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March 19th, 2014 ~ Vol. 84 No. 11
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Yoga workshop for grieving coming to the Crowsnest Pass
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
stock photo
EZRA BLACK
Pass Herald Reporter
Over the past several years, the Rinaldi family have been dealing with the effects of mental illness.
In memory of their loved ones, the Rinaldis are spearheading efforts to promote mental wellness in the Pass.
On Saturday, April 5th, at 1:00 p.m. Yoga for Grief Support course is being offered at Spry Fitness and Yoga in Blairmore.
Sandy Ayre, a certified yoga instructor, occupational therapist and the creator of Yoga for Grief Support says the workshop is not a cure-all for the bereaved. Instead it will offer an open environment to experience grief with other people. The yogic poses are designed to help participants to relax, control anxiety through breathing and get in touch with their internal selves. It is available free of charge through funds raised by Darcy’s Nature Walk.
Ayre has been teaching the course since 2010 after suffering the loss of her boyfriend.
“My partner died in 2006 when we were 27 and it was a sudden and traumatic death. I was doing yoga at the time and just saw a lot of similarities between what I was learning in yoga class and what I was learning in support group,” she said. “ I thought why doesn’t yoga exist in the context of grief so that people can practice yoga and also learn what grief is and how to cope with it.”
She says the course will benefit anyone experiencing grief or going through a significant change in his or her health, relationship status or career.
“Let’s say you retire,” says Ayre.”You’ve been a teacher forty years … there’s natural grief that could be associated with that life transition.”
The course will incorporate yogic poses such as child’s pose; where the practitioner kneels on the floor, separates their knees as wide as their hips, lays their torso between their thighs and breathes deeply. Ayre says this is a comforting pose that soothes head, neck and hip tension.
She has sent invitations to 75 different organizations and businesses in the Pass asking them to participate in the yoga workshop. She says employers should be promoting the health and safety of their workers.
Darcy’s Nature Walk is an annual event that raises funds for mental health initiatives and commemorates the life of Randi Lynn’s mother, Darcy Rinaldi.

“She struggled with mental illness,” says Rinaldi. “When she passed away we decided that we wanted to do something in her honour but [we also wanted to] create some community awareness regarding mental illness and promoting mental health within the community.”
According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, about 20 percent of Canadians suffer from a mental illness in their lifetime. About eight percent of adults will experience major depression at some point in their lives and suicide is one of the leading causes of death in both men and women from adolescence to middle age.
Despite being a relatively common condition, Rinaldi says there is still a stigma associated with mental illness, which causes some people to avoid seeking help for their symptoms.
“There are still scenarios where it’s seen to be as taboo or shameful,” she says.
Yoga for Grief is just one of many initiatives being organized by the Rinaldi family using funds raised through Darcy’s Nature Walk.
Rinaldi is organizing a mental health first aid course scheduled for the 3rd and 4th of April.
“[The mental health first aid course] is similar to a basic rescue or first aid [course] but it’s dealing specifically with people with mental illness,” she said. “How do you approach them, how do you manage them while they’re in crisis and what resources are available in the community to help that person.”
In May, Rinaldi will be launching a campaign called Faces of Mental Health to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness.
The 6th annual Darcy’s Nature Walk will be taking place on June 14th, and that same day Rinaldi will be organizing a pedometer challenge to help increase people’s mental health and overall wellness.
Ayre says the yoga workshop is welcome to anyone over the age of 16 and no previous experience is required.
“There’s so much going on, on the inside, in the face of loss. Feelings of anxiety, a racing mind, fatigue, restlessness, those are effects of grief on the mind and body,” she says. “You can’t live life without facing losses, so [coping] is kind of a timeless practice.”
More information on the workshop can be found at yogaforgriefsupport.com.
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March 19th ~ Vol. 84 No. 11
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