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  Just as trees shed their leaves, we can let go of outdated perspectives, un-necessary commitments, or hard line expectations.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!

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!  

Are you ready for change?

A new year signals new choices.  New choices mean we get to discover new versions of ourselves–if we are open to being curious, brave, and adventurous.  Are you ready to dive deep into your roots, your ground, and be transformed?


“Here in this body are the sacred rivers, here are the sun and moon, as well as all the pilgrimage places. I have not encountered another temple as blissful as my own body.”
–Saraha Doha


The body can be thought of as a container, even a storage battery, for subtle energy (prana).  All life experiences are recorded at a cellular and energetic level.  Love, compassion, empathy, and deep bliss are available to all of us, if we are willing to dive deep into our sacred rivers and explore.

This month we will delve into what it feels like to be grounded and stable.  From a place of abiding steadiness we can then dive into opening, changing, and shifting with a sense of adventure and curiosity.  Another way to think of change is to simply realize that it is motion.  Change is momentum and progress.  Feeling stable, safe, helps us move into change with a sense of ease, equity, and a certain degree of courage–like having all four wheels of your car on the ground as you negotiate a winding road.

Grounding through our feet is one of the primary ways we stabilize ourselves, pressing downward through all four ‘corners’ (big toe, little toe, inside/outside corners of heels).  A second pathway is working with the first bandha in the body–the Mula Bandha (root lock)–located at the base of the spine, the “root.”  Working with the Mula Bhanda is a way to help ground the energetic body, or more specifically the central channel nadis (Sushumna, Ida, Pingala).  To find and engage the Mula Bandha, feel for the space between the pubic bone and tailbone, and the space between the sit bones.  Imagine drawing those four points together into the center and lifting upwards just a bit (about a 2-3 on a scale of 10).

So, the next time you feel anxious or fearful, or resisting change, ground yourself by dropping into the sensing body–slow down, watch your breath, press down through the corners of your feet, and practice engaging Mula Bandha.

We will be practicing all this, and more, in class.  See you on the mat!


Beginning this month!
On the LAST Wednesday of each month, I will be LIVE streaming a 15-minute, guided meditation, at 8:00am. The first session will be Wednesday, 1/31!  Like and/or follow my FB page for notification:  https://www.facebook.com/physiquebyfountain/

Yule Time

“We are approaching the threshold of winter.

Life is being drawn into the earth, painlessly descending down into the very heart of herself. 

And we as natural human animals are being called to do the same, the pull to descend into our bodies, into sleep, darkness and the depths of our own inner caves continually tugging at our marrow.”
–Brigit Anna McNeill

There is often an intuitive pull to turn inward at this time of the year.  Honoring the natural cycles of light and darkness is innate in most of us.  The Winter Solstice was celebrated by many ancient cultures as the rebirth of light.  For while the light grows shorter now, it will return.  Within this cycle, now is the opportunity to work with some of the heavier aspects of our inner worlds. Acknowledge and honor the sadness, or the heartache, the anger, or resentments.  To do this write about them in a journal, or place them on slips of paper to burn in your Yule fire.  To bring more light into the darkness, light candles, build fires, put up twinkling lights, take a walk in the sunshine, eat a flavorful, warm meal with loved ones.  Spend time in contemplation.  What is the spark inside you that lights your fire?  How can you grow that light, and share it with others?

See you on the mat!

For my December teaching schedule, there are some additions, some cancellations, and some subs!  Please see here:  https://physiquebyfountain.com/yoga/

December Meditation:  Inner Drishti (gaze)

Find a comfortable, supported seated position and close your eyes.  Take three easy, full breaths, releasing tension held in the body on the exhale.  Allow the breath to fall into its own natural rhythm.  As you continue to breath softly and comfortably, bring your awareness to the shape of your body sitting–noting heaviness, softness, the breath filling all the space within–for three minutes.

Then, gently bring your awareness to your heart, center of your chest–noting sensations such as warmth, expansion/contraction, perhaps even feeling your heartbeat, whatever comes up for you–for three minutes.

Next, gently move your awareness to your third-eye center, middle of the forehead, between the eyebrows–breathing as though through this spot, noting sensations, perhaps the sense of air moving inward to the center of your skull on the inhale, and back out on the exhale–for three minutes.

Next, gently move your awareness to the roof of the skull–again noticing any sensations you may become aware of, using the rhythm of your breath as an anchor–for three minutes.

Finally, simply rest in an open field of awareness, noting all passing phenomenon from the movement of breath, to the flicker of thoughts or images, and sounds reaching your ears.  All is allowed, all passes through, nothing lingers, as you remain still and at ease.  Rest here for as long as you like.   It can be useful to use an app such as “Insight Timer” that allows you set interval chimes.

Enjoy!

Fall Transitions

“To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly.”
–Henri Bergson

Autumn is the season of change and transitions.  From the falling leaves, the subtle browning of the earth, and the hints of crispness in the air, fall signals the shift from growth to dormancy.  Fall brings with it a predominance of the air element (Vata)–think dry, light, rough, windy, erratic, cool, mobile, and empty.

These external, environmental, and energetic qualities are also reflected internally.  Fall holds a certain sense of emptiness that can leave us feeling exposed, spacey, anxious, or disconnected from our ground of being.  But, it is also filled with possibility.  This is the time to ‘strip down’ to a quiet sense of being, to savor simplicity, and to reconnect with our roots.

Here are some seasonal tips for balancing the predominant seasonal fall Vata energy:

  • Choose foods that are warm, cooked, and moist.  Eat lots of warm soups, stews, steamed vegetables, and hearty grains.
  • Drink a warm tea of fresh ginger, cardamom, and cinnamon.
  • Eat more apples, avocados, dates, grapefruit, squash, chilies, beets, onions, amaranth, brown rice, quinoa, kidney beans, miso, butter/ghee, kefir.
  • All spices are good for Vata season: allspice, anise, asafoetida, basil, bay leaf, black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, cumin, dill, garlic, ginger, nutmeg, oregano, paprika, parsley, rosemary, saffron, turmeric.
  • Get consistent, moderate exercise.
  • Practice periods of silence.
  • Use a neti pot to keep the sinuses and lungs clear of congestion.
  • Massage your skin with warm, organic sesame oil, followed by a warm, relaxing shower.
  • Commit to a regular meditation practice to help settle and clear the mind.

This month our yoga practice is filled with warming slow flows, grounding standing postures, and restorative forward folds.

See you on the mat!