The Importance of the Breath

Written by Kristen, kids yoga, vinyasa yoga, hatha yoga, and yoga twist instructor at Hot Feet Fitness.


I often have my clients ask me why it is so important to practice breathing. Like because they do it all the time it has lost any value or intention and is just automatic and disconnected from everything else. However, the opposite is true. Breathing is the easiest way of understanding our underlying emotions and of our physical experience. It creates opportunity for transformation because it connects us so completely with all that we are capable. 


How are you breathing right now? 

When you take control of your breath, take control of body and mind. 

Direct the breath down into your tummy. Put your hands on your belly. Feel it move. It gets bigger as you inhale and smaller as you exhale. Inhale deeply and exhale completely just once and you can notice the mind is calmer and more peaceful. 


Direct the breathe into the ribs. Wrap your thumbs around the back of your waist and try to feel you breathe with your fingers. The ribs move like an umbrella, opening on an inhale and closing on an exhale. This wider breathing can support space between the middle and lower back, giving posture support where we need it most. Try it and notice that the core has to turn on and be more supportive, not to mention this requires focus and intention. So we drop into a different frequency of consciousness, no longer riding the waves of thought, but getting still and aware. 

Now direct your breath into your chest. Bring your fingertips under your collar bones and feel the breath down at your sternum. The shoulders become more relaxed, if they were not already, and the neck feels less burdened, because the head will naturally come back into better alignment when we breathe into the chest. 


Naturally the way we breathe supports good posture and even a good mood. These things are not disconnected. Feeling good comes from breathing good, just like observing how your breathing can be labored or shallow with stress. 


One of the easiest ways to support good posture is to breathe well. Not just breathing into the tummy, but to breathe into the sides and back of the ribs as well as the chest. This three-part breathing will enhance your proprioception, interception, and general self awareness. 


Please don't take my word for it. Don't just believe what I am saying. Challenge yourself. Transformation starts in the transition from inhale to exhale and exhale to inhale. Do you want to feel better? Start by breathing better.

Healthy Work-From-Home Habits

Millions are taking their work home this month in order to do their part in keeping families, friends, and community safe through social distancing. During this time, it’s more important than ever to be mindful of your work-life-balance. When bringing the office into the home space, home and work responsibilities can seem to blend into one long unending task. Working in isolation can also make you lonely, anxious, and affect your performance. 




To break the monotony and keep healthy work habits at home, here are a few tips to help bring balance and mindfulness into your routine:


1. Keep or create a morning ritual.


Just because your “office” may be in your home doesn’t mean you have to give up your morning routine. Make getting ready for the day a ritual, one where you can ease yourself out of rest and into the work you plan to do for the day. Maybe start your day with a little meditation, exercise, a nice shower and a cup of tea or coffee. Try to avoid checking the news or social media for the first few moments after waking, you’ll have the rest of the day to be bombarded by others. Let the morning be just for you.


2. Create a dedicated workspace and transform the space during work hours.


Our minds are always working, even when we are unaware. We subconsciously attribute our work space to our work. By transforming a dedicated area of our home into a workspace during work hours, we tell our subconscious mind that it is time to focus and put our energy into work. We can turn this off by changing the workspace once work hours are finished. This will allow our subconscious mind to rest and feel that work is over for the day. The space is no longer here to subconsciously trigger you to work and you can rest until tomorrow.


3. Move, stretch, check-in periodically.


Sitting for long periods of time can be one of the most detrimental things to our health, especially for those of us who work in office jobs. Try to make a habit of standing up every hour, moving, and checking-in with ourselves. Set a timer if you have to. 


4. Manage your work hours. Shut down when off-hours.


It is easy to blend work into your home life when working from home. This makes it challenging further down the line, to effectively relax and restore. The purpose of turning off is to rest so that we can be recharged and be ready to embrace the next day's challenges effectively. 


5. Stay connected!

Set some time to connect with your co-workers, families, and friends. Set up a time to call or check-in. Many people are scheduling online social hours during this time. Stay in community.


Remember, the only person responsible for your health and well-being is you. Let’s move toward a path of empowerment and not forget to work for ourselves when working from home.


Written by Diana, a Barre Teacher at Hot Feet

Notice the Thought, But Don’t Think It.

Notice the thought, but don’t think it. 

