End Of Summer Shift

“To say it was a beautiful day would not begin to explain it. It was that day when the end of summer intersects perfectly with the start of fall.”
–Ann Patchett

Here in the Pacific Northwest, nights have begun a slow descent into the cooler, crisp temps of fall. Soon, very soon, I’ll need to pull the lily and hyacinth plants from the pond, and set them up to over-winter in the laundry room (there are grow 🌱☀️lights!). This shift to cooler, drier air signals that we are entering the vata season. Think of vata energy as cold, dry, light, windy, and rough energy. It’s the type of energy that makes us want to try new things, or to make changes in our lives. In contrast, it can also show up as depression and anxiety. So, as we transition into the new season, it’s beneficial and necessary to keep this energy balanced.

Here are a few tips for balancing vata energy:

  • Eat warm, moist, cooked meals such as curries, soups, steamed greens, spiced vegetables, cooked fruit, hot cereals, quinoa, or baked sweet potatoes. Spices to try: cumin, turmeric, coriander, and ginger.
  • Sleep more. Getting enough rest helps the body repair and replenish. Limit the amount of personal energy draw from your devices by turning them off a half hour before going to bed.
  • Hydrate and soothe dry, irritated nasal passages with a few drops of nasya oil before going to bed. Tip: tilt your head back slightly when applying the drops.
  • Try drinking hot water with cinnamon, or hot water with ginger and lemon juice, first thing in the morning. Warm liquids stimulate your agni (digestive fire) by increasing blood circulation in your gastrointestinal system.
  • A yoga practice that is slow and steady. Move through Sun Salutations very slowly, focus on grounding in standing/balancing poses, and spend extra time in deep asanas.
  • Pranayama (breath) practice: Nadi shodhana (alternate nostril breathing) – inhale right nostril/exhale left nostril in the morning for warmth and energy; inhale left nostril/exhale right nostril in the evening for calming and to promote sleep.

SEPTEMBER EXERCISE VIDEO DROP! Find it here: Glutes + Hamstrings: Strength + Stability. Perform this exercise slowly, steadily, with focus and control!

SUMMER POTPOURRI

How is your summer coming along? Mine has been full of learning, creating, cheering, and occasionally stumbling.

While this year’s annual fitness conference was once again on the virtual platform, I still received vast amounts of new ideas and inspiration. I am so thankful for all the presenters who continue to share their knowledge, experience and expertise, under continuously shifting circumstances. And, I truly look forward to sharing new concepts and exercises in my classes, videos, and client sessions!

Going through my mom’s collection of raw semi-precious gemstones, agates, and petrified wood has stoked my creative passions, and I have had fun hammering silver and gold wire, and polishing stones in my new rock tumbler. It’s good to have a hobby that inspires questions like, “what if” and “what happens if I do this”. Do you have a hobby, and does it make you smile?


  • Word of the Day:  lapidary [lap-i-der-ee] 1. A lap-i-dist: one who cuts, polishes, and engraves precious stones.

The Olympians who came together to challenge themselves and each other on the world stage inspired me through their collective effort and courage just to get there. I cheered for each and every one of them! Is there someone in your life that could use a little cheering? (It could even be you. Hint: High five yourself for something you accomplished today!)

I’ve also found myself stumbling into moments of frustration, anger, and despair over the ongoing global pandemic (there was hope for a vacation out of the country, once I had my vaccine—not so now), and dire reports on global warming. These are the moments I lean heavily on my personal fitness program (a good, sweaty cardio session does wonders for moving negative energy), and my daily meditation sessions (absolutely essential for finding balance).

If you find yourself in similar states of emotional quandary, I highly recommend my two above 👆 ‘go-tos’ (cardio and meditation).  But, I also came across this wonderful piece on how to have difficult conversations.  As a society, “If we’re to make any progress, we need to actively foster a culture of good faith and honesty, based on the knowledge that we all have the same fundamental desires.” In essence, “We will sink or sail together, and we ignore this fact at our own peril.”  The article is about how to “Star-man”, and argue from a position of compassion. Find it HERE.

