The Yoga of Grief

15 Mar

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I’m reaching out, across the room with the top half of my body going one way and my butt going the other.  My feet are gripping the floor, and one angled while the other points straight ahead.  I am reaching out, as far as I can to the person across the room, and there is a sharp but soft ache around my left hip bone.  I tilt forward with my arms open wide, desperately trying to touch the floor as my other arm is stretching toward the ceiling trying to touch that too, and the teacher keeps saying, “breathe, breathe.”

So I breathe into it all, and take a breath to think about how I’ll feel after this Yoga class, and what Yoga has brought to my life because in some moments I really wonder why I’m putting myself through all this twisting – though I know the answer.

When I moved to San Francisco in 2008 I was really sad.  Not the boohoo my-boyfriend-has-dumped- me, or I-didn’t-get-the-job-I-wanted kind of sad, but the soul-crushing, I’m-not-sure-if-I-want-to-live anymore kind of sad.  There is a difference, which I didn’t know at the time.  True grief is another land that lucky people don’t visit until they’re older, but it’s a country that almost all of us travel to.

Grief is another state of being.  I’ve found that grief takes people from the Major to the Minor key – the notes are still the same, but their song changes; it becomes more muted; more aching, and it causes others to react to the familiar differently.

For me, it felt like a part of me was numb, untouchable, and it was the part of me that could feel deep happiness.  I would guess that many people who are stuck in the land of grief feel this way and some people never escape.  This new self can become an identity you’re attached to and no matter how you’re being it’s hard to let a self go.

While it may seem like a San Francisco cliché, Yoga is what helped me heal.  It took my body and asked it to twist into shapes that weren’t entirely comfortable.  It asked me to bend forward time and again and touch the ground.  It told me that I could always get down on my knees and be a child just for a moment if I needed to rest.  It even allowed me to practice the final stage of life Shavasana or corpse pose (for that’s part of life too).

I had tried everything: talking to people, moving cities, screaming, getting a new job, therapy, sobbing and the ever-classic alcohol.  None of these things made me feel any better (yes, sorry friends); none of the latter schooled me in the art of letting go with grace.

That’s why I am ever-thankful for the day I randomly walked into the Yoga studio near my house on the first day of a 40 day Yoga workshop, and on impulse, feeling like maybe this was a sign, I joined.

Everyone grieves differently and we all have to find our own flashlights to help lead us out, but to me Yoga is more than just an effort to stay in shape.

It’s a life-long practice that reminds me each day its possible to get a little bit more open, to reach out a little bit further, to take a shape that you never thought you could and that if needed, you can always get down on your knees with your arms flung out and kiss the floor.

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3 Responses to “The Yoga of Grief”

  1. savasana addict March 15, 2012 at 7:57 pm #

    Thanks for your honest post!

    • thepanthalife March 15, 2012 at 10:59 pm #

      Thanks for taking the time to read and share your thoughts

  2. barbara March 15, 2012 at 8:41 pm #

    although it made me sad ,it also made me happy.

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