“What the heck?” my daughter scoffed, incredulous as she read that line over my shoulder, “That doesn’t even make any sense, that’s impossible.” I was as dismissive of it as she was initially, but alas, the sentiment has been rattling around in my head for the last few weeks and I’m awfully close to obsessing on it. 

How do you respond to it? Are you wondering how it could be possible to do such a thing? Does it sound like nonsense or perhaps it has a ring to it, a distillation of your need to get control over your own thoughts? 

I think it’s fair to say that when considering meditation many believe that it is a way to master our minds, to elicit some control over our thoughts. I also think that many immediately realize the futility of that pursuit and we give up on the idea altogether. 

So let's explore the veracity of the claim that we have any control at all over our thoughts. As an experiment, an inventory, grab a pen and paper and set a timer for five minutes then write down every thought you have. 

My bet? You wouldn’t even make it to three minutes. Our brains are whirring non-stop, unconsciously filling with thoughts in seemingly unconnected ways. That snub you suffered from that mean Jennifer on the playground in fifth grade to that new haircut you’ve been considering to that adorable pooch from the Westminster Dog Show and on. Indeed, controlling our thoughts is an impossible task. So if we don’t have a way to control them how can we change the way our minds are working if they’re not working for us? 

We can change how we feel about the thought, how we respond to the thought. 

That’s what I think “Notice the thought, don’t think it” really means, to consider how the thought makes you feel, why do you feel the way you feel about the thought and instead of being at the mercy of the emotions the thought might stir in you, rather you start making conscious, deliberate choices to feel those feelings or not. 

So, without thinking about them, what are your thoughts?
Written by Hot Feet yoga instructor Stacy

The Benefits of Gratitude



We are in full swing of the holiday season, which means a lot of extra get togethers, parties, and time with friends and family. This can be really fun and also add a touch of stress. Adding in a bit of gratitude to the mix can really boost our moods, relationships, and health. 


There have been many studies done about gratitude. One study was conducted by two psychologists from the University of California, Davis and the University of Miami. They had a group of people that they divided into three groups. They were all asked to write a couple of sentences each week for ten weeks. One group wrote about things they were grateful for. The second group wrote about things that irritated them. The third group wrote about events in their lives that affected them, neither positive or negative.


After the ten weeks, the gratitude group were more optimistic, exercised more, and felt better about their lives. 


What are the benefits of gratitude?


·      Gratitude improves mental health and general well being

·      Gratitude strengthens relationships

·      Gratitude frees us from toxin emotions

·      Grateful people have higher self-esteem and feelings of self-worth

·      Grateful people are more resilient under stress


How can we add more gratitude in our daily lives?


·       Tell someone you are grateful for them

·       Write a quick note to someone and send in the mail or leave on the bathroom mirror or their desk at work

·       Write something you are grateful for on a piece of paper or journal just for yourself

·       Send a nice text to someone new each day during the holiday season

·       Invite someone over for coffee or dinner as a thank you for their friendship



Want to read more inspiring articles about gratitude? Here are the articles that inspired me:


7 Scientifically Proven Benefits Of Gratitude

How Gratitude Changes You and Your Brain

Why Gratitude Is Good

Author: Alli Shircliff

Save the Turkey! Healthier Vegan Thanksgiving Recipe Ideas


We all love a plate full of the traditional dishes of Thanksgiving: bright red cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, squash, stuffing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie. This year try incorporating a couple of vegan dishes that are sweetened with maple syrup instead of sugar. They are so tasty that you won’t even tell the difference!


Here are two ideas:


Maple Syrup-Sweetened Cranberry Sauce

Yield: 10 to 12 servings




1 (12 ounce) bag fresh cranberries

1 small orange, zested and juiced

¼ cup maple syrup

¼ cup water

1 pinch sea salt

1 cinnamon stick





1.    Combine cranberries, orange zest, orange juice, maple syrup, water, salt, and cinnamon stick in a pot; heat over medium-high heat until simmering.

2.    Reduce heat to a simmer, place a lid on the pot, and cook, gently stirring every 5 minutes, until sauce is thickened and cranberries have burst, about 20 minutes.