This month I am SO excited to announce my new meditation ‘channel’ on 👉 Insight Timer! 👈 I have two sessions available currently: ‘Finding Ground’, and ‘Breath Practice’.  They are the first two in the “My Morning Meditation” series. You may be familiar with ‘Finding Ground’, but the second one–‘Breath Practice’– is brand new created exclusively for the Insight Timer platform. I will be adding to the series every few weeks. I hope you take the opportunity to check them out. 😊 

Beginning this month, I am also adding short (FREE) exercise videos of the month to my VIMEO video library. This month’s video is a set of hand and wrist therapeutic exercises, designed to improve mobility and strengthen the wrist joints. Find the link below. 👇

In closing, I would like to leave you with an excerpt from Thich Nhat Hanh’s poem, entitled “Breathing”:

Breathing in,
I have become space
without boundaries.
I have no plans left.
I have no luggage.
Breathing out, I am the moon
that is sailing through the sky of utmost emptiness.
I am freedom.

VIDEO OF THE MONTH: Hand & Wrist Therapeutic Exercises

P.S. Exclusively for YOU my readers, 20% off ($25 minimum purchase) in my shop: MADE WITH MANTRA SHOP

Fluidity

As a child, my summer days were spent playing at the pool, or swimming in lakes and rivers. It was that perfect blend of energy (fire) and fluidity (water). Being in or near water balanced out the hot, dry desert heat of my childhood home. Something about the sparkle of sunlight on water, both above water and below water, appealed to my soul–still does to this day.

The summer solstice marked the longest day of the year, and ushered in the joys of summer: fruits and flowers in the garden, the warm sun on our shoulders, vacations and road trips–just to name a few. Summer is the season of growth, its energy causes action and outward movement. My hope is that we are inspired to be out in nature–gardening, hiking, bicycling, swimming, or any other outdoor sports and recreation.

Now is the perfect time to get out and “recharge” your battery. Your body is like a car. It needs to be taken out of the garage, washed, polished, and driven. It can be a leisurely drive, a fast one, or something in between. But, it needs to move, otherwise it rusts. Loosen it up, fuel it with fresh fruits and vegetables, big salads and whole grains, and lots of water–balance the fire with water, inside and out.

This month, in my classes, we will be immersing ourselves in the rhythms of breath (both HEATING and COOLING) and the moving body (think FLUIDITY). Find my virtual teaching schedule here: YOGA and FITNESS.

Session 9: Loving Kindness – Self & Loved One, in the “My Morning Meditation” series is now available. This session is about cultivating (GROWTH) metta, loving kindness for ourselves, and a loved one. A loving kindness practice helps us plug into compassion and our innate connection to all beings. A regular practice provides many benefits that begin with increasing our own peace and well-being. As our own well-being is intrinsically connected with the well-being of others, practicing for ourselves also benefits others. According to the Buddha, benefits to a regular practice include:

1. You will sleep easily.

2. You will wake easily.

3. You will have pleasant dreams.

4. People will love you.

5. Devas (gods and angels) and animals will love you.

6. Devas will protect you.

7. External dangers will not harm you.

8. Your face will be radiant.

9. Your mind will be serene.

10. You will die unconfused.

11. You will be re-born in happy realms.

In closing, I will leave you with these words from Tyler Knott Gregson:

“Point me at the living,
the soaked green life
pulsing for the sun.
Point me forwards,
into growth,
into that slow advance
into more.
Bury me in life.”

MAY THE JOY OF SPRING INSPIRE YOU

“A little flower that blooms in May,
A lovely sunset at the end of the day,
Someone helping a stranger along the way,
That’s heaven to me.”
–Sam Cooke

Karma Yoga is the yoga of service, to act for others and to give back. My hope for this month’s post is that it is of service to you. I’ve put together a set of small offerings designed to provide you with resources that help you share joy and compassion, reduce stress, and engage/increase nourishment for body, mind and soul.

I would like to highlight one area in particular. India, the birth country of Yoga, is in crisis. As they suffer, so do we, so do I. India has given me more than I can repay in this lifetime. If you feel moved to help, I have a list of trusted organizations (find them HERE) you can donate directly to. During the month of May, I will also be donating 20% of all sales in my ETSY shop in support of India’s Covid-19 crisis. LINK: MADE WITH MANTRA SHOP

Please feel free to share any links!

