Know Better. Do Better.

Let me begin by saying right now–this newsletter is heavy. It is a reflection of my heart, which at the moment is feeling very, very heavy. By nature, I am a very private and contained person. But, right here, right now, there are voices calling (shouting really) for me to open up, to listen deeply to friends and to strangers who are BIPOC. Their voices are utterly valid, and they are in pain. It’s past time for me to sit with that pain, theirs and mine. Because, yes, I am feeling discomfort, guilt, shame–many, many things. There can be no turning away from it. It’s real, and it’s lived. 

This is THE yoga.  The yoga of ahimsa–non-violence in thought, word, or deed against another human being, or myself.  The yoga of svadhyaya–self-study, in what ways are my actions, my perceptions, my belief systems both conscious and unconscious causing harm to others and myself. And, the yoga of tapas–self-discipline, to transform myself by sitting in the fiery discomfort of breaking habitual thought and behavioral patterns. It’s necessary, and absolutely essential work.

We are all human beings, but we are not all free. This is my yoga. I invite you to contemplate yours. And, as we sit with what is happening internally, and externally, be kind with yourselves, and with others. We have all walked different paths, and find ourselves in different places. As one of my teachers said, “model truth and compassion.” Let’s all be the change we wish to see in thought, word, and deed.

LOKAH SAMASTAH SUKHINO BHAVANTU

“May all beings everywhere be happy and free. And, may the thoughts, words, and actions of my life contribute in some way to that happiness and freedom.”
Find the prayer here:  https://vimeo.com/400370987

Live Like It’s Spring

“Despite the forecast, live like it’s Spring.”
–Lily Pulitzer

I have been having recurring dreams about emerging from a cave, holding up a shielding hand as I squint against the ultra-bright light and warmth of the sun.  My steps tentative.  My head tilting back subtly, as I take slow, deep breaths.  I feel my lungs expanding, my spine lengthening, as I release my arm beside me and simply stand. Time seems to slow down, as I feel the ground beneath the soles of my feet, the heat of the sun, and the caress of a soft breeze against my skin. This is, perhaps, what it feels like to be free.  Aware of the earth that supports me, the sun that warms and strengthens me, and the air that sustains me.  

 “You and I possess within ourselves at every moment of our lives, under all circumstances, the power to transform the quality of our lives.”
–Werner Erhard

These past weeks–months, really–have been an incredible shift in how we all live.  What will we find when we eventually and slowly begin to re-enter the group life stream?  What have we uncovered–discovered–about ourselves during this very special time?  What have we let go of, and what do we take with us?

Now is the perfect time, if you haven’t already, to let things drop away that no longer support you.  Keep only that which is fulfilling and produces joy for you.  Modern life has a way of inserting extraneous and energy draining activities (think about how much time is spent on, say, social media).  These current times of SIP offer rich opportunities to observe “tapas.”  Tapas has been traditionally defined as practicing a “fiery discipline” (the root word ‘tap’ means ‘to burn’).  I like the definition given by one of my teachers: “It is a necessary, fiercely focused, constant, intense commitment to burn off the impediments that prevent us from being fully present.” [Jennifer Prugh]

For the past seven weeks, my tapas practice has been to sit with how I feel about LIVE virtual streaming.  So much about virtual streaming makes me very uncomfortable.  Part of me is amused by this.  Teaching live group fitness classes used to be a large element of my business.  The energy of that was very fulfilling for me.  Doing it in front of a camera (and seeing myself)–not so much.  But, I am committed to finding my voice in this new world.  And, so it goes.  I sit with the discomfort, I do different camera/lighting set-ups, I observe the reactions it brings up, and I practice some more.  

