Yoga for Grief
Welcome! If you have been directed to this page from the book Child Loss: The Heartbreak and the Hope or are otherwise struggling with the burden of grief, the following video was created with you in mind. This sequence was designed to help relax your body, release stored up emotions and calm your mind.
We experience grief after life-changing events such as the death of a family member or friend, a divorce or breakup, loss of a job or being diagnosed with a chronic illness. Grief is our natural response when someone or something we love or need is taken away from us, but each person experiences a little differently. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, but there are healthy ways we can cope with grief.
Yoga is one helpful coping tool we can use during our grief. Typically, along with loss come fear of the future (anxiety) and the constant replaying of painful memories (depression). One of the key focuses of yoga is being present – connecting with our breath, our bodies and our emotions exactly how they are in the present moment. Learning to be “in your body” during your grief instead of letting your thoughts escape to the past or the future is a key part of the healing process.
From the book:
The word yoga means “union.” The union that yoga practice creates is visible in a few different ways, one of which is the connection of the mind, body, and spirit. Your mind, body, and spirit work together in harmony, but when one or more of these components of your “whole self” is out of alignment, such as when you are grieving, your entire state of being suffers. When grief affects your emotional health through sadness, heartbreak, and emptiness, it also takes a major toll on your physical health. Grief manifests in the physical body, causing stress on the heart, increased blood pressure, difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite, a weakened immune system, tense muscles or muscle pain, and headaches. When anxiety is present along with your grief, you might experience shortness of breath, heart palpitations, chest pain, fatigue, and feeling faint.
Yoga teaches you how to realign the physical, mental, and emotional/spiritual bodies to allow holistic healing to take place. The practice does not encourage you to shut out your emotions, but rather to accept them and learn to live with them in a way that is no longer destructive to your health. Hatha yoga, the type of yoga that we practice in the western world, encourages the mind-body- spirit alignment through a combination of breathwork, physical postures, and meditation. Each of these aspects has a very specific purpose in bettering students’ health.
Please remember that while yoga is a very helpful tool for coping with grief, you might not feel the healing results right away. Just like every step of your grief healing journey, it takes time. Be kind to yourself, keep trying, and you will start to notice positive changes. For best results, it is vital to be consistent with your practice, whether you develop a home practice, attend studio yoga classes or work through private sessions with a yoga therapist.
For more information about how yoga works for healing, I recommend reading Yoga for Emotional Balance by Bo Forbes.
More reading about yoga and grief: