room (no juice, soda, etc). Practice with bare feet and in comfortable clothes (preferably shorts in Bikram so you can see your locked knee). No cell phones, jewelry or watches in the yoga room. Don't wear perfume to class. Only take a three-minute shower afterward, especially if it's crowded.

Practice quiet in the heat. 

Arrive 20 minutes before class starts, and come on an empty stomach

Allow ample time for yourself to sign in, get water and a towel, and get set up before class. Rushing will just stress you out. And don't eat for 3-4 hours prior to class or the heat may make you feel nauseous. Some people like to have a granola bar, piece of fruit, or coconut water closer to class so that they have higher blood sugar. Do what makes you feel best, but no pasta or other heavy foods -- by the floor series, you'll be regretting that. Big time. (I speak from experience!)

Meet your new and super-hydrating best friend.

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

Bikram yoga happens in a room that's 105 degrees at 40% humidity which means you are going to pour sweat. Be sure to drink plenty of water for the 3-4 hours leading up to class. I also highly recommend tryin VitaCoco coconut water and maybe adding a banana to your breakfast routine to amp up your potassium levels. You will feel the difference! You also want to be sure to drink a lot after class. During the 90 minutes, do your best to only take small sips of water; that way your stomach won't be full and you won't feel nauseous.

Balance helps. 

Photo via


 on Flickr.

Remember that yoga's not just about being flexible: strength and balance are equally as important for many of the postures

When I invite them to yoga, I've heard so many friends say, "Don't laugh at me! I can't even touch my toes!" as though that's reason enough never to try yoga in the first place. News flash: it's OK! You will build flexibility by using your strength and balance, or vice versa. And chances are, if you're hesitant, you need it even more. After all, the postures you hate the most are the ones you need most, too.

No matter your gear, you can rock your yoga practice. 

Photo via


 on Flickr.

Your mat, yogawear and sexy tattoos won't save you

It's easy to get caught up in the status behind expensive gear and cute outfits at your studio, but the bottom line is this: whether you shop at Lululemon or Target, whether you're tall or short, muscular or lithe, you need the yoga. So come to your studio to practice, not boost your own ego

Don't be afraid to sweat it out and let your body detox during class.

Leave your hand towels at home because you need your sweat! It's your body's only cooling mechanism and wiping it away during the postures is only going to distract you and waste your energy. Be sure you have a full-sized bath towel under you during class so you don't slip, but tiny towels can stay home. Remember, the more still you are between postures, the deeper your meditation and the more energy you save.

Forget the fidgeting; it will only make class harder!

Don't set up next to your friends.

As much as it may seem like it, they cannot save you during class. Enjoy your own little mat paradise near the back of the room, where you can see yourself in the front mirrors. Focus forward on yourself (not the teacher) and listen to the words. If you get confused, look around at more experienced yogis for an idea of what to do.

The dialogue says touch your forehead to the floor between your toes. 

Photo via


 on Flickr.

Listen to the dialogue!

I should probably put this point about 100 times in the list because it's the most important and the hardest for newbies to do. Bikram's dialogue is the genius behind his yoga: it's trademarked, memorized, and taught exactly the same way during every class taught by a certified teacher (we hope). Steps go in a specific order for a reason and there is only one right way into and out of the postures. In Bikram yoga, 99% right is 100% wrong and doing the postures the right way is the only way to get the full medical benefit. Instead of putting your nose to your knee in Standing Head to Knee, put your exactly forehead to your exactly knee so you get all the benefits. In Padahastasana, suck in your belly and lock your knees before you pull with your biceps. This allows you to stretch further, and safely stretch your hamstrings without pulling anything.

Listen to the words throughout class!

With that said, if you get confused, look around and find a yogi with an ass like yours, and do what they're doing!

It sounds hilarious, but this is one of the best pieces of yoga advice I've ever heard. The teacher can't save you. Your neighbor's grip or arm placement or foot alignment can. Pay close attention to the details!

Do the postures right and your body will thank you. Photos via Bikram Yoga NYC

Take breaks and go slow.

This is another big one. You're probably going to get overwhelmed at some point (I still do, and I've been doing the yoga for almost a year now!). Sit down and meditate waaaaay before you feel the need to bolt out of the room. And please don't half-ass your breaks. If you're sitting down, sit on your butt. Cross your legs and concentrate on your breath and slowing down your heart rate. None of this bending over breathing in and out your mouth junk. That's not helping! Commit to your breaks, and treat them as though they were postures too (especially if you're in Savasana during the floor series. Own it!).

