Contributed by Kim from Travel and Balance Yoga — Kim is a 200-hour certified yoga instructor who has been teaching since 2017. Prior to then, she used yoga as an outlet for coping with anxiety and stress. However, it wasn’t until after both of her parents died months apart that she realized how yoga and meditation could also serve as a coping tool for grief and loss. Because of this, Kim is expanding her practice and is completing a 100-hour grief yoga certificate. She enjoys using mediation and movement to help grievers reconnect with themselves. Kim currently resides in Rhode Island, USA.
How did you start using yoga to cope with grief?
I started using yoga as a coping mechanism when my parents were diagnosed with cancer. It helped me as I went through anticipatory grief, and I wanted to move my body because they weren’t able to. When I stepped on my mat, I could just zone out and let go of every worry.
How long should we hold each yoga pose for grief?
Hold each pose for 5 to 10 breaths. The more restorative poses can be held longer. For example, for child’s pose, you may want to hold it for 10 to 20 breaths. For Savasana, maybe 5 to 20 minutes. Do remember to stop if you start experiencing physical pain and discomfort.
What’s something you wish you had known at the beginning of your grief journey?
Grief work lasts forever. Learning how to cope, heal, and find what works best is ongoing. It can change through your journey too. What works now might not later. So, I’m also learning to be flexible with this part.
Do you have any words of comfort for those who are grieving?
Focus on self-care. It’s tremendously important in grief. We cannot pour from an empty cup. Taking time for ourselves each day can be healing. It doesn’t have to be a big process. It can be a small thing such as journaling, reading, or meditating daily, but it’s needed. Taking time to slow down every day can help ease the suffering.
Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)
Use this pose to help relieve the stress and anxiety you may be feeling.
Grief can cause issues with your digestive system. Triangle Pose can improve this and it also helps with migraines.
Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
We feel a loss of stability when our person dies. Standing forward bend helps ground you to the earth. By having your feet stable on your mat, and taking calming breaths, you’re body will release tension.
Tree Pose (Vrksasana)
This pose also allows you to ground yourself. It calms and relaxes the mind and nervous system. Additionally, it helps with concentration, which is great for grief brain.
Reverse Warrior (Viparita Virabhadrasana)
In grief, we tend to close our hearts. This might cause a change in our posture because we’re holding our emotions inward. Reverse Warrior helps the heart area and corrects bad posture. It’s good for stretching important muscles too.
Lastly, remember to finish in a pose that allows you to rest.
Child’s Pose (Balasana)
This pose brings relaxation and support. When you need a moment to rest, try child’s pose. Allow yourself to sit in grief, cry, and feel what’s needed.