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By Alissa Lesperance, CPT and Rebecca Simon, LMSW
When a loved one dies, there is a sadness that often cannot be put into words. However, we can describe feelings of loss within our bodies. For example, we describe suffering from "heartache" and "heart break" and many people express feeling physical symptoms like sharp pains in their stomach, trouble catching their breath, getting out of bed, or even struggling with poor vision. When we are sad, when we feel broken, when we have had a devastating loss in our lives, our physical bodies can hold on to that pain.
Many feel that yoga postures can contribute to better overall mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing. Yoga can be done in the privacy of your own home without expensive equipment or a huge time commitment.
It is not uncommon to hear people say that they are "bad" at yoga. There is no such thing as being bad at yoga. The reason you will hear teachers describe it as a "practice" is because it is just that. The most important aspect of yoga is simply to try it. Yoga poses will not cure heartache, because, unfortunately, there is no cure for grief. There are, however, many tools we can use to continue to check-in, support, and care for ourselves as we process our sadness. Because yoga doesn't require great athletic skill, a gym membership, or special equipment, it can be something we turn to when caring for ourselves.
Below are a few suggested poses as a starting point. It is beneficial to practice all of these poses in their restorative, supported versions. Restorative poses allow the body to relax (because in order for the mind to relax, the body must relax). These poses can lead to improved immune function and sleep, while also calming anxiety. If you have any questions about these poses, you can Google their names to view images and even videos to help guide you through them.
As you process your loss, practicing simple yoga postures may help some of your the physical symptoms feel better. Before you start, though, be sure to check with your doctor to make sure your symptoms aren't related to any kind of physical illness.
Supported Bound Angle Pose ("Supta Baddha Konasana")
Supported Child's Pose ("Balasana")
Supported Bridge Pose ("Setu Bandha Sarvangasana")
Alissa Lesperance, CPT is a Certified Yoga Instructor and Rebecca Simon, LMSW, is the Family Services Coordinator at the Pacific Northwest Transplant Bank