Happy Holidays!

Photos by Felipe Silva of @the_lost_portraits.

Happy Holidays, yogis! Wishing you a peaceful week :)

A heartfelt namaste and big cheers to you and your family and friends as 2015 comes to a close. How are you celebrating the start to a new year?

I'll be blogging intermittently for the next week. In case you're looking for some fun reading on Alive in the FIre, here are a few of my favorite posts from 2015:

Yoga Snacks

What do you like to eat before and after yoga class?

I'm a fan of practicing on an empty (or nearly empty) stomach, and I'm always happy to discover light, energizing snacks that give me lasting energy.

Here are my current three favorite pre- and post-yoga snacks :)

Crunchies has all sorts of yummy freeze-dried fruits that are perfect as a topping over Greek yogurt. My faves are blueberry and cinnamon apple.

Avocado with salt and pepper
So good. Every time! :)

Veggies and hummus

You can't go wrong with some Mediterranean spices hummus and a pile of freshly chopped veggies. Yum!

What are your favorite snacks, yogis?

You are Worthy

 Photos by Respiro Photography.

You are worthy of love.

You're worthy of good things.

You're lovable, just the way you are-- the way you look, how smart you are, how many breaths you can hold a yoga pose, how many items you've crossed off your to-do list.

You actually don't need to change a thing to become worthy. You already are.

Nothing you do can change the fact that you're worthy and deserving of this beautiful, breathtaking life.

The Yoga Pose You Hate

Photo by Felipe Silva of @the_lost_portraits.

What's your least favorite yoga pose?

Mine has varied over time: chair pose, headstand, handstand, pigeon, to name a few.

I believe it's normal to experience periods of time where you dislike certain poses, you resist them, and you want to run from the room when the teacher asks you to do them.

Photo by Felipe Silva of @the_lost_portraits.

I have an idea for you.

What if, the next time you encountered a pose that you absolutely don't want to do, instead of skipping the pose or ignoring your reaction to it, you spent a few minutes after class asking your teacher about the pose? 

Photo by Brynna Bryant of Respiro Photography.

You could choose to replace resistance with curiosity.

Find out more about this pose. What's happening in the body when you do this yoga pose? What are its benefits? What muscle groups are working, and what are their balancing actions? What happens to the breath in this pose?

Energetically, what is this pose causing to happen? Which chakra is this pose connected with? What emotions?

What about the pose makes you dislike it? Is it the way your physical body feels? The sounds that tend to be happening in the room when you are in the pose? The length of time you hold the pose? The thoughts that creep into your mind whenever you're in this pose? A memory that comes up? The way this pose makes you feel weak, incapable, inflexible, or 'bad?'

Photo by Jobi Otso

Ask questions. Do research. Talk to your teacher and to other yogis about this pose, its correct alignment, its modifications. Maybe even spend a few moments writing down your thoughts about this yoga pose, or meditating on it. See where this exploration leads you.

Perhaps there will always be a yoga pose you dislike.

Are you willing to explore the reasons surrounding why this is? Are you willing to practice detachment? Are you willing to surrender your ego?

Keep peeling back the layers. This is your yoga.

Three Ways to Let Go of Stress

Photos via Death to Stock Photography.

Are you stressed? I don't know about you, but December has certainly been bringing plenty of challenges my way. There have been a lot of opportunities to put my yoga practice to the test. 

Do I choose to take a deep breath, or do I start to freak out?

In case you're having an overwhelming month too, I wanted to offer three simple ideas for how to relieve stress and feel more grounded and empowered.

Three Simple Ways to Relieve Stress

1. Take five deep breaths. Give yourself permission to stop what you're doing and focus your attention on your lung power. Draw breath in through your nostrils all the way down into your belly. Feel expansion as you inhale, and release as you exhale. Do these deep breaths at least five times. Not just one breath, but five. ;)

2. Make yourself a cup of tea and drink it slowly. What tastes and smells do you find comforting? Look for a tea with ingredients in it that immediately give you a sense of calm. My new favorite is a lavender, nutmeg and rose tea from Buddha Teas. As soon as I smell it, I feel a little less crazy. And by the time I've finished drinking a cup that has a little bit of honey stirred in, I'm in a much better place.

3. Talk to a friend who you're comfortable crying in front of. Ask for a hug. Open up about what's really going on. Try not to hold anything back. Spend some time with that person who you know will love you no matter what, whether you need an ugly cry or just to vent about your day.

What has been helping you release stress during this holiday season?

Namaste. XO

Benefits of Warrior I, II and III (Virabhadrasana I, II and III)

Photos by Respiro Photography featuring Sporti Studio neon nights leggings from Yoga Outlet.

