Yoga Teacher Training: Grief

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Yoga Teacher Training: Grief

yoga teacherBy Faye Martins

There are many healing methods learned during yoga teacher training, but some the most puzzling problems humans face are emotional in nature.  Grief touches everyone at some point in their life. The loss of a loved one is a devastating blow for some, while career setbacks such as firing or layoffs can send others into a tailspin of sadness. Grief is generally caused by loss, which is sometimes as concrete as a person or as abstract as our beliefs about ourselves or our expectations about our life. We must experience deep feelings like grief for them to pass through us and dissipate, but the pain they generate makes us reluctant to do this.

Our human nature is one of action and power; we expect to control our lives and when things don’t go our way we see it as a failure. This makes it even harder for us to accept loss and the grief that comes with it.  When you push away grief it must go somewhere. Unresolved grief usually stores in the body. For some people it creates physical pain, such as the feeling of pinching or stabbing in the chest area or a stiffness in the shoulder area as if their body tries to curl into itself and protect the heart.

Many people develop chronic fatigue or digestive problems following a deep loss. The curious thing about these complaints is that many people never understand that there is a connection between their emotional situation and their physical ailments. With yoga, the mind and body connection becomes clearer and people usually find that as they move through the asanas their body will release some of the tension and grief it is holding for the mind. Yoga class is a safe place for people to let their feelings arise and watch them dissipate. It is not unusual to see yoga practitioners tearing up or openly crying during a class as feelings and emotions can arise unexpectedly for us all.

Yoga is a path toward acceptance and understanding of all parts of your life, including loss and grief. Yogic philosophy has a less personal take on loss; for some people life is full of suffering and our attachment to people and things will certainly compound that suffering.  After attending retreats and yoga teacher training intensives regarding detachment, I can honestly admit it is not possible for most of us to remain unattached.  Living a life of love and joy, engaged with the world and the people in it will naturally lead to loss and grief. Rather than reject life altogether, we can take solace that it is not our failure but rather the inevitable nature of things that has caused this outcome.

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2 Comments

  1. Dawn Balfour October 17, 2015 at 2:35 pm

    Hello, I am interested in learning more about your Yoga for Grief teacher training. I am a Yoga teacher based in Canada. Thank you so much. Dawn

  2. Dr R. K S. Rathore December 22, 2015 at 12:25 am

    A very good approach to dissipate grief with yoga. The company of other yoga practitioners makes it even easier. Recently one of my yoga companion was sent to police custody for 14 hours, due family violence and he grieved a lot. After going through this article, I will try to get him with us so that he may normalize his daily routine.

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