Take a Deep Breath

Photo by Jobi Otso.

Every day contains its struggles and frustrations.

When the next unwanted surprise arrives, take a breath. A long, slow breath—perhaps the deepest breath you’ve taken all day. Notice the breath washing over your whole body.

Then, return to the moment.

There is a barrier between you and your reaction. The breath is the buffer that gives you the freedom to allow it all – even the anger, fear, and discomfort. Even the struggle is OK, because you are breathing right through it.

'Twas the Night Before Christmas

Photos via Pinterest.

Hope you're having a beautiful holiday week :)

Today I'd love to share this hilarious yogi-style version of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, via my friends over at YogaDownload. Enjoy!

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the home,
Not a yogi was stirring, not even an OM.

The yoga mats were rolled by the chimney with care,
In hopes there would be 20 minutes to spare.

The children were bustling – not going to bed,
While visions of Wanderlust danced in my head.

With mama in her yoga pants and I in mine too,
We were deeply in need of our inner guru.

When up on the roof there arose such a blast,
You’d think Ana Forrest was giving a free class.

Away to the window I flew and proceeded
To realize more stress was the last thing I needed.

And what to my wondering third eye should I see,
But Santa himself, breathing in ujjayi.

Dressed all in lycra from his heels to his belly,
His bandhas were locked and I felt kinda jelly.

Breaking from cookies and milky libations,
Santa was in my living room for sun salutations.

"Come join me," he said, "dear, you've been so busy.
Your practice will help you get out of this tizzy."

We rolled out our Mandukas and fanned our soul flame,
And he whistled and shouted each yoga pose name.

“Now up dog, now down dog, chaturanga!
On cobra, on cat/cow, on parsva bakasana.”

The prana was flowing, my worries had fled,
I practiced acceptance, had nothing to dread.

And I said to Santa, that jolly old elfie,
"Do you mind if we take a quick yoga selfie?"

He chuckled and shook his head in abstention,
"No thank you, my dear, that's not my intention."

Santa, it seemed, was a wonderful mentor,
The yoga was helping me come back to center.

“Your practice need never be out of your sight,
YogaDownload is with you, all day or all night.”

And I heard him exclaim as he drove off in his sleigh,
“Merry Christmas to all, and to all Namaste!”

Have a Merry Christmas, my lovely yogis!

Fearlessly Embracing Change

Today, my mantra is to embrace change.

I’m feeling some big shifts happening, and I’m finding it’s helpful to trust myself and breathe deeply, and to choose a loving response instead of a fearful one when things don’t go as planned.

As one of my teachers says, Do not buy into fear! Fear is simply False Evidence Appearing Real!

“Change isn't scary----it's tapping into unlimited potential,” says yoga teacher Kathryn Budig. “You always have the power to grow and change---you just need to be open to it."

And, today, I read this on Daily Om:

Being able to remain centered and awake even when we feel uncomfortable is much more impressive than doing so in an environment where everything is to our liking. No matter how good we are at controlling our circumstances, there will always be factors and people that we cannot control. How we respond to these experiences to a great degree determines the quality of our lives. 

The goal of spiritual development is not to learn to control our environment—which is more of an ego-driven desire. And while having some measure of control over our external reality is important, it is when we are confronted with a person or situation that irritates us and we can choose not to react that we know have made progress spiritually. It is when we have mastered our internal reality that we will have become the masters of our lives. 

What helps you stay grounded and centered when you are going through changes?

Fearlessly embracing change is easier said than done... but at least I'm practicing :)

Eco-Friendly Yoga Wear

Photo via Balini Sportswear on Kickstarter.

As a yoga blogger, I'm always grateful to connect with other yogis who share an entrepreneurial spirit, and a giving heart.

Ada from Balini Sports is one such yogini. When she emailed me about her yoga wear company, I was immediately impressed by her passion for yoga and her generosity in sending me some sports bras to try out. It's a gift to be able to connect with people like Ada, and that's why today I'd love for you to check out her Kickstarter video. She's raising money so that she can continue to grow her business and generate awareness around the importance of creating environmentally friendly yoga wear.