Commit to your breaks. Photo via Bikram Yoga NYC.

Breathe through your nose

Pretty self-explanatory, but this can be hard if you're not conscious of your breath or if you're new to the whole coordinating-body-movement-with-breath thing. In Bikram, we breathe through the nose slowly and normally for everything except the two breathing exercises and the sit-ups. If you breathe through your mouth, you tell your body you're freaking out. And guess what?

You're not freaking out! This is just yoga. :)

Beautiful backbends! Photo via

Bikram Yoga Sea Cliff.

Commit to the experience

. S

tay in the room for 90 minutes. Sit down long before you need to leave. Moving between temperatures will make you feel worse, I promise. And experienced yogis, remember the 5 P's (aka the only reasons you should leave the room): puke, pee, poop, period, pass out. Anything else and you're not listening to Bikram's finest words:

If you can, you must!

Have fun!

You came to class to relax, not to stress, right? So choose not to suffer, choose to enjoy the yoga, choose to see what it can do for your body, mind and soul in and out of the heat. 

Relax. That's your yoga. 

Photo via


 on Flickr.

Come back.

We've all been there: the first class is hard. Probably the hardest. Generally it takes 5-10 times doing Bikram to get used to the heat, and maybe even up to 15 before you aren't feeling pain in some of the postures (like your elbows in Locust, or in your lower back during Savasana).

If the studio where you practice offers and intro special, consider purchasing it so you have motivation to return

In general, these are the best deals - and more legit than a Groupon! (Although if you bought a Groupon, all the power to you, too. Whatever it takes to get your ass to the studio!)

Advanced yogi readers, what advice can you add to the mix? I'd love to see your comments below for more ideas. Enjoy class and congrats on changing your life through yoga!

If you want to read more beginner's advice and what you'll gain from Bikram, go here. Plus, be sure to read up on how to quit the fidget.

Just wait: after class, you'll sleep like a baby! 

Photo via 


 on Flickr.

New Years Extravagance

Photo via angelaandithyle.

Who's ready for New Year's?

Here are some fun ideas for you and your love to spend the last few hours of 2010. Celebrate as you ring in the new year!

Make a bonfire with some friends.

Stay up late enough to make a sunrise breakfast. 
Photo via For Me, For You.

Dye your hair a bold red for the big party.

Dress up and get fancy with your beau.
Photo via Jose Villa.

Paint your nails so they'll sparkle.
Photo via For Me, For You.

Wear a backless dress. Ooh la la!

Escape for a private dance on the dock.

Party somewhere extravagant.
Photo via CKCK.

 Make a toast!
Photo via For Me, For You.

Bake brownies for you and your friends. 
Photo via For Me, For You.

Photo via Kissssing.

I will be sailing out on San Francisco Bay if the weather holds. My dad and stepmom are super excited to show me the awesome fireworks from the water once we're docked near Pier 39. I'm hoping we'll also get to walk around the city a bit, and if it's warm enough I'll put on my party dress!

Lots of love and namaste.

A Happy NorCal Christmas

My favorite part about this area is that you can encounter nature just footsteps from home.

How was your Christmas? I had a lovely couple of days enjoying northern California weather. It rained quite a bit yesterday, but Christmas Eve was beautiful! Sunny skies and temps worthy of flip-flops.

Dad and I took a walk by the creek to see the ducks, orange trees, and a secret birdhouse.

I helped cook and decorate the kitchen with some festive lights.

 Gotta love those retro bulbs.

I also enjoyed tromping around on the backyard moss carpet. Everything here is so green this time of year! I have to say, I'm not missing the bare trees of Chicago. Yes, I am looking forward to seeing the snow, but not those bleak colors.

Under the oak tree in my dad's backyard.

Christmas Eve night we joined my mom for a lovely candlelit service at church. Mom sang beautifully and hit all the high notes and we felt the spirit singing all the Christmas carols.

We had a blast visiting with my sis and her little guy at my mom's house yesterday, too. Zeke is about 18 months now and he's quite the character! His favorite was drawing with new crayons and ripping paper off of packages.

