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10 More Yoga Essentials to Help with Grief

10 months ago

The only thing we are certain of in this life is death. Although, it’s unquestionable that it will come at some stage of our life, we rarely manage to prepare for its arrival in the lives of our loved ones. Managing the shock of a sudden death of beloved can have an exhausting influence on our lifestyle forever, unless we don’t stand tall and face the inevitable truth of circumstances.

The true root of grief is attachment. That feeling of a broken bound can bring up tightness in the chest and throat, it can alter the breathing and sleeping patterns, while bringing up restlessness, irritability and exhaustion. These are only few of the many physical symptoms of grief. These altered functions can further result in depression, negative thinking, social isolation or in a lack of motivation, to name a few.

Learning to express, not suppress is the magic key to cherish ourselves in such misfortune. With the teachings of yoga, we can learn to release tension and process the grief. Yoga practice can provide joy amid the most overwhelming sorrow. The performance of simple physical postures, combined with breathing techniques, impacts our bodies on neurochemical level by increasing serotonin in our blood. According to the Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience serotonin plays a major role in the treatment of depression. Learning to bring our focus on the internal awareness of the experience, rather than on the external expression of the postures is a long journey taken with a single step. And even though there is no such thing as a retreat from grief, there certainly can be a relief from grief. So, let’s get you there!

  1. Halasana (Plough Pose)

Lay down on your back and bring your feet together. Engage your muscles on a basic level and bring your hands next to the sides of your body. Fingers together, palms facing the floor. Prepare your mindset by inhaling deeply into the stomach and exhaling slowly through your nose. When you are ready lift up your straight legs slowly off the floor until you reach the maximum. If this posture feels strenuous, try putting your feet parallel to a wall. The wall will take all the weight you have to bear, thus letting you go deeper into the inner experience of this posture. In case that you are not using support remain in Halasana for at least one minute, in order to experience the benefits of this asana. If you are using the support of the wall you may remain in this position for up to five minutes, letting the blood flow circulate down into your chest. Once you feel relaxed get out of the posture with slow and steady movements by bringing your straight legs down to the floor. Let your legs gently lose and open hips distance apart, while allowing your hands to drop on the sides of your body with palms facing up.

  1. Pavana Muktasana (Wind-Release Pose)

Align yourself in a starting position by bringing your feet together and engaging the leg muscles, toes pointing up towards the ceiling. Bring your hands next to your body, fingers together, palms facing the floor. Begin by simultaneously folding your legs into your knees, while slowly brushing your both heels on the floor until they reach your sitting bones. Take a few deep breaths in and as you inhale slowly bring your knees towards your chest. Then, if comfortable, interlock your fingers into a nice grip and place it on the shin bone below your knees. Gently pull the knees closer to the chest, close your eyes, and breathe. Begin practicing the technique of deep diaphragmatic breathing. Your chest and belly slowly expand on inhale and gently release inwards on your exhale. Remain in this posture between three to five minutes. You can gently rock side to side and relieve any tension in the lower back. It is scientifically proved that our digestive track is connected directly to our brain, which gives it the power to control our moods as well. Pavana Muktasana increases the blood flow into the intestines and rejuvenates their ability to work, therefore improving our overall wellbeing. To get out of this posture slowly release the grip of your hands and lay your hands down on the sides of your body. Take a breath in and while exhaling place your heels on the ground. Remain here and take a few moments to observe your subtle body, then only, exhale slowly while brushing your heels on the floor until your legs straighten back to the starting position. Relax in Shavasana by allowing your legs to open and your hands to go further away from your body with palms facing up.