In peace,
Claudia

QUICK CORE CHALLENGE

A short dynamic sequence that builds core strength, and explores dynamic hip rotation. Repeat each side 1-5 times. Great for warming up the body as a whole. Good plank mechanics are a must. Remember to keep the hips from sagging to the floor or pitching up to the ceiling. Find the video here: https://vimeo.com/545742757

MY MORNING MEDITATION SERIES

My Morning Meditation Series 7: Perceptional Borders. This 15 minute meditation links observation of the elemental qualities with finding our perceptual borders. Notice where one hand ends and the other begins; where your body ends and the chair or floor begins. If we look closely enough, we will notice that our perceptual borders begin to slowly dissolve and awareness rests in the elemental qualities (warm, cool, soft, hard, etc.). When we rest in the awareness of these qualities, there is no thought, no feeling of separation.

HEALTHY KITCHEN TIPS

A Healthy Kitchen Begins With Organization. From my colleagues at IDEAFit, here are some fantastic tips for a healthy kitchen clean out. It begins with a literal kitchen cleanse, and finishes with a lighter and healthier you. 

Finding Equilibrium

“Life is a balance of holding on and letting go.”
–Rumi

I suddenly realized yesterday morning as I was wrapping up a guided meditation class I had just taught, that it has been almost exactly a year since I taught my last live yoga, cycling, or meditation class.  The first week of SIP was a bit of a scramble–do I wait for it to end, do I jump into training and teaching virtually, how long can I sustain this, what equipment do I need? The questions were endless. Eventually of course, as it happens with all new things, a new pattern, a new rhythm was established.  I continued to work privately with clients, albeit in a new way. I was thrilled that they were still there, and willing to continue working with me in the new paradigm. What didn’t stay were the yoga, cycling, and meditation classes. What also fell away were my visits to the sport club for my own personal workouts.  Yikes!  Somewhere along the way I needed to find equilibrium again. 

Over the past year, through (some BIG) changes, I’ve slowly begun to find the sweet spot.  I think, in many ways, this process of managing balance in my life in all ways–mentally, emotionally, physically, creatively, spiritually–is actually fun.  Yes, I said fun!  I believe quite a few of us would agree that new things are fun (like traveling, new house, new job, new car, ……). The challenge is to find that sense of positivity, and fun, in those events or moments we would ordinarily not consider fun. It’s like a “Road Closed” sign.  Instead, go this way, or that way, or turn around, or go up, go down. There’s always another way to get where you are going.  Stop, pause, find center, and feel your way into the next step.

And so, circling back to the loss of group classes, I have finally stepped back into the teaching world.  (It can take me quite a while to make decisions some times!)  Last month, I started teaching my first series of yoga vinyasa classes on the Moxie.xyz platform.  It was a soft launch, and to my complete JOY it has been FUN for me to teach yoga again. Next, I added a guided meditation class (20 minutes, short and sweet).  This month, I am adding a Yin Yoga class to my schedule.  (If there is interest, I am thinking of adding a strength/core conditioning class also.  More to come on that.)

In short, I have missed connecting with my yoga peeps, and those who used to take my classes at the YMCA, and other locations.  I am inviting you to drop in and connect with me, either on your yoga mat or on your meditation seat, for FREE!  Click this link for a 1-Class Pass: https://moxie.xyz/claudiafountain/subscriptions?t=2712-19a9079f-3e9c-47e8-9829-246167418805
Use the link for access to my Wednesday Glow Flow class, or the Yin Yoga class when it begins (launching 3/16/21).  My Morning Meditation is a “Flex Pay” class–it’s FREE (skip the payment portion at end of class), or pay if you feel moved to!  If you have any questions about how the MOXIE platform works, please don’t hesitate to drop me an email:  claudia@physiquebyfountain.com

In closing, I would like to leave you with this poem by John O’Donohue:

For Equilibrium, a Blessing

Like the joy of the sea coming home to shore,
May the relief of laughter rinse through your soul.

As the wind loves to call things to dance,
May your gravity be lightened by grace.

Like the dignity of moonlight restoring the earth, 
May your thoughts incline with reverence and respect.

As water takes whatever shape it is in,
So free may you be about who you become.

As silence smiles on the other side of what’s said,
May your sense of irony bring perspective.

As time remains free of all that it frames,
May your mind stay clear of all it names.

May your prayer of listening deepen enough
To hear in the depths the laughter of God.

Don’t Look Back

“You’re not going that way.”

It’s all about being here now.  And, making plans for the future.  This new year is about forging a new path–a new way of being, because the old ways no longer work, or are dropping away.  “Normal,” as we knew it is illusionary and unsustainable–environmentally, economically, socially, morally, ethically.  

How do we move on to a better future?  By listening, creating, committing, doing, believing, and inspiring.  

