“After a great loss, there is only so much that we are able to feel or process initially,” says Kent Lindemer, an Ashtanga yoga instructor at Richard Freeman’s Yoga Workshop in Boulder, Colorado. “Yoga can help us to feel more secure and stable so that we are able to process the loss and move through our grief sooner.”
When experiencing feelings of grief, Lindemer suggests alternating between poses that open the body, such as bridge pose and camel pose, and those that turn the body inward, including plough pose and child’s pose. Gentle backbends such as bridge pose open the heart and put pressure on the thyroid gland, which helps to calm the nervous system by gently stimulating the endocrine system and releasing beneficial chemicals into the bloodstream, he says. Inversions such as plough pose put pressure on the thyroid gland as well, but by turning the body inward, they also help the heart to feel protected and allow for introspection.
“The backbends help us to not become overwhelmed by the grief and to stabilize the heart so we can see the light at the end of the tunnel,” says Lindemer, who also teaches Anusara yoga internationally. “Forward bends help us to feel secure as we process our emotions.”
During times of grief, move slowly and feel the process, Lindemer adds. And don’t forget to pay attention to your breathing. “Deep, even breaths will help to stabilize the emotions,” he advises.