Many thanks to the fam for all the generous gifts! My mom found me a beautiful yoga mat carrier, leg warmers and some wild and colorful gloves with a matching hat. The Brother hooked me up with a bunch of candles and some beautiful wall sconces. Sis baked cookies and made some ridiculously good fudge. Dad created some incredible artsy lamps for me in his garage workshop. I'll be posting about them with photos soon (you're going to be amazed!). 

A post-holiday swim? Amazing. Photo via Most Beautiful Darling.

What did you enjoy most about yesterday? I hope you had a meaningful, relaxing and family-filled day and that you're getting excited to celebrate the new year! 

Ready to Party

Who's ready to celebrate? Even after shopping at the crazy mall today, I'm still slightly in disbelief that Christmas is the day after tomorrow.

Do you have your gifts wrapped? And your party hat ready for an end-of-the-year bash?

More importantly, are you practicing yoga through the holidays? My 90-minute meditation today was wonderful. Totally needed it.
Photo via Jonas Peterson.

Here are some fun ideas for you and your love if you need ideas for celebrating with style and on the cheap. 
  • Take a Bikram class together.
  • Watch some silly Christmas-themed yoga videos here.
  • Check out this funny post on the 12 Days of Yoga.
Photo via Jonas Peterson.
  • Take a walk through your city or town and take photos along the way. Make a little memory book and look through it together. If you're married, flip through some of your wedding photos afterward, too.
  • Homemade hot cider. Need I say more?
  • Figure out where the best local Christmas lights in town are. Visit them and smooch between houses! (We discovered today that there's a neighborhood near by where a house has Christmas music playing and lights that flash along with the beats of the songs. Love it. Can't wait to check it out.)
  • Volunteer at a local animal shelter for a day, or offer to take your neighbor's on a walk.
Photo via Jonas Peterson.

Whatever you're up to this holiday season, I hope it's bright and merry! Enjoy, and keep me posted on your adventures.

Back to Sac

View from the plane. Sorry for the poor quality (phone pic!).

We made it! After a very long day of delays and waiting for luggage to get put on the plane, I am back to Sacramento, California.

It's lovely here! 50s and not too cold out; yesterday, blue skies and sun.

Rice paddies, a Sacramento specialty.

Hello, Sactown!

I'm off to try Bikram Yoga Granite Bay and reconnect with my very first yoga instructor, then hang out with the fam and do some baking.

What are you up to this week, yogis?

Check back on the blog soon for giveaway winners and new contests, and enjoy the spirit of this week!

Wednesday Giveaway: Transform Your Space

Ready to brighten up your workspace in time for the new year?

Today's giveaway features three Etsy sellers who are all about minimalism, natural beauty, and harmony. Enter to win the lovely Om bowl from DeBaun Ceramics, the 2011 calendar from RedStarInk, and bonsai painting from Sheri Wiseman (above). A blissful trio indeed!

DeBaun Ceramics features a wide variety of intricate designs on small decorative bowls and gorgeous incense burners. Talk about fine craftmanship! I especially enjoy the earthy tones and metallic shimmer of the work. If you're looking for a gift that's affordable and easy to pack, this is your spot to shop!

Sheri's bonsai painting was created with thick  chunky oil paint to show its texture and life. The Bonsai tree is viewed as a symbol for harmony between nature, man and soul and will bring you a great aura of peace and happiness hanging above your desk at home. Sheri gets inspiration from years of exploring the natural wonders of the world.

To name just a few of her adventures, she's been: hiking in the hill tribe villages of Northern Thailand, summiting the tallest peak in the continental US, para-gliding in the Swiss Alps, kissing the Blarney Stone in Ireland, wandering through the mystic rocks of Stonehenge and baffling over the astounding creations inside The Louvre in France.  As she says, "I hope to leave a small piece of myself and my travels with each painting I sell." Beautiful!

Marcie over at RedStarInk has all your organizational needs covered, especially if you're like me and you enjoy a modern touch to your notebooks and paper goods. Here you can find plenty of cute notebooks, calendars, notecards, and even wine bottle labels to share with family and friends (and treat yourself to, too!). Enjoy peace and prosperity with Marcie's well-made little finds.

Marcie's also a Bikram yogi with a passion for serenity. She practices at Bikram Kearney Mesa. Yay for California studios!

To enter, please leave a comment below about your goals for the new year. Also swing by each of the shops (DeBaun Ceramics, RedStarInk and Sheri Wiseman) and comment about some of your favorite shopping finds. 

Domestic shipping only. Good luck and namaste!