Photos via Balini Sportswear.

The Balini Sports collection of yoga wear is incredibly comfortable, functional, and stylish, and made by a team who truly care about what they're doing. Ada is truly a gem, and I couldn't be happier for her and the incredible impact she's making in the yoga wear community. I hope you'll support her Kickstarter and check out the awesome clothes, too! Thanks, Ada, for all you do. Namaste.

PS The video features some incredible underwater yoga photography... and if you're into hot yoga, these clothes are perfect for you!

Go Inside

Photo by Jobi Otso.

Sit comfortably, with your spine straight. Take a scan of your body, starting at the crown of your head, moving all the way down to your toes, checking in.

Close down your eyes. Notice what's happening right now.

With a deep inhale, take your awareness inside.

See what is waiting for you there.

You have nothing to fear or change, only noticing.

Holiday Gift Guide 2014, Continued

Photo via Pinterest.
Hi, yogis!

Today I’m bringing you more goodies for the 2014 Alive inthe Fire Holiday Gift Guide. I keep finding awesome gift ideas… and, maybe you’re like me, and you’re having trouble figuring out what to get for those few hard-to-buy-for people on your list :) Hope you enjoy these!

If you’re a yogi living in northern California, this is an awesome deal to check out. For only $40, you can visit over 30 different yoga studios in the area, from downtown Sac all the way up to Auburn, Grass Valley and Placerville. The pass gets you a single drop-in at every participating studio between January 1, 2015 and December 31, 2015. That’s an incredible deal, when you do the math! I just bought a pass and will be gifting some this year as well.

These handy cards feature simple, delicious raw food recipes. I love that they’re easy to carry and include information about the benefits of a raw food diet. Great stocking stuffer or gift for friends who are looking to be healthy in the new year!

This project carries a simple message: You are beautiful! What a great reminder to have on a fun little silver sticker, t-shirt or mirror. I was lucky enough to receive the t-shirt from a friend, and it’s super comfy.

Kari Gran Skincare
Be kind to your skin: that’s the idea behind this lovely brand of beauty products. Love it! Their Starter Kit is amazing, and features a two-week supply of the Kari Gran skin care system. It includes essential serum, rose hydrating tonic, and cleansing oil in lovely little travel-size containers.

Nothing says ‘Let’s celebrate’ like this cute bottle opener!

Wouldn’t this little guy look adorable in your kitchen, or even on the front desk at the yoga studio?

Yoga Mats, Blocks and Props
Every yogi knows the value of a great yoga block and a comfortable yoga mat. I am a fan of JBN WoodCraft and Manduka, which are fairly pricey, and if you're looking to shop for a wide variety of mats and props, try IYoga Props! The brand carries a wide variety of yoga mats, props, and yoga videos to help  you stay supported in your practice. I also love their blog as a wonderful resource on all things yoga!

Because it comes in dosha-specific flavors, and is the yummiest version of chapstick I’ve ever had.

I know I mentioned YMX in the previous gift guide post, but wanted to include a quick update… YMX is featuring a wonderful holiday sale right now, featuring a free gift with purchase and free returns and exchanges! If you’d like to save an additional 35%, use my ambassador discount code at checkout: XMAS5. Cheers!

PS Here's the first part of the 2014 Yogi Holiday Gift Guide.

Yogi Surprise December


Oh, Yogi Surprise… you make me smile!

My December box arrived, and WOW: tiger eye mala beads, chocolate-covered cacao nibs, body butter, and a yoga strap? Amazing! (And that’s not even the whole list of what was included.)

Every month, when I open up my Yogi Surprise box, I have this big smile and a rush of excitement to see what yummy goodies are inside. And since the box launched in September, I’ve been consistently impressed!
If you’re in need of a gift idea for a friend, family member, or yoga teacher – or really anyone in your life who you want to spoil a little bit – I highly recommend checking out YogiSurprise. I mean, not only is every box full of incredible hand-made, delicious, and revitalizing products, but the brand also sponsors a yoga retreat giveaway every month!
It also warms my heart to know that Yogi Surprise will be an integral part of my upcoming launch of Sponsored Yogis 2015. I love having goodies from my box, but there are always more than I need, and I can’t wait to share some with the new group. Stay tuned for more announcements about the application process soon!

