AHPCA’s series on complementary therapies and palliative care continues today with an article from Clarissa Maitri Snyder, a yoga teacher.

What is Grief Yoga? Grief yoga teaches one to be open, present and accepting to what is happening within them at the moment. It uses simple yoga practices to transform one’s grieving mind and body.

Yoga in itself is a way of life. It comes from the Indian Sanskrit word ‘Yuj’ meaning ‘union’. Yoga blends physical, mental and spiritual practices for the well-being of the individual. When practiced daily, it helps develop a strong and flexible body, clarity of mind and an increased awareness of the unity of all creation.

I started offering Grief Yoga workshops after my mom was diagnosed with liver cancer. From the time my mom was given a prognosis of 3- 10 months to live, I was in grief. As a yoga teacher and a volunteer hospice helper, I thought I had a pretty good understanding of grief and death. However, being in grief is not the same thing as having an understanding of grief. I believe that you teach what you must learn.

Everyone experiences grief and loss differently and uniquely. What is this “thing” called grief? Grief is a natural reaction to the loss of someone or something we love. Although grief is actually multidimensional, most people focus on the emotional response to loss. Emotions are energy in motion. Feelings are the minds awareness of these emotions.

When loss is overwhelming, many of us suppress these emotions and do not allow ourselves to feel. Therefore these feelings get stuck in our body. Grief yoga helps one to feel. It uses simple breathing, the vibration of our voice, movement, relaxation, self-reflection and meditation to help transform our grieving body and mind.

My grief workshops include many simple elements that are not draining or mentally invasive. Workshops are between two and a half to four hours long.

Grief yoga is not meant to remove our grief, but to teach us to accept who we are right now, while supporting our experience in grief.

Clarissa Maitri Snyder was raised in Edmonton and now lives in Karlstein, Germany with her husband and sons. She and her family are active hikers, bikers, climbers, paddlers, skiers and swimmers.

In addition to Grief Yoga, she teaches Business Yoga in English and Chair and Laugh Yoga to seniors in German. She volunteers as a hospice helper as well as a palliative care companion for seniors.

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