Love Actually

“How you love yourself, is how you teach others to love you.” –RUPI KAUR

So treat yourself well in word, thought, and deed–especially in thought. This is where I fail to love on myself the most. Critical, judgmental thoughts I would never say to anyone else! Why is it that we are sometimes our own harshest critics? It’s a complex issue that includes playing the comparison game, thinking that failure in any way dooms us, and believing every thought our mind churns out as real and true–especially those thoughts that keep us up at 2:00am (hint: thoughts are just thoughts–noise, like the TV on in the background).

Here are some ways to be more kind–and loving–to yourself:

  • Acknowledge negative or critical thoughts, and realize that their source is from early painful experiences. Turn the ‘inner critic’ into a villain, someone that makes you smile and shake your head.
  • Allow yourself to make mistakes. It’s okay to make mistakes, which are opportunities for learning in disguise.
  • Stop comparing comparing yourself to others. It’s natural and part of being human Now, shift that energy, make it productive by focusing on yourself and your journey.
  • Learn to face your fears. Instead of pushing them away, try to understand them. Tame the roaring lion into a kitten.
  • See beauty in the simple, every day, experiences and things around you. Try to notice one each day, and feel grateful for it. 🙏🏼

Make every day a love note to yourself by fueling your body well, moving it daily, and treating yourself as though you are worthy of love–because you are!

LOKAH SAMASTAH SUKHINO BHAVANTU

What’s new this month:  

FINAL NOTE: IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN SUBSCRIBING TO MY LIBRARY OF YOGA CLASSES (90+) AT THE INTRODUCTORY RATE OF $18/MO — PLEASE DROP ME AN EMAIL FOR THE PRIVATE LINK!

thanks-giving

Ah, November. The month that doesn’t contain Halloween, or Christmas/New Years.  November can often feel like it’s just an extension of the holiday season, kind of run over by the semi-truck that is Christmas!  But for me, November is about appreciating all the small and big things in my life like the love of family and friends, a warm home, and purring cats. It’s a reminder to me to give thanks, to express gratitude, to gather around a bountiful table, and share what I have with others. 


SMALL ACTS OF THANKS-GIVING
🤲🏼 Tell someone you’re thankful for them. 
📦 Give a care package.
🙌🏼 Offer a compliment.
🦃 Give a turkey to a family in need.
🛒 Help someone with their groceries.
🍪 Bake cookies for someone.


This month is also a smart time to make sure that you have a good handle on your stress levels, or have a plan for good self-care and managing your mental health (this includes stress, depression, and problems with emotion)–before the holidays take their toll.

The really good news is that there are very accessible things we can do to that help.  Getting good rest, having a regular meditation practice (as little as 10 minutes a day is very impactful), and exercising 3-5x per week.  In a large 2018 study**, an analysis of 852,068 adults (out of 1.2 million surveyed) associated exercisers with 43.2% fewer self-reported mental health burdens per month than non-exercisers. All types of exercise were impactful. Mindful exercises such as yoga were associated with a 22.9% reduction in mental health issues.  The optimal amount of sessions per week were 3-5x, and vigorous exercise was more favorable than light or moderate.

In closing, I invite you to try a yoga session with me (virtual yoga classes – HERE). If you haven’t tried the Insight Timer platform  (it’s free and filled with thousands of short to long guided meditations).  I have two offerings available, with more to come.  Find them HERE. This month’s EXERCISE VIDEO OF THE MONTH: ‘SWIMMING’ is up and ready for you try.  And, last but not least, The Giving Sale is now live in my shop–25% off (almost) storewide!). 

In Peace,
Claudia

**(Chekroud, S.R., et al. 2018. Association between physical exercise and mental health in 1.2 million individuals in the USA between 2011 and 2015: A cross-sectional study. Lancet Psychiatry, 5 (9), 739–46.)  

Let the leaves fall…

Let’s imagine…”What if”….you sat down one day–effortlessly, comfortably–as though you were in a magical time bubble. You sat and simply watched nature in all Her mystery do what She does best? Seasons shifting, birth, growth, life, death. Sunsets and sunrises. Full moon to new moon. What might you learn or discover?

As we move through Autumn in all its glorious colors and crisp temps, we may notice the subtle shifts from within to start letting things go. Trees cloak themselves in a riot of reds, golds, and oranges, and then let the leaves fall. Instead of trying to hold onto them, they know that after a period of rest something new will appear.

It’s like keeping your closet filled with only those things you wear on a regular basis. If you never get rid of old clothes, you will run out of space for new clothes.

“Be like a tree, and let the dead leaves drop.” ~Rumi

Consider some of the following ways to lighten the load:

  • Let go of one, two, or more of your insecurities. Replace them with affirmations.
  • Let go of grudges. 
  • Forgive someone. 
  • Forgive yourself.
  • Simplify your schedule. Re-prioritize, and prune to the essentials.
  • Stop trying to people-please.
  • Clean out one drawer a week.
  • Pranayama practice:  Exhale for at least 2 counts longer than the inhale. Practice for 10 rounds.

This month in class, we are focusing on releasing 🤲🏼 in order to manifest, grounding 🌍 so that we feel safe to let go, and soothing pranayama 🫁 breath work.  If you haven’t tried one of my classes on MOXIE yet, I’m dropping you a FREE CLASS PASS

The newest exercise video is out! Opposite arm/leg raise–sometimes called ‘bird dog’–a simple and very effective core strengthening exercise. Please find it HERE.

