Art of Dying Volume One | Page 47

ELLEN FEIN, LCSW, CTY AND E-RYT500 Ellen works with individuals and groups drawing on both mind-body tools and yoga therapy. She is a Senior Faculty member at the Center for Mind-Body Medicine and Faculty at American Viniyoga Institute. Ellen runs workshops & retreats, and mentors professionals. Her areas of expertise include chronic and life-threatening conditions as well as pain management and end-of-life care. ELLEN FEIN WWW.BREATHE2CHANGE.COM/ [email protected] JENNIFER SZYMASZEK PHOTOGRAPHY Towards the end, when Michael was in that pre-death state that often alters consciousness, he had funny dreams. He told me there was a soup kitchen where he was going and my grandmother worked there. She was a classic Jewish “feed you” kind of person. It was perfect that she was there for him. Three years after Michael’s death, I was diagnosed with leukemia. Part of my treatment was stem cell transplant. The transplant center offered yoga classes. Yoga had helped me through my traumatic grieving process, but this wasn’t like any yoga I knew. I was feeling horrible; I was on steroids; and my mind was agitated. But during that class hour, I settled into a quiet place. It was remarkable. Nothing else, including drugs, could make that happen for me. I didn’t know what this yoga was but I thought, ‘If I live through this, I am going to find out.’ The class was called Viniyoga. I made arrangements to spend five consecutive days studying with Gary Kraftsow, the Director of the American Viniyoga Institute in Santa Monica. He spent those five days getting to know me in what I now understand is a typical yoga therapy assessment. He wanted to know about my external and internal structure, my physiology, my philosophy of life, and how I used my mind. I went home with a practice unlike anything I had expected. That was my first exposure to yoga therapy. I was already offering cancer coaching services and wanted to add Viniyoga to my cancer coaching repertoire so I took every course Gary offered and became a certified yoga therapist. Yoga therapy is designed to instill balance on every level– physiological, mental, emotional and spiritual. VOLUME I | 47