Getting Older – Dog Yoga


One of the most important things I’ve ever done is become a pet owner. I rescued Dakota when she was six. That was eight years ago. 
You know intellectually that dogs get older and will eventually die. In practice it fucking sucks. Dakota has been struggling and while it seems that she’s not going to die tomorrow, I’ve got to start thinking about those hard decisions pet owners must think about. 

When is the right time to put her to sleep? Will I be able to tell? What if it’s too soon? Or worse what if I prolong her suffering. 



Surprisingly (or not), my yoga practice has been a great comfort and useful. I’ve been more open than I usually am about my feelings of sadness and grief. I’ve talked about how I feel so bad for my dog losing control of her bladder and frustrated at cleaning up what seems to be an endless amount of pee. But by sharing I’ve had an outpouring of support, love and practical suggestions that have helped make both our lives more comfortable. 
My asana practice has been a place that I allow myself to both let it all hang out and nurture my spirit (Special shout out to Angela Rauscher and Kaity Shanks for being my rocks the other day). 
Daily sits have been challenging and relaxing depending upon how I slept. Mostly though, I’m in the moment. Dakota may not be able to understand how much her companionship means to me but she will be given so much love (endless treats and cheeseburgers) until it’s time for her to transition. It’s the best I can do and in my heart I know it’s enough. 
This post is for the pet owners out there. 
 I made myself a snowball

As perfect as can be.

I thought I’d keep it as a pet,

And let it sleep with me.

I made it some pajamas

And a pillow for it’s head.

Then last night it ran away,

But first – It wet the bed.

– Shel Silverstein 

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Adventures in Yoga – Therapeutic Yoga

Photo credit- shakti nj
Photo credit- shakti nj

 

Recovering from major surgery was more intense than I thought. My ego set unrealistic expectations. No matter, my body was having none of it. During the first week, it was tough to do more than take short walks. By week two, I was doing restorative poses.

Fortunately, yours truly has daily meditation practice. Sitting each morning allowed me to get out of my own way.

Week three was life changing. I spent six days doing a Therapeutic Yoga teacher training hosted by Integral Yoga with Cheri Clampett and Arturo Peal. Showing up each day studying, practicing and teaching TY in a safe and sacred environment was just what this yogi needed.
Karen Mandell is a great teacher who said, “Soft is the new hard.” While I love the powerful practice I’ve cultivated, there’s need to embrace the notion of slowing it down. Therapeutic yoga does just that.
You may be asking what exactly is ‘therapeutic yoga’? Here’s a brief definition from the website Therapeutic Yoga.

Therapeutic Yoga blends restorative yoga (supported postures), gentle yoga, breathwork, hands-on healing, and guided meditation techniques combined in such a way that it is an excellent choice for those who need something gentle yet effective for bringing the body into balance and reducing stress. Therapeutic Yoga is a deeply meditative experience – it provides the opportunity to step away from the busy-ness of the outside world and access the deeper wisdom that resides within us.

 

This training has shifted my thoughts about how I practice and how I teach. Cheri and Arturo are gifted educators and yogis who allowed us to explore what it means to create a space to heal. Whether it’s healing from a physical trauma or emotional trauma, therapeutic yoga is a way to yoke or unite our bodies and mind through a gentle yet powerful practice. Still recovering from abdominal surgery, I was my own perfect test case. There were some poses that I couldn’t do. And for the very first time, I allowed myself to celebrate that.

That’s what healing is about. Giving permission to be still. Celebrating getting well.

If I can care for myself with such love and support- just think of how much I’ll be able to give to others. I’ve added a few therapeutic poses at the beginning and end of the vinyasa alases that teach. It’s been a welcome addition. Working hard and challenging the body can be fun and invigorating. Just as important though,  is to honor the idea of being whole and nurturing the self.

Teaching this style of yoga is my calling. I wasn’t looking for it. And it’s made me realize that more school is on the horizon. More change I hadn’t planned.

But I think that’s when the best things happen.

Namaste y’all.