New Beginnings

AUM

original, primordial seed sound
new beginnings, the will to create

It’s the start of a new decade, the perfect time to invite something fresh to enter our lives!  What if, instead of making resolutions (the word alone sounds heavy and totally not fun!), we learn, explore, play, create, give to others, and give ourselves space to grow mentally, physically, spiritually……

Maybe this year you decide to try one new thing?  Just one new thing.  It could be anything from taking a class on how to draw, to volunteering for a local animal rescue and foster program, or buying a new houseplant and learning how to keep it alive (yep, go online and learn how to take care of plants!).

Doing something new could also be practicing the art of letting go, or decluttering your life of s t u f f–clean out one drawer a week of things you haven’t worn or used in over a year.  Or, go through one box a month (you know…those boxes that have been sitting in storage somewhere gathering dust), and make a game of what can be donated, given away, or sold.

‘What shape waits
in the seed of you
to grow and spread
its branches
against a future sky?’

–David Whyte
from “What to Remember When Waking”
.
When I first began my yoga practice I would go through periods of dedicated time on my mat and my meditation cushion, and periods where I would drift away from it.  Out and back, out and back, like waves rolling on and off a beach.  I like to think of this phenomenon as very normal–and very human.  Eventually, those gaps became smaller, until one day it just settled.  My meditation practice is the linchpin of my day.  Every morning, 10 minutes, 30 minutes, or something in between, it happens.  It’s embedded in my morning just as brushing my teeth and showering is.  It didn’t happen over night, or because I told myself, “I should.”   I believe that a genuine interest in what I was learning and practicing is what made it happen.

So, let’s begin this decade by being open to trying new things.  It may be all about clearing out the old (mentally, physically) to make room for something new to appear.   Or, going out and exploring!  Look for the thing that really piques your interest, and then learn everything there is to know about it.  Make it fun, make it light (don’t obsess about how well or not you do it), and see where it takes you.

See you on the mat!

P.S.  The sound OM/AUM is considered to be the original, primordial sound that created the universe.  It contains the root, or seed, of all sound.  It is the energy vibrating behind, and within everything.  Chanting the sound OM helps us connect to that vibrational energy.   Begin or end your day, by listening to or chanting the sound of OM for five minutes.  Rest in the silence following, for as long as you like.  Find the sound of OM here:  https://soundcloud.com/krishna-bhaktin/om-meditation-deep-relaxation

 

2019 Send Off

What a year it has been!

Full of many wonderful and not so wonderful events.  I am forever grateful for the support I received from family and friends as I navigated mourning, injury, and healing.  I am astoundingly grateful for the gift of time spent with family from far away and close-by, and the privilege to travel and explore with them.  But most of all, I am grateful to love and be loved.

The new year will roll some big changes into my life that are exciting, and full of questions yet to be answered.  I look forward to exploring the possible answers with an open mind and open heart.  In fact, as I write this now, it is with a sense of, “Bring it 2020!  I’ve got this!”

As I close out 2019 and roll into the holidays I spend a little time each evening reminding myself of the many things in my life I am grateful for.

“Gratitude is a powerful catalyst for happiness. It’s the spark that lights a fire of joy in your soul.” –Amy Collette

How will you close out 2019?  Who or what are you grateful for in your life?

See you on the mat!

P.S.,  I have left a little gift for you below.  A Yoga Nidra practice for deep relaxation and stress reduction.  The literal translation of Nidra is sleep.  Yoga Nidra has been shown to reduce stress, depression, anxiety, and PTSD.  (See here, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31003664, and here, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30870017 for a couple of studies.)

Yoga Nidra practice:  https://vimeo.com/379139124

Changing Seasons

It’s my favorite time of the year, and it totally has me smiling!  Something about the shifting quality of light, the cooler temps and changing  leaves–it all makes me feel lighter, less weighed down.  This year has delivered some landslides that knocked me sideways for sure.  And, it was a good thing!  Sometimes what we need is to step sideways, get off the merry-go-round, and see life from a completely different perspective.   A little bit like doing a headstand.  Or, being forced to stop working because of an injury.  There are benefits there, if you choose to see them. These sidesteps, while at first may feel like a step in the wrong direction, are in the end the path forward.  We only needed to clear some clutter out of the way.  Just as trees shed their leaves, we can let go of outdated perspectives, un-necessary commitments, or hard line expectations.

I’ve had a couple of realizations hit me over the past month, that will impact my work-life in a positive way, allowing me to find joy again in what I do.  I’ve also re-found my creative inspiration that I will be pouring into writing, drawing, getting back to my mala projects, and even ultimately into this year’s Jack ‘O Lantern!

A quote I ran across this morning, “Life isn’t just what you’re focused on, but around you too.” [Jessica Thompson] My personal goal–reconnecting with the full spectrum of Life, just as it is, without heavy expectations or feeling that “my way” is the only way.  

To that end, over the next several weeks, we will focus on discovering our holding patterns, becoming comfortable with releasing expectations, noticing what it feels like in the physical and energetic bodies when we do, and finding contentment in being exactly where we are.  

See you on the mat!  

P.S.:  Over the summer while healing my foot injury, I put together a series of short sequences to help keep my body mobile.  Here is a time-lapsed series for opening the hips.  No props needed!  Since this is a time-lapse, remember to slow the movements down, use your breath as a guide (i.e., in the first pattern, exhale to externally rotate the hip, inhale to internally rotate the hip.)  Follow the link:  https://vimeo.com/physiquebyfountain

When was the last time you really just chilled?

