A few months ago, I began volunteering at the Humane Society of Central Oregon. I work primarily with the cats and kittens, providing socialization. I will also spend time walking through the dog kennels, offering treats and attention. The experience is heart breaking, but also very fulfilling. It’s about meeting the cats and dogs where they are (terrified, depressed, or coming out of their shells), and letting them know they are seen, touched (if they want it), and loved.
“Stay still, gentle one, and stare into the shine.
You have within all the warmth you will ever need.” –Tyler Knott Gregson
Sometimes I sit in meditation with a quote that initiates a resonance–feelings, sensations, images. I let them flow like leaves on a river. Repeating the words periodically, until the water runs clear. Other times, I meditate on the heart. Try closing your eyes, and bringing your attention to the center of your chest. Breathe in, breathe out. What do you feel, hear, or “see”?
“At the center of nonviolence stands the principle of love.” –Martin Luther King, Jr.
This month, let’s be gentle with ourselves. Spread kindness, or love–like sowing seeds.
This month’s newsletter is short and sweet. The holidays can often feel like a burden, filled with conflicting messages–do more, spend more, be more. It can also be a very difficult time for those who are alone, or have lost loved ones. My wish this year is for us share the (radical) gift of love, time, presence, and attention.
This is also the perfect time to practice LOVING KINDNESS MEDITATION. Loving kindness is offered towards oneself, loved ones, your neighbors, even the stranger standing in line in front of you. Whether it’s for one minute, or 10 minutes, silently repeat 3-4 of the following phrases (or ones that hold meaning for you) directed towards yourself, a loved one, or all beings:
May I/you/we be happy
May I/you/we be peaceful
May I/you/we be well
May I/you/we live with ease
May I/you/we find deep joy
May I/you/we be free of pain
May I/you/we be free from harm
May I/you/we be free of suffering
May I/you/we feel safe
If you’ve never practiced Loving Kindness Meditation, or would like to do a guided version of it, I have one on my Arketa On-Demand Video page that you can watch for free. Find it HERE.
In closing, please find below my modified teaching schedule for the rest of 2022. I will be taking a holiday break, in preparation for flowing into 2023. I look forward to seeing you in the new year!
Opening with words from the incomparable Tyler Knott Gregson:
“This is a time of harvest, show me what it is to give thanks, to call people in and not out, to echo truth into the night sky painted with spark and drum, warm breath on cold air. Tell me what you know of survival, quiet endurance in the face of injustice and ignorance.
Teach me your stories, of hawk flight and the changing of leaves on river bank, of first snowfall and the silence that follows it.
You of all that was taken, you who have lost more than we have will ever have. You of endless space and star-filled skies, of thanksgiving as it was meant to be, constantly with palms open in awe to all we are given. Teach me your stories, of the words you leave behind, safely kept in bird song, in stream, in late Summer thunder that haunts as it rolls.”
The final quarter of 2022 rolled up on me faster than I can inhale. Tonight tiny ghosts and goblins will coming calling. I will light the Jack O’ Lanterns to ward off harm, and place a lit candle in a West facing window for lost loved ones. Family will gather around the table with me in a few weeks, to share in the bounty and give thanks for all we have. And, then before we know it Christmas and the New Year will be here.
Fall is preparation for the quiet, still season to come. Shed old beliefs and habits like the dropping leaves. Share what you have with those who have less, so that we may all come through into the new light when it arrives again in the spring. We may be heading into the dark season, but there is light everywhere–in the joy of a smile, the glint of laughter, and the spark in someone’s eyes.
In closing, my latest exercise video (Upper Back Tension Release) has been released, find my teaching schedule and links to book virtual classes (perfect for releasing stress) here; and finally, the Giving Sale (20% off storewide) has started in my labor of love–MADE WITH MANTRA SHOP on Etsy–one-of-kind gifts for the special people in your life.
LOKAH SAMASTAH SUKHINO BHAVANTU May All Beings Be Happy OM SHANTI SHANTI SHANTI May All Be In Peace
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
“I love how summer just wraps its arms around you like a warm blanket.” — Kellie Elmore
I’m keeping it short and savory this July. I’ve just returned from an eight day trip to visit my best friend in my old home town. The road was long, the visit was relaxing, and the temps were just perfect for mid-summer. I think I will always find summer in the high-desert to be comforting. Summers for me, when I was growing up, were all about basking in the sunshine, jumping into sparkling swimming pools, and spending time in cool, cool libraries filled with amazing stories that I would get lost in.
But, I digress! The last half of July will be focused on slow and steady vinyasa flows, cooling breath practices, and a few of my go-to somatic releases for tension in the neck, shoulders, and upper back.
This month’s delicious recipe is a tasty spin on chicken tacos, that gets its inspiration from the heart and brain healthy Mediterranean Diet. And, finally, I’ve put together some fun facts about the birthstone for the month of July. Find them HERE. I had a lot of fun creating some ruby pieces for my little shop–MadeWithMantra!
