Yoga teacher, personal fitness trainer, and student of Life.
Claudia’s fascination with movement and body potential began with her slipping in to the ballet studio across the street from her house when she was seven, where she sat in a corner and watched in wonder. Later, she boogied her way through aerobics classes, ultimately becoming a certified instructor. Finally deciding to make the leap from a traditional office career to a movement based career in personal fitness training, Claudia went back to school to complete her Undergraduate and Graduate degrees in Kinesiology and Exercise Physiology.
In 2003, following a health scare, she began to explore yoga as a way to manage her stress and reconnect with her body in a new way. “I practice yoga to wake up from the inside out. Every time I step on my mat, or sit on my meditation cushion, I am there for the inward journey of discovery. Yoga is the process of peeling away layers, always moving toward my true, authentic self. The process is fun, exciting, joyful, sometimes terrifying, but always feels like I am traveling home. This is also why I teach. I love to share knowledge, and offer tools to my clients so that they may become empowered to have their own breakthroughs.” Claudia completed her 200 and 500 hour RYT through Jennifer Prugh’s "Joy of Yoga" teacher training. Her vinyasa flow classes are anchored by a strong background in exercise physiology, and are deeply centered in a mindful dance with the breath and the body.
A few months ago, I began volunteering at the Humane Society of Central Oregon. I work primarily with the cats and kittens, providing socialization. I will also spend time walking through the dog kennels, offering treats and attention. The experience is heart breaking, but also very fulfilling. It’s about meeting the cats and dogs where they are (terrified, depressed, or coming out of their shells), and letting them know they are seen, touched (if they want it), and loved.
“Stay still, gentle one, and stare into the shine.
You have within all the warmth you will ever need.” –Tyler Knott Gregson
Sometimes I sit in meditation with a quote that initiates a resonance–feelings, sensations, images. I let them flow like leaves on a river. Repeating the words periodically, until the water runs clear. Other times, I meditate on the heart. Try closing your eyes, and bringing your attention to the center of your chest. Breathe in, breathe out. What do you feel, hear, or “see”?
“At the center of nonviolence stands the principle of love.” –Martin Luther King, Jr.
This month, let’s be gentle with ourselves. Spread kindness, or love–like sowing seeds.
Are you a resolution maker, or a goal setter? Do you aspire to something, or respond to inspiration? There are as many motivators for us personally, as there are individuals. Because, well, we’re all individuals! If making resolutions has never worked for you, don’t sweat it. If setting goals feels overwhelming, or like a chore (that’s my take on them 😉), then don’t. I personally like daily or weekly “to-do” lists. Simple, do what’s in front of you, move on to the next, kinds of lists. Like a recipe, when I get the constituent parts done, it results in a something whole.
We have a brand new year ahead of us, full of possibility. However you choose to move into it, may it serve you. Feed yourself well. Move your body in ways that feel just right. But, most of all do what makes your heart sing.
As for me, I am easing into 2023 as I recover from catching a fun (not) little cold virus between Christmas and New Years. First time I’ve been sick in over three years! I’ll be back to teaching virtual classes beginning next week (1/9/24).
Looking ahead I have more quick exercise videos in store for you; and I am in the planning stages of a seven day course on “How to Meditate.”
In closing, please scroll down for a Quick Health & Fitness Goal Tip, and a delicious “Orange-Glazed Butternut Squash With Herbed Pecans” (nuts are heart healthy!) recipe.
In Health & Wellness, Claudia
QUICK HEALTH & FITNESS GOAL TIP
Squeezing 30 minutes (or more) of formal exercise into a day can often feel daunting. You’ve put in a full day already, and now there is that pesky exercise/fitness/health goal sitting there taunting you. Here is an easy way to get more movement into your day:
Break down those 30 minutes into smaller ones, and sprinkle them into your day. Try taking a 10 minute walk in the morning, another one at mid-day, and finally one at the end of the day. Set reminders on your smart watch/phone, and push away from what you’re doing. Take a walk around the block, to the mailbox, to get your mid-day coffee/chai/smoothie, or complete a circuit of your house. There are as many ways to add steps into your day, as there are minutes. And, very few of them require going to the gym, or getting on a treadmill. It’s like that “To Do” list. Check one thing off at a time, and before you know it it’s done.
