Almost everyone experiences grief at some point. It could be from the loss of a loved one, a career, or even a sense of normalcy. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, losses impacted families across the country in different ways, and many people had to deal with the effects of grief.
While you may have heard of the stages of grief before, there is less information available about how you can effectively get through each stage – especially without aids like medication or therapy.
While you should absolutely seek professional help if needed, there are things you can do on your own to help you cope with loss and continue to move forward in life. One of the most effective solutions is yoga.
By utilizing mindfulness, meditation, and exercise, yoga offers a positive outlet for dealing with grief and the negative emotions associated with loss. But how exactly does it help, and how can you make the most of it as you go through the grieving process?
Recognize the Signs of Grief
One of Kübler-Ross‘s stages of grief is denial. You might have a hard time processing your loss, or you might not fully realize you’re grieving because you’re trying to distract yourself in other ways. Unfortunately, that’s not a long-term solution. Emotions always demand to be felt. The longer you ignore how your loss is making you feel, the more intense those emotions will eventually become.
When you’re coping with a traumatic event or loss, you might find yourself dealing with symptoms like:
- Mood swings
Grief impacts everyone differently, so that isn’t an exhaustive list. But, recognizing that something is “off” will make a big difference in moving forward with your healing process. Yoga can help with that by encouraging mindfulness. When you take the time to stop and focus on the present moment, as well as your breathing, you’ll open yourself up to become more in tune with your feelings. It will help to eliminate the distractions in your mind, so you can start to accept your loss.
Yoga, Meditation, and Healthy Coping
Yoga and meditation go hand-in-hand. Like mindfulness, meditation helps you to focus on your breathing and be more aware of your body and mind. When you’re struggling with grief, you might start to experience symptoms of depression. Yoga can help you fight back against those symptoms and make it easier to manage depression.
Yoga and meditation for grief open up your mind to different responses. If negative thinking has been plaguing your mind since your loss, yoga and meditation can help to challenge those thoughts and respond to negativity in more positive ways.
You don’t have to do anything special to start practicing yoga and meditation. Make sure you’re in a comfortable position (sitting or standing), close your eyes, and relax. Focus on taking slow, deep breaths through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. You can adjust your breathing as you try different stretches and poses.
Doing so will move your attention back and forth between your mind and your body. That makes it easier to do a “scan” of your body to see where you might be holding any extra tension. When you point out those spots, you can focus on different movements and poses to ease those aches and improve your overall physical well-being.
Yoga Distracts, Soothes, and Restores Balance
Yoga is an effective type of exercise that can keep you fit, strengthen your muscles, and improve your flexibility. But, it’s one of the best forms of physical activity for restoring your mind, as well. Some of the healthiest ways to cope with a loss are
Thankfully, yoga offers all three. It serves as a wonderful distraction when you’re focused on your breathing, your body, and moving from pose to pose. If you are able to attend a class or join a community of others who do yoga, you can even distract yourself with new relationships and a sense of belonging. Knowing that you’re not alone often makes the grieving process much easier to handle.
Yoga is also incredibly soothing, especially if you combine it with mindfulness and meditation.
Most importantly, yoga helps to restore balance in your life, especially when it comes to your emotional state. Some of the mental health benefits of yoga include:
- Increased self-esteem
- A more regulated emotional state
- Reduced symptoms of anxiety, depression, and anger
- Improved sleep
Yoga is so beneficial that many people use it as a way to manage PTSD. It’s a fantastic addition to a healthy lifestyle that will not only help you cope with your current loss but will make it easier to manage stress and grief for any other obstacles you might face.