Do you ever wonder why we do Warrior poses in yoga class?

Today I wanted to share some info about the benefits of Virabhadrasana I, II and III, as well as some tips for safe alignment in these postures.

Benefits of Warrior I, II and III (Virabhadrasana I, II and III)
  • Warrior poses build strength. In these poses, you cultivate a sense of joyful determination; even while your muscles quiver, you have the opportunity to tune in to your breath and set your focus on the present moment.
  • Warrior poses increase flexibility in the hips.
  • Virabhadrasana I, II and III tone the muscles in the legs, ankles and feet.
  • The Warrior poses allow you to practice a balance between effort (sthira) and ease (sukha). There is major effort happening in some muscles of the body, yet the breath remains slow and even, and the gaze (dristi) is steady. 

Alignment Tips for Warrior I, II and III (Virabhadrasana I, II and III)
  • Keep length in your lower back. Concentrate on lifting your abdomen and knitting your lower ribs together. Engage navel to spine; while your legs are doing a lot of work, your core is doing a lot of work, too. By removing a forward tilt in your pelvis, you'll avoid crunching in the low back.
  • Be aware of where your knees and ankles are in space. The safest position for your knee joint is to stack it directly over your ankle. Notice if your knee is collapsing inward rather than tracking out toward your middle toes of your foot. 
  • Press down through both feet. Notice that both your front foot and back foot are active in the pose.

PS My new favorite leggings to wear to yoga are the Sporti Studio Neon Nights leggings from Yoga Outlet. So comfortable, colorful and functional! I highly recommend shopping at Yoga Outlet or following them on Twitter or Instagram for fun workout clothes ideas.

10 Things I Love About Working For Myself

Being an entrepreneur takes guts. It takes courage to pursue your dreams even when the risks are high.

This year I took a leap of faith and quit a 9-to-5 job so that I could work for myself. I couldn't be more proud of this decision. ;)

In some ways, working for myself is much more challenging than having the predictability of a 40-hour work week... but it is one of the most fulfilling things I've ever done.

Here are 10 things I absolutely love about working for myself.

1. My mornings are now slow mornings. I can linger, sip coffee, and start my day with a peaceful pace.

2. I am more resourceful.

3. I practice yoga more often.

4. I have (prioritized) free time.

5. I have flexibility.

6. I have space for more relaxation and time with friends.

7. I don't have a rush-hour commute.

8. I'm usually around happy, healthy people and in quiet, peaceful environments.

9. I can support my loved ones more.

10. I can choose which projects to say yes to, and which to say no to.

May you be inspired, happy and balanced in your career path!

PS Three tips for if you're making a big change in your life, career-related or otherwise.

Yogi Surprise December: Giving and Receiving

I opened up my December Yogi Surprise box to discover this quote:

Love is a gift you receive by giving selflessly without ownership, attachment, or expectation. The more you give, the more you get.
What a great reminder at this time of year! Whether you're shopping for loving gifts to give your friends and family, or you're finding other ways to celebrate without spending any money, I hope you'll consider how important it is to give and receive LOVE.

Love is what fuels us.

If we can infuse every relationship with more love at this time of year, we'll all make the world a better place.

Here are my three favorite items from the December box:

Crown Chakra Tea from Buddha Teas. This blend of lavender, nutmeg and rose is incredible! So calming. And the tea has also been infused with the essence of amethyst! I'm definitely going to be buying more of this and trying some of their other chakra teas as well.

Sweet orange and cinnamon scrub from Real Beauty for a Cause. This stuff is heavenly. It's made with all natural ingredients and high-quality essential oils, and the small batches are created by women working to gain economic independence and break the cycle of poverty. This would make a perfect stocking stuffer!

Om Lavender sachet from HaitiProjects.org. This is my new bedtime favorite. I stick this little pillow under my nose and enjoy a relaxing lavender smell before drifting off to sleep. Again, perfect stocking stuffer idea!

You can't go wrong with Yogi Surprise... so much love in one little box :) Namaste.

The 2015 Alive in the Fire Yogi Holiday Gift Guide, Part 2

Photo by Felipe Silva of @the_lost_portraits.

We all know asana, or yoga postures, are only one part of the yogic path... and for those who are immersed in their physical practice and want to kick it up a notch, tools and resources can be helpful.

Calling all handstand-ers, scorpion lovers, and super bendy yogis! Part 2 of the Alive in the Fire 2015 Yogi Holiday Gift Guide is for you :)

Alive in the Fire Holiday Gift Guide: Part 2
Gift Ideas for Hardcore Asana Yogis

Photos via Dharma Yoga Wheel.