Orange-Glazed Butternut Squash With Herbed Pecans
2/3 C pecan halves 1 t extra-virgin olive oil 2 t fresh thyme 2 t chopped fresh rosemary 1/2 t paprika 1/4 t + 1/8 t salt 4 C butternut squash, peeled and cubed 1 T unsalted butter 1 T honey 1 t orange zest 2 T orange juice 1/2 C dried plums (prunes), sliced in half 2 oz soft goat cheese, crumbled
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a small bowl, stir together pecans and olive oil. Add thyme, rosemary, paprika and 1/4 t salt; stir to coat nuts with mixture. Place nuts on a baking sheet and cook for 10 minutes or until browned, being careful not to burn them. Meanwhile, place butternut squash in a steamer basket and steam until fork-tender, about 6–8 minutes. In a skillet, melt together butter, honey, orange zest and orange juice over medium-low heat. Add squash, dried plums and remaining salt; cook, stirring gently, for 2 minutes, making sure squash is well-coated with the orange glaze. Serve topped with pecans and goat cheese. Makes 4 servings. [Source: IDEA Health & Fitness Association]
This month’s newsletter is short and sweet. The holidays can often feel like a burden, filled with conflicting messages–do more, spend more, be more. It can also be a very difficult time for those who are alone, or have lost loved ones. My wish this year is for us share the (radical) gift of love, time, presence, and attention.
This is also the perfect time to practice LOVING KINDNESS MEDITATION. Loving kindness is offered towards oneself, loved ones, your neighbors, even the stranger standing in line in front of you. Whether it’s for one minute, or 10 minutes, silently repeat 3-4 of the following phrases (or ones that hold meaning for you) directed towards yourself, a loved one, or all beings:
May I/you/we be happy
May I/you/we be peaceful
May I/you/we be well
May I/you/we live with ease
May I/you/we find deep joy
May I/you/we be free of pain
May I/you/we be free from harm
May I/you/we be free of suffering
May I/you/we feel safe
If you’ve never practiced Loving Kindness Meditation, or would like to do a guided version of it, I have one on my Arketa On-Demand Video page that you can watch for free. Find it HERE.
In closing, please find below my modified teaching schedule for the rest of 2022. I will be taking a holiday break, in preparation for flowing into 2023. I look forward to seeing you in the new year!
Opening with words from the incomparable Tyler Knott Gregson:
“This is a time of harvest, show me what it is to give thanks, to call people in and not out, to echo truth into the night sky painted with spark and drum, warm breath on cold air. Tell me what you know of survival, quiet endurance in the face of injustice and ignorance.
Teach me your stories, of hawk flight and the changing of leaves on river bank, of first snowfall and the silence that follows it.
You of all that was taken, you who have lost more than we have will ever have. You of endless space and star-filled skies, of thanksgiving as it was meant to be, constantly with palms open in awe to all we are given. Teach me your stories, of the words you leave behind, safely kept in bird song, in stream, in late Summer thunder that haunts as it rolls.”
The final quarter of 2022 rolled up on me faster than I can inhale. Tonight tiny ghosts and goblins will coming calling. I will light the Jack O’ Lanterns to ward off harm, and place a lit candle in a West facing window for lost loved ones. Family will gather around the table with me in a few weeks, to share in the bounty and give thanks for all we have. And, then before we know it Christmas and the New Year will be here.
Fall is preparation for the quiet, still season to come. Shed old beliefs and habits like the dropping leaves. Share what you have with those who have less, so that we may all come through into the new light when it arrives again in the spring. We may be heading into the dark season, but there is light everywhere–in the joy of a smile, the glint of laughter, and the spark in someone’s eyes.
In closing, my latest exercise video (Upper Back Tension Release) has been released, find my teaching schedule and links to book virtual classes (perfect for releasing stress) here; and finally, the Giving Sale (20% off storewide) has started in my labor of love–MADE WITH MANTRA SHOP on Etsy–one-of-kind gifts for the special people in your life.