In the meantime, I have added a couple more videos to my Vimeo platform.  Find the videos here:

  • 20 Minute Standing Mobility Flow:  Elevate the mobility, flexibility, and strength of your neck, shoulders, hips, and legs. No equipment needed.  Bring your curiosity and willingness to explore moving in spirals and circles, up, down, side to side, and all around. https://vimeo.com/401159397
  • Warming & Balancing Flow: This session is designed to link your breath to movement, finding energetic balance between not too much and not too little. Flow from one shape to the next, connected to your in breath and out breath like water from one shape to the next shape. Open your hips, invite mobility in your spine, and create some length in your hamstrings and hip flexors.  Finally, you will have an opportunity to check-in with your breath and feeling self as we finish with a short meditation.  https://vimeo.com/403516615

In closing, I also want to offer you links to a few things that have been very supportive for me, creatively and energetically:

Stay well my friends!  Stay well.

Self-Care Tools

“When the storms of life come, if they come to me personally, to my family, or to the world, I want to be strong enough to stand and be a strength to somebody else, be shelter for somebody else.”
–Anne Graham Lotz

Self-care in these turbulent times are essential, not just for ourselves, but also for our loved-ones, our neighbors, our fellow human beings sharing this beautiful planet we call Earth.

I have had many moments over the last three weeks where thoughts, fears, and feelings have overcome me.  I know I am not alone in this.  If you are feeling overwhelmed by emotions, reach out and talk to someone, write it out, dance it out, get some sunshine, pet your beloved dog or cat, do yoga, do any positive activity that helps to balance/level out the intensity of the energy you are feeling.

Some of my self-care go to’s are:

  • Limiting my daily news exposure to once, maybe twice, a day–like a status check-in.
  • Keeping a daily routine of showering and dressing like I would if it were a normal day (e.g., no pajamas, wearing my AppleWatch–the activity tracker is a great motivator, putting on mascara–yep!).
  • Making a healthy, yummy smoothie every morning.
  • Getting out for a walk, or a bicycle ride, in the neighborhood every single day.
  • Meditation.  Every morning, first thing when I wake up.

Other resources:

And finally, I have been slowly (and quietly) creating a Vimeo video channel for a while now.  There you will find my past videos, and new ones.  Some are guided meditations that are useful for reducing stress (Yoga Nidra, Leaf Meditation, and 4-7-8 Breath).  The newest videos are active sequences designed to get the body open and moving.  Find the videos here:   Claudia on Vimeo

Stay well my friends.  Stay well.

Online Offerings

As we continue to navigate the waters of these strange times we are in, I am slowly working on adding more online video offerings.  Some are guided meditations that help you to ground and find peace.  Others are short sessions on improving active ROM.  My newest one is 20 minutes of standing leg strengthening and stretching.  My hope is that they are useful and helpful!

Please find the videos here:  Claudia Fountain on Vimeo

Stay well my friends!

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu

In these challenging times, may this form of compassionate prayer bring you some measure of peace.

LOKAH SAMASTAH SUKHINO BHAVANTU

OM SHANTI SHANT SHANTI

 

May all beings have freedom and happiness, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my life contribute in some way to that freedom and happiness.  Peace. Peace. Peace.

To hear the chant:  https://vimeo.com/400370987

Strange Times…..

“are these in which we live, forsooth.”  — George Francis Train

If you are missing your regular health and wellness routines, I have some video content up and available for free.  Two are guided meditations, useful for relieving stress (we all could use some of that!).  The others are simple short sequences for keeping major joints loose and comfortable, plus one balance challenge.  Find the videos here:  https://vimeo.com/physiquebyfountain

My hope is to be able to create a few more in the coming weeks.

Stay well my friends!

 

Regeneration. Growth. Evolution.

Right now you are changing.  Skin cells, red blood cells, white blood cells, colon cells are shifting, either growing or dying, and this change is essential to life.  On average, a skin cell lives about two to three weeks, red blood cells for about four months, colon cells for a mere four days, while white blood cells live for more than a year.  There are between 50 and 75 trillion cells in the human body, each with their own life span!