Happy holidays, yogis :)

PS You can also read more about last month’s box or the October box.
Photos by Jobi Otso. 

The word ‘asana’ means ‘comfortable seat.’ Finding a sense of peacefulness in the pose is not always easy. The postures stir up a lot of emotion in us, whether it’s due to the physical sensation that we’re experiencing or perhaps our mental resistance to the thought of even being able to do the pose. 

Some backbends make us feel vulnerable, some hip openers release sadness and anger; perhaps we take a Warrior pose and tap into a feeling of strength and groundedness. Each pose contains its own wisdom, and is supposed to make us feel something. The challenge, then, is to discover that ‘comfortable seat’ whether or not the pose itself is uncomfortable. 

We can adopt santosha, an attitude of contentment with what is. We can embrace being in the process. Even the transitions between poses are, themselves, poses. I love these shots by Jobi Otso because it shows how happiness is found in these so-called ‘in-between’ moments… most of our lives are lived in the ‘in-between,’ while we are striving for something else. 

What a powerful practice to start enjoying those moments instead of overlooking them, don’t you think?

Weekend Announcements + Giveaway Winners!

Photo by Jobi Otso.

Happy Friday, lovely yogis! I have some exciting things going on around here at Alive in the Fire... first off, I'd like to announce the winners from the Black Friday week giveaways! :)

Congrats to Beth, the winner of the yoga and meditation apps, Jose, the winner of the yoga book, and Caro, the winner of the Yoga Download subscription. Please email me at aliveinthefire at gmail dot com to claim your lovely prizes!

I'm also excited to present the launch of my new blog design. I collaborated with the talented Rebecca Hawkes on the gorgeous watercolor-style header and absolutely love her work! I highly recommend her if you're in need of any graphic design :)

I'd love to hear your feedback, and as always, thank you so much for following along.

Finally, I'd like to invite you to stay tuned for an upcoming announcement about Sponsored Yogis 2015! I'll be accepting applications starting later this month, and I hope you'll check out the program.

Have a kick-ass weekend, and much love to you :)

PS If you missed it, the 2014 Yogi Holiday Gift Guide has some cool ideas for Christmas gifts.

5 Tips for Vinyasa Yogis

Photos via Pinterest.

Do you practice a lot of vinyasa flow yoga? Here are some great tips for great alignment, and for deepening your practice!

Tip #1: In Downward Dog, try moving the hands a little wider apart on your mat. This will allow your shoulders to move more freely between downdog, high plank, Chaturanga, updog, and the transition back to downward dog. These poses should not make your shoulders hurt, so if you’re feeling pain, check in with your alignment! I made this adjustment to my posture recently, and have noticed a huge difference when transition between the poses! 

Tip #2: Spread your feet a little wider on your mat than you normally do in high lunge, Warrior I and Warrior II. Stability comes from taking up a lot of space on your mat. Picture your feet drawing in toward each other, so you engage the inner thighs.

Tip #3: In Triangle, soften the palm of your hand that’s reaching up. You do want to stretch and awaken the fingers, but you don’t have to grip. Instead of flexing so hard that your fingers are stiff, picture someone pressing on the center of your palm so that it gently relaxes. Notice how this allows energy to flow through your hand and whole arm, into the shoulder, extending downward. This way, prana does not get blocked anywhere in the pose; instead, the energy flows through you. Notice where you can do this in other poses: back off a little, instead of gripping, and notice the energetic difference it makes.

Tip #4: Remember mula bandha. Mula bandha helps you contain all of the powerful energy you create in the body during each pose, and it protects your spine.

Tip #5: Offer the poses. When you become tired or frustrated, give the pose away. Instead of clinging to your progress or telling yourself you’re ‘good’ or ‘bad’ at a certain posture, let it go. Surrender your attachment to the practice.

What tips do you have for vinyasa yogis?

Alive in the Fire’s 2014 Yogi Holiday Gift Guide

Photo via Pinterest.

