Yoga for Grief
Every life has its measure of sorrow, and sometimes it is this that awakens us.
I was visiting Norway just after the terrible massacre that took place July 2011 in Oslo and witnessed an extraordinary outpouring of grief. This was grief, not for a loved one ( although many were lost) but for a nation that had lost its innocence. Norwegians have such a strong belief in non violence that prior to and even after this event their police are not armed.
During our lives we witness and experience many expressions of mourning, the grief of losing a love, a loved one, national suffering, a treasured possession, of growing old and missing our youth!
Anitya in Sanskrit or Annika in Buddhism is the concept that our world is impermanent, it is in a constant state of inevitable change, of birth, maintenance, decline and decay as exhibited by night and day, the seasons, birth to death. Buddhists believe it is our attachment and consequent resistance to change that is the cause of all future suffering.
It can bring comfort to your mourning to acknowledge the inevitable nature of change. Recently in class we also talked about Tapas - austerities or practices to support your body and soul ( see separate blog). Tapas is an important tool to utilize in processing grief in your life, much better than other learned habits such as comfort eating or taking to the sofa and movies - consider a regular yoga class, meditation, a long term commitment to eat healthy food. A commitment to Tapas can help you to heal your body and soul.
Whilst Annika can be the cause of grief, it can also support grief, you can lean on the rhythm of the day, the week, the seasons and the year to bring yourself to the present moment time and again as you would on the mat with your breath. Marking the time with rhythm and ritual, celebrations and daily routine, Sunday drives and winter soups, spring picnics, birthday dinners, religious holidays and car washing day and of course intertwine all of this with your tapas.
When I was devastated by the loss of my beautiful mum I found the yoga mat an uncomfortable place at times, it was hard to be still, harder still to be open, my practice needed to be more grounding, full of forward bends and going inside, strong and engaging. Over time I have come to enjoy the long term benefits and healing of sitting with the discomfort of being present for a heart opening posture; returning to a long still silent savasana.
At other times the ability to come out of my head and into my body in class one breath at a time were blessings that healed me pose by pose - yoga can do so much to support our shadows.
This week in class our teachers are supporting two of our students ( that we know of ) facing significant grief in their lives with a week of yoga for grief, expect lots of forward bends, long savasana, some heart openers and requests for you to be really honest and present with yourself on the mat. Core and base chakra poses also enable emotional grounding to support your grief. We look forward to meeting you in a safe, supportive healing way.
Peace and Love