In closing, may you find satisfaction in letting go of something, enjoy some good walks in the fresh crisp air of fall, and some some delicious pumpkin spice!

In peace,
Claudia

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

Summer is just around the corner….

Can you feel it?

As the possibilities for getting outside begin to truly open up, I hope you take the time to go out and wander. Take a day trip to the beach, a stroll under some ancient redwoods, or explore the shoreline of a lake (could be in hiking boots, or a kayak!). What speaks to you? What in nature plugs into your soul? Maybe it’s as simple as sitting in your backyard, or tending to a garden. For me, it’s equal parts walking on a beach, or hiking under a forest canopy. What’s most important is getting -o  u  t  s  i  d  e- for a good dose of sunshine vitamin D, fresh oxygen, and movement medicine (exercise!). Pack sunscreen, water, fresh fruit, and some energy fueling trail mix (find a yummy recipe below!).

This month I have some changes to my teaching schedule.  I am taking a hiatus from teaching live meditation classes.  As always, you can access my collection of guided meditation videos on Vimeo–I have a NEW one up! 

My Tuesday and Wednesday yoga classes continue. They can be found on the Moxie.xyz platform. Moxie is best accessed via your laptop/PC. If you are looking for a lower, slower, a bit more introspective class, try YIN YOGA. If you are interested in more creative, flowing vinyasa classes, try  GLOW FLOW VINYASA.

And, I am excited to be adding back into my teaching schedule two 30 Min Cardio Dance classes! These classes go back to my early roots of health and fitness. You can count on thirty minutes of low-impact, old-school, dance aerobics and jams guaranteed to bring on the sweat! No equipment needed. Just clear a little floor space. The Monday (9:00-9:30am PST) class is hosted on Moxie.  The Thursday (9:00-9:30am PST) class is hosted on Salut–this platform is for tablets/smartphones (iOS & android) only. Find me listed: Claudia Fountain.  

The best news–if you can’t make the LIVE classes, you can subscribe on Moxie, UNLIMITED VOD, and take the classes at a time that fits your schedule.  The subscription includes all video collections:  yoga, meditation, cardio dance, and bonus content.

Truly, my goal this month is to share my love of movement–whether it’s doing something out in nature, taking a yoga class, or getting my cardio on. It’s good for body, mind, and soul. One of the best ways I know of lifting a heavy mood (be it in mind, body, or emotions) is to MOVE it–literally. It’s all energy–and instead of letting it simmer and sink, I shift it through movement.

In closing, may June bring you much sunshine, many opportunities to connect with nature, and movement medicine.  🙏

Trail Mix Recipe

  • 3/4 cup raw pecans (Option: toast in the oven for 10 mins at 350 degrees F)
  • 3/4 cup raw cashews (Option: toast in the oven for 10 mins at 350 degrees F)
  • 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened, unsulfured cherries
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened, unsulfured raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped 82% dark chocolate
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Store in a ziploc bag or mason jar. Will keep for up to 1 month.  Yields: 4-5 cups

[Recipe by: Davida Lederle – The Healthy Maven]

What are you ready to let go of?

“Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go…”
–Hermann Hesse
Last month, we reflected on the achievements of the year–which goals were met, and which ones were not.  As we move fully into the Fall season, we shift our attention now to the process of letting go.  What outworn, or old patterns, of behavior are holding you back?  Are there habits that keep you stuck circling in these old patterns?  What are the physical things associated with these patterns?  And, what can you do differently?

Fear.  Fear of the future.  Fear of failure.  Fear of the discomfort that often accompanies change.  This four letter word quite often keeps us stuck in our old patterns!  It shuts us down and keeps us from seeing possibilities.  This month, to counter some of our natural (and very normal) fear responses we will play!  We will play with the edges of our comfort zones, and strengthen our willingness to break patterns of habit.   Then, we will rest, and let go.

See you on the mat!

P.S.  Here is a short clip of a plank variation (using a “yoga wheel” prop) that is excellent for strengthening the abdominals (a.k.a., your “power” center).  Make sure to place your hands shoulder-width apart; stabilize your shoulder joints by drawing the scapula (your shoulder blades) down onto the back ribs; and, engage your abdominals by drawing your navel in and up towards your spine.  Keep your legs long and lifted, moving the thigh bones away from the floor by contracting your quads (top thigh muscles).  Working with your breath, exhale as you roll the wheel in, inhale as you roll back out.  Repeat 1-8X, as you build strength and coordination.

5+ Chest Stretch Variations

Stretching the chest is essential for most of us! These five are great variations. I also would add a sixth restorative variation:  Supine over a yoga bolster or a rolled blanket. Place the bolster behind you on the floor, with your hips on the floor and touching the end of the bolster. Lay back along the length of the bolster. Your head should be supported on the bolster, or with an additional pillow or folded blanket. Your legs can be straight on the floor, or bent with the bottoms of your feet together and knees apart on the floor. Rest your arms on the floor at about shoulder high, or slightly lower, palms up. Stay for 2-3 minutes, breathing comfortably.

http://www.acefitness.org/acefit/healthy-living-article/60/5657/5-chest-stretch-variations?utm_source=SilverpopMailing&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=ACE-Fit-Life-09-30-2015&utm_content=Consumer+Outreach&spMailingID=23630438&spUserID=NjU5NTYyNDE5MzES1&spJobID=643206536&spReportId=NjQzMjA2NTM2S0