LOKAH SAMASTAH SUKHINO BHAVANTU May All Beings Be Happy OM SHANTI SHANTI SHANTI May All Be In Peace
The autumnal equinox arrives this month on Thursday, September 22. I have already become aware of the subtle shift in sunlight that heralds autumn. Something about the light, a certain flavor to the air, feels like a cozy sweater to me. Summer can often feel intense with its heat and sizzle. Transition seasons, like fall (and spring), offer a refreshing shift. The autumnal equinox is celebrated in many cultures as a harvest festival (think Oktoberfest and Mabon). May we celebrate the bounty of our growing season as it comes to a close.
This month I offer a small cornucopia of health and wellness: some of the latest research on the benefits of walking for knee osteoarthritis, a delicious poached chicken and apple chutney recipe, my latest exercise video (Down Dog Variations), everything you might want to know about September’s birthstone–sapphire–from my Etsy store (Made With Mantra Shop), and my current teaching schedule (I’m taking a break at the beginning of October!)
In Health & Wellness, Claudia
“And the yellow sunflower by the brook, in autumn beauty stood.” –William Cullen Bryant
Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas, analyzed a nested group of participant data, in a large community based multi-year study of 1,212 participants aged 50 and older who had osteoarthritis. Those who reported walking for exercise had a 40% lower chance of new or frequent pain, when compared with non-walkers. This supports the possibility that walking for exercise is beneficial in preventing the onset of knee pain. According to the researchers, it may also slow down the worsening of internal knee joint damage from osteoarthritis. Find this research in Arthritis & Rheumatology (2022; doi:10.1002/art.42241).
POACHED CHICKEN & APPLE CHUTNEY
Crispy fall apples are loaded with polyphenol antioxidants and soluble fiber pectin–both beneficial in reducing cardiovascular disease risk factors. Try this sweet and savory dish for both its flavor and heart healthy benefits.
3 medium sized apples, chopped
1 cup chopped dried figs or dried plums
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 tsp honey
2 tsp fresh thyme
1 tsp brown mustard seeds (optional)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp lemon zest
4, 6 oz chicken breasts, boneless & skinless
1/2 tsp salt
Combine apples, figs or plums, shallot, honey, thyme, mustard seeds, cinnamon, cloves, and lemon zest in a medium-sized saucepan. Place over medium heat until apples begin to sizzle. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook covered, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes, or until apples have softened. To poach chicken, place breasts and salt in a pot large enough that they lie flat in one layer, then add enough water to completely cover the meat by about 1 inch. Bring water to a very slight simmer with just a few bubbles breaking the surface, reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover, and cook for 15 minutes, or until meat is cooked through. Slice chicken breasts, and server topped with the apple chutney. Makes 4 servings.
I’ve been practicing with a new meditation teacher, which has been a lovely change from doing my own practice. Periodically learning from someone new is so useful, helpful, enlightening, and refreshing. It gets me out of my own way. One of the little nuggets–that I needed to re-visit, come at from a fresh perspective–is to let things be. My mind is always ON, but that doesn’t mean I need to listen to it ALL the time. Let it be like a radio on in the background. My body is always feeling something, but there is no need to respond to every itch, squeak, or sore spot. They. Just. Are. I’m slowly learning to increase the distance between phenomenon (thoughts, sensations, sound, etc.) and my sense of being the watcher. This in turn has given me what I like to think of as a gap, in which I can then turn my awareness towards itself. In other words, look at who is doing the watching. It’s been an interesting, and in many ways soothing, process.
This month I invite you to look for the gaps, find the space that isn’t filled with with thoughts, sensations, or stories. It’s there. We just need to turn away from all the noise, and dive into the deep end of spacious awareness.
