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Healing Grief Through Yoga

Posted Mar 07 2012 10:01pm


 "Life is eternal and love is immortal; And death is only a horizon, And a horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight." - Rossiter W. Raymond 

Death is the physical dropping of the body. It is a returning home for the soul. But for those of us left behind, the pain can be unbearable We miss the presence of that person in our lives. This causes a great deal of stress in our bodies. Our sleep, eating habits, immune system, balance, thinking and breathing are all affected. 

Grief affects us on every level, physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally. Thankfully, so does yoga. Yoga literally means “to yoke” or unifying, to join the breath and the body, or body, mind and spirit. 


"Death is not extinguishing the light; it is putting out the lamp because dawn has come." - Rabindranath Tagore 

Healing grief can be a challenging path to wander. If we can find a way to stay balanced and connected to our breath and hearts we CAN wander the path with a bit more ease. We will always hold the person in our hearts, but finding a way to stand in our grace, find acceptance and stay healthy can help us navigate the terrain with more self compassion.

Patanjali defines Yoga as “Citta Vrtti Nirodha”, translated as the suppression or calming of the mind's fluctuations. We can use the poses in yoga to bring balance, focus, concentration and stability to our lives. We can use the breath, pranayama, to calm us, reduce stress, tension, anxiety and depression and help us sleep. Breath moves us into stillness and helps to bring us into the moment. Studies have actually shown that yogic style breath work has a 73% higher recovery rate than medications. 


"Your job is not to STOP mourning, but to stop ONLY mourning. It’s OK  to take a break and celebrate what is good.”  Scott Friedman

When you block your emotions, particularly the need to cry, you block the throat chakra, the chakra that governs the ability to speak your truth, speak up for yourself or just speak up. While going through grieving it’s important to be able to give a voice to your feelings.

 "Crying is one of the highest devotional songs. One who knows crying, knows spiritual practice. lf you can cry, with a pure heart, nothing else compares to such a prayer. Crying includes all the principles of Yoga.”  Swami Kripaulu

When grieving we also often shut down our heart chakra. The heart chakra is, as you would guess,is the love center. Shutting this chakra down can lead to feeling lonely, withdrawn, isolated and unable to be intimate. Closing this chakra can also lead to shallow breathing, which exacerbates sadness and depression. 


In yoga, focus on a well rounded practice with a strong focus on throat and heart openers and breath work. Imagine movement and breath as a prayer, a surrender, a dedication. 


As you flow into your healing yoga practice, let your inhale be a prayer and your exhale be a letting go of sorrow. Here's a beautiful prayer to use in your practice.

Peace, my heart, let the time for the parting be sweet.
Let it not be a death but completeness.
Let love melt into memory and pain into songs.
Let the flight through the sky end in the folding of the wings over the nest.
Let the last touch of your hands be gentle like the flower of the night.
Stand still, O Beautiful End, for a moment, and say your last words in silence.
I bow to you and hold up my lamp to light you on your way.

~Rabindranath Tagore 

Breathe in love, peace and stillness, Breathe out pain, loneliness and all that doesn't serve your bliss...

In Love and Health,

Lori Clayton, LMT, CHHC


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