It is never easy overcoming the death of a loved one. But one thing that can help is using yoga for grief-relief.
This is a lessons that father Jason Greene, author of the book Once More We Saw Stars, learned painfully after his two-year-old daughter Greeta Greene was struck on the head by a piece of falling masonry, and killed.
Not sure how he could move on after such personal devastation, Jayson Greene turned to yoga for grief relief. Now, he is sharing his journey of recovery in his new book Once More We Saw Stars, a book written in those rare and tender moments of lucidity between flights of anger and despair.
“Honestly, the days following [the loss of our daughter], we were all still in acute shock and trauma,” says Jason, speaking with the BBC.
Jayons turned to two sources for support, writing, and yoga-for-trauma-survivors.
“I found myself drawn to writing, I would write down everything I was thinking,” says Jayson. “And I remember thinking to myself, kind of in that weird, detached way when you can have a voice going in the back of your head, ‘oh, this seems silly and odd that I’m writing’.
Writing was one way Jayson coped. The other way was through using yoga for grief relief.
How Jason Used Yoga For Grief-Relief After He Lost His Daughter
Just as we can use meditation to help with grief, we can use yoga for grief-relief too.
One of the main ways in which Jason dealt with grief was with yoga.
A large portion of Once More We Saw Stars describes a journey that Jason took a yoga retreat in Massachusetts, where he and his wife attended group counselling sessions for spiritual healing, led by a spiritual medium. And they attended a shamanistic ritual in New Mexico.
Jayson, who considers himself to be a very down to Earth, practical person, is not usually the type of man to attend spiritual rituals. But he says he got a great deal from the yoga retreat and the shamanistic rituals. “I think that we used those moments for connection,” he tells us.
“I think my belief didn’t really factor into those experiences, because belief is a decision that you sort of make about something. I think we were moving from an instinctive place.”
Spiritual practices like meditation and yoga can massively change the way we process grief.
But how does it work?
Let’s take a look at how to actually use yoga for grief-relief.
How You Can Actually Use Yoga For Grief Relief
When you experience moments of grief, such as the loss of a loved one, your brain chemistry is massively impacted. Your stress hormones are knocked out of balance. This results in loss of emotional control, heightened stress and sadness. One way to correct this is by using meditation for emotions control.
And yoga can help too.
Left unchecked, these chemical changes have a heavy impact on our health. It changes blood flow to your muscles, which tighten and become tense. Stress and anger, meanwhile, cause you to subconsciously move in unhealthy ways, such as by adopting bad posture or gritting your teeth. And all this leads to the degradation of your muscles an joints.
And so grief causes both your body and mind to suffer. And this downward spiral will continue unless you do something to change your mind and body: namely, by releasing the negative energy.
And this is why you might like to use yoga for grief relief: because it helps to release both the negative emotions and the physical tension.
The combination of asanas (yoga poses) and pranayama (rhythmic breathing) calms the nerves and helps to create chemical balance. It reduces anger and sadness in the mind, and at the same time it calms the nerves. And you can achieve all this in as little as 30 minutes.
What I recommend is that you spend 15 minutes before you yoga sessions setting your intent.
How to set your intent when using yoga for grief-relief
It is important that you acknowledge that you are using yoga for grief-relief. You will want to do this before you start your yoga session. Heres how:
- Create a yoga space that actually helps to soothe you. For instance, you might choose to incorporate some water features and aromatherapy candles into your yoga space.
- Spend at least five minutes meditating on your breath. This is vital because you are holding so muc tension in you body. Take five minutes to breathe and to start to relax.
- Now move into your yoga practice. Throughout, maintain the intention of letting go and soothing your body and mind. You are being self compassionate. You are releasing your pain.
Now let’s look at which asana to use when using yoga for grief relief.
Yoga Poses For Grief Relief
Naturally, many of the 28 forms of yoga help with grief.
However, some asanas are more effective than others.
When you are using yoga for grief, you will want to open your body and let go. For that reason, the best yoga poses for grief are ones that either reconnect you to the earth, or that open your heart-space.
Try these yoga poses:
1. Wild Thing Pose:
Wild Things Pose is an excellent pose for letting go of pent-up negative energy. In this pose we are arching backwards have both feet on the floor, with one arm reaching out past the head and face. There is an incredible sense of space with this pose. It opens up the entire body, helping to let go of tension.
2. Child Pose:
Child Pose is a very humble pose in which we are kneeling down with the arms extended out on the floor in front of us, like we are praying. This is a powerful move for reconnecting us with the earth (and especially if we are doing yoga outside in barefoot).
This pose will help to ground you, which helps with processing grief.
When we are too inside our own minds it can be hard to balance. However, by forcing ourselves to balance we essentially demand the mind to focus on the present moment. And this can help us to snap out of our negative thoughts. One of the best yoga asanas for this is Half Moon, which has one leg on the ground, the other reaching backwards from the hip. The position of the arms also helps with both connection and release. One hand touches the floor grounding us, while the other reaches upwards in release, helping us to let go.
4. Downward Dog:
Downward Dog is one of the easiest poses to do and also an excellent way to open the heart space. Reach down through the arms and feel that release in your heart space.
Shavasana should be held for several minutes at the end of the yoga session. While doing this, make sure to meditate and to experience the feeling of release that your yoga practice has produced. Notice how you now fee more relaxed. Embrace this feeling. It will be there for you next time you need it.
Yes, You Can Move On, And Yoga Will Help You Let Go
It is never easy to move on from the loss of a loved one. But we can use yoga for grief relief and it will help to offer us solace.
Simply staying active and moving is important too. It is understandable that at this painful times we want to cave in. But this never helps and only makes things worse. Instead, get moving with some yoga.