When we are grieving, it is likely our body is tense – whether or not we feel energetic, focusing on being busy, or if we feel depressed and constantly lethargic. It may be that we are experiencing ‘adrenal fatigue’ (note: as yet, ‘adrenal fatigue’ is not a medical condition).
The following yoga postures help to relieve stress, mainly in the hips and low back. They aren’t only for the purposes of grief or loss support, but at any time you may be feeling stressed and overwhelmed.
Remember in time of loss to take time out for yourself. Practising these yoga asana won’t take but ten to fifteen minutes at the most (unless you fall asleep in savasana!).
If you’re ready, roll out your yoga mat, light your incense or diffuse your essential oils, and let’s begin!
Savasana (Corpse Pose).
This is the ‘basic’ reclining yoga pose (as tadasana is the ‘basic’ standing pose and dandasana is the basic seated pose). Paradoxically, it is the ‘peak pose’ of any yoga practice, as its aim is to help with immersion / dissolution of the mind.
In Shakti philosophy, Shiva is ‘shava’ (a corpse) until the goddess dances on him. Shiva represents consciousness / spirit / soul, while Shakti represents power / energy / matter. Without energy and matter, the spirit is formless and unable to take action. Without the spirit, matter and energy has no spirit. Only when the two merge can there be a manifestation.
Certain yoga schools ask that this yoga posture is practised with the body totally rigid (as in rigor mortis), while other yoga traditions have the pose supported. I like to begin the class in savasana, in a relaxed but alert position, and end the class in the same way, concluding in total relaxation. For me, this symbolises consciousness manifesting, going through a ‘life’ or ‘experience’, then dissolving.
To learn more on how to perform savasana and how to integrate it into your practice, join the Yoga for Midlifers Facebook Group here.
This pose helps a lot during our grief or loss process. Unlike just prepping for sleep, we have our awareness on our body or breath, or body parts. You may also want to practise this with Mahat Yoga Pranayama.
Reclined Pigeon Pose.
This isn’t really a ‘traditional’ yoga asana (as far as I am aware), so let’s just unofficially call it ‘Supta Ekapada Kapotasana’ if we need a Sanskrit name.
“Kapota’ means pigeon, but it was also the name of a great sage, whose yogic achievements are described in the Mahabharata and the Kalika Purana. His power was so renowned, he was called the son of Garuda, the eagle mount for Vishnu.
As you are in the yoga posture, consider the actual pigeon, and how they know their own way home. Allow yourself to home in on your emotions, home in to the discomfort and also to the comfort of the body and the breath, and to the divinity that gives us solace.
You can integrate this restorative single-legged adaption of Pigeon Pose either before or after class, as it helps relieve our gluteal muscles (butt muscles), and also possibly our quadratus lumborum muscles (low back), which tends to stiffen physically (think of all the sitting we are doing , for example in hospitals or during the entire farewell process), as well as in our subtle body (chakra in question is svadisthana).
To learn more on how to perform this yoga asana, or how to integrate it into your practice, join the Yoga for Midlifers Facebook Group here.
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Apanasana (Wind-Relieving or Knee-To-Chest Pose).
This yoga asana is great for relieving the low back (quadratus lumborum muscles) as well as the gluteal muscles (buttocks), much like the reclined pigeon pose. For a gentle variation, keep the head down and gently press the sacrum downward towards the mat. For the full ‘wind-relieving’ version, lift your head up gently towards the knees (avoid tensing up your neck and shoulder muscles).
Benefits of this yoga posture include relieving digestive problems, easing menstrual pain, stretching the lower spine and back muscles while opening up the hips, massaging the pelvic organs, easing anxiety and high blood pressure – all of which helps us during times of grief and trauma.
A word of caution, you may wish to skip the yoga posture, or be very mindful and cautious during practice, if you are pregnant. My suggestion is perhaps skip it, and move on the next yoga pose.
Ananda Balasana (Happy Baby Pose).
This yoga asana is a great stretch for the inner thighs, inner groins, hips and hamstrings. Ananda Balasana means “blissful child” and we have seen many babies doing this happily.
As with all the other yoga asana discussed here, ananda balasana helps to calms the mind and relieve stress and fatigue, sometime we need during our times of struggle.
If reaching for the feet and getting the knees to armpits are currently a challenge for you, reach instead for behind the knees or the calves. You will still derive the same benefits from the yoga pose. Alternatively, strap up each foot with a a yoga strap looped around the arch of foot.
Be gentle to be strong.
Grief and loss is sadly a part of life, a part of your story. But it isn’t your full story, which is as yet still unfolding. Be gentle with yourself throughout your practice as you journey through this chapter of your life.
The truly strong are always gentle.Yuuki Obata
Please do contact me if you would like anything clarified, or if you would like to learn more.
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