Grief is a natural response that affects us emotionally, spiritually, and physically. The major transitions and increased responsibilities that often follow a death can make it difficult to release the stress of grief. Gently guiding our attention to the needs of our bodies can help relieve that stress. On September 18, United Tissue Resources donor families joined instructor Kimberly Wharton for our first ever Yoga for Grief workshop.
Kimberly began by sharing some thoughts on yoga as a self-care tool during grief. “Yoga allows us the opportunity to slow down our thinking minds and be with whatever shows up for us. So that we can feel our feelings all the way through. I think the only way to the other side is through the center. Which can be scary and even beautiful,” she says of her approach.
We learned a method of breathing called ocean breathing, which consisted of inhaling deeply and exhaling through our mouths, as though trying to steam a small mirror in our hands. This allowed us to slow down and focus solely on our breathing, something Kimberly noted that we often don’t think about.
After practicing our ocean breathing, we combined it with a series of gentle poses. In one exercise, we imagined a thought or feeling we wanted to release as resting in a bowl in our hands. We lifted our hands towards our hearts, then pictured releasing the the bowl as we spread our arms and lightly sprang up.
Kimberly ended the class with a guided relaxation technique where we laid on our mats and focused on simply noticing each part of our bodies from head to toe. In closing, she shared these words from Mark Nepo’s The Book of Awakening:
This is the trick to staying well, isn’t it: to feel the sun even in the dark. To not lose the truth of things when they go out of view. To grow just the same. To know there is still water, even when we are thirsty. To know there is still love, even when we are lonely. To know there is still peace, even when we are suffering. None of this invalidates our pain, but only strengthens our way back into the light.
Yoga is one of many practices that can help with self-care. If you would like any information or resources for grief support, please contact our Donor Family Advocate, Jeni Pirtle, at 512-206-1122 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.