how yoga help in grief

From resistance to resilience


2020 has been watershed year for many of us. It has been a period of grief and sadness , small and large losses at personal and higher levels. Many of us lost the life we knew, some of us lost friendships, businesses and income. There is also an unfortunate lot who had to undergo the loss of loved ones. The hurt, sadness and grief associated with such losses cannot be quantified by any measure. It is deeply personal as it is only felt by you.

Ironically, the only way one can feel grief is to have loved. As someone said – Grief is actually love with no place to go. I lost my father in Mar 2021. While he was a healthy 86, except for the last few months, the loss felt at the void created by his absence burdened me incredibly. While death is so inevitable, the finality and the inability of any further expression scarred my heart.

While struggling with the above questions, I had an insightful discussion with my Yoga instructor.

Surprisingly, although practicing Yoga for over 10 years, I did not think that it could provide succour and relief in such times. It was left to the Guru to provide this insight.

It all boils down to the acceptance of impermanence of Life and flowing through it rather than resisting it. There is a great quote by Mathieu Ricard that says `tend to the moment. The days, months and years will tend to themselves.

So, I started doing Yin Yoga practice – a routine for the full body. Surprisingly, I discovered that with the feeling of rejuvenation I experienced, I was not only able to reconcile my feelings but also able to convey a sense of philosophy, hope and resilience to the others in the family. While grief is indeed a solitary journey to be individually overcome, the regular of practice of healing Yin Yoga was helpful in my personal journey to reconcile with reality and build resilience.

The table below summarizes the various aspects on how grief affects the individual and the way in which Yoga practice can be healing and beneficial.

How it affects What it can cause What can Yoga do
Physical Fatigue, heaviness of limbs, lethargy, accentuate aches and pains Relief of muscular tension by gentle stretching and strengthening promotes relaxation
Mental Altered thinking, inability of concentrate, decreased short term memory, anxiousness A stable breathing while performing postures arrests the constant churning of the mind bringing mindfulness thus calming the mind
Emotional Volatility in behavior, conflicting emotions, a sense of being overwhelmed Focus towards the areas in mind and body being stretched and compressed are practical strategies to help cope with difficult emotions. Sometimes, they spur you into letting out bottled emotions
Spiritual A changed world view, lack of purpose in Life, dulled spark Gentle movements with calm breathing stills the mind promoting self-awareness and concentration that nurtures the spirit
Social Sense of belonging appears lost

Brings about a dedicated time and space to allow expression for your grief and a ritual of self-care

So, please reach out and get involved in your practice and remember that there is a support group willing to help.