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!

Take A Seat

“It is not how far you move into a pose, but how deeply you feel the pose.”
–Anodea Judith

The Hatha Yoga Pradipika describes the most important posture as one in which the practitioner can hold motionlessness and comfortably, “sthira sukham asanam.”  The idea is to sit with ease, not being pulled by aches, or pains, or restlessness.  Whether the pose is as simple as Dandasana (staff pose, see above), or as challenging as Virabhadrasana III (warrior III), we are always moving towards being well-seated within the pose, balanced, equanimous, and observant.  These qualities become transferable to everything else we do and experience in life.

This month has been blazing by me faster than anticipated.  Family emergencies, a friend in need, and a “celebration of life” have offered me many opportunities to practice sitting with what I am experiencing.  These are truly golden moments!

I have a few extra classes on my calendar this month.  Please check my schedule under “Yoga.”

The following short video clip is a balance sequence, useful for practicing equanimity, and sharpening your focus.  This can also be practiced with a strap around the ball of the lifted foot.

See you on the mat!

https://vimeo.com/285648158

Root to Rise Up

We never look deeply into the quality of a tree; we never really touch it, feel its solidity, its rough bark, and hear the sound that is part of the tree. Not the sound of wind through the leaves, not the breeze of a morning that flutters the leaves, but its own sound, the sound of the trunk and the silent sound of the roots.
–Jiddu Krishnamurti

“Root to rise up.”  You have probably heard this cue in more than one yoga class.  Whether in a standing pose, or seated, connection with the ground beneath you is foundational to what happens above.  Well-connected toes, and distributed weight in the standing foot, help keep us from toppling out of Vrksasana (tree) pose.  The strength of our legs in Virabhadrasana (warrior) I and II is driven by the anchoring of our feet.  Tendons anchor muscle to bone, while ligaments tether bone to bone.  Without these connections, there is no push, pull, movement, or stability within the body.

In the Eight Limbed Path of Yoga, the Yamas (things not to do, restraints) and Niyamas (things to do, observances) are the first two limbs; or what I like to think of as, the seeds of my yoga practice.  All aspects of daily life are grounded in these restraints and observances:  from non-harming, truthfulness, non-stealing, non-excess, and non-greed; to purity or cleanliness, contentment, self-discipline, self-study, and surrender to something higher.

Yoga is a Life practice, embedded into our relationships with others, this amazing planet Earth, and with ourselves–body, mind, and spirit.  On the mat this month, we will play with building stability and extending lines of energy from the ground up whether we are standing, seated, or inverted.  Off the mat, we will contemplate how, or where, the Yamas and Niyamas are manifesting in our lives.  What do we need more of (grow new roots)?  What do we need to let go of (prune away)?

See you on the mat!

Season of Manifestation

“The inside of a seed is far larger than the outside of the seed. Inside of the seed is an entire forest. It is a probability space.”
–R.A. Delmonico

A single seed is a wellspring, a universe of probability.  It is a delicious mystery of unknown potential .  It is energy, fertility, growth, and evolution.

The Spring equinox arrives on March 20th.  As the power of the sun grows, and the nights become shorter, we stand poised between light and dark, receptivity and activity, the unconscious and conscious.  This is the perfect time to plant the seeds of positive growth and change, both for ourselves and for the world.

This month also marks a big shift for me.  After several months of quiet contemplation, I made the decision to step away from a job position that was no longer bringing me joy.  It was a heavily weighted decision for me, and in the afterglow (yes, afterglow!) I am feeling much lighter, more spacious.  Now I begin the process of planting new seeds in open and fertile ground.

As we practice together, we will use the time to balance and bring together what we wish to unite.  Whatever we bring our thoughts to will grow–love, intentions, hopes, and dreams.   As we move with awareness of movement from within to without, we will plant seeds:  Who am I becoming?  What am I awakening in myself? What do I wish to grow more of in my life?

See you on the mat!

It’s a new dawn, a new day, a new year!

Here in the heart of winter, bitter dry winds, cold rainy days, or a sense of heaviness and stagnation are often the hallmarks of this dark time of the year.   This is a prime time to focus on wellness for body, mind, and spirit; and, to deepen our relationship with self, spending time in meditation and self-exploration.

This month we will practice Bhastrika pranayam, stoking the fire residing in our solar plexus–the Manipura Chakra.  This fire warms us, and lends steadiness and flow to our vinyasa practice as we release stuck energy and patterns.  Ultimately, the vinyasa practice prepares us to simply sit.

In the Modern Western Yoga practice, we have come to associate the flow of poses practiced as ‘asana.’  The direct translation of ‘asana’ is to ‘take a seat.’  If we can achieve a sense of steadiness and ease in each pose, then it could be said we have achieved ‘asana.’  But…….

“By tradition, the conditioning asanas of hatha yoga were practiced in the service of the meditation postures:  they provided enough suppleness and strength for the yogin to remain in a meditative posture–usually the lotus posture–with steadiness and ease for a long time.”  [Elliot Goldberg, ‘The Path of Modern Yoga’]

Once we have released the disturbances that arise from the physical body, our contemplative practice begins.  A still body allows us to move our attention inward and witness the flow of phenomenon–thoughts, feelings, sensations, sound, breath.  As the mind begins to settle we experience the pauses and quiet spaces in between thoughts, sensations, and breath. The pauses, gaps, are where we ultimately connect with the awareness that resides behind it all. Those are the golden moments we seek!

Let’s breathe, and flow, and sit together, shall we?!

See you on the mat!

Count Your Blessings

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” –A.A. Milne

“Be mindful. Be grateful. Be positive. Be true. Be kind.” –Roy T. Bennett

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” –John F. Kennedy

Count your blessings…….no matter which way they may appear, sorrowful or joyous, boring or stimulating, hateful or kind, indifferent or filled with loved.

When Henry Thoreau retreated to Walden Pond, he wrote, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”  Thoreau had come to understand that a conscious life was a gift, and the highest form of gratitude was to know it in all its depths.

‘This grace of conscious life, of having a mind that can know “this moment is like this,” is the root of all wonder, from which gratitude flows.’ [Phillip Moffitt]

This month we will contemplate what place gratitude holds in our daily life.  How often do you pause and reflect on the many things in your life for which you are grateful?  Does the list include a safe place to sleep, clean air and fresh water, food to eat, blue skies, laughter, birdsong?   Do you experience the good things in life to the same degree as the not so good things in life?  Or, do you feel the weight of bad things more?

The antidote is to actively, on a daily basis, reflect on what you are grateful for.  A great example I recently came across, was being stuck in traffic.  This quite often leads to feelings of irritation and frustration.  But, what if instead I felt grateful to simply have a car to drive, that I am able to put gas in it; or that all the drivers around me were following the agreed upon driving rules, keeping everyone safe.  In this way there is a certain universal level of “well-being and community cooperation” that is supporting me even in the middle of rush hour traffic.  These moments stuck in traffic simply are, but how I am experiencing it gradually begins to shift the more I practice gratitude in the moment.

The words ‘gratitude’ and ‘grace’ originate from the same Latin word–gratus.  Gratus means ‘pleasing’ or ‘thankful.’   It has been said that when one is in a deep state of gratitude, you will often feel the spontaneous presence of grace.   As a state of selfless gratitude is developed and then embodied, our happiness is no longer contingent upon outer circumstances.  That moment is when we can truly relax into life.

See you on the mat!