February 2012

I wrote  a couple weeks back about losing a family member, and then my sister-in-law lost her Dad and then the loss got a little closer to home. Mike (Douglas) Smith, died suddenly at 49. He had been my boss for many years and was a good one at that. He pushed me like crazy. His standards were a mile high. But he was fair.  If you worked hard nad did well it paid off.

I’m a fairly organized person, but any skill I have in chasing down every last detail and not losing track of even the most minor part of a project, I learned from him.

He also came to my yoga classes, instituted lunchtime classes in our workplace and continued coming to my classes when he went to work elsewhere.

So when he passed it was a real loss.  More sudden and and closer to me than others have been. I noticed how I felt it keenly in my body. Sometimes throat and chest. Sometimes my legs felt all fuzzy and weak.  My friend suggested I felt like my legs had been knocked out from under me.

It made me look into yoga for grief and how to work those particular emotions through the body.

And then Monday night we did a class around all that. Here’s what we did:

  • First I asked the class to think of  a loss that affected them – a friend, a job, a pet, not necessarily a death – and set their intention to do some healing around that loss.
  • We started with eye massages – using your first two fingers, run them along your eyebrows, inside to outside and then continue around in circles using the amount of pressure that feels good.
  • Modified throat lock – start with an inhale, then with the exhale lower chin to chest and inhale back up. Use a Ugayai breath.  After two or three, play with pausing, head down before beginning the inhale. Notice the feeling of peacefulness there where you have everything you need, even breath and oxygen.
  • Continue seated warm-ups with moving twists, side bends and folds forward alternating with seated backbends.
  • We got on our backs and did a whack of bicycle, to get the emotion moving through our bellies.
  • Then an easy down dog moving into a forward bend, using movement to ease into the stretch.
  • Then three half sun salutations and we worked in lots of spine moving, balancing and hip stretching poses: warriors 1, 2 and 3, triangle and revolved triangle, deep pauses in forward bend, wide leg forward bend, tree, high and low lunge and pigeon.
  • We did lots of backbending poses, modified bow and bow, locust, cobra, bridge.
  • We got on our backs for some final hip stretching and a good long spinal twistand
  • Then I gave them the choice of Legs Up The Wall or Shoulder stand
  • Finally i gave them temple and forehead massages with lavender oil for Savasana.  I played them Mike’s favourite Savasana tune.




I had oatmeal for dinner. Wait. Before you go back to Angry birds, let me tell you the story. I’ve had a stressful time lately and have not been making the best food choices.

So I’ve been feeling a little “juicy” as my buddy calls it, and then that makes me feel yucky and I get down on myself because i’m tired and stressed out. And then i make more poor choices. So Sunday I was tired of making choices that make me feel lousy. I made the conscious decision to really take care of myself this week.

I’ve finally realized that what tastes good doesn’t necessarily make my body and mind feel good. It took me a while. And that there are foods that make both my body and mind feel good.

It’s funny because we’re always looking outside ourselves for the ideal diet for food plan.  When really the best source of info is right under our noses.  Our own bodies tell us after each meal whether it was a good experience or not.

After a meal, do we feel like we just consumed a large animal?  All bloated and sluggish and tired?  Or do we feel energized and alive, like we’ve just eaten the *very thing* that our body really needed?

Before I figured this out I used food like a big stick.  If it was time to tighten things up (literally and figuratively) my point of view was that i’ve been having way too much fun and so now it’s time for the stockade.  Now i will beat up on myself and eat nothing but bread and water (figuratively speaking).

But thankfully i’ve become a bit less judgemental in my life and i can say, meh, it’s a couple pounds, it’s not about my value as a person.  And i know how to lose them because it sure isn’t the first time i’ve decided to “tighten up”.

Since tuning into how food makes me feel, i notice that I really like the foods that make me feel good.  Or I’ve figured out which foods taste good to me and are good for me.  It’s key.

So yeah i had oatmeal for dinner because I knew it wouldn’t bother me when i taught yoga an hour later.  I also made it with cinnamon (helps balance your blood sugar), coconut oil (healthy fats) and whole milk (just damn yummy) so that it tasted good and i felt good about eating it too.

I took it a step further and made two lunches of salmon salad with avocado because salmon and healthy fats are supposed to help your mood (i can’t remember where i read it, but who cares, i love both of them).

I made myself a reiki and a massage appointment.  I’m also making sure i get my exercise – not bootcamp sweatfests necessarily, walks and yoga, heck any exercise, vastly improves my mental health too.  So I’m going with the energy I have to figure out what exercise is best.

I’m spending this week focusing on being kind to myself. I’m done with going through challenging times with a stiff upper lip.  I’m tired of just driving on through.  I want to be my own *biggest* support.  Figuratively speaking.

Honeybunny’s favourite uncle died last week.  He was in his 80’s and had had a lot of health challenges.  They started with diabetes a long time ago and then he dealt with the related complications to that and finally he was having dialysis regularly.

No fun.  But he did it and he kept a good attitude.  His wife and daughters always made sure he had baking to take in to the nurses on “dialysis day”.

Recently they found a stage 4 cancerous tumour in his throat.  And his family was so upset that he had yet another serious health issue to deal with.

But he told them he was done.  He wasn’t going to have another treatment or procedure or round of dialysis.  He was finished with it all.

So the night before he died they gave him Pepsi.  He had *loved* Pepsi but hadn’t been able to have it since he was diagnosed with diabetes so many years before.  I wonder if it was as good as he remembered.

All the heath problems that had been such a chore to deal with became a gift for him.  He was able to decide he was done and then go a few days later.  The family had enough time to say their good-byes but not watch him suffer.  He was in control of it.  And got to have his Pepsi too.

I was so proud and happy for him that he was able to die with dignity.  I can only hope for the same when i get to that point in my life.  We’re going to miss you Uncle Nicky, rest in peace.