Let July be July, and let August be August. And let yourself just be even in the uncertainty. You don’t have to fix everything. You don’t have to solve everything. And you can still find peace and grow in the wild of changing things. –MHN
“I love how summer just wraps its arms around you like a warm blanket.” — Kellie Elmore
I’m keeping it short and savory this July. I’ve just returned from an eight day trip to visit my best friend in my old home town. The road was long, the visit was relaxing, and the temps were just perfect for mid-summer. I think I will always find summer in the high-desert to be comforting. Summers for me, when I was growing up, were all about basking in the sunshine, jumping into sparkling swimming pools, and spending time in cool, cool libraries filled with amazing stories that I would get lost in.
But, I digress! The last half of July will be focused on slow and steady vinyasa flows, cooling breath practices, and a few of my go-to somatic releases for tension in the neck, shoulders, and upper back.
This month’s delicious recipe is a tasty spin on chicken tacos, that gets its inspiration from the heart and brain healthy Mediterranean Diet. And, finally, I’ve put together some fun facts about the birthstone for the month of July. Find them HERE. I had a lot of fun creating some ruby pieces for my little shop–MadeWithMantra!
If you ever have any questions about my classes, wellness coaching, private sessions, or anything gemstone or mala related 😃, drop me an email: email@example.com.
MEDITERRANEAN CHICKEN TACOS
The Mediterranean diet has long been praised for its heart healthy benefits. Think of it as the gold-standard for all diets. This plant and whole-food based diet has been shown in a new batch of 2020 studies, to lower the risk of impaired cognitive function by 45-50%. The Mediterranean diet is big on fruit, veggies, whole grains, legumes, nuts and olive oil. Moderate amounts of dairy, poultry, eggs, and seafood are included. Enjoy a Mediterranean spin on chicken tacos!
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thigh 1 tsp Italian seasoning 1/4 tsp salt 1/4 tsp black pepper 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved 1 cup diced cucumber 1/2 cup diced red onion 1/3 cup sliced kalamata olives 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped 1 tbs balsamic vinegar 2 tbs tahini 2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil juice of 1/2 lemon 1/2 tsp cumin powder 1 garlic clove, grated or minced 3/4 cup prepared hummus 8 tortillas, warmed 1/2 cup crumbled feta 1/3 cup chopped parsley
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Stir together Italian seasoning, salt and black pepper. Rub mixture onto chicken. Place chicken on a greased baking sheet and roast until meat reaches an internal temperature of 165 F, about 20 minutes. Let chicken rest for 5 minutes and then slice. In a bowl, toss together tomatoes, cucumber, onion, olives and jalapeno. Stir in balsamic vinegar. In a small bowl, whisk together tahini, olive oil, lemon juice and garlic. To serve, spread hummus on tortillas and top with chicken and tomato mixture. Drizzle on tahini sauce. Sprinkle on feta and parsley.
It’s been raining here in central Oregon, off and on over the last two weeks. Listening to rainfall has to be one of my most favorite ways to meditate, unwind, and just be. Really, anything that involves water in its many forms will move me, speaks to me. The grasses are green, the trees chartreuse, flowers a kaleidoscope of candy colors. Birds are nesting over the garage door, and frogs are singing the songs of their people in the pond. It’s fresh, new, and so energizing.
“We are living in what writer and cultural critic Daniel Quinn calls the Great Forgetting. Many of us have forgotten that we’re a part of an ecosystem, a watershed. We’ve forgotten that we’re kin to all the other animals. We’ve forgotten that we need each other. We have forgotten what I call the “commons of the soul.” –Francis Weller
Let Spring remind you that we are all part of an ecosystem of connection, gathering around the fire or table, sharing meals, dreams, and fears with those close to us. Go walking in the rain, let it soften you, drench you. Dare to open up like a flower budding in the sunlight.
This month I invite you to connect with me on my new teaching platform–Arketa. I continue to offer two yoga classes a week; and, if you are looking to jumpstart a summer of better wellness, I also offer online coaching sessions. Drop me an email, and we can discuss options!