If you ever have any questions about my classes, wellness coaching, private sessions, or anything gemstone or mala related 😃, drop me an email: email@example.com.
MEDITERRANEAN CHICKEN TACOS
The Mediterranean diet has long been praised for its heart healthy benefits. Think of it as the gold-standard for all diets. This plant and whole-food based diet has been shown in a new batch of 2020 studies, to lower the risk of impaired cognitive function by 45-50%. The Mediterranean diet is big on fruit, veggies, whole grains, legumes, nuts and olive oil. Moderate amounts of dairy, poultry, eggs, and seafood are included. Enjoy a Mediterranean spin on chicken tacos!
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thigh 1 tsp Italian seasoning 1/4 tsp salt 1/4 tsp black pepper 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved 1 cup diced cucumber 1/2 cup diced red onion 1/3 cup sliced kalamata olives 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped 1 tbs balsamic vinegar 2 tbs tahini 2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil juice of 1/2 lemon 1/2 tsp cumin powder 1 garlic clove, grated or minced 3/4 cup prepared hummus 8 tortillas, warmed 1/2 cup crumbled feta 1/3 cup chopped parsley
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Stir together Italian seasoning, salt and black pepper. Rub mixture onto chicken. Place chicken on a greased baking sheet and roast until meat reaches an internal temperature of 165 F, about 20 minutes. Let chicken rest for 5 minutes and then slice. In a bowl, toss together tomatoes, cucumber, onion, olives and jalapeno. Stir in balsamic vinegar. In a small bowl, whisk together tahini, olive oil, lemon juice and garlic. To serve, spread hummus on tortillas and top with chicken and tomato mixture. Drizzle on tahini sauce. Sprinkle on feta and parsley.
“There is nothing permanent except change.” -Heraclitus
Oh April! How challenging you were!
Back at the beginning of April–just as I was beginning to put together my monthly newsletter–I received news that the streaming service I was using to teach my virtual classes and host my VOD library, was shutting down at the end of the month. To say that this came as an unfortunate surprise is an understatement to a large degree. 😱
The rest of the month was filled with decision making (deciding to switch to the new platform–they partnered with my old one and offered a full-service “white glove” transfer), learning all the ins and outs (several “on-boarding” virtual sessions) of the new platform, setting up my new account and dashboard, letting my clients know, answering their questions, and so much more.
The beginning of this month has included ironing out some kinks, leaning heavily on the “help advisors”, honing my ability to shift my outlook, and the continuous (it never stops 😅) practice of adapting to change.
So! On to the big news this month… My virtual classes (using the ZOOM platform) and VOD library are now integrated and hosted by Arketa! We haven’t figured out how to get my scheduled embedded on my website–yet. But, I have a simple landing page that has all the basics: schedule of classes, drop-in pricing, subscriptions for class packs and VOD. Find it HERE. I hope to “see” you virtually soon!
Also in this month’s newsletter, you will find my latest Exercise Video of the Month (my Favorite Restorative Pose); and a quick, heart-healthy, and delicious Mediterranean inspired recipe for a Strawberry Basil Vinaigrette. 😋
In closing, I will leave you with some words from one of my favorite poets – Tyler Knott Gregson:
Perhaps there is nothing more divine, nothing more holy, than the love we carry for the life we live. When you walk in constant wonder through this world, every place becomes a cathedral, every breath, a prayer.
1 C fresh or frozen (thawed) strawberries
1/3 C fresh basil
1/4 C olive oil
2 T red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar
1/4 t red chili flakes
1/4 t salt
1/4 t black pepper
Place all of the ingredients in a blender container and blend until smooth. Makes enough for 6 salads.
“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.” ― Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
If I were to sum up the past 13 days in one word, it would be tumultuous. This morning I woke up in a warm, comfortable bed; with a pantry filled with food; and a solid, safe roof over my head. The same can’t be said for the people of Ukraine. My heart aches for friends who have family living the reality of war. One of my dearest hopes is that some day the human race will move beyond war. But until that day comes, I try to do the best I can, wherever I am.
If you would like to help the people of Ukraine, and aren’t sure where to start here are two solid, highly reputable organizations to begin with:
Even closer to home–when you are feeling overwhelmed, remember to treat yourself kindly. Give yourself time away from news sources, find opportunities to connect with nature, spend time loving on your furry companions if you have them, move your body, and feed yourself well.
The latest edition of Exercise of the Month Video is up. In it I share my top three shoulder stretches (bonus: these also release stored tension in the chest and upper back).
My teaching schedule remains steady at two offerings per week. As always, the classes are hosted on Moxie, and you are welcome to check out a class for FREE. Please find my teaching schedule and links here.
In closing, I offer you, the people of Ukraine, the whole of the human race PEACE.
“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!
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.
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!
“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.