Yoga for Grief and Loss
Fostering Profound Healing and Empowerment
Have you or someone you know experienced loss in your life? If you are human, the answer is probably yes. Loss can mean many things, including life changes such as divorce, loss of body parts and/or functions, loss of a job or house, loss of a pet, loss of safety and of course loss of a family member or friend. There are many tools and techniques available to help deal with loss and grief. Yoga has proven to be a powerful modality in this regard.
Stamford’s Harmony Yoga Studio has been teaching Yoga for Grieving for three years. This workshop initially began after Carol Shwidock, the owner and a Yoga Therapist, lost her husband to liver disease. Shwidock had donated 60 percent of her liver to her husband although there was only a 1 percent chance that she was a match. After 14 months, his original autoimmune disease returned and he passed away. Shwidock created the Healing for Lost and Found Workshop out of her own need for profound healing and has since witnessed healing/empowerment in many others.
The Healing for Lost and Found Workshop at Harmony incorporates Five Elements Yoga, meditation, restorative yoga, creative activities, Reiki/energy work and culminates in Five Elements Yoga Dance. As Shwidock’s teacher and friend Megha Nancy Buttenheim from Kripalu quotes in her book Expanding Joy, Let Your Yoga Dance, “You are a dancer. Even if you’ve been a couch potato, are a computer geek, or have been physically challenged your entire life, you’re still a dancer. You might not be a professional dancer, but you’re a dancer, nonetheless; it’s your birthright.”
It is likewise our birthright to be empowered and to find the joy inside us all the time, if we choose to notice it. The question explored in the workshop is how does one find the joy in the dark moments? The answer is through becoming present to the now and being present to all that is being felt in the healing journey, whether it is sadness, anxiety, depression. These are the waves of loss one goes through; sometimes the waves are powerful and strong and may be very close together. As time passes, the waves get further apart and may not be so intense all the time.
How does one become really present? As any yoga practitioner knows, one of the easiest and effective ways is by tuning into the breath. We don’t have to go anywhere to do it! Our breath is always here… in the now…waiting for us to come back… waiting for us to notice… not being stuck in the past or in the future. It is an empowering realization anyone can hold on to in any moment, no matter what they are experiencing. We have the choice in every moment to find the joy. Breath is one way to anchor to the present moment and yoga or dance—or yoga dance—allow us to find and express the joy.
In a Yoga Dance class we hear the music, feel the beat, see the movement and respond… in the moment. In a Five Elements Yoga Dance Class we explore Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space through song, through words, through feeling what is present. Most importantly, it is our bodies that respond, not our minds. That is a key for moving through loss; fully inhabiting the body. In a Kripalu Yoga class we focus on the wisdom of the body. It seems many of us live from the neck up; we are always planning, organizing, thinking, over-thinking, etc. For many, this means not listening to the messages of the body. Kripalu means giver of compassion.
Can you be compassionate and listen to your body?
Can you be present and focus your attention on the small stirrings of the heart, notice without judging and use the breath as an anchor to be in the moment?
Healing and empowerment might begin at that very moment.
Emotions may be thought of as energy in motion. Once we notice our emotions, we can begin to allow it to be what it is and perhaps find a way to let go, surrender, accept… and maybe then begin to heal. Yoga can help you shift the energy and rediscover a sense of trust. Trusting in a divine presence—something greater than us—and knowing we are not alone is healing and profoundly empowering.
For more information on Healing for Lost and Found, Five Elements yoga dance classes, Kripalu group or private classes, corporate yoga classes or beach yoga, please contact Carol Shwidock at 203-962-4672, HarmonYogaStudio@gmail.com and HarmonYogaStudio.com.