Welcome to the 2014 Yogi Holiday Gift Guide! This year’s list features some of my favorite yoga wear, books, and other goodies. Enjoy...

The Zen Habits Book by Leo Babauta
Leo’s blog is an ongoing source of inspiration for me. He writes in a beautiful, effortless way, and his book is sure to be full of motivation and encouragement. As he says, “Zen Habits is about finding simplicity in the daily chaos of our lives. It’s about clearing the clutter so we can focus on what’s important, create something amazing, find happiness.” For more info, you can check out my post about the book project, too.


Workout Gear from YMX
YMX makes high-performance clothing with badass style, perfect for wearing during yoga class, a mountain bike ride, a ski or snowboard run, or even as a layer in your everyday outfit. I’m lucky to be one of their newest ambassadors for the brand.

Scents by The Goddess Line
The Goddess Line fragrances are so lovely! In their shop, you can find roll-on oils, candles, lip balm, soap, lotion and yoga mat wash, and more. My favorites are Parvati and Lakshmi.

Custom Yoga Wear from Couture Tee
Tristan’s incredible, custom-made yoga pants are the most comfortable yoga wear I own. Every time I wear my tie-dyed pair to the studio, I get compliments about their fun, funky design! I love that this brand fuses stylish cuts with incredible cultural art. The pants are made of organic, sustainable cotton, spandex and Lycra blends, and every pair is hand made in the US.

The Yoga Shred app by Sadie Nardini
I can’t wait to try this unique mix of yoga and high intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts. After a while practicing similar yoga routines, I sometimes get bored and uninspired. Sadie’s rockstar personality, energetic approach, and incredible knowledge of asana and the body will make this program a lot of fun—and super effective, I bet! I’ll be starting the 2-week program with a friend later this month. Stay tuned for more posts about it! And you can read more about Sadie here.

Yogi Surprise Subscription Box
A gift box subscription unlike any other… like a little retreat delivered to your doorstep! Yogi Surprise features artisan sellers with healthy foods, organic body products, and relaxing treats so you can pamper yourself. Plus, their website features giveaways for yoga retreats around the world every month! The box would be an awesome gift to a friend, or even to yourself. Read my review of the first box here.

A refreshing, energizing drink made with Hawaiian noni, acai, goji and passion fruit juices. Great for before or after yoga class!

KIND Granola Bars

Kind bars are so delicious, satisfying, and healthy. I consider them the perfect pre- or post-yoga snack! Bonus: their motto is ‘ingredients you can see and pronounce,’ so you know the bars are good for you. The yogurt ones are my fave.

Photo via Pinterest.

Namaste, lovely ones! Feel free to share your gift ideas in the comments below (and you're always welcome to shoot me an email if you'd like to be featured in a post like this!).

PS If you need more ideas, check out last year’s holiday gift guide! Here’s part 1, part 2, and part 3.

PPS If you’re looking for non-traditional gift ideas, the Zen Habits gift list is awesome.

Note: all photos in this post via websites linked above the photo.

Photo via Pinterest.

Sequencing a Yoga Class

 Photos via Jago Yoga.

Are you a yoga teacher?

Do you enjoy coming up with sequences for your vinyasa flow, or other Hatha, Ashtanga, or yin asana practice?

I’m collecting info for a post about how to teach an amazing yoga class, and I’d love your ideas!

What helps you theme a class? What are your favorite sequences of postures?

Do you plan out your whole class, or do you like to wing it?

What kind of music do you play in class?

Please leave a comment below or shoot me an email at aliveinthefire at gmail dot com. I can’t wait to hear from you!


Photos by Justin Kral.

Today is one of those days when everything hurts.

My body feels heavy, and it’s like my eyes are remembering all the tears cried last night.

When I sit quietly, I am able to see where some of these feelings are coming from. They’ve been hiding in small corners, and the triggers that set them off were building up.

The time for healing is now, I realize. Let love in, my heart keeps telling me.

The more I reach out to others to ask for support, the more it comes my way.

I’m healing. Letting go of the past. Telling myself, I’m worth it. Sometimes, I just need a little reminder.