“Do more than exist—live.
Do more than hear—listen…
Do more than grow—bloom.
Do more than spend—invest.
Do more than think—create…
Do more than decide—discern.
Do more than consider—commit…
Do more than dream—do.
Do more than see—perceive.
Do more than read—apply.
Do more than receive—reciprocate.
Do more than choose—focus.
Do more than wish—believe…
Do more than encourage—inspire…
Do more than reach—stretch.”
–John Mason

So! In the spirit of stretching, creating, and committing to something new, I am in the process of setting up monthly subscriptions and private sessions on the Moxie platform (https://moxie.xyz/claudiafountain).  My plan is to offer weekly yoga (and possibly fitness) sessions.  I hope to see you there soon!

In closing, the fourth installment in the My Morning Meditation series is up and waiting for you.  Let yourself be taken away to a warm, sunny beach as you rest in the flow of your breath. As always, these videos  are FREE.  

My Morning Meditation 4: Sound. This session continues to build on the foundational sessions of grounding and breath awareness. Here we will expand the focus of our attention to include sound. Noticing sounds, resting awareness on the flow of breath and the gentle susurration of waves rolling on and off shore. Imagine yourself resting on warm, white sand on a sunny beach. Nothing to do but breath–and listen.  
Find it here:  https://vimeo.com/497091923


May 2021 be filled with things both quietly and gloriously new! 🙏🙏🏼🙏🏽🙏🏾🙏🏿🙏🏻


‘TIS THE SEASON FOR…..

Gratitude. 
        Connection.
                    Sharing.
                              Reaching out.
                                          Giving. (Look for my gifts to you below!) 
            
As I close out this extraordinary year, I made a pact with myself to remind myself daily to look for at least one thing for which I am grateful.  I use the word ‘extraordinary’ very deliberately to describe 2020.  Weird, bizarre, and unimaginable could also be inserted, but those would be limiting.  Extraordinary covers it all–the good, the bad, and the ugly.

I am so grateful for the opportunity to c r e a t e this year–from recording guided meditation videos, to making hand-knotted malas. 

I am completely grateful for the time to l e a r n new things–Zoom snafu management, remote fitness training, bluetooth microphones, and working with wire, crimp beads, and the plethora of adhesives for sealing knots and attaching stones to settings.  So much fun!

I am utterly grateful to my private clients who have continued to work with me remotely, sharing fitness, laughs, and my parade of cats wandering through our sessions.  

And, I have no adequate words for how grateful I am for my family and friends, staying safe and healthy.  

No doubt, it has been a trying year.  The key is to remind ourselves continuously of how much we DO have.  

May your holidays include love and cheer and connection.  See you in 2021!

SHANTI SHANTI SHANTI OM


P.S. My little gift for you–the third video in the “My Morning Meditation” series is up and waiting for you.  

My Morning Meditation 3: Breath Practice. Weaving body scan grounding, breath awareness, and a breath count practice (pranayam) into a seamless whole. In this session you will be guided into a 4-6-ct breath technique, including a brief pause at the top of the inhale and bottom of the exhale. This practice is designed to deepen your awareness of breath and body, and leave you feeling centered and calm.

All my videos are FREE to view and enjoy.  FIND THE MEDITATION HERE: https://vimeo.com/487036589 

P.S.S. My labor of love, “Made With Mantra Shop,” also holds a gift of 20% off on select malas and bracelets.  FIND MY SHOP HERE: https://www.etsy.com/shop/MadeWithMantraShop?

CHANGES

“Let’s plant a new tree, make a change
Need it for you and me, brighter days
Will come and you’ll see, make the change
Necessary for ordinary people”
–Ziggy Marley


I am in the mood to keep it simple and sweet. If there’s one take-away for me so far this year, it’s in the art of surrender and letting go. Has it been challenging? You bet. Surrendering is a continuous practice, and just like Mother Nature we shed, we grow, we shed, we grow. 

One of the best ways I know of to help in the process of surrendering is to meditate. The simple act of witnessing all that is happening inside, without judgement, is like seeing each leaf on a tree and watching it drop. Thoughts are simply thoughts. Feelings are just that. See them, feel them, witness them falling away.  

“An untroubled mind, no longer seeking
to consider what is right and what is wrong,
a mind beyond judgements,
watches and understands.”
–Buddha


The second session in My Morning Meditation Series is up and ready for you.  Find the link here: https://vimeo.com/477811884.  And, then join me on the meditation cushion!

