Power Yoga Poses to Relieve GriefBy Amruta Kulkarni, CYT 500

Can Power Yoga help us with grief? Vigorous Yoga poses can help to alleviate and lighten many of the somatic and psychological aspects of grief. Grief is experienced in many different ways according to the perceived level of loss and the specific temperament of the person who is experiencing the loss of a significant other such as a parent, child, spouse or friend. A deep sense of loss may also be experienced by an individual if he or she loses a cherished dream, home or career goal.

Psychologically, a significant loss may generate feelings of helplessness, emptiness, anxiety, deep sadness, hopelessness, insomnia and anger. If these feeling states persist for an extended period of time, the grieving individual may fall into a clinical depression. Somatically, a significant loss may be experienced as profound muscular tension and holding throughout the body. This tension is often created unconsciously in an attempt to keep the tremendously painful feelings of grief at arm’s length.

A regular, vigorous practice of Yoga asanas will help to release deeply-held muscular tension and increase the circulation of fresh blood and nutrients throughout the entire body. A vigorous Yoga sequence of asanas practiced while performing Ujjayi breathing will also help to raise and balance endorphin, dopamine and serotonin levels, which will help to alleviate symptoms of depression. Ashtanga or Power Yoga is one of the most effective sequences of vigorous Yoga asanas to help ameliorate deep physical and emotional feelings of grief.

Power Yoga is a general term for vinyasa practices that incorporate the practice of flowing from one pose to the next while linking the poses together with the practice of Ujjayi breathing. This vigorous breath-infused practice creates a permeating internal heat that helps to detoxify the internal organs and muscles and calm the mind. The progressive series of postures also greatly increases circulation and helps to release stagnant emotional and physical energy that is trapped in the body tissues. A practitioner is left feeling strong, light, buoyant and calm after a vigorous Yoga practice.

The core of any Power style practice is the linking together of the various asanas of Surya Namaskara or Sun Salutations with Ujjayi breathing. Aura has a Yoga teacher training course that offers explicit instructions on the various postures that comprise a Power Yoga practice. The key is to mentally outline the different sequencing of the postures. The classical Ashtanga sequences are some of the most rewarding and challenging practices that will profoundly help to release the muscular tension and emotional pain often experienced during times of grief.

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