3.Supta Virasana (Recline Hero)

Sit down on your knees with your ankles touching the outside of your glute muscles. Then slowly lay back until your hands reach the floor. Use their help to place your torso completely on the floor and take a moment to observe. Even if you can lay all the way down, you can still put a folded blanket under your lower back to further support this vulnerable area. Begin to emphasize on your breathing. Close eyes and extend your hands above your head, by clasping your elbows with opposite palms. The Reclining Hero pose prevents blockages in the heart by increasing the coronary blood flow and strengthening the arteries. Furthermore, the elasticity of the lung tissues is being improved. This asana can evoke a sense of relaxation and heal any inflammation issues connected to the digestive system. It also emphasizes on passive extension and relaxation of the solar plexus, which is connected to our third chakra that governs our ego, personal choices and our authenticity as well.  After staying in this asana between two to three minutes you may release by firstly bringing your hands on the side of the body and secondly, lifting up your body with the strength of your arms, while inhaling deeply through your nose.

  1. Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge)

To enter Anjaneyasana you need to step your right leg forward and bend it, until your knee creates a right angle with your thigh and ankle. Then, place your left knee on the floor and point your left toes back. Engage your foundation leg, which is the right one, and on inhalation strengthen your spine. Try to emphasize on the extension of your spine, rather than on arching your lower back. Observe the position of your right leg once more, the right knee should be stacked over your right heel and pointed directly forward. Root down into the right heel and create a lift in your chest and abdomen, expanding the space will allow the energy within to move freely. Place your palms in front of your chest, resembling the gesture of prayer, or keep them on your right knee. Close your eyes and with each breath keep erecting your spine more and more. In such way, we can release the pressure off our spine and boost our energy. Stretching the right side of the psoas muscle can bring up heat and perspiration, however, as long as those sensations are more than welcome as long as they are not accompanied with painful pinching in the joints. Anjaneyasana improves our posture, counteracting the effects of long sitting and computer work. Improved posture immediately helps to build up confidence and enjoy feeling of empowerment. After staying in this asana for about two to three minutes, slowly exhale and bring your hands on the side of your right heel. Then with the help of their strength bring your right leg backwards and repeat on the other side.

  1. Parvatasana (Seated Mountain Pose)

Start from basic sitting position. Cross your left leg, placing it beneath your right thigh. Then cross your right leg and put it under your left thigh. Place your hands on your knees, palms facing down. Take your palms together in prayer position and place them in front of your chest. On inhalation, raise your hands above and place them on your head. Take a few breaths and continue to further strengthen your hands until you reach your limit. Lift up from the spinal axis, giving a good stretch of the body. Gaze forward and remain in this posture for one to two minutes. This posture encourages the free flow of oxygen to the spine and creates a space within the body, improving the efficiency of the internal organs. When our internal system is healthy, we feel improvement in our respiration, digestion and circulation. Remain steady in this asana and bring your concentration on a fixed point, such as your breath, this will sharpen the focus abilities of your mind and will help to expel grief, depression and any other low energies that are within your body. To come out of this posture slowly exhale and bring your palms on your head, then place them in front of your chest. Take a few moments and slowly place your palms on your knees, then relax in a long sitting position with your eyes closed.

  1. Baddha Konasana (Butterfly Pose)

Sit down on the floor rooting through your sitting bones. Bend your knees and bring the feet in towards your groin. Keep the soles touching. Lengthen your tailbone down and elongate your spine. With the first and second finger and thumb, grasp the big toe of each foot, while pressing the outer edges of your feet firmly on the floor. If your knees are not touching the floor you are allowed to put blankets underneath, in order to protect your knees from injuring. Additionally, if sitting with a straight back is challenging you can do this posture with the support of a wall. Regardless, if using support or not, strive for a length in the spine and the torso. Close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing. This yoga posture maintains the health of our kidneys, prostate and urinary tract on the gross level and influences the sacral chakra on the subtle level. The sacral chakra is also known as the second chakra. Located a few inches below the belly button it governs our emotions, sensitivity and emotional well-being. According to Hindu Tantrism, this chakra is often blocked by fear, especially by the fear of death. You may try to fall deeper into this posture by exhaling and slowly coming all the way down with your straight back. Remain in this posture for about two to five minutes, bring your awareness within and allow your energy channels to open, inviting peace into your life. To come out of the asana, slowly inhale on your way up, while lifting your torso and exhale when strengthening your feet. Remain relaxed and observe your inner body.

