Yoga Sequence for Grief
A complete yoga practice uses asana, of course, but also one or more of the other limbs of Patanjali’s Eight-Fold Path. The following sequence offers poses, breathing practices, and a meditation based on the principle of ahimsa, or non-harming. It requires any props that you normally use in these particular poses, plus a journal or writing paper if you choose to follow the physical and breath practices with reflection. As is always true when putting together a personal practice, I encourage you to feel free to customize as your heart dictates.
1) Start on your back, with a block or blanket under your chest area to begin a gentle stretch in the heart area. Your arms are by your side, and your hands are facing your body. As you lie here and passively invite the stretch, bring your focus on your breathing. Use the practice of Equal Breathing to bring calmness to your body and soul.
2) When you are ready, move into a series of Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Rolling and Static Bridge). On an inhale, raise your arms overhead and lift your hips; on an exhale, reverse the motion. As you continue, slow down the motion and feel your spine articulating in each direction. When you are ready, hold the pose while you practice Equal Breathing, perhaps rolling yourself onto your shoulders and bring your arms underneath your torso.
3) To transition, roll down and come into Apasana (Knees to chest). Roll to the side and come onto your hands and Knees. Take a series of Marjayasana-Bitilasana (Cat/Cow) to continue opening your heart. From here, come into Adho Mukha Svanasana(Down Dog) and take a slow, easy vinyasa if you like before coming to Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend. Take your time here, bringing in your pranayama to relieve tension and activate the parasympathetic nervous system, before rolling up to Tadasana.
4) It is time for half and full Surya Namaskar , which will begin to open your hips. Beginners might use an adapted version against a wall, while veterans might go directly to Surya Namaskar C. Yogi’s choice! In whatever combination works for you, take five to ten total.
5) When you are warmed up, come into Balasana (Child’s Pose.) Come back to your breathing. Surrender to the pose. Allow any feelings to come up while you focus on your breathing.
6) Follow this with Kapotanasana (Pigeon Pose) on each side. If you want the challenge, follow this with Eka Pada Rajakapotasanana (King Pigeon) on each side. Again, try to actively surrender to the pose(s) on each side, bringing your breath in to calm the nervous system.
7) When you are ready, come to a sitting position and take Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose) with a forward fold. Remember to keep your back straight. When you are at a comfortable stretch, go back to your breathing and hold the pose. You may be able to stretch further from here.
8) Roll onto your back and take Apasana again. Rock, take Happy Baby, and make any adjustments to your body before moving into Savasana.
9) When you are finished, take Apasana and roll to the right before making your way to a comfortable seated position. If you choose to, take some time to journal on the topic of ahimsa, or non-violence, with a focus on not harming oneself. This may turn into a meditation on loving-kindness; if it does, go with it. Write for as long as you like.
10) End your practice with the Sanskrit mantra Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu or any other prayer for world peace, or with a chant of OM. Namaste!
You Should Also Read:
Lokah Samasthah Sukhino Bhavantu
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
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