As one of my teachers has said, “Life is the ultimate educational experience.”  We are designed to change and evolve, down to the cellular level, until the day we die.   Evolution is the opposite of stagnation:

Stagnant (adj.):  1) not flowing or running; 2) stale or foul; 3) lack of development, advancement, or progressive movement

To evolve and change, means we take the time to sit with what is, and to parse out where we are making assumptions about our experiences.

For the past few weeks, I have been sitting with my anxiety.  This rising tide of anxious feelings is being fed by many things–not least of which are global health concerns.  But, a large life-change is also imminent for me–picking up and moving a household out of state is huge.  Looking for the right home has proven to be challenging.  And, my work has been to sit with my ideas of what home should feel or look like.

Change brings with it many unknowns, and learning to be comfortable with not knowing everything isn’t always easy!  Structure, everything in its place, a place for everything, feels good, safe, secure.  The truth is loss of structure, or massive changes in our safety nets, can make us feel very ungrounded, as though we are in free-fall.  But, what if we flipped our perspective about ground?

“The bad news is you’re falling through the air, nothing to hang on to, no parachute.  The good news is, there’s no ground.”
–Chögyam Trungpa

What if no ground meant we could relax?  Without fear of a hard landing, we are free to find our authentic selves, beyond the rules, walls, and attachments we have built to keep us ‘safe.’  For me–right now–no ground means shifting from the urgent driving need to already be there in my new home (trying to shortcut the process), to living in the moment, relaxing into the frustration, and sitting with and loving all the questions.

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue.”
–Rainer Maria Rilke

In between who we were and who we are going to be, we find out exactly who we are.  What does lack of growth look like in your life?  Where do you resist change?  What might you discover if you dug down into the hard-packed ground of your garden?  Till the soil, plant seeds, and watch what emerges…..

See you on the mat!

Love In All Directions

“Recognize that the very molecules that make up your body, the atoms that construct the molecules, are traceable to the crucibles that were once the centers of high mass stars that exploded their chemically rich guts into the galaxy, enriching pristine gas clouds with the chemistry of life.  So that we are all connected to each other biologically, to the earth chemically and to the rest of the universe atomically.”
–Neil deGrasse Tyson

We are in the Universe and the Universe is in us, literally in every way.  Chaos and order, in everything.  With one element to bind it all together, to balance it out–love.

“The most important aspect of love is not in giving or the receiving: it’s in the being. When I need love from others, or need to give love to others, I’m caught in an unstable situation. Being in love, rather than giving or taking love, is the only thing that provides stability. Being in love means seeing the Beloved all around me.”
–Ram Dass

While we all may not be able to create change in the world on a global scale, we can work within our personal sphere of influence.   Being the change begins with ourselves.  Being in love, existing in the flow of love, manifests as compassion, kindness, responding (rather than reacting), speaking and acting from our hearts.  I believe the doorway to being in love begins with ourselves–be good to yourself first, then others.  It’s like putting on your own oxygen mask.  Until you do that, you are no help to others.  Self-care may take the form of exercising, eating well, getting enough sleep.  But, it also means taking time to manage your stress, practicing mindfulness, and self-compassion.   Sometimes the best self-care is to step away from everything, and go for a walk; or, simply sit and watch your breath for a few minutes.

Personally, my two most essential “go-to’s” for managing stress are dedicated time on my meditation cushion, and a good solid cardio session either at the gym or outdoors.   Exercise literally moves energy, burns it up, moves it out with each exhale, with each step taken.  Think of stress as energy that is stuck, needing to be transformed.  I take that stuck energy, and give it back to the universe in the form of carbon dioxide, oxygen, nitrogen, argon, and water vapor.

What form does self-care take for you?  How is love manifesting in your life both for yourself, and for others?  Can it be found in the form of a child’s laughter, or the purring of a cat?  Perhaps it is in the form of a hug, or listening to a friend as they talk about their sorrow.  If we look with open hearts, it can be found in everything, and everyone.

See you on the mat!