PS Do you need a hug, too?

Happy Weekend!

I hope you're enjoying a relaxing, peaceful weekend!

What have you been up to?

I also wanted to post a quick reminder about the three Black Friday giveaways I have going on right now... they will be open for a few more days! I'm going to choose winners on Thursday this week.

If you haven't left comments yet, please check them out and enter to win!

My favorite yoga book of 2014.

A 3-month subscription to Yoga Download, an online library of yoga and meditation videos.

And a download of 2 amazing yoga and meditation apps for iPhone.

Also, stay tuned for some awesome updates coming soon... a gorgeous new design for Alive in the Fire, and a Yogi Holiday Gift Guide post!
Much love to you and yours :)

Worry Later

The next time you're overwhelmed, try this... postpone your worrying.

Go ahead; procrastinate.

My friend Leo over at Zen Habits calls this the 'power of delay,' and my friend at work recently put it this way: worry later.

Instead of freaking out, choose to become very present to what's happening around you. Notice your breath. Slow it down. Take a deep, slow inhale... the deepest inhale you've taken all day. Notice how your body is feeling.

Notice where you can soften. 

And then, without second guessing it, or making it into a big deal, carry on.

Chances are, if you delay the worrying for long enough, the overwhelming feelings will pass.

You deserve happiness.

Choose to be stress-free in this moment. Delay your worrying.

What you seek is already here, perfect, just as it is.


Yoga, Distorted

Sometimes my understanding of what it means to do ‘yoga’ gets twisted around.

I see images of celebrity teachers contorted into bendy poses. I wear expensive yoga pants (many of which have been gifted to me through connections I’ve made writing this blog), and students compliment me. I click ‘like’ on all of the Instagram and Facebook posts I see of beautiful, thin women doing arm balances and inversions. When I post a picture of myself doing an arm balance or inversion, I get ‘likes’ on social media.

Somewhere in the back of my head, a little voice starts to creep in.

You need to look sexy. You need to be skinny and strong, and you need to do the advanced poses.

The poses I’m doing are not enough… there’s more I could be doing… especially if I’m a teacher. I need to practice every day. In order to look like her, I need to do more.

We all struggle with body image issues. 

And I know I can be so, so hard on myself. 

But when I really sit with what it means to be a yogi—and a teacher—I come back to a much less distorted image of yoga. I see the deeper, spiritual, loving practice.

And the truly meaningful questions come to mind:

If what I’m doing is chasing poses, then what am I really practicing?

What if my goal in yoga was not to change my body, but to love my body?

What if the asana practice was about feeling, nourishing my body, and being supported…instead of about looking good?

Photo via article on Yoga Journal.

Today I read a post by a friend about this article by Kino Macgregor where she gives ‘cheats’ (ie tips) for making your crow pose more advanced. In the article, as shown in the photos, she’s actually referring to crane pose, not crow. My friend, the one who had posted the link to that article, wrote this reflection, “Firstly, the idea of "cheating" at yoga by doing a pose or variation that is accessible to you is ridiculous. Secondly, it seems that Yoga Journal's editors/writers don't know the difference between crow pose (kakasana) and crane pose (bakasana). Choose your teachers carefully!”

 I nodded my head as soon as I read that. And I loved seeing the comments from other yogis, too:

“[We have this] mentality that we need to change ourselves. And constantly do "challenges." Well. I challenge us to love ourselves and do modifications and practice different versions of poses with joy and no ego. And also to stop using the #yogaeverydamnday hashtag. You don't work in a coal mine. And even if you do…be joyful!”

“Yoga takes different forms than just asana and even the asana doesn't need to be very fancy to be effective. I could post a picture of myself at my desk or cleaning the house or playing with my dogs and tag it #yogaeveryjoyousday.

I encourage you to liberate yourself today, from the distorted yoga.

Roll out your mat and before you get discouraged or harsh with yourself, say thank you to your body, for all the ways that it serves you so well.

My mantra today is this…

The pose I’m doing is enough. I’m allowed to have a nourishing practice, instead of a harming one (ahimsa).

