I received this (below) from one of this years Yoga Teacher Trainees who is currently doing Level 1 Yoga Teacher Training with me.
Mindfulness and Yoga have have a profound effect on those who practice especially to help strengthen our ability to cope with grief and gain insight from having to learn how to let go. During my time of mentoring and training others to Teach Yoga Ive witnessed the never ending benefits of this timeless practice
Rosie one of our Yoga Teacher Trainees handed this in and I asked could I share this to help others feel they are not alone in this struggle with any form of grief and loss, the price we pay for love.
Good Grief: How yoga helps us heal
In 2013 I spent the better part of a year watching both my parents die. My father’s was a physical one; succumbing to motor neurone disease twelve months after diagnosis. My mother’s was an emotional and spiritual one; from wife to carer to broken widow, exhausted from trying to save her husband from a disease with no known cause or cure. It broke us all.
As Queen Elizabeth II said, ‘grief is the price we pay for love’. People who have lost loved ones often report how brutal grief can be. Exhaustion, confusion, depression, numbness and anger. It can be a very frightening experience as we take our own, unique journey through shock, anger, depression and sense-making. Our feelings of loss do not diminish, rather, lose the intensity of those early days. We simply learn to build our lives around the ache in our heart.
My psychological injury, sustained from the months of vicarious trauma, left me swinging between anger and numbness. I enrolled in a mindfulness course at the suggestion of my treating psychologist. I needed to feel like I existed in my own body again. I had no idea that mindfulness and yoga would be one of the most powerful tools for healing my life.
So, what did I learn about yoga and its capacity to support us through grief?
It helps us ride the waves of loss
It can be difficult for others to understand your unique grief. Yoga allows us to ease our suffering by providing refuge from the pain. Our mat becomes our quiet place, our breath and movement allows us to release the emotions we have. The practice itself helps settle the nervous system and keep our bodies moving when grief wants us to shut down. The yoga sutras, and the wisdom of yoga tradition, can ‘intellectualise’ our sadness and help us learn to accept the grieving process.
It supports self-compassionate
Yoga invites us to be gentle with ourselves and accept what is ‘here’. When grieving, yoga may be the only good thing you can do that day. Isvarapranidhana, the fifth Niyama in the eight limbs of yoga, is ‘the practice of surrender’. It invites us to trust god or the universe, even when life feels like it is crumbling. Furthermore, yoga is one of the most powerful ways to connect mind and body. It invites us to notice sensations and back off when we need to take care of ourselves. It challenges our ego and asks us ‘what do you need right now?’. Some days, you can only manage half an hour in child’s pose. Yoga says that’s okay.
It promotes self-healing
Yoga can be powerful enough to help us feel safe in our body during grief. My yoga teacher would regularly remind me that I was the boss of my yoga practice and that sensation should be my guide. This helped me heighten my awareness of my emotions and choose poses that felt good. I could welcome strong emotions and not supress them. I could scream in Virabhadrasana II and cry in Supta Baddha Konasana.
Essentially, yoga helps you live with your emotions and importantly, promote self-healing. Quite simply, if yoga says every emotion is okay, then you’re okay. This can be an incredibly liberating experience for a griever when their friends and family are telling them they should be moving on.
It helps us live with the loss
One of the only blessings to come from loss is a deep sense of what we have right now. Yoga teaches us to stay present; to the mind chatter, to our emotions, to the breath and to the power of movement for self-care. Moreover, the yoga sutras can provide sage wisdom to comfort during healing. One of the most powerful healing messages for me was that there wasn’t anything wrong with me. Grief was normal and I was normal. Our society does not welcome conversations about dying, death, grief and loss. Yoga allows us to be fully present to it, thus more awakened to the beauty of our own lives.
(Level 1 Yoga NRG Teacher Trainee 2017, Currently completing Level 1/Level 2 Mindfulness Training + enrolled in our Mentoring / Apprentice Program commencing June 2017)
Thanks Rosie for sharing !
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