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  Just as trees shed their leaves, we can let go of outdated perspectives, un-necessary commitments, or hard line expectations.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

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!  

Faces of Love

“Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.”  

–Mary Oliver

February is the perfect month to consider the many faces of love. Historically, in old world traditions, the beginning of February was marked with festivals (such as Imbolc) that celebrated the first hints of Spring.  Daffodils and crocus begin to push fresh green fronds through the cold earth, trees start to produce buds, and birds search for nesting sites in anticipation of the age-old pursuit of fertility and new life.

Love has many faces–passion and compassion, kindness and loving, soft and fierce, fiery and sweet, unconditional (but never conditional), unlimited and full of boundless possibility.   What would it be like to immerse ourselves in this infinite flow of love?

“And consider, always, every day, the determination of the grass to grow despite the unending obstacles.”  –Mary Oliver

This is the path of yoga:  always turn toward the sun; examine all sensations, feelings, and thoughts; extend a hand to someone in need; be fierce but also kind.

This month we will be considering what it means “to do no harm,” to ourselves and others, and meditating on Loving-Kindness (Metta).

See you on the mat!

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!

Change Your Thinking, Change Your World

“The world as we have created it, is a process of our thinking.  It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”
― Albert Einstein

Summer is sliding to a close, bringing the shift into Autumn.    I love witnessing the beautiful bloom of fall colors in the trees, the slow drift of leaves, and the hint of crispness in the air.  It truly is my favorite time of the year.  Fall always helps me reconnect with the practice of working with change, and the art of letting go.  

“Change has long been a fearful thing for human beings…and at the same time, it is our most Divine opportunity.  Clinging to the banks of the river may seem safe and more secure, but life’s possibilities are truly engaged only when we trust, release, and become part of the Flow of the Universe.”  –Chelle Thompson

There exists a radical release of suffering when we free ourselves of attachment and the need to control all that we have, or think we need.  Expectations are like leaves.  Let them drop.  Live as though this moment is exactly enough. 

This month brings us an asana practice rooted in prana, the flow of breath.  We are moved by breath–flowing, pausing, letting go, resting our awareness in the rhythmic inflow and outflow of prana.  Aware that this breath, this moment, this shape, this sensation is perfect, and exactly enough, just as it is.

See you on the mat!

P.S.  A simple 6-minute Falling Leaf Meditation to help with practicing non-attachment to thoughts:  https://vimeo.com/288997646

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