I AM beautiful… and today, my practice isn’t so much about me being beautiful as it is about me feeling that it’s true.

I will let this yoga be a practice of loving myself.

PS I found it really hard to choose photos for this post. It is often a challenge to choose photos for my blog posts, actually.

There’s a part of me that loves sharing inspiring images of yoga asana on my blog, and there’s a part of me that really struggles with the fact that these images can also contribute to the distorted view of the practice.

Recently, for example, I did an outdoor photo shoot with an incredibly talented photographer and I’m simultaneously thrilled to share the results, and yet also hesitant because of all the issues it raises when we see these types of images. Photos of asana are a beautiful expression of the dedication that goes into the practice, and yet we must be careful not to idolize them.

What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts… there are a lot of nuances and layers to this conversation.

And I hope you’ll stay tuned – more to come on body image and asana soon!

Black Friday Giveaway: Meditation and Yoga Apps (for iPhone users)

Photo via Pinterest.

Most of the time, technology separates us from our meditation and yoga practice...we get distracted by our phones and computers and they eat up our time and add to our stress.

But not in this case! For today's Black Friday giveaway, I'm offering one lucky reader the chance to download two amazing yoga and meditation apps: Yogalosophy and Anamaya Meditation. Both are wonderful resources on the practices of yoga and meditation, and they offer simple, approachable ways to deepen your practice.

The winner of this giveaway will receive a download of both Yogalosophy and Anamaya for iPhone. Please note that there are no Android versions of these apps yet... bummer, I know! I'm in touch with the developers and will make an announcement when the droid versions get released; for now, only iPhone users need apply to win the giveaway. Read below for details on each app. Photos and descriptions below via the iTunes store.

To enter, please leave a comment below about your current yoga or meditation practice, and why you're hoping to use the apps.

Good luck, and namaste!

Anamaya Meditation AppOver 300 guided meditations, each with a mindfulness or visualization exercise. Plus, learning resources covering the science and psychology of meditation. The course covers 11 meditation focus areas, including worry, anxiety, stress, pain, sports, pregnancy, concentration, and more. 

Each meditation track is lead by Anamaya Clinic co-founder Graham Doke. He has studied meditation techniques for over 15 years and uses tailored led-meditation with his clients to access their inner peace and help them with their unwanted behaviors and emotions. 

In Yogalosophy®, Mandy Ingber—one of the most sought-after fitness and wellness advisors in Los Angeles—offers up a unique 28-day plan to help you achieve a healthier body and happier mind. Building on the concepts in Ingber’s popular DVD, Yogalosophy® provides an accessible program of proven workouts and eating guidelines designed to tone and strengthen the entire body, inside and out.

In addition to recipes and detailed body-sculpting workouts (which combine yoga postures with a wide range of other effective exercises), Ingber offers up wise insights and thought-provoking anecdotes to encourage a healthier, more life-embracing mindset. Full of girlfriend-y wisdom, Yogalosophy® is a realistic, flexible, daily plan that will help you transform your mind, your body, and your life.

Photo via Pinterest.

PS If you're feeling a little too obsessed with your smartphone lately, check out my post on how to detach from your phone.

Yoga Book Giveaway

Photo via Pinterest.
Do you like to read? Calling all bookworm yogis! :)

Today I’m featuring a giveaway of my favorite yoga book of 2014, Going Om: Real Life Yoga Stories on and Off the Yoga Mat. The book is a collection of beautifully-written, poignant accounts of the way yoga impacts us, whether we’re on the mat practicing asana, or navigating the surprises life throws our way.

The writing in these essays is effortless – sometimes witty and clever, sometimes heartbreaking. What I love about the book is the raw honesty that comes through, and the way that the book is as much about what it means to be human as it is about what it means to do yoga. I’d highly recommend it, whether you’re a seasoned yogi or someone who wants to learn more about yoga.

Photo via Pinterest.

To be entered in the giveaway, please leave a comment below about why you’d love to check out the book. A winner will be chosen next week.

And if you missed it, there’s another giveaway for a 3-month subscription to Yoga Download going on as well!