  1. Kapotasana || (Pigeon Pose Forward Bend)

Start on your hands and knees. Walk your straight hands forward, then slowly extend your left leg back on the floor until your toes point down. As you inhale, lengthen your torso and then slowly begin to bow forward, bringing your heart towards the floor, while exhaling. If your hips are open your torso might come all the way down to the floor, if they are not you may take a few blankets and place them underneath, allowing yourself to gently fall into them to further deeper this posture. Slowly extend your arms forward and close your eyes. Allow your right hip to open. It’s a primal reaction to store trauma, stress, fear and anxiety in the hips. Keeping this asana for two or three minutes can release negative feelings and energy stored through the whole body and furthermore, increasing the mobility and flexibility of your hips. When a sensation of relaxation is achieved, slowly lift up the body with the help of your hands and change to other side.

  1. Shavasana (Flat Pose)

The Corpse pose is a restorative supine asana that emphasize on complete relaxation of the body. Its physical practice is as easy as laying down on the floor, allowing your feet to flop open hips distance apart and your hands few centimeters away from your body, palms facing up. What is more important in this asana is bringing the breath under control and then concentrating the attention within. When practiced properly it can calm the nervous system completely, as the spine comes to rest with the ground. Letting the muscles relax and release stress helps the tissue and cells reparation to happen. It is believed that this posture has many therapeutic effects for insomnia and anxiety. But what is of most importance is that this yoga pose opens the room for connecting and uniting with the dive soul, thus helping to find answers to many unanswered questions. Take as much time as needed in this asana and let the well-being into your life. To come out of it slowly move your toes and finders, stretch gently and follow the lead of your body, by stretching gently. Then turn and lay down to one side, remain there for a few breaths as a jerky move up can disrupt the already calm nervous system. When ready, with the help of your hand lift up your body.

  1. Ujjay Pranayama

Sit down in a comfortable meditative position, one wherein your legs are gently folded as a base in the shape of triangle. If your knees are too high off the floor, in order to achieve full balance, you can put yoga blocks, book or maybe a folded blanket underneath them. Keep your spine elongated and erected from the spinal axis. Place your palms on your knees, close your eyes and tune in into your breath. The technique of Ujjay Pranayama in practiced with equally deep and long breaths during both inhalation and exhalation, while emphasizing on the neck area. The key to proper practice is the performance of a gentle throat contraction. This contraction of the vocal cavity helps to produce a gentle sound in both inhalation and exhalation. Activation of the breathing muscles becomes proper, while improving the concentration of the brain. Practicing this technique for only few minutes a day can increase the heat in the throat and improve the function of the thyroid gland which is a culprit in the production and distribution of numerous hormones into the bloodstream. Ujjay pranayama is often accompanied with calming effect and slow heartbeat, that can help in the easing of stress related problems such as insomnia and mental tension

  1. Sukhasana (Easy Pose)

Start from basic sitting position. Cross your left leg, placing it beneath your right thigh. Then cross your right leg and put it under your left thigh. Place your hands on your knees, palms facing down. Pain attention to the upright position of your spine, if you are beginner you can use wall support. You are allowed to place rolled blanket underneath your thighs, so that your body can relax completely into the moment of inner observation. When you are ready close your eyes and concentrate on the motionless of your body. Focus on the rhythm of your breathing, try to remain motionless in this asana for five to ten minutes at first, and then increase the time as needed. If any sensation to move arises, only observe it and let it go without taking any action. Observe the depths of your breath and the changes in the body that come with it. Subsequently, memories and images can come out on the surface. Do not identify with them, instead observe the sensations within, observe how you feel and surround to them. By doing so, this asana will help you to gradually calm and silence your mind, it will become clean and empty, and will bring up tranquility into your life. When you are ready to go out of the posture rub your palms together and warm them, then placing them on your eyes relax for a few seconds and when you are ready slowly open your eyes and remove your palms off your face.

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