The Giving Season

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

SUN SHIFT

The autumnal equinox arrives this month on Thursday, September 22. I have already become aware of the subtle shift in sunlight that heralds autumn. Something about the light, a certain flavor to the air, feels like a cozy sweater to me. Summer can often feel intense with its heat and sizzle. Transition seasons, like fall (and spring), offer a refreshing shift. The autumnal equinox is celebrated in many cultures as a harvest festival (think Oktoberfest and Mabon). May we celebrate the bounty of our growing season as it comes to a close.

This month I offer a small cornucopia of health and wellness: some of the latest research on the benefits of walking for knee osteoarthritis, a delicious poached chicken and apple chutney recipe, my latest exercise video (Down Dog Variations), everything you might want to know about September’s birthstone–sapphire–from my Etsy store (Made With Mantra Shop), and my current teaching schedule (I’m taking a break at the beginning of October!)

In Health & Wellness,
Claudia

“And the yellow sunflower by the brook, in autumn beauty stood.”
–William Cullen Bryant

Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas, analyzed a nested group of participant data, in a large community based multi-year study of 1,212 participants aged 50 and older who had osteoarthritis. Those who reported walking for exercise had a 40% lower chance of new or frequent pain, when compared with non-walkers. This supports the possibility that walking for exercise is beneficial in preventing the onset of knee pain. According to the researchers, it may also slow down the worsening of internal knee joint damage from osteoarthritis. Find this research in Arthritis & Rheumatology (2022; doi:10.1002/art.42241).

POACHED CHICKEN & APPLE CHUTNEY

Crispy fall apples are loaded with polyphenol antioxidants and soluble fiber pectin–both beneficial in reducing cardiovascular disease risk factors. Try this sweet and savory dish for both its flavor and heart healthy benefits.

  • 3 medium sized apples, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped dried figs or dried plums
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp brown mustard seeds (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 4, 6 oz chicken breasts, boneless & skinless
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Combine apples, figs or plums, shallot, honey, thyme, mustard seeds, cinnamon, cloves, and lemon zest in a medium-sized saucepan. Place over medium heat until apples begin to sizzle. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook covered, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes, or until apples have softened. To poach chicken, place breasts and salt in a pot large enough that they lie flat in one layer, then add enough water to completely cover the meat by about 1 inch. Bring water to a very slight simmer with just a few bubbles breaking the surface, reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover, and cook for 15 minutes, or until meat is cooked through. Slice chicken breasts, and server topped with the apple chutney. Makes 4 servings.

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!

MID-SUMMER TIDBITS

“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: claudia@physiquebyfountain.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.

Change Is The One Constant

“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.

WAR & PEACE

“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.

OM SHANTI SHANTI SHANTI

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!

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.)  

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