Using Yoga to Channel Grief + Loss

Yoga is widely praised for its benefits to the mind and body. Most revere it as a method of relieving stress, finding focus, and establishing a quiet sense of calm. Yoga is all of this to me, as well, but it also serves another very important function: a means of finding closure and moving on after love and loss.

Let me explain.

I’ve had the distinct misfortune of losing some of my greatest loves. Among them, my best friend Dave, both of my grandparents on my father’s side, my brother Joey, and – more recently – our family friend, June, and my good friend, Carlin. If you’ve ever lost someone, whether unexpectedly or otherwise, it’s never, ever easy.

And, to make matters worse, there aren’t a whole lot of helpful grieving methods available in today’s incredibly hectic, fast-paced life. It’s as if we’re expected to “get over it” and “move on.” There’s simply no space or time for us to continue grieving.

Which is exactly why yoga creates the perfect opportunity to capture grief, to ritualize it in a way that feels healthy and freeing.

Practicing yoga forces you to take a block of time and dedicate it to nothing else besides the physical flow of movement and mental stream of thoughts. It’s an ideal excuse to separate yourself from the everyday chaos- just for a bit- to feel space enough to grieve. But it also keeps us purposefully active in a time when all we really want to do is sink into the despair.

I didn’t know about yoga when I lost my best friend and brother. If I had, maybe the healing process would have been that much better for me and those around me. When I lost June and Carlin, both at different times in this last year, I personally dedicated a 90-minute yoga session to each of them after their passing.

What does this mean, exactly?

Well, I simply took a yoga class, and during the intention-setting portion (read more about that here), I focused my thoughts on expressing the things I loved about the person I lost… the things I learned from them… the reasons I’m grateful to have had them – even for a little while – in my life. I gave my all in these yoga sessions, articulating my practice in a way that fully honored their memory.

At the end, I felt exhausted – mentally and physically. But I also felt the smallest hint of closure and readiness to embrace the life I still had before me.

And, for anyone who has experienced deep loss, you know how indescribable even the tiniest step toward wholeness can feel… which is why, if you’re dealing with loss or grief (or supporting someone else in the struggle), I highly recommend yoga. It can be an incredibly effective part of the healing journey.

Want to know more about how I use yoga for emotional healing? Don’t hesitate to reach out- I’m always open to sharing my own journey with you.