Here I am in August, and I’m dreaming of a vacation!  There is no small irony in that statement.  I am just finishing my seventh week of being home bound as I heal a fracture in my left foot.  I can see the end goal right around the corner.  And, I know it will feel so wonderful to be able to move more normally again.  These past weeks have been a true lesson on learning to let go of  “doing.”  Healing became the priority, and no amount of frustration over the things I could not (temporarily) do was going to speed the healing process.   Simple things like showering, getting dressed, making something to eat, all have taken longer to do.  It quite often feels a bit like a moving meditation as I pay attention to the nuances of maneuvering my body and foot through space with care.  This entire experience has been like a (large) nudge (bonk over the head) by the Universe telling me to    s  l  o  w     d   o   w   n.

Which circles me back around to my opening question–when was the last time you really just chilled?  Pulled up the lounge chair, sprayed on sun screen, and read a good book?  Taken a stroll down to the end of the pier, sat on the edge, and just dangled your feet?  There is immense value to be found in slowing down, giving the body and mind space and time to rest.  Physiologically, rest gives the body time to repair and grow, and come back stronger.  Mentally, silence–which is rest for the brain–has been shown to lead to the development of new cells in the hippocampus, the key region in the brain associated with learning, memory, and emotion (for some of the research, see:  https://www.researchgate.net/publication/259110014_Is_silence_golden_Effects_of_auditory_stimuli_and_their_absence_on_adult_hippocampal_neurogenesis).

So, as we enter the final weeks of summer, consider how you might add more rest into your day (naps!), or week (an afternoon at the beach).  Next month, I will be off on a two week road trip with family from Europe, to introduce them to the wonders of our National Parks (Tetons, Yellowstone, and Glacier).  I will be giving my foot some hiking physical therapy, and my spirit some much needed communion with nature.

See you on the mat!

P.S., I am very happy to be returning to my regular teaching schedule, beginning this Sunday (8/11)!  We will be exploring conservation of energy, consistency, and stability.

Change is the One Constant

“Sometimes you don’t realize your own strength until you come face to face with your greatest weakness.”
–Susan Gale

It is said that change is the only constant.  June has certainly proven that for me!  An unfortunate slip on my stairs sent me to Urgent Care.  I am now in a boot for the next six weeks as I heal a bone fracture.   My asana practice has entirely changed in order to accommodate a foot that is non-weight bearing.  My regular cardio sessions are on hold.  So many aspects of my personal and professional life are now in stasis.  It has been frustrating, to say the least.

But!  This isn’t about what has gone wrong.  Rather, it is about shifts in circumstances.  How we deal with any one thing, is how we deal with all things.  One hand is now empty, but in my other hand is something else.  Time.  Time to write.  Time to read (I can finally make a dent on my stack of yoga-related books).  More time to meditate (this is pure GOLD).  More time with new kittens.  Yes, kittens!  Let me tell you, chasing down a tiny, wee kitten on crutches is challenging.

My personal goal for the next six weeks is adaptation.  There is always more than one way to approach something.  Before my injury, I had begun the annual summer Instagram challenge that my yoga studio (Breathe Together Yoga, Los Gatos) holds.  It is running for 84 days, and I was only a week into it.  Rather than not finishing (I am not a fan of “incomplete”), I decided to keep on playing, adapting the poses to fit my circumstances.  It has been fun and challenging.  If you would like to follow what my adaptations are, please follow the link: http://https://www.instagram.com/cmjfountain/
The hashtags are #BTY84 and #worksinprogress.  I would love to see you there!

I will be returning back to my regularly scheduled teaching program on 7/29.

Namaste!  And, carry on!

Tuning IN

“Yoga is an internal practice. The rest is just a circus.”
–Sri K. Pattabhi Jois

Breathe.  Invite.  Welcome.  Listen.  Feel.  Accept.  Open.  Sense.  Observe.

These are some of the essential practices at the heart of Yoga.    Whether we are sitting behind the wheel of our car, standing in line at the market, or upside down in headstand–connect with awareness and breath.  Anything that allows us to be more aware of ourselves, to feel a connection to ourselves and life, is Yoga.

This month I invite you to practice tuning into awareness, your “inner being-ness,” with a welcoming sense of acceptance for all your daily experiences either on the mat or off the mat.

“Practice becomes firmly grounded when continued for a long time with devotion and right action.”
–Yoga Sutra 1.14

Check the link below for a short (10 min) video designed to help mobilize your major joints and spine.  It is a “feel good” sequence, great for first thing in the morning, or before going to bed.

See you on the mat!

Loosen & Limber: https://vimeo.com/330133845

Potential (puh-ten-shuhl): capable of being or becoming

Every moment in time, every breath, every space in between thought and words contains potential.  Every felt emotion in the body–joy, anger, love, sorrow, fear–holds the seed of potential change.  

The past two weeks for me have been charged with so much emotion.  A tiny furred being that I have had the privilege to live with and take care of for 20 years, is in her twilight days.  The tears I have shed are like a trickling stream, that merges into a river, and eventually unites with the ocean, Source.  

Each experience holds the potential for merging with Source, for learning more about ourselves, for shifting the course of our lives, for GROWTH.  What are our attachments?  What are we avoiding?   What are we not seeing as it is?  

“Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news. The good news is that you don’t know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is!”  –Anne Frank

This month is about cleansing (think cleaning out your closets, freshening the house, or an Ayurveda Spring dietary cleanse), and uncovering your potential that is hidden behind patterns of thought and habitual movement.

See you on the mat!