The World's First Yoga/Fitness Wheel designed to help stretch and release tension and muscular tightness in the back, chest, shoulders, abdomen and hip flexors. ®

This yoga prop will change your life! I've gained so much flexibility in my spine using my Dharma Yoga Wheel. Plus, being a part of their worldwide community brings so much love and inspiration. Follow @dharmayogawheel for ideas about how to use the wheel (you might just find a photo of yours truly if you look closely!!) and be sure to connect with the Dharma Yoga Wheel founders, Dov Vargas (@yogivaruna) and Raquel Vamos (@leela_om). They are some of the most incredible yogis with so much love and light to share.

Also check out my review of the wheel for more info.

Photo via @yogivaruna on Instagram.

Yoga Tune Up is an incredible resource for pain relief, body awareness and anatomy. They make all sorts of roller balls that you can use to massage areas of tightness in the body. I have a set and I use them allllll the time! I also highly recommend Jill Miller's book, The Roll Model: A Step-by-Step Guide to Erase Pain, Improve Mobility, and Live Better in Your Body. Life changing. Read my review of the book for more info.


 Photos via Liforme.
I've heard this one called the 'Rolls Royce of yoga mats.' :) It features a super grippy, non-slip surface, an AlignforMe system with markers that show you great alignment, and extra cushioning. Sounds divine! I have yet to try one and can't wait for the day when I get to :) Definitely a luxury yoga item.

Epsom Salts or a Massage Gift Certificate
Because, let's be honest, if you're doing a lot of yoga, you're really sore. ;)

Photo by Felipe Silva of @the_lost_portraits.

Did you miss part 1 of the holiday gift guide? Check out ideas for 'the yogi who has everything!'

And stay tuned for part 3... gift ideas for hungry yogis!


Photo and quote by Markus Almond.

Problems will come every day. 

No matter what you do, you will have problems. You could win the lottery, quit your job and live on a beach with a supermodel. You'd still have problems. They never go away. 

What matters is your ability to overcome.

Have inner strength deep enough to keep your feet firmly planted in the sand when the ocean tries to wash you away.
- Markus Almond

If You Need a Laugh

Photo by Two Twenty Photos.
Need a laugh? ;)

Today I was thinking about how stressful this time of year can be, and how important it is to keep laughing even when things get busy and hectic.

Photo by Two Twenty Photos. 
Photo by XSight Photography.

So, in case you need a laugh...

Q: What did the yogi say when his student asked him what he wanted for his birthday?
A: I wish for no gifts, only presence.

Q: What did the Yogi say to the criminal?
A: You have the right to remain silent.

Q: Why didn't the yogi buy the vacuum cleaner?

A: It came with too many attachments!

Try these links, too ;)

Funny cats.

Why laughter yoga is good for you.

The funniest drawings from Gemma Correll about all sorts of funny shit.

Surefire ways to make a baby laugh.

The 2015 Alive in the Fire Yogi Holiday Gift Guide, Part 1

Photo via MyOm Yoga.

Happy holidays, yogis!

Do you participate in the Christmas gift-giving tradition?

I'm doing my best to shift away from raw consumerism (buying pointless stuff) to creating heartfelt, personalized gifts for people I love. With that in mind, I'd like to kick off the Alive in the Fire 2015 Holiday Gift Guide!

May these ideas inspire you to be generous and creative. Namaste.

Alive in the Fire Holiday Gift Guide: Part 1
Gift Ideas for 'The Yogi Who Has Everything'
It's hard to find good yoga apps, and I was so happy when I discovered MY OM. You can use this app to learn about yogic philosophy, Sanskrit, chakras, and asana alignment. The app is set up with quizzes that help you explore, stay curious, and learn new information. Whether you’re a seasoned yogi, are in the midst of certification, or have been teaching for years and are looking to refresh and challenge your knowledge, MY OM is a fun and approachable learning tool.

 Photos via Four Athletics.

How often do you hear about high-quality yoga wear that's comfortable, functional and affordable? And made in the United States?! I've been blogging about yoga for over 5 years and I've never heard of a brand like this until now! 

Most of us are tired of spending $75+ on a single piece of yoga wear. I'm so happy to see the Four Athletics brand emerging through their Kickstarter campaign. Keep an eye out - they're going to be doing big things in the yoga and fitness world! PS The diagram below shows how they are using crowdfunding instead of a traditional retail model. Amazing!

I love DIY beauty treatments. This deck of cards has a great variety of homemade skincare recipes that can be used for any skin concern... cleansers, exfoliators, moisturizers, masks, sunscreens... you name it! This is a perfect gift for any yogi in your life who loves to sweat and wants their skin to stay happy and healthy before and after yoga class.
Photo via Uncommon Goods.

A 'Namaste' pillow. Boom. ;)
Yogi Surprise is hands-down my favorite brand I discovered through my blog. Their subscription boxes are filled with fun goodies -- yoga props, healthy snacks, all-natural bath and body products, posture sequence cards, books, and sometimes jewelry. It's like a little retreat every time it comes in the mail. See some recent box reviews from Yogi Surprise November and Yogi Surprise February.

Stay tuned for the next part of the holiday gift guide... gifts to take your asana practice to the next level!


Photos by Felipe Silva of @the_lost_portraits.

 If today's yoga practice was your very last, how would you want to practice?

How would you want to feel in the poses?

How would your breath be?

Your body is a precious well of energy, emotion, and love.

If today was your last day for moving in this body, how would you move? What would you give? What would you surrender?

When you step onto your mat to practice today, let it be about something beyond just this body, this breath, this one pose. Let it be a precious awakening.

An expression.

An offering of love.


Do you ever feel like you're moving through life like a zombie?

Time passes, but it feels like things are out of your control. You watch the days fly by without a sense of knowing what you want, or what you can do to feel happier, healthier and more present.

If you've ever wanted to feel more AWAKE and ALIVE, I invite you to attend my upcoming workshop (details below). Or, if you're not local to Sacramento, stay tuned for some free downloadable content on this same topic.

I want to help you wake up -- to see yourself as you truly are, to awaken your highest potential, and to move forward!

Can't attend the workshop, but you read Alive in the Fire regularly and want to learn more about how to AWAKEN through yoga, Reiki and journaling? Send me an email at aliveinthefire at gmail dot com. First three readers to contact me will receive a free prize. Please use the subject line "AWAKEN" :)

Awaken: A Yoga, Reiki and Journaling Workshop with Rachel Koontz
Saturday, Dec 12th
5931 Stanley Avenue Ste 7, Carmichael Ca, 95608
Bring your journal (or purchase one for $15)

Happy, healthy beings of light... that's what we are. We all deserve love, goodness, happiness, and abundance. But we don't always feel that way. We get stuck, we have fears, we have setbacks, and we get discouraged. My goal is to help reawaken your zest for life and give you some simple tools for staying attentive and peaceful.

PS, in case you missed it earlier in the post: Can't attend the workshop, but you read Alive in the Fire regularly and want to learn more about how to AWAKEN through yoga, Reiki and journaling? Send me an email at aliveinthefire at gmail dot com. First three readers to contact me will receive a free prize. Please use the subject line "AWAKEN" :)


Survive the Holiday Season with Yoga

Photos by Brynna Bryant of Respiro Photography.

 Anyone else out there feeling a little frazzled and overwhelmed during the holiday season?

One of the best things I've learned in the last few years is to commit to my yoga practice throughout the whole month of December.

Last year I committed to yoga in December, and I'm doing it again now. 

Want to survive the holiday season? In December, prioritize your yoga practice!

Life becomes easier after you've had a sweaty vinyasa practice, or even a few minutes of gentle yin stretching.

Give yourself whatever it is you need from your practice today.

And then commit to doing it again tomorrow. And the day after that ;)

Are you fighting resistance? Procrastination? Maybe it's been a while since you rolled out your mat, and you're not sure how your body will feel or how your experience will be at your yoga studio.

Try this: pick your favorite class (the one that always leaves you smiling in Shavasana), and then just focus on showing up.

Showing up is often the hardest part.

Do everything you can to streamline getting in the car and getting your butt there. Pack your bag and put it by the door. Remove as many obstacles as possible.

Oh, and another important part of this? Be kind to yourself during this process. This is ahimsa.

This is the yoga practice. Loving yourself even when you feel lazy, or frazzled, or imperfect. Practicing when you don't want to.

Namaste, loves.

PS More tips on getting out of a rut if you feel stuck in your practice. Also, reminders for how yoga will transform your life for the better.

Did you like this post? Share it with friends by pinning the above graphic to your Pinterest board!

You Are Beautiful

Photos by Tra Huynh of Two Twenty Photography.

Remember how beautiful you are. Remember real beauty is inside, even though the world sometimes tells you otherwise.

Feel this.

Write it down if you need to.

Remind others that they are beautiful, inside and out.

Know the ways you are beautiful. Feel them.

The softness of your smile. The way you look in the afternoon, the way speckled light dances in your hair, and in those moments, your confidence and calm. Your way of being infinite and all at once, present in this moment.

What if, just for a second, you could see yourself the way others see you? How beautiful and precious you are. How perfect.

Trust what you know to be true: that you are beautiful.

When you doubt this, return to the reminder you've written to yourself.