Meanwhile, in this month’s newsletter I am offering a zesty fresh gazpacho recipe, and the newest exercise video of the month–Bridge to Leg Curl using a stability ball. Scroll down for recipe. 👇🏿👇🏾👇🏽👇🏼👇🏼👇🏻👇
“Despite the forecast, live like it’s spring.” –Lilly Pulitzer 🙏🏼🙏🏻🙏🙏🏽🙏🏾🙏🏿
Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic’s Heart, Vascular and Thoracic Institute in Cleveland found that people who regularly eat chili peppers may be 26% less likely to die of heart disease and 23% less likely to die of cancer than everyone else. It’s thought that capsaicin–the compound that gives peppers their heat–can lower inflammation in the body. This Chili-Peach Gazpacho recipe is a good hit for your heart!
2/3 cups water
1 lb peaches, pitted & quartered
1 orange bell pepper, seeded & quartered
1/2 English cucumber, peeled & chopped
2 scallions (green onions), sliced
1 jalapeño pepper, chopped (de-seed to cool it down)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint or basil
2 Tbs red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
Add the first 11 ingredients (thru black pepper) to a food processor or blender container. Blend together until well combined. With the machine running at low speed, slowly pour in the olive oil through the top feed tube. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving. Makes 4 servings.
“There is nothing permanent except change.” -Heraclitus
Oh April! How challenging you were!
Back at the beginning of April–just as I was beginning to put together my monthly newsletter–I received news that the streaming service I was using to teach my virtual classes and host my VOD library, was shutting down at the end of the month. To say that this came as an unfortunate surprise is an understatement to a large degree. 😱
The rest of the month was filled with decision making (deciding to switch to the new platform–they partnered with my old one and offered a full-service “white glove” transfer), learning all the ins and outs (several “on-boarding” virtual sessions) of the new platform, setting up my new account and dashboard, letting my clients know, answering their questions, and so much more.
The beginning of this month has included ironing out some kinks, leaning heavily on the “help advisors”, honing my ability to shift my outlook, and the continuous (it never stops 😅) practice of adapting to change.
So! On to the big news this month… My virtual classes (using the ZOOM platform) and VOD library are now integrated and hosted by Arketa! We haven’t figured out how to get my scheduled embedded on my website–yet. But, I have a simple landing page that has all the basics: schedule of classes, drop-in pricing, subscriptions for class packs and VOD. Find it HERE. I hope to “see” you virtually soon!
Also in this month’s newsletter, you will find my latest Exercise Video of the Month (my Favorite Restorative Pose); and a quick, heart-healthy, and delicious Mediterranean inspired recipe for a Strawberry Basil Vinaigrette. 😋
In closing, I will leave you with some words from one of my favorite poets – Tyler Knott Gregson:
Perhaps there is nothing more divine, nothing more holy, than the love we carry for the life we live. When you walk in constant wonder through this world, every place becomes a cathedral, every breath, a prayer.
1 C fresh or frozen (thawed) strawberries
1/3 C fresh basil
1/4 C olive oil
2 T red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar
1/4 t red chili flakes
1/4 t salt
1/4 t black pepper
Place all of the ingredients in a blender container and blend until smooth. Makes enough for 6 salads.
“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.” ― Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
If I were to sum up the past 13 days in one word, it would be tumultuous. This morning I woke up in a warm, comfortable bed; with a pantry filled with food; and a solid, safe roof over my head. The same can’t be said for the people of Ukraine. My heart aches for friends who have family living the reality of war. One of my dearest hopes is that some day the human race will move beyond war. But until that day comes, I try to do the best I can, wherever I am.
If you would like to help the people of Ukraine, and aren’t sure where to start here are two solid, highly reputable organizations to begin with:
Even closer to home–when you are feeling overwhelmed, remember to treat yourself kindly. Give yourself time away from news sources, find opportunities to connect with nature, spend time loving on your furry companions if you have them, move your body, and feed yourself well.
The latest edition of Exercise of the Month Video is up. In it I share my top three shoulder stretches (bonus: these also release stored tension in the chest and upper back).
My teaching schedule remains steady at two offerings per week. As always, the classes are hosted on Moxie, and you are welcome to check out a class for FREE. Please find my teaching schedule and links here.
In closing, I offer you, the people of Ukraine, the whole of the human race PEACE.