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!

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!