DEEP SUMMER DIVING

I’ve been practicing with a new meditation teacher, which has been a lovely change from doing my own practice. Periodically learning from someone new is so useful, helpful, enlightening, and refreshing. It gets me out of my own way. One of the little nuggets–that I needed to re-visit, come at from a fresh perspective–is to let things be. My mind is always ON, but that doesn’t mean I need to listen to it ALL the time. Let it be like a radio on in the background. My body is always feeling something, but there is no need to respond to every itch, squeak, or sore spot. They. Just. Are. I’m slowly learning to increase the distance between phenomenon (thoughts, sensations, sound, etc.) and my sense of being the watcher. This in turn has given me what I like to think of as a gap, in which I can then turn my awareness towards itself. In other words, look at who is doing the watching. It’s been an interesting, and in many ways soothing, process.

This month I invite you to look for the gaps, find the space that isn’t filled with with thoughts, sensations, or stories. It’s there. We just need to turn away from all the noise, and dive into the deep end of spacious awareness.

Let July be July,
and let August be August.
And let yourself
just be
even in
the uncertainty.
You don’t have to fix everything.
You don’t have to solve everything.
And you can still find peace
and grow
in the wild
of changing things.
–MHN

See you on the mat!

When giving is all we have

–Albert Ríos

    One river gives
                                              Its journey to the next.

We give because someone gave to us.
We give because nobody gave to us.

We give because giving has changed us.
We give because giving could have changed us.

We have been better for it,
We have been wounded by it—

Giving has many faces: It is loud and quiet,
Big, though small, diamond in wood-nails.

Its story is old, the plot worn and the pages too,
But we read this book, anyway, over and again:

Giving is, first and every time, hand to hand,
Mine to yours, yours to mine.

You gave me blue and I gave you yellow.
Together we are simple green. You gave me

What you did not have, and I gave you
What I had to give—together, we made

Something greater from the difference.

This season can be about how much money we spend, loneliness, the stress of travel or being with family members that know how to push our buttons.  

Or, it can be about the simple gift of our presence, calm energy, and service to others. 

As we close out the year, my wish for you is simple:  May you find moments of peace, quiet, and serenity in the midst of chaos.

And, may I be in service to that.  To close out 2021:

  • I have a new exercise video that helps release tension in the body: Moving Twist.
  • The link to my Insight Meditation page with guided meditations for grounding, breathing, and Yoga Nidra (yogic sleep for deep rest and relaxation).
  • Check out this article from IDEA Health & Fitness Association on healthy holiday food swaps (think roasted vegetables instead of cream and butter loaded potatoes au gratin).
  • And, my final class offerings for 2021.

“For it is in giving, that we receive.” –St. Francis of Assisi

In Peace,
Claudia

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.)  

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.”

Let’s Get Fresh!

Springtime is all about renewal, growth, fertility, and …. blossoming!

This past weekend was spent getting ready for a new season in the backyard–emptying out the winter water from the pond, plugging the fountain pump back in, cleaning out dead ornamental grasses, pruning my blueberry bushes, and discovering the first push of new iris greens coming up. The air was so fresh, the sun warm on my shoulders. Spring this year feels so different from last year, the urge to go outside being stronger than ever.  And, after over 12 months of “sheltering”, I feel like a she-bear emerging from her den–ready to expand and move, explore and grow.

This month I’m excited to share some new things with you!

  • New class on Tuesdays – Yin Yoga, 8:00-9:00am PDST

“We don’t use our body to get into a pose, we use the pose to get into our body.” -Bernie Clark  Yin yoga is a quiet, slow, contemplative practice; its essence is yielding. Poses are held for longer periods of time so that you–the student–may go deeper. Props are highly suggested: mat, blanket(s), bolster, blocks, and strap.

Register at:  https://moxie.xyz/claudiafountain
Cost: $10 drop-in, or $54 for a 6-class package

  • New meditation offering: My Morning Meditation 6 – Four Elements

In this session we connect with and explore the Four Elements—earth, water, fire and air. These four elements can be experienced and observed within the living body, and are doorways into resting in the present moment. Earth is our foundational ground; water holds our fluid emotions, intuition, and is an essential element of life; fire is the creative life force; while air connects us to the universal life force.

Find it here:  https://vimeo.com/502383760
Cost:  FREE!

  • A quick 3-minute core conditioning sequence. Depending on the comfort of your wrists, this can be done with blocks (easier on the wrists) or without.

Find it here: https://vimeo.com/533736863
Cost:  FREE!

  • And, finally, I have added some fun NEW gemstone bracelets to my little shop on Etsy – Made With Mantra.  Colorful, fun, designed to stack and share.  Choose the gemstone who’s energy most resonates for you!  

In closing, I wish you many new adventures, time spent on self-care (…may I suggest yoga?) and sharing/spreading love, and good eats!

Lay a little loving on yourself…

There is a community of the spirit.
Join it, and feel the delight
of walking in the noisy street,
and being the noise.

Drink all your passion,
and be a disgrace.

Close both eyes
to see with the other eye.

Open your hands,
if you want to be held.

Sit down in this circle.
–Rumi


I can only speak for myself, but I feel… lighter, hopeful, as though there is room to breath again. As Emily Dickinson said it, “Hope” is the thing with feathers – that perches in the soul – and sings the tune without the words – and never stops – at all.” 

I have a row of seedling pots ensconced in the warmest/sunniest place in the house (the bathroom!). They are just starting to sprout–the first seedlings are Bristlecone Pine, a very long, lived and hardy species of pine. The goal is to eventually shape them as Bonsai, a Japanese art form that takes patience, and daily mindful care.

My goals this month are two-fold. Just as I nurture and care for these seedlings, my first goal is to lovingly cultivate my creative pursuits.  Whether it is designing and making hand-knotted malas and jewelry, recording and creating new meditation videos, or launching my live-streaming class platform–I am creating and tending to my online presence in a slow and patient way.

My second goal this month is to acknowledge and hold my anxieties and doubts about this growth period with loving kindness and awareness. Success or failure–it’s the effort and presence that truly matter.  

My hope for you is that you lay a little loving on yourself. Spend time moving your body. Eat nourishing foods. Give yourself a little gift–just for you–whether it’s time with a good book, yoga, a piece of really good chocolate, or anything else that speaks to you.

The next installment in the series, “My Morning Meditation”, is up on Vimeo. This one is all about sound and mantra. Think of it as a 20 minute immersion in the sound of the Universe. If you have never used mantra, it is a nice introduction. As always, these are FREE. Find the meditation here: https://vimeo.com/504972237

In closing, I do hope to SEE you on the mat! My first virtual class offering on Moxie is Vinyasa Glow Flow, Wednesdays @ 12:00pm.  You can drop-in LIVE, which is a wonderful way to connect with other human souls.  Or, subscribe for monthly access to my VOD library. Live classes are recorded, and can be watched OD when it best suits your schedule. Right now, the monthly price is only $18. Register here: https://moxie.xyz/claudiafountain

LOKAH SAMASTAH SUKHINO BHAVANTU
May all beings have freedom and happiness; and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my life contribute in some way to that freedom and happiness.

‘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.