MAY THE JOY OF SPRING INSPIRE YOU

“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. 

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?

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.

Musings on wash tubs, chaos, and change…

I have a very early memory of my grandmother’s basement.  She still had one of those old-school wash tubs with a manual hand-cranked ringer on it.  The world of modern appliances had moved on considerably, but for some reason my grandmother still had a manual wash tub in her basement. What I remember is the darkness of the basement, and the strange wonder I was feeling as I watched the wet clothes being squished, flattened, and pulled into unrecognizable shapes.  

This year feels a little bit (make that a lot) like being put through that ringer.  Here we are in September, and many changes have happened in my life.  Landslide shifts in what my work-life looks like, my mom needing personal assistance as she navigates another health scare, and an out-of-state move (goodbye California, hello Oregon!)–all while living with a global pandemic, political and social upheaval, and wildly insane climate-change driven wildfires and heatwaves (can we call it apocalyptic yet?).  These are huge, stress inducing changes.  I keep trying to clean, straighten, find some order, some normality, anything to keep the chaos at bay.  But, maybe what is needed is to lean into that chaos.  What if rather than turning away from all of the feelings of worry, frustration, anger, or fear, I really sat down with them and had a conversation?  Not in a let me wallow in them kind of way, but in a curious, interested, and compassionate kind of way.

While I can’t control the world, or the politics that run it, or the fear generated by it all–what I can control is how I respond.  I am sure that most of us have heard the Chaos Theory concerning the wings of a butterfly.  What it’s really trying to say is that tiny changes in a big system can affect everything.  How does this work for me?  I work on the one thing I can change–myself.  What are the roots of my triggers?  Why do I think/feel/react certain ways when x, y, or z happen?  Once I know, I have the power to choose a different, and better, response.  It can be very interesting, very revealing work.  This is radical self-care. 

“In chaos, there is fertility.” –Anais Nin

Some of 2020 has been undeniably bad, but some has been outstandingly good also–like purchasing a home. Another gift has been re-connecting with creative source.  For a while during my teens, I nurtured a macrame jewelry making passion.  It was tiny, intricate work that I loved very much.  A broken mala that I wanted to continue to use, put me back on the path of jewelry and mala making.  It’s both a meditation and a creative hobby that brings peace and joy.  

My new office/video/zoom/yoga space is a blank canvas that I am in the process of envisioning–from choosing a new desk and shelf set, to what color to paint the walls, to how to organize it all (the Virgo me LOVES this).  In this space, I will be creating programs, meditations, and videos–some live, some pre-recorded.  I can truly say I am excited for what is yet to come.  Please do stay tuned!

In closing, I invite you to connect with what brings you peace and joy.  It’s there, waiting to be discovered.  And, like a bee that harvests nectar from a sunflower to make golden honey, you too will create peace, joy, and be part of the tapestry of change that will spread throughout the world.

2019 Send Off

What a year it has been!

Full of many wonderful and not so wonderful events.  I am forever grateful for the support I received from family and friends as I navigated mourning, injury, and healing.  I am astoundingly grateful for the gift of time spent with family from far away and close-by, and the privilege to travel and explore with them.  But most of all, I am grateful to love and be loved.

The new year will roll some big changes into my life that are exciting, and full of questions yet to be answered.  I look forward to exploring the possible answers with an open mind and open heart.  In fact, as I write this now, it is with a sense of, “Bring it 2020!  I’ve got this!”

As I close out 2019 and roll into the holidays I spend a little time each evening reminding myself of the many things in my life I am grateful for.

“Gratitude is a powerful catalyst for happiness. It’s the spark that lights a fire of joy in your soul.” –Amy Collette

How will you close out 2019?  Who or what are you grateful for in your life?

See you on the mat!

P.S.,  I have left a little gift for you below.  A Yoga Nidra practice for deep relaxation and stress reduction.  The literal translation of Nidra is sleep.  Yoga Nidra has been shown to reduce stress, depression, anxiety, and PTSD.  (See here, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31003664, and here, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30870017 for a couple of studies.)

Yoga Nidra practice:  https://vimeo.com/379139124

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!

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

Let’s Talk Equanimity

“A modern definition of equanimity: cool. This refers to one whose mind remains stable and calm in all situations.”
~Allan Lokos, Pocket Peace

Every so often (or more), there comes a day that challenges my sense of stability, peace, or safety.   You may be familiar with this phenomenon. The morning news stirs up emotional responses, nothing seems to go right, every stop light is red, and rushing to catch up or move beyond only seems to increase the effect of frustration, or the feeling of unsettlement.  The solution to days, or moments, like these can be found in Patanjali’s Sutra 1.33.

Maitri karuna mudita upeksanam sukha
duhkha punya apunya visayanam
bhavanatas citta prasadanam

The mind becomes tranquil through
the practice of friendliness toward the happy,
compassion toward the miserable,
joy toward the virtuous, and equanimity toward
the non-virtuous.
[Gary Kissiah]

Upeksha, or equanimity, is a state of even-minded openness.  Even though we may be stirred or moved by outer circumstances, and are motivated to make things better, our deep inner stability and serenity remains undisturbed–if we have developed equanimity.  We are better able to respond in balanced and clear ways, rather than reactively.  A balanced heart feels without grasping, pushing, or pulling.

We never know what changes, or consequences, each day will bring.  Equanimity allows for things to be just as they are.  The qualities of friendliness, compassion, and joy are balanced by the stability of equanimity.  This enables us to offer an open heart in all situations, without expectations or attachments.

On the mat–and off–we have many opportunities to practice kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity towards ourselves.  Each time we fall out of a pose, compare ourselves to others, break that favorite cup, get cut off in traffic, we can repeat to ourselves, “May I not be caught in reactivity.”

As we enter the hot months of summer, we will be working with managing our inner tapas (fire), and developing non-reactivity.  See below for one of the cooling pranayam (breath) exercises we will be practicing.

See you on the mat!

 

Sitkari Pranayam
  • This pranayam can be practiced anywhere, anytime.
  • Gently press your upper and lower teeth together, and part your lips comfortably so that your teeth are exposed.
  • Inhale slowly through the gaps in your teeth, and focus on the hissing sound of the breath.
  • Close the mouth, and exhale slowly through the nose.
  • Repeat up to 20 times.