3.    Remove cinnamon stick before serving.



Butternut Squash with Walnuts

Yield: 4 to 6 servings




1 butternut squash- peeled, halved, seeded, and cut into ½-inch slices

 cup water

¼ cup maple syrup

¼ cup dark rum (optional)

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

1 pinch salt

¼ cup walnuts




1.    Combine butternut squash, water, maple syrup, rum, cinnamon, and salt in a skillet; bring liquid to a boil.

2.    Reduce heat to low, place a lid on the skillet, and simmer, stirring every 5 minutes, until squash is tender, about 15 minutes.

3.    Transfer butternut squash to a serving dish, keeping the liquid in the skillet.

4.    Continue simmering liquid in skillet until a thickened sauce forms, 5 to 7 minutes. Pour sauce over butternut squash.

5.    Garnish butternut squash with walnuts right before serving.

Author: Alli Shircliff

Körper Stretch Teacher Training First Take

I recently attended the Körper Stretch teacher training and give it five out of five stars. As a yoga instructor, I haven’t been to a teacher training since my yoga teacher training. The Körper Stretch teacher training was just what I needed and wanted.


The instructors, Shea and Spring, were very welcoming and professional. They handed out the curriculum booklet when we arrived, gave us a schedule for each day of the training, and made the environment warm and comfortable. We went through the background of what Körper (meaning ‘body’ in German) Stretch is all about: a class focused on full body stretching for all fitness levels, body types, and ages. We learned that it isn’t a yoga class, but a class focused on stretching. 


We learned the benefits of stretching: increased flexibility and range of motion, injury prevention, improved posture, improved sports performance, and stress relief.


We were then led through a master class taught by Shea, which was a great way to think and feel the class a little differently after having learned the background of Körper Stretch. Then we spent some time going through potential stretches to use in class and wrote our own 5-minute sequence. Each of the participants then taught a 5-minute class segment and we got feedback afterwards.


I left feeling stretched (physically and mentally), got a good night’s sleep, and returned the next day. On the second day, Spring led us through a master class. This was a nice way to start the day and to see a different version of the same type of class. We learned that every teacher will teach the class differently, while at the same time providing an environment of stretching. 


Then the participants each led a 25-minute class. This was the real test of how we understood the material and concept of Körper Stretch. Then we each got feedback and wrapped up the training.


I would recommend this training to anyone who wants to learn more about stretching and anyone who wants to take their exercise or practice to the next level by teaching. The Körper Stretch Teacher Training is an inspiring way to learn, to grow, to stretch, and to be part of the community!

Alli Shircliff
Hot Feet Fitness Yoga & Stretch Teacher



Kind Words

"I am not a social media type and do not want to join Yelp. However, I do want to give Kudos to Hot Feet Fitness in Burien, WA. I am in town for a 6 week training seminar for work and Hot Feet Fitness has been a life saver. I attended class 10:30 yoga flow class Sunday Sept, 1, 2019. The instructor music and quality of class went well above and beyond my expectations. However, what was even more impressive was how squeaky clean the studio is. I would definitely recommend this studio to anyone looking for a quality yoga studio with experienced and high quality instructors."

All the best,
Jeanette Muzio
Alaska Airlines 

Opportunity abounds!

For many years in my BC (before children) era I toiled in the restaurant industry and, because I enjoy suffering, my jam was waiting tables in fine-dining houses. It’s a very self-explanatory position. As a waiter, I waited. I waited for the kitchen to prepare the food, I waited for the bartenders to pour liquor and I waited for the diners to dine. 


If you were savvy enough to avoid restaurant work you might not know the three universal rules that govern all dining establishments with regard to the waitstaff. Because these rules have proven to have great value out here in the Real World, I thought I would share them with you. They are as follows: 


Wash your hands. 


You’ve got time to lean? You’ve got time to clean. 


Never leave your section empty handed. 


The first two are pretty straightforward. Nobody needs a lecture on the merits of keeping sickness at bay with clean hands, nor has anyone I know ever completed their to-do list. In other words? Get to work.


However, the third rule is a bit more than it seems. While you can interpret “never leave your section empty handed” to mean the obvious and entirely useful, “Never head up or down the stairs without a laundry basket”, it also has a deeper meaning to me. It pushes me to consider what my “section” is in this world and for how much of it I am responsible. When considered in that light, NLYSEH can be interpreted as, “Never walk by garbage on the ground in public, pick it up”. Or perhaps, “Never walk by a grandma-type loading her groceries into her trunk without offering to help”. Further, and more challenging for me, it can mean “Never be afraid to apologize to a stranger for causing them inconvenience, even if they are the one being difficult”.