OM SHANTI SHANTI SHANTI

Earth-Air-Water-Fire-Space

Last week was spent wandering amid ferns and ancient redwoods, bathing in foggy mist and salty sea air, and meditating on the dancing flames of a campfire (mindfully and responsibly cared for). There was no cell reception, electronic distraction, or 24/7 news for the vast majority of the trip (thank goddess). For me, there is no better way to restore and replenish body, mind, and spirit than being in nature.

Walking as close to the earth as possible (bare feet, oh yes) is utterly grounding. Breathing the fresh air under a redwood canopy–deeply refreshing. Burbling water, crashing waves and salt spray–so cleansing (those fabulous negative ions, yes please). The deep, radiant warmth of a fire felt, sinking into bones and soothing the soul. Spending time watching the flames dance, and letting all else fall away–a recipe for clearing the mind and creating space to simply BE.

I believe, deep in my soul, this is how we were designed to live. Connected with all other beings, and to this beautiful blue planet that sustains us and supports us. During times of chaos it is imperative that we remember life is more than just our small selves. We are made of stardust, and to stardust we shall return.

“The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.”― Nelson Henderson

I am in the midst of creating a meditation series that reflects what my meditation practice looks like. The first one is up and ready for you! (Find it here: https://vimeo.com/468731804) This first meditation is about learning to ground ourselves in the present moment through somatic body awareness. It is an invitation to rest, breath, and connect. Carve out 15 minutes in your day, find a space where you can be uninterrupted, plug in your ear phones, and drop in.

In closing, I wish you many, many opportunities for connection, grounding, and replenishment.

Musings on wash tubs, chaos, and change…

I have a very early memory of my grandmother’s basement.  She still had one of those old-school wash tubs with a manual hand-cranked ringer on it.  The world of modern appliances had moved on considerably, but for some reason my grandmother still had a manual wash tub in her basement. What I remember is the darkness of the basement, and the strange wonder I was feeling as I watched the wet clothes being squished, flattened, and pulled into unrecognizable shapes.  

This year feels a little bit (make that a lot) like being put through that ringer.  Here we are in September, and many changes have happened in my life.  Landslide shifts in what my work-life looks like, my mom needing personal assistance as she navigates another health scare, and an out-of-state move (goodbye California, hello Oregon!)–all while living with a global pandemic, political and social upheaval, and wildly insane climate-change driven wildfires and heatwaves (can we call it apocalyptic yet?).  These are huge, stress inducing changes.  I keep trying to clean, straighten, find some order, some normality, anything to keep the chaos at bay.  But, maybe what is needed is to lean into that chaos.  What if rather than turning away from all of the feelings of worry, frustration, anger, or fear, I really sat down with them and had a conversation?  Not in a let me wallow in them kind of way, but in a curious, interested, and compassionate kind of way.

While I can’t control the world, or the politics that run it, or the fear generated by it all–what I can control is how I respond.  I am sure that most of us have heard the Chaos Theory concerning the wings of a butterfly.  What it’s really trying to say is that tiny changes in a big system can affect everything.  How does this work for me?  I work on the one thing I can change–myself.  What are the roots of my triggers?  Why do I think/feel/react certain ways when x, y, or z happen?  Once I know, I have the power to choose a different, and better, response.  It can be very interesting, very revealing work.  This is radical self-care. 

“In chaos, there is fertility.” –Anais Nin

Some of 2020 has been undeniably bad, but some has been outstandingly good also–like purchasing a home. Another gift has been re-connecting with creative source.  For a while during my teens, I nurtured a macrame jewelry making passion.  It was tiny, intricate work that I loved very much.  A broken mala that I wanted to continue to use, put me back on the path of jewelry and mala making.  It’s both a meditation and a creative hobby that brings peace and joy.  

My new office/video/zoom/yoga space is a blank canvas that I am in the process of envisioning–from choosing a new desk and shelf set, to what color to paint the walls, to how to organize it all (the Virgo me LOVES this).  In this space, I will be creating programs, meditations, and videos–some live, some pre-recorded.  I can truly say I am excited for what is yet to come.  Please do stay tuned!

In closing, I invite you to connect with what brings you peace and joy.  It’s there, waiting to be discovered.  And, like a bee that harvests nectar from a sunflower to make golden honey, you too will create peace, joy, and be part of the tapestry of change that will spread throughout the world.