teaching yogastudentsBy Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

How can Yoga help someone cope with loss? Can Yoga help our students who are grieving? Surely, Yoga must have its limits for healing students who have experienced loss or grief. Yoga teaches us to accept what we cannot control. Yet, we are not made of stone. Humans have emotions and we do not want to expose them for public display.

As each of us knows, there are different levels of grief and loss. Yet, that does not explain the level of misery someone may feel. The loss of a friend, spouse, parent, child, and pet are relative to the relationship, situation, or personalities involved.

There are more forms of loss which should be taken seriously. Grieving over the loss of a job, divorce, home, way of life, financial loss, or suddenly becoming handicapped are hardships which test each of us. One person may lose a job and laugh, while another person may consider suicide. Each of our students is unique and each of them handles emotional turmoil differently.

There are many people who are hurt by unemployment and financial hardships. Whole families can become homeless as a result. It is easy to consider the loss of a pet as nothing serious, if the pet is not your own. We have a bond with our students, but we are not living their lives and feeling their pain.

It reminds me of something my grandfather would say: “I can’t feel it from here.” He was a general contractor, and builders do receive bumps or bruises during the course of work. If someone complained about their pain, he would gently say, “I can’t feel it from here,” with a smile on his face.

The lesson is we cannot feel anyone’s pain, but we can show compassion; regardless of how large or small we think a problem is. If you teach Yoga classes, you see many people in the course of a week. Sometimes, you may attend a funeral, wake or memorial service, out of respect.

Yet, we can only recommend, if we are asked. Here is a point to mention, if someone is having a very bad time with coping – it is wise to recommend counseling or Hospice. Counseling is extremely valuable and important during bereavement. Additionally, Yoga is practice for the difficult times in life, and for healing after those times have passed.

Recommending specific asanas, meditation, and pranayama, still depends on the student’s general health. However, if someone is on the path of recovery, asanas, which challenge strength, will help drain some of the negative emotional energy.

If a student comes back to your Yoga classes, soon after a major loss, he or she might want to “go easy” during practice, while emotions settle down. Just like physical pain, our students have to respond accordingly to emotional pain.

© Copyright 2009 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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