Our community is our section and we shant wait for the opportunity to be of service in little ways; we all have the capability, the responsibility, to clean things up a bit. Never leave your section empty handed, even if its a simple handshake, a kind word, a generous smile or simply filling a bag of trash on your way to the studio. 


Opportunity abounds. Don’t be a waiter. 

Stacy Manning
Hot Feet Fitness Teacher

A Meditation Practice for Improving Memory & More!

There are many things that we cannot change as we get older, good thing memory loss does not have to be one. A growing body of research suggests that a mind-body exercise could improve memory and cognitive function in older adults: specifically Kirtan Kriya meditation.

Studies conducted by the Alzheimer's Research and Prevention Foundation have shown that this particular meditation can be particularly helpful for the aging adult. The practice boosts cognition and help reverse perceived memory loss in older adults with subjective cognitive decline (SCD).

Kirtan Kriya, a type of meditation from the Kundalini yoga tradition, has been practiced for thousands of years to help bring the body, mind and emotions into balance to enable healing. This non religious form for meditation combines mudra (hand gesture), mantra (vocalization), visualization, and regulated breathing. The combination is a powerful stimulus for the brain.

It is a very detailed meditation that can most easily be practiced with a qualified Kundalini instructor. However, here is a link to a description of the practice to get you started at home.


How do you practice Kirtan Kriya?    

  1. Repeat the Saa Taa Naa Maa sounds (or mantra) while sitting with your spine straight. Your focus of concentration is the L form (see illustration), while your eyes are closed. With each syllable, imagine the sound flowing in through the top of your head and out the middle of your forehead (your third eye point).
  2. For two minutes, sing in your normal voice.
  3. For the next two minutes, sing in a whisper.
  4. For the next four minutes, say the sound silently to yourself.
  5. Then reverse the order, whispering for two minutes, and then out loud for two minutes, for a total of twelve minutes.
  6. To come out of the exercise, inhale very deeply, stretch your hands above your head, and then bring them down slowly in a sweeping motion as you exhale.

The mudras, or finger positions, are very important in this kriya (see illustration below).

Kirtan Kriya finger positions (mudras)

  • On Saa, touch the index fingers of each hand to your thumbs.
  • On Taa, touch your middle fingers to your thumbs.
  • On Naa, touch your ring fingers to your thumbs.
  • On Maa, touch your little fingers to your thumbs.

Kristen O'Connor
Hot Feet Fitness Yoga Instructor 

Family Yoga!

When I had my first daughter 3 plus year ago I had no idea how to take everything I had been learning during my years of yoga practicing and teaching and apply it to how to be a compassionate, patient, and loving mother. I did have a great example to follow and I am thankful for a mom who was all those things.

It is one thing to embody compassion in the quiet morning hours when I choose to meditate, but it is another to try to live up to that expectation every hour of the day and in the middle of the night.

As I am encouraging her to think of something happy, we sing a quiet song together. We hug.  My daughter and I take a deep breath, and we both feel better. We are learning it together how to approach each new moment as mother and daughter. She taught me a mantra to go with a hand gesture meditation I wanted to share with her. "I feel much better".

The beauty and simplicity of those words stunned me and made me feel better. We try it together.

Touching the thumb to the tip of each finger repeat out loud.

Index finger: I

Middle finger: Feel

Ring finger: Much

Pinky finger: Better

I wish that there was never a time when I felt anger or frustration, but I have these feelings. I am aware of them.

When I do yoga with my 3 year old I do not teach her, I share it with her and try not to get in her way, but keep her coming back. I try to remember just how lucky I am to be joining in that moment with her whatever it looks like.

Today I have another daughter and I feel like it is yet again a whole new experience in being present. However, this time I am able to take a step back and see so much more clearly. Of course hindsight is always 20/20, but in this case the gift of presence is truly 20/20.

Make life an effortless and enjoyable game, why not? It doesn't mean that there are no times for serious, but to live in a state of stress is not good for anyone in the family, so why not make it fun for everyone.

Kristen O'Connor
